My dear brothers and sisters in Islam, it is a common fact of existence that each and every living being, each and every breathingorganism has but one ultimate goal. In each and every thing that it does – in its sleep and its wakeful state, in its movement and its rest, in its eating and drinking and socializing – in whatever action that ANY living organism does – animal/man/jinn, Muslim or Non-Muslim, male or female – there is but one ultimate goal. And that goal is to find an inner happiness. That goal is to be fulfilled and too feel peaceful within themselves.
So, whatever every person does, that person believes that through this thing, “I will be happy. It will bring me comfort; it will bring me pleasure; it will bring me joy and peace.” This is what motivates every single living organism, every single being – this is what motivates it. Now, the goal is one, and that is the goal to feel happy. But we find that the paths to find this happiness are different. We find that various people take different goals, different methods, different paths, and different roads. And they all think that they will arrive at the same destination.
So we find that one group of people believes that happiness will be found through possessions, through money, through wealth, through owning the best houses and cars. And so, you find [that] this person, all that he does or she does is to figure out, “How can I get the most money? What degree should I get; what education, what university, which job, which firm, which company? How can I climb the corporate ladder?” Their entire life becomes achieving wealth, because of which they think they will become happy…
Another group of people think that happiness will be found through fame, through recognition. And so you find this group, all that they do [is], “What can make me famous? How can society recognize me?” So they become actors/actresses, go into music and singing. Or, if they're into Arts and Sciences, they think of discovery: “What can I discover to make me famous, to win a Nobel Prize, or to win this award? When everybody knows who I am, that is when I will achieve happiness and satisfaction…”
Yet another group of people believes that happiness is found through satisfying one's animal desires – sensual instincts. And so, you find this group of people turning to women and wine, to drugs and cheap luxuries. And they think that by numbing out their animal senses, by making sure each and every desire inside of them is met, they will find happiness… And most of us, most of us, sadly, believe that happiness is a combination of the above factors. A little bit of wealth, with a little bit of fame and a little bit of sensual desires. This is how we find “happiness.”
But the reality is, when you look at the people who have spent their lives following these various paths, when you look at the people whom society considers have reached the upper echelons of wealth, of fame, of sensuality – the most evil people in terms of sensuality, the most richest people in terms of wealth, the most famous people in terms of recognition – the rest of society considers they have arrived –
If you were to interview this elite, if you were to get to know them and ask them, “You have spent your life hoarding this wealth, amassing fortunes, you're on the Forbes list of 100 richest people or 50 richest people; you're one of the most influential people according to Times Magazine; you're one of the most famous actors and actresses – everybody knows you; your pictures appear on the magazines; you fall, you sneeze, you laugh, it becomes a national news item; you enter the hospital, you come out of it, the whole world knows… Fine, let me ask: have you achieved… happiness?
“Sure, you're rich, you're famous, you're wealthy, sure – [but] have you achieved this inner happiness? Because the rest of society looks up to you. The rest of society believes you have, they take you as their role models, they take you as their leaders that they have to emulate. Each and every thing that you do becomes a religion for them, they follow your statistics, your marriages and divorces – you become their role model! “But let me ask you: are you happy in your personal life? Have you achieved what the rest of the people think you have achieved?”
And if these people could be honest with you (and many of them have, if you read their interviews, and many of them are not – but if they could be honest with you), they would say, ALL of them, “Not yet…”
For many people, they very thing that they were desiring becomes a curse. For many people, the fame, the recognition, becomes a curse that they cannot get out of it, they cannot live normal lives anymore. They were the ones who didn't want to live normal lives, they were the ones striving to get famous. Once they reach there, they regret it. They can't enjoy a normal life anymore… and they have no one to blame but themselves.
When they become rich, their entire thinking, their entire day and night becomes worrying about the stock going up and down, my company floundering or getting more money, this transaction, that business, that deal going through. In other words, their time becomes locked up with that money, not with their family, not with the joys of life, not with the happiness. So what if they wear a fancier suit and they drive a better car?! In their hearts they are more busier, they are more filthy. In their hearts they have nothing to enjoy that with, because their minds are always thinking about this money and how to get more and how to make sure it doesn't go away. They become slaves to the money that they were worshipping besides Allah.
