In answering the question, “How to make Allah happy in Islam?”, I am going to provide a perhaps unexpected and surprising answer, a different angle on the subject than one might normally expect.
First, however, an important distinction and clarification.
Distinction and Clarification
In addressing the question, “How to make Allah happy?”, or “How to please Allah in Islam?”, it is first important to point out that we must remember that the very structure of language, and thus such a question, can be inherently misleading, for we often inadvertently tend to anthropomorphize God, ascribing to Him likes and dislikes, pleasure and anger, etc., essentially human qualities, whereas in reality He Almighty transcends such anthropomorphic characteristics and emotions, and is unlike anything the human mind can conceive.
Say, He is Allah, the One and Only.
Allah, the Eternal, the Absolute.
He begets not, nor is He begotten.
And there is nothing like unto Him.
— Surah al-Ikhlas (Holy Quran, 112:1-4)
The path of spiritual progress and realization is in the progressive awakening to the incomprehensible mystery of the Divine Presence of Allah, the Creator, the One Eternal God, and so, when we ask, “How to please God?”, we are in reality asking what leads to our own personal growth and evolution, for in an absolute sense, God is beyond what are essentially human emotions, and although we for the sake of convenience may make statements such as “Allah is pleased with this,” or “Allah does not like that,” it is important to remember that the truth and reality of the Creator is utterly beyond human nature and comprehension.
And hence, we must take great care to not create an idol out of God in our own image.
Having gotten that distinction out of the way, let’s now address the question, “How to make Allah happy in Islam?”
God has said, “I was a hidden treasure and wanted to be known, so I created.”
— Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) [Hadith Qudsi]
How to Make Allah Happy in Islam
While the expected answer to the question, “How to make Allah happy?” might be something along the lines of the following:
- Be a good person. Don’t lie, cheat or steal.
- Obey Allah’s commandments. Read the Holy Qur’an.
- Observe your prayers and the Pillars of Islam.
- Give charity and help the needy.
- Be an all around goody two shoes.
I would instead like to present an alternative approach to the question of what makes Allah Almighty happy, and provide what might be a surprising answer to the question, one that I believe will ultimately include all of the above and more.
Again, all of the above actions are undoubtedly “pleasing” to God, and lead to personal growth and spiritual development, yet the faster path to divine pleasure, the unexpected answer to the question, “How to make Allah happy in Islam?”, is a bit counterintuitive.
Here it is.
How to Make Allah Happy? Be Happy.
Yes, be happy. In order to make Allah happy, perhaps the single most important thing you can do is to cultivate personal happiness.
Surprised? I’ll explain.
You Are Made for Happiness
To be happy, content and at peace is not only the goal of Islam, it is also, naturally, fundamental to human nature. By Divine Will, we are hardwired to seek happiness. It’s in our genetic structure, and our very DNA propels us to pursue what is typically the often elusive state of happiness.
In seeking happiness, the fundamental error we make is that we often seek satisfaction in the wrong place. Instead of looking within to what truly provides satisfaction, contentment and happiness, modern materialism has misled us into thinking and believing that happiness, safety and security are to be found in the material world, in things and others, in worldly wealth and extrinsic attainment.
Happiness is Here, Now
Happiness here, and now, and can only be experienced in this perfect, divine moment.
To learn how to make Allah happy in Islam, i.e., to learn how to be happy, learn to tune in to the perfection of the present moment, here, now.
Remember, there are no ordinary moments. Each moment is a willful act of creation by Allah Almighty, Al-Khaliq, the Creator. Each moment is a divine miracle willfully and intentionally created by God. And so, not a single breath should to be taken for granted, to be allowed to pass without gratitude.
“Therefore remember Me, I will remember you. Give thanks to Me, and reject not faith.”
— Surah al-Baqarah (Holy Quran, 2:152)
Thus taught the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS), that the most meritorious and beneficial of all actions is to fill each moment with remembrance, with dhikr, with consciousness, presence, awareness and gratitude. This then is the path to enlightenment, to awakening from the transitory world of form and temporal illusion.
Happiness is essentially attained by being happy, pleased, at peace and surrendered to Divine Will as it manifests in this moment. What better experience and expression of Islam can there be?
How to Make Allah Happy: Leave Your Self
“O my Lord, do not leave me in the hands of my self for even the blink of an eye.”
— Prophet Muhammad (SAWS)
The true path of happiness is the path of selflessness. All suffering results from selfishness, from self, from a psychological position in which “me” and “my” needs and wants are preeminent and primary.
Yet true happiness is in providing happiness, joy and love to others. Love is but Unity, for in love, we transcend separation, and come to know God in the only way possible for a human being, through the light of God in the heart and soul of another.
