Bismillah Wassalatu Wassalamu 3ala rasulillah
The three stages to success.
What is success? Success seems to be the goal that everyone is striving for in our world today. From doctors to engineers, office workers to politicians. As muslims who believe in Allah SWT, we must strive for success in both this world and the next.
Allah says: “And from the people there are who ask for this life, and this amounts to nothing in the next. And from them that ask for good in dunya and good in akhira and to be excused from the punishment of the hellfire. Those are the people that get a rightful amount from the good that they have done, and Allah is quick in judgement.”
Why strive for success? The prophet SAAW said “hold on tight to what will benefit you.” And this benefit as we have mentioned is in this world and the next.
Allah SWT has created for us the framework that we need to use to attain this success in any endeavour that we strive for, and has lightened our burden with the promise of his help. So before anything, ask Allah to grant you the success that you wish for, make dua to Allah in secret, as he has commanded:
“And your lord has said, ask and I will grant.” This is the promise of Allah, the secret weapon of a believer. When Allah SWT is on your side, then who is against you? When Allah SWT is against you, then who is on your side?
What is the first step? But once you have begun your journey, you must also act to the best of your ability having trust that Allah will deliver upon you the results. “Verily Allah loves those that give their best”. Allah has promised the muhsinin (people who do their best) the knowledge, wisdom, and power to deliver upon what is right. In the story of musa AS “When he became of strong and balanced age we gave him wisdom and knowledge, and that is how we repay the muhsinin.”
This goes hand in hand with seeking Halal means of success, for there is no point in success attained through means and methods that are not inline with what Allah has commanded, such as taking upon interest, or the sale of haram products, or success that requires the missing of obligatory deeds. In fact ihsan comes hand in hand with doing such good deeds, as Allah has revealed: those who keep the prayer, safeguarding themselves, giving zakah, and staying away from useless talk. Any success attained without these things my brothers and sisters is no success at all!
The second step that Allah has put for us is patience, for not as soon as one strives to act that results come flying, but with time. When one of the early students of hadith was walking as a young man, he thought of quitting his study as it was too difficult to continue. Upon seeing a rock which was indented by the dripping of a single water droplet over time, he knew that he needed to be patient, and that Allah will grant him goodness if he is patient, just as He has struck a hole in the rock with little effort from te droplet but time. This student proceded to become one of the major scholars of hadith in the islamic tradition. Allah says: “Seek help from Allah through patience and prayer, verily Allah is with those who are patient.”
Then what? Finally, success is in the hands of Allah. It may come and it may not. And if it has been attained, what should one do to make sure that it does not fade away and that we can benefit from it in the akhira. Many have attained knowledge in some form, but soon forget what it is that they learnt. Allah says “Allah has decreed that if you are grateful, you shall be given more, and if you are ungrateful, then verily my punishment is severe.” Thank Allah for the blessings that he has bestowed upon you! Know that these results have not come of your own doing, but from Allah. Be humble to Allah SWT, and he will give you more. And saying alhamdulilah is only the first level of gratitude. The second level is using what Allah has given you for good, “And seek with what Allah has given you the next life, and do not forget your portion of this life.” Finally, the last level of gratitude is helping others to obtain the same success, for the prophet SAAWS said that jealousy should be avoided except in two instances, “The man who Allah has given wealth, and he spends his nights and days spending it in truth, and a man who Allah has given wisdom so he uses it and teaches it to others.” This is giving back.
You may say that these ideas are abstract, but they are in our own book that Allah SWT has sent down upon us. In the story of Yousef AS, how would Yousef have survived and attained knoweldge if he did not possess ihsan? How would he have gone through years of prison without having patience? And finally, Allah granted him the opportunity to use what he has been given. How would he have benefitted from this is he did not thank Allah for giving him this opportunity.
I would finally like to reiterate the Hadith that I have mentioned in the beginning of the khutbah, a beautiful hadith:
المؤمنُ القويُّ خيرٌ وأحبُّ إلى اللَّهِ منَ المؤمنِ الضَّعيفِ ، وفي كلٍّ خيرٌ ، احرِصعلى ما ينفعُكَ ، واستِعِن باللَّهِ ولا تعجِزْ ، وإن أصابَكَ شيءٌ ، فلا تقُل : لو أنِّي فعلتُ كان كذا وَكَذا ، ولَكِن قل : قدَّرَ اللَّهُ ، وما شاءَ فعلَ ، فإنَّ لو تَفتحُ عملَ الشَّيطانِ