You Can Be The Happiest Woman in the World – A Treasure Chest of Reminders
Book Name: You Can Be The Happiest Woman in the World – A Treasure Chest of Reminders
Author: Dr. ‘Â’id al-Qarni
Translator: Huda Khattab
I want to begin by saying that this book is well organized and easy to read. It covered an array of topics, such as anxiety and depression as well as how to combat them. It encouraged the Muslim women to be humble, steadfast, patient, strong, and thankful. There were some very good points made in the beginning of the book.
These are some notable points that I really liked and wrote down:
“You can do good deeds at home and in society, that will help you attain the pleasure of Allah. So, set the best of examples and be a beacon for the children of the Ummah.”
“Do not be a chronic complainer, or an amateur complainer!”
“Either you will be aware of your happiness and enjoy it with all your senses, or you will ignore that and look elsewhere for what you think you are lacking, in which case you will fall prey to complaining and discontent. In that case, wait until this present becomes the past, then you will weep and realize how happy you were at that time, but you did not realize it, but now you have nothing left but fading memories.”
“Learn patience from Asiyah, loyalty from Khadijah, sincerity from ‘A’ishah and steadfastness from Fatimah.”
“Real beauty lies in beautiful behavior, manners and mind.”
I found myself wanting to keep picking up the book, but as I began getting into the second half I found many unneeded references to non-Muslim individuals. These included Dale Carnegie, Bernard Shaw, Napoleon, and Mary Baker Eddy.
I was not happy with this as the points that were made about these individuals could have easily been left out and replaced with far better Ayah and Ahadith. For example, when mentioning Napoleon, the book says that he “was very fortunate to marry the Empress Josephine”. The book says that because of Josephine’s radiating happiness, that helped keep everyone around her happy. There are far better examples of women in Islam with better qualities. When the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) first received revelation, who was there to comfort him? Who was the one that helped him throughout some of the hardest years of his life? Who was it that not only cared for him, but all of the Muslims of that time like a mother? Khadijah (RA). She would have been a perfect example here, Subhan’Allah.
Another point that surprised me greatly was the story of Mary Baker Eddy. The book said:
“A Christian woman knew nothing in life but poverty, hunger and sickness. Her husband died shortly after they were married and her second husband left her and ran off with another woman, after which he was found dead in a filthy hovel. She had one son. But because of poverty and sickness, she found herself forced to give him up when he was four years old.
The turning point in her life came when she was walking through the city streets one day and she slipped and fell on a patch of icy ground. She fell into coma for a long time, and sustained a spinal injury because of her fall. The doctors expected her either to die soon, or to be completely paralyzed for life.
Whilst she was lying in her hospital bed, she opened the Holy Book and was inspired by Divine care – as she put it – to read these words from the Gospel of Matthew:
“Some men brought to him [to ‘isa (Peace be upon him)] a paralytic, lying on a mat… Then he said to the paralytic: ‘Get up, take your mat and go home.’ And the man got up and went home.” (Matthew 9:2, 6-7)
These words gave her strong faith and motivated her so much that she got up from the bed and started to walk about the room. This experience paved the way for this paralyzed woman to treat herself and bring healing to others.
Dale Carnegie said: “This is the experience that enabled Mary Baker Eddie to become the missioner of a new religion, which is perhaps the only religion to have been founded by a woman.”
And you, O’ Muslim woman, what have you done?”
“It should be noted that the point here is not to praise or condone that “new religion”, for there is to be no new revelation or Prophet after Muhammad (Blessings and Peace be upon him) brought the Qur’an and the message of Islam. Rather the author’s point here is to praise a woman who rose above adversity and made a difference in the life of others.” (Translator)
There were a couple of different things wrong with this story. Firstly, it is describing how these words in the Bible gave her strong faith and somehow healed her. Secondly, she went on to create another religion. In defense of the author, the translator did mention that the point was not to praise the creation of this new religion. However, there are better examples to praise women who “rose above diversity and made a difference in the life of others”. Mentioning this story could cause doubts in the hearts of the reader and may even inspire them to research this new religion. Thirdly, the statement that questions the Muslim woman by saying: “And you, O’ Muslim woman, what have you done?” seems to have implications that don’t sit right with me. Living a righteous life in the environment we live in today is already a huge achievement if you really think about it. I don’t believe that this is a motivating statement as the author intended, Subhan’Allah.
Besides, there are a plethora of Sahabiyat RA and Islamic figures that could have been mentioned here as well, such as Fatimah RA, Umm Ayman RA, Nusayba RA, or even Fatima al-Fihri, who founded the world’s first university, Alhamdulillah. There are so many more examples of Muslim women who displayed fortitude, fearlessness, and sacrifice the name of Allah SWT. These are the women that we should connect with and draw strength from, because their cause and our cause is the same. They had times when they were tired, when things became very difficult, and when they were hurt, but they drew strength from their faith and went on to be remembered for their perseverance and unwavering trust in Allah SWT. We have to know that when we follow the commands of Allah SWT and strive in His Way, we can move mountains like our heroines did! These are our examples and our teachers. Why look elsewhere?
The final point is the fact that Dale Carnegie was continuously mentioned in this book. The first half of the book went well and then these stories and quotes started to appear after the halfway point. Dale Carnegie wrote books like ‘How to Win Friends & Influence People’. He wrote about how to find happiness, yet many people believe that Dale Carnegie committed suicide (or opted for assisted suicide). After all the work he did, his own advice wasn’t able to save him in the end. Some people say that he died of a disease and the institute decided to write his cause of death as that, because they were afraid book sales on “personal growth” would drop. Allah knows best, but we can see why quoting such personalities can be problematic. Our Prophet Muhammad SAW and the rightly guided men and women of this Ummah have left volumes and volumes of work to quote from, so I was not happy with the fact that non-Muslims were given such a high regard.
Overall, weighing the good with the not so good, I would not recommend reading this book. Although, there were some good points, I was not happy with the mentioning of non-Muslim people in such a way when there were better examples that could have been more relatable. I honestly thought that I would be recommending this book until I read the second half. It is better to stay away from the doubtful matters and this book could cast doubts in someone who is looking for happiness, peace, and self-acceptance. I believe that the author should have considered who his audience is and what their state may be when they pick up his book.
Something that I found interesting was that the translator was Huda Khattab. If you read the Islamic Medicine book review, you will see that she was also one of the translators for that book. I was surprised to know this since I really liked the Islamic Medicine book. This tells us that following the works of a certain translator doesn’t necessarily mean that all the work will be of the same caliber content wise.
If you would like to check out some good books on women and Islam, you can check out Women Around the Messenger, and Golden Stories of Sayyida Khadijah (RA) – Mother of the Believers.
If you have read this book, I would be interested in knowing your point of view as well, Insha’Allah.
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