How to be successful in life

aassime abdellatif aassime1 at hotmail.fr
Thu Aug 21 14:05:14 CEST 2008




Question:

How to obtain success and prosperity in this world and hereafter? What
kind of success or prosperity that Islam wants the Ummah Islam gain in
this world?

Answer:

Praise be to Allah.



Peace of mind, contentment, happiness and freedom from worries and
anxiety… these are what everyone wants, and these are the ways in
which people can have a good life and find complete happiness and joy.
There are religious means of achieving that, and natural and practical
means, but no one can combine all of them except the believers;
although other people may achieve some of them, they will miss out on
others.

There follows a summary of the means of achieving this aim for which
everyone is striving. In some cases, those who achieve many of them
will live a joyful life and a good life; in other cases, those who
fail to achieve all of them will live a life of misery and hardship.
And there are others which are in between, according to what the means
he is able to attain. These means include the following:

1 – Faith and righteous deeds:

This is the greatest and most fundamental of means. Allah says
(interpretation of the meaning):

“Whoever works righteousness — whether male or female — while he (or
she) is a true believer (of Islamic Monotheism) verily, to him We will
give a good life (in this world with respect, contentment and lawful
provision), and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to
the best of what they used to do (i.e. Paradise in the
Hereafter)” (Quran, 16:97)

Allah tells us and promises us that whoever combines faith with
righteous deeds will have a good life and a good reward in this world
and in the Hereafter.

The reason for that is clear: those who believe in Allah – with
sincere faith that motivates them to do righteous deeds that change
hearts and attitudes and guides them to the straight path in this
world and the Hereafter – follow principles and guidelines by means of
which they deal with everything that happens to them, be it the causes
of happiness and excitement or the causes of anxiety, worry and grief.

They deal with the things that they like by accepting them and giving
thanks for them, and using them in good ways. When they deal with them
in this manner, that creates in them a sense of excitement and the
hope that it will continue and that they will be rewarded for their
gratitude, which is more important than the good things that happen to
them. And they deal with bad things, worries and distress by resisting
those that they can resist, alleviating those that they can alleviate,
and bearing with goodly patience those that they cannot avoid. Thus as
a result of the bad things they gain a lot of benefits, experience,
strength, patience and hope of reward, which are more important and
which diminish the hardships they have undergone and replace them with
happiness and hope for the bounty and reward of Allah. The Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) expressed this in a saheeh
hadeeth in which he said: “How wonderful is the situation of the
believer, for all his affairs are good. If something good happens to
him, he gives thanks for it and that is good for him; if something bad
happens to him, he bears it with patience, and that is good for him.
This does not apply to anyone but the believer.” (Narrated by Muslim,
no. 2999).

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) told us that
the believer is always gaining and the reward for his deeds is always
multiplying, no matter what happens to him, good or bad.

2 – Being kind to people in word and deed, and all kinds of doing
good.

This is one of the means of removing worry, distress and anxiety. By
this means Allah wards off worries and distress from righteous and
immoral like, but the believer has the greater share of that, and is
distinguished by the fact that his kindness to others stems from
sincerity and the hope of reward, so Allah makes it easy for him to be
kind to others because of the hope that this will bring good things
and ward off bad things, by means of his sincerity and hope of reward.
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“There is no good in most of their secret talks save (in) him who
orders Sadaqah (charity in Allah's Cause), or Ma‘roof (Islamic
Monotheism and all the good and righteous deeds which Allah has
ordained), or conciliation between mankind; and he who does this,
seeking the good Pleasure of Allah, We shall give him a great
reward” (Quran, 4:114)

Part of that great reward is relief from worry, distress, troubles,
etc.

3 – Another of the means of warding off anxiety that stems from
nervous tension and being preoccupied with disturbing thoughts is to
occupy oneself with good deeds or seeking beneficial knowledge, for
that will distract one from dwelling on the matters that are causing
anxiety. In this way a person may forget about the things that are
making him worried and distressed, and he may become happy and more
energetic. This is another means that believers and others have in
common, but the believer is distinguished by his faith, sincerity and
hope of reward when he occupies himself with that knowledge which he
is learning or teaching, or with the good deeds that he is doing.

The work with which he occupies himself should be something that he
likes and enjoys, for that is more likely to produce the desired
results. And Allah knows best.

4 – Another thing that may ward off worry and anxiety is focusing all
one’s thoughts of the present day, and not worrying about the future
or grieving about the past. Hence the Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allah be upon him) sought refuge with Allah from worry and regret,
from regret for things in the past which one cannot put right or
change, and worry which may come because of fear for the future. So
one should focus only on the present day, and focus one's efforts on
getting things right today. For if a person is focused on that, this
means that he will do things properly and forget about worry and
regret.

