After a long time, a person went to visit his teacher and began to say, ‘Whichever work I put my hand to, it results in failure. Having been utterly disappointed, I have come to you - please inform me of some special secret to success.’ The teacher said, ‘I will tell you! Accompany me to a nearby canal.’ When they had reached the bank of the canal, the teacher said, ‘Follow me and enter the canal.’ At first, that individual was frightened, but then he entered the canal with his teacher. When they had both reached the centre of the canal and the water was about to reach their chests, the teacher signalled for him to stop, and then suddenly took his head and submerged it into the water with force. That individual exerted a lot of effort, thrashing his hands and feet around in order to save himself; however, he was unsuccessful because the teacher’s grip was very firm. He remained in the water for quite some time; when he feared that he would die, he therefore exerted his full strength and was successful in freeing his head from the water. As soon as he had come out, he took a long and deep breath and filled his lungs with air. When he had regained his composure, his teacher asked, ‘What were you in dire need of when you were in the water?’ ‘I was only in need of a small amount of air so that I could breathe’, he replied. The teacher began to say, ‘This is the lesson that I was trying to teach you; that when we truly want something - when we want it wholeheartedly - we accordingly become successful in achieving our goal. Therefore, when you desire to achieve something as intensely as you desired a little amount of air today, then the doors of success will begin to open for you.’
Dear readers of Faizān-e-Madīnah monthly! Just as a small candle cannot warm an entire room in the winter season, likewise, half-heartedness will make it very difficult for a person to achieve his goals. After the bestowal of Allah Almighty, the first step to success is for a person to have sincere devotion in his goals. You will have seen that many people may earn little but they have the passion to build their own home; hence, after years of effort, they prove to be successful in building their home in the end. Similarly, after failing their examinations many times, students exert their efforts and achieve success in attaining their goals. The individual who is unsuccessful in the initial stages of business continues to sincerely devote himself to his goals and there comes a time where he becomes a successful businessman. There are countless similar examples that we can find around us in marketing, driving, cooking, tailoring and various other fields.
True devotion requires proof: Perhaps the thought has occurred to you that, ‘We also sincerely desire to succeed, so why do we remain unsuccessful!’ To this, I will say that a claim of true devotion is in need of hard work and effort as proof; if your struggle and effort is to only to satisfy your parents, boss or business partners, then this small level of effort will hardly result in great success. But when you leave no stone unturned in your efforts and are satisfied with your progress yourself, then fate will open the doors of success for you, اِنْ شَــآءَالـلّٰـه.
I have reached my goal: A man who had spent a lot of time frequenting Khanqahs (i.e. centres for spiritual development) and struggling in the path of Tasawwuf (spirituality) once presented himself in the court of Sayyiduna Shah Aal-e-Muhammad - may Allah have mercy upon him - (Marehra Shareef, Hind); he began to plea with Sayyiduna Shah Aal-e-Muhammad رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه, ‘It has been many years but I am not achieving my goal!’ Sayyiduna Shah Aal-e-Muhammad رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه made preparations for him to stay in one of the rooms of the Khanqah, and then called the servant and told him that the man should be given fish to eat but should not be given a drop water to drink, and after he has eaten, the door should be locked from the outside. After the ‘Isha Salaah, the servant gave him some fish. After he had eaten it, the servant locked the door from the outside straightaway and left. The man began to plead that he be given water but who was actually there to listen! In the morning, at the time of Fajr, the servant opened the door, and as soon as it was opened, the man ran towards the water and drank as much as he could. After the Salah, Sayyiduna Shah Aal-e-Muhammad رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه asked, ‘Are you well?’ He requested, ‘Respected Shaykh! The servants almost killed me last night as in such heat they firstly gave me fish to eat and secondly, they did not even give me a single drop of water. Then I was locked in the room in a state of intense thirst.’ He asked, ‘Then how did the night pass?’ He requested, ‘For as long as I remained awake, I was thinking of water! And when I fell asleep, I saw only water.’ Sayyiduna Shah Aal-e-Muhammad رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه said, ‘This is sincere seeking! Did you ever also seek your goal which you complain of not reaching in this manner?!’ That person had already undergone spiritual struggles so his heart was clean. He was affected by a deception of the Nafs (baser self) which was now undone at once and he eventually attained his goal. (Derived from Malfoozhaat, pp. 470)
Dear Islamic brothers! We decide various types of goals with regards to different stages of our lives and wish to attain them such as in eating and drinking, accommodation, transport, education, marriage, travel, relaxation, employment, business and money. However, we should not forget that the life we have been given also has a purpose which we must fulfil. This purpose has been mentioned in these two Quranic verses stated below:
وَ مَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَ الْاِنْسَ اِلَّا لِیَعْبُدُوْنِ(۵۶)
And I have created Jinns and human beings only for this; that they should worship Me.
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of the Quran)] (Part 27, Soorah al-Dhaariyaat, Verse 56)
الَّذِیْ خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَ الْحَیٰوةَ لِیَبْلُوَكُمْ اَیُّكُمْ اَحْسَنُ عَمَلًاؕ-
He Who created death and life in order that you may be tested, (as to) whose deed is best amongst you
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of the Quran)] (Part 29, Soorah Al-Mulk, Verse 2)
Fulfilling the right of worshipping your Creator and Owner, and to do good deeds is the purpose of this life. So just as one requires true devotion to achieve success in other goals, the same level of devotion would also be needed in reaching this goal as well. Our pious predecessors set such examples of true devotion in attaining the purpose of life that leave the mind astonished:
Dear Islamic brothers! If we were to observe ourselves on the other hand, then we would come to really know of the state of devotion to our purpose of life, that we cannot even offer our obligatory five daily Salah, we cannot keep our fasts in the month of Ramadan, we are completely heedless in paying our Zakah, Hajj has become obligatory upon us but we don’t have time to travel for Hajj, we don’t have time to recite the Quran; despite all of this, we are still in this false imagination that we are sincere and true in striving for the purpose of our life. We should not forget our real goal due to our preoccupation with our temporary goals, and we should not let anything enter our life that will prevent us from worshipping our Lord Almighty.
May Allah Almighty grant us success in our righteous goals.