The spirit-changing bomb blast

blastThe tricky thing they call: happily ever after!

The blast shook my house to its very core, but by the Grace of Allah (swt), none was harmed- neither my family nor me in any physical sense. It left not a single scratch on our skins. Yet, it wreaked havoc with my previous attitude towards life, and left me plagued with question that clamoured incessantly in my head. If only I had known then that the answer had been a mere arm’s length away, I simply had to reach out.

The thunderous sound and simultaneous reverberation of the windows in their sills and the door on their hinges had all our hearts and breaths accelerating at alarming rates. For a moment we were mute, staring wide eyed at one another, disbelieving- disbelieving that something like that could actually occur so close to home… that something like that could happen to us… that something which clearly belonged to the TV channels could jump out at us into the real world, OUR world, from its usual, harmless enough dwelling place below the “breaking news” caption.

A bomb had gone off a few kilometres from my house. My friends were texting hysterically. My relatives were queuing in for phone calls. An unfortunate acquaintance was recovering from the shock of witnessing all windows of her house being shattered into a fine spray of glittering ash. “What world were we living in?” I wondered. Sadly, I knew the answer too well.

This world is not the ideal place to set up a camp. It is not some retreat where we could drop our bags, hurl our bodies into comfortable sofas, kick up our feet on coffee tables and fix a “home sweet home” banner above our heads. This world is dark and dangerous, unforgiving and unfair, cruel and cold. This world is not our home. What is sad, as I previously stated, is that My Beautiful Lord, Allah (swt) reminded me of this very message every time I bothered to unbind the thick, dust coated covers of The Holy Quran. In bold, simple and direct words, Allah (swt) delivers the clear verses,

“O my people! Truly, this life of the world is nothing but a (quick passing) enjoyment, and verily, the Hereafter that is the home that will remain forever.” (Ghafir 40:39)

“Know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children, as the likeness of vegetation after rain, thereof the growth is pleasing to the tiller; afterwards it dries up and you see it turning yellow; then it becomes straw. But in the Hereafter (there is) a severe torment (for the disbelievers, evil-doers), and (there is) Forgiveness from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the believers, good-doers), whereas the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment.” (Al-Hadid 57:20)

This world is dark and dangerous, unforgiving and unfair, cruel and cold. This world is not our home.

“Everyone shall taste death. And only on the Day of Resurrection shall you be paid your wages in full. And whoever is removed away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise, he indeed is successful. The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception (a deceiving thing).” (Al-Imran 3:185)

“Allah increases the provision for whom He wills, and straitens (it for whom He wills), and they rejoice in the life of the world, whereas the life of this world as compared with the Hereafter is but a brief passing enjoyment.” (Ar-Rad 13:26)

“And the life of this world is nothing but play and amusement. But far better is the house in the Hereafter for those who are Al-Muttaqun. Will you not then understand?” (Al-Anam 6:32)

“And this life of the world is only amusement and play! Verily, the home of the Hereafter, that is the life indeed (i.e. the eternal life that will never end), if they but knew.” (Al-Ankabut 29:64)

“And put forward to them the example of the life of this world, it is like the water (rain) which We send down from the sky, and the vegetation of the earth mingles with it, and becomes fresh and green. But (later) it becomes dry and broken pieces, which the winds scatter. And Allah is Able to do everything.”  (Al-Kahf 18:45)

The Book had always been, exhaustive in its emphasis on the treacherous, deceptive, transient nature of life. How heedless I must have become to skim over these dire reminders that should have flashed like scarlet neon warning exclamation marks in my head, but I acted as if I were reading the weather report. My heart had become fossilized under an impenetrable layer of complacency, apathy and laziness.

Within seconds of hearing the blast, I realized with rising incredulity, the insignificance of not only the things I cared most for, but also how I spent my days, in fact my entire life

I hang my head in shame when I think of the person I had been before that life affirming experience, lounging with carefree ease on my bed, cradling my smart phone and my laptop as if I couldn’t bear to part with those “prized possessions”. Within seconds of hearing the blast, I realized with rising incredulity, the insignificance of not only the things I cared most for, but also how I spent my days, in fact my entire life, till that moment. It was one complete, wasted blur of struggles for attaining meaningless aims and undeserved merriment at reaching useless endeavours. What use were college applications or friends or fictional plots or fashion or food or gossip when I could, without a second’s warning, become buried six feet under a bed of debris and rubble?

