The path to happiness within the Islamic tradition has similarities with the West’s path to happiness. There is the recognition of the difficulties of the everyday world and the need to work hard to safeguard against poverty, ill-health, and harm. There is also the recognition of the need to be sociable and kind to others. In addition to this harmony and cooperation with others, the pursuit of knowledge and self-confidence is also required. These actions are very similar to those of the West; in fact, they are nearly identical to the Journey portion of the road to happiness expressed in my book. One major difference does exist: the actions in the West follow a hierarchy of one level leading to the next. In Islam, such a hierarchy does not exist, which makes the completion of the steps more uncertain.
The above attributes allow the followers of Islam to recognize their Divine Destiny as expressed by the Divine Will. It is the faith in Allah that allows the Divine Will to direct followers to the freedom from pain, fear, and anxiety in the everyday world, as well as the kingdom of Allah in the spiritual world.
Following the Divine Will has similarities in the West; for example, the possible attainment of freedom from everyday fears and anxiety. Also, the spiritual welcoming into the kingdom of God for those who are to be saved. In addition, the Divine Will is based on virtues that are intended to help the individual travel the road to happiness.
However, there is one main difference: this occurs at the beginning of the Adventure, which is the road after the Journey. In the West, the Adventure begins with a call or summons. This call can be ignored or accepted, if sent. If accepted, the individual begins a series of trials to secure a boon or gift for the benefit of one’s family or community. If the adventurer returns to the everyday world with the boon intact (which requires the love of others for the adventurer) then the adventurer attains happiness and the family or community flourishes.
It is this call to adventure, and required love of one’s neighbor, both of which are needed to reach happiness, that does not appear in the Islamic tradition.
Some final thoughts about the three Eastern/Middle-Eastern traditions regarding the road to happiness in my next post.