How to be successful in life


5 Dhul Qi`dah 1429

By : Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

Praise be to Allah.

Peace of mind, contentment, happiness and freedom from worries and anxiety… these are what everyone wants, and these are the ways in which people can have a good life and find complete happiness and joy. There are religious means of achieving that, and natural and practical means, but no one can combine all of them except the believers; although other people may achieve some of them, they will miss out on others.

There follows a summary of the means of achieving this aim for which everyone is striving. In some cases, those who achieve many of them will live a joyful life and a good life; in other cases, those who fail to achieve all of them will live a life of misery and hardship. And there are others which are in between, according to what the means he is able to attain. These means include the following:

1 – Faith and righteous deeds:

This is the greatest and most fundamental of means. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Whoever works righteousness — whether male or female — while he (or she) is a true believer (of Islamic Monotheism) verily, to him We will give a good life (in this world with respect, contentment and lawful provision), and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do (i.e. Paradise in the Hereafter)”

(Quran, 16:97)

Allah tells us and promises us that whoever combines faith with righteous deeds will have a good life and a good reward in this world and in the Hereafter.

The reason for that is clear: those who believe in Allah – with sincere faith that motivates them to do righteous deeds that change hearts and attitudes and guides them to the straight path in this world and the Hereafter – follow principles and guidelines by means of which they deal with everything that happens to them, be it the causes of happiness and excitement or the causes of anxiety, worry and grief.

They deal with the things that they like by accepting them and giving thanks for them, and using them in good ways. When they deal with them in this manner, that creates in them a sense of excitement and the hope that it will continue and that they will be rewarded for their gratitude, which is more important than the good things that happen to them. And they deal with bad things, worries and distress by resisting those that they can resist, alleviating those that they can alleviate, and bearing with goodly patience those that they cannot avoid. Thus as a result of the bad things they gain a lot of benefits, experience, strength, patience and hope of reward, which are more important and which diminish the hardships they have undergone and replace them with happiness and hope for the bounty and reward of Allah. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) expressed this in a saheeh hadeeth in which he said: “How wonderful is the situation of the believer, for all his affairs are good. If something good happens to him, he gives thanks for it and that is good for him; if something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience, and that is good for him. This does not apply to anyone but the believer.” (Narrated by Muslim, no. 2999).

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) told us that the believer is always gaining and the reward for his deeds is always multiplying, no matter what happens to him, good or bad.

2 – Being kind to people in word and deed, and all kinds of doing good.

This is one of the means of removing worry, distress and anxiety. By this means Allah wards off worries and distress from righteous and immoral like, but the believer has the greater share of that, and is distinguished by the fact that his kindness to others stems from sincerity and the hope of reward, so Allah makes it easy for him to be kind to others because of the hope that this will bring good things and ward off bad things, by means of his sincerity and hope of reward. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“There is no good in most of their secret talks save (in) him who orders Sadaqah (charity in Allah’s Cause), or Ma‘roof (Islamic Monotheism and all the good and righteous deeds which Allah has ordained), or conciliation between mankind; and he who does this, seeking the good Pleasure of Allah, We shall give him a great reward”

(Quran, 4:114)

Part of that great reward is relief from worry, distress, troubles, etc.

3 – Another of the means of warding off anxiety that stems from nervous tension and being preoccupied with disturbing thoughts is to occupy oneself with good deeds or seeking beneficial knowledge, for that will distract one from dwelling on the matters that are causing anxiety. In this way a person may forget about the things that are making him worried and distressed, and he may become happy and more energetic. This is another means that believers and others have in common, but the believer is distinguished by his faith, sincerity and hope of reward when he occupies himself with that knowledge which he is learning or teaching, or with the good deeds that he is doing.

The work with which he occupies himself should be something that he likes and enjoys, for that is more likely to produce the desired results. And Allah knows best.

4 – Another thing that may ward off worry and anxiety is focusing all one’s thoughts of the present day, and not worrying about the future or grieving about the past. Hence the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) sought refuge with Allah from worry and regret, from regret for things in the past which one cannot put right or change, and worry which may come because of fear for the future. So one should focus only on the present day, and focus one’s efforts on getting things right today. For if a person is focused on that, this means that he will do things properly and forget about worry and regret.

