What is Success According to Islamic Teachings?

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.

 

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Quran and Success for All

 

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.

 

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Characteristics of a Successful Person according to the Quran


In chapter Mu’menoon, Allah describes the characteristics of the successful or felicitous people as follows:

 

Successful People Watch out For Their Prayers


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.

 

 

Avoiding Vain Behavior

 

 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. 

 

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Strong and Stable Family Life


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.

 

 

Honesty and Trustworthiness


  

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.

 

Having Trust in God and Giving Charity

 


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)

 

Popular Believers

 


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)

 

No pain, No Gain


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)

 

How to Become Successful in this World and the Hereafter?


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.

 

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Self-purification


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…” [1]

 

References:

[1] Al- Jawahir al-sunniyah, p. 709