In the name of Allah, The Most Gracious and The Most Merciful
Human beings look for instant gratification (in this life) and use various means to attain happiness. However, the yearly world stats indicate an increase in sadness. This article describes a faith-based approach to increase peace and happiness in human hearts.
We live in a time and age where humanity has achieved tremendous progress in the materialistic side via science and technology. This has resulted in a very high per capita income (in first-world countries) and access to luxuries and inventions never seen before in the history of mankind. For instance, per capita income in Great Britain today is 40 times more than what it was in the late Middle Ages. Despite the materialistic progress, there has been a significant increase in sadness, loneliness and worries.
Study recent world statistics
Around the world, almost one billion people are affected by mental, neurological and substance use disorders . In the US, there has been a significant increase in the use of anti-depressants in the last few decades , sleep disorder  and a rapid increase in mental illness even among adolescents. . In modern societies, there has been a steep increase in people living alone. According to a 2018 census release , 28% of households in the US were single person. A 2021 report  mentions that 40% households in Sweden were single person.
Using entertainment to attain happiness
While people spend lots of time and resources to achieve happiness (entertainment, buying extra items, decoration, sports, fun activities, social media, even smoking and drinking), the overall sadness in the world seems to increase year by year.
Sadness in life can be attributed to various reasons. These include personal loss, being not able to achieve what one aspired to, not getting what one deserved, feeling unworthy, anxiety about future, revenge and anger about wrongs done to us, loneliness, addiction and so on.
Many of us get despondent over how we are not able to get that ideal job, the ideal life partner or the promotion we deserved etc. But Almighty Allah teaches us that this life is not a permanent place but rather a temporary station. “They only know the superficial realities (outside appearance) of worldly life and they are unaware of the life Hereafter to come.” [Holy Quran 30:7]
Faith and spirituality may set the right perspective to increase inner peace, happiness, positive thinking, will-power and motivation to face issues in human life.
Review a noble vision for life
Life and death, health and sickness, happiness and sorrow, success and failure – all in the complete control of One Allah. may remove sufferings in response to the cry and supplication of the poor, destitute, handicapped, and helpless.
Look up to , Who looks after you. Keep facing Allah, Who is in front of you. Love Allah, Who loves you. Obey Allah, Who invites you. Give your hand to Allah, Who saves you from a fall! Loving hearts, spiritual contentment, forgiveness and mercy, are all from Allah.
Allah has limitless treasures of situations. As we clean our hearts from greed and temptations, make high vision and noble intentions for life, and have mercy on all mankind, seek forgiveness for our mistakes, bring life of piety and true humbleness in words and actions — new doors of blessings may open. Circumstances, trials, people, means and resources are there as a test – one who makes a correct relationship with the Creator, all the relations with the creation are sorted out. The noble Prophets and their pious companions understood it and their devout prayers would bring them from infinite treasures of the Creator.
This is not the only life!
Neither the most powerful person nor the richest person lives forever. Real life is Hereafter, which is for ever and ever. God Almighty says:
“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 ……. the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment. Compete with each other in proceeding towards forgiveness from your Lord and to Paradise, the width of which is like the width of the sky and the earth. It has been prepared for those who believe in God and His Messengers’ [Holy Quran 57:20-21].
This life is an exam or trial wherein we go through ups and downs. God Almighty says:
“We test you with both hardships and blessings. In the end you will all return to Us.” [21:35]
“O you who believe! seek help with patience and prayer; for God is with the patient” [2:153].
Review morality for humanity
Reward of patience
An employee toils the entire month with patience because he knows he is going to get that paycheck at the end of the month. If he is injured at work or if he is given tougher assignments, he is compensated additionally for them and he does not mind the difficulties. Similarly, a person of faith and spirituality knows that at the end of this worldly life he (or she) is going to be rewarded and compensated by the One Who created everything and Who has all power and resources. Hence, he (or she) handles the situations in life with self-control, forbearance and calmness. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said ‘God Almighty, the Glorious and Exalted said: ‘When I afflict my slave in his two dear things (i.e., eyes) and he endures patiently, I shall compensate him for them with Paradise’.
