Attaining True Success
Mufti Muhammad Qasim Attari
Allah Almighty declares:
قَدْ اَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُوْنَۙ(۱) الَّذِیْنَ هُمْ فِیْ صَلَاتِهِمْ خٰشِعُوْنَۙ(۲) وَ الَّذِیْنَ هُمْ عَنِ اللَّغْوِ مُعْرِضُوْنَۙ(۳) وَ الَّذِیْنَ هُمْ لِلزَّكٰوةِ فٰعِلُوْنَۙ(۴) وَ الَّذِیْنَ هُمْ لِفُرُوْجِهِمْ حٰفِظُوْنَۙ(۵)
‘Undoubtedly, the believers reached their goals. Those who totally humble themselves in their Salah. And who do not incline towards vain talk. And those that work to pay Zakah (consistently). And those who protect their private parts,’
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 18, Surah Al-Mu’minoon, Verses 1-5)
These powerful words identify the hallmarks of a truly successful believer. The first of these is praying salah with submission and humility.
1. Outward submission involves focusing in salah, not looking beyond the place of prostration, and not looking to the left, right, or up with the peripheral vision. It also entails that the worshipper control his movements, not scratching needlessly or cracking the fingers. The legal manuals of fiqh list several more aspects of outward submission under their respective sunan, adab, and makruhat chapters.
2. Inward submission relates to the worshipper’s state of mind and heart, whereby he is cognizant of Allah’s greatness and glory. In prayer, he stands in the court of Allah, completely removed from the world.
Submission benefits your faith
To submit in salah with humility is to obey the command of praying in its truest sense. Submission in salah invokes spiritual blessings, ensures that one's worship is accepted, prevents evil deeds, leads to forgiveness, draws one closer to Allah Almighty, and places the worshipper in the ranks of the righteous folk.
Regarding the virtue of such a salah, the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said: ‘If a Muslim, upon reaching the time of an obligatory salah, performs the ablution of the salah properly and then submits and bows properly in it, that salah will expiate his previous sins until he commits a major sin and this situation will continue forever,’ (Muslim, p. 116, Hadith 543).
Observe the deeds of the best personalities of this Ummah, i.e., the noble Companions رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُم in this regard. Sayyiduna Abdullah b. Umar رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُما said that ‘When the Companions رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُم offered salah, they would remain attentive towards it, keep their gaze on the place of prostration, be certain that Allah is watching them, and not pay attention to the left or the right,’ (Durr-e-Mansoor, Surah Al-Mu’minoon, under verse 2, vol. 6, p. 84).
Similarly, the incident of an Ansari Companion is well known that he was guarding the Islamic army at night and started praying in order to stay awake. A polytheist approached and, realizing that he was a guard, fired three arrows, hitting the Ansari Companion. Even in this dire state, the Companion continued to bow and prostrate in the same state,’ (Abu Dawood, vol. 1, p. 99, Hadith 198, summarised).
Submission benefits your life
1. Is the first step to deep reflection – across the word, this topic is being extensively researched.
2. Relieves confusion and stress.
3. Brings peace of mind.
4. Reduces anxiety.
5. Encourages quality sleep.
6. Helps control blood pressure.
7. Invigorates the body.
8. Enhances one’s ability to think clearly.
وَ الَّذِیْنَ هُمْ عَنِ اللَّغْوِ مُعْرِضُوْنَۙ(۳)
‘And who do not incline towards vain talk,’
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 18, Surah Al-Mu’minoon, Verse 3)
Al-Saawi رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه explained that ‘vain talk’ (laghw) refers to every undesirable or even permissible word and deed which has no benefit for the Muslim in this world or the hereafter. For example, joking, indecent speech, play and amusement, wasting time in futile pursuits, remaining indulged in fulfilling lusts, and all those activities that Allah Almighty has forbidden, (Saawi, Surah Al-Mu’minoon, under verse 3, vol. 4, p. 1356).
The Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said: From the beauty of a person’s faith is that he gives up meaningless acts, (Tirmizi, vol. 4, p. 142, Hadith 2324).
People can engage in futile actions with their tongues, through their behavior, and even with their hearts – the truly successful believer avoids all three types.
1. Futile acts of the tongue
In this era, futile acts related to the tongue have spread rapidly. Through the mass proliferation of news about every minor and major event in the world and the constant bombardment of useless information across social media platforms, we have become desensitized to futility. Along with media outlets, the blame lies with news channels that host analysts of every caliber to share their, often uninformed, views about anything and everything. If one becomes accustomed to futile speech, the precaution of the tongue disappears, and backbiting becomes a part of daily life for such people, even though backbiting is a major sin and destroys good deeds.
Such a person also loses his dignity in the eyes of others (as they assume) that he might backbite them in front of others. Through mere words, speaking about useless matters can also lead to Hell or ruin one’s deeds as the noble Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم warned: ‘Indeed a person [may] utter a bad word with his tongue without knowing the reality [and implications] of it, so on the basis of that, Allah Almighty writes down His displeasure for him till the Day of Judgment, (Tirmizi, vol. 4, p. 143, Hadith 2326, summarised).
The noble Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said that the person speaks a word leading to the displeasure of Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ and does not pay any attention to it, i.e., he does not have in his mind that Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ will displease with him that due to that word, the person falls into the depths of Hell at a distance greater than the East and the West, (Musnad Ahmad, vol. 3, p. 319, Hadith 8931, summarised).
The pious predecessors were cautious of vain and useless talk. It is narrated that Sayyiduna Hassaan b. Abi Sinan رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه was passing a balcony when he asked its owner how long it had been since he built it? Afterwards, he felt remorseful and, addressing his self (nafs), remarked,’ Proud nafs! Do you waste precious time in vain and useless questions?’ He fasted for a whole year to atone for that one useless question, (Minhaj-ul-‘Aabideen, p. 65).
2. Futile behavior
1. Watching worldly programs on TV.
2. Listening to one specific piece of news multiple times.
3. Listening to programs on many channels for a single topic.
4. Listening to unbeneficial political discussions.
5. Watching sports matches.
6. Facebook, Twitter, surfing the internet, and spending a lot of time using social media.
Ask yourself honestly whether these activities have anything to do with your life or not. Most have nothing to do with it. If a person spends four hours a day on these useless works, he will waste 1460 hours of the year and if he spends this many hours for the pleasure of Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ or success in the world, imagine the heights he can reach!
If you spent four hours a day on the following acts, in one year, you could achieve so much:
1. If you prayed twenty cycles of supererogatory prayer in an hour, you would perform 29,200 cycles in a year.
2. If you sent prayers on the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم a thousand times in an hour, you could send 1.46 million prayers on him in a year.
3. If you learned two rulings of the Shari’ah in one hour, you would acquire the knowledge of three thousand matters of the Shari’ah in a year.
This whole calculation is in terms of four hours a day for one year. If you calculate ten, twenty or thirty years, you can imagine the result. Understand that time can be used in three ways.
1. Vain acts.
2. Less beneficial acts.
3. More beneficial acts.
Every mindful being knows that the best of these three kinds of uses is the one through which a person can gain more benefit.
3. Futile acts of the heart
1. Constantly daydreaming.
2. Being disheartened by the success of others and self-loathing due to failures.
3. Planning sins.
4. Making plans all the time but not implementing them.
Harms of the vain use of heart and mind
1. Vain thinking reduces the mind's ability to think positively and productively.
2. Vain thinking leads to demotivation and avoidance of work.
3. Mental abilities will not be fully utilized, as a result of which a negative thinking person will continue to think of how to make others fail instead of focusing on his own path to success.
In short, the one who is successful in this world and the hereafter is the one who avoids useless acts and engages himself in beneficial deeds and productive activities. May Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ grant us the ability to practice good deeds.