“Therefore remember Me. I will remember you. Be grateful to Me and never show me ingratitude.”–The Holy Quran 2:152
“…If you give thanks, I will give you more…”–The Holy Quran 14:7
To me, these Quranic verses are the secrets to being a Happy Muslim. The first verse tells us our life’s purpose and then gives us advice on how to best fulfill this purpose. Our purpose is to remember Allah (swt) as much as possible. We remember Allah because we are grateful to Him for giving us everything we have, including our very existence. When we are not happy or content, we are being forgetful. We are forgetting that Allah gave us so much more than what we perceive as our “problems” or what we don’t have. When we are unhappy, that means we are focusing on what we don’t have more than what we do have. We are being ungrateful. And since Allah tells us, “Never show Me ingratitude,” then we need to correct ourselves whenever we are less than grateful! We need to rise above our problems and CHOOSE inner peace and gratitude! Our gratitude to Allah should always be above our attention to our problems!
I know that it is hard in reality to always feel grateful. Most people have moods of sadness, frustration, anger, and confusion. This is normal, but I hope that you will try to rise above “normal”. I believe that the cause of experiencing negative emotions is that we are focusing on what we don’t have, more than our blessings. Allah says in the Quran (14:34) “…If you count the blessings of Allah, never will you be able to number them…” What often happens is that we allow one or a few problems to cloud our minds and cast a dark shadow over the innumerable blessings that we have. Just the fact that we exist is enough to be thankful for! Then there are the facts that we are believers in Allah, that we are in the ummah of Prophet Muhammad (saw), that we have food to eat, etc. These are HUGE blessings! So when we are not feeling content, we must be humble enough to correct our attitude, because the attitude of the believer is GRATITUDE!
Yes, we do have problems. I’m not saying to ignore your problems. I am saying stop focusing on the problem and think about how you can solve that problem. REMEMBER what you are genuinely grateful to Allah for, and make a lot of duaas–ask Allah to help you!
The main point is to use your God-given ability to CHOOSE your reaction/behavior. When I am feeling less than content, I say to myself, “Alhamdulillah I choose to feel thankful
and happy.” I choose to focus on the FACT that I have so much more to be happy about than to be unhappy about.
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “When one of you sees another who is superior to him in point of wealth and creation, let him look to him who is below him. That is more proper that you hold not in contempt the favor of God towards you” (recorded in Bukhari and Muslim). If we are ungrateful and feeling like we have a lot of problems, we need to stop ourselves and remember this hadith. Think of those who have less than you. Are you any “better” than they are? Never be ungrateful!
Why worry? If you are feeling bad or having problems, you should think: what can I DO about this? And what can I LEARN from this experience? Allah tells us in the Quran that the purpose of our growth in this life is for us to grow in our INTELLIGENCE/REASON (It is He Who has created you from dust; then from a sperm-drop; then from a leech-like clot; then does he get you out as a child; then lets you (grow and) reach your age of full strength; then lets you become old,- though of you there are some who die before;- and lets you reach a Term appointed; in order that you may use your reason.
The Holy Quran 40:67).
If you can’t think of a solution to a problem, then stay calm, be grateful to Allah and stop worrying about the problem. Instead, seek knowledge about how to solve your problem, such as by consulting with people you trust.
HAPPINESS HINT: The blessings of Allah are always greater than our problems!
Another point to remember is that we are always less grateful to Allah than we really should be. Allah says that we will never be able to number His blessings/favors upon us (Quran 14:34). It is enough of a “job” to keep thinking of all the blessings of Allah upon you. I encourage you start a list of all the blessings/favors of Allah upon you. As Allah says, we will never be able to number them. So, I encourage you to save this list to your computer or to a journal, and everyday keep adding to it. You will never finish this project because it is impossible to name all of our blessings. However, it is a wonderful way to worship Allah because He is pleased by the gratitude of His servants.(If you are thankless—Allah is in no need of you—yet He is not pleased by ingratitude of His worshippers. And if you are thankful He is pleased by it in you..The Holy Quran 39:7)
The idea is to take your focus away from your “problems” and concentrate on what you are genuinely grateful for. This is what Allah commands us to do!
HAPPINESS REFLECTION: What are you GENUINELY grateful to Allah for?
Another point of discussion is the importance of patience. Why does the Quran repeatedly tell us to be patient? Well, it’s because we don’t always get what we want in this life! Things don’t always go our way! The beauty of this is that being patient is also a way to worship and get closer to Allah. The Prophet said, “How excellent the affairs of the believer: his affair, all of it, is good for him; and this is not the case with anyone except the believer; if prosperity comes to him, he is thankful (to God), and if adversity falls on him, he perseveres patiently: so it is all good (for him)” (recorded in Muslim).
When something hurts your feelings, or if you are going through a rough time, try to think of a solution; if you cannot think of one, just be patient. And trust in Allah! Trust that He
will reward you for your patience,and ask Him to help you: “Nay, seek (Allah’s) help with patience and prayer: and most surely it is a hard thing except for the humble ones.” (The Holy Quran 2:45)
HAPPINESS HINTS: 1) Gratitude and Patience are the two states of the believer.
2) Come to the realization that you are ALWAYS lagging behind in the GRATITUDE you should be feeling towards your Creator.
The second verse at the beginning of this post is, “…If you give thanks, I will give you more…” (14:7). If you want your life to improve, you must be thankful for what you have NOW. You will not receive a better life as long as you are not thankful for what you currently have. Allah is giving us a “heads up” for having a better life. Do you want more goodness in your life? Then be thankful for the goodness you already have.
Living a life of gratitude means you are living from a higher truth. Why does Allah tell us to always be respectful to our parents and to not even say one word to them out of frustration? Well, He knows that sometimes we will have tough times with our parents. However, He is telling us to rise above those problems and remember the higher truth, which is—that you can never repay your parents for raising you, so stop making the small issues bigger than the TRUTH of your endless indebtedness to your parents!
The same idea applies to Allah of course. If you are not feeling grateful to Allah, then you are not living a life of truth. The truth is, Allah’s favors upon us are always greater than any problems we are going through. We must rise above the little annoyances of life to the higher truth of our amazing blessings, such as the blessing to even exist.
How you reach this state of living by this “higher truth” may be different for different people. Personally, I first recognize in myself when I am not feeling grateful. If I am not feeling inner peace and gratitude, then I am not feeling grateful. This doesn’t mean that we ignore outside events. It means that we always maintain an inner underlying state of calm, inner peace and gratitude. That underlying state is not supposed to go away. From that base state, we choose how we want to feel on the surface. So, I recognize when I am not feeling inner peace and gratitude, and then I literally “raise” my state by feeling grateful for the fact that I know that my blessings are always greater than my problems. You will feel clearer, happier, and more peaceful. That mental fog disappears. This is a skill that I hope that How to be a Happy Muslim will teach you, insha’Allah.