Important Tips On How To Be Happy In Life, By Imam Murtadha Gusau

Monday, Muharram 11, 1439 AH (October 2nd, 2017)

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

All praise is for Allah, and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger (Peace be upon him), his household and Companions.

Brothers and Sisters! Happiness is the only goal on earth that all people without exception are seeking to attain. Believers and unbelievers alike seek to be happy, but each party is using different methods.

However, according to Islam, only true and sincere believers can achieve genuine happiness. All forms of happiness attained without a firm and strong belief in Allah, the Almighty, are mere illusions.

The following are tips for the attainment of happiness:

1. Know that if you do not live within the scope of today, your thoughts will be scattered, your affairs will become confused, and your anxiety will increase. These realities are explained in the following Hadith:

“When you are in the evening, do not expect to see the morning, and when you are in the morning, do not expect to see the evening.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]

2. Forget the past and all that it contained, focus on the present.

3. Do not completely preoccupy yourself with the future and then discard the present. Be balanced in life, prepare yourself adequately for all situations.

4. Do not be shaken by criticism; instead, be firm. Be sure that in proportion to your worth, the level of people’s criticism rises. Also, make good use of criticism in discovering your shortcomings and faults, and let it drive you toward self-improvement.

5. Have complete faith in Allah and perform good deeds; these are the ingredients that makeup a good and happy life.

6. If you desire peace, tranquility, and comfort, you can find it all in the remembrance of Allah (Zikr).

7. You should know with certainty that everything that happens, occurs in accordance with the divine decree.

8. Do not expect gratitude from anyone.

9. Train yourself to be prepared for the worst possibility.

10. Perhaps what has happened is in your best interest, even though you may not comprehend how that can be so.

11. Everything that is decreed for the believer is the best for him.

12. Enumerate the blessings of Allah and be thankful for them.

13. Remember that you are better off than many others.

14. Relief comes from one hour to the next. Indeed, with each difficulty there is relief.

15. In both times of hardship and ease, one should turn to supplication and prayer, either patiently contented or thankful.

16. Calamities should strengthen your heart and reshape your outlook in a positive way.

17. Do not let trivialities be the cause of your destruction.

18. Always remember that your Allah is Oft-Forgiving.

19. Assume an easygoing attitude and avoid anger.

20. Life is bread, water, and shade; so do not be perturbed by a lack of any other material thing.

“And in the heaven is your providence and that which you are promised.” [Quran, 51:22]

21. A daunting evil that seemingly will happen usually never occurs.

22. Look at those who have more afflictions and be grateful that you have less.

23. Bear in mind the fact that Allah loves those who endure trials with steadfastness, so seek to be one of them.

24. Constantly repeat those supplications that the Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, taught us to say during times of hardship.

25. Work hard at something that is productive, and cast off idleness.

26. Do not spread rumours and do not listen to them. If you hear a rumour inadvertently, do not believe it.

27. Know that your malice and your striving to seek revenge are much more harmful to your health than they are to your antagonist.

28. The hardships that befall you atone for your sins, if you endure  patience.

29. Take a minute or two and think about all the flaws in yourself and focus on correcting them instead.

30. Give the other person the benefit of doubt that they might be facing personal struggles of their own and your judgment will only make matters worse for them. Everyone is going through a struggle of their own. You don’t know the real reason behind their actions.

31. Your judgment might make that person more inclined towards committing the very act you are judging them against. Reverse psychology works in amazing ways.

32. Imagine yourself in the place of that person. How would you feel if the same judgment was being passed at you?

33. Don’t be quick to judge the other person. That person might be on the learning path. The thing you’re judging them on might be the next step in that learning curve and your judging might discourage them from pursuing the straight way, leading them to go astray.

34. There is a clear difference between judging someone and bringing them to the right path. The idea behind judging others has no positive intent behind it. If you were to honestly bring someone closer to the Book of Allah you would do it without any judgment.

35. Focus on inspiring others rather than forcing them. If you look at the life of our beloved Prophet (Peace be upon him), people converted to Islam by seeing his impeccable character. He did not judge or force anyone. Since we also aspire to be like him, we should also not judge anyone.

36. Every time you judge someone, find a flaw in yourself and make a resolution to work on eliminating it.

37. If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything bad about them either, unless in case of explaining the truth.

38. The best way to refrain from judging someone is to mind your own business. Simply keep to yourself.

Brothers and Sisters! Every Muslim should work on attaining these values. This will not only benefit the society but on a personal level you will feel better and happier as you do not have any hate built inside of you.