When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said a
du’aa’ or taught a du’aa’ to his Ummah, as well as urging them to seek
the help of Allah and hope for His bounty, he was also urging them to
strive to attain the thing they were praying for through their own
efforts and to forget about the thing which they were praying would be
warded off from them. Because du’aa’ (supplication) must be
accompanied by action. So a person must strive to attain that which
will benefit him in worldly and spiritual terms, and ask his Lord to
make his efforts successful, and he should seek His help in that, as
the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“Strive for that which will benefit you and seek the help of Allah,
and do not be helpless. If anything (bad) happens to you, do not say,
‘If only I had done such-and-such, then such-and-such would have
happened.’ Rather you should say, ‘Qaddara Allah wa ma sha’a fa’ala
(Allah decrees, and what He wills He does),’ for (the words) ‘If only’
open the door to the Shaytaan.” (Narrated by Muslim).

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) connected the
matter of striving to achieve good things with the matter of seeking
the help of Allah and not giving in to feelings of helplessness which
are a harmful kind of laziness, and with the matter of accepting
things in the past which are over and done with, and acknowledging
that the will and decree of Allah will inevitably come to pass. He
described matters as being of two types:

1 – Matters which a person may strive to achieve or to achieve
whatever he can of them, or to ward them off or alleviate them. In
such cases a person must strive and make the effort, and also seek the
help of Allah.

2 – Matters where such is not possible, so he must have peace of mind,
accept them and submit to Allah's will.

Undoubtedly paying attention to this principle will bring happiness
and relieve worry and distress.

5 – One of the greatest means of feeling content and relaxed and of
acquiring peace of mind is to remember Allah a great deal (dhikr).
That has a great effect in bringing contentment and peace of mind, and
relieving worry and distress. Allah says:

“Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest” (Quran,
13:28)

Remembering Allah (dhikr) has a great effect in achieving this aim
because it has a special influence and because of the hope that it
brings of reward.

6 – Another of the means of bringing happiness and relieving worry and
distress is striving to eliminate the things that cause worry and to
achieve the things that bring happiness. That may be done by
forgetting about bad things in the past which cannot be changed, and
realizing that dwelling on them is a waste of time. So a person must
strive to stop himself from thinking of that, and also strive to stop
himself from feeling anxious about the future and the things that he
may imagine of poverty, fear and other bad things that he thinks may
happen to him in the future. He should realize that the future is
something unknown, he cannot know what good or bad things are going to
happen to him. That is in the hand of the Almighty, the Most Wise, and
all that His slaves can do is to strive to attain the good things and
to ward off the bad things. A person should realize that if he diverts
his thoughts from worrying about his future and puts his trust in his
Lord to take care of his situation, and puts his mind at rest
concerning that, if he does that, then his heart will be at peace and
his situation will improve and he will be relieved of worry and
anxiety.

One of the most effective ways of dealing with worries about the
future is to recite this du’aa’ which the Prophet (peace and blessings
of Allah be upon him) used to recite:

“Allaahumma aslih li deeni alladhi huwa ‘ismatu amri, wa aslih li
dunyaaya allati fiha ma’aashi, wa aslih li aakhirati allati ilayha
ma’aadi, waj’al al-hayaata ziyaadatan li fi kulli khayr, wa’l-mawta
raahatan li min kulli sharr (O Allah, correct my religious commitment
which is the foundation of my life, and correct my worldly affairs in
which is my livelihood, and grant me good in the Hereafter to which is
my return. Make my life a means of accumulating good, and make death a
respite for me from all evil).” (Narrated by Muslim, 2720)

And he said, “Allaahumma rahmataka arju fa la takilni ila nafsi
tarfata ‘aynin wa aslih li sha’ni kullahu, laa ilaaha illa anta (O
Allah, for Your mercy I hope, so do not abandon me to myself even for
a moment. And correct all my affairs. There is no god but
You).” (Narrated by Abu Dawood with a saheeh isnaad, no. 5090; classed
as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Kalim al-Tayyib, p. 49)

If a person utters these du’aa’s, which ask that his spiritual and
worldly affairs may be set right or corrected, with proper presence of
mind and sincerity of intention, whilst striving to achieve that,
Allah will grant him what he has prayed for, hoped for and striven
for, and He will turn his worry into joy and happiness.

7 – If a person experiences anxiety and distress because of a
disaster, then one of the most effective means of relieving himself of
that is to think of the worst scenario to which that may lead, and try
to accept that. When he has done that, then he should try to alleviate
it as much as possible. By means of this acceptance and these efforts,
he will relieve himself of his worries and distress, and instead of
worrying he will strive to bring about good things and to deal with
whatever he can of the bad things. If he is faced with things that
cause fear or the possibility of sickness or poverty, then he should
deal with that by striving to make himself accept that, or something
even worse, with contentment, because by making himself accept the
worst-case scenario, he lessens the impact of the thing and makes it
seem less terrible, especially if he occupies himself with efforts to
ward it off as much as he can. Thus as well as striving to achieve
something good which will distract him from his worries about
calamity, he will also renew his strength to resist bad things, and
put his trust and reliance in Allah. Undoubtedly these matters are of
great benefit in attaining happiness and peace of mind, as well as
bringing the hope of reward in this world and in the Hereafter. This
is something which is well known from the experience of many who have
tried it.

