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
Fundamental needs of animals in Islam includes their rights in Islam, and human beings have to fulfill them. The very first needs of animals which are vital to them include sufficient and proper food, water, a comfortable place to rest and live, and physical health. These and some other rights of the animals are discussed in this article.
Animals are unable to talk and express their needs. Captivating the animals and inhibiting them from the blessings that God has reserved for them are unfair . Every animal with either lawful (Halal) or unlawful (Haram) meat, with or without benefit to its owner, birds or cattle, should be provided with adequate food and water, otherwise should be released to seek for its requirements . The animals’ rights in food provision can be listed as:
Feeding the animal adequately, otherwise, it should be released in pastures or nature to find food ;
Paying special attention to the animal, with whether lawful [i] (Halal) or unlawful [ii] (Haram) meat, which gives milk to its baby because it requires double food supply . Imam Ali (AS) ordered the alms-tax collectors nor to separate the camel from its baby neither to milk the whole milk of the camel as it might be harmful to the baby camel ;
Not to feed the animal with unlawful food since it is detestable (Makruh) ;
Not to leave the animal hungry. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) blamed a man who had left his camel hungry: “you should fear God!” ;
Watering animal. Partial (Wudu) and full (Ghusl) ablution are some sorts of washing body which are obligatory for Muslims in certain conditions and are prerequisites for some religious duties. Regarding Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh), if an animal is dying of thirst and there is not enough water to both water the animal and perform the ablution, at certain conditions, watering the animal is the priority . Imam Baqir (AS) said that whoever waters a thirsty animal, God will place him at the shelter of His Throne the day that there is no protection except Him .
Hygiene and health of the animal are emphasized in Islam. Providing animals with healthy food and water, a clean place to live and the required treatments and medications are of the duties over their owners. Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh) obliges the owner of the animal to pay the expenses of the treatment of the animal .
It is over every Muslim to consider the rest and peace of the animal. Thereby, an appropriate place should be provided for the animal. Also, a suitable time should be considered for the exploitation of the animal, especially during the night that they need to rest. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) advised to let the animals rest whenever they are utilized and ordered not to oppress them.
These and other Islamic advises demonstrate how much care is given to the animals in Islam. This is contrary to the modern thinking ideas that consider animals as machines to serve humans without needing any rest.
Human beings are not allowed to deprive animals of reproduction . According to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), sterilizing the animal is equal to dismembering it .
An animal raised by a human being has the right of affection over its owner. Hence, it is detestable that the owner of the animal slaughters the animal that he\she has raised . This shows that Islam considers the rights due to a harmonious cohabitation for humans over each other as well as for animals over humans. Imam Sajjad (AS) made a will to bury his camel after its death so that it might not be torn apart by the wild animals .
Animals trained for purposes such as companionship, detection, protection, farm work, etc. have received great care in Islamic teachings such that keeping a trained dog at home is permitted if the hygiene tips are considered . It is narrated that a man who had his horse with him, saluted Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). Prophet (PBUH&HP) saluted both the man and his horse in return .
This demonstrates the importance of keeping respect for the animals, especially those that are trained. In this regard, branding iron animal on the face (which was common in the past among some ethnic groups) is forbidden in Islam and is considered unfair . Also, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) ordered not to rest while seated on the animals’ back .
Respecting the rights of the animals in Islam is so important that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said that whoever ignores the rights of the animals that he\she had owned, he\she should wait in the judgment day until those animals pass over while crushing or butting him\her .
[i]. e.g., cow or sheep.
[ii]. e.g., dog.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-hayat”, p. 675.
- Sheikh al-Tusi, “Al-Mabsoot”, vol. 6, p. 47.
- H. T. Nuri Ṭabarsi, “Mustadrak al-Wasail”, vol. 8, p. 36.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-hayat”, p. 678.
- “Nahj al-Balagha”, letter 25.
- Sheikh al-Tusi, “Tahdhib al-Ahkam”, vol. 9, p. 115.
- M. B. Majlesi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 61, p. 111.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-hayat”, p. 681.
- “Makarim al-Akhlaq”, p. 135.
- M. H. Najafi, “Jawahir al-Kalam”, vol. 36, p. 436-437.
- J. Suyuti, “Jami al-Sagheer”, vol. 1, p. 102.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-hayat”, p. 686.
- A. Al-Barqi, “Al-Mahasin”, p. 634.
- Shaykh al-Saduq, “Thawab al-A'mal wa 'Iqab al-A'mal”, p. 50.
- Animals in Islam
- F. Rawandi, “Al-Nawader”, p. 41-42.
- Shaykh Saduq, “Al-Amali”, p. 507.
- Q. Nu'man, “Da'a'im al-Islam”, vol 1, p. 347.
- Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, “Sahih Muslim”, vol. 3, p. 74.
In the first part of this topic, we tried to describe some of the inspiring aspects of Imam Hussain’s (AS) uprising that can be a model for all human beings. It was mentioned that confronting any oppressive and cruel regime is a duty over every free human being. That was the reason that Imam Hussain (AS) stood up against Yazid’s tyranny. However, taking the leadership should not be the aim and should not be achieved at any price. In fact, whoever seeks real justice, should act justly. Here we review other lessons from Imam Hussain’s (AS) movement.
According to Imam Ali (AS), courage is composed of three virtues which complement each other: self-sacrifice, not surrendering to humiliation and oppression and not seeking fame . All of these virtues were manifested in Imam Hussain’s (AS) movement. He (AS) sacrificed his life for the sake of the divine goal that he had. He (AS) never gave up and did not abandon his aim; even in Karbala where his dearests were under the hardest conditions. And, Imam Hussain (AS) did not seek to reign but was concerned about how Yazid was altering the Islamic teachings and spoiling Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH&PH) Sunnah.
Moreover, he (AS) was such courageous that he was ready to confront the enemy’s large troops with his few companions. However, he (AS) never sought to start a battle, but he (AS) aimed to reveal the truth and to show the real face of Yazid’s corrupted reign for the sake of Allah Almighty.
One might ask him\herself that what I would have done if I had been in the same situation as Imam Hussain (AS)? There would have been “nearly safe” options in dealing with Yazid’s tyranny that could prevent a battle and shedding blood.
For instance, he could have been indifferent and accepted Yazid’s allegiance or kept busy with private affairs. In the most courageous case, he could have waited for an opportunity to gather companions in secret to fight back the injustice. But, are any of these reactions honorable? Could a free righteous man or woman live under such circumstances? Surely no. Imam Hussain (AS) stood up for justice and resorting what has been distorted by Yazid’s corrupted governing style. He (AS) chose to be killed on the battlefield instead of living under humiliation. It was for the sake of human dignity that he (AS) sacrificed his valuable life. This is what he (AS) declared on the battlefield: “If you don’t believe in any religion, at least be free-spirited and honest in your actions in this world.”
All the difficulties that Imam Hussain (AS) suffered from were due to worthwhile goals: revealing the truth, establishing justice, and eliminating oppressive regimes. Achieving these aims cost many lives and caused Imam Hussain (AS) and his family considerable hardship. When he was leading his family and companions towards Karbala, he was perfectly aware that there was no way back. However, Imam (AS) never surrendered and was never disappointed.
In Karbala, the situation was so hard such that some of Imam’s (AS) companions decided to leave. They were sure that they wouldn’t leave the battlefield alive. That’s why they gave many reasons to go home; like their family being alone in their absence, owing money to others, etc. Hence, a part of the caravan left. The night before Ashura, Imam (AS) called his companions and described the extreme situation that they would face the next day. He (AS) said that they were free to leave, and they won’t be blamed for this. In other words, in spite of lacking enough soldiers, Imam (AS) did not oblige anyone to stay. He (AS) let them choose, and in such a case, they decided their own destiny.
Now that we have reviewed the significance of Imam Hussain’s (AS) movement, we realize that what happened in Karbala was not a simple battle. This event’s lessons of morality and humanity are not only limited to one place or a specific group of people but reach out to every human being, regardless of their religion, nationality, or time.
- Ibn Shu'ba al-Harrani, “Tuhaf al-'uqul,” p.322