My good people! Happiness is a mental state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. Each and every human being instinctively is in pursuit of happiness. Whether he/she is a child or an adult, a Muslim or a non-Muslim, and this is the fact. In order to achieve this true and eternal happiness, one must comprehend what this emotion really is.

Happiness, according to the Oxford dictionary is ‘feeling, causing, or giving pleasure’ and it is being ‘satisfied.’ It is essential to understand the psychology of happiness to know how much control we have over it.

James Montier, a renowned global equity strategist studied behavioural psychology and concluded in his research “The Psychology of Happiness” that psychologists have found that happiness is comprised of three components:

1. About 50% of individual happiness comes from a genetic set point. That is, we’re each predisposed to a certain level of happiness. Some of us are just naturally more inclined to be cheery than others.

2. About 10% of our happiness is due to our circumstances; demographic factors, age, gender, ethnicity and geographic factors. It also includes personal history and life status.

3. The remaining 40% of an individual’s happiness is derived from intentional activity, from discrete actions or practices that we choose to do.

As humans we have no control over our genetic setpoint, and hardly any control over our circumstances. This 50% of happiness in Islam is called ‘Rida bil Qada’ (being content with our lot in life). This means that as believers if we truly love Allah and trust Him, we are satisfied with what He Has decreed for us.

The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) would supplicate with words that would highlight the importance of satisfaction with our fate; therefore we too should make the effort to recite these supplications:

“I am pleased with Allah as my Lord, with Islam as my religion, and with Muhammad as my Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).” [Abu Dawud]

“O Allah, make me content with what you have provided me, send blessings for me therein, and place for me every absent thing with something better.” [Bukhari]

“O Allah, I seek refuge with You from knowledge which does not bring benefit and from a heart which is not fearful and from a self which is not content and from a supplication which is not answered.” [Muslim]

Thereafter, the main conclusion to be drawn from Montier’s research is that we can only work on the last 40% to make ourselves happier. It must be noted that this 40% cannot be achieved in pursuit of money, fame or anything else materialistic. These are all transitory, and anything transitory will never result in true happiness. True happiness is contentment, and this is only attained through activities which are not fleeting.

Brothers and Sisters! Always seek the guidance of Allah and never ignore your spiritual needs. Attend Islamic talks, surround yourself by positive people and religious friends.

Having religious friends doesn’t always mean talking about Islam but just hanging out and having fun with people that remind you of Allah, encourage you to pray on time, do Zikr or memorize the Quran, it will help you purify your heart and strengthen your relation with Allah.

Finally, know that there is no quick guide to happiness or a magical method, mainly because happiness is like any emotion – a temporary state that won’t last forever. Therefore, we should strive to be content and at peace with the world.

I recently read a line in Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert that summarizes quite adequately one’s mission in this world:

“You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight.”

And all praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our Noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true and sincere followers.

Compiled by your brother,

Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, from Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached through: +2348038289761.

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[Friday Sermon] Welcoming The New Islamic Year 1439 Ah And Fasting In The Month Of Muharram, By Imam Murtadha Gusau

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

All thanks and praise is due to Allah, we seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evil within ourselves and the consequences of our evil deeds. Whoever Allah guides will never be led astray, and whoever Allah leads astray will never find guidance. I bear witness there is no God but Allah, alone without any partners, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger.

“O you who have believed, fear Allah as He should be feared and do not die except as Muslims in submission to Him.” (3:102)

“O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Verily, Allah is ever watching over you.” (4:1)

“O you who have believed, fear Allah and speak words of appropriate justice. He will then amend for you your deeds and forgive your sins, and whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly attained a great attainment.” (33:70-71)

Verily, the most truthful speech is the Book of Allah, the best guidance is the guidance of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh), and the worst affairs are newly invented matters (In religion). Every newly invented matter (In religion) is a religious innovation, and every religious innovation is misguidance, and every misguidance is in the Hellfire.

Brothers and Sisters! This month Muharram marks the beginning of a new Islamic year, which was initiated after the Hijrah, or emigration, of Prophet Muhammad and which marked the formation of the first Muslim nation within an independent Islamic territory under the rule of Muslims.