It is precisely for this reason that God provided human messengers, prophets and enlightened teachers in their lineage, so that the rest of us can come to know God in truth.
God has said, “Neither the heavens nor the earth can contain Me, save the heart of a believer.”
— Prophet Muhammad (SAWS)
We must remember that Allah Almighty, the Creator of all that is, the Eternal Lord of all creation, is utterly independent of any need whatsoever, and that all of our acts of piety and devotion in reality do nothing for Him. Worship has been prescribed purely for our benefit.
Yet what is greater than seeking that which is for our benefit? Seeking the benefit of others.
This is the true and humble path to God, and protects a human being from the self-righteousness, pride and arrogance that can arise otherwise.
Verily, Allah will say to a slave of His when He will be taking account of him on the Day of Judgement, “O son of Adam, I was hungry and you did not feed me.”
He will answer, “How could I feed Thee? You are the Lord of the Worlds!”
The Almighty will say, “Did you not know that my slave so and so, who is the son of so and so, felt hunger and you did not feed him. Alas, had you fed him you would have found its reward with Me.
“O son of Adam, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink.”
He will reply, “How could I give Thee drink? You are the Lord of the worlds!”
At which point the Almighty will say, “Did you not know that my slave so and so, the son of so and so, felt thirsty and you did not give him drink. Alas, if you had given him, you would have found its reward with me.
“O son of Adam, I became sick and you did not visit Me.”
He will answer, “How can I visit Thee? You are the Lord of the worlds!”
The Almighty will then say, “Did you not know that my slave so and so, the son of so and so, became sick and you did not visit him. Alas, had you visited him, you would have found Me with him.”
— Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) [Bukhari]
How to make Allah happy in Islam? Be happy.
How to be happy? Forget for a moment about your own personal happiness. Help others be happy. Serve others, humanity, the creation of God.
Again, the path to truth and success is, not surprisingly, counterintuitive. Yet this is the Way.
“When you lose all sense of self the bonds of a thousand chains will vanish. Lose yourself completely, return to the root of the root of your own soul.”
You Were Not Created to Suffer
You were not created to suffer. And God is not selling Paradise in the afterlife with suffering, misery and unhappiness in this life.
Yet suffering serves a valuable purpose, one that is designed, ultimately, to lead to happiness and the transcendence of suffering.
Suffering lets you know that you are out of alignment with divine will. Suffering is indicative of that fact that you are still experiencing the symptoms of the nafs, of ego-mind, and that there is work to be done to become purified of the self that leads to and continually creates unhappiness. Suffering is but the result of error, and of a mistaken sense of self.
Although some may insist otherwise, Islam does not advocate belief in an angry god that must be appeased with human suffering and sacrifice. Such an idea is idolatry perhaps at its worst, for in believing and advocating such a concept of God, we are in reality projecting our own egoism unto the Divine, our own human faults and primitive qualities, our own anger, fear and frustration, creating a mental idol of God, utterly inadequate of His true beauty, light, love and incomprehensible mercy.
Suffering, or hell, is but a result of our actions and our choices. Yet hell is not God’s will for humanity. Divine Will for humanity is precisely the opposite. Can there be any doubt that Allah wants for His creation other than happiness, health, wellness and peace — Paradise? Is this not the very reason He Almighty sent prophets and messengers to humanity? Have they ever called to anything other than goodness and peace, to Paradise, to Heaven Eternal?
Happiness in Islam
Islam has been revealed for but one reason: To lead humanity to happiness, joy, peace, strength, health and wellness, to lead mankind and each individual to ultimate and absolute success, to Truth.
Hence the verses in the azhan, the Call to Prayer, “Come to Prayer, Come to Prayer. Come to Success, Come to Success.” All of Islam is but for this.
“This day have I perfected your Way for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam, Surrender, as your Path.”
— Surah Al-Ma’ida (Holy Quran Quotes, 5:3)
Yet commonly, we are seeking happiness in the wrong places. In things. In material security. And this is hopeless. As much as we try, Nature continually seeks to and will eventually destroy all that we build. All forms will fade and fall. Yet that which is Eternal, the Divine Presence of God, shall never fade. And true happiness is in transcending the self and re-uniting individual consciousness with Source, the Lord of Heavens and Earth.
“Eternally remains but the Face of thy Lord, full of Majesty, Bounty and Honor.”
— Surah ar-Rahman (Holy Quran, 55:27)
Make Allah Happy by Cultivating Joy in Others
“If you do not find God in the next person you meet, it is a waste of time looking for Him any further.”
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) advised to continually smile, for “a smile is charity.” Charity is to share of the bounty, the goodness, the light and presence of God.