And the same goes for sensuality, and the same goes for satisfying your desires. Ask anybody – anybody – and many of us, unfortunately, have fallen also into these types of sins, and so you know from your own self – do these desires bring about infinite happiness? Whatever they are, do they bring about genuine joy and sincerity? Do they bring about fulfillment? Or – or, is it like a poisoned sweet, that you enjoy for a while. You enjoy something for a while, and then as soon as that enjoyment finishes, the outer layer dissolves, [and] what is left is bitter poison; what is left is that which rots the heart?
This is something we experience in our daily lives, when we commit a sin, whatever that sin might be. Sure we enjoy it, that's why we committed the sin. Let us not fool ourselves and say there is no pleasure in sin. Of course there is pleasure in sin – that is why we commit sins; because we enjoy doing them. But let me ask you, when we finish that sin, even during, while committing that sin and as soon as we finish it: Do we feel proud? Do we feel good? Do we feel happy inside of ourselves? On the contrary, we feel disgusted. We feel evil, we feel dirty – a type of dirtiness, you can take a thousand showers, it won't wash away the dirt that you feel because it is an inner dirt. It is an inner garbage that you have put into yourself and your own system.
All of this shows us that the paths to happiness that mankind has chosen are not the ultimate paths to happiness. They are not. We don't need Qur'an and Sunnah to prove this – life proves it. Life itself proves it to us. Of course, the Qur'an and Sunnah adds to this, but we don't need to quote evidences, because human experience, human interaction, is enough of an evidence that the paths to happiness are not found in the ways that most of mankind are doing them. So the question arises, if the paths to happiness are not as we have mentioned before, what, then, IS the path to happiness?
This goes back to a very interesting point, brothers and sisters. This goes back to a very profound point. And before I answer the question, “What is happiness and how do we get there?”, let us ask another question that will help us get to the answer of the final question. And this initial question is: “Who are we, and what are we made of?” What are you composed of? You will respond: “I am composed of body and soul. I have a body, this physical body, and I have an inner soul and the two put together form life as we know it.”
So I ask you, “Ok, what is this body made of?” You will say: this body is made of earth and clay, – which is the earth around us – Allah fashioned this clay, and then blew life into it. So since the body is made of earth, in order to feed the body, we need to feed it with nutrients that come from the earth. The body is made from earth – how to feed the body? From nutrients made from this earth. Allah 'azza wa jel caused plants to grow, animals eat the plants, water is stored in the soil, comes down from the skies and we find it in the lakes and rivers. So we eat and drink from the source of our body, and that is: the land around us.
You have taken care of your physical side. But you see, most people consider pleasure only to be composed of body. So they find pleasure through bodily experiences. They forget, what makes them really human is the soul. What makes them above other beings, other creatures, is the intelligent soul that Allah gave us. This intelligent soul is what makes us above animals, it makes us above everything else. Allah gave us a mind, a soul, an active mind to think – and this soul, where did it come from? Did it come from this earth? No? Allah says, – [“…and I have breathed into him of My Spirit…” (Qur’an 15:29 and Quran 38:720)] – Allah 'azzawajel blew His soul into Adam alayhi assalam. Now, when Allah says His 'rooh', it doesn't mean – a'oothu billah – [that] there's an element of divinity. Many Muslims misunderstand, and you have some groups saying we have – every one of us has – divinity inside of us – a'oothu billah. This is not the belief of Muslims. When Allah says “Our spirit,” Allah 'azza wa jel is saying: We created and blew it into the people. Just like the house of Allah is a created house… Similarly, when Allah says, We blew from Our spirit into man, Allah created a rooh, Allah created something that He blew into us, and this rooh is from Allah subhanhu wata'ala. And Allah says: you will never know much about this rooh: – “They ask you: what is the rooh?” – what is this thing? – “Say: the rooh is from the command of Allah and you don't have any knowledge except a little bit about it” (17:85) –
You don't have much knowledge. But we do know it is from Allah. So the question is, what will we nourish the rooh with? And when we answer this question, that is when we will answer “how to gain happiness.” How so? Because as we said, what makes us human, more than the body, is the rooh. What makes us truly human – the body comes and goes; the soul will be eternal. The soul will be, either in jahennam or in jennah, with the body, but the body is going to go through many phases. The rooh will not go through any phase. The rooh will always be the rooh. So by feeding the rooh, we attain eternal life. And by neglecting the rooh, we suffocate the rooh. What is the rooh fed by? This is the question. The response: the rooh must be fed from substances that originate from its [own] origins, just like the body must be fed from substances that originated from where the body originated. Where did the rooh originate form? From Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala.
