In all books of success and in all seminars on the same topic, gratitude and being grateful is introduced as one of the most important keys to success. For example, Brian Tracy says “Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.” or as Oprah Winfrey puts it: “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” 
In this text we try to see if these types of sayings and ideas about gratitude and its impact on one’s life are accepted in Islam.
There are a few verses in the Quran that talk about the importance of gratitude and the consequences of showing both gratitude and ingratitude. To understand the meaning of gratitude and thanking God and His creations, it is important to have a deeper understanding of the Arabic root of the words gratitude (Shukr) and ingratitude (Kufr).
Allah Says in the Quran “… and thank Me, and do not be ungrateful to Me.” (2: 125) do not be ungrateful to me in Arabic is “wa la takfurun” that again comes from the root word “kufr”. The meaning of the word “kufr” is to cover or hide something. 
It is interesting that in another verse of the Quran the word farmer is also related to the root word “Kufr”; “…like rain, whose growth impresses the farmer…” (52: 20) and the farmer in the Quran is mentioned as “Kuffar”. The Quran commentators believe that the word “Kuffar” is used for farmers, since the farmer hides the seeds under the soil. 
Therefore, ingratitude or ungratefulness in the Quran is used about people who see, feel and use the blessings of Allah (SWT) but they ignore those blessings in different ways such as complaining about what they have, keep asking for things they are not blessed with by the wisdom of God, or more importantly not using the blessings that Allah has given them properly.
On the other hand, the Arabic word “shukr” which is used for gratefulness and showing gratitude means, “to reveal” something. Therefore, the concept of gratefulness and gratitude is to see, feel and use the blessings of Allah, while at the same time trying to use these blessings in the right way.
There are different ways of showing gratitude for different blessings of God. For example, showing gratitude for the health is not possible while laying down in front of TV for hours and saying, “thank God for my health”. Instead, showing gratitude for one’s health is possible when, for example, one takes care of his/her health and uses his/her strength in helping the religion of Allah and helping other servants of His. There are thousands of ways in showing gratitude for our health, wealth, knowledge, good family and friends, etc. the key point is showing gratitude is to see the blessings and use them in the best possible ways.
A great definition for gratitude is explained by Imam Al-Sadiq (AS): “The least kind of gratitude is when a person knows the blessing is (directly) from God and does not know any reason for it except Him and when he/she is happy with what God has given him/her and does not commit sins through His blessings. And, he/she does not use the blessings of God as a means for opposing his commands.” 
What happens to those who are grateful and those who are not? Does it make any difference? As human beings, we expect others to be grateful to us if we do them a favor, and it is considered rude not to thank other people’s favors. However, thanking Allah does not have any benefits for Him, or being ungrateful to Him would not harm Him in any ways. So the reason why Allah (SWT) emphasizes on thanking Him can again be understood from the Arabic words used for gratefulness and ungratefulness. If we are grateful it means that we show “Shukr” that means we reveal the blessings of Allah. Noticing these blessings is the first step to appreciate what we have and to start using them in order to achieve success in different dimensions. However, if we are not grateful it means that we are committing “Kufr,” which means we are hiding or covering the blessings of Allah, the result of which is wasting His blessings and therefore, wasting our lives.
Allah (SWT) says in the Quran: “If you are grateful, I will surely enhance you [in blessing], but if you are ungrateful, My punishment is indeed severe.” (14: 7)
It is clear as day that if one understands the value of his/her blessings, then he/she can improve the life quality of him/herself and others using those blessings. And if one wastes the blessings, it is rational to take those advantages from him/her and give the facilities to someone who can best use them in improving his/her and others’ lives.
But, unfortunately Allah mentions in the Quran that “few of My servants are grateful.” (34:13) Therefore, it would be great if we can try our best to discover and recognize even the smallest blessings that Allah (SWT) has provided us. We have no idea how using the smallest blessings can bring huge changes and improvements in our life and our soul.
