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
One of the significant parts of responsibility in Islam is our responsibilities towards other people in our lives. Human beings are social creatures. Being in the society, humans are no more obliged to provide all their basic needs on their own. They might benefit from the skills of other people in various fields.
And in return, every individual should do something for what he\she gains from others. It means that everyone is responsible towards other people in the society. Being emphasized in Islamic teachings, it is over every Muslim to respect the rights of other people with the priority given respectively to his\her nuclear family, relatives, neighbors, other Muslims and other human beings .
Family as the basic unit of the society is the first community where one’s social interactions begin. The support and peace that one receives in the family make him\her responsible towards them. Thus, the concept of responsibility in Islam towards other begins with our duty towards our family.
The rights that parents have over children have been discussed in another article, but briefly, they include:
Obedience to parents as far as it is not against God’s orders or unjust. Even in those cases, one should respect his\her parents [i],;
Having deep respect and great affection for them;
Being humble, using a gentle voice and kind words when talking to them;
Praying and asking mercy for them (17:24), whether they are alive or not;
Offering father the property, honor, and life ;
The rights of the mother are superior to those of father  such that they can never be returned unless with divine providence.
A detailed review of husbands’ duties was presented in another article. These duties can be summarized as:
Paying the marriage portion (Sedaq);
Paying for the living expenses of the wife (Nafaqah) ;
Paying wife for the house chores if she asks for [ii], ;
Treating the family well, including wife;
Helping the wife in house chores ;
Ignoring minor errors of wife and forgiving her major mistakes.
The rights of the husband over his wife have been fully discussed before. Briefly:
Husband as the manager of the family is the only person who is fully responsible for all affairs of the family. Accordingly, every member of the family should obey him;
Wife as the source of peace and solace to the husband (30:21) has to submit herself to her husband except during menstruation sexually [iii].
The rights of children over parents begin before the conception and continue a lifetime. These rights already discussed in previous articles, can be summarized as:
Great care for the act of conception emphasized in Islamic teachings, which are important for the physical, mental and spiritual health of the child in the future;
Providing the necessary care for mother during the pregnancy to give birth to a healthy baby;
Reciting the Call to Prayer in the ears of the newborn];
Giving the baby a proper name at birth;
Breastfeeding the baby until the approximate age of two ;
Behave the children nicely and respectfully;
Gradually familiarizing the children with religion after the age of Three ;
Starting necessary religious education and guidance in belief and act during middle childhood;
Providing academic education at school;
Teaching them moral characteristics and attributes;
Helping the children to perceive the physical and emotional changes of puberty to experience a pleasant transition during this period;
Allowing children to participate in every decision-making in the family when they are adults.
Preparing the children for the responsibilities of married life at the age of marriage, helping them to choose a proper mate for themselves, and providing them with some of the basic needs of a small family.
Imam Ali (AS) addresses Malik Al-Ashtar in a letter and explains that “people are either your religious brother or they are humans just like you. They might make mistakes deliberately or unintentionally, as you do. Hence, forgive them just as you hope God to forgive you”. Imam Sajjad (AS) also enumerates the rights of brothers over each other :
You should consider your brother as a powerful hand which is ready to help, a refuge in case of troubles, and a power upon whom you can always rely;
You should not take your brother as a weapon with which to disobey God, nor as a means by which to violate God's rights;
You should never forget to help your brother against his\her self-incitement and to support him\her against his\her enemies;
You should offer your brother wise counsel and should never leave him\her alone in case of need. However, if your brother does not obey God’s commands, you have to prefer God’s satisfaction with his\hers.
[i] For more information, see ref. .
[ii] However, some of these rights depend on how the wife respects her husband’s rights.
[iii] Much care is also paid to the sexual needs of wives in Islamic teachings, and there exist enough instructions on how to satisfy them.
[iv] The term “brother” here is not confined to siblings; it also refers to every two or more companions of the same religion.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-Hayat”, p. 219.
- Ibn Babawayh,”Fiqh al-Ridha (AS)”, p. 334.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-Hayat”, p. 224.
- Imam Zayn al-'Abidin (AS), “Treatise On Rights (Risalat al-Huquq)”.
- H. Vahid Khorasani, “Islamic Laws”, Create Space Independent Publishing, 2014, p. 393.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-Hayat”, p. 257.
- S. H. al-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 2, p. 618
- H. F. Tabarsi, “Makarim al-akhlaq”, p. 115.
When Western people travel to eastern Islamic countries, they often prefer to eat the folk and favorite local food of the region. But what is it that makes western Muslims starve for a KFC classic chicken–on–the–bone bucket meal, or a McDonalds’ double burger if they don’t eat meat?! Muslims are Muslims, not vegetarians and eating meat in Islam is allowed, But like the followers of other religions who have specific slaughtering rituals, Muslims also have explicit rulings for slaughtering particular animals to make it lawful (Halal).
As it is defined in the Quran, believers are welcomed to enjoy all of the blessings of this world . Therefore, about eating meat, Allah does not mention what to eat, but He excludes what is not lawful to eat and maybe physically or spiritually harmful to the human's body and soul. "You are permitted animals of grazing livestock, except what is [now] announced to you…" (5:1) and what is recited as prohibited is mentioned in the Quran as below:
You have prohibited carrion, blood, the flesh of swine, and what has been offered to other than Allah, and the animal strangled or beaten to death, and that which dies by falling or is gored to death, and that which is mangled by a beast of prey— barring that which you may purify —and what is sacrificed on stone altars [to idols], and that you should divide by raffling with arrows...(5:3).
Other than the mentioned meats all other kinds of meat are Halal as described in the Quran: Say, ‘I do not find in what has been revealed to me that anyone is forbidden to eat anything except carrion or spilled blood, or the flesh of swine—for that is indeed unclean—or an impiety offered to other than Allah.’ But should someone be compelled, without being rebellious or aggressive, indeed your Lord is all-forgiving, all-merciful’ (6:145).
Please note that all kinds of lawful (Halal) meat must be slaughtered according to Islamic rulings: “Do not eat [anything] of that over which Allah’s Name has not been mentioned, and that is indeed transgression…” (6:121).
Even the above mentioned prohibited meats are lawful (Halal) while you are living in a problematic situation and following the rules of Islam will put you in extreme difficulty. Please note that difficulty does not mean that you do not have ready food at home and therefore you may eat forbidden (Haram) meat. A difficulty, as written in Islamic jurisprudence, is when one’s life is at risk, and there is no other food available but forbidden (Haram) meat.
A Detailed Description of Lawful (Halal ) and Forbidden (Haram ) meats
To be more precise on which meat is lawful, let’s have a review of the Islamic jurisprudence.
Fish that have scales are the only type of Halal sea creatures. Other sea creatures and fish are Haram .
Among all domestic land creatures; sheep, cow, and camel are Halal, but eating the meat of horse and donkey is detestable (Makruh). The rest of domestic land creatures such as dogs, cats, etc. are forbidden (Haram).
Deer, cow, zebra, mountain goat, and wild donkey are all Halal. However, eating the meat of wild predatory animals that are predatory in essence, have strong and sharp nails, claws, and fangs such as, lions, leopards, cheetahs, wolves, or animals with less sharp fangs such as foxes and hyenas as well as rabbits, while not part of the predatory category, are considered Haram.
Also, insects and reptiles, such as snakes, mice, lizards, hedgehogs, fleas, lice, etc., are all Haram. Animals who have undergone metamorphosis (maskh) [i] such as, elephants, monkeys, bears, etc. are Haram as well .
Birds that flap their wings more than they glide while flying are Halal, but birds that glide and spread their wings more while flying in the air instead of flapping their wings are Haram. Also, birds with gizzards and spurs at the back of their feet are Halal [ii] .
All insects are Haram [iii] .
It is permissible to eat Halal meat cooked or uncooked or even burned (as long as it has no harm to human health) .
Please note that the rules of slaughtering and eating hunted meat are slightly different from all the rulings mentioned above, and we will discuss that in a separate article.
"For every nation, We have appointed a rite so that they might mention Allah’s Name over the livestock He has provided them" (22:34).
Although Jews have their specific rules of slaughtering that have many similarities to the Islamic rulings, as there are minor differences in the slaughtering of Jews and Muslims, therefore kosher meat is not lawful (Halal) for Muslims .
[i] In Arabic, Maskh means for something to change form to an uglier one. In the Quran and Islamic tradition, this term refers to a specific divine punishment that was sent upon the wrongdoers and wrongdoing nations in the past (of course not all wrongdoers, but those who committed certain wrong acts) which can be called metamorphosis .
[ii] Birds with sharp claws such as eagles, hawks, falcons, etc. are Haram.
[iii] If a locust is caught by hand or any other means, it is lawful (Halal) (after dying) .
- “Say, who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which he has produced for his servants and the good (lawful) things of provision?”(7:32)
- Imam Khomeini, Tahrir al-Wasilah, vol. 2, pg. 137, the book of foods and drinks, issue 2; al-Mukhtasar al-Nafi’, pg. 251; Sharayi’ al-Islam, pg. 169.
- food in Islam
- Tawdih al-Masa’il (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 2, pg. 603.
- Tawdih al-Masa’il (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 2, pg. 593, issue 2622.
- Imam Khomeini, Tahrir al-Wasilah, vol. 2, pg. 162
- Halal food
- halal food in Islam