Therefore, to feed the rooh, we need to sustain it via a connection with Allah subhanahuwata'ala. We need a feeding tube, if you like, from all that relates to Allah subhanahuwata'ala. Hence – how do we attain happiness? By feeding the rooh. How do we feed the rooh? By establishing a connection with Allah. How do we establish a connection with Allah? By doing what Allah wants us to do… Fasting… praying… charity… thikr… every single act of worship that we do, it will feed the rooh; it makes the rooh grow stronger. It will make the rooh become more alive, and when the rooh is alive, even if the body is weak – subhan Allah, even if the body is dead – when the rooh is alive, it will enjoy blessings from Allah in the hereafter. Even when the body is dead, because the rooh is alive, it will be happy.
But if the body is alive, and the rooh is not fed – if you don't feed the rooh – no matter how “alive” your body is, your rooh will be dead. And if your rooh is dead, you don't feel any purpose of living, you don't have enjoyment of life. You don't enjoy life because you don't have a real rooh inside of you. You have a half-dead rooh, you have a rooh that is not alive, and that is why Allah subhanahuwata'ala calls the person who does not worship Him – He calls him dead:
– “Give the example of the one who was dead” – Allah says – “and We gave him life” (6:122)-
The scholars of tafseer say: this verse applies to the one who was not worshipping Allah, and Allah called him dead. And then Allah says: “We gave him life” by bringing him into My worship, by bringing him into the sphere of connecting himself with Allah. So the point is, this verse calls the person who does not worship Allah dead. Even though he is living – he's walking on the face of this earth; but Allah calls him dead: Then Allah says: “fa 'ahyaynaah” – “We gave him life” – by guiding him to Islam, We gave him life by giving him a reason to live, a reason to feel that happiness and joy.
Brothers and sisters, ultimate happiness, ultimate happiness comes from Allah subhanahuwata'ala. And in order to get that happiness, we need to establish a connection with Allah. Once we establish a connection with Allah, the world becomes secondary – what we have, alhamdulillah, what we don't have, alhamdulillah! The world does not become our ultimate goal. And when the world seizes to be our ultimate goal, then all of a sudden we are content with what we have. Our money, our wealth, our fame, our family, our health – everything: we have it, alhamdulillah, we thank Allah, we don't, we are still thankful and our attitudes are optimistic and hoping for the best form Allah.
So the point being, when we correct our inner state, our rooh, the outer state becomes truly irrelevant. When we don't correct our inner state, no matter how much we feed the outer state, the body, it will never be satisfied. No matter what we do with the the body, it will never be satisfied, it will always want more and more and more. But if we feed the rooh, then the body becomes content, and when it becomes content, then and only then is where we find ultimate happiness. What I have just said, brothers and sisters, is not something that I need to back up with Qur'an and Sunnah, even though it can be backed up with Qur'an an Sunnah. Because, as I said initially, this is something that we experiences in our lives. It is something that is a fact, that each and every one of us has tasted. We don't need to prove it through external sources, because we are living proofs of it.
Let me ask you a question, and answer yourself in your own mind this: how do you feel on a day that you've performedyour five prayers? How do you feel on a day that you woke up for Fajr and you prayed Fajr at its proper time? How do you feel when you recite the Qur'an and you close that book and you put it back? How do you feel for the rest of the day? How do you feel after a LONG day of fasting in Ramadan, and you break your fast, you've been tired physically – how do you feel inside? How do you feel after doing 'umrah or hajj? How do you feel after giving charity to a poor person and nobody knows except Allah subhanahuwata'ala, and you fed that person and you gave him money – how do you feel inside of you?
