Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Motives for success and overcoming failure


Praise be to Allaah.

The name of failure is enough to put us off it and strive for
success, regardless of the material gains that a man may attain as the
result of his success, because failure is a word that implies shortcomings
and loss, and success is a word that implies perfection and praise. 

Failure and success are two sides of the same coin, although
they may seem to contradict one another at first glance. But in fact they
are interconnected if you think about it, based on experience and real life.

Success is the path in this life which Allaah wants to be the
aim of every believer. He has created the universe and subjugated it to meet
this aim. He, may He be glorified, has enjoined man to believe, and has
asked him to adhere to full submission to Him, as he cannot be anything but
a slave to Allaah, and He has made that the purpose of creation, as He says
(interpretation of the meaning): 

“And I (Allaah) created not the jinn and mankind except
that they should worship Me (Alone)”

[al-Dhaariyaat 51:56] 

And He has promised that the one who dies following this path
will be the successful one, and others will be losers: 

“And whoever is removed away from the Fire and admitted to
Paradise, he indeed is successful”

[Aal ‘Imraan 3:185] 

So success is the story of life, the purpose for which Allaah
has created this universe. He only sent the Messengers and revealed the
Books to call people to attain true success before Allaah. He has decreed
certain matters in order to motivate us to attain success in this world and
in the Hereafter, as follows: 

He decreed eternal and
everlasting delight for those who pass the test of faith and full
submission, and adhere to that path and die following it: 

“Then as for him who will be given his Record in his right
hand will say: ‘Here! read my Record!

20. ‘Surely, I did believe that I shall meet my Account!’

21. So he shall be in a life, well‑pleasing.

22. In a lofty Paradise,

23. The fruits in bunches whereof will be low and near at

24. Eat and drink at ease for that which you have sent on
before you in days past!”

[al-Haaqqah 69:19-24] 

The Qur’aan depicts the state
of those who refused to follow the path of success and insisted on following
the path of evil and failure, and described their situation on the Day when
results will be shown, and it will be known who succeeded and who failed: 

“But as for him who will be given his Record in his left
hand, will say: ‘I wish that I had not been given my Record!

26. ‘And that I had never known how my Account is!

27. ‘Would that it had been my end (death)!

28. ‘My wealth has not availed me;

29. ‘My power (and arguments to defend myself) have gone
from me!’”

[al-Haaqqah 69:25-29] 

Allaah, may He be glorified and
exalted, decreed a good life in this world for the one who follows the path
of success, He said (interpretation of the meaning): 

“Whoever works righteousness — whether male or female —
while he (or she) is a true believer (of Islamic Monotheism) verily, to him
We will give a good life (in this world with respect, contentment and lawful
provision), and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the
best of what they used to do (i.e. Paradise in the Hereafter)”

[al-Nahl 16:79] 

Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:  

This is a promise from Allaah to the one who does righteous
deeds, that Allaah will give him a good life in this world, and a good life
includes all kinds of comfort and delight. It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas
and others that they interpreted it as meaning a goodly halaal provision,
and it was narrated from ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib (may Allaah be pleased with
him) that he interpreted it as meaning contentment. ‘Ali ibn Abi Talhah
said, narrating from Ibn ‘Abbaas, that it means happiness. The correct view
is that a good life includes all of these things.
Tafseer al-Qur’aan il-‘Azeem (4/601). 

This is the way according to which the Muslim should live
throughout his life. The one who starts out on the basis of this
understanding will inevitably be led to success and achievement in all his
affairs, both religious and worldly, because the believer knows that he is
required to establish truth and justice in this world, as Allaah says
(interpretation of the meaning): 

“Indeed We have sent Our Messengers with clear proofs, and
revealed with them the Scripture and the Balance (justice) that mankind may
keep up justice”

[al-Hadeed 57:25] 

An individual’s success is part of the success of the ummah
in achieving justice and fairness. 

