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Can I Really Win if You Lose?

The competitive mentality pumped into human race from childhood, especially in western society, makes one wonder if, in most cases, my win has to be at the cost of someone else’s loss!

On the individual level, can we adopt a mentality that my win can also include your win?

What about the society level? How about globally?

A fantasy or a dream?

Maybe…but nothing is impossible for those who have the will and courage to make changes.

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My Story with Home Schooling

When I first put my kids in a public school in California I really liked the school’s creative style of teaching. Kids got to learn by hands-on experiments. The books were of high quality papers and colors.

The classrooms were cheerful and of encouraging atmosphere for learning; and the best of all the teachers were very well-trained and knew how to engage uncooperative students and bring them into the learning fold.

It was also the beginning of playing sports for kids the same age as mine, while having some kiddy matches and competitions.

My kids did well and I was satisfied until about third and fourth grade when parents would get notices about sex education and dancing entertainments for their kids – not to mention starting to teach evolution!

For me, this was time to home-school my kids.

This was also the time I was practicing Christianity – in the 1980s.

I joined the Christian home school community. I was amazed at how much care the parents exerted to bring the best of education to their kids and at the same time save them from unwanted and unhealthy exposures that went against the scripture.

One of the greatest eye-opening realizations was when I noticed that they discouraged competitive games. They definitely encouraged games but not in a competitive level. Why?

“This would encourage win/lose attitude in the kids,” they believed. Then I realized how some kids in public schools are more withdrawn to themselves and not social when they cannot play sports and compete as others. Were they feeling they were losers?

I understood better now what Christian moms were aiming at: Win-Win.

This was the first time I saw how some people viewed competition. It made a lot of sense to me. Likewise, I also began to discourage my kids from competitive sports from a very early age.

My kids are in their early 30s now and I definitely see a difference in how they treat competitive aspects of life. They seem to reach out for win-win as a natural instinct. Many thanks to my Christian friends/mothers who were the first to open my eyes to this important factor.

Competition in Islam

When my search for the right religion finally brought me to Islam, one of the first things I cautiously looked for was the concept of completion in Islam. I was so worried that I may find it not compatible with the Christian belief on this matter. What would I do then?

My kids were still very young and still homeschooling. I was not about to change my view on this matter.

I was amazed of what I found!

I learned that Muslims should not compete with other Muslims (or anyone else) when it comes to worldly and materialistic matters, rather they should compete with each other in piety and deeds that are pleasing to Allah the most high.

Some verses of the Quran made me think deeper about human purpose in life.

{We have made what is on Earth an adornment for them, so that we will test them as to who is better in deeds. Verily what is on earth we shall make but as dust and dry soil (without growth or herbage).} (18:7-8)

The above verse clearly shows the purpose of us being on earth; a short stay with all the adornments available to us but it will all but perish. Yet for us it is a test. What we gain and lose may have a lasting effect on where our final abode will be!

Knowing everything comes from Allah and we are merely custodians for a short time, I wondered, would my win at the price of loss of someone bring me closer to my Creator? The answer was clear!

In another verse Allah states:

{To each is a goal to which Allah turns him; then strive together (as in a competition) towards all that is good. Where ever you are, Allah will bring you together. For Allah has power over all things.} (2:148)

So, it became clear to me that competition is only for passing the test and not winning over someone else. Yet, we can only win this test if we know what the rule of law is.

{To each among you, we have prescribed a law and a clear way. If Allah had willed, He would have made you one nation, but that (He) may test you in what He has given you; so compete in good deeds. The return of you (all) is to Allah.} (5:48)

Muslims are not only commanded to do good, but that they should race towards it. Allah chose not to make us one nation, so that He may test us in what He has given us, and to see what we will do with it. Allah reminds us in the above verse that indeed the return of all is to Allah.

Who are the Winners?

Allah continues putting forth verses for us so that we really understand the concept of competition and purpose of winning. But how would we know what is good?

Would it make sense to learn it from the One who ordained it?

Let us ponder again!

This is what He says about the real winners:

{They believe in Allah and the last day; they enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong; and they hasten (race, compete) in all good works: they are in the ranks of the righteous. Of the good that they do, nothing will be rejected of them; for Allah knows well those that do right.} (3:114-15)

We also know in Islam, for a good deed to be accepted there must be sincerity of intention. Also the action must be in accordance with the laws which Allah has enjoined and most importantly, He alone must be worshipped.

Muslims firmly believe in Allah, His message in the Quran and the Prophetic narrations and teachings that go along the side of the Quran. Yet sadly, many ignore his warning and teachings.

In one strong statement, the Prophet is reported to have said:

“…Be happy, and hope for what will please you. By Allah, I am not afraid that you will be poor, but I fear that worldly wealth will be bestowed upon you as it was bestowed upon those who lived before you. So you will compete amongst yourselves for it, as they competed for it and it will destroy you as it did them.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

History is the witness of how his prediction has come true for centuries!

Final Reflection

The world population, especially western nations, is programmed for competition as a form of sports and entertainment through games in childhood and all the way to adulthood. Some of these entertainments have turned into serious war games that have claimed thousands of lives.

The only winners are those who ended up subjugating some people under their control and benefited financially at the cost of much human and material loss to others.

Many Christians adamantly refuse to participate in any wars for the right reasons. They try to follow Christ’s teachings who bid his followers the love for humanity and making peace even with the enemy.

Why are we, as Muslim, not following the footsteps of our own Prophet who was the greatest torch bearer of peace and reconciliation?

Why are Muslims competing to gain power and control over others while killing their fellow Muslims by thousands in the name of religion? Is this considered success?

Why not heed to Allah’s word as He defines success?

{Let there arise out of you a Nation, inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones who shall be successful.} (3:104)

(From Discovering Islam archive)

About Raya Shokatfard
Raya Shokatfard holds an MA in Journalism/Mass Communications and an M.A.D. in TV journalism. BA in Communication and BA in Islamic Studies. She has been Islamic propagator in the U.S and Egypt for many years and academic lecturer, writer, international presenter, consultant, foreign correspondent. She can be reached at: [email protected]