When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said a du’aa’ or taught a du’aa’ to his Ummah, as well as urging them to seek the help of Allah and hope for His bounty, he was also urging them to strive to attain the thing they were praying for through their own efforts and to forget about the thing which they were praying would be warded off from them. Because du’aa’ (supplication) must be accompanied by action. So a person must strive to attain that which will benefit him in worldly and spiritual terms, and ask his Lord to make his efforts successful, and he should seek His help in that, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“Strive for that which will benefit you and seek the help of Allah, and do not be helpless. If anything (bad) happens to you, do not say, ‘If only I had done such-and-such, then such-and-such would have happened.’ Rather you should say, ‘Qaddara Allah wa ma sha’a fa’ala (Allah decrees, and what He wills He does),’ for (the words) ‘If only’ open the door to the Shaytaan.”

(Narrated by Muslim).

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) connected the matter of striving to achieve good things with the matter of seeking the help of Allah and not giving in to feelings of helplessness which are a harmful kind of laziness, and with the matter of accepting things in the past which are over and done with, and acknowledging that the will and decree of Allah will inevitably come to pass. He described matters as being of two types:

1 – Matters which a person may strive to achieve or to achieve whatever he can of them, or to ward them off or alleviate them. In such cases a person must strive and make the effort, and also seek the help of Allah.

2 – Matters where such is not possible, so he must have peace of mind, accept them and submit to Allah’s will.

Undoubtedly paying attention to this principle will bring happiness and relieve worry and distress.

5 – One of the greatest means of feeling content and relaxed and of acquiring peace of mind is to remember Allah a great deal (dhikr). That has a great effect in bringing contentment and peace of mind, and relieving worry and distress. Allah says:

“Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest”

(Quran, 13:28)

Remembering Allah (dhikr) has a great effect in achieving this aim because it has a special influence and because of the hope that it brings of reward.

6 – Another of the means of bringing happiness and relieving worry and distress is striving to eliminate the things that cause worry and to achieve the things that bring happiness. That may be done by forgetting about bad things in the past which cannot be changed, and realizing that dwelling on them is a waste of time. So a person must strive to stop himself from thinking of that, and also strive to stop himself from feeling anxious about the future and the things that he may imagine of poverty, fear and other bad things that he thinks may happen to him in the future. He should realize that the future is something unknown, he cannot know what good or bad things are going to happen to him. That is in the hand of the Almighty, the Most Wise, and all that His slaves can do is to strive to attain the good things and to ward off the bad things. A person should realize that if he diverts his thoughts from worrying about his future and puts his trust in his Lord to take care of his situation, and puts his mind at rest concerning that, if he does that, then his heart will be at peace and his situation will improve and he will be relieved of worry and anxiety.

One of the most effective ways of dealing with worries about the future is to recite this du’aa’ which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to recite:

Allaahumma aslih li deeni alladhi huwa ‘ismatu amri, wa aslih li dunyaaya allati fiha ma’aashi, wa aslih li aakhirati allati ilayha ma’aadi, waj’al al-hayaata ziyaadatan li fi kulli khayr, wa’l-mawta raahatan li min kulli sharr (O Allah, correct my religious commitment which is the foundation of my life, and correct my worldly affairs in which is my livelihood, and grant me good in the Hereafter to which is my return. Make my life a means of accumulating good, and make death a respite for me from all evil).”

(Narrated by Muslim, 2720)

And he said, Allaahumma rahmataka arju fa la takilni ila nafsi tarfata ‘aynin wa aslih li sha’ni kullahu, laa ilaaha illa anta (O Allah, for Your mercy I hope, so do not abandon me to myself even for a moment. And correct all my affairs. There is no god but You).”

(Narrated by Abu Dawood with a saheeh isnaad, no. 5090; classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Kalim al-Tayyib, p. 49)

If a person utters these du’aa’s, which ask that his spiritual and worldly affairs may be set right or corrected, with proper presence of mind and sincerity of intention, whilst striving to achieve that, Allah will grant him what he has prayed for, hoped for and striven for, and He will turn his worry into joy and happiness.

7 – If a person experiences anxiety and distress because of a disaster, then one of the most effective means of relieving himself of that is to think of the worst scenario to which that may lead, and try to accept that. When he has done that, then he should try to alleviate it as much as possible. By means of this acceptance and these efforts, he will relieve himself of his worries and distress, and instead of worrying he will strive to bring about good things and to deal with whatever he can of the bad things. If he is faced with things that cause fear or the possibility of sickness or poverty, then he should deal with that by striving to make himself accept that, or something even worse, with contentment, because by making himself accept the worst-case scenario, he lessens the impact of the thing and makes it seem less terrible, especially if he occupies himself with efforts to ward it off as much as he can. Thus as well as striving to achieve something good which will distract him from his worries about calamity, he will also renew his strength to resist bad things, and put his trust and reliance in Allah. Undoubtedly these matters are of great benefit in attaining happiness and peace of mind, as well as bringing the hope of reward in this world and in the Hereafter. This is something which is well known from the experience of many who have tried it.

8 – Steadfastness of heart and not being disturbed about the imaginary things that bad thoughts may bring to mind. For when a person gives in to his imagination and lets his mind be disturbed by these thoughts, such as fear of disease and the like, or anger and confusion stirred up by some grievous matter, or the expectation of bad things and the loss of good things, that will fill him with worries, distress, mental and physical illness and nervous breakdowns, which will have a bad effect on him and which causes a great deal of harm, as many people have seen. But when a person depends on Allah and puts his trust in Him, and does not give in to his imagination or let bad thoughts overwhelm him, and he relies on Allah and has hope of His bounty, that wards off his worries and distress, and relieves him of a great deal of mental and physical sickness. It gives indescribable strength, comfort and happiness to the heart. How many hospitals are filled with the mentally sick victims of illusions and harmful imagination; how often have these things had an effect upon the hearts of many strong people, let alone the weak ones; how often have they led to foolishness and insanity.

It should be noted that your life will follow your train of thought. If your thoughts are of things that will bring you benefit in your spiritual or worldly affairs, then your life will be good and happy. Otherwise it will be the opposite.

The person who is safe from all of that is the one who is protected by Allah and helped by Him to strive to achieve that which will benefit and strengthen the heart and ward off anxiety. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):

And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him”

(Quran, 65:3)

i.e., He will be sufficient for all that is worrying him in his spiritual and worldly affairs. The one who puts his trust in Allah will have strength in his heart and will not be affected by anything he imagines or be disturbed by events, because he knows that these are the result of vulnerable human nature and of weakness and fear that have no basis. He also knows that Allah has guaranteed complete sufficiency to those who put their trust in Him. So he trusts in Allah and finds peace of mind in His promise, and thus his worry and anxiety are dispelled; hardship is turned to ease, sadness is turned to joy, fear is turned to peace. We ask Allah to keep us safe and sound, and to bless us with strength and steadfastness of heart, and complete trust, for Allah has guaranteed all good things to those who put their trust in Him, and has guaranteed to ward off all bad and harmful things from them.

If bad things happen or there is the fear of such, then you should count the many blessings that you are still enjoying, both spiritual and worldly, and compare them with the bad things that have happened, for when you compare them you will see the many blessings that you are enjoying, and this will make the bad things appear less serious.

See al-Wasaa’il al-Mufeedah li’l-Hayaat al-Sa’eedah by Shatkh ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Sa’di

Ibn al-Qayyim summed fifteen ways through which Allah may dispel worries and regret. These are as follows:

1-     Tawheed al-Ruboobiyyah (belief in the Oneness of Divine Lordship)

2-     Tawheed al-Uloohiyyah (belief in the Oneness of the Divine nature)

3-     Tawheed of knowledge and belief (i.e., Tawheed al-Asma’ wa’l_Sifaat, belief in the Oneness of the Divine names and attributes)

4-     Thinking of Allah as being above doing any injustice to His slaves, and above punishing anyone for no cause on the part of the slave that would require such punishment.

5-     The person’s acknowledging that he is the one who has done wrong.

6-     Beseeching Allah by means of the things that are most beloved to Him, which are His names and attributes. Two of His names that encompass the meanings of all other names and attributes are al-Hayy (the Ever-Living) and al-Qayyoom (the Eternal).

7-     Seeking the help of Allah Alone.

8-     Affirming one’s hope in Him.

9-     Truly putting one’s trust in Him and leaving matters to Him, acknowledging that one’s forelock is in His hand and that He does as He wills, that His will is forever executed and that He is just in all that He decrees.

10- Letting one’s heart wander in the garden of the Qur’aan, seeking consolation in it from every calamity, seeking healing in it from all diseases of the heart, so that it will bring comfort to his grief and healing for his worries and distress.

11- Seeking forgiveness.

12- Repentance.

13- Jihad.

14- Salah (prayer).

15- Declaring that he has no power and no strength, and leaving matters to the One in Whose hand they are.

We ask Allah to keep us safe and sound from worries and to relieve us of distress and anxiety, for He is the All-Hearing, Ever-Responsive, and He is the Ever-Living, Eternal.

See Alhomoom – Dealing with Worries and Stress, in the Books section of this site.

And Allah knows best. May Allah send blessings and peace upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions.

Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

Don’t Panic!

Assalamu Alaykum my dear brothers and sisters in Islam,

We all experience times in our lives when we are stressed, worried, or are feeling anxious and down. But when these feelings start taking control of our lives, they become a problem.

Muslims, just like anyone else, can experience psychological problems. A common affliction is suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder.

