In eight beautiful verses from Surat Ash-Sharh (Surah 94), Allah says, speaking to His messenger,
1) Did We not expand for you your chest?
2) And We removed from you your burden (sins)
3) Which weighed down your back?
4) And have We not raised high for you your fame?
5) For indeed, with hardship will be ease.
6) Indeed, with hardship will be ease.
7) So when you have finished your duties, devout yourself for worship. And to your Lord direct all your longing”
The first principle of happiness: It is only Allah who can give it. Read verse 1 again. He said, “Did We not expand..” Since happiness is one of His many creations, He gives it to some and deprives others of it. Allah says وَأَنَّهُ هُوَ أَضْحَكَ وَأَبْكَىٰ “He is Who makes people laugh and makes them weep” (Surat AnNajm) Since it’s His possession, beg Him for it.
The second principle of happiness: The home of happiness is in the heart. “Did We not expand for you your chest?”. In several places of the Qur’an, the term ‘Sadr’/’chest’ is used in reference to the heart. If the heart is happy, then every other exterior struggle is manageable and at times, enjoyable.
The third principle of happiness: The shedding of sins Read verse 2, “And We removed from you your burden” The lighter a person’s load of sins, the happier s/he is. This Surah has compared sins to heavy luggage which weighs down a person’s back. “Which *weighed down* your back” Sins are erased with repentance, courageous cutting of habits and good deeds which wipe away sins.
The fourth principle of happiness: Having a good reputation Read verse 4, “Have We not raised high for you your fame?” A person with a good reputation is praised and spoken well of. The soul naturally yearns for this. But notice, the Ayah says “Have *We* not raised high ..” Hence it’s clear that a good reputation isn’t to be sought from people, but through sincerity, it is Allah who gifts it to whom He wills.
The fifth principle of happiness: Realising that difficulties will pass Read verse 5, “Indeed, with hardship is ease” When one truly realises that every problem has a solution, every lock has a key and with every hardship is ease, much sorrow is flushed out. For such a person is aware that there *is* a way out, it just needs searching for
The sixth principle of happiness: Difficulty and ease are in fact intertwined! Contemplate over verse 5 again. Allah didn’t say “after” hardship is ease but said “with” hardship is ease” So when difficulty descends, ease will be *with* it! Meaning that Allah’s kindness begins displaying itself *during* your sorrow, as your sins are erased, your heart softens and many other matters which you didn’t realise, till your sorrow departs all together.
The seventh principle of happiness: Every hardship comes with two reliefs! The terms “hardship” and “ease” were mentioned twice each in the Surah. The scholars of Tafsir have mentioned however that the “hardships” are in reference to the same one, whilst the “eases” are in reference to two separate ones! Thus those who understood this said, “One hardship will never defeat two reliefs!”
The eighth principle of happiness: Capitalising on free time Contemplate on verse 7, “So when you have finished your duties, devout yourself for worship” The subtle message contained here is that you must never be a person who has nothing to do. When you finish your duties, give Allah His right. =
The ninth principle of happiness: Persistent worship! Contemplate on verse 7, “ .. devote yourself for worship” ‘Ibaada/worship is one of the widest doors to happiness. The greater your portion of worship, the greater your portion of happiness. Imam Ibnu Taymiyyah said, من أراد السعادة الأبدية فليلزم عتبة العبودية “Whoever aspires for eternal happiness, let him remain at the doorstep of worship.”
The tenth principle of happiness: Singling Allah out as your goal Contemplate on the last verse, “And to your Lord direct *all* your longing” If you achieve this, then your heart will never again break to pieces as people come and go in your life, for Allah has become your number one pursuit. Allow us, O Allah, to find our comfort and relief in your book.