God tells us in the Quran that the inhabitants of Hell and the inhabitants of Paradise are not the same. One has failed, one has succeeded.
Thus success in Islam is defined as attaining Paradise in the Hereafter. It is the ultimate success and something that every Muslim hopes for. The success that comes from amassing worldly goods and accolades is not the ultimate prize.
In the world of self-development, the high achiever is often held up as a person we can emulate or learn from. They are usually in the top echelons of their chosen fields because they set high goals and work tirelessly to achieve them.
The paths to success taken by high achievers are frequently examined and studied. Brendon Bouchard, a highly successful author and motivational speaker, says that high achievers fight to succeed, propelling themselves forward by grit and hustle. (brendon.com)
In Bouchard’s lectures for advanced audiences, he talks about the six career and business habits that lead to long-term success. We will discuss just one of the habits – quit the wrong thing now!
Although it is something that will help people achieve success in the life of this world, we will discuss the advice and discover how it pertains to Islam, our own high achiever, Prophet Muhammad and the advice he gave us.
According to Bouchard, the world’s high achievers have an obvious pattern of quitting. They quit things faster and more often than other people. They tend to innately know when something is wrong for them and they get out of that situation as fast as possible.
Quit Wrong Things
Most of us find it very difficult to move out of our comfort zones. We might understand that things have to change but lack the will power or the imagination to make that change.
We have been taught that perseverance is very important and that is correct, it is important to initial success. However, when we are talking about long term success, and remember, for Muslims long term success means Paradise, we have to learn how to delete all the things that are preventing us from being the very best Muslim we are able to be.
Most people hang on to the wrong things or the things that are preventing from becoming believers rather than people who are nominally Muslim.
To reach that supreme station, Paradise, we must identify what is wrong with our lives and stop. This is not an easy thing to do because it is scary, and in some cases it is terrifying.
It is scary because you have to admit to yourself that you were doing the wrong thing, or with the wrong people, or focused on something totally anchored in this world.
However when you do quit, it would be wrong to feel downhearted about leaving something, or obsess about wasting so much time and energy.
Quitting opens up pathways and doors.
Quitting things quickly and decisively will take courage because, in many cases, it will lead you to hardship and sometimes rejection. With God’s help these thorny paths will lead to something better.
We all know how much Prophet Muhammad loved Makkah and his triumphal return attests to that. However Makkah was something he had to leave; he had to walk away decisively because he knew staying there, at that point in his mission, was wrong.
It is not hard to identify what is wrong with our lives because most people have a clearly defined sense of right and wrong. If we are not sure we can take Prophet Muhammad’s advice.
…Righteous behavior makes the heart and the soul tranquil, but sin is that which rouses suspicion in the soul and is perplexing in the breast, even if people give you a decision in its favor. (At-Tirmidhi)
When we feel tranquil, we know we are doing the right thing, but if we are perplexed, it is time to examine our lifestyle and make the changes necessary. And if we want to be one of those high achievers, one of those who mingle with the Prophets in Paradise, we need to stop what will prevent that, now.
Choosing the wrong friends, hanging out in the wrong circles and trying to be one of the popular people could be one area we have to examine carefully. Prophet Muhammad often emphasized the need to keep company with righteous people.
People who hold the same beliefs and values make the best companions. They help you to stay on the right path, and to remember God in the good, and in not so good times. They remind you when to pray, and encourage you to be kind and generous.
Being around people who do not care about the consequences of their behavior is of little value in this world or in the next. So walk away, decisively. Failing to do so could be a disaster.
And (remember) the Day when the wrong-doer (oppressor, polytheist etc.) will bite on his hand, he will say: ‘Oh! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger. Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a friend! He indeed led me astray from the Reminder (the Quran) after it had come to me.’ (Quran 25:27)
Many people are plagued with minor sins that they continue to do over and over. These types of sins, that prevent us from being the best person that we can be, need to stop. The believer must exercise self-control because if they do not, the ultimate success will be very difficult to achieve.
God tells us that this place is transient and filled with trials and tribulations. Therefore we are bound to make mistakes and be forgetful, but because He knows the nature of humankind well, God has made seeking forgiveness easy. He says:
And turn in repentance and in obedience with true Faith to your Lord and submit to Him, before the torment comes upon you, then you will not be helped. (Quran 39:54)
The sooner you stop the behavior that is holding you back, the sooner you will feel God’s forgiveness and start to accumulate good deeds. When a person sincerely repents, God forgives the sin, and in addition to this, He replaces the sin with rewardable good deeds.
Except those who repent and believe and do righteous deeds; for those, God will change their sins into good deeds, and God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Quran 25:70)
Islam encourages us to be successful. If we are fortunate enough to reside in a place in which we can hear the call to prayer, we hear that encouragement every day. “…Hayya ‘alal-falah!” Hurry to success. We are not only encouraged to be successful, but the Quran and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad guide us to the final destination.
Follow in the footsteps of those people who have achieved a high status in this world. Turn worldly advice around to benefit you in the Hereafter.
If you are doing something that will prevent you from the best outcome, stop. If you feel that what you are doing is just not right, take advantage of that feeling and quit. Cut loose from everything that is not right for your heart or your soul.
If you want to feel alive and secure on a path to Paradise, you will examine your life and stop everything that will prevent a good outcome in the Hereafter.