Two questions kept me awake, tossing and turning in feverish restlessness, that night.

The first:  ‘Was my life truly meaningless?’

And the second:   ‘Where/when/how will I ever obtain the tricky thing they call as happily ever after?’

Allah (swt), the Most Generous, Loving and Kind, finally manifested the answer I sought. Who knows, perhaps, it is the very same answer that every one of us, was unconsciously searching for. We all may be phrasing it differently; looking in different directions, pegging our hopes on different people, but the answer to our life’s struggle is one and the same.

We are born. Then we live. And then we die. But after that Allah (swt) will raise us all back to life, in a world where our souls will be immortal and our dwelling, eternal. Hence, “No” was the answer to my first question- my life was not worthless. On the contrary, it had the same significance an examination has prior to an important result- ‘The Akhirah’. As for the second question- it was obvious that, if I made the ultimate effort to shatter the fossilized coating around my heart and burst free; ready to engulf, wholeheartedly, my Lord’s message, I, as well as, any of my brothers and sisters, could and Insha’Allah will, discover the where, when and how to reach our elusive happily ever after.


Happily Ever After

wedding-ringsShe couldn’t see clearly through the thin film of tears, but she could make out her trembling hands; tremors running throughout her body. She had never felt like that before- not like that, but maybe similar. Flash backs from the past. And she was back at the assembly hall… assembly hall? Students standing in rows properly arranged as ever. Recognition dawned on her then. It was the assembly hall of her primary school when she was nine. She was confused though, why this memory? When the door beside the stage opened with a bang, bright light flooding through the doors, the brightest she had ever seen. What was that? Or .. who was that? She felt its sacredness in her heart. Was that an angel? Or Jesus?

Jesus? She snapped back to reality. She had dismissed that episode back then. . But then, that memory felt as real as ever. Maybe, it really was an unearthly entity. A moan escaped her lips.

The feeling was overwhelming. She could hardly keep herself together. All she wanted to do was to burst into tears and cry her heart out. When she heard the words again,

“There is no God but Allah, And Muhammad (sa) is His Messenger.”

And there was a silent explosion. All control broke and she fell into prostration;  the tears dripping faster than ever. She cried so much that she was tied up in hiccups.

She had lost the track of time by the moment she could gather herself again. When she got up, she finally became aware of the other people around. Her sisters, her friends in Islam. The sister after whom she had repeated Shahadah came into view. She had the sweetest smile playing through her lips and her eyes were wet. And, then was getting embraced by every sister in the mosque.

Oh, how her Lord has blessed her! A giggle of pure joy escaped her mouth before she knew. She covered her mouth realizing that she was sitting there for her Nikah. She had never been happier. It was the happiness that she had never really experienced before. She caught herself sighing out of happiness. She had been blessed with Islam, a whole bunch of sisters to help her, and a pious and righteous husband. She felt like the luckiest and the happiest person on the earth.

She looked back at the sisters who escorted her out- they were still giving her Duas. After the greeting, she turned towards the road. She could see him standing by the car, waiting for her. Her heart swelled with love that He had brought her to this day, and she could feel great days to come. She had finally found Him and she was ready to start her journey with her righteous man- the journey of getting closer to Allah (swt).  . Her story had a happily-ever-after that not even fairy tales ever had. Breathing in the air of determination, she started moving towards the car.

Waving Goodbye to Disney

The Old Walt Disney Castle LogoMariam experienced a dilemma, after going through the most popular Disney videos: Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel, Tangled and the like. Her daughter Hannah was a die-heart fan of the Disney movies. She was soon out of her ocean of thoughts, as she caught a glimpse of Hannah, who was flying with happiness after receiving a gift from her aunt – a dress that resembled the one worn by Cinderella, her favourite Disney character.

“Happily Ever After is Only in Jannah.” This expression, which she had recently read in an Islamic book, was banging on her level of consciousness and unconsciousness unceasingly.

“What am I teaching my girl? Am I myself pushing her in the world of deception and fiction? Will it not create a rift between the real and false? Would it not create a dissonance?” A series of questions flowed into her mind adding volume to her vulnerability.