Servants of Allah! The Muslims had no formal annual calendar until the caliphate of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him. In the third or fourth year of his caliphate, Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, received a message from Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari, may Allah be pleased with him, who suggested that their future correspondence be confirmed with the appropriate date. Therefore, Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, gathered some of the surviving companions of the Prophet and consulted them on this matter. Some of them suggested adopting the Persian Calendar; others proposed adopting the Roman Calendar; others still proposed that the Muslims should form their own calendar and that it should start from the birth of the Prophet; another group agreed but thought that the new Islamic Calendar should start from the day on which the Prophet embarked upon his mission; another group believed that this new Islamic Calendar should begin from the emigration of the Prophet while a final group believed that it should start from his death.

After a long discussion, they (companions) may Allah be pleased with them all agreed unanimously to adopt that the Islamic Calendar should start from when the Prophet emigrated from Makkah to Madinah and that the first month of this new Calendar be that of Muharram. This is because Muharram is a sacred month and because it follows Zul-Hijjah which is the month in which the Muslims perform Hajj, or the pilgrimage, which is the last of the five pillars of Islam that was enjoined upon the Muslims.

Brothers and Sisters! Muharram also follows the month in which the Ansar (the Madinan followers of the Prophet) pledged allegiance to the Prophet (Pbuh) which was prior to his migration to Madinah. This pledge of allegiance was one of the introductory acts of the emigration itself and therefore Muharram was deemed the most suitable month to start the Islamic Calendar by the companions of the Prophet.

My beloved people! Wallahi it is truly saddening that some Muslims today have chosen to use only the Gregorian Calendar instead of the Hijrah calendar or Hijrah with Gregorian. The Gregorian calendar has no relation with Islam and although it has been in existence for long than that of the Hijrah Calendar, that is no excuse for the Muslims to adopt it. It is well known that the companions of the Prophet would hate that any Muslim would use the Roman or Persian Calendar only.

My people! We have just ushered in the new Hijrah year. Allah Says:

“Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year) so was it ordained by Allah on the day when he created the Heaven and the Earth; of them four are Sacred – that is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein…” [Quran 9: 36]

And the Prophet (Pbuh) said:

“The year is of twelve months, out of which four months are sacred: Three are in succession Zul-Qa’ada, Zul-Hijjah and Muharram, and (the fourth is) Rajab…” (Bukhari)

These are the months that Allah has appointed for the whole of mankind. He, The Most Exalted, also Says:

“They ask you [O Muhammad], about the new moons. Say ‘They are measurements of time for the people and for Hajj (Pilgrimage].” [Quran: 189]

Therefore, we know that these months, based on the lunar calendar, were appointed for all of mankind and not just for the Arabs. This is due to the fact that the lunar months can very easily be detected and calculated by the sighting of the crescent-moon, which marks the end of the month and the beginning of a new one.

Respected Brothers and Sister! We are in the new Hijrah year. Know that it is not from the Sunnah to celebrate it or to congratulate one another on its advent (like taking it as festive period etc). For the Muslims, the passage of years does not constitute a real cause of happiness; rather, what counts is the amount of time spent in obedience to Allah during these years. The years that have passed will be considered as successful if they were spent in obedience to Allah, and miserable if they were spent in disobedience of Allah. Therefore, the most evil person is he who has lived a long life and has committed evil deeds throughout.

It is a must that we receive our days, months and years while in obedience to Allah. We must bring ourselves to account, redeem ourselves from our bad deeds and duly perform our responsibilities towards our parents, wives, children, relatives, associates, friends and humanity in general.

The advent of every new year is marked by many Muslims with sincere resolutions and plans to improve and become closer to their Lord, but the days and hours slip away while the people’s conditions remain the same, the inevitable result of such failures will be loss and disgrace in this world and the next. Therefore, we must invest our time in obedience to Allah and make sure that our spiritual condition is improving from year to year; for the more time runs away from us, the closer we are drawing to our graves.

Servants of Allah! The improvements in our worldly lives do us absolutely no good if our spiritual lives are not improving at the same time. No one can attain honour and dignity without submitting to the Lord of the Worlds, Allah. Safety, peace, tranquility and welfare cannot be attained except by adopting the methodology of the Messengers of Allah, may Allah exalt their mention. Be very clear that if any of you see welfare and pleasure accompanied with sins and deviation, then this is definitely a mere respite that has been given by Allah ahead of a total ruin and destruction. Thus, we must all stand firm in the obedience of Allah in order to protect ourselves from His punishment. Allah, The Almighty Says:

“…And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.” [Quran 24: 31]

Servants of Allah! Allah has also favoured certain months, days and nights more than others. The number of months is twelve, as decreed by Allah when He created the heavens and the earth. Among these twelve are four sacred months, Zul-Qa’adah, Zul-Hijjah, and Muharram, which are successive and the month of Rajab that comes between Jumada Al-Akhirah and Sha’aban. Know that the best day which the sun rises on is Friday and the night of Al-Qadr (Laylatul Qadr) is more virtuous than a thousand months. Therefore, we must all respect and esteem that which Allah has magnified.

