During their lives, people have a variety of targets and plans they would like to fulfill. Although apparently different at first glance, these targets coincide at a basic level. At the basic level people wish to lead their lives in happiness and tranquility by obtaining as many advantages as they can; the happiness and comfort they enjoy being proportionate to the size of the advantages they obtain. In this sense, everyone aims to reach this common goal, following different paths and using different methods, and expending throughout their lives a great deal of effort in pursuit of this purpose. However, achieving everything they want and reaching targets still do not change the end result: a melancholy life filled with unhappiness and the troubles it brings with it... except for the true believers, who seek Allah's approval and are aware that their true abode is in the Hereafter.
In present day life a large number of people complain because they have been totally unable to achieve true peace and because despite their efforts and their attempts at happiness, they are not happy at all. The reason why people end up in such a predicament is because they try to find happiness in the wrong places and with the wrong people. For some, happiness is the material wealth they obtain, being able to spend their money as they like, buy whatever they want and consume more and more each day. For people like this, consumption, experiencing every beauty and pleasure, is the greatest source of happiness in their lives. Such desires are like a bottomless well—they never come to an end. Because of their desires people emerge who are never satisfied with anything they obtain, who always want more and better and who believe that they will be able to live happier lives if they acquire more things, and better things. However, these efforts only gain them a temporary happiness.
The Qur'an states: On the Day when those who disbelieved are exposed to the Fire: "You dissipated the good things you had in your worldly life and enjoyed yourself in it. So today you are being repaid with the punishment of humiliation for being arrogant in the Earth without any right and for being deviators." (Surat al-Ahqaf: 20) In this verse Allah tells us that false happiness such as this which has been gained in the life of this world with greed and ingratitude, will become endless misery in the Hereafter.
For some, happiness is being known and admired, someone whose favor or company is sought by everyone. Such people want to be admired and imitated in everything they do. They are happy so long as they succeed in this, and manage to ingratiate themselves with others and remain the center of attention.
For others, happiness is escape even for a short time from the troublesome and monotonous life they lead and its problems. In order to be happy, they have to make a string of changes to their lives. They have to be unusual, dress differently, lead a "fringe" existence and try everything that is different. Or they have to see and explore different places and get to know new people. People such as these derive great pleasure from being regarded as different and enjoy the attention they attract as a result of this. They believe that by acting in this way they will make their lives more colorful and protect themselves against the unhappiness they feel. To sum up, for people of this kind happiness means "change" or "being different."
However, the happiness achieved by all these people is false and fleeting. It only exists in the moment and when the moment is over the happiness they feel passes with it and the person again returns to his troubled and monotonous life. Nothing has changed; the person has been comforted only for a short time. Since these people do not know the secret of happiness, the end they come to, whether a day, a month or a year later, is invariably the same. We are told of the situation of such people who, during their lives, forget Allah and the Hereafter and live entirely according to their own desires and passions: Their likeness is that of people who light a fire, and then when it has lit up all around them, Allah removes their light and leaves them in darkness, unable to see. (Surat al-Baqara: 17) Allah tells us that people who distance themselves from His guidance, He "… leaves them in darkness, unable to see." People who do not submit to the commands of Allah Who created them and live forgetful of our Lord will, because of this, find themselves frustrated by Allah at every turn in their efforts to achieve happiness. Our Prophet (saws) has pointed out that gains in this world are temporary and that true gain means directing oneself towards the Hereafter:
"People! The world is a good given in advance. Both the good and evil takes its share from it. The Hereafter is, on the other hand, a devoted promise. There, the Malik, Who has power over all things, rules. The just always prevails and the unjust vanishes. People! Be the sons of the Hereafter, avoid being the servants of this world. The son is subject to his mother. (In other words, if you become a son of this world, you will deserve to be ruined like the world) Have fear in Allah while engaging in your deeds. Be aware that your deeds will encounter you. And again you will definitely meet Allah. Whoever does an atom's weight of good will see it and whoever does an atom's weight of evil will see it." (Ahmad Diya'al-Din al-Kamushkhanawi, Ramuz al-Ahadith, vol.1, 184/4)
In this book we will explain what the source of true happiness is and where and under what conditions it is possible to be truly happy and at peace in the light of the verses of the Qur'an.
However, let us first briefly examine the reasons why people who live in denial of the truths revealed by Allah in the Qur'an, who we will refer to as "the society of the ignorant," are continually troubled and unhappy.