Hannah, wearing that pretty Cinderella dress, was enjoying her meal with father, and for the first time, she did not seem to gain her mother’s warm look and praise.

“Daddy, see how pretty this dress is,” she was bouncing with delight.

Am I myself pushing her in the world of deception and fiction? Will it not create a rift between the real and false?

“My girl is the prettiest girl in the world!” Danial was overwhelmed to see her. “And she is fairer than snow white. And one day her prince will come and take her away from us to her palace, where there will be dwarves to serve my girl.”

“….and I will live happily ever after with my prince,” added Hannah.

Mariam used to be part of these discussions. She was the one who would always uplift and praise her daughter, show her hopeful dreams and a bright happy future ahead with her husband-to-be. It is a fact that mothers start to reflect on their daughter’s wedding the day they are born. They hope and pray for the unsurpassed, super perfect soul mate for their daughters.

After putting her daughter to sleep, she thought of sharing her recent thoughts with Danial. She tried her level best to phrase her words in such a way that they wouldn’t sound judgemental and cynical. “Dani, don’t you think we are communicating ample details of Disney stories to Mariam and thus leading her expectations to rise to a level of unmet fulfilments about her future marriage and husband?” she asked with a concerned look.

A widespread smile touched his lips. He said, “She is just seven years old; she does not know all this. It is just a story. Come on, you cannot be serious about it.” His statement caused her jaw to drop down in shock. Regaining composure, she said: “It is a serious matter. We are instilling falsehood in her perception and pushing her into the world of deception. We are making her believe that after getting married with her prince, she will have a happy life.”

“Do you remember Hijab, who was studying psychology?” she exclaimed anxiously.

He raised his eyebrow and paused for a while, as if he was sorting out her name from his long term memory. “Oh yes! That weird lady!” he exclaimed, with an outburst of laughter. He knew it very well that Mariam is very touchy about her friends, especially that one. He just wanted to make the situation lighter. But it did not make any change.

Ignoring his prank, she continued: “The other day, she was telling me about the subliminal cues these cartoons depict. She quoted that one cartoon named Lion King which was about a lion named Simba. According to a research, the wind that caused Simba’s hair to move had a message in disguise. With naked eye one cannot see, but mind being the master piece can absorb the meaning without any deliberate effort. When the wind was seen in slow motion, the word ‘sex’ was written.” She looked so stunned and worried communicating all this.

This information caught Danial’s attention, too. “Are you sure about it?” he exclaimed.

“She said so. Allah (swt) knows best. But we cannot deny the fact that cartoon nowadays are full of filth and sexuality. Apart from the ‘happily after notion’, they are also giving some really dangerous and unacceptable messages, which are gradually seeping into our culture and becoming a part of our norms.”

“And yes, how can we ignore that birthday party incident that took place in school, where kids kissed on lips after cake cutting ceremony. According to them, they were dating, and the Disney movies end by this kissing scene. We are making it so absorbent.”

“Hmm-mm,” he sighed. Lost in his thoughts, he uttered: “The discussion has reminded me of my mother. She used to say that this world is a prison for a believer. Life in this world will be full of pain, sorrows and tests, but the later life will be eternal, loaded with happiness, ease, laughter and tranquillity. It is we, who decide, which life to be treasured. If we keep our focus here then we are at a total loss as we are sacrificing permanent peace for temporary peace. We are so involved in this world’s deception that we don’t even consider the righteousness of our thoughts and actions, of our intention and preferences.”

Mariam was at ease now. It is an immense blessing, when both partners are on the same page.

We are so involved in this world’s deception that we don’t even consider the righteousness of our thoughts and actions, of our intention and preferences.

“So what can we do now? I mean, since we have induced so much love for Disney world in Hannah’s heart – how to detox it?” she asked him.

He said: “It will be difficult, but nothing is impossible, if we really intend to do it. First of all, together we should supplicate. Repent for our mistake and beg for Allah’s (swt) aid.”

“Divert her interest to such other activities as baking, for example,” Mariam added her suggestion. “Yes, this sounds good. In addition to this, we can talk to her about Jannah, its gardens and eternal life and will try to shift her idea of happiness to it. And make her greedy to do good deeds, in order to acquire Jannah,” he added. “Most importantly, we should tell her stories about the lives of Asiya (ra) and prophet Noah (as), who, despite their piety and spirituality, ended up getting bad spouses, which became a source of pain, not pleasure. This will make her realize that marriage is not all about ‘happily ever after’; likewise, that your goodness will not guarantee you the pleasures of life in this world.”