And the believer also hears the words of the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) who said: “Allaah loves, when
one of you does a thing, that he should do it well.” Narrated by Abu Ya’la
(7/349) and classed as hasan by al-Albaani on the basis of corroborating
evidence in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah (1113). Doing things well is one
of the pillars of success. 

These motives are all things that prepare the believer to
attain the highest degrees of success. He always strives to develop his
talents and learn useful skills, and to develop himself on the educational,
moral, social and economic levels. He knows that the successful, striving
believer is better than the one who is idle and lazy, who earns nothing from
his laziness but loss in both worldly and religious terms. 

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with
him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allaah than the weak
believer, although both are good. Strive to do that which will benefit you
and seek the help of Allaah, and do not feel helpless. If anything befalls
you, do not say ‘If only I had done (such and such), the such and such would
have happened,’ rather say: ‘Allaah has decreed and what He wills He does,’
for ‘if only’ opens the door to the work of the shaytaan.” Narrated by
Muslim (2664). 

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: This
hadeeth includes several important principles of faith, including the

That a person’s happiness lies in his seeking that which will
benefit him in this life and in the Hereafter, and this striving means
expending effort and doing one’s utmost. Because a man’s striving and action
can only be with the help of Allaah and by His will and support, He
commanded him to seek His help, so that he will be acting in accordance with
the meaning of the verse (interpretation of the meaning): “You (Alone) we
worship, and You (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything)”
[al-Faatihah 1:5]. His striving for that which will benefit him is an
act of worship to Allaah, which cannot be done except with His help, so He
commanded him to worship Him and seek His help. 

Then he said: “and do not feel helpless”, because feeling
helpless is contrary to striving for that which will benefit him, and it is
contrary to seeking the help of Allaah. The one who strives for that which
will benefit him and seeks the help of Allaah is the opposite of the one who
feels helpless, so this is telling him, before what has been decreed
happens, of that which is one of the greatest means of attaining it, which
is striving for it whilst seeking the help of the One in Whose hand is
control of all things, from Whom they come and to Whom they will return. If
he does not attain what was not decreed for him, then he may feel either of
two things: helplessness, which opens the door to the work of the shaytaan,
so his sense of helplessness leads him to say “if only”, but there is
nothing good in saying “if only” in this case, rather that opens the door to
blame, panic, discontentment, regret and grief, all of which are the work of
the shaytaan, so the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon
him) forbade us to open the door to his works in this manner, and told us to
adopt the second option, which is looking at the divine decree and bearing
it in mind, for if it was decreed for him it would never have missed him and
no one could have prevented him from attaining it. Hence he said: “If
anything befalls you, do not say ‘If only I had done (such and such), the
such and such would have happened,’ rather say: ‘Allaah has decreed and what
He wills He does,’” and he taught him that which will benefit him in either
case, whether he gets what he wanted or not. Hence this hadeeth is one which
a person can never do without. 

Shifa’ al-‘Aleel (37-38). 

With this thinking one can overcome every obstacle and every
failure, and there is nothing that he cannot achieve; there will be no limit
to his hopes and no end to his ambition and resolve.  

Rather he will realize that failure is a sign of someone who
is striving, because the one who strives is the one who may fail, but the
one who does nothing and is lazy will neither fail nor succeed. Effort must
inevitably lead to success one day, even if it is a long way off. So he
should take failure as a step towards success, learning from it the causes
of shortcomings, and trying to overcome them and set them straight, so that
he becomes stronger than he was before, until he attains the success for
which he is striving. 

The door of repentance which Allaah, may He be exalted, has
opened to those who make mistakes and fail is another incentive to overcome
failures and attain success, especially if the one who falls short learns
from his experience. One of the salaf said: A sin that generates humility
and regret is better than an act of obedience that generates self-admiration
and arrogance. 

Finally, with all these motives for attaining success and
overcoming failure, there remains no excuse for being inactive or lazy. The
way is easy and all it requires of you is some determination, will power and

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
said: “All of my ummah will enter Paradise except those who refuse.”
Narrated by al-Bukhaari (7280). 

See also the answer to question no.

And Allaah knows


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