The school year had just ended. The relief of having finished another set of semester exams seemed to pump my adrenaline as I bounced along the busy road to the bookstore in my navy blue jilbab. It certainly felt good to be able to read what I really wanted again, and not just what I had to.
To my chagrin, I found out that almost all the prices had doubled, some even tripled! The economy was relentlessly taking a nosedive. After a long search, I finally found some books that looked interesting and whose price tags didn’t scare me off. I couldn’t wait to bury myself in these pages!
‘The Happiest Woman in the World’ with its yellow and green hardcover attracted me first, and believe me when I say, it was worth the reading and more so, the sharing!
Dr ‘Aid ibn Abd-Allah ibn ‘Aid Al Majdu Al Qarni, the author of the book is a resourceful writer who has written countless books on ahadith, tafsir, fiqh, Arabic literature, etc. At the time this book was published in 2005, he had recorded over 800 audio cassettes of sermons lectures, lessons, and soirees; a Ph.D. holder from Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University; a man in his fifties who has made an impact, a positive one.
Non-boredom alert! I know there are some of us who find some Islamic non-fiction books pretty boring; I do find some boring myself really, probably because of the monotonous ways in which some of them are written and sometimes their bulkiness. However, I can assure you that this book is nothing like that and it’s non-fiction!
‘The Happiest Woman’ as I like to call it, is unique in a lot of ways. The book is divided into chapters, each chapter containing a set of ‘lessons’, each lesson (not more than a page and half at most) begins on a fresh page with either a quote from the Quran or ahadith, followed by the title of the lesson then the story (or otherwise) which constitutes the lesson and then the final word, in form of an interesting wise saying. My favorite parts are the final words, they summarise each lesson in an interesting way that engraves it in your mind for a long time. How do you like this: ‘plant a tasbih (subhanallah) in a second, an idea in a minute and a deed in an hour’?
The lessons are totally unconnected to each other; this allows you to pick and choose which chapter or which lesson to read at any time, you don’t necessarily have to read the book sequentially. You can even make it some sort of a companion, to read some of the lessons during your little free times in between chores or other activities during the day.
Wonder why this book is exceptional? ‘The Happiest Woman’ seeks to give insightful lessons on how to be happy and remain so content, in this very tempting, unhappy and transient world. While not disputing the fact that ultimate, unalloyed happiness lies only in Jannah. The author through these very short and precise lessons affirms that long-lasting happiness can be achieved in this world too without necessarily having a perfect life!
For me, this book is more than just another Islamic book, it is a motivational book, an inspiring text, a book that spurs the reader to move closer to Allah (SWT) while finding contentment in his greatest asset-Islam. It does not stop at merely providing the Islamic rules guiding the conduct of a Muslim woman, it gives practical examples of how these rules can be implemented. It provides motivational stories from the life of the salaf (early predecessors) and even some beneficial ones from our contemporary world. It addresses real-life situations which anyone can easily relate to; it touched the very core of my heart, and would touch yours too!
Three lessons from the book which have become engraved in my heart are that true happiness lies in monotheism-belief in the Almighty Allah alone and worshipping Him; the happiness of worldly comfort and luxuries are only transient and even become a burden when not accompanied by the happiness of faith, and that patience in times of hardship and grief leads to happiness and ease. No doubt, there are many more lessons from the book, and I wish I could mention them all because each of them is very important.
The book teaches that happiness lies not in comfort and luxuries, nor in sitting in front of a TV watching awesome soap opera’s and laughing, it rather lies in the remembrance of Allah and the worshiping Him. A woman living in a mere tent or a shack, eating dry bread and water from an earthenware jar is better off, so far she has her mushaf (Quran) and her masbahah (rosary), remembering Allah and worshipping Him, compared to a woman who lives in a palace with fresh foods, servants and pretty wears at her disposal if the latter does not remember her lord or follow her prophet.
I couldn’t resist sharing this quote from the book: “with your beauty, you are better than the sun; with your morals, you are more sublime than musk; with your modesty, you are nobler than the full moon; with your compassion, you are more beneficial than rain. So preserve your beauty with faith, your tranquillity with contentment, your chastity with hijab. Remember that your adornment is not gold, silver or diamonds, rather, it is two rakahs fajr, going thirsty when you fast for Allah, concealed charity which no one knows except Him, hot tears that wash away sin, a lengthy prostration borne out of utter submission to Allah, shyness before Allah when the inclination to do evil overwhelms you. Clothe yourself with the garment of taqwa (piety), for you are the most beautiful woman in the world, even if your clothes are shabby. Clothe yourself with the cloak of modesty, for you are the most beautiful woman in the world even if you are barefoot.” This quote constitutes part of a lesson in the book.
This quote should not be misconstrued to mean that total disregard should be given to worldly comfort as Allah enjoins us to strive for the hereafter with what we have been blessed with in this world without forgetting our portion of enjoyment in this world; indeed the full virtue of the book can only be gleaned by reading the whole book, a mere review can’t do justice!
During the last Eid Al Adha celebration, as I traveled to my hometown with my family for the eid for the first time in well over a decade, I saw quite a number of houses that were locally built with mud, it made me remember the quote about a woman who lived in a hut but remembered and worshipped her lord, being a happy woman, I felt a soothing tranquil feeling in my heart. The book has helped me be more conscious in my ibadaat, I have been able to achieve more concentration in my salah since I read this book, been more motivated to observe voluntary fasting, wake up for tahajjud, having known that these acts are my source of happiness. I have even felt more beautiful in my jilbabs, though I naturally love them anyway!
You cannot read this book once, nor twice, not even three times! It is a book to be read and reread time and time again for it truly is a treasure chest of reminders, priceless ones at that. I’m glad to have discovered this treasure and even more so to have shared it!
AyshaBintMahmud: I testify to this, and this book has been my handbook for years!
Download your copy of the book here: You can be the happiest woman in the world.
Shakirah bint Yahya is a striving Muslimah who lives in Ilorin, Nigeria. When not busy being a law student, she can be seen scribbling away or carving out different styles of jilbabs. firstname.lastname@example.org