I have come across an excellent collection of articles by Sheikh Al-Munajjid on http://www.islamqa.com, that gives practical advice on how to get rid of this illness by the will of Allah.

http://www.islamqa.com/en/cat/2022

Here are some pointers to get you started:

1- Stay positive: Remember that Allah is Most merciful and do not despair.  Whatever affliction you experiencing now, Allah is capable of removing it.

“O my sons! Go you and enquire about Yoosuf (Joseph) and his brother, and never give up hope of Allahs Mercy. Certainly no one despairs of Allahs Mercy, except the people who disbelieve.

[Yusuf, 12:87]

2-Know that these thoughts are nothing but whispers from the shaytaan. These thoughts cannot harm you by the will of Allah.

“Allaah will forgive my ummah for whatever crosses their minds so long as they do not speak of it or act upon it.”

[Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4968; Muslim, 127]

3- You are not alone. Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

Waswaas is something that happens to everyone who turns to Allaah in dhikr etc; it will inevitably happen to him. So he should be steadfast and remain patient, and persist in his dhikr and prayer, and not give up, for by persisting in it he will foil the plot of the shaytaan and “ever feeble indeed is the plot of Shaytaan (Satan)” [al-Nisa’ 4:76]

Every time a person wants to turn to Allaah in his heart, whispers of other matters come to him. The shaytaan is like a bandit; every time a person wants to travel towards Allaah, he wants to intercept him. Hence it was said to one of the salaf: The Jews and the Christians say, we don’t experience waswaas. He said: They are right! What would the shaytaan do with a ruined house

3- If in doubt, take the easier option. A person afflicted by lots of wiswaas should always take the easier option when in doubt. For eg, if you are not sure whether you prayed 2 or 3 raka3at, assume that you have prayed 3. If you are unsure whether or not you washed a limb in wudu’, do not pay attention to this and assume that you have unless you are certain that you have missed something.

4- Remember, certainty is not invalidated by doubt!. One of the principles in Islamic Fiqh is that certainty is not invalidated by doubt. For eg. you are certain that you performed wudu, but you start doubting if you passed wind or not. This has no effect on your wudu’ unless you are certain that your wudu’ has been nullified.

5- Ignorance is your enemy! If you are unsure about a ruling Islaam, ask someone knowledgeable and do not panic.The shaytaan often capatalises on your weaknesses in knowledge. So know that the more knowledge you have, the stronger you are by the will of Allah.

6- Beware of boredom! Pre-occupy yourself with beneficial activities. Help around the house, join an islamic society, work on a small project, memorise verses from the Quraan, etc. The main point is to keep yourself busy and those whispers away by the will of Allah!

7- Keep your tongue moist with Remembrance of Allah. There are many recommended supplications that you should maintain saying. You can find many in ‘The fortress of the muslim’ : http://www.islamawareness.net/Dua/Fortress/fortress_of_the_muslim.pdf. You can also purchase a pocket sized copy from most Islamic bookstores insha Allah.

8- Do not panic! Always turn to Allah, ask Him for assistance and strength and seek refuge with Him from the accursed shaytaan.

May Allah protect and strengthen us all, Ameen. Please keep me in your sincere dua’s

If anyone has any questions please feel free to contact me.

So you may be the happiest of people…

[Edit] This post has been modified, see most recent comment for more details insha Allah..

Assalamu Alaykum,

We all go through stages where we feel down and unhappy. Most of the time it is because we do not realise what happiness actually means and how we can attain it.

So how can you be the happiest of people you ask? Read on and insha Allah you will see how..

So you may be the happiest of people…

*Maintain prayer in jamaa’ah (congregation)..

Increase your stay at the masjid..

And get used to performing prayers early..

So you may attain happiness.

*Beware of sins..

As they are the source of worries and sadness

They are also the cause of calamities..

And the door for disasters and trials

*Know that the one who has backbitten you..

Has gifted you their good deeds and decreased from your sins

They have also made you famous!

This is a blessing to you.

*Be realistic in your expectations…

You may be expecting from people what you cannot do yourself..

So be fair!

*Live a simple life..

And beware of living a life of luxury and wastefulness..

For whenever the body is spoilt ..

The soul is complicated.

*Look at those less fortunate than you..

In body, appearance and wealth..

In home, job and offspring..

You will realise that you are better off than thousands!

*Visit..

Hospitals to appreciate the blessing of health..

Prisons to appreciate the blessing of freedom..

And Mental institutions to appreciate the blessing of sanity..

You have many blessings but do not realise them!

*Do not be like a fly..

That only falls on a wound..

So beware of falling onto people’s private affairs..

*Abandon forbidden love, lust and romance..

They are a torture to the soul and a disease of the heart..

