What is success from an Islamic point of view? (Part 1)

Success can mean a lot of different things to different people. We can find some definitions that will be accepted by more people as we discussed in a previous post about what is a success, that you can find here. However, it’s not that we don’t have any reference for this very important concept in the Quran. I mean, the Quran is the book of God through which He speaks to all mankind but it’s also a book of guidelines on various aspects of our lives.

Ok, so how does the Quran refer to success?

Actually, I asked this question to myself quite a few times, because I didn’t recall reading or hearing in the Quran the word “Najah” which is the most commonly used word for success in Arabic. But you know? The Arabic language is very rich, it’s just amazing! And so, I found out later that there is another word for “success”, a word that we hear at least 10 times a day (if you live in a Muslim country), because it is said twice for each Adhan (call for prayer), and yet very few of us knew what it really meant. The word I am talking about is “Al Falah”, and it was actually mentioned in the Quran in different positions and different contexts (we will talk more about that later).

The difference between “Najah” and “Al Falah”

Let me ask you something, is success always good? I mean, Is saying that this person is successful means that they are a good person and they have done nothing but good in their lives?

I don’t think so, I mean you can invent something that can be very harmful and do horrible things either to yourself or to some people, but as long as you wanted to achieve that and you did, you can be considered successful. Somebody’s goal may be to become famous, but if they go out to the street naked or record a sex scene or whatever and then become famous, then they are successful, right? Well, yeah because they achieved their goal! But are they happy about it? And Is God happy about it? I don’t know, but I’m guessing not always at least. And so what is the point of success then?

The point of success (Najah) is to achieve that “goal” or that “destination” as we talked about in one of the previous posts, make sure to check that out if you haven’t already. “Najah” also doesn’t really care about the means you used to achieve that goal. Whether there is some morality on that or not, achieving that thing will make you successful, period! But wait a minute! Even if that success (Najah) is only on one aspect of our lives or one little project that we’re working on, we will still be calling it a success (Najah). And so, a person can be successful in one area of his/her life but not successful in some other area. And so “Najah” which is the most used translation for success doesn’t necessarily mean an overall success.

On the other hand, there is this concept of “Falah”, and before we start diving into what the Quran says about it, let’s just try to understand what that word means. Ok, I just wanted to make sure we are on the same page here, so the word is “Falah” and not “Fallah” which means farmer, so just the stress (shadda) on the “L” sound makes all the difference in the meaning. So what i wanted to say is that if you look for the word “Falah” in an Arabic dictionnary you’ll find something like winning (Al Fawz) or the way to be rescued and to win the best things, or something like that.

Dr. Muhammad Rateb Annaboulssi says that Al Falah englobes success in everything! It is a success with your Lord by knowing Him, obeying Him and getting close to Him. It is also a success in your home by being good to your parents, getting in touch with your relatives, choosing the right spouse and being good with him or her, being the right parent to your children, etc. It is also success in your work by keeping honesty and integrity in your work, by doing the best you can in the best way possible (al Itekan). And it englobes also success in taking care of your health and body.

I found that what Sheikh Annabulssi said in that lecture to be THE definition of success for me. And so since there is no English word for it, I think that the closer to this meaning will be to call it “the overall success” or “the ultimate success”. But if you think of a better translation, please make sure you share it with us in the comments section.

To be continued

Until then, stay blessed!

Salaam 😀

3 thoughts on “What is success from an Islamic point of view? (Part 1)

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