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.