The happiest people to have ever lived on the face of the Earth were the Prophets. This is in spite of the fact that they suffered more than anyone else. For, they had to endure severe persecution in delivering the message that Allaah had entrusted them with. Beyond that, they were subjected to the same difficulties that all other human beings suffer from, such as illness, poverty, hunger, and thirst... and more often to a greater degree than usual.
Once, Muhammad (sallallaahu `alayhi wa-sallam) suffered from a bad fever so much so that his forehead was drenched with sweat and he was suffering greatly. One of his Companions then said to him: “You are suffering from quite a severe illness.”
The Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wa-sallam) replied: “Yes. I must endure double of the severity of illness from the illnesses that you must endure.” [Musnad Ahmad]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) also suffered from starvation. Once, during the days of persecution, the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wa-sallam) came out from his home and found Aboo Bakr and `Umar (radhiyallaahu anhum) outside. He asked them: “What brings you out at this hour?” They told him that it was hunger which brought them out. The Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wa-sallam) then said: “By Allaah, the same thing that has brought you out of your homes has brought me out as well.”
At certain points in his life, such as during the Battle of the Trench, the Prophet faced such severe hunger that he had to tie two stones to his stomach just to try and relieve some of the pain.
The Prophets all had to endure such persecution by their people because of the message Allaah sent them with. However, The Prophets’ hearts were strong. Moreover, they remained open-hearted and magnanimous to the people and persevered until their defeats turned into victories.
The beauty of their lives is startling. In spite of what they had to endure, they knew more happiness and contentment than many people alive today. This can be seen in how they behaved and how they responded to what they encountered in life.
We see this extraordinary contentment in the life of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu `alayhi wa-sallam) most clearly when he faced the greatest of difficulties. For instance, once he went to spread the message of Islaam to the people of Taa’if. They not only rejected his call, but ordered the children and ruffians of the town to drive him away by pelting stones at him. He was able to escape from the city, although his shoes were soaking with blood, and his body was covered in both blood and dirt. Once he was safely away from the city, he raised his voice to Allah in supplication:
"O Allaah! I complain to You of my weakness, my lack of resources, and my weakness before the people. O Most Merciful of those who are merciful! O Lord of the weak and my Lord too! To whom have you entrusted me? To a distant person who receives me with hostility? Or to an enemy to whom you have granted authority over my affair?
So long as You are not angry with me, I do not care. Your favor is of a more expansive relief to me. I seek refuge in the light of Your Countenance by which all darkness is dispelled and every affair of this world and the next is set right, lest Your anger or Your displeasure descends upon me. I desire Your pleasure and satisfaction until You are pleased. There is no power and no might except with You."
True faith in Allaah is what brings this kind of contentment and happiness to the heart. But it must be remembered that this does not necessitate that life for the believer will be free from all hardships.
For, when we speak of the passage of time -- when we speak of weeks, months, years , and ages -- we are speaking about life. The dead do not experience time; centuries pass by and they are heedless of it all. Allaah has made this life a trial for the living. Allaah Almighty says:
“He who created death and life to test which of you would be best in deeds.” [Soorah al-Mulk: 2]
Life is a test for believers and unbelievers alike. It is a test for sinners as well as for the virtuous. Everyone is being tested as long as they are alive.
But Allaah did not leave us in this world on our own. He sent the Prophets and the scriptures for us, to illuminate our way through the passage of this life. This guidance is not only to show us how to attain happiness in the Hereafter, but it is also for this life. Many people think religion is only about the Hereafter and that its benefit is limited to the next life. The truth is that just like religion shows us the way to attain Allaah’s pleasure and the reward of Paradise, it is the way by which a believer realizes true contentment and a happy heart in this world as well. True happiness can only come from faith and knowledge of Allaah.
“Is one whose heart Allaah has opened to Islaam, so that it has enlightenment from Allaah (no better than one who is hard-hearted)? Woe to those whose hearts are hardened against remembering Allaah!” [Soorah az-Zumar: 22]