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10 Steps to Happiness!


by Ustadha Bint Ahmad 

A dynamic female scholar, Ustadha Bint Ahmad teaches the Islamic sciences and Arabic at Al Zahra ‘Ilmiyyah Institute and Al Arqam Academy and she is the main course instructor and author at Al MuhsinaatLondon, UK

Happiness is a mental state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. Each and every human being instinctively is in pursuit of happiness. Whether he/she is a child or an adult, a Muslim or a non-Muslim, and this is the fact. In order to achieve this true and eternal happiness, one must comprehend what this emotion really is. Happiness, according to the Oxford dictionary is ‘feeling, causing, or giving pleasure’ and it is being ‘satisfied’. It is essential to understand the psychology of happiness to know how much control we have over it. James Montier, a renowned global equity strategist studied behavioral psy­chol­ogy and concluded in his research ‘The Psychology of Happiness’ that psychologists have found that happiness is comprised of three components:

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1.   About 50% of individual happiness comes from a genetic set point. That is, we’re each predisposed to a certain level of happiness. Some of us are just naturally more inclined to be cheery than others.

2.   About 10% of our happiness is due to our circumstances; demographic factors, age, gender, ethnicity and geographic factors. It also includes personal history and life status.

3.   The remaining 40% of an individual’s happiness is derived from intentional activity, from discrete actions or practices that we choose to do.

As humans we have no control over our genetic set-point, and hardly any control over our circumstances. This 50% of happiness in Islam is called ‘ridha bi al-qadha’ (being content with our lot in life). This means that as believers if we truly love Allāhsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and trust Him, we are satisfied with what He Has decreed for us. The Messengerṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) would supplicate with words that would highlight the importance of satisfaction with our fate; therefore we too should make the effort to recite these supplications:

 “I am pleased with Allāh as my Lord, with Islam as my religion, and with Muhammad as my Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).” [Abu Dawud]

 “O Allāh, make me content with what you have provided me, send blessings for me therein, and place for me every absent thing with something better.” [Bukhari]

 “O Allāh, I seek refuge with You from knowledge which does not bring benefit and from a heart which is not fearful and from a self which is not content and from a supplication which is not answered.” [Muslim]

 Thereafter, the main conclusion to be drawn from Montier’s research is that we can only work on the last 40% to make ourselves happier. It must be noted that this 40% cannot be achieved in pursuit of money, fame or anything else materialistic. These are all transitory, and anything transitory will never result in true happiness. True happiness is contentment, and this is only attained through activities which are not fleeting. So here are the 10 steps in the light of Qurʾān and Hadith which makes our lives happier:

1.   Seek the Pleasure of Allāh – Nothing can make us more happier than seeking the pleasure of Allāhsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Allāhsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us in Qurʾān about what is the greatest happiness, calling it a ‘supreme success’  and about the people who deserve this supreme success.

The believers, men and women, are Auliyâ’ (helpers, supporters, friends) of one another; they enjoin (on people) Al-Ma‘rûf (good), and forbid (people) from Al-Munkar (evil); they perform As-Salât (prayer), and give the Zakât (charity), and obey Allāh and His Messenger. Allāh will have His Mercy on them. Surely Allāh is All-Mighty, All-Wise. Allāh has promised the believers -men and women, – Gardens under which rivers flow to dwell therein forever, and beautiful mansions in Gardens of ‘Adn (Eden Paradise). But the greatest bliss (happiness) is the Good Pleasure of Allāh. That is the supreme success. [71, 72 Al-Tawbah]

 2.   Be Thankful – The more Thankful we are to Allāhsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), the more He will shower His bounties  upon us. Appreciation of what Allāhsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has blessed you with is vital for this step to be achieved. This is indeed an act of worship.