She concluded by saying: “So true! It is our trial period. Our real home is Jannah, and its pleasure and happiness should be our sole aim. In this world, bad things can happen with good people, too. This all has brought the negligence in us towards reality.

As the clock struck two at night, they finally retired to bed, having discussed their vision and formed a firm strategy to follow with the help of Allah (swt).

Happily Ever After

Photo credit: jcbwalsh / Foter / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: jcbwalsh / Foter / CC BY-NC

I leaned back into the cosy garden chair and let the cool, refreshing breeze lift me into an aura of mesmerizing bliss. The whistling air danced on my cheeks and eyelids, as my eight-year-old sister Zunairah read “The Beauty and the Beast” out loud. New to the beautiful circle of books, she plunged into the story and sighed, when she read the last words: “And they lived happily ever after.”

For the first time, those very words, which I had read and listened to happily my entire seventeen years, irked me. I wanted to strangle Beauty, as she smiled into her Prince’s eyes and calmly entered the fantasies of every girl, who wanted to live happily ever after like her.

Smiling, I kissed Zunairah and headed inside, so much for enjoying sunsets; it was now time to go to college. I slipped into my boring blue uniform and joked with my neighbour, as her driver dropped us off – we went to the same college. At the gate, we parted and headed off to our different classes. I concentrated on my path and my safe cocoon inside my headscarf, as I walked through the hoards of students crowding the hallways, carefully ignoring the baseless staring boys everywhere.

“Hey, Yasmin!” my best friend blithely skipped towards me from the door of our classroom.

“Hey, Sehr, you’re early today?” I slyly smiled and half hugged her, she was known to never be early.

“Yeah, daddy had work to do at the hotel.” She explained, smiling, “Hey, there’s Mehak!”

So it was; my other best friend waved at us, as she walked forward – our trio was complete.

“You cannot imagine how many suitors are coming to ask for my sister’s hand in matrimony with their kid!” she burst with the news.

We laughed gleefully, as we pictured what she had just told us. It seemed such a jolly idea – her sister getting married.

“So when should we wish her joy?” I teased her, as we dropped our bags on the graffiti stricken chairs in the back of the classroom.

“Shut up, Yasmin, not yet obviously!” she rolled her eyes at my lame joking skills.

“My sister can’t wait to get married,” Sehr chirped, “honestly, you sit with her for one night, Yasmin, and you won’t be able to either.”

“Yasmin, you’re ridiculous. You know you will get married one day.” Mehak turned the subject to me.

“I won’t, and I don’t want to talk about it!” I snapped. I hated to talk about marriage, especially since I found people generally not comprehending my train of thought; besides, I found boys irritating and immature.

“Boys aren’t as stupid and narrow-minded as you say they are!” sehr persisted. I ignored her, and thanked Allah (swt), when the teacher came in.

The first three periods flew by, and as our fourth one was free, we formed a circle with our chairs with the rest of the girls in class. We decided to play Dare and Extreme Dare, and played for half the period until Kinza, a girl, had to make an announcement.

“He finally asked me out!” she proudly said.

My friends and I weren’t too thrilled.

“And…?” I said in disgust.

“And we’re going to get married after university and live happily ever after!” she sighed. I rolled my eyes at her absurdity.

“You really believe that? Fine, live your pathetic dream. We don’t need guys now; think of marriage when the time comes. Don’t be a fool!” I groaned and got up. My friends followed me.

“Stop overreacting!” Sehr said, “you know it’s of no use.”

“Right.” I thought.

* * *

It was one of our family trips to the mountains during our winter holidays. My father wound the car through the over-powering conifers dwelling in the mountains. Pine cones decorated the forests and the roads, increasing the magnificent splendour of nature. On the very top, I perceived the sparkling white of snow, and eagerly anticipated our stay in the rest house at the top.

Rolling my window down as far as it would go, I breathed in the beautiful chill of winter up high. I pulled up the collar of my coat and hugged myself, as we reached our destination.

