Sunday, October 20, 2013

Concept of Success and Failure from Islamic and Conventional Perspective.
Dictionary Definition of Success and Failure:
Success can be defined as:
·        The achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted.[1]
·        The favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors.
·        The attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like.
·        A performance or achievement that is marked by success, as by the attainment of honors.
·        A person or thing that has had success, as measured by attainment of goals, wealth, etc.[2]
Failure can be defined as:
·        The condition or fact of not achieving the desired end or ends.[3]
·        An act or instance of failing or proving unsuccessful; lack of success
·        Non performance of something due, required, or expected: 
·        A subnormal quantity or quality; an insufficiency: 
·        Deterioration or decay, especially of vigor, strength, etc
·        A condition of being bankrupt by reason of insolvency.[4]
The American Heritage Dictionary defines success as:
“The achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted. Success can also mean the identification of personal goals and achieving the desired result”.
Success according to Western Scholars:
David McCullough defines success as:
“Real success is finding your lifework in the work that you love”.
Zig Ziglar interpret success in the following words:
“Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be.”
Wilfred Peterson perceives success as:
“Success is focusing the full power of all you are on what you have a burning desire to achieve.”[5]
Worldview Definition of Success:
Americans tend to define success by money, and by what money can buy. They are known around the world as a rather materialistic country, always striving after things and defining success by the accoutrements that money can buy .
Other countries define success more in terms of whether their work supports their family life. If they enjoy their work, and if it gives them an opportunity to spend time with their family and have a balanced life, they’d consider themselves successful..[6]
Success and Failure in Life(Conventional perspective):
The concept of success on the part of the human being is a very old topic, an ancient topic. From culture to culture the concept of success can be different. Thanks to the speed in communication and a certain global traffic of ideas, the concept of success seems to be now almost universal. The concept is almost reduced to one or two things—success in the field of one’s profession or in terms of accomplishment. Success is largely gauged in terms of the pursuit of knowledge, and in terms of economic pursuit. There is a drive for success in terms of gaining more money and more recognition in society. [7]
Success according to Conventional Perspective:
The conventional definition of success includes:
1. Collecting things – if you can, nice things: First collect a car, then a house, then fill it up with stuff. If you have one, maybe you need a better one. Better and better. The better is seems, the more successful you must be. The pressure from society is like an ominous presence.
2. Get a good, stable job that pays well: 
3. Moving up in the company
4. Stability of consumption.[8]
The multitude of definitions that success has merely means that it means different things to different people. To some success may signify the amount of money that they make. Having a nice car loaded with all the modern widgets is an indicator of their place in the food chain. Material possessions may not mean success to some individuals if they do not find peace and contentment in materialism.
Sometimes success is measured by milestones. These are not the literal milestones of the highway but rather the smaller goals that you set on the way to the bigger goal of your final destination. In setting up a business say you set a goal within your goal of starting a restaurant, finding a good location first would be a good milestone.[9]
The problem is that many people measure their success and compare themselves with others. They compare their appearance, contacts, I.Q., family background, and education, to others not knowing that many successful people have had none of these advantages.
Genuine success is what people do with their own potential, their development and improvement of it, and must be related to their individual objectives and personal goals.
The lessons of the ages have proved that success is more than just the accumulation of wealth and by contrast no one can be a complete failure no matter how lean their wallet as long as they live a life of daily progress toward goals and service of others.[10]
Success defined by Dr. Linda Seger as:
“Success” seems to be the magic word for what we chase after, prepare for, choose, desire. It’s how we often define our lives. Money, fame, and power are often what we have been told make up success”.
A successful Person:
A successful person is one who keeps on 'successing,' drawing the best out of opportunities and circumstances where 'best' means bringing out the best in yourself.
The meaning of success lies in progressively choosing and reaching the right goals, as in making sure to include healthy, fresh food in your diet.
The meaning of success comes from within, one should not be deflected from their truth by the expectations of others.[11]
The Meaning of Failure according to Conventional Perspective:
The word failure got so much meaning in it, it depends on persons perception. A person is called failure when he is not up to the mark, in a school this can b decided by exams, but in life or society, there wouldn’t be written exams but one’s performance shows who is failure. If one’s performance is not up to the mark then he is  a failure candidate, and Failure can be of two kinds
·        Personal failure.
·        Social failure. 
personal failure depends up on one’s expectation and achievement while social failure depends on responsibilities and performance in the society. Personal failure is not at all a failure, but social failure is the real failure.[12]
Failure is one of those life experiences most of us would rather not like to encounter. Generally we tend to connect failure with intense self-judgment and inner criticism. The fear of failure is so strong, we often become hesitant to focus on inner dreams because of past failures.
The only true failure is when we concede defeat and absolutely give up. Failure is when we beat ourselves up and learn nothing from our setbacks. Confucius is quoted as saying, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.” If we embrace our failures along with our successes, learning from each, we will grow and achieve. The only people who do not fail are those who fail to try.[13]
Success and Failure ( falah and khusran) in Islamic Perspective:
Islam concerns itself with introducing definitions to every term and concept. The concept of gain and loss ( falah and khusran) is really interesting specially when we know that Islam considers life as a test and also looks to man's life as a span for conducting a deal. Islam makes it clear that, in the eyes of people, a loser is the one who loses some money or some worldly stuff. As for Islam, the real loser is the one who is led by his lusts and whims away from the straight path, the one who spends all his life in delusion. Man is weighed in Islam, not by the stuff he has, but by the good deeds he has offered to people around him and the happiness he has offered to humanity.
The Quran gives a bunch of examples of people who were thinking of themselves and were thought of by others as being winners. However, in reality, they were real losers. The story of Qarun and the story of the man of the two gardens are two clear images of such people. Qarun was a tycoon bewildered with his wealth and treasures and sinking to his heels in caring for them thinking that it is the real success to have treasures. Some people, watching from afar, wished once to have the same kind of success, assuming that this is the real bliss.