Prophet Muhammad (*SAW) went through a life of poverty and difficulty, he was verbally and physically abused for asking people to believe in one God, his family was boycotted, he went hungry for months living on just on dates and water, most of his children pre-deceased him and yet he was always forgiving, smiling and in high spirits praising God Almighty and striving towards bringing people closer to God.
Review benefits of good deeds
While our inner selves and Satan try to zoom in on the minor things we lack and make us sad, religion teaches us to appreciate the tremendous blessings God Almighty has bestowed upon us. God Almighty has persevered us from the time we were a tiny cell and a piece of flesh in the womb of the mother to the time we were born and utterly helpless. God Almighty put love in the heart of our parents to take care of us and cherish us. Every day, God Almighty is running the universe with the cycle of day and night, winds gathering clouds and sending them to the lands for rainfall, seeds getting life and sprouting to produce food, our hearts continuing to beat and all our organs serving us without us asking them to do so. God Almighty says ‘If you would count up the favors of God, never would you be able to number them‘ [Holy Quran 16:18]. While we are worried about the future, God Almighty says ‘ And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He (God) will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He (God) will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in God, then He will suffice him’ [65:2-3]
In search of happiness?
Among the youth, there is a constant peer pressure to look fashionable, have the ‘right’ body frame, leading to self-esteem issues. Social media has further complicated it with the constant need to get likes and validations from others (According to this report , teens spend 8+ hours of entertainment screen time per day). Religion teaches us that what matters to God Almighty is the piety in our heart and not our external appearances. Prophet (*SAW) said ‘Verily, God Almighty does not look at your appearance or wealth, but rather He looks at your hearts and actions’. Religion teaches us to dress modestly, lower our gaze from looking at unrelated people of opposite gender, focus on a life of simplicity, worship and helping others.
In modern societies, extra-marital relations, domestic abuse, drug and addictions have led to marital conflicts and increase in divorce rates. The root causes are lust and desires, and not having discipline and boundaries in life. This leads to personal and well-being issues in the longer term. Religion teaches us clear Do’s and Don’ts and guides us along the straight path. Further, religion gives dignity to every human and defines our duties towards others. The Prophet (*SAW) said, “No Muslim visits another sick Muslim in the morning but that seventy thousand angels will bless him until the evening. He does not visit him in the evening but that seventy thousand angels will bless him until the morning, and he will reap the fruits of Paradise”.
Further, believers attend the 5 daily prayers together, praying to Almighty for guidance and help. This develops a strong bond among themselves and with their Creator. Further, God Almighty commands us to take excellent care of our parents. “And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me (God) is the [final] destination.” [Holy Quran 31:14]. The Prophet (*SAW) said “Blessings are with your elders”. In faith-based communities, even today we see the elderly men and women being extremely loved and taken care of with extraordinary dignity by their family till their end.
While humans look for instant gratification (in this life), it is the end which really matters! students who wrote their worldly-life exams carefully, with patience and steadfastness, may enjoy the result and achievements ! Experience the limitless
enjoyment, beauty and happiness in life Hereafter for believers:
“Gardens of perpetual bliss: they shall enter there, as well as the righteous among their fathers, their spouses, and their offspring: and angels shall enter unto them from every gate (with the salutation) saying, “Peace be with you for all that you have patiently endured. Now (look) how excellent is the final home!” [Holy Quran 13: 23–24]
Remembrance of the Creator is the soul of the universe.
“Those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah: for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction.” [Holy Quran 13:28]
Turn the attention from creation to the Creator, and from sorrow or grief to positive thinking!
“Or, the One who answers the prayers of the distressed ones, removes their hardship, and makes you the successors in the land? Is there any lord besides Allah? In fact, you take very little heed. [27:62]
Give your heart to the One who is the real source of peace and happiness!
*SAW = Sallallaho ‘Alaihi-WaSallam
4. World health statistics 2022: monitoring health for the SDGs, sustainable development goals. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2022. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO