meaning of real success

Everybody that lives on the face of the earth wants to be successful. For the many when it comes to success it is about financial freedom, especially those struggling to make ends meet. For some parts of the world it could be having enough to eat. Success is a word that seems easily defined by many.

When asked about success to different people you are very likely to get different answers, and if you ask people with different backgrounds you will get answers that are very much varied. Success can vaguely be defined as the outcome of somebody’s life. In a more narrowed down approach a traveller’s success would be to reach his/her destination.

A hiker would like to reach the top of a peak of the mountain he/she is climbing. Hence success can be separated into four categories(but not limited to) immediate goals,short term goals,mid term goals, long term goals and continual goals. Each one person if asked would give a different answer in at least one category.

Many things determine the definition of success, including (but not limited to) education, monetary, success in relationships, family, religion, achieving personal dreams etc. It can be related to the environment, belief system, employment etc.

The question is what is the best type or best definition of success? In general people would agree that it is better to plan for long term rather than aim for the short term and sacrifice the long term. For example many would agree if you are driving slow you can go further in your journey as compared to going fast but for a shorter distance.

If the journey is long then it is probably better to drive fast and get more of the fuel, rather than going full throttle and having to take breaks to fill up. There is always something good and bad in every option. The question is, is there such a thing as the ultimate goal? A goal we all should strive for.

A continual goal that everybody works to achieve via different long term objectives. For example, an organization striving to provide a healthier living to a community as its long term goal. This can be done continually by creating awareness on health and providing the community the means to plant their own organic food supply.

Hence a long term goal might be the same for many organizations but the continual effort can vary vastly. Basically the long term goal is what you want to achieve and the continual goal is the how. All that said why would someone want to achieve that goal in particular?

Monetary gains? To save a society from a health crisis? To serve a greater purpose in life? What exactly is someone looking to achieve by setting a goal. Is there an ultimate goal that should be in the minds of people? The question is if there is such a goal then what is it? There would not be much debate if there isn’t such a thing.

Let’s see if we can be certain that there is something greater that needs to be achieved in life. What if there is an ultimate goal to life, one that lasts not a life time, not millennia, not a period of time but lasts forever? How do we achieve it?

In the Quran God says:

…Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly

Quran 60:8

…for God loves those who do good.

Quran 2:195

…God loves those who are pious

Quran 3:76

…And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty.

Quran 5:2

… It is the dwellers of Paradise that will be successful.

Quran 59:20

And those foremost [(in Faith of Monotheism and in performing righteous deeds) in the life of this world on the very first call for to embrace the One God,] will be foremost (in Paradise). Those are the ones brought near [to God ]. In the Gardens of delight (Paradise).

Quran 56:10-12

In the Quran God mentions the people that He loves, and one of them are “those who do good”. And it is also mentioned to cooperate in matters of righteousness and piety and not to cooperate in the matters of sin and aggression. The Quran teaches to stay away from things that are bad and bring harm.

God Himself also says “God loves those who act justly”, people who are fair to everyone including themselves when the time comes. So what is with all these people who God loves? The closest people to God are the people loved by God.

And the closest are those which are the most pious among all.

…Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you…

Quran 49:6

Now comes the question, what is it with being close to God? as mentioned in Quran 56:10-12, these are the people that attain the paradise. Paradise being a place of eternal refuge, where the residents enjoy everything they want to. That is where all the hardship in the worldly life pays off.

That is the ultimate goal that we seek for ourselves. Someone who loves him/herself would do everything to get closer to God, just as the bliss is eternal so is the punishment. Hence someone that loves him/herself would not want to be a subject of punishment, furthermore when the punishment is eternal.

The details of how to become a person that is loved by God is given in the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ). When the Prophet (ﷺ) says “the best of you” it means the behaviour, habits or characteristics of a person which are the best for him/her and in the eyes of God.

And the Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. says:

“The best of you – or among the best of you – are those who pay off their debts in the best manner.”

Sunan Ibn Majah Vol. 3, Book 15, Hadith 2423

the Messenger of Allah said: “The best of you are those who are best to their womenfolk.”

Sunan Ibn Majah  Vol. 3, Book 9, Hadith 1978

“The best of you is the one who is best in repaying.”

Sunan Nasa’i Vol. 5, Book 44, Hadith 4697

Abu Hurayra said, “I heard Abu’l-Qasim say, ‘The best of you in Islam is the best of you in character when they possess understanding (of Islam).

Al Adab al-mufrad  Book 14, Hadith 285

“The best of you are those best in conduct.’ And the Prophet was not one who was obscene, nor one who uttered obscenities.”

Jami’ at-tirmidhi Vol. 4, Book 1, Hadith 1975

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “No one of you becomes a true believer until he likes for his brother what he likes for himself”

Riyad as-solihin Book 1, Hadith 183

It would be agreed throughout any culture and age that these criteria are indeed what are considered good in a person. These criteria without the belief in the true God are fruitless, the good behaviour must come together with the belief in the true God.

And be not like those who forgot God, so He made them forget themselves. Those are the defiantly disobedient. Not equal are the companions of the Fire and the companions of Paradise. The companions of Paradise – they are the attainers [of success].

Quran 59:19-20

Hence the ultimate goal of any human should be to attain the pleasure of his/her creator. Life would be meaningless if a person did not believe in the true God but chose a path of kindness. The case is not the same for those who never got to know the true God, or never got the correct message.

Our long term goals in life might not be the same, some seek to strive for society, some for themselves. Whatever the ambition is it should be for the sake for attaining the pleasure of The Creator. If someone want to seek the riches of the world he/she could do it with the intent of helping others and seek the pleasure of God in the hereafter and in this world.

Maybe someone wants to strive on issues of human rights, he/she could do so because they want a better life for those who are oppressed, as mentioned by the Prophet  (ﷺ)

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. People asked, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “By preventing him from oppressing others.”

Sahih Bukhari Vol. 3, Book 43, Hadith 624

Communal life, helping those in need is a crucial part of Islam and goes hand in hand with the belief in The true God. All what we do here in this world will be repatriated exponentially in the hereafter. All the hardship in this temporary world is for the eternal pleasures of paradise.


[1]Laura Garnett, How Do You Define Success?, retrieved from May 26, 2015

[2]Drake Baer, How 9 Incredibly Successful People Define Success, retrieved from May 26, 2015

[3]Define Success for Yourself, Retrieved from May 26, 2015