Friday, April 20, 2012

Happiness Revisited

The great sufi saint of the tabi'in era, just one  or two generations after Prophet Muhammad [ pbuh] and the sahabi period, Hasan Al Basri concluded  rather abruptly that tranquility, happiness and contentment in this life and the afterlife rest on three things :

1. Recitation of the Quran
2. Solat 
3. Zikrullah

Must have sound rather  too simplistic to most  of us present day Muslims,  mildly, partially or totally 'disconnected' from the Din or otherwise.. He was of course addressing  Muslims of his century, the 8th  or 7th century or so, where doing all the basic 5 pillars of Islam were a matter of routine. 'Nominal Muslims' were  non existent and if they exist, regarded as  kuffar or worse, bottom of the  heap 'Munafikun'.

This is the 21st century. Nominal Muslims  and the so called 'Munafik' rule and dominate the Muslim hinterland interfacing with the Western world. Values have changed. Human rights. Animal rights. Green right. All rights except God's right...The world has become godless. Political correctness is the order of the day. This is the 'period' when wrongs become right and rights become inordinately wrong.

Even when people of religion discuss 'happiness' with the rest of the world, it has to be 'laced' and sugar coated with 'honey' and the right PC. Otherwise the United Nations and the whole might of the Security Council will come 'homing' on them in due course !
 [ see ' On tranquility, happiness and contentment : An Emory University discourse with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, Prof  Hoessien Nasr,  His Honourable, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sack  and Rev Schorri ....  ]

I have practically gone 'around the world' studying and researching on the nature of happiness. Have read Holiness Dalai Lama's book on 'Happiness' and found him quite hollow. Listened to gurus and self proclaimed expert on lifestlye . All lacking substance and direction, most totally lost.
Listened to hundreds of lectures on 'tranquility and contentment', listened to various professors and philosophers. All seemed only to concentrate on the now and here. Those who believe in a tomorrow beyond today, got themselves lost in the central issue of God and minor gods !

Certainly happiness and tranquility has nothing to do with your position in life or how much money you have in the bank.
One can be the president of USA, or a powerful figure in a nation state or a sultan with  absolute power, with hundreds at one's beck and call. 
One can have a Bentley Turbo and a fleet of Mercs and Porches in the garage and a trophy wife waiting in bed.  But happiness may still be elusive. In fact these symbols  of success could guarantee one a real big headache if one lack the knowledge and the wisdom to handle them.  We would be wise to be reminded by what Prophet Mosses [ pbuh ], had to say about the age of affluence to the Israelites  following the end of years of hardship after the exodus  from Egypt :

 "Affluence is the  preamble of heedlessness, disbelieve and misplaced pride".

At the personal level I have 'experimented' myself with zikr, in the depth of the ocean bed, zikr hours and hours  in endurance riding on the back of a galloping horse over hills and dales. I have even wokened up in the wee hours of the morning to experience the bliss of solitude and prayer. Had read volumes of tafseer and books.....these 'experiments', all to no avail, if the heart is not there.
Happiness is not on the hills  or dales or in books or volumes of is just there in one's heart to be rediscovered !

At the end of the day, I have to conclude, on matters of the heart, and indeed tranquility, contentment and happiness are things of the heart, we have to give it ,to the sufis who practice 'experiential Islam'. that indeed the sufi saint, Hassan Al Basri, had got it right.

For all the professors , philosophers and people who are expert at weaving words and phrases in this world, from our perspective as Muslims at least, the 'keys to the garden' remained only in three  magic words:
Recite the Quran [ Iqra ], Solat, Zikr.

It is for all of us to just discover them on our very own individual  life journey  !
Mekkah and Medinah geographically are situated in Saudi Arabia, but for those who have arrive, these two venerated places of worship should be in one's heart !

on recitation of the Quran:
[Yususf Estes]
[Mufti Menk of Zimbabawe]

on solat:
[Mukhtar Al  Magraoui]

on zikr :
[Yasir Qadhi]

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