By smiling to your brother or sister, your fellow human being, you are literally sharing the light of God with another. And you will see that beautiful light reflected back to you, for what you give of goodness always returns, often manifold. This is the cultivation of abundance, the attraction of divine providence, and the cultivation of prosperity consciousness.
Seek Happiness in Simplicity
Seek happiness in simplicity. Happiness is attained and experienced always in the simplicity of this precise moment, and what enables you to appreciate that. Be it a cup of tea, a walk in nature, holding the hand of your beloved, or a moment of meditation, seek to appreciate the Eternal in this moment, and allow creation to serve its true purpose, namely, to lead you back to the Hidden Source.
Be continually cognizant of the fact that the material world is but illusion, and follow the trail inward to the soul of things rather than their physical appearance and manifestation. In this way, you advance your consciousness to freedom and liberation from the world of form, dunya, and come to develop a real and authentic awareness and relationship with the Creator.
Happiness the Duty of a Believer
It is the duty of a believer to be happy, for being happy is being in alignment with divine will. If an individual is unhappy, complaining and miserable, he or she is in error, and in a state of resistance to what is rather than an internal state of surrender, Islam.
It is the duty of dunya to overcome us and bring us to despair, hopelessness and unhappiness. Yet the Way of the Spiritual Warrior in Islam is to stand firm in faith and keep his or heart and soul alive in joy in the Divine Presence of God.
Happiness, like sadness, is contagious. We do not help anyone with suffering and sympathy, and engaging in such only reinforces victimhood, a psychology based in subservience to external circumstances, dunya, and far removed from the Islamic ideal of liberty, freedom, and pure and total dependence upon the Divine. Remember, independence for humanity is the goal of Islam, and this is only attained through in-dependence, i.e. dependence within.
Islamic Spirituality is designed to lead to such freedom and independence, and the practice of Islamic Meditation is invaluable in cultivating a healthy mind and spirit liberated from form, connected to Divine Source, and free from fear, suffering and unhappiness.
While sympathy reinforces suffering and a victim-mindset, empathy holds a space for another’s suffering, but provides an opportunity for them to awaken and to rise. Through empathy, clear and prescient presence, and providing a clear example for what is possible, happiness, you become an anchor and a lifeline for others.
It is especially important for parents to cultivate personal happiness, a state of peace and presence, for our children inherit not what we want for them, but what we have for them. They learn from and ultimately inherit our states, our psychology, our errors. The greatest thing parents can do to ensure the ultimate happiness of their children is to personally cultivate peace and joy in their own beings.
It is for this reason that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) said, “Paradise is found at the feet of the mother.”
“Paradise is found at the feet of the mother.”
— Prophet Muhammad (SAWS)
We are our children’s first and foremost teachers, and it is our level of spiritual development, our state of Islam, our happiness or its opposite, that our children literally learn from us. We can best preserve their purity, their innocence, their perfection and beauty, by taking personal responsibility with regards to our own states of being, our own thoughts and emotions, our own choices, by doing the work necessary to cultivate personal happiness, for it is this our children will learn and take from us.
“No child is born but in a state of purity and innocence, and it is their parents that change them. As animals produce their offspring healthy, do you see anything defective?”
— Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) [Muslim]
“So set thy purpose for religion inclining towards truth. Preserve the pure nature of Allah, in which He hath created human beings. No change should there be in the creation of Allah. That is the correct religion, yet most among mankind understand not.”
— Surah ar-Rum (Holy Quran, 30:30)
Believe in Happiness and in Simplicity
Allah Almighty is not concerned with what you believe, except in that what you believe either leads you to Truth, Reality, and thus to happiness, or away from it.
The foundation of joy, peace and prosperity is the kalima tayyiba, the statement that “There is no god but God.” This is the foundation for a life of independence, for all suffering is the result of being victim to external circumstances, people and things, being a slave to dunya rather than an honored servant and deputy of the Divine.
We must remember that Allah Almighty, the Lord of Creation, is utterly independent and transcendent of any need whatsoever, including our acts of piety and our intellectual belief systems.
I have created jinn and men but that they may serve Me. No sustenance do I require of them nor do I require that they should feed Me. For it is Allah Who provides sustenance, the Lord of Power, the Steadfast.
— Surah adh-Dhariyat (Qur’an, 51:56-58)
The benefit of proper aqidah is that it leads us to happiness, security, stability, to joy, awareness and awakening. What you believe (thoughts and ideas) is less important than that you do believe. Belief is a spiritual state rather than a ideological position, and such thought-forms are ultimately mental idols, only creating continuing separation among human beings.
There is but only one belief that truly matters, and that is the universal belief in One God, the foundation of all spiritual development.
