Happiness Is Within My Reach

Abu Hadid, Muhammad Farid


  • Muhamma Farid Abu Hadid describes how he struggled to understand the meaning of life, until he realized that happiness was achievable only by stripping away constructed appearances and pursuing affection, cooperation, goodness, mercy, and justice.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Muhammad Farid Abu Hadid is a teacher, author and translator who was born some sixty years ago near the Egyptian village of Maktab. He has taught in rural schools and has served as dean of the Institute of Education in Cairo. His statement of belief has been adapted from the Arabic "This I Believe," recently published in Egypt. Here now is Muhammad Farid Abu Hadid.
Some of the impressions that have had the deepest and most lasting effect on my
character were made by seemingly unimportant childhood incidents. My parents treated me, their first son, as an important member of the family and a sharer in its responsibilities. I soon observed that there was a difference between the way my family and my uncles' families lived. I could also see that my father was under a severe strain. Still, this concerned me little, until an incident brought its meaning home to me in a way that made a real impression on my young mind.
I was telling my father with childish enthusiasm about all the wonderful toys I had seen in my
cousins' homes. He listened with growing sorrow and surprise and, when I had finished, patted me silently on the head. I could see that he was deeply moved.
"Are you sorry that I cannot give you such presents?" he asked.
Then I felt something which I cannot describe in the language of grownups. It was a mixture of regret, affection, and respect. "No, I donít want them," I blurted out. I think I owe to this moment the lack of concern that I have since felt for luxuries and outward appearances.
One day, when I was 18, I went for a walk on the bank of the Nile. My mind was filled with questions, questions that were important to me: What is the meaning and purpose of life? What are people? How is happiness attained? How is justice served? Is fortune just? It was twilight, and the river was overflowing with brownish floodwaters. I stood there looking at the turmoil of the stream and contemplating these puzzling questions. Then I noticed a twig tossed about the surface of the water by the flood waves. Somehow all my questions seemed to gather in that restless twig.
I was completely absorbed in contemplation.
When I awoke from my reverie, I had to find for myself a philosophy that has played a large part in my life. Life perishes. People are like this tossing twig. They come to life unwillingly. They leave life unwillingly. If we strip from them the appearances which they themselves create, we discover their real values. People and nations achieve by struggling for mere things, only misery. But the road to happiness is obvious for those who care to find it. Happiness is within
my reach if I fling away egoism and greed, and aim at affection, cooperation, goodness, mercy, and justice.
This philosophy has had a decisive effect in determining my conduct towards myself and others. It has been a blessing, because it liberated me from myself. It has granted me as much happiness as is possible on Earth. Now, I aspire to help my children appreciate this freedom and win it for themselves.
That was Muhammad Farid Abu Hadid, writer and teacher of Cairo, Egypt.