The author in the immediately preceding verses having dealt with al-ʿaql al-salīm and having illustrated a few of the ‘obstructions’ which ʿaql meets with, now indicates that a happy life is within the grasp of that man who fashions his ʿaql, by the processes prescribed, into al-ʿaql al-salīm to which he thereafter owes obedience as his master.
The two requirements of happiness, in this context, are al-ʿaql al-salīm and its supremacy over man. It is by virtue of this al-ʿaql al-salīm that the species homo sapiens becomes the noblest handiwork of Allah.
The concept of happiness calls for explanation. In the Fatimi view happiness is relative; it does not properly apply to the physical state of good feeling and well-being normally experienced. Neither does it cover joy and contentment arising out of the satisfaction of human desires. In the eyes of Fatimi philosophers such a state is an illusion. It is in effect the removing of a disability or the feeding of a desire or the alleviating of a disease. Proof of it is found in the experience, that the choicest food would be despised by a satiated palate and the cosiest bed would not comfort a rested being. Happiness merely is equated to the freedom from want and ills.
The real state of happiness is achieved, when man uses the vicissitudes of life as stepping stones towards the realisation of the ultimate goal in evolution. The latter is possible when al-ʿaql al-salīm rules and commands. Then alone will man always have in his mind’s foreground the crowning purpose of existence, which is, to raise his soul on the stepladder of evolution towards the pinnacle of the highest perfection. In this way Man’s life is in fact ‘made happy,’ the phrase so correctly and adeptly used by the author in the Arabic text. The Quranic verse refers to it as follows :
‘And whosoever does a righteous deed be it male or female, and is a believer, we shall assuredly give him to live a goodly life, and we shall recompense them of what they did.’ (16:97)