“Whoever dies knowing and affirming, bearing witness that there is no god but God, shall enter Paradise.”
— Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) [Muslim]
Everything else can quickly lead to unnecessary complexity and confusion, and highly complicated belief systems ultimately but serve the purpose of ego. We cannot know God through the mind, and beliefs do not lead to belief, but can in fact prevent true belief, for beliefs are mind-dependent whereas belief is heart-dependent.
An imbalanced dependence upon a litany of catechisms only traps one in mind, and it is advisable to avoid spiritual paths or associations that are heavily dependent upon belief structures and systems, organizations that focus primarily on justifying their position or authority through complex and highly selective belief systems.
The path to God is not through the mind, but rather, through the heart. Typically, the mind is under the reigns of the ego, except when we are led by the heart and soul, in which case the mind is then in the service of the spirit.
Again, nothing we do or believe does the least for God. Worship is purely for our benefit.
The essence of belief is but the Oneness of God. All error, and thus all suffering, comes from not understanding and not building upon this primary foundation.
God has said, “I am to My servants as they expect Me to be. I am with them when they mention Me. If they remember Me by themselves, I remember them by Myself. And if they remember Me in an assembly, I remember them in a greater assembly. If they draw near unto Me a hand’s length, I draw near unto them an arm’s length. And if they come to Me walking, I go to them running.”
— Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) [Hadith Qudsi]
God wants your joy. Your success. Your happiness.
The only thing ever in the way is… You.
Gratitude is the essence of faith, Islam, the Way, and is indicative of the highest form of surrender.
The truly grateful, the shakir, is grateful even for trials and tribulations:
1) Because he or she knows they lead to self-purificaiton, and that all suffering is but a symptom of self, ego, nafs.
2) Because they are truly happy and independent of external circumstances, so in-dependent, so present, that fear and pain cannot taint their souls, for these things exist but in past and future, and cannot be in the present moment.
“Lo! Verily upon the friends of Allah, there is no fear, nor do they grieve.”
— Surah Yunus (Holy Quran, 10:62)
Ingratitude is in essence disbelief, and it shares the same root word as does the word for unbelief, kufr.
In short, if you want to make Allah happy with you, be happy. And remember the the true path to happiness is in selflessness, in being free from the prison of self.
How to Make Allah Happy by Cultivating Personal Joy: 5 Simple Suggestions
1. Purify Your Paradigm
Accept and affirm the truth. Realize and remember that God wants your happiness, joy, success and prosperity. He wants your success.
2. Be Grateful
Consciously practice gratitude. As a simple suggestion, after offering each of your five daily prayers, as you begin to make dua, supplication, begin first with mentioning five things you are grateful for. You will be amazed at how much we take for granted.
It is said, “When you smile, the Universe will smile back at you.” This is the Way of the Prophet (SAWS), and by smiling, you re-affirm to yourself truth and goodness, true belief in God. The simple act of smiling also spreads joy, love and light to others, and attracts back to you these very things that you give to others.
4. Serve Others
Spread joy. Spread love. Spread goodness. It all comes back to you. But do not do to receive. Simply do for the sake of doing. Because it is the right thing to do.
“None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”
— Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) [Bukhari]
Selflessness leads to happiness. Selfishness leads to suffering. And this is why modern materialistic individualism, despite greater abundance and prosperity than ever before, has led to the greatest epidemic of fear, unhappiness, depression, despondency and hopelessness the world has ever known.
Yet Islam and the Way of the Spiritual Warrior is to remain grounded, centered and rooted in Be-ing, in the Divine Presence, and thus in-dependent, independent of dunya embracing only what is necessary for this moment and thus living free and unencumbered.
5. Meditate Daily
Still the mind, and take back control of your self. Fulfill your divine purpose. Transcend the self, the ego-mind. Learn to fight the battle within. Overcome your one true enemy. Yourself. This the true and real jihad.
Recall the story of Ali (KW) at the Battle of Khandaq, when he disarmed his opponent, Amr Abdawud, who then instead of surrendering, instead spit into Ali’s noble face. Rather than slay his opponent, Ali (KW) instead sheathed his blade and stepped away.
After the battle, he was asked why he attempted to spare the life of Amr who had fought to kill him and the believers. Ali (KW) replied that initially he was fighting for the sake of Truth, but when Amr spit on him, he became angry, and could no longer fight for his heart had become tainted with anger, which then taints all action with impurity and wrong intention.
In truth, to overcome the self is the ultimate victory. And this is what is required for both your happiness and the pleasure of the Divine. To your divine success.
“Lo! Verily, We have given thee a supreme victory.”
— Surah al-Fath (Holy Quran, 48:1)