I have just read the article named “Happiness and Virtue: A Prophetic Example” written by Turkish scholar Fethullah Gulen for the 95 Issue of the bi-monthly magazine Fountain. In this article the author discusses the real meaning of happiness and provides prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) as an example of individual who achieved the highest level of happiness in his life. So how did he do it and what is the happiness? Let’s look at this interesting article closely.
Gulen starts his article by explaining that every individual has his own interpretation of happiness. For some – happiness is money, for others – it has sentimental value such as beauty or love. Fethullah Gulen writes, “to Caesar, it was fame and glory; to Pharaoh, it was protecting his might and position; to Korah, it was possessing masses and masses of fortune and treasure.” However, Gulen states, these are only illusions which do not have anything in common with real happiness. Those who seek happiness in these physical attributes will sooner or later become disappointed. Also happiness is not tied to any physical location or time. For example some people seek happiness in seaside or on mountain tops, or just in another city or country; and other people hope that they will be happier next month/next year or when some expected event happens. These are also illusions because really happy person is happy wherever and whenever he goes.
So what is happiness and how to achieve it? According to Gulen happiness is the state of the heart which is always full with exalted and pure thoughts and feelings. People with such hearts can always resist evil deeds and adorn their lives with beautiful behavior and virtue. In other words happiness is in virtuousness. Fethullah Gulen says, “The only thing that can elevate and uplift the spirit and keep the heart alive is to have virtuous thoughts and to strive on the path to becoming virtuous. To mention happiness without carrying any thought of virtuousness is meaningless and vain.”
Let’s look at the example of one of the happiest individual in the universe – Prophet Muhammad (Pace be upon Him). Gulen notices that “his room, his bed, his clothes and his food were so simple that only the poorest could live like him”. In spite of this fact, he was happy throughout all his life. Looking at life of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) we can see that happiness was not a target or something that could be achieved through certain actions or some material subjects, but the whole path of his life full of virtue, honesty, purity, exalted feelings and thankfulness. Gulen beautifully describes the character and behavior of the Prophet in the following paragraph:
“He was so resolute and determined that in his whole life, he never, not even once, consented to anything that was not approved by the Exalted Creator. He was so righteous and honest that he was never unfair and never acted unjustly to anyone, even in insignificant matters. He was so attached to the most high, heavenly worlds, and was satisfied with sublime reflections and manifestations to such a degree that he never preferred any worldly flavor to virtuousness. He acquired such an outstanding capacity of perception and comprehension that he did not, not even once, fall into hesitation when distinguishing good from bad. He always remained respectful to people’s ideas, but never felt any need for any exhortation. He used to solve even the most complicated matters very comfortably and easily, and he used to instantly elevate those who were trapped in inadvertence and misguidance to a virtuous and meritorious state. He was so God-conscious and pious that the lucidness in his behaviors and attitudes, the tenderness and pureness in all his actions and treatments, were all admiringly elegant and gentle; they were even envied by angels. His faithfulness was so graceful and generous that everybody felt gratitude and indebtedness towards him.”
And then Gulen summarizes: “He was perfectly equipped with all these qualities and was outstandingly virtuous. Just as he was virtuous, he was also tranquil, serene, and happy.” So, if we want to be really happy in our lives and beyond, we should be inspired by the life of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him). By taking him as an example and adorning our lives with continuous virtues, we can open the doors of the infinite and genuine happiness.
To sum it up, I would like to include the final sentence of this beautiful article which completes the whole idea of this writing: “Just as it is necessary to keep the water clear by not throwing anything dirty in it, establishing the tranquility and happiness of the soul can only be possible if it never leaves virtuousness, even for a moment.”