Thanking Allah (SWT) for His blessings is very important. However, Allah (SWT) gives specific attention to being grateful toward other human beings. Thanking those who have favored us the most is so important in the eyes of Allah that He obliges us to be grateful to them “We have enjoined man concerning his parents: His mother carried him through weakness upon weakness, and his weaning takes two years. Give thanks to Me and to your parents. To Me is the return.” (31:14)
In mentioning the importance of this verse Imam al-Ridha (AS) says: “Allah Almighty has put gratitude and thanksgiving for Himself along with gratitude and thanks to the parents, whoever has not done the gratitude of the parents has not done the gratitude of Allah.” 
Apart from thanking Parents, thanking other people in the society is very important in Islam. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) says: “He who does not give thanks to the people (for their favors) does not give thanks to God.” 
May we all start seeing and discovering the blessings that Allah (SWT) has given us and start using them to the most, so we can make a better life and afterlife for ourselves and others.
- Qara’ati, M. Tafseer-e Noor, vol. 9. p. 477
- Gilani, A commentary on Al-Mesbah Al-Shari’ah, p. 61
- Oyoun Akhbar al-Riza, vol. 1. p. 258
- Man La Yahzuruhu al-faqih, vol. 2, p, 343
Success is something that all human beings try to reach. In this world, some people are known to be successful. Others try to become like one of those successful people. And some people, who could never become like any of the successful characters, become depressed for the rest of their miserable, hopeless life!
People keep reading books about “how to become rich”, “how to become famous”, “how to become a great manager”, etc. And they define a successful person, as a person who is wealthy, popular and famous. But there are only a few people in the millions of world population who are well-known because of their wealth, eminence, and power, great scientific or athletic achievements. So, the majority of people are experiencing an unsuccessful, unhappy life. But is that the right definition of success?
In this article, I would like to share with you my understanding of success according to Islamic teachings. I will portray a description of success, without having to be a millionaire, a champion or a celebrity.
In the Holy Quran, the Arabic word for success “Falaah”. Falaah is translated as salvation because the person who attains success, has escaped and recovered from obstacles on the way to success. Having in mind the Quranic description of success, it is time to see what the Quran teaches us to become successful. Allah says in the Holy Quran “Certainly, the faithful have attained salvation” (23:1). And to describe one of the characteristics of those felicitous people, He says: “There has to be a nation among you summoning to the good, bidding what is right, and forbidding what is wrong. It is they who are the felicitous.” (3: 104)
However, an overall conclusion of all the Quranic verses about success could be defined in this Quranic phrase: “... and be wary of Allah so that you may be felicitous. (3: 200)
Also in chapter Baqarah Allah introduces the felicitous as those “who believe in the Unseen, maintain the prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them; and who believe in what has been sent down to you (prophet) and what was sent down before you, and are certain of the Hereafter. Those follow their Lord’s guidance, and it is they who are the felicitous.” (2: 3-5)
According to what we have said so far and what we are going to discuss, it would be better to classify some of the characteristics of successful people and some suggested methods for becoming successful.
In chapter Mu’menoon, Allah describes the characteristics of the successful or felicitous people as follows:
الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ ﴿2﴾
“Those who are humble in their prayers.”(23:2)
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَلَى صَلَوَاتِهِمْ يُحَافِظُونَ ﴿9﴾
“And are watchful of their prayers” (23: 9)
Not only in this chapter, but also in many other chapters, Allah emphasizes the on-time and humble prayer as a way to achieve success.
Apart from all the spiritual impacts of prayers on the human soul, practicing to pray on time and thus, to plan our daily routine based on our prayer time will help us have a disciplined program. Having the willpower to wake up at dawn for morning prayer is what distinguishes between successful and ordinary people.
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنِ اللَّغْوِ مُعْرِضُون ﴿3﴾
“And avoid vain talk.” (23:3)
By having a quick look at the life of almost every successful person, we can realize that they do not spend much time on useless things. “Vain talk” as mentioned in the Quran may refer to watching TV, hanging around on the Internet, unnecessary chats with friends and acquaintances, gossiping and following the uncertain and useless news. Of course, people who have a certain goal and are trying to reach it would avoid vain talk.
