How should a Muslim Respond to the Failure and Success in Life
“Any occasion of success fills a person with joy. There are three kinds of joy mentioned in the Holy Quran: lahw, la’b and tafakhur.
The word lahw includes delight gained through food; la’b refers to the joys of marriage and the like; and tafakhur refers to pleasure gained through wealth, etc. These are the three categories of pleasure; aside from these, there is no other delight.
Always remember, however, that these achievements and joys do not last forever. In fact, if you attach your hearts to these pleasures you will be in a state of loss. Eventually, a time comes when this pleasure begins to turn bitter. Worldly achievements are never free from trials. The Holy Quran states:
خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَ الْحَيٰوةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ67:3
This means, God has created death and life so that He may try you. Success and failure too is a matter of life and death. Success is a kind of life. When a person learns that they have succeeded in something they are rejuvenated and a new life is breathed into them, as it were. If a person comes to know that they have failed, they die a living death, and often, many weak-hearted people even die. It should also be borne in mind that ordinary life and death are easy, but a hellish life and death are intensely painful. A fortunate person ultimately succeeds after their failure, and thus becomes even more fortunate and their faith in God Almighty increases. Such an individual derives pleasure when they reflect over the wonders of God. Worldly success becomes a means of increasing them in their understanding of God. For such people, worldly success becomes a means of leading them to true success (which is known as falah in Islamic terminology). I say in earnest that true happiness and true comfort does not at all lie in the world and its possessions. The truth is that even after exhausting all the aspects of the world, a person cannot attain true and everlasting happiness. You observe that the rich and wealthy are always in a state of cheerfulness, but their state may be likened to a person who suffers from eczema. When a person scratches their skin they experience a soothing sensation, yet the final outcome of their scratching is that they begin to bleed. Therefore, do not become so jubilant over these worldly and temporary achievements that you lose sight of true success. Instead, consider your worldly achievements to be an avenue that leads to the recognition of God. Do not take pride in your resolve and effort and do not surmise that any achievement is due to any capability in you or effort on your part. On the contrary, you ought to believe that the merciful God, who does not let anyone’s sincere effort go in vain, has given you the fruits of your labour. Do you not observe that every day hundreds of students fail in their examinations? Do all of these students not make an effort and are they foolish and mindless? Not at all. Some of them are so intelligent and bright that they are sharper than many of the students who have passed. Therefore, it is necessary and incumbent on a believer to perform prostrations of gratitude before God Almighty whenever they are blessed with an achievement that God did not let their effort go in vain. The result of this gratitude will be that a person will increase in their love of God Almighty and grow in faith. In fact, this is not all; such people will be graced with even further successes because God Almighty states that if one shows gratitude for His bounties, He shall increase His bounties upon such a one; but if one is ungrateful for His blessings, then remember that such a one shall be seized by a grievous punishment.
The Difference between the Success of a Believer and a Non-Believer
Always keep the principle in mind that the task of a believer is to feel embarrassed when they are blessed with any form of success, and praise God for having showered His grace upon them. This is how a believer advances, and by demonstrating steadfastness in the face of trial, they receive the favour of God. Apparently, the success of a Hindu and a believer are similar, but remember that the success of a disbeliever is a way that leads to misguidance, whereas the success of a believer opens for them the door of divine blessing.
The success of a disbeliever leads to misguidance because they, in turn, do not incline towards God, but rather take their own effort, intelligence and capability to be God. A believer, however, turns to God and gains a new understanding of Him. In this way, after every success, a new relationship between them and God is forged and a transformation begins to take place. Allah Almighty states:
اِنَّ اللهَ مَعَ الذَّيْنَ اتَّقَوْا 16:129
That is to say, God is with those who are righteous.
It ought to be borne in mind that the word taqwa (i.e. righteousness) has appeared in the Holy Quran many a time. This word is understood in light of the word ma’a (meaning ‘with’), which appears before it. That is to say that those who give precedence to God, in return are given precedence by God and He saves such people from every kind of disgrace in this world.
It is my belief that if an individual desires to be safeguarded from every kind of disgrace and hardship in this world, there is only one way and that is to become righteous. After this, such a one lacks nothing. Hence, the success of a believer moves them further ahead and they never remain stagnant.
There are books which contain accounts of numerous people describing how they were initially entangled in worldly matters, rather, they were immensely engrossed in materialism. However, it so happened that they prayed for something and their supplication was heard. After that, their state was transformed completely. Therefore, do not pride yourself over the acceptance of your prayers or on account of your achievements, but rather, value the grace and favour of God.
It is a known fact that success breathes a new life into a person’s resolve and determination. One should derive benefit from this life and through it, increase in their understanding of Allah Almighty. For the greatest of all things, which becomes a source of benefit, is this very cognizance of the Divine; and this develops when an individual reflects over the grace and mercy of God Almighty. No one can thwart the grace of Allah Almighty.
Extreme poverty too can plunge a person into misfortune. This is why it is related in a Hadith:
Poverty glooms the face
I have seen poverty drag many people to atheism. A believer, however, does not think ill of God no matter how stringent their circumstances, and deeming it to be the result of their own faults, they beseech God for His mercy and grace. Eventually, when this era passes, and the prayers of a believer come to fruition, they do not forget their time of weakness, but rather, remember it always. Therefore, if you believe in the fact that one is always in need of God, then adopt the way of righteousness. Blessed is the one who adopts righteousness in times of prosperity and joy; and unfortunate is the one who stumbles, yet does not turn to God.”
Note: This excerpt is taken from the book “MALFUZAT” (Sayings and Discourses of the Promised Messiah and Mahdi (as) Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community) Volume I
The original book can be free download here: