Asceticism and Happiness
One of the ways in which humans can achieve happiness is asceticism. The real meaning of asceticism is "not wanting," not "not having". Real asceticism does not want worldly things to the extent that one becomes so attached to them that he becomes somewhat indifferent to God. Imam Ali says that all asceticism from the viewpoint of the Qur'an has been summarized in this verse: "that you may not grieve for what escapes you, nor rejoice at what has come to you" (Hadid, 57:23).
Imam Ali says that the fruit of asceticism is peace of mind. He also introduces asceticism as the great comfort. The prophet of Islam deems asceticism as the cause of comfort of soul and body (Pasandideh, 2007, p. 48-49).
The prophet of Islam introduces the affluence of the soul as the real affluence and enrichment. Some people think they should get more possibilities, facilities, and income for their lives to be happier. Such an attitude causes them to try to get more of such things. This state, in turn, makes them be greedy and avaricious. The greedier people become, the more they distance themselves from happiness and tranquility. A greedy person is considered a deprived one. Imam Sadeq says that a greedy person is deprived of contentment, and then he is affected with inconvenience; deprived of satisfaction, he then loses his certitude. Imam Ali says that a greedy person is never seen resting. Imam Ali also orders people to act with dignity in acquisition of sustenance.
On the other hand, a miserly person, according to Imam Ali, increases his stress, and according to the prophet of Islam, a stingy person has the least comfort (Pasandideh, 2007, p. 71-79).
As for wealth and worldly things, Imam Sajjad says that there is no one who requires a little of the worldly, unless he or she becomes greedy for it. Everyone who obtains more from the world becomes needier. There is no tranquility and comfort in the wealth of the world, but Satan tempts human beings that their restfulness is in gathering wealth and through this leads them to more pain (Pasandideh, 2007, p. 242). The prophet of Islam says that whosoever does not desist from staring at people's wealth will experience lasting grief (Loqmani, 2006, p. 200). According to the prophet of Islam, extreme interest in this world increases one's grief, and piety and asceticism, causes tranquility of health and body.
The prophet of Islam says that for one who is satisfied with the livelihood (sufficiency) level in life, the least level of life will be sufficient for him. He also says that extreme interest in the world increases grief, and asceticism toward the worldly pleasures causes tranquility of the body and heart. The prophet of Islam believes that those staring at other people's wealth will always be annoyed, and the fire of anger will never abate in their hearts. The Qur'an complains of some people and says, "What! Do you build on every prominence a sign, sporting, and do you take to you castles, haply to dwell forever?" (Sho'ara' 26:128-129). In addition, the prophet of Islam says that some people build that which they do not inhabit and gather that which they do not eat (Pasandideh, 2007, p. 167-168).
If someone compares himself with those whose worldly things such as money, etc., are better than his, this will cause grief and sorrow in him. The Qur'an says, "So he (Korah) went unto his people in his adornment. Those who desired the present life said, 'Would that we possessed the like of that Korah has been given: surely he is a man of mighty fortune.'" (Qasas, 28:79).
Therefore, God orders his prophet, "Stretch not thine eyes to that We have given pairs of them to enjoy-the flower of the present life, that We may try them therein, and thy Lord's provision is better, and more enduring" (Taha, 20:131).
Imam Sadeq says in this regard that everyone who stares at whatever is in the hands of the worldly persons will have lasting grief, and the Prophet of Islam says that the sorrow of such a person will increase (Pasandideh, 2007, p. 100, 107).
Adapted from the book: "Foundations of Happiness"
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