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Masjid Al-Markaz Al-Islami Jend. M. Yusuf


Muhammad Hamzah

Why is this article written? I have to admit that I was just following the Background:
order. The order came from the Daily Chairman of MAKES, bro. Hilal. why this article is
And I truly thanked him for ordering me to write this article.

So, what is this paper all about?

This paper is intended to discuss the broad theme of “Success” given Introduction:
by bro Hilal. As I am a Muslim, it is not surprising to find “Islamic”
elements be included in the discussion of success. In other words, I
will discuss about “Success” from my point of view as a Muslim.
(Additionally, what I mean by “Islamic” in this paper is Quran and
Hadith, since they are the root of all Islamic teachings. However, in this
article I will mainly quote Quranic verses.)

The word “success” in Islamic term equals to falah (‫)ﻓﻼح‬.

The word falah is derived from f-l-h (‫ )ﻓﻠﺢ‬which means: (1) to cleave,
split, cut, slit or crack (something), (2) to furrow or plough (‫ اﻻرض‬the
land), to cultivate it, (3) to till the ground (‫ اﻻرض‬the land). Those basic
meanings of ‫ ﻓﻠﺢ‬consequently lead to the term falah (‫ )ﻓﻼح‬which means
“success and prosperity or the attainment of that which one desires or

From this etymology and terminology discussion, I can simply

conclude that there are two significant elements in “Success or falah”:
(1) desire(s) and (2) processes, systems, or ways to attain the

What Should You Desire or Seek? What should

I have been asking many people about what they want in their life. If be desired?
you have done the same thing, you will not be surprised, and I guess
you actually get bored, by the answers. Happiness is, in my list,
number one. Every time I asked someone about his or her desires, the
word “happiness” always came up. Then wealth, health, spouse (or
family) or job followed. Is it wrong to have those kinds of desire?

I need to emphasize here that there is nothing wrong with what you
desire. But as a Muslim, you should seek confirmation from Quran and
Hadith whether your desires are verified or not.

In the process of seeking the confirmation, I found a Quranic verse

which is, in my mind, a confirmation of my desires, or to be precise,
what I should desire in my life.

1Hussain, Tanveer. Falah: The Concept of Success in the Quran. February 24, 2010.
Masjid Al-Markaz Al-Islami Jend. M. Yusuf
The verse itself is quite popular. And I bet you ‘memorized’ it. Now you
can read it out loud:

ِ‫ﻋﺬَابَ اﻟﻨﱠﺎر‬
َ ‫ﺴﻨَﺔً َوﻗِﻨَﺎ‬
َ َ‫ﺧ َﺮةِ ﺣ‬
ِ ‫وَ ِﻣﻨْﮭُﻢْ ﻣَﻦْ َﯾﻘُﻮلُ رَ ﱠﺑﻨَﺎ آ ِﺗﻨَﺎ ﻓِﻲ اﻟﺪﱡﻧْﯿَﺎ ﺣَﺴَﻨَﺔً َوﻓِﻲ اﻟْﺂ‬

But among them is he who says, "Our Lord, give us in this world [that
which is] good and in the Hereafter [that which is] good and protect us
from the punishment of the Fire." (Al-Baqarah [002]:201)

Beside hasanah, Quran also points out several things that should be
desired by Muslims. Among them are fadhl Allah and wajh Allah but
further explanation on them is beyond the coverage of this paper.

What are hasanah? Hasanah simply means ‘good’. Nevertheless, as you The “hasanah”
may realize, an Arabic word, especially Quranic words, does not only
contain one simple meaning. In broader sense, the word ‘hasanah’
could mean: a good action; an act of obedience to god; the reward of a
good action; a good benefit; abundance of comforts and conveniences
of life; ampleness of circumstances and success.2

Commentators of the Quran explained that worldly hasanah could

mean physical (and psychological) wellness, knowledge, wealth (‫)ا ْﻟﻤَﺎل‬,
spouse, and other favours from Allah; while afterlife hasanah in the
verse means al-jannah (paradise).3

Even though the exact meaning of hasanah in worldly life is debatable,

it is clear that Quran acknowledges the pursuit of ‘worldly goals’.
Consequently, it is a ‘natural’ state when a Muslim pursues money,
‘soul mate’ (dream man/women), position/title/status, luxurious
belongings, fame, and other goals which are considered as ‘worldly’.

Still, a Muslim should understand that those worldly goals are far cry
from the hasanah fi al-akhirah in terms of quantity and quality. And The balance of
perhaps to achieve the balance of success in worldly and hereafter success
life, one should pursue the worldly goals not because of and for the
sake of the goal or the ‘self’ itself, but the goals are pursued because of
and for the sake of ibadah (worship; serving the will of Allah).

One that has achieved or attained the