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِفُرُوجِهِمْ حَافِظُونَ ﴿۵﴾ إِلَّا عَلَى أَزْوَاجِهِمْ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ غَيْرُ مَلُومِينَ﴿6﴾
“And guard their private parts, (except their spouses or their slave women, for then they are not blameworthy” (23: 5,6)
Since human beings find comfort in their soulmates, successful people preferably find their soulmates and shape a family instead of wasting their time flirting with the real or virtual opposite sex. Being committed to family life is another way to keep one’s life disciplined.
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِأَمَانَاتِهِمْ وَعَهْدِهِمْ رَاعُونَ ﴿۸﴾
“And those who keep their trusts and covenants” (23: 8)
Being honest with people in the society is an important characteristic of a successful person. But more important than that is to be honest with one’s self. To become successful, we have to be able to trust ourselves. If we make a plan between God and us, we have to fulfill it. This can be a promise to read a page of the Quran every day, or to do daily exercise, etc.
But what makes people successful is to be consistent with their covenants.
In many Quranic verses giving charity is one of the main characteristics of the felicitous; those who “spend out of what We have provided for them…” (2: 4) What is the secret in giving charity? How could spending out wealth, enrich people?
In another verse of the Holy Quran, the two important habits that can bring calmness and abundance into one’s life is to be wary of Allah, and to put trust in Him:
“…Whoever is wary of Allah, He shall make for him a way out [of the adversities of the world and the Hereafter], and provide for him from whence he does not count upon. And whoever puts his trust in Allah, He will suffice him. Indeed Allah carries through His commands. Certainly, Allah has ordained a measure [and extent] for everything.” (65: 2, 3)
Allah (SWT) gives us a hint of becoming popular among other people;
“Indeed those who have faith and do righteous deeds—the All-beneficent will endear them [to His creation].” (19: 96)
One may say that these descriptions are all related to the afterlife. And if we keep praying all the time and stick to spirituality, we will have no improvement in this life.
But it is important to note that Allah does not say that praying, giving charity, being modest, and respecting the values and morals are the only things that we must do in our lives. Rather, Allah emphasizes the importance of hard work and effort to achieve human goals;
“nothing belongs to man except what he strives for” (53: 39)
The characteristics of the felicitous as described above, are additional characteristics. Human beings should have them alongside their hard work to fulfill their worldly mission. Some other characteristics of a real believer as described in chapter Tawbah are as follows: “[The faithful are] penitent, devout, celebrators of Allah’s praise, wayfarers, who bow [and] prostrate [in prayer], bid what is right and forbid what is wrong, and keep Allah’s bounds…” (9:112)
Being successful in this world is not good enough for a human to be recognized as a good servant of God. Many successful people in the world, who are being admired by their fans, are not successful in the eyes of God.
“Say, ‘Shall we inform you who are the biggest losers in their works? Those whose efforts are misguided in the life of the world, while they suppose they are doing good.” (18: 103, 104)
It is important that which ways we choose and go through to meet our goals. Do we consider all the morals and ethics in our path to success? Or we ignore some values to meet our goal?
So, in every successful situation that we gain or are about to gain, we have to open our eyes. And see if this achieved success is true according to Islamic teachings. Or it is only true according to the capitalist viewpoint.
If a person tries to gain all those characteristics, he/ she starts the process of purifying him/ herself. And purifying the self makes the soul a prepared field, in which every human talent can be planted and bloomed.
“Felicitous is he who purifies himself. And celebrates the Name of his Lord, and prays.” (87: 14).
