A Story of Success

Today the word success, has come to mean many things. Monetary gain, the establishment of large corporations, building a career, chasing after dreams, maintaining a family, all these have come to be measures of success. This is the material world we live in, where success is measured by your money and your fulfilment of desires.

Success in the lifetime of the Prophet and amongst the early generations of Islam took on a very different meaning. It wasn’t the ability to preserve life through hi-tech machines, nor to attain that ‘perfectly-flawless’ appearance, nor acquiring a mass of the latest technology gadgets, nor building bank accounts worthy of personal security. Rather, success was founded in the obedience of Allah. Success was judged based on your ability to please Allah.

And so, the sahabah may Allah be pleased with them, sought out the pleasure of Allah. They devoted their efforts to His service. They pursued what Allah loved best, and lived their lives according to it.

And so I would like to narrate to you a story for you to ponder upon,

Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

Some people came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said to him: “Send with us some men who may teach us the Qur’an and the Sunnah.” He (ﷺ) sent seventy men from the Ansar. They were called Al-Qurra’ (the reciters) and among them was my maternal uncle, Haram. They used to recite the Qur’an, ponder over its meaning and learn (its wisdom) at night. In the day, they used to bring water and pour it in pitchers in the mosque, then they would collect wood and sell it; and with the sale proceeds, they would buy food for the people of As-Suffah and the needy.

The Prophet (ﷺ) sent the reciters with these people but these (treacherous people) fell upon them and killed them before they reached their destination. (While dying) they supplicated: “O Allah convey from us the news to our Prophet that we have met You (in a way), that we are pleased with You and You are pleased with us.” (The narrator said:) A man attacked Haram from behind and smote him with a spear which pierced him. Whereupon Haram said: “By the Rabb of the Ka’bah, I have met with success!” The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said to his Companions, “Your brethren have been slain and they were saying: “O Allah! Convey from us to our Prophet the news that we have met You (in a way) that we are pleased with You and You are pleased with us.”

[Bukhari and Muslim].

Reading this account brings tears to the eyes. How far we have strayed from their path!

No one in their right mind today would call death success! Especially when death came unexpectedly, and in such a painful manner! How could he possibly deem such a death success?

The answer to that my friends, is because they had spent their lives in the obedience of Allah. Death in this life, simply meant a new beginning for them. Death was the doorway to true life. Death was a barrier to meeting Allah and so when they died, that barrier was removed and thus they attained success. They attained success because in continuation of their obedience to Allah, they gave their lives for Him. It was for His sake that they were slain. They attained martyrdom in the path of Allah and thus they found success, for their souls are in the bodies of green birds that encircle the throne of Allah, free from the constraints of this world. They are provided for by the King who provides and nourishes as He pleases. They gained success because their sins were forgiven. They gained success because Allah was pleased with them.

So now I ask you, what does success mean to you?

May Allah unite us with those who have attained success; the Prophets, the truthful ones, the martyrs and the righteous.

 

Keys to Success

In continuation from our previous article, where we discussed habits that breed success, here we will discuss characteristics that one should learn and implement to achieve success. Of course these have been taken from the Sunnah and were all found in abundance in the Prophet peace be upon him, who was the most successful person, and the best of human beings.

By encapsulating these characteristics in your daily life, one can attain success in this life and the next.

  1. Ikhlaas: Sincerity

Without sincerity all our deeds are lost and in vain. Without sincerity, the heart is not stable, it is neither here nor there, and anxieties find root within it, and toy with it. When one devotes themselves to Allah, with sincerity, knowing and believing that He is Allah, and He alone deserves to be worshiped, and this is incorporated into one’s daily life, then success is within arm’s reach.

One should be sincere to Allah, loving what He loves and hating what He hates. One should also be sincere to those around them, for a two-faced person is hypocritical.

The Prophet was sincere from the onset of his mission. So, make your heart pure; pure for Allah.

  1. Sabr: patience, steadfastness, endurance and accepting what Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) has destined for you. This will make you stronger to face hardships and get through the ups and downs of life.

When our Prophet was tested with trial upon trial, the disbelievers of the Quraysh of Makkah ridiculed his message, warned others against him, tortured his followers injured him, boycotted him, plotted to kill him and eventually threw him out of his hometown, he was patient. He remained firm and persevered despite these set backs, until he re-possessed Makkah, and Islam was victorious. Until today his patience pays off, for we are believers due to his efforts.