Return to Allah, to his remembrance and obedience!

*Looking at what is not lawful to you…

Causes you sadness, sorrow and heartache..

And the one who fears Allah and lowers their gaze is indeed happy!

*What is for you will not pass you..

And what has passed you is not for you!

The Pen has dried with what you are destined..

And you have no choice in your Destiny!

*If one of the spouses is angry..

Let the other remain silent..

You will not find anyone free of fault!

*Do not think that life is perfect for anyone..

For the one with the house..

May not have a car.

And the one with the wife..

May not have a job.

And the one with the appetite..

May not have the food.

And the one with the food..

May not be allowed to eat it!

*When you are faced with a trial..

Rejoice in everyday that passes..

As the passing of time lessens the trial and approaches its end.

A trial is like our lives..

It will come to an end!

*“Whoever among you wakes up in the morning..

feeling safe among his herd..

sound in his body..and having his daily food..

it is as the entire world is put in his possession.” (at-Tirmidhee)

*The happiness of food lasts for a day..

And the joy of travel may last a week..

The happiness of marriage is of a month..

And that of money may last a year..

But the happiness of Eeman..

Is that of your entire life!

*The difference between you and the wealthy..

Is one day.

For they do not remember the pleasure of yesterday..

And tomorrow is not guaranteed for anyone..

So they have a day..

And how short is that?

*Your Rizq (sustenance) can find you better..

Than you can find it.

It follows you like your shadow follows..

And you will not die until..

You have received all of your rizq!

*Why do you think about what is lost..

And not be thankful for what you have?

You forget the present blessing..

And grieve the missing one..

You envy others..

And become oblivious to what you have!

*If difficulty visits you..

Know that it is a summer cloud..

Do not fear its lightening nor its loud thunder..

As this cloud may have come carrying..

Your rescue!

*The one who is blind wishes to see..

And the deaf wishes to hear..

The one who is paralysed dreams of walking..

And the one who is mute would love to speak..

And here you are..

Seeing, hearing, walking and speaking!

*You must have a limit..

When it to comes to acquiring worldly matters..

You may desire a home to shelter you..

A job that suits you..

And a car that moves you..

But do not become extreme in your desires..

As this will cause your misery!

*Those who spends their day..

In games, leisure and entertainment..

Think that they are making themselves happy.

Little do they know that the price will be paid..

As continuous worry and persistent anxiety..

This is because they neglected the balance..

Between their duties and their leisure!

(written by  Sheikh Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarni and translated by me)

To be continued insha Allah..

Endure your trial with patience!

Assalamu Alaykum,

When we were younger, we would always hear how life is full of tests and trials. Some of us may have been shielded from such trials at a tender age, others may have had to experience them. All is by the will of Allah.

Praise be to Allah, I had a happy childhood and never really started to realise the full extent of life until the past few months. I experienced a few events that made me ‘grow up’ so to speak and I started to see life in a different light. Part of that is realising how many people around me have had or are going through a trial in life. It is often easy to think that you are the only one who is experiencing difficulty but this is not at all the case. I have seen so many people around me go through hardship and by the will of Allah ease has come to follow!

“So verily, with the hardship, there is relief”

[Al-Sharh 94:5]

I have seen people who were told they had not so long to live after being in life threatening conditions due to car accidents and cancer, yet are now leading productive lives by the will of Allah Almighty. I have seen people around me go through divorce, yet move on and re-marry by the will of Allah. I can list many more examples…

Trials are part of life and we as muslims should be prepared to deal with them. Part of dealing with a trial is being patient. As humans we are often hastey and impatient, so it is very important to remember that patience is in fact better for us:

“But if you endure patiently, verily, it is better for As‑Saabiroon (the patient)”

[al-Nahl 16:126]

Ibn al-Qayym said in his book ‘Uddat al-Saabireen (p. 3-5):

Patience is the foundation of the believer’s faith which has no other foundation. The one who has no patience has no faith, and if he has any, then it is only a little faith and it is very weak, and such a person worships Allaah as it were upon the edge (i.e. in doubt): if good befalls him, he is content therewith; but if a trial befalls him he turns back on his face (i.e. reverts to disbelief after embracing Islam). He loses both this world and the Hereafter (cf. al-Hajj 22:11). All he gets from them is a losing deal.

The best life is attained by the blessed through patience, and they rise to the highest degrees through their gratitude. So they fly on the wings of patience and gratitude to gardens of delight (i.e., Paradise). That is the bounty of Allaah that He bestows upon whomsoever He will, and Allaah is the Owner of Great Bounty.

Allahu Akbar!

Insha Allah i will complete this entry soon.