Tuesday May 8, 2012
Finding our purpose in gaining success
By MOHAMAD AZHAR HASHIM
FELLOW, CENTRE FOR ECONOMICS AND SOCIAL STUDIES, IKIM
A Muslim shall seek to earn rewards only from Allah rather than succumbing to the lure of material wealth as the ultimate measure of success for his endeavour.
IN attaining the pleasure of Allah, a Muslim shall devote all his hard work, actions, efforts and deeds solely towards the Almighty. Should he fail to observe and adhere to this fundamental Islamic creed, whatever success he achieves through hard work and effort is in vain; no matter how lucrative the material gains are.
The current reality of the world demands that we work harder in order to achieve a successful life. We are driven to embark on change, transformation, and reformation, to be innovative and creative, as well as to synergise for third alternatives, among other things.
Obviously, success in such efforts or actions are measured in the amount of ringgit and sen amassed.
Be that as it may, a Muslim’s priority in attaining success shall only be towards seeking the pleasure of Allah. Whatever actions or efforts he pursues shall always be in accordance with what had been stipulated in the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet.
In this regard, Allah asserts in the Quran (18: 103–106):
“Say: Shall We inform you who will be the greatest losers by their works? Those whose efforts go astray in the life of the world, and yet they reckon that they do good work. Those who are disbelievers in the revelations of their Lord and in the meeting with Him. Therefore, their works are vain, and on the Day of Resurrection, We assign no weight to them. That is their reward: hell, because they disbelieved, and made a jest of Our revelations and Our messengers.”
The above verses affirm that a Muslim is to devote every effort, action and deed towards getting the pleasure of Allah. The emphasis on seeking Allah’s pleasure as the ultimate aim of a Muslim will not only provide greater confidence to the individual to work persistently, but also restrain him from violating religious and social norms.
Clearly, those who violate these norms will be punished in the Hereafter, as Allah will account for every single action of men in this world, fairly and justly, on Judgement Day.
By holding to this trust and confidence, Muslims are enjoined to utilise the abundant resources surrounding them in the most efficient manner to benefit not only themselves but also society.
They must remember that besides seeking to meet their needs and that of their families, other more important needs that should not be neglected are that of the community, nation and religion.
Hence, actions or efforts to seek personal glory or solely for material wealth are utterly vain and worthless. Indeed, one should not strive and direct one’s actions and efforts merely towards seeking recognition, awards, promotions, titles, self-fulfilment, or material gain.
Towards achieving the pleasure of Allah, it is fundamental for us to bear good intentions in performing good deeds.
This understanding is based on Prophet Muhammad’s hadith:
“On the authority of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah say: Actions are but by intention and every man shall have but that which he intended. Thus, he whose migration was for Allah and His Messenger, his migration was for Allah and His Messenger, and he whose migration was to achieve some worldly benefit or to take a woman in marriage, his migration was for that which he migrated.” (Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim).
The hadith enlightens us that our behaviour needs to be governed, directed and focused on obtaining mercy and forgiveness of Allah alone.
Thus, an individual shall seek to earn reward only from Allah rather than succumbing to the lure of material wealth as the ultimate measure of success for his endeavour.
Nevertheless, one may achieve what one aims for in terms of material and worldly gains, but eventually, one’s soul will be bereft of divine guidance.
In essence, success does not have any meaning if it is not solely meant for seeking the pleasure of Allah the Almighty.
Indeed, the pleasure of Allah is a culmination of the achievements of man’s dream of happiness and success, both in this world and the Hereafter.