I stepped out into the soft cushion of snow and smiled, as I felt snowflakes still showering upon us with hypnotizing happiness. While my parents and Zunairah walked to the rest house, I took the opportunity to wander about in that exquisite place; enchanted by the heavenly atmosphere, my mind romanced away in an epic imagination. I felt the smallness of my troubles and bothers; and experienced wholeness, as I grasped the bigger picture. The world seemed puny, its worries still tinier. We weren’t sent to worry about securing the perfect partner, so we could fulfil our dreams. Life is so much greater – a book, whose epilogue I had found. I didn’t need any of the worlds, for I had discovered my love and striving to reach my final epitome of closeness with Him, so that I could live happily here and in the hereafter with my true love – Allah (swt).

This is what I call ‘happily ever after’ indeed.


Marriage: A Transit Towards Happily Ever After


“And they lived happily ever after” is how almost all of our childhood fairytales concluded. The media, movies, and novels are all thriving on the man-woman relationship. Unfortunately, they glamourize just one aspect of marriage and delude the youth into believing that it is all about roses, romance, and riches.


The institution of marriage is so much more than that. It is indeed an enchanting bond, but it also entails responsibilities, duties, compromises, and sacrifices. The latter is something we often find we are not ready for!

In order to live a pleasant and successful married life, we have to set right our perspective: happily ever after is only in the hereafter and marriage is just a transit towards it. Do not expect everything to be perfect; the bumps are bound to come. They are only a test for you to pass as you move on to the next world, which is eternal.

The Ground Reality: Life is a Test!

We, as human beings, are not wandering on the earth for nothing. Allah (swt) has created us for a purpose. He says in the Quran: “Who has created death and life, that He may test you which of you is best in deed.” (Al-Mulk 67:2)

We are like students giving an exam. This examination phase is a prelude to the long life in the hereafter. Every coming day and every role that we have is a question paper from Allah (swt) that needs to be filled with answers learned from the Quran and Sunnah. The one who answers correctly shall be granted the ultimate success.

Through the treatise of Nikah, the bride and groom actually enter into a new and tougher exam. From being just sons/daughters and brothers/sisters, they are promoted to many more roles, the most significant of which has to do with forming a new family. Stay calm! Just like a mother does not require her two-year-old to fetch heavy suitcases for her, Allah (swt) does not burden a soul with more than it can bear. You are put through only as much as you can handle.

Every Muslim marriage is set in motion by the Khutbah of Prophet Muhammad (sa). The Nikah sermon is a treasure chest of reminders and advice. Like a guess paper, it hints at the most vital areas that we need to focus on in this stage of life.

Pleasing Him (swt) Together

Can you imagine people talking about death at such an auspicious occasion as marriage? Did you know that the Nikah sermon does talk about it? The first Ayah mentioned by Muhammad (sa) is: “O you who believe! Fear Allah (by doing all that He has ordered and by abstaining from all that He has forbidden) as He should be feared. [Obey Him, be thankful to Him, and remember Him always], and die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allah.” (Al-Imran 3:102)

Your death can be in a state of submission to Allah (swt) only if your life has been the same way. Amidst the joy, when one is most likely to forget Allah (swt), Muhammad (sa) is reminding the couple of Him. It is Allah (swt) Who has blessed you with a spouse; your foremost loyalty should be to the ever-loving Rabb (swt). Adorn yourself with Taqwa; be mindful of Allah (swt), His likes and His dislikes at all times. You must not anger Him in order to satisfy others. Eventually, your return and accountability is to Him.

Taqwa (God consciousness) and striving for Allah’s (swt) pleasure should form the foundation of our homes. Strive to be a believing couple in the truest sense and make your dream come true: a perfect life – together forever in the gardens of eternity.

Moreover, remember that Ali (rtam) and Fatima (rtaf) are not the only examples for us. Sometimes, we may encounter a situation like that of Asiya or Lut (as). Their spouses weren’t their partners in Deen; however, this did not become a hindrance for them as they passed their test.

Strengthening the Ties of Relationship

The second most significant lesson in the Nikah sermon is to maintain the ties of relationship. It is not just you anymore. The married couple becomes intertwined in many new relationships.

According to a Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa), the most beloved act for Shaitan is to cause a rift between a husband and a wife. Beware of this enemy between you and make it a principle to forgive and reconcile. If one is angry, the other must keep calm at the time.

