How Do You Define Success? How Does Islam Define Success?


What is true success? Getting a degree? Getting a good job? Will buying a splendid mansion count as success? If so, why are there so many suicides among the “successful?”

The whole world and its comforts which we term signs of “success” were created as mere tools for pursuing true success. The only one who has a right to define true success is Allah, our creator.

And the weighing [of deeds] that Day will be the truth. So those whose scales are heavy – it is they who will be the successful. [Quran, 7:8]


If following the guidance of Allah is the only way to success, and if success is in the Hereafter, why then did Allah put in us this drive to earn worldly luxuries, to achieve worldly success? We do love to wear beautiful clothes and to live in big comfortable houses with our beloved ones surrounding us. We love to eat exotic food at posh restaurants. And all this is natural – it’s part of our humanness. We learn from the Sunnah that it’s okay to wear good clothes:

The Prophet (pbuh) said, “He who has, in his heart, an ant’s weight of arrogance will not enter Jannah.” Someone said: “A man likes to wear beautiful clothes and shoes?” Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “Allah is Beautiful, He loves beauty. Arrogance means ridiculing and rejecting the Truth and despising people.” [Muslim]


We learn from the Quran that it’s perfectly fine to eat good and tasty food. When the People of the Cave woke up from their 300-year-long sleep, they said:

. . . send one of you with this silver coin of yours to the city and let him look to which is the best of food and bring you provision from it . . . [Quran, 18:19]


On a different note, Allah has put a special mercy in the hearts of our parents, which makes them give their children the best food while they themselves happily go hungry. They install in their child’s room an air conditioner, while they sleep in the heat. They give their children every comfort they can afford, according to their means, so that they can study well and achieve worldly success.

Now imagine what the parents would feel if their child became so comfortable with these luxuries that he doesn’t feel like studying anymore. He uses the computer to play games. He watches movies all day while enjoying his air conditioner and cool drinks from his refrigerator, thinking that if this comfort will last forever, why study?

In fact, what he has done is what you and I do every day– he imagines that the tools to success are success in themselves.


Allah has given us comfort on this earth so that we can have the time and energy to do our real work– obeying Allah and His Messenger and establishing tawheed on this earth. We imagine that all this comfort will last forever, and thus we forget our ultimate goal– success in the Hereafter.

How to achieve success in the Hereafter? Allah (swt) gives us the formula, in Surat al-Baqarah, when He introduces us to the Quran:

This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah – Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them, And who believe in what has been revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what was revealed before you, and of the Hereafter they are certain [in faith]. Those are upon [right] guidance from their Lord, and it is those who are the successful. (2:2-5)

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