In the Quran, the fallacy of thinking that those who have might are the winners is totally cleared, since it is stated that the party of Allah, who are pious are always victorious and this is the real victory. [14] 
In Sahih Muslim, a hadith reported by Abu Hurairah R.A states that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, tried once to show his Companions how to weigh people and how to see who is a real loser and who is a real winner. Thus, he asked:
"Do you know who is a bankrupt?"
Affected by the worldly criterions, they answered:
"To us, a bankrupt is the one who has no money or stuff."
So, the Prophet said to them:
"A real bankrupt is the one who brings so many good deeds; fasting, Hajj, prayer, but alongside he brings with them slandering for this, backbiting that, beating such. People will thus gather around him to take from his good deeds in compensation of what he has done, till his good deeds are gone. By then, their bad deeds will be given to him till he ends up being cast into the Hell-Fire."[15]
Concept of Success In Islam:
Islam treats the term ‘success’ in a much deeper and vaster meaning of the term than simply attaining something as transient as wealth, or fame or position! Islam treats wealth, or fame, or position in the life of this world as a distribution of the bounty of the Merciful Lord to any amongst His slaves as He Pleases, and not a barometer of success.
Islam treats the term ‘success’ in all its true manifestations; and guides to a path which will lead to ‘success’ or the accomplishment of one’s aim in this transient world, and in the eternal Hereafter; without separating the success of the world from the Hereafter! Islam guides to a Straight Path, which leads to success both in this world, and in the Hereafter. But without a doubt, Islam advocates and encourages its believers to strive and prefer the success of the Hereafter; for that is indeed what Allah Subhanah calls the Supreme Success. Allah describes successful people in Quran as:
Success is really attained by the believers - 23:1.[16]
Thus, the elements of success as described by Allah Subhanah in the Glorious Quran relate to two basic and fundamental criterias:
·        Reprieve from fear,
·        Reprieve from grief.  
And it is these two fundamental elements of success which are constantly promised to those who shall be fortunate enough to achieve the Supreme Felicity or Success in the life of the Hereafter.
Allah Says in the Holy Quran Chapter 43 Surah Zukhruf verse 68
“My devotees! no fear shall be on you that Day, nor shall ye grieve”[17]
The one and only way to attain true success in the life of this world, is to aim and strive towards achieving success in the life of the Hereafter! Success in the life of this world, is nothing but a simple by-product of the success in the Hereafter.
And the simple formula of success, as stated by the Merciful Lord in His Glorious Quran, is that one sincerely believes in Allah Subhanah, follows and stands firm on the Path approved by Allah Subhanah.    
Allah Says in the Holy Quran Chapter 4 Surah Nisaa verse 69. 
“And whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger - those will be with the ones upon whom Allah has bestowed favor of the prophets, the steadfast affirmers of truth, the martyrs and the righteous. And excellent are those as companions.”[18]
In the above beautiful Aayahs of the Glorious Quran, Allah Subhanah Himself States Who are the Truly Succesful in His Sight:
The Prophets are successful
The ‘Siddiqeen’ or the ‘sincere lovers of the Truth’ are successful
The ‘Shohadaa’ or the ‘martyrs’ and thus the ‘witnesses of Truth’ are successful
The ‘Saaleheen’ or the righteous doers of good are successful.
The True Believers are successful.
Concept of Failure in Islam:
Failure is the exact opposite of success! It is indeed amazing that the people who strive their utmost all their lives in the accumulation of wealth and fame of this world and give little or no importance to their everlasting life in the Hereafter, thinking they are following the pursuit of success; will reach their destination One Day only to realize that they followed nothing but a mirage and dreams of falsehood![19]
Allah Says in the Holy Quran Chapter 57 Surah Hadid verse 20:
“Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children - like the example of a rain whose [resulting] plant growth pleases the tillers; then it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes [scattered] debris. And in the Hereafter is severe punishment and forgiveness from Allah and approval. And what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion.[20]
The Qur’aan depicts the state of those who refused to follow the path of success and insisted on following the path of evil and failure, and described their situation on the Day when results will be shown, and it will be known who succeeded and who failed: 


[15] Ibn Al-Hajjaj, Imam Abul Hussain Muslim. (1997). Sahih Muslim.(Trans: nasiruddin al- khattab.Chapter:32, Hadith no: 6251.

[16] Al-Quran. 23:1
[17] Al-Quran. 43:68
[18] Al-Quran. 4:69.
[20] Al-Quran.57:20.


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