Regarding the in-laws, remember that Islam is a religion of moderation; it does not demand that we comply with everything the in-laws say, nor does it allow that we forsake them completely. In our culture, unfortunately, one extreme is leading to the other. From having too much influence, they are now being outclassed completely, not even given the status and rights equal to that of a neighbour! Treat your parents/siblings and those of your spouse equally and remember the two golden rules: Ihsan and avoiding negative assumptions.

On a side note, do not peek into the “exam papers” of others to point out their mistakes. Pay attention to your own and worry about the rights you have to give. Insha’Allah, Allah (swt) will take care of yours.

Cherish Your Garment

The look of her magnificent dress was being ruined by the scorn on her face. Yes, sometimes we may have the very best, but our attitude of ungratefulness and picking faults can complicate our life.

Allah (swt) has used the perfect parable for the husband-wife relationship in the Quran. He says: “They are Libas [i.e. body cover, or screen, or Sakan(i.e. you enjoy the pleasure of living with her – as in Verse 7:189) Tafsir AtTabari] for you and you are the same for them.” (Al-Baqarah 2:187)

Libas is a means of covering; it adorns us, highlights our beauty and saves us from cold and heat. Always be grateful for your spouse without comparing him/her to others. A dress may look beautiful on someone else, but for you it might not even be your size!

Whenever you feel resentful about something in your spouse, start making a mental list of all the positive qualities he/she possesses. Especially, make a list of all the qualities your spouse has that your father/brother or sister/mother do not have! An instant “Alhumdulillah” will for sure come from the heart.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “A believer must not hate (his wife) believing woman; if he dislikes one of her characteristics, he will be pleased with another.” (Muslim) The same rule goes for believing women.

A husband and a wife constitute the basic unit of the Ummah. They are the producers of the future Muslim generation. Today, the Ummah is facing a severe shortage of quality men. For this unit to raise courageous Muslim leaders, sincere Mujahideen, devoted Daees and true scholars, it needs to be strong and productive! Aim high and build your home over the bricks of Taqwa, gratefulness, and Ihsan.

Happily Ever After – The Life that Everyone Wants

Happily Ever After

Everyone wants to live happily ever after; however, not everyone can. For the young, the phrase ‘happily ever after’ usually translates into getting married. Shaykh ash-Shanqeeti, a teacher of great Ikhlas (sincerity) with over two hundred thousand students, was not married until 48 years of age. His students were after him to get married, but he refused out of fear of offending his mother. He got married after her death. When asked why he didn’t marry earlier, he replied: “The one who has Allah (swt) on his mind, the Quran in his heart and the problems of the Muslimeen on his shoulders has no time for marriage.”

This is the true ‘happily ever after’.

The prophets and the messengers tasted the sweetness of faith, though they faced trying times in their lives. Prophet Moosa (as) felt it when he was pursued by the Pharaoh. Prophet Ibrahim (as) felt it when he was thrown into the fire. Prophet Yusuf (as) felt it while he languished in prison. Prophet Muhammad (sa) felt it during his stay in the Cave of Thawr, while migrating to Madinah. Prophet Yunus (as) felt it when he was swallowed by the whale. The Sahabah felt it when atrocities were committed against them.

A renowned scholar of Islam Ibrahim ibn Adham has said: “We are living in such sweetness that if kings knew about it, they would fight us over it with their swords.” Note that he was a very poor man. This shows that happiness does not come from money.

Ibn Taymiyah, another scholar of Islam, has said: “There is a Paradise in this life. Those who do not enter it here shall not enter it in the Hereafter.” When he was thrown into prison, he said: “What can my enemies possibly do to me? My Paradise is in my heart; wherever I go, it goes with me, inseparable from me. For me, prison is a place of (religious) retreat (Itikaaf); execution is my opportunity for martyrdom (Shahadah); exile from my town is only a chance to travel (Siyahah).” For such scholars, real imprisonment was the imprisonment of the heart by Allah (swt).

In the contemporary world, we see a lot of people with plenty of money and fame. Yet they do not live ‘happily ever after’. Rather, they either die as lonely individuals or commit suicide out of depression. Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley are only a few examples.

