Success. How do you define it? It seems every time someone uses the word ‘success’, someone in the comments section has to ask that question: “Yes, but how do you define success?”

When you look at pop culture and the use of the word success, you get the simple understanding of success as explained in the Merriam-Webster dictionary: Success is.. the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame.

Merriam-Webster dictionary: Success is.. the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame.

In pop culture you’ll find ‘success’ quotes like:

The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work
I never dreamed about success; I worked for it

As the focus of this blog is MUSLIM Success, wouldn’t it be essential to review what Allah and His Messenger, SalAllahu alayhi wa sallam, reference when the topic of success comes up? Here’s what I found:
Avoiding Riba (interest, usury)

In the Quran, there is a theme of success (falaah in Arabic) connected to the avoidance of Riba. Take for example the following verse (3/130):

success versus riba
Tyranny, crime, lying and conning others

In the pursuit of wealth, respect, or fame, some may attempt vile shortcuts with oppression, crime, or lying or deceiving others. The Quran is clear that, yes, perhaps in the short term it may seem like they are winning, but ultimately those who take this path will never ultimately succeed (Quran 10/17 and 10/77).

Criminals will not succeed

Lying does not lead to success
Purifying one’s heart and soul

What a beautiful understanding of success that Islam teaches us. That success isn’t when one accumulates wealth, power, or fame. Genuine success and Paradise is when one purifies their heart and soul! Subhan Allah. (Quran 91/9 and 59/9)

Purification and success

Don’t be stingy
Keeping Allah present in your life (Taqwa)

Allah’s Messenger, sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, said, “Worship Allah as if you see Him. If you cannot see Him, then indeed Allah sees you.”
It is this life of Taqwa, of keeping Allah ever present in your conscious, that leads to success.

Taqwa leads to success
O you who have believed! Be patient in adversity, and vie in patience with one another, and be ever ready [to do what is right], and remain conscious of Allah (Taqwa), so that you might attain success! Quran 3/200

From the Sunnah, we see the topic of success come up in reference to:

In the call to prayer: Hayy ‘ala alFalaah — Come to success

On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) from the Prophet (ﷺ), who said:
Allah (mighty and sublime be He) says: The first of his actions for which a servant of Allah will be held accountable on the Day of Resurrection will be his prayers. If they are in order, then he will have prospered and succeeded: and if they are wanting, then he will have failed and lost.
Being content

Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Al-‘as (May Allah be pleased with them) reported:
Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Successful is the one who enters the fold of Islam and is provided with sustenance which is sufficient for his day’s needs, and Allah makes him content with what He has bestowed upon him.” [Muslim].
Entering Paradise

فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ أَفْلَحَ إِنْ صَدَقَ، أَوْ دَخَلَ الْجَنَّةَ إِنْ صَدَقَ

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “If he is telling the truth, he will succeed (or he will be granted Paradise).” [Bukhari]