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Being Successful

We all want to succeed. Every one of us wants to be a winner.

But what is success? Who is a winner? Does success mean amassing wealth, attaining leadership, adopting the profession of one’s choice, being popular, consolidating power, enjoying prestige, maximizing happiness, etc.? Is the winner the one who leads a country, commands huge audiences, gets his way, wins elections, overcomes his adversaries, becomes a Nobel laureate, emerges as a sports icon, or becomes influential? Is it he who is a popular celebrity, rich and famous, adored by countless fans, pictured and interviewed all over the world, viewed as a super hero, well-known for religiosity, respected for Islamic knowledge, recognized as a community leader, etc.? Or is it he whose children are educated in the best of the educational institutions, excel in their careers and marry the choicest of spouses?

The Holy Qur-aan informs us that:

“Whoever is saved from the Fire and admitted to the Jannah, he indeed is successful.” Aali-Imraan 3:185

And, “The real losers will be those who lose themselves and their families on the Day of Judgement. Ah, that is the manifest loss!” Az-Zumar 39:15

These verses remind us of the reality that none of the aforementioned ‘successes’ are truly successes unless a person is able to avoid Hell and is granted admission into Jannah. If a person and his family cannot attain this ultimate success for themselves, he is an utter loser!

Just imagine the most successful person you have ever known or heard of -- the one towards whom you perhaps felt envious. Now, imagine him in the fire of Hell -- in pain, deprived of all wishes or needs, unable to find a way out, totally frustrated and remorseful, but helpless and doomed forever. He could have ended up in Hell for any number of reasons: Perhaps it was because he worked so hard for his success that he seldom had time for Allaah’s remembrance or for fulfilling his Islamic obligations; because he was so involved in his worldly mission that he could not pay any attention to the Hereafter; because his intentions were not merely and purely for Allaah; because he divided his life into Islamic and secular segments; because he followed rituals of Islam faithfully but run his life according to the customs and traditions of his society; because he was careless about little mistakes; or, because he attained his successes at the expense of others. Whatever the reason, he ended up in the fire. Is he successful? All the success of this life would feel like a fleeting mirage and the real pain would continue for eternity. How stupid is it, that for temporary gain, he is going to suffer permanent pain?

On the other hand, think of a person who seemed to be so disadvantaged that you felt pity for him. Now, see him in Paradise -- enjoying the pleasures and comforts beyond one’s imaginations and having every wish and desire fulfilled instantly. He could have been rewarded because he was always remembering Allaah and focusing on doing the right thing in any circumstance -- the way Allaah wanted him to do. He did not care what others thought or whether he succeeded in his goals in this world or not. All he cared about was doing his best in the circumstances according to the ethical, moral and spiritual standard that pleased Allaah. He was a man of principles and nerves of steel, withstanding any and every difficulty that came his way as a result of living by his principles, par excellence. He suffered deprivation in this world because of his strict lifestyle, but remained honest and dedicated despite adversity. He earnestly cared for the well being of all -- even his adversaries. He generously shared whatever a little he had with others. He remained cheerful despite adversity of his own circumstances. He endured and remained steadfast when: he was abused because people could not stand his uncompromising stance on critical issues; he was isolated and ostracized for his strict lifestyle and insistence on principles; he was accused of seeking prominence and leadership for his efforts to bring people to the Islamic lifestyle; he was ridiculed for his innocent simplicity and for religious emotions; he was avoided for his frankness, bringing Allaah in everything and viewing everything from an Islamic perspective. He continued his struggle the way the Prophet would have done whether he was appreciated or not, whether he was recognized or not, whether he was accepted or not, and whether he succeeded or not!

Now, in paradise, he is enjoying the stupendous returns of a great bargain that he had made with Allaah SWT. He took a fleeting pain for eternal gain. He is the one who truly succeeded. The Prophet explained how insignificant, transient, and fleeting the experiences of this world are by sharing the following information:

“The most prosperous person of the world to be thrown in the Fire will be brought on the Day of Judgement and thrown into the fire for just enough time to let the Fire penetrate his body. Then he will be asked, O man, did you ever have good time in your life or enjoyed any bounties? He will respond, ‘By God, never, O Lord!’ Similarly, a person to be entered into Jannah who had the most destitute life in the world will be brought. He will be placed into Jannah for a time long enough to be accustomed to its luxuries. The he will be asked, ‘O man! Have you ever experienced poverty or tough circumstances?’ He will respond, ‘By God, O Lord, I have neither experienced poverty nor tough circumstances ever.” Reported by Muslim

However, people will not be judged arbitrarily. Our end depends on whether we treat this transitory life as a test and live it as such or whether we live here as if this life itself is the goal. Those who really believe in its being a test, live in obedience to Allaah SWT. On every decision they make or action they undertake, their concern is: Is it right? Will it be marked as a correct answer? Others do not worry about obedience to Allaah but do what they themselves desire or feel should be done. They are rebellious. Living in His land and not caring for His rules is rebellion.

The eternal rule for success and failure is: “Thus, whoever rebels and gives preference to the life of this world, Fire will be his destination. And whoever worries about standing before his Lord (for Judgement) and controls his desires, Jannah will be his destination.” An-Naziaat 79:37-41

Those who assume that their claim to be Muslims will guarantee them success are having aseless expectations of Allaah. The Prophet said, “A wise person is he who judges himself and works for the life after death. And the loser is he who follows his desires and then expects to be rewarded by Allaah.” Reported by Tirmidzi and Mishkaah

So, do you want to be a winner, never to lose again? Do you want a success that is never going to fail you?

Now is the time to aim for it!

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