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Pursuit of Success

By Saima Shahzad

People from different walks of life have a similar idea of success i. e. to own a happy family, a progressing career and a trendy lifestyle. In this race of getting ahead of each other, people tend to forget that their pursuit of success is faulty. It doesn’t sound wise to choose what is short-lived, temporary and comes with many drawbacks at the expense of something that is forever, more luxurious and appealing to the next level.Real Success is the luxurious life of Jannah which is ignored all around us. Immense love of this world creates an illusion in people’s minds and makes them think that the only reality is what exists around us, not what is unseen.  Resultantly, the exhausting competition without any everlasting outcome continues, until the time comes when one realizes the fact stated in Qur’an:

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن تَزَكَّىٰ

Successful indeed are those who purify themselves [Surah Al’ Ala, 87:14]

And it hits hard. The key to the ultimate success according to the One Who created us is so different from what is fed in our minds and hearts in schools, colleges and universities.The real success isn’t getting a spacious villa, expensive cars or heavy bank balance, but purification of the soul is the success one should long and struggle for. 

When a gardener plants a mango tree in his garden , some weeds and bushes may grow around it, leading to hindrance in the tree’s growth by sharing it’s nutrients and space, so the tree may wither. Same is the case with us, Allah has planted Haq (truth) deep in our hearts but  Batil (falsehood) grows around it, thus masking the truth and one can thus fall prey to batil. This is where Tazkiya  is needed. Tazkiya is this process of removing all the Batil i.e. spiritual diseases from our heart and letting only  Haq grow, making it our only preference and an essential part of our lives. 

Now, just as a gardener needs some tools to remove weeds and debris around a valuable plant, we also need tools to remove spiritual diseases from our heart. In the same surah, Allah tells us  which tools we need to achieve tazkiya-nafs. These are Tasbih (remembrance of Allah through declaring His perfection) and Tazkir (remembrance of Allah through Quran). Road to success is paved with the tools of Tasbih and Tazkeer.

سَبِّحِ ٱسْمَ رَبِّكَ ٱلْأَعْلَى

Glorify the Name of your Lord, the Most High [Surah Al’Ala, 87:1]

فَذَكِّرْ إِن نَّفَعَتِ ٱلذِّكْرَىٰ

So ˹always˺ remind ˹with the Quran even if the reminder is beneficial ˹only to some˺ [Surah Al’Ala, 87-9]

Once the process of tazkiya starts, our journey towards success begins too. But only the fortunate ones get to it. Who are these fortunate ones?  The same Surah gives us answer,

سَيَذَّكَّرُ مَن يَخْشَىٰ

He who fears Allah will heed the reminder [Surah Al’Ala, 87-10]

Only the ones  with ‘Khashiya’ in their hearts, which is the fear of angering Allah out of love combined with respect and fear,  will use these tools and ultimately achieve success. They don’t tend to pick and choose from the Quran, rather they will follow the complete message of the Quran in its true sense. They know that the guidance  for human beings  is available only in   the Quran. They enslave their nafs to Allah through the process of Tazkiya and ultimately they succeed as  Allah ensures us in the beginning  of the surah

وَنُيَسِّرُكَ لِلْيُسْرَىٰ

We will facilitate for you the Way of Ease [Surah Al’Ala, 87-8]

On the contrary the ones who still don’t get the meaning of success are the ones unfortunate. And Allah also describes them here,

وَيَتَجَنَّبُهَا ٱلْأَشْقَى

And it will be avoided by those most unfortunate ones [Surah Al’Ala, 87-11]

Now we know what success is and how to get it  doesn’t end here!. Rather Allah also mentions the hurdles that we could face on the road to success so that we prepare ourselves for obstacles too. The main hurdle on the road of success is the love of Dunya.

بَلْ تُؤْثِرُونَ ٱلْحَيَوٰةَ ٱلدُّنْيَا

But nay, [O men,] you prefer the life of this world [Surah Al’Ala, 87-16]

People prefer dunya over deen and get lost in its beauty. They make their dunya their everything, forgetting what Allah has in store for them. They indulge so much in earning their livelihood, paying hefty fees, shopping sprees, travelling around the world, following modern trends and dying for fashion that they forget the purpose of life. This is the totality  of life for them.  But what Allah prefers for them is the life of the hereafter. Hence the next verse. 

وَٱلْاخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَىٰٓ

While the Hereafter is better and everlasting [Surah Al’Ala, 87-17]

This is where Allah is making a comparison for us to realize the fact. Pointing out that you, yes you, have preferences all messed up. You need to update your priority list. Live in the dunya and enjoy all its benefits but don’t make it your number one priority, instead consider it a ‘musafir khana’ (temporary abode). Live in it keeping in mind your submission to your Master at all times. 

 And this is the message for the people of all ages; past, present and future as Allah says in the end,

إِنَّ هَٰذَا لَفِى ٱلصُّحُفِ ٱلْأُولَىٰ

Surely the same was said in the earlier scriptures [Surah Al’Ala, 87-18]

صُحُفِ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ وَمُوسَىٰ

The scriptures of Ibrahim (Abraham) and Musa (Moses) [Surah Al’Ala, 87-19]

Whether it be the scriptures of Ibrahim AS or Mosa AS., the definition of success was the same for human beings from the beginning and it will stay the same till the end. The choice is all yours!

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