Success is something I’ve been thinking about a great deal lately. One of the first questions that comes to mind is ‘how do we define success?’ One of the inner-most desires we can have as human beings is to be successful at something. Whether it is our role as a student, or in our profession or even as a mother. But the reality is we live in a world and society that has set its success standards by consumer culture ideals. We’ve been raised to believe that success is when you make it to university, get a great job with a nice salary package, own a car and buy a house, then that’s it – you’ve made it! By society’s standards anyway. But for me, as a Muslimah, success has a very different roadmap.
As Muslims, we can all too often get dragged into this type of worldly measure of success which measures you by material achievements – but in all honesty, how many of those people chasing after solely worldly goods are truly happy? I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t have all the above as Muslims, indeed we should, but our measure of success should be linked to something more lasting, more rewarding, more satisfying than reaching the status quo.
In the Qur’an, Allah (SWT) says that ultimately success lies in us worshipping Him, doing good deeds and being the best individuals we can be. He says:
‘Successful indeed are the believers.’ [Surah Al-Mu’minun, Verse 1]
I so often feel saddened by the talent I see and know exists in this Ummah going to waste. There is some simple and beautiful advice in the Prophetic example and his Companions: set out to succeed at whatever you do in life. Here are five secret ingredients so that we can all work towards that everlasting success because only then will we have truly succeeded insha Allah.
1. Have sincere intentions
Success begins on the sincerity of our intentions. We should always seek to have a lasting benefit from whatever we have set our minds to achieve, whether it is studying at university, getting into a career, buying a car or even choosing to start a family. Our success in what we intend to do will depend on how sincere we are in our efforts to please Allah and not others in society. I am sure many will bear testimony to the fact that when they have had sincere intentions to pursue certain goals in life, Allah has opened doors of success for them due to the purity of intention.
2. Invest wisely in time
One of the top traits of successful leaders as research has shown is that they manage their time effectively. Not a single minute of a day is wasted in trivial matters, instead they focus on doing any action that will bring them closer to their goal and ultimately to Allah. Quit wasting time on things that do not bring you benefit and watch how your life becomes full of blessings.
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3. Develop yourself
In the era of the information highway, we have access to knowledge, courses, books and so much more, so anyone can develop their knowledge and grow in an area of interest. As Muslims, it is essential we improve our knowledge of the religion and excel at what we do so that we can be an example and role model. By identifying the areas you need to develop yourself in, you can create a learning action plan and work towards becoming. You can create a monthly personal development plan and set very clear aims and objectives to see how far you are progressing.
4. Keep learning
One of the most striking features I have found in successful people is their humility and their continued pursuit of learning, not only in the field they are currently in but also in general – embracing all of life’s experiences as learning opportunities. This attitude of always learning helps us to be successful no matter how advanced we become in what we seek to be good at. Indeed, this applies in all areas of life from the personal to the professional.
5. Make du’a
The final but one of the most powerful ingredients to success is to make du’a and lots of it! ‘Indeed, my success only comes from Allah’ is a beautiful du’a I like to ponder over often as it reminds me that we can never become too arrogant in life about our achievements. If it wasn’t for our Creator, we would not be able to exist in the first place let alone succeed at what we set out to do! Remember to always remain humble in your achievements and constantly thank Allah for helping you.
After all, we won’t know if we’ve really succeeded until we reach the gates of Jannah. May Allah make us amongst those who are the successful in this life and the Hereafter. Ameen
Lotifa Begum is the Head of Productive Muslimah at ProductiveMuslim.com. She graduated in BA Politics & East European Studies from University College London in 2011 and was the former Head Sister at the Islamic Society. She has worked with the Muslim community in the UK over the past 5 years. Currently she is the Campaigns & Development Education Coordinator at Islamic Relief UK. Lotifa was a graduate of the NicheHero Leadership Programme with Shaykh Muhammad Al Shareef, she also completed the Young Muslim Leadership Programme with the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies. As former Head of Content and Research at ProductiveMuslim.com she has gained insight to a wide range of productivity related issues with the global team and delivered workshops for sisters on time management, productivity and leadership. To contact her please email email@example.com