Scholars maintain that the rewards for good deeds are multiplied in times and places which are favoured by Allah, and vice versa for bad deeds. The proof of this is from Allah’s Saying:

“They ask you concerning the sacred month – about fighting therein. Say, ‘Fighting therein is great [sin], but averting [people] from the way of Allah and disbelief in Him and [preventing access to] the Sacred Mosque [in Makkah] and the expulsion of its people therefrom are greater [evil] in the sight of Allah. And fitnah [Polytheism and Disbelief] is worse than killing.’ And they will continue to fight you until they turn you back from your religion if they are able. And whoever of you reverts from his religion [to disbelief] and dies while he is a disbeliever – for those, their deeds have become worthless in this world and the Hereafter, and those are the companions of the Fire; they will abide therein eternally.” [Quran 2: 217]

Muslims should not wrong themselves during the Sacred Months. They should stay well within the limits defined by Allah, fulfill all His obligations, shun all His prohibitions and fulfill the rights of the people.

Respected Brothers and Sisters! Many rewards and blessings can be gained throughout the Islamic year, not only in Ramadan. The blessed month of Muharram is the first month of the Hijrah calendar and is one of the four sacred months concerning which Allah Almighty Says:

“Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion, so do not wrong yourselves during them…” [Quran 9:36]

Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said that this phrase “so do not wrong yourselves during them… ” referred to all the months, then these four were singled out and made sacred, so that sin in these months is more serious and good deeds bring a greater reward.

The Messenger of Allah, (Pbuh), said:

“The best of fasting after Ramadan is fasting Allah’s month of Muharram.” [Muslim]

The phrase “Allah’s month”, connecting the name of the month to the name of Allah in a genitive grammatical structure signifies the importance of the month. Al-Qari said:

“The apparent meaning is all of the month of Muharram.”

But it is known that the Prophet (Pbuh) never fasted any whole month apart from Ramadan, so this Hadith is probably meant to encourage increasing one’s fasting during Muharram, without implying that one should fast for the entire month.

It was reported that the Prophet (Pbuh) used to fast more in Sha’aban. It is likely that the virtue of Muharram was not revealed to him until the end of his life. [An-Nawawi and Muslim]

Al-Izz ibn Abdus-Salam said that:

“Allah makes certain times and placed sacred or blessed in order to encourage his servants for righteous deeds and bestow a greater reward for them.” [Qawa’id Al-Ahkam]

* Ashura in history

Brothers and Sisters! The tenth day of Muharram, known as Ashura, has a special significance. Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

“The Prophet, (Pbuh), came to Madinah and saw the Jews fasting on the day of Ashura. He said: ‘What is this? They said: ‘This is a righteous day, it is the day when Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemies, so Prophet Musa fast-ed on this day.’ He (Pbuh) said: ‘We have more right to Musa than you,’ so he fasted on that day and commanded (the Muslims) to fast on that day.” [Al-Bukhari]

Therefore the practice of fasting on Ashura was known even in the days of Jahiliyyah, before the Prophet’s Message. It was reported that Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, said:

“The people of Jahiliyyah used to fast on that day.”

Imam Qurtubi said:

“Perhaps the Quraish used to fast on that day on the basis of some previous law, like that of Ibrahim, may Allah exalt his mention.”

Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

“I never saw the Messenger of Allah so keen to fast any day and give it priority over any other time than the day of Ashura and the month of Ramadan.” [Al-Bukhari]

The Prophet also said:

“For fasting the day of Ashura, I hope that Allah will accept it as expiation for the past year.” [Muslim]

* It is recommended to fast the ninth in addition to the tenth of Muharram.

Abdullah ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

“When the Messenger of Allah fasted on Ashura and commanded the Muslims to fast as well, they said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, it is a day that is venerated and respected by the Jews and Christians.’ The Messenger of Allah said: ‘If I live to see the next year, ‘Inshaa Allah’, we will fast on the ninth day too.’ But it so happened that the Messenger of Allah passed away before the next year came.” [Muslim]

If a person does not know when Muharram began, and he wants to be sure of fasting on the tenth, he should assume that Zul-Hijjah was thirty days—as is the usual rule—and should fast on the ninth and tenth.

