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Article appeared Friday, November 9th, 2018 in The News Today, Bangladesh

The Revelation (546) yousuf mahbubul Islam, PhD
Do you want to be successful? Or rather, is success important to you? If so, have you
consciously explored or defined what success means for you personally? To start defining
success, we may additionally need to ask, successful at what? Is it success with a current job?
Is it success with studies? Would it be success at building a career? Or being successful at
living the unique life that we have found ourselves living?

The Google Dictionary defines success as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. Without
an aim, target, goal or purpose for comparison, can we decide whether or not we have achieved
success? To be successful therefore, one would first have to start by setting up at least one
personal aim, if not more. Alex Jasin in his article {1}, What does success really mean to you?,
points out that we generally want to be successful without specifically pinning down the
accomplishments that would give personal satisfaction.
“We all want success. We want to be successful and feel successful. We chase money,
fame, power, education, relationships and a thousand other things without ever stopping
to ask one essential question: What, actually, is success? Few people pause to consider
what it truly means to achieve success in their own lives. As Jim Rohn said, “If you don’t
design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess
what they have planned for you? Not much.” {1}

How should one then set up a personal aim? TED.com has a video playlist {2} on What is
success where the introductory paragraph suggests that success is living a life you can feel
proud of in retrospect, i.e., when you look back at your accomplishments in reflection. So our
aim should be something that we can later be proud of when we look at the struggle we made
and the achievements till such time. The introduction also suggests that the aim should be
important enough to stick to when going through hard times.

Can we step back and examine the whole picture of how success is achieved? We may find that
life itself provides the means and resources to gain success and satisfaction only if we are
motivated and persist in facing the challenges in our paths. A question, then, is this true for each
one of us? To help us understand the opportunities that life gives us, Bill Gates is often quoted
{3} to have said,
“If you born poor, it’s not your mistake. But if you die poor it’s your mistake.” {3}

Is it then a random accident that each of us is born with individual opportunities to pursue and
enjoy success – success in the areas of life that we wish to pursue? Can opportunities tailored
to our individual personalities/desires exist without deliberately matched design? Who has
arranged each opportunity for us? Can it be God who has given each person an individual
personality and arranged the opportunities accordingly? Why has He done so? Could it be
recognition as our Benefactor? Should we then plan to succeed with Him who created us
individually from nothing? Would success with Him be important?

To find out more about this, let us turn to the Holy Scripture, the Al-Qur’an to find what it says
about success. The first Verse of Chapter 23, The Believers talks about success.
“Certainly will the believers have succeeded;” [23.1]

Synonyms of the Arabic word “aflaha”, which has been translated as succeeded, are win
through, prosper, succeed, achieve their aims, etc., as discussed in footnote 2865 given in the
translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali in his English translation of the Al-Qur’an. Believers are those
who acknowledge God for all the opportunities and blessings and are the ones who will certainly
be successful – the wording of the Verse leaves no room for doubt as to who will succeed.
Conversely, the following Verse informs us what will happen if God is not accredited as the
source of opportunities and blessings.
“And on the Day that the Unbelievers will be placed before the Fire (it will be said to
them): "You received your good things in the life of the world and you took your pleasure
out of them: but today shall you be recompensed with a Penalty of humiliation: for that
you were arrogant on earth without just cause and that you (ever) transgressed."”
[46.20]

Success gives pleasure and satisfaction. Humans use the good things, i.e., the resources and
opportunities to gain success as organized by God. These are the blessings of this life as
designed and given by Him. It is only those who recognize Him as the source (and not
themselves) and demonstrate gratitude with humility will succeed. Those who acknowledge God
will be given more by Him, i.e., these are the ones who will be awarded Paradise.

23.10 “Those will be the heirs”

23.11 “Who will inherit Paradise: they will dwell therein (forever).”
To help us understand, God reiterates how He created each human being with love and care.

23.12 “Man We did create from a quintessence (of clay);”

23.13 “Then We placed him as (a drop of) sperm in a place of rest firmly fixed;”

23.14 “Then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood; then of that clot
We made a (fetus) lump; then We made out of that lump bones and clothed the
bones with flesh; then We developed out of it another creature: so blessed be
God, the Best to create!”
The article Human Embryology and the Holy Qur’an in the International Journal of Health
Sciences by Sabiha Saadat {4} shows that this general description [23.12 – 23.14 above] of
how the baby develops in the womb of the mother accurately fits what medical science has only
very recently discovered. Who else, but God alone, would know how He creates each unique
individual in the darkness of the womb? Not only does God develop ‘another creature’, He
organizes each person’s life and blessings in such a way that he/she can derive ‘pleasure’ out of
the successes that he/she achieves. Subsequently, when we are grateful to Him, we achieve
peace and satisfaction in our hearts [13.28] – as we have realized His Divine Love and Care.
Having lived a blessed life on earth,

23.15 “After that at length you will die.”

23.16 “Again on the Day of Judgment will you be raised up.”
Giving credit to our self for our successes goes against the purpose of creation of human
beings. Such wrongly placed credit is a grave injustice to God who has gone huge lengths to
create the opportunities for us to gain pleasure and satisfaction. This is classified as arrogance
and transgression (a grave sin). Indeed, what is God likely to do on the Day of Judgment to
people who are arrogant and credit themselves?
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{Notes}:
{1} https://www.success.com/what-does-success-really-mean-to-you/
{2} https://www.ted.com/playlists/152/what_is_success
{3} https://quoteinvestigator.com/2018/08/05/born-poor/
{4} https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3068791/