While it may be confusing to witness first hand this unity in perception of Muslims and non-Muslims with respects to success, it’s important to take a step back with reassurance with what success really means to Allah – because in all honesty, that’s the only definition that is really worth to ponder upon.
Consider these leading examples of success:
– A young boy who was thrown into a well out of overwhelming jealousy of his siblings, sold to slavery, bought by a man with a seductress for a wife, cast into prison for many years (for no wrongdoing of his own), but continued to plough his love and fear for Allah, regardless of the circumstances he was in, and was later made a Ruler of the Land, yet remained humble throughout.
That is success – not to mention, many decades later, he willingly forgave his siblings who had wronged him.
– A young girl who was dedicated to Islam from a young age, and later went on to conceive a baby on her own (by will of Allah), retreated to a secret place in order to birth, lending her hopes and prayers in Allah’s hands alone, and returned to her people to confront a conservative society with a baby born “out of wedlock,” well knowing the risk of persecution.
Yet she persevered. This is success.
– A young man who was thrown out of his own home, after nearly being burned by his villagers for spreading da’wah. He travelled wide and far without much success in his mission.
As one of the most intelligent people alive, he made a du’a for an ummah of the righteous, while building the Ka’bah and was honored as the Imam of Nations – all this after being tested relentlessly by Allah, being asked to leave his family in the desert, and later to sacrifice his own kin. Yet he passed. This is success.
– A man, wanted for murder, running through the desert with tattered clothes and broken shoes, repenting to Allah for his mistake (that had led to the death of another), was awarded an honest job, a pious wife, and security in an unknown land. This is part of his success.
But later, he was ordered back to oppose the ruler who had been persecuting and oppressing his people and despite the smear campaign against him, he succeeded against the tyrant, who was later killed while this same man and his people escaped his persecution once and for all. True success.
– A man who was persecuted for speaking the truth, ostracized, boycotted against, was a target of assassination, and thrown out of his house, only to become the leader of the most of Arabia, but still lived a mediocre life, rested on a “date-palm” mattress, made out of fiber, is seen as the most successful person, of all times, regardless of generations, until the Day of Judgment.
How else can one define success?
Granted, these are amongst those of the highest caliber of success, according to the Quran and Sunnah, but a deeper study into the successful lives of Muslims, will show that the definition of success spans far and wide, and includes many “worldly” forms of success, as long as they are not purchased for the price of success in the Hereafter.
There is nothing wrong in getting a good education, a high paying job, a successful career, and being recognized for worldly success, provided they do not compromise one’s remembrance of the world to come. Balancing both is the key of success for everyone – and this needs to be realized by all Muslims – whether born into Islam, and those who come to Islam in their lifetimes.
We Are All Part of the Ummah
While it may be disheartening to see Muslims arguing against each other with respects to halal and haram, and getting into cross fires over matters that are dubious, all due to the curse of the modern mindset of success, this is a resounding call for new Muslims to not despair.
The same way you came to Islam, many born Muslims aren’t particularly practicing just because they come from Muslim families. In fact, coming from a Muslim family, growing up in a Muslim community, imbued by Muslim “cultural” nuances, rather than religion, can be very confusing for many of these same families. It also takes that certain spark of iman to light in their hearts to know when things are wrong and for them to revert back to the Quran and Sunnah.
– Make du’a for them. The same way you know that Islam is the complete and perfected way of life, you should also know that du’a is the weapon of the believer. Of course, this doesn’t work without effort, so keep making gentle da’wah with what you already know about Islam so Muslims who have strayed away from the Quran and Sunnah will find their way back.
– Always look out for good companions in those who are practicing by the Quran and Sunnah. While the ummah is divided on many things, there are still many Muslims who stick closely to the principles of the deen. Seek them out, attend their classes, spend time in the Masjid.
Allah sends good company to those who seek out for good company to please Him. Be a part of the wider and diverse community to keep the spirit of da’wah burning.
– Always work to improve your own understanding of Islam to avoid falling into the waylay trap of the “contemporary” thought and definition of success. Those who seek knowledge on the path of Allah with sincere intentions, Allah will safeguard and preserve them in their deen.
– Do not despair. Coming to Islam is not the happy ending of anyone’s life, but it’s the start of a journey to a happy ending in the Hereafter, as long as we keep loving and living for the sake of Allah.
– Lastly, have good hopes in Allah. Nothing can happen wi