Facing The Ka'aba

January 16, 2015

The concept of success in Islam

*Ogun Pilgrims at Mount Jabalithaor one of the holy sites in Makkah



Being a paper presented by Imam Ridwan Jamiu, LL.B, LL.M (Chief Imam, Lekki Central Mosque, Lekki Scheme l, Lagos) at Lekki Muslim Ummah workshop las Sunday.

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious the most Merciful

*Ogun Pilgrims at Mount Jabalithaor one of the holy sites in Makkah

Our children are our future. When you properly invest in them you invest in your future. Some people want to run but they have tied their feet.

You want to be happy in future when you can no longer do as you do now but you do not give your children religious and moral education, and everybody knows our education already lacks value. You reap what you sow. When you laugh the world laughs with you but when you cry you cry alone.

There was a carpenter the Quran tells us about. His name was Habeeb. He had accepted Islam from Muslim missionaries who came to their town. Learning that his people from the recess rejected the missionaries, he prepared to join them encouraging his people to embrace Islam as he himself had done.

Enraged by his declaration, the people of the village pounced on him and killed him. Hearing a call to enter the Jannah, he exclaimed, “Ah me! Would that my people knew.


Ultimate success

For that my Lord has granted me forgiveness and has enrolled me among those held in honour!”So did the carpenter attain ultimate success and his people were eventually destroyed by mighty blast. They lost all they had laboured to amass and lost eternal bliss(Q36:13-29). What is success?

In a country where corruption and impunity, prostitution and infidelity, selfishness and cruelty, carelessness and poverty are the order of the day, one wonders if success ever has meaning in people’s life. The reality is that everybody wants success but not everybody will be successful. That is because it is not everybody that understands what success is.

What then is success?

Success from the Islamic perspective can be defined as a beneficial accomplishment. It is a remarkable achievement which benefits the achiever and benefits others here or hereafter.

A distinction should always be made between an achievement or accomplishment and success. Success is a profitable achievement. Success in itself is not success until it is beneficial. Success must have a positive impact. The Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) once said about AbdurRahman bin ‘Awf, “what a remarkable achievement: a righteous man blessed with lawful wealth.” Wealth with righteousness is success because it would be spent in useful ways, while wealth without righteousness could spell a disaster. Wealth unlawfully acquired is never a success. It is rather a failure in disguise. The Prophet had said, “I was shown the Paradise, behold, most of the people inside are the poor.”

Wealth could be of possessions, knowledge, influence, experience and beauty. Each of these forms of wealth has the propensity to be spent in righteous or wicked ways. Therefore, our achievement in them is not success until it is profitable and the means to it is clean.

About some people, Allah says, “Do not let their possessions or their children impress you: through these Allah only intends to punish them in this world and for their souls to depart while they disbelieve,” Q9:55.So wealth and children of the unbelievers will certainly become a source of punishment for them because of their infidelity to Allah even though those unbelievers would always see those possessions as success.

Success must be inclusive, transitive

Islam wants us to take a holistic approach to life. Every aspect of life works to complement and perfect the other. Such should be success. A person who is successful at work and is not successful in the family is not successful.

His failure in the family could cause him stress which will later affect his quality of work. They won’t be happy. And can there be success without happiness and fulfilment in your home? Your family is your life. It is your real world. It is here you build your future. You labour to build it and sustain it. No place like home.

Problems have always arisen between couples when there is no money to meet the basic needs. Likewise, one suffers stress when one is not fulfilled at his job. Stressors generally have negative impact on health and behaviour. How can success have meaning with ill-health and disorderly behaviour?

The life is meant to be lived and explored. Allah says, “It is He who created all that is on the earth for you…” Q2:29

It is recklessness to abandon to pursue spiritual growth because of material pursuit, as it is a forbidden asceticism to abandon the world and its enjoyment because of spirituality. Both should be pursued with tenacity and healthy competition. So, true success requires some balance in our life.

Allah says, “Children of Adam, dress well whenever you are at worship, eat and drink [as We have permitted] but do not be extravagant: Allah does not like extravagant people. Say [Prophet], ‘Who has forbidden the adornment and the nourishment Allah has provided for His servants?’ Say, ‘They are [allowed] for those who believe during the life of this world: they will be theirs alone on the Day of Resurrection.’ This is how We make Our revelation clear for those who understand. Say, ‘My Lord only forbids disgraceful deeds – whether they be open or hidden – and sin and unjustified aggression, and that you, without His sanction, associate things with Him, and that you say things about Him without knowledge. There is a time set for every people: they cannot hasten it, nor, when it comes, will they be able to delay it for a single moment.” Q7:31-34

A person who is successful at work and in the family is not really successful if he is at odd with his Lord.

Allah has created everything in pairs: male and female, right and wrong, day and night, happiness and sorrow, up and down, right and left, and this world and the Hereafter. It would be foolhardy to attain the best of this world and call it success while one is oblivious or negligent to his purpose of life and the primary assignment on earth which is to worship Allah through Islam.

Again, there are different types of success: intellectual, social, intellectual, material and spiritual success. Some are more important and more successful than others.

Thousands of candles

Whatever success you think you have made in life, it is not adequate until it is not only useful to you but also to others. Happiness is happiness only when it shared. Happiness that is not shared is either selfishness or callousness.

‘Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.’ This is why Zakat is one of the pillars on which Islam rests. The Prophet said, “Charity never decreases wealth.” Impliedly, charity increases wealth. Yeah, givers never lack. Whatever goes around comes around; good begets good as evil begets evil. To be truly successful is to be useful to yourself and to others.

Now, what are the factors of success in Islam?

Factors of Success

Factors of Success according to the Qur’an and Sunnah include: 1.Knowledge. 2. Faith (Tawheed, risala and Qiyama). 3. Tawakkul (Trusting Allah). 4. Taqwa (Being mindful of Allah, eschewing evils for the sake of Allah). 5. Jihaad (struggle for Excellence and moral perfection). 6. Shukr (Being grateful to Allah and appreciative of people) and7.Sabr (Patience, tolerance and perseverance). 8. Dutifulness   9.Cooperation and 10. Planning