Khazanah (Treasure) for Edition 43  

Let’s Be Happy

Book Title : Interpretation of Happiness

Writer : Jalaluddin Rakhmat

Publisher : Mizan

Pages : 201 

Publishing Year

How would you interpret happiness? A life full of material dreams, or drinking tea accompanied with a book of poetry? Or lending your hand to those in need? True thing is, happiness cannot be measured by tools, nor be fulfilled equally. Happiness for you will not be always the same with happiness I want, or for anybody else.  

Kang (Brother) Jalal, the nickname of Jalaluddin Rakhmat, has written a book about happiness, which he gave the Interpretation of Happiness. When you hear the word interpretation, what is the idea across your mind? Is it about the verses of Al Qur’an justified for the word happiness?   Is it a book with excerpts of interpretations written by popular preachers? Apparently, all those presumptions are not what we found. All those 201 pages rather look like a story than an essay or interpretation book, and the book cover seems to be very pop. That what makes this book appears to be different than most interpretation books which are “hard to understand”.

This Book “Interpration of Happiness” is written in communicative approach, through philosophical and psychological point of view, conveyed in a simple and understandable language.  The idea brought by Kang Jalal is more than just a textual version of people’s current situation and their issue. Kang Jalal has given a deeper meaning of relevant verses and pulled them to current context, related to life journey. The copy and paste of verses to topic discussed is not found in this book. 

By selecting category of the interpretation maudlu’i or topical one, Kang Jalal doesn’t only ask his readers to float in sea of Al Qur’an knowledge, but also invite them to dive into the deeper part. The basic difference of maudlu’i and tahlili or thematic interpretation is found on the process of interpretation sequence. If tahlili makes the verses as sequence, maudlu’i compiles all associated verses with the selected topic, and that what makes maudlu’i interpretation more profound because it is focused on one topic.

The Psychological Nuance
Kang Jalal at least managed to expose the simple happiness, touching and close to daily life, of which small things in life that make happiness comes true is sometimes neglected. Like what we found on page 41, Kang Jalal told us a story about someone who is always focusing on part of his body which is painful, he is ignoring other parts which are in a good condition. Yet, on painful part of the body, there is a small part which is still in good condition, so why shall we pay too much attention on the painful part? That is how some people see their problems which is called missing style syndrome in psychological term.

Kang Jalal through his book would like to invite his readers, who are already too tired with an instant and worldly life, to look for a true happiness in their inner self, by loving any kind of life process. Quoting Erich Fromm statement in regard to having mode, Kang Jalal told us a story about people who count their life on material things – causing them emotionally tired if that material happiness cannot be achieved. People compete one another to have bigger houses, while what they need basically is a place to rest and live. People compete one another to collect more assets but what they need is a basic tranquility.

The having mode becomes something more important by quoting statement from Sigmund Freud, saying that lifestyle is a kind of pathological life. After a passive oral phase, a child will enter an explorative-aggressive anal phase. This child will feel joyful when they release excretion. If this child stops his mental building, he will grow up by keeping his anal personality, and the character which sticks to him or her is greediness to own, to collect, and to pile up things that are physical. Kang Jalal, by excerpting works of Freud, also elaborates connection between feces and money which the explanation on greediness as pathological personality, more surprisingly happens due to the person’s failure in achieving his or her full maturity. A healthy life is a mode of becoming something, because happiness comes when a person is giving, not taking. 

On Being Happy

At least, ten times a day we are asked to be happy. This is mentioned by muezzin through his statement hayya ‘ala al- falaah which means let’s be happy. The word aflaha and its derivative in Al Qur’an is repeated 11 times, by spelling “la’allakum tuflihun” or “so you’ll be happy”. In this case, we learn what is commanded by God is for the sake of our happiness. The truth is this religion always recalls us to be happy. Happiness is important because those who are happy, usually do good things in life.
It is true, a proverb saying that life is like reading a book, sometimes we have to stop for a while, to contemplate, sometimes we feel worried or anxious, or happy and surprised. Sometimes we also feel peaceful, relax, but suddenly frustrated. The process of becoming and the process of life is not always about doubt and vice versa, because behind every cloud there is a light soothes us. It doesn’t mean that life is like a cloud, and the happiness is limited to light flashing just for a second. Life with full of happiness is sometimes hindered by cloud and thunder to make us a better person with all potentials and blessings given.  Have We not expanded for you your breast? and We removed from you your burden, which weighed down your back. And We exalted for you your reputation? Then, surely with hardship comes ease. Surely, with hardship comes ease. So when you have finished (with your immediate task), still strive hard, (then toil). And to your Lord turn (all) your attention. (QS Al Insyirah: 1-8)

Before I end up, one thing I must say that this book can be read by anyone, belong to any group, even to any religion. Though the content is about Qur’anic verses interpretation, the universal message of happiness is more emphasized. And again, in regard gender issue, I must honestly say this book is neutral, in particular with discussion on happiness, is not related to one specific gender. It means, happiness isn’t only for specific human race or gender. 

Finally, I always like translation technique used by Kang Jalal when he quoted verses from Al Qur’an. He always uses smart diction so Al Qur’an is really the sacred book which soothes and tranquilizes our soul; “Your Lord has not taken leave of you, nor has He detested [you]. And the Hereafter is better for you than the first [life]. (QS al-Dhuha: 3-4).”[]

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