Seeking Happiness in a Mirage

A wise person once declared: “Nobody goes down a path of destruction except believing that it is a path to happiness.”

Many of us are simply looking to be happy. However, in the process of seeking happiness (and not always knowing the consequences of seeking it in the places we looking) we only find ourselves incurring harm and greater unhappiness upon ourselves. Hence, the Qur’an reminds us that “If the truth were in accordance with their desires, the heavens, the earth, and everyone in them would disintegrate” (Mu’minun, 23:71).

Don’t I, or others,reflect upon what is truly good for us? Yet people–unknowing of what direction we should take in life–have only our desires to lead us. At times we may even feel enslaved to our base passions and ego which appear to be the only thing moving us forward.  Yet, don’t we know that if our desires are given free reign over our souls they will only mislead it.  Of this God says: “The deeds of disbelievers are like a mirage in a desert: the thirsty person thinks there will be water but, when he gets there, he finds it is nothing” (Light; 24:39).

Worse than “finding nothing” is finding only pain, loss, or becoming even more disoriented on one’s path. Such an experience may feel like we are covered by “shadows in a deep sea covered by waves upon waves, with clouds above–layer upon layer of darkness” (Light; 24:40).

But wherever God wills, there is His Light.

Darkness and disorientation is not a healthy state in life, and it need not be a permanent one. We may feel at times like we are traveling a path of happiness, only to later discover that it was but a mirage, or worse, a path of self-destruction. However, in each journey we have something to learn, and perhaps our life is full of too many journeys to count. I pray that in each journey I learn something about the true path to happiness. Along the way, I also pray that I am learning how to further surrender my base desires for the desire of One whose sustaining power and merciful nature is the true source of my happiness.

Divine Illustrations: A Reflection on Allegories in the Qur’an

In this Qur’an We have presented every kind of illustration for people but man is more contentious than any other creature (Q. al-Kahf, 18:54).

Comparisons, allegories, and examples from the world around us are used in the Qur’an by God to not only illustrate a point, but evoke emotion.  These examples enrich the lessons, by associating a concept (like resurrection) to the world around us (like plant life after rainfall); and through them higher meanings become more familiar and recognizable. Yet, human beings, who are the most contentious of creatures, do not always reflect.  Led instead by passion—and the seeking of lower desires—human beings become blind to not just these examples within the Qur’an, but also the world around them from which these examples are drawn.  They do not witness the signs (ayāt) in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of night and day.  Nor do they recognize the examples within the Qur’an (like those following) but, instead, ask “by this what does God mean?”

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In Every Design There is A Sign

As the seasons change it is a cause for reflection, like in the “alternation of Night and Day”, these are “indeed signs for those of pure understanding” (Al-Imran; 3:190). Like in the very “creation of the heavens and the earth” and “the sailing of ships upon the sea”, and “the rain which Allah sends down from the skies”, and “and the beasts of all kinds”, and in ”the change of the winds and the clouds which they trail like their slaves”. These indeed are signs “for a people that are wise” (Al-Baqarah; 2:164).

To what knowledge is it that these signs do point, and who are the “wise” that can read them with “pure understanding”?

The Qur’an repeatedly calls our attention to the universe and the many signs around us, but how do we read them?

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