So, the next time it feels like the world is closing in on you, and the wide expanse of the earth seems to narrow before your eyes, and the burden on your shoulders seem too heavy to bear, be patient. Life on this earth is short, just a few numbered days. It will all end soon, be patient and be firm, and by the Will of Allah you will triumph and come through that difficulty. As the saying goes, “good things come to those who wait.”

  1. Shukr: gratefulness, being thankful to Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) for everything, feeling content with what Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) has given you. This will make you feel rich even if you don’t have a thing.

A grateful person, is not just grateful to others around him, but first and foremost he is grateful to Allah, the one who gave him life, who made him a muslim, who provides for him, who nourishes him, who guides him and who bestows upon him abundant and plentiful blessings which we can never enumerate!

Shukr goes hand in hand with patience. In fact, when one is shaakir (thankful), it will naturally make one more patient. By being thankful, and grateful, one views every test as a mercy from Allah, and chance for him to come closer to Allah.

Being grateful makes one content, and appreciative of what they have. They don’t compare themselves to others, and measure their success against their own abilities. Thus they are not envious of others blessings because they are content with what they have.

Our Prophet was no less than a perfect example of this, it was narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) used to stand (in the prayer) or pray till both his feet or legs swelled. He was asked why (he offered such an unbearable prayer) and he said, “should I not be a thankful slave?” (Bukhari)

By being thankful Rasulullah was content with what he had and his role, and he knew Allah decreed what was best for him.

True contentment is being happy and satisfied with what you have.

  1. Taqwa: piousness, righteousness, good character, doing what is prescribed and keeping away from forbidden deeds. Taqwa is to be conscious of Allah at all times, to know that He sees you, that He hears you and that He is aware of your every action, deed and thought, which in turn builds a fear of the omniscience of Allah that inspires you to work righteousness. And by doing so you become loved by Allah (سبحانه وتعالى), and His angels and the good people among mankind.

This is probably the most important characteristic that one should seek to embody. With Taqwa one can earn the Pleasure of Allah which is the culmination of success, for one with taqwa obeys Allah, follows His commands, and avoids everything that Allah has forbidden and is displeased with.

And who was more knowledge of the laws of Allah than our beloved Messenger peace be upon him, who did all of the commands, and abstained from all the forbidden. His life was governed by this principle, and his resulting success is evident, for he has been granted Al-Kawthar, and we ask for him to be granted Al-Waseelah, a special station in Paradise. These achievements are the true success.

  1. Tawakkul: putting your total trust in Allah (سبحانه وتعالى), leaving your affairs in His hands, realizing that everything goes as He has planned and relying on Him. This will give you peace of mind and heart.

Through Tawakkul one affirms his belief in the Qadr of Allah. He strives to do his best but knows that everything rests in the Hands of Allah, and His Decree is the Most Just and Wise, for He has prior knowledge of everything, the past present and future. Furthermore, with Tawakkul one knows that Allah only decrees what is best for His slave. This makes the slave content, and motivated to work to please Allah, thereby attaining success.

In the early stages of the Prophet’s Da’wah, when his followers were very few amongst the poor and weak and victory seemed a far-off dream, the Prophet trust Allah, he relied on Him and strove hard to teach Islam until he was rewarded with the sweetness of success and until today his following continues to increase.

When the Prophet peace be upon sheltered and hid in the cave during his Hijrah to Madinah, and the disbelievers came searching for him, and it seems they would be found, as Abu Bakr said, I said to the Prophet (ﷺ) while I was in the Cave. “If any of them should look under his feet, he would see us.” He said, “O Abu Bakr! What do you think of two (persons) the third of whom is Allah?” (Bukhari)

The Prophet’s trust in Allah was unwavering.

When Arabs united time and again to wipe the small band of muslims off the face of Allah, in the battle of Badr, in Uhud, in Khandaq, to name a few, the tawakkul of the Prophet was firm. Each time he knew that Allah was in control and Allah would never let down his slaves.

Put your trust in Allah, do your best and leave the rest to Him.

These five keys, are keys to success in the hereafter primarily, but also success in this world. When equipped with these keys the soul becomes tranquil and the heart tastes the sweetness of iman, and it lives a blissful life, even if it appears that the body is suffering on the outside. May Allah aid us is attaining these beautiful characteristics, and attaining success in this life and the next.

