What do the Quran and Hadith say about success?
“Al falah” was cited in the Quran in different positions. Some of the most important ones that give a complete meaning of spiritual success are the first verses of Soura number 23 “Al mouminoun” (the believers).
These verses give us a sort of a checklist for success (Full Tafssir of these verses by Ibnou Kathir can be found here). In this post, I’ll try to break it up in the easiest way possible inshAllah without going into a lot of details, which you can find in official tafassirs (explanation or interpretation of the Quran) of course.
And so, we get from these few verses that the most successful are described as being those who:
- Are believers (Pillar n°1 )
- Focus in prayers. Sheikh Shaaraoui says in explaining this part that performing the prayer is considered as a given here, but it’s the focus (al khouchoue) in that prayer that is one of the most important components of Al Falah (Pillar n°2 )
- Avoid getting into “laghw” which means useless or bad conversation. Examples of Laghw will be something like gossiping, making fun of people, using bad language, etc.
- Give Zakat, which is a specified amount of money or food that a Muslim has to give away to the poor each year. (Pillar n°4)
- Do not engage in sexual activities except with their spouses (marriage) or with Milk Al Yamin, as they are only allowed in these two cases.
- Be trustworthy, honest, keep promises, etc.
- Strictly guard their prayers (Salah: Pillar 2 again )
And then Allah tells us that those who do this are the heirs, those who shall inherit Al Firdaus (which is the highest place in heaven) and they will stay there forever.
And so, the guidelines for a religious success are pretty clear, no? and the reward is clear two. The checklist is very straight forward! It’s simple (not very complex to understand). But that doesn’t mean it’s easy, it is not! And God knows that. That’s why the reward is so great (It is THE BEST!), and that’s why He gave us plenty of hope, endless opportunities, and ways to get back to the right path whenever we want and without needing anything or anybody, just talking to him directly and from the heart will do it.
Checking those boxes can be one of the biggest goals that you can set for your life, I know it is for me, because I want the reward, as much as you do, and as hard it is, I am willing to remind myself to get back to those items in the list no matter how many times I derive from the way! And I believe that is all that Allah wants us to do: keep trying and enjoy the journey.
Of course this is not the only place in the Quran or the Hadith where Allah talks about success. There are plenty of other guidelines both those that are related to the acts of worship (Al Ibadat), or those related to the manners and the way we treat others around us (Al Akhlak) in both Quran and Sunnah.
I am not going to go into each one of those in this post. However, there is a very interesting Hadith without which I think the understanding of the concept of success in Islam will be lacking a very important component. The Hadith talks about bankruptcy (a different one from the one we all know), it is one reported by Muslim and is one of the hadiths in the book of Miscellany (Riyad Assalihin).
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Do you know who is the bankrupt?” They said: “The bankrupt among us is one who has neither money with him nor any property”. He said, “The real bankrupt of my Ummah would be he who would come on the Day of Resurrection with Salat (prayer), Saum (fasting), and Sadaqah (charity), (but he will find himself bankrupt on that day as he will have exhausted the good deeds) because he reviled others, brought calumny against others, unlawfully devoured the wealth of others, shed the blood of others and beat others; so his good deeds would be credited to the account of those (who suffered at his hand). If his good deeds fall short to clear the account, their sins would be entered in his account and he would be thrown in the (Hell) Fire”.
Nobody wants to be bankrupt, right? And so, again the guidelines are clear, not easy to follow but clear enough to understand. The decision is yours on whether to follow the components of success in the religious aspect of your life or not.
The good news is if you decide to do so, you’ll get better at it with time, you’ll get attached to it and it will become second nature. And don’t take it from me; it’s God Himself who promised that.
A small reminder!
If your goal is easier than that and you manage to achieve during your lifetime (it can be spiritual, financial, personal, relational, etc), it is great! you should celebrate that and be happy that you did all those “actions” that led to there but it most likely also means that it is time to define another goal or to keep the old one while setting the bar a little higher because it is the most efficient way to keep you moving and motivated to take those “actions”.
If on the other hand, your goal is still away from where you stand right now, don’t worry beacuase all you are asked to do is to define “the actions” necessary to move towards that goal and to do them (And remember baby steps go a long way! Take it easy on yourself and don’t get discouraged by the fact that things are not going as fast as you want them to be). And then, always remember even if nobody is cheering you for what you’re doing and nobody seems to recognize all the sacrifices you’re making, Allah sees you and your work and you will be rewarded for your actions sooner or later, so just keep doing, nothing is wasted! ( we talked about that in detail in the previous post, make sure you check it out here)
Until next time, stay blessed!