Revisiting "Meaning and Experience of Happiness in Islam"
Wan Ahmad Fayhsal

By Wan Ahmad Fayhsal
Published on 03/18/2012

On the 18th of February 2012, Assembly of Intellectual Muslim (HAKIM) have sent six of their members to a lecture organized by Dar al-Andalus, Suffah Study Circle of Singapore at Orchard Parade Hotel. The lecture entitled “The Meaning and Experience of Happiness in Islām” was delivered none other than Malaysian-based scholar, the honourable Professor Syed Muhammad Naquib Al-Attas.

Right from the start, Prof. Al-Attas had confined his lecture upon two questions raised with regard to the topic of meaning of happiness in Islām as he brilliantly wrote in a monograph and included as the second chapter of his magnum opus – Prolegomena to the Metaphysics of Islam. He mentioned before this topic cannot be elaborated succinctly in 2 hours as it took him one whole semester at ISTAC before to lecture on this in detail and at length. He intended on that day to touch basic matters pertaining to the topic.

The first question touched upon whether is it necessary for the Muslim to understand the Western conception of tragedy before we could understand the meaning of happiness in Islām.

Prof. Al-Attas stressed that though it is not necessary to understand the Western conception of tragedy that flourished in their great works since the Iliad of Homer, Poetics of Aristotle, it is pertinent for the Muslims of today to understand the exact opposite of saʿādah as alluded in Qurʾān – which is shaqawāh rendered into English approximately equivalent of ‘great misfortune’, ‘misery’, ‘straitness of circumstance’, ‘distress’, ‘disquietude’, ‘despair’, ‘adversity’, ‘suffering’.