And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: “If you give thanks, I will give you more (of My Blessings), but if you are thankless, verily! My Punishment is indeed severe.” [7 Ibrāhīm]

O you who believe! Eat of the good things that We have provided for you, and be grateful to Allah, if it is Him you worship. [172 Al-Baqara]

 3.   Satisfy Your Soul – Work on activities that result in internal happiness that satisfy and bring a smile to the heart, not merely a smile on the face by doing meaningful work; strive to partake in activities like feeding the poor, assisting the distressed and helping others rather than killing your resources like time and money.

“True enrichment does not come through possessing a lot of wealth, but true enrichment is the enrichment of the soul.” [Bukhari]

 4.   Avoid Worldly Comparisons – Do not look at the celebrities, rich or affluent people above you in worldly matters. The lives of such individuals is not ‘ideal’ in the eyes of Allāhsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Admire the lives of the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) and Khadija (may Allāh be pleased with her) who are our role models.

“Look at those below you (less fortunate than you), and don’t look at those above you, for this is better.” [Muslim]

5.   Expect Only From Allāh  Any sustenance, provision and reward we expect is from Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) alone.

“O Allāh, give me enough of what You have made lawful to suffice me from what You have made unlawful, and enrich me by Your bounty giving me independence from all other than You.” [al-Tirmidhi]

And so many a moving (living) creature there is, that carries not its own provision! Allah provides for it and for you. And He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower. [60 Al Ankabūt]

 6.   Serve Others and Maintain Relations –The Messengerṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) strongly advised to maintain family ties, keep strong relations and taught us the etiquettes of social relations.

“All created beings are the dependents of Allāh, and the most beloved of creation to Allāh is the one who is good to His dependants” [Bayhaqi]

7.   Get Adequate Rest and Organize Your Life –A very important step to ensure better productivity.

The Messengersubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) chose a simple life over a glamorous one, and he was always content. A person who plans their day is much more productive than a person who does not. The Prophetsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) used to carefully apportioned his time according to the demands on him for: Worshiping Allāh, Public affairs and Personal matters.

On the authority of AliraḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), Tirmizi has recorded that the Prophetṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) had carefully apportioned his time according to the demands on him for offering worship to Allāh in and his personal matters. After the early morning prayers he would remain sitting in the mosque reciting praises of Allāh till the sun rose and more people collected. He would then preach to them. After the sermons were over, he would talk genially with the people, enquire about their welfare and even exchange jokes with them. Taxes and revenues were also disrtibuted at this time. [Sahih Muslim, Tirmizi]

He would then offer chaste prayers and go home and get busy with household work. [Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmizi]

8.   Build a Support Group – Feeling a part of a larger group gives one a sense of security and a safety net to fall into on occasions of happiness and hardships. The concept of brotherhood and sisterhood is one of the central themes of Islam.

“The (example of) believers (in their mutual love, care and concern) is like a single person: if his eye complains of pain his whole body complains of pain, and if his head complains of pain his whole body complains of pain.” [Muslim]

9.   Eat Halal– Consuming halal is an order of Allāhsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and an essential part of the Islamic faith. Allāhsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has repeatedly emphasized the consumption of halal in His book.

Abu HurairahraḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) related,” Allāh’s Messenger PBUH said: Verily Allāh is pure and He accepts only what is pure and indeed Allāh has given those orders to the believers, which he has given to the Messengers. He has said, “O Messenger, eat from the pure foods and work righteous”. He -also- has said: “O you who have believed, eat from the pure things which we have provided you.” Then (the Prophet PBUH) made mention of a man who undergoes a lengthy journey in a state that he is disheveled and dusty. He spreads his hands towards the sky (calling), “O my lord, O my lord”, however his food is haram, his drink is haram, his clothes are haram and he has been nourished with haram! So how will his call be answered?” [Muslim]

10. Keep Fit – Scientists claim that one of the benefits of exercise is that it makes us feel happy. Exercise is described by many doctors as an anti-depressant. The presence of certain chemicals like endorphins and phenyl acetic acid increases drastically after a good work out and it is this that contributes to that ‘feel good’ feeling afterwards. Prophetṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, while there is good in both.” [Muslim]

These are the ten steps for Happiness and with the divine assistance of Allāhsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) it is hoped we can all live  happier lives to transport us to our final abode – PARADISE. May Allāh be pleased with us always – and that’s the eternal happiness. Ameen.