On the other hand, we have one Surah in the Quran, whose recitation gives immense happiness and a feeling of being blessed. That is Surah Ad-Duha. Consider its first verse:

“By the forenoon (after sun-rise); and by the night when it is still (or darkens); Your Lord (O Muhammad [sa]) has neither forsaken you nor hated you.” (Ad-Duha 93:1-3)

This Surah was revealed when Prophet Muhammad (sa) had not received the revelation for six months, and was fearful that Allah (swt) might be angry with him. The first verse of the Surah instructs to look at the Sun and its brightness, and forget the doom and the gloom. Depressed people usually sleep during the day and stay awake during the night. Hence, the very first verse swears by the forenoon and then by darkness that Allah (swt) has not forgotten His Prophet (sa) nor is he angry with him. The Surah then goes on to mention three remedies for depression:

“Therefore, treat not the orphan with oppression, and repulse not the beggar; and proclaim the Grace of your Lord (i.e. the Prophethood and all other Graces).” (Ad-Duha 93:9-11)

The three sure-fire cures for depression include:

  • Consider the condition of the orphans and never say ‘no’ to them;
  • Don’t shun the poor; treat them kindly;
  • Enumerate the praises of Allah (swt).

When faced with any problem, one should do the above, plus recite as many invocations as possible, in order to rely upon Allah (swt) only. The Prophet (sa) once saw in the Masjid a Sahabi, who was worried about his debts. He (sa) taught him the following Dua to recite during such a time:

“Oh Allah! Truly I seek refuge in You from anxiety and grief; and I seek refuge in You from inability and laziness; and I seek refuge in You from miserliness and faint-heartedness; and I seek refuge in You from the burden of debt and the coercion of men.” (Abu Dawood)

Practical Ways to Achieve Happiness

Here are a few:

Stop looking in the rear-view mirror: Do not dwell on your past. If you keep looking back, while driving a car, you will crash.

Remain positive in the face of the negative: Every trying circumstance has something good in it. Renowned poet, Al-Mutanabbi, wrote some of his best poetry while he was sick. Good comes when you are least expecting it. Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Abi Sahl Abu Bakr al-Sarakhsi was an Islamic scholar, who was imprisoned by the Khaleefah. He spent fifteen years in prison. While in prison, he used to dictate to his students the content of his book “Al-Mabsoot”. He is known for his excellent memory, because of which he was able to quote the works of other scholars.

Be patient, when doing Dawah: Don’t let people get to you. Expect criticism, when you enjoin good and forbid evil. Persevere with sincere intentions. Remember: if people criticize you behind your back, they are only increasing your good deeds and decreasing their own.

Attributes of People who Think Positively

  • They are curious. They look at a goal and then think of ways to achieve it.
  • They have leadership qualities. They approach challenges maturely and take calculated risks.
  • They never give up. If they fail, they try even harder.
  • They are focused and have self-respect.

Attributes of People who Think Negatively

  • They have neither vision nor clarity.
  • They are followers, not leaders.
  • They dread challenges.
  • They avoid hard work.
  • They give up hope after every failure.
  • They are frustrated with life and have low self-esteem.

Unlocking the Positive

If you feel you tend to think negatively, follow these strategies for staying positive:

Develop a clear vision: Why are you here and what do you want to do? Define your purpose of life and follow it. Think about what gives you peace of mind and happiness, and make it your goal.

Goals: If defining a vision seems impossible, write down three main goals related to Allah (swt), your family and finances. Work on those.

Ask others: Ask people, who know you, to point out your strengths and weaknesses. Work on them.

Aim for Firdaws: Strive hard to achieve excellence and the highest level in Paradise called Firdaws.

Supplicate: Ask from Allah (swt): “Oh my Rabb! What do you want from me?”

Last, but not the least, think about what the word ‘create’ stands for: current, reality, explore, alternatives, take action.

Current: You want to do Dawah, and you want to enjoin good and forbid evil. This is your current goal.

Reality: You don’t know how or where to start.

Explore alternatives: You join an institute to learn Islamic knowledge first and then explore options to impart it from that institute only.

Take action: You search and explore your options, and choose an institute. Then, you enrol in it.

Don’t come to the end of your life wondering, why you were here in the first place. Take the first step today and ‘happily ever after’ will be no longer out of reach, Insha’Allah!

Adapted from a lectureshop organized by “LiveDeen”. Transcribed for “Hiba” by Umm Ibrahim.