EACH one of us wants to be great and successful but very few are able to pay the price of greatness and success. The price is to be paid in terms of hard work, strong willpower and above all trust in Allah.
Life demands constant struggle and one has to strive for improvement. Today must be better and tomorrow must be even more so. The success stories of many developed countries amply prove that struggling with strong willpower will lead nations and individuals to growth and development. The famous Urdu poet Maulana Hali sums up the notion of improvement in his verse which says “hai justaju ke khoob se hai khoobtar kahan”. In other words, life is seeking the best from the better.
The Quran categorically says that “...Verily! Allah will not change the condition of a people as long as they do not change their state themselves. ... (13:11)”.
This verse from the Holy Book enunciates the fundamental principle that everyone (ie individuals and nations) must be engaged in a constant struggle to achieve the best in life. Subsequently, divine help descends when one is determined in his or her objective.
Islam encourages us to be productive.
In this context, it is worth noting that the lives and missions of almost all the prophets demonstrate a constant struggle that enabled them to surmount all difficulties in the way of their missions and led them to ultimate success. However, the life and mission of the last Prophet (PBUH) is much clearer and brighter in this respect.
When the Holy Prophet started his mission, he faced strong opposition. The pagan Makkans opposed him tooth and nail, and tried to fail him in his mission by creating all kinds of hurdles, but the Prophet did not budge from his determination.
Improvement in the quality of life is among the fundamental goals of many developing governments. They plan a number of projects, spend a lot of money in conceptualisation, feasibility studies and then in implementation, all the while hoping that the project’s benefits will trickle down to the poor and their quality of life will ultimately improve. However, it is seen that the poor remain poor.
The fundamental requirement before a struggle starts is the people’s will to change for the better. It is rightly said that where there’s a will, there’s a way. The following example would illustrate how a person struggles to change. He is born into a poor family in some remote area of the country where living conditions are primitive, the wages low, unemployment is high, the literacy rates abysmal, and electricity hard to come by. People do not have enough health and education facilities and they suffer all kinds of natural calamities. But one has something in one’s heart — a passion and the will to change life.
With unflinching trust in Allah, he becomes determined and constantly strives to improve his life in order to become self-reliant. Allah tells us in the Quran “Man shall have only that for what he labours” (53:39). He decides to start a small business which he believes will lead to the good life for him and his family. But again, he hits a wall. He cannot get a loan because he does not have credit or documentation. He finds himself ‘non-bankable’.
He does not give up. The words of the Holy Prophet are etched in his mind and heart that “the effort is from me; its fulfilment comes from Allah”. So he begins looking around for help, and ultimately finds someone willing to help him initially. Thus he is on his way to becoming self-reliant.
Similarly, a cobbler’s family was unable to fulfil its dreams. The parents wanted their son to take up a white-collar job, as white-collar workers are usually better paid. The family head went to his school principal and requested his help in this regard. He wanted his son and their coming generations to have a quality life, not worrying about the next meal and other basic needs.
The principal reminded him of Islam’s basic teachings. The Holy Prophet once said “Al-Kasib, Habibullah” ie the worker is Allah’s friend. Islam encourages us to be productive and wants us to disperse throughout the land, seeking the bounty of Allah by working (62:10). All legal and morally permitted fields are open and one should sow the seeds and reap the fruit.
At present, every single family wishes to have a quality life. But what makes our life a quality one? It is the motivation aimed at improving living conditions. This is achieved through willpower and constant struggle within the parameters of Islamic ethics. It is a lifelong search for the most sought-after happiness. Undoubtedly, it also includes appropriate legal means of income which provides satisfaction, health, and freedom from oppression and safety from harm.
The writer is an educationist with an interest in religion.
Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2018