 

 

Habits that Breed Success

Islam is all about achieving success. Success in this life by triumphing over our base desires, and attaining a tranquil soul, and body. And success in the hereafter by earning the pleasure of Allah and thus His rewards, and protection from the hellfire.

Success is being productive. Being productive with your resources and abilities. Not being extravagant or attaining the goals of others, no. Rather to adjust yourself to what you have, and what you can do, and working with that to yield the best results. The most successful human being to ever walk the earth, was none other than our beloved Prophet peace be upon Him. He was the epitome to success in this life and the next. He had little resources but, he attained success. He transformed the face of a nation, and forged a lasting mass of successors, that can be found in every corner of the globe until today. That is success at an astounding level.

On a more personal level, how can we as individuals attain success, what habits are crucial for success? How can we begin to build a personality for ourselves that will leave behind a legacy?

Apart from fulfilling all the obligatory deeds and pushing yourself to complete the voluntary ones, there are some habits that have been a common denominator between all successful people the world over (judging by worldly standards). These factors have also been identified by psychologists in various studies. Though they have only recently been identified, they were mastered by our Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him over 14 centuries ago, and he inculcated them in his followers who embodied his legacy.

They are:

  • Waking up early: The earlier one begins the day, the more time there is in the day, the more you can get done and accomplished. Each day brings new challenges and a long list of tasks to be completed. Hence, waking up early, not only puts you in the frame of mind to It helps to increase productivity.

As muslims our day usually begins at Fajr, at the early hours of the morning.

  • Gratitude: gratitude is known as the most contributing emotion to success.

As muslims we should begin our day with the duaa for waking up, not just reading it but also understanding it. Thereby we are thank Allah for granting us life, and this is the first stage of our gratitude.

Imagine what this does to the human psyche! It recharges our batteries, makes us grateful for the little things and uplifts ones spirits and energy.

  • Reading motivational literature/meditation: this provides inspiration for the day ahead. At early hours of the morning, when nothing bogs your mind, reading such literature will bury itself in your soul, available to your mind to pull up as and when it needs it.

As muslims we begin our day with Quran recitation. And what could be more motivational than the words of Allah?!  Fajr prayers are the best time to recite and ponder upon the Quran. It is no wonder the fajr prayer is the prayer with the longest recitation. Take the time, to reflect upon what is recited.

Moreover, the more knowledge you have (which you gain from reading) the better equipped you are to face challenges of the day. Hence reading, is a primary habit that helps breed success.

  • Healthy habits: exercise, and healthy eating. These are known to improve one’s improves over all well-being. Hence one should begin their day with a healthy breakfast (you may need to cross nutella off your menu!), and maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout the day. The Prophet was never known to overeat. Eating excessively only encourages laziness and is sign of gluttony! He (peace be upon him) was known to be a fit man, whose walking pace was slightly faster than others, and who possessed enormous strength.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others: while some competition may be healthy, it can breed jealousy and envy. Thus, one should focus on their personal goals. Everyone is unique. Allah made each of us an individual with different strengths and weaknesses, so much so that our fingerprints are different. Measure your success against your own ability. You know yourself better than anyone else, and can tell when you have ‘done your best.’ Our prophet advised us with this when he said,  “Do not hate one another and do not envy one another. Let the slaves of Allah be brothers.” (Graded Saheeh by Sh Al-Albaani)

Success means different things to different people. To some it may be money, to others it may be property, yet to others it may be family, and to others it may be health. But to all of us, it is the pleasure of Allah. And so, every habit we incorporate into our life should have a higher purpose, that of pleasing Allah.

Success comes with hard work. It’s never an easy task. No one earns success overnight. We need to put the effort in, by entwining habits that will help us attain the success we seek.

Are You A Liar?!

An article on lying, pretty cliché you would say, we have been through this! Since time immemorial, the story of the boy who cried wolf has been passed down generations, articles, sermons, warnings and advises on ‘lying’ jam our minds. Funny then it should seem, that with all the propaganda on lying, the act of lying yet remains the most rampant of sins to date.

We now have professional liars and lying is now considered an art! Elusive and endearing as it may be, it still is one of the most heinous crimes out there. Helas! If only we were to fathom the magnitude of this crime for definitely most of us take it very lightly to the extent that most of us fail to recognize ourselves as liars.