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  1. Pingback: MyHappy » Happiness Research News Digest for April 12, 2012

    • rosie

      December 5, 2015 at 11:58 AM

      very soothing and a rite guide to happiness it changed my life took me out o depression and made me happy and gave me a direction of happiness and happy life.

  2. Bintsairah

    April 12, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    Fantastic article.

    This is by Ustadha bint ahmad, i read it in this years handbook

    I think it would be good to add the author of the article.

  3. Bruno Kamal

    April 12, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    Could we have the Arabic translation of the many excellent Du’a and maybe also the transliteration? 

  4. Habiba27

    April 12, 2012 at 6:56 PM

    Jazarkalla I will try to implement these steps in my life inshallah

  5. Aballah Jerushi

    April 12, 2012 at 7:08 PM

    Jesus Christ is the one and only way to get eternal life or “happiness”. Jesus is Lord!

    • Pat

      April 12, 2012 at 7:34 PM

      Is Jesus really the lord? Why is it that when he was asked about the day of judgement, he said ‘nobody knows the day or hour, not even the Angels or the son but only the father’ (Mark 13:32)
      Why is it that Jesus prostrated to God whilst in prayer? (matthew 26:39). If he was God, wouldn’t that mean he was praying to himself? And why is it that when Jesus was supposedly dying on the cross, he cried, ‘father why hav thou forsaken me?’ ( Mark 15:35). What kind of a lord dies anyway?

    • Bible basher

      April 12, 2012 at 7:37 PM

      Hello. If Jesus is God, why did he not know that the fig tree would bear no fruit?

    • abda

      May 30, 2016 at 12:18 PM

      are you AbdAllah ? what’s the meaning of “abd Allah” ?

    • abda

      May 30, 2016 at 12:20 PM

      are you realy abdAllah ? what’s the meaning of “abd ALLAH” ?

  6. Umm Ousama

    April 13, 2012 at 11:07 PM

    I find the quoted research rather depressing and I wonder if we don’t blame genetics for lots of things. Instead of genetics, wouldn’t it be upbringing? I’ve seldomly seen a toddler depressed, which makes me think that it is only a very tiny percentage of genetic factor that makes one  happy or not.

    Of the ways to be happy too are smiling to people and even to yourself. When you grow older, do you want to have “smiling”  and “laughing” wrinkles or do you want to have “angry” or “sad” wrinkles? 

    Of the ways to be happy is not to complain about trivial things and not to find fault in others. Take the good in people and leave the rest. Don’t be arrogant and forgive people. 

  7. Hossnain

    April 16, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    Jazakellahukhairan!! very much needed and appreciated.

  8. Talat albegamy

    April 20, 2012 at 9:20 AM

    mashallah well written . may allah make all your days happier .

  9. shihab khan

    September 29, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    رَبَّنَا أَفْرِغْ عَلَيْنَا صَبْرًا وَتَوَفَّنَا مُسْلِمِي
    [Al-A’raf, 7:1]

  10. moustapha

    October 18, 2012 at 9:13 PM

    i would like to thank Aallah for given us great opportunity to to get advantage of this program…….this is ideed benefits for all………..i also want use this opportunity to thank the organiser of this wonderful web site program….who are able to represent Islamic principle on internet… muslim to know more about Islam…..i’m really glad to be a memeber of such wonderful progrm……May Allah beless ,reward you more …………………..

  11. Random Person

    January 17, 2014 at 6:18 AM

    Great article. It really helps to keep your eyes on the more important things in life. Furthermore, I read this somewhere:

    Ibn Abbas, may God be pleased with him, said,

    In every tribulation there are three blessings:

    1. It could be worse than what it is.
    2. The tribulation is in your worldly matters and not in your religion.
    3. The tribulation is in this world, and not in the hereafter.

    • Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      January 17, 2014 at 8:33 AM

      Dear “Random Person”

      Our Comments Policy requires a valid name or Kunyah to be used when commenting. You may also use a blog handle provided your blog is linked, the email address is a valid one, and it is not advertising a product.

      Best Regards
      Comments Team

  12. Pingback: Where is my happiness? | Small Qalbi

  13. Pingback: Amelioration | The Undepressed

  14. Muhammad Uzair Ahmed

    August 28, 2014 at 3:59 PM

    Be content with your life. Be in peace with whatever Allah gives you whether you like it (ThankYou ALLAH) or you dont like it (ThankYou ALLAH).

    This is Hapinesssss !

  15. kamal francis

    November 2, 2015 at 11:31 PM

    Very good. Knowledgble.

  16. maram

    November 4, 2015 at 3:55 AM

    thank you so much ,nice words !
    is there Arabic version of this essay ?

  17. Issa Mahmoud

    December 30, 2015 at 1:51 AM

    This is the exact recify of misery. No wonder why people who follow these instructions are always frowning with so much hatred in their hearts to others
    1 Please Allah. The fear is always there that we are not doing enough to please Him.
    2 – Feed your soul. The word strive is very poisonous as the measure of strive is not defined. Those who attempt to strive to do things pleasing to Allah are always under threat that they are not striving enough and therefore the soul is aways hungry.
    3 – Admire the life of the messenger. What is there to admire other than a power hungry adulterer and murderer who inmposed his beliefs by the word. I think admiring the life of the messenger is where the Islamic nations problem lies. It makes them murderers in the name of Allah, power hungry and always resentful. Where is happiness in that?
    4 Expect only from Allah, is a call for laziness as it is a nature rule that what you saw you reap. This calls for complacency putting all success only on Alla rather than entrepreneuring spirit study and hard work. No wonder the Islamic world lives in darkness with all the inventions coming from the non moslem nations.
    5 – Build a support group. This is a good idea if Moslems reach out to other advanced civilizations for support and learn from them, but as long as they isolate themselves in small backward support groups the more darkness the Islamic world will live in,
    6 – Eat Hallal. This is the best recipe for fear. A person following these instructions will alway live under the condemnation of not questioning the food he eats, rather than enjoy all the exotic cuisines the whole world has to offer, When will Moslems wake up from this Hallal taboo and enjoy everything God has provided to be eaten with thanksgiving, provided science has proved to be healthy and the negative sides treated. I need someone to explain to me how different pork is from beef if treated properly.

    This is all about radicalization and live in fear of not living up to the Islamic mullas expectation. Enjoy life, be friendly, adventure, study hard, love hard, work hard, mix with other nations, learn from each other i a multicultural environment, and play hard. above all, live in the grace of God provided by the forgiveness of sins, through Jesus Christ.

  18. Yusuf

    April 17, 2016 at 2:31 PM

    Masha Allah… just came from the masjid asking Allah SWT to clean my heart, asked him when I came to the library to help me find something good to read and I found this. Alhamdulillah. Very beneficial insha Allah if I put these steps into practice I will become very happy insha Allah. Thank you Jazak Allah khier. It seems like a sound authority. Im very pleased with this im feeling very better already. From Darkness to Light insha Allah Allahu Akbar. I just seen this site for the first time….oh look how Allah is calling the sinners. Any way I Just needed to vent. Barakullah Feekom ( may allah bless you ) nice study. Masha Alllah. take care everybody . Make Dua for me insha Allah… :)

  19. Dr. Mohammed Abdul-Kabir

    June 10, 2016 at 8:28 AM

    Alhamdulillah, this article explains the importance of contentment in Islam. I realized that happiness is a choice. Thank you and may Allah reward you

  20. Abarika Abdulai

    August 24, 2017 at 5:06 PM

    That was awesome. One of the tips that say we should avoid worldly comparison is a very good idea to really keeps us moving. May Allah grant us happiness.

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