Happiness is a goal that everyone is aiming to achieve, and there is no blame on that. Each and everyone wants a happy life. People aspire to live a happy life. Parents work hard to secure a happy life for themselves and their children. There are also indices and systems which intend to rate happiness of the people of different countries. Therefore, there is nothing wrong at all to pursue happiness.
So, what is happiness?
The biggest misunderstanding about it is that generally people confuse happiness with pleasure and good life. Given the fact that materialism has affected our view of the world almost in every aspect, we are inclined to define happiness only from a materialist point of view. That’s why it is hard to find two people define it the same as well as barely is there any materialist thinker who can give a comprehensive meaning of happiness.
On the other hand, the Qur’an presents a very comprehensive and consistent meaning of happiness. As the Qur’an is unique in its discourse, it avoids defining it as an academic book would do; instead, it speaks of the place where happiness can be achieved, and it gives the logical reasons behind this divine affirmation.
According to the Qur’an, happiness exists only in Paradise, and there are three logical reasons behind it. First, the residents of Paradise have unlimited and never ending food, clothes and shelter to maximize their pleasure; second, there’s no fear for the future – fear of death and loss; third, there is no grief for the past. Only if these are possible, one can find happiness.
In other words, the Qur’an makes a clear distinction between pleasure and happiness. We could experience pleasure, but that’s not happiness because it does not last. Any kind of pleasure in this world is limited and finite. At the same time, everything that we assume is the reason for happiness, which is confused with pleasure anyway, is prone to loss and end. If one owns a beautiful mansion, he or she is either afraid of losing it, or, in case it is gone, he or she will grieve over it.
So, the Qur’an is saying that as long as something is prone to loss, it cannot be the reason for happiness. Owing a house, having a good job, a family, children, a luxurious car and clothes and food, all of these could give one some pleasure, but the very fact that they might end or that we might lose them, this makes us have fear, and if we lose any of them, we grieve.
Paradise is free from the fear of loss and the grieve for the past. This is the very definition of happiness according to the Qur’an. In this world, however, people can achieve happiness only if they do the deeds which lead to the place of happiness, i.e., Paradise, not the deeds of pleasure.
Pleasure is a worldly reward and an incentive to do something, to live, to strive, but it is not happiness. Happiness cannot be contingent upon something that ends and is temporary.