[Chapter 31] A Note on Success and Failure

Dec 22, 2010

Chapter 31
Still Working for Allah in the West: Theory and Methodology

A Note on Success and Failure

Success and failure can be looked at from a number of different perspectives, not completely exclusive of one another. The first perspective is to divide success into three levels:

a)    Success or failure in this world.

b)    Success or failure in the next world.

c)    Success or failure in both places.

The second perspective will look at the same set of things but in a somewhat different light and using a somewhat different vocabulary. This will include the following:

d)    Success in material terms.

e)    Success in spiritual terms.

f)    Success in terms of both.

g)    Success as personal happiness.

This is yet another perspective, which looks at things with a somewhat different focus. But in fact, just like the second perspective this one also is an extension of the first perspective.

h)    Success as Muslims.

i)    Success as human beings.

The first perspective uses a scale of success whose highest value is c – success in this world as well as the next world. The second perspective closely parallels this model. As a result, the highest value according to this perspective will go to f that combines both the so-called material and the so-called spiritual dimensions of human life. Personal happiness, in its truly meaningful sense, can be considered to be largely a product of the successful functioning of both aspects of a human being’s life – material as well as spiritual.

As for the third perspective, what Muslims need to relearn is this: the second component is a precondition for the first one. That means, success as a Muslim requires first success as a human being. To put it differently you cannot be a bad human being and expect to be a good Muslim. Islam from this point of view is simply the upper limit of being human – the full measure of which people cannot attain without bringing Allah and his Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, in the picture. As a result, Islam takes all human qualities and places them at a higher level of perfection and completeness. That means if we lack simple human qualities of honesty, trust, integrity and such, we have miles to go, as a poet once said, before we can catch up with the caravan of Islam. In truth, Muslims must take off from where others leave off. And in the past that is precisely what they often did.

What we should not forget at any level or stage is this: The final – and only – determiner of success at any level is Allah. But Allah, in his infinite mercy and justice, has linked the success of our outcomes to the successful inner functioning of our heart on the one hand and to the successful conception, design and functioning of our external activities and projects from the most private and personal to the most public and social.

The heart – or mind as it were – is the seat of our inner self. That is where much of the real action is. That is where all the thoughts, intentions and motives reside. It is based on what the heart conceives that we are punished or rewarded by Allah.

If the heart works well – in a psychological and spiritual sense – then we have passed the threshold. We then become eligible to work out the practical details of our life – individual and collective. If the heart is hit by any or all of the psychological and spiritual ailments to which it is susceptible, then our actions and efforts – whether individual or collective – become an exercise in futility.

Now read that Hadith that says: Inna Fil Jasadi La-Mudhghah

Beyond the purity of our heart, Allah also wants us to live up to our role as the Khalifah – those responsible – in this world. He wants us to have the best knowledge and acquire the best tools for doing any thing that needs doing in this world. So, in some important ways, our success or failure in this world will be tied to the quality as well as the quantity of our efforts in this world. In that sense, life for Muslims – for those who work for Allah – becomes a football game: the better team wins.

As a result, Muslim success – or failure – in this world becomes a function of the quality as well as the quantity of all that it takes to live a successful life on earth – schools; education; knowledge; science; freedom; respect for human rights; love; compassion; honesty; integrity; dedication; hard work; organization; leadership; discipline; ethics; values; planning; resources; family life; political and economic institutions; and everything else.

The true standard of success in this world is for Muslims to reach a stage in all these and all other areas of life where they themselves become the gold standard of excellence and success for the rest of the world. Thereafter the only higher measure of success they have in this world is the life and example of the Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.

Now read that Aayah that says: Li-Takunu Shuhada’ ‘Alannasi wa Yakunar Rasulu Alaikum Shahida … (2:143).

Still Working for Allah in the West: Theory and Methodology

© 2003 Syed Husain Pasha

Dr. Pasha is an educator and scholar of exceptional 
talent, training and experience. He can be reached at DrSyedPasha [at] 
AOL [dot] com or www.IslamicSolutions.com.

image_printView All

Comments are closed.