Hence in this article, I am not here to preach, persuade and lecture you all on how horrendous lying is, most of us probably know the punishments of lying etc. This article is for you and me to diagnose ourselves as to whether we are liars (intentionally or unintentionally)

This might come to you as a shock to you but here are the characteristics of the Liar:

  1. Making many promises and making many excuses (Oh dear, this totally treads on our art of escaping situations making excuses)
  2. Delaying and procrastinating (Bull’s eye!!)
  3. Lack of adherence to covenants and lack of fulfilling promises
  4. Excessiveness in speech if it is in his worldly favor and deficiency in speaking if it is beneficial for his Deen (practice of Islam)
  5. Lack of haste in speaking the truth
  6. Beautifying the speech to conceal the wrongs that he does to himself
  7. He has no honour that encourages him to do good or prevents him doing evil

Oh heavens , who knew we were afflicted by so many symptoms, but do not despair, all is not lost, we can always improvise and although I said no sermonizing I do believe that I definitely should quote this hadith to you all:

The Messenger (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “I guarantee a house in the middle of Paradise for a person who avoids lying, even if he was joking.”

[Abu Dawud ~ Hadith Sahih]

Bingo, not lying is a way to Jannah, so now let’s pull up our sleeves and pledge to be honest, I know it’s no piece of cake, but by seeking Allah’s help and remaining sincere, this will be a feat that we shall accomplish In Sha Allah.

 

Depression

Some people just can’t seem to move on, they dwell in the past and reminisce the bad that happened to them or even others, and some worry about the current events and some just want a better future somehow or the other, these people get sad and stressed out and fall into depression many a time. It is human emotion all humans experience in different phases in their lives. But too much of anything is just bad.

Islam is a complete way of life and has provided us with solutions to these illnesses of the heart. Firstly all this is born when we are away from Allah and so it gives a chance to the shaitan to create doubts and hopelessness in us.

We will outline some steps to get closer to Allah which will lead to de-stressing (bi’ithnillah):

  1. Know that Allah is All Powerful and we can depend on Him for everything and t is in His hands that our greatest problem could be solved in a mili-second.
  2. Doing every act of worship which will make you closer to Allah and also keep your mind occupied.
  3. Exercise which will make your body fresh and active making you feel good about yourself, also eating healthy is also a good way to ensure a healthy body and heart.
  4. Go out and appreciate nature which will make you happy and clear your mind.
  5. Try to forget and forgive.
  6. Take a look at others’ lives , and try to appreciate the things that you have have and they don’t.
  7. Socialize as it will keep you busy .
  8. Smile and always be cheerful which will create a positive environment around you.

Make Allah your priority in everything that you do. Remember Him often, and He will remember you and take you out of this difficult situation.

We hope that these tips will make your life happy.

Fatima Damad

 

Love and Mercy

Oppression, harassment, belittling, ignoring, dominating, bullying etc. are so common nowadays that none can say that they have not experienced this kind of treatment at some point in their lives. Why is this? Because people have forgotten how to be merciful.

The definition of mercy is “Compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.”

And Allah the Almighty is the Most Merciful.

In Saheeh Muslim it is narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Allah has one hundred parts of mercy, of which He sent down one between the jinn, mankind, the animals and the insects, by means of which they are compassionate and merciful to one another, and by means of which wild animals are kind to their offspring. And Allah has kept back ninety-nine parts of mercy with which to be merciful to His slaves of the Day of Resurrection.” (Muslim, al-Tawbah, 6908)

And Allah commands us to show mercy and kindness towards each other.

Abdullah bin Amr narrated from the Prophet: “The Merciful is merciful to those who show mercy. Have mercy for those who are on the earth, the one in the heavens will show mercy to you.”

When Allah the All-Powerful shows mercy then who are we to do as we please and not be merciful.

Hence, we should show mercy to children and elders and every other human being. Being merciful is easy; we just need to soften our hearts, think about others happiness, help them in times of need, be empathetic, call them to the right path in the kindest manner, stand by them, show our love and compassion towards them so that they feel good about themselves, and even when we get into a conflict we should try to forgive and forget.

Of course, loving our non-muslim brothers is not allowed but that doesn’t mean we can’t be kind to them, help them, show compassion and illustrate the principles of love and mercy taught in Islam.

Remember Abu Hurairah narrated: I heard Abu Al-Qasim say, “Mercy is not taken away except from the wretched.”

Now that we know the importance of being merciful we should practice being merciful and teach our children to be merciful as well.

Fatima Damad