I ask you this question: this feeling of joy, of happiness, of fulfillment – can you purchase the feeling by all the money in the world? Can you buy it, can you go to the shop and say: GIVE me this inner happiness that one day's fasting gave me! Give me this feeling that reading the Qur'an gave me. Can ALL the money in the WORLD purchase that happiness inside of you? By Allah, YOU know the answer: no, it cannot. You feel fulfilled and happy because of what you have done, because you established a connection with Allah, because Allah subhanahuwata'ala has become a part of your life. Your goal, your ultimate destiny is to please Allah, and when it becomes to please Allah, you feel fulfilled. Why do you feel fulfilled? Because this is why Allah created you: – “I have only created men and jinn to worship Me” (51:56) – When you do what Allah wants you to do, of course you will feel fulfilled. Of course! Allah made you for this purpose. When you do it, you feel fulfilled because you are fulfilling your purpose of life!
But when you neglect Allah – when you neglect Allah, when you neglect the religion, when you neglect the spirituality, what happens? Wallahi, you can eat, you can feed yourself, you can follow every passion in the book – it would increase you nothing by disgust, nothing but feeling bad, nothing but regret, nothing but remorse. You can do each and every sin in the book, and yet at the end of all of that, you have not attained – forget happiness – you have attained ultimate sadness. You have wasted your life, you have neglected what Allah 'azzawajel has created you for, and you feel it in your heart. And again, I ask you: when you commit a sin, that feeling that you get after committing that sin, that feeling of guilt, that feeling of distancing yourself from Allah, that you have done something that displeased Allah – can ALL the money in the WORLD get rid of that feeling? Can ALL the money in the world get rid of that feeling that you have that YOU have gone against the purpose of creation? No, it cannot.
So, my brothers and sisters, now my question now comes to myself and all of you: if this feeling is a feeling that we know from our lives, without even reading the Qur'an and Sunnah (I can quote you dozens of verses, dozens of ahadeeth, dozens of aathaar of the scholars of the past), but this is something I don't need to do – why? Because I know it as well as you. You experience it, and I experience it, in our lives. The question, then, becomes: if we experience it, if we know it, if this is a reality we have tasted and felt, we have SMELT this reality, then why have we neglected it? – why are you so deceived about Allah SWT? [see Qur’an 82:6]
– why do they turn away? [Qur’an 74:49] –
When you KNOW this reality, when you experience it, WHAT is the problem? You know it! Sins only increase your guilt, your feeling of displeasure. Worshipping Allah only increases you in happiness. What's the problem? What's the problem? Why don't you turn to the worship of Allah, and diminish your sins? You're never going to leave your sins, you're not going to become an angel – diminish them. The goal is to fight against sins, to lower them, to minimize them. The goal is perfection, but you know you're never going to become perfect. You're always going to commit sins. Okay. Commit sins. Repent to Allah. Continue to establish [a] relationship with Allah. TRY your best to minimize the sins. Always attempt to become a better person. Establish the five prayers. Oh Muslims, what will make you understand the importance of the five prayers? Establish the five prayers. Fast the month of Ramadan. Give zakat. Do the bare minimum. And wallahi your life will change upside down.
After you have tasted the sweetness of iman, it is hard to go back to your old ways. You won't be able to do it. After you have tasted how good it feels to worship Allah, you're never going to go back to your old ways. You have to give yourself that encouragement – turn to Allah, make du'a to Allah, and try your best, STRIVE to be a better Muslim, and when you've started feeling the TASTE of that sweetness of iman, it will become more addictive to you than ANY other sweetness on this earth. And once you do that, it will become easier to go higher and higher and higher. – “Know and realize that only through the remembrance of Allah – the worship of Allah – do the hearts achieve tranquility” (Qur’an13:28) – You're not going to find tranquility through ANY other means.