8 – Steadfastness of heart and not being disturbed about the imaginary
things that bad thoughts may bring to mind. For when a person gives in
to his imagination and lets his mind be disturbed by these thoughts,
such as fear of disease and the like, or anger and confusion stirred
up by some grievous matter, or the expectation of bad things and the
loss of good things, that will fill him with worries, distress, mental
and physical illness and nervous breakdowns, which will have a bad
effect on him and which causes a great deal of harm, as many people
have seen. But when a person depends on Allah and puts his trust in
Him, and does not give in to his imagination or let bad thoughts
overwhelm him, and he relies on Allah and has hope of His bounty, that
wards off his worries and distress, and relieves him of a great deal
of mental and physical sickness. It gives indescribable strength,
comfort and happiness to the heart. How many hospitals are filled with
the mentally sick victims of illusions and harmful imagination; how
often have these things had an effect upon the hearts of many strong
people, let alone the weak ones; how often have they led to
foolishness and insanity.

It should be noted that your life will follow your train of thought.
If your thoughts are of things that will bring you benefit in your
spiritual or worldly affairs, then your life will be good and happy.
Otherwise it will be the opposite.

The person who is safe from all of that is the one who is protected by
Allah and helped by Him to strive to achieve that which will benefit
and strengthen the heart and ward off anxiety. Allah says
(interpretation of the meaning):

“And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice
him” (Quran, 65:3)

i.e., He will be sufficient for all that is worrying him in his
spiritual and worldly affairs. The one who puts his trust in Allah
will have strength in his heart and will not be affected by anything
he imagines or be disturbed by events, because he knows that these are
the result of vulnerable human nature and of weakness and fear that
have no basis. He also knows that Allah has guaranteed complete
sufficiency to those who put their trust in Him. So he trusts in Allah
and finds peace of mind in His promise, and thus his worry and anxiety
are dispelled; hardship is turned to ease, sadness is turned to joy,
fear is turned to peace. We ask Allah to keep us safe and sound, and
to bless us with strength and steadfastness of heart, and complete
trust, for Allah has guaranteed all good things to those who put their
trust in Him, and has guaranteed to ward off all bad and harmful
things from them.

If bad things happen or there is the fear of such, then you should
count the many blessings that you are still enjoying, both spiritual
and worldly, and compare them with the bad things that have happened,
for when you compare them you will see the many blessings that you are
enjoying, and this will make the bad things appear less serious.

See al-Wasaa’il al-Mufeedah li’l-Hayaat al-Sa’eedah by Shatkh ‘Abd al-
Rahmaan ibn Sa’di

Ibn al-Qayyim summed fifteen ways through which Allah may dispel
worries and regret. These are as follows:

1-     Tawheed al-Ruboobiyyah (belief in the Oneness of Divine
Lordship)

2-     Tawheed al-Uloohiyyah (belief in the Oneness of the Divine
nature)

3-     Tawheed of knowledge and belief (i.e., Tawheed al-Asma’
wa’l_Sifaat, belief in the Oneness of the Divine names and attributes)

4-     Thinking of Allah as being above doing any injustice to His
slaves, and above punishing anyone for no cause on the part of the
slave that would require such punishment.

5-     The person’s acknowledging that he is the one who has done
wrong.

6-     Beseeching Allah by means of the things that are most beloved
to Him, which are His names and attributes. Two of His names that
encompass the meanings of all other names and attributes are al-Hayy
(the Ever-Living) and al-Qayyoom (the Eternal).

7-     Seeking the help of Allah Alone.

8-     Affirming one's hope in Him.

9-     Truly putting one’s trust in Him and leaving matters to Him,
acknowledging that one's forelock is in His hand and that He does as
He wills, that His will is forever executed and that He is just in all
that He decrees.

10- Letting one's heart wander in the garden of the Qur’aan, seeking
consolation in it from every calamity, seeking healing in it from all
diseases of the heart, so that it will bring comfort to his grief and
healing for his worries and distress.

11- Seeking forgiveness.

12- Repentance.

13- Jihad.

14- Salah (prayer).

15- Declaring that he has no power and no strength, and leaving
matters to the One in Whose hand they are.

We ask Allah to keep us safe and sound from worries and to relieve us
of distress and anxiety, for He is the All-Hearing, Ever-Responsive,
and He is the Ever-Living, Eternal.

See Alhomoom – Dealing with Worries and Stress, in the Books section
of this site.

And Allah knows best. May Allah send blessings and peace upon our
Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions.

Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid





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