In fact, there is only one secret to become successful, powerful, popular and wealthy. And the secret is to obey the rules of Allah and to completely submit to His orders. The point is that if one can fulfill all his/ her duties towards Allah, then as a natural rule he/ she will see the result of his/ her actions: “Whoever brings virtue shall receive [a reward] better than it.” (27: 89)
In conclusion, I would like to mention this divine narration: “My servant! Obey me, and I will make you lordly. I am the lively who will never die, and I will make you lively, so you never die. I am the wealthy who will never be poor, and I will make you wealthy, so you never become poor…” 
- Al- Jawahir al-sunniyah, p. 709
Dancing is a natural behavior in many cultures; a way of showing happiness or sometimes sadness. In a theory raised by me! the release of energy by moving our body is dancing. But in a theory raised by a scholar "dance refers to a rhythmic movement of the body, usually for entertainment" . Now, let us take both of these definitions into consideration and see what kind of dancing in Islam is forbidden (Haram).
In the view of some Islamic scholars, it is not permissible for women to dance anywhere in any ceremony irrespective of whether it is a wedding or a birthday ceremony except for a woman's dancing for her husband.
In expanding the above ruling, it has been said that “there is no problem in dancing in itself. However, if dancing entails sexual excitation or committing a forbidden (Haram) act like listening to forbidden (Haram) music, or it is in the presence of non-mahram men, it is forbidden (Haram). And it does not make a difference as to the various types of music. Generally speaking, if dancing is done in a sexually exciting manner, and lead to the commission of a forbidden act, or involves a bad effect, or if it is happening in front of a non-Mahram it is forbidden (Haram)” .
If a woman dances for her husband or vice-versa, and the dancing is not accompanied by a forbidden (Haram) act, there is no problem in it .
In mixed parties where men and women are sitting together, the dance of men or women in front of others is forbidden. Some think that it is OK if men dance in front of women. But in fact, it is forbidden (Haram) for a man to dance. Dance of women in front of men and any dancing which may entail a bad effect and arousal of sexual desires are forbidden (Haram). Playing music and listening to it is also unlawful (Haram) if it is done in a lahwi, enrapturing manner.
No matter if men or women who are dancing together or in front of others are of their unmarriageable kin (maḥrams) of the opposite sex. What is forbidden about dancing is general, i.e., regardless of whether it is done by a man, a woman, or in the presence of one’s marriageable kin (non-maḥram) or unmarriageable kin (maḥram) .
Dance of women for women is permitted (Halal) if it is not done in a sexually exciting manner and does not lead to the commission of a forbidden act, nor entails a bad effect. However, it is forbidden (Haram) to attend a dance party if it is considered as accepting the forbidden (Haram) act of others or leads to committing a forbidden (Haram) act. Otherwise, there is no harm in it. Dance of a woman for other women is forbidden if her husband does not allow her to do so.
Some people think that the rulings of dancing do not apply to wedding parties as it is just one happy night. But there is no difference between a wedding party and other occasions. Dancing with music is forbidden (Haram) .
In the case of wedding parties, the dance of women in front of women is not forbidden (Haram) under the conditions mentioned above.
As mentioned before, by obligatory caution, it is forbidden (Haram) for men to dance.
Here we discuss the point of releasing energy by moving the body. Is it forbidden (Haram)?
If the movements of the body do not meet the criteria of forbidden (Haram) dance, and if it is not accompanied by forbidden (Haram) music, there is no problem in dancing in private or in groups of women for fitness. However, we have to make sure that such dancing is not happening in front of CCTV cameras or filmed by people who may show it to non-mahrams.
Aerobics and other sports that are based on rhythmic music are permissible if the music is not forbidden (Haram). If music does not cause ecstasy, there is no objection to it. The duty-bound (mukallaf) himself should distinguish whether the music is lahwi or not .
Establishing centers for teaching and promoting dancing goes against the objectives of the Islamic system and it is impermissible by obligatory caution .
- Sayyid Mujtaba Husseini, Questions and Answers by Students (Rules regarding Music), pg. 84
- Ayatullah Makarem-Shirazi, jurisprudential expressions, http://portal.anhar.ir/node/409#gsc.tab=0
- Sayyid Mas'ud Ma'sumi, Rules regarding Man-Woman Relationships, pg. 219
- Tawzih al-Masail (with annotations by Imam Khomeini), vol.2, pg. 970
- dance in Islam
- Dance infront of non Mahrams