Imam an-Nawawi said that it expiates all minor sins and that is:

“Fasting the day of Arafah expiates sins for two years, and the day of Ashura expiates for one year… If there are minor sins for which expiation is desired, expiation for them will be accepted; if there are no minor sins or major sins, good deeds will be added to the servant’s account and he will be raised in status… If he had committed major sins but no minor sins, we hope that his major sins will be reduced.” [See Al-Majmu’ sharh al-Muhaththab]

* Fasting Ashura when one still has days to make up from Ramadan

The jurists (Fuqaha) differed concerning the ruling on observing voluntary fasts before making up the missed days from Ramadan or other obligatory fasts like for the fulfillment of a vow. The Hanafi jurists said that it is permissible to observe voluntary fasts before making up for the obligatory fasts, while the Maliki and Shafi’i scholars say that it is permissible but Makruh (disliked). The Hanbali scholars say that it is Haram (forbidden) and a person must give priority to the obligatory fasts until he has made them up. [See Al-Mawsu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah]

Servants of Allah! Muslims must hasten to make up any missed fasts after Ramadan, so that they will be able to fast Arafah and Ashura without any problem. If a person fasts Arafah and Ashura with the intention from the night before making up for a missed fast, this will be good enough to make up what he has missed, for the bounty of Allah is great.

* Avoiding innovations on Ashura

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (Rahimahullah) was asked about the authenticity of some things that people do on Ashura to seek reward, such as wearing kohl/kwalli, taking a bath, wearing henna/lalle shaking hands with one another, cooking grains (hubub) or food or something called cika-ciki and so on. Some other people mark this day by grieving and mourning, not drinking, wailing and rending their garments. His reply was:

“Nothing to that effect has been reported in any sound Hadith from the Prophet or his Companions. None of the Imams encouraged such things, neither the four Imams, nor any others. No reliable scholars have narrated anything like this, neither from the Prophet nor from his Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, nor from the Tabi’in; neither in any authentic report or in a weak report; neither in the books of Sahih, nor in as-Sunan, nor in the Musnads. No Hadith of this nature was known during the best centuries, but some of the later narrators reported Hadiths like:

“Whoever puts kohl/kwalli in his eyes on the day of Ashura will not suffer from eye disease in that year, and whoever takes a bath on the day of Ashura will not get sick in that year” and so on. They also reported a fabricated Hadith that is falsely attributed to the Prophet which says:

“Whoever is generous to his family on the day of Ashura, Allah will be generous to him for the rest of the year.”

Reporting all of this from the Prophet is tantamount to forging lies against him.

Servants of Allah! Let us remember Allah’s Messenger’s Hijrah from Makkah to Madinah, and the transformation of Yathrib into Madinah.

Let us reminisce about Hijrah, the great milestone in the Islamic cause.

Let us remember Umar’s adoption of Hijrah as the beginning of the Islamic calendar.

And let us remember that the real Hijrah today is to emigrate from evil that is forbidden from Allah and His Messenger.

On that note, I pray to the Almighty Lord that our new hijrah year which starts today may bring good things to all of us.

Wishing you and your family New Year full of peace, happiness and abundance of all. May Allah bless you through out the new year. Ameen.

I ask Allah to assist us in living by the Quran and Sunnah. I pray He lets us recognise the truth for what it is and helps us to follow it, and that He lets us see falsehood for what it is and helps us to avoid it.

O Allah! Guide us and protect us from the causes of ignorance and destruction! Save us from the defects of ourselves! Cause the last of our deeds to be the best and most righteous! And forgive all of us. Ameen Yaa Rabb!

My respected people! Anything good I have said in my today’s Khutbah (Sermon) is from Allah the Almighty, and any mistakes are my own and we seek refuge in Allah from giving wrong advice and from all forms of calamities and fitnah. And I ask Allah’s forgiveness if I stepped beyond bounds in anything I said or I do.

May Allah be praised; and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger Muhammad and upon his family and Companions.

With this I conclude my Khutbah (Sermon) and ask Allah, the Almighty and the sublime, to forgive all of our sins. So seek his forgiveness, He is all forgiving and Most Merciful.

This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Muharram 1st, 1439 AH (September 22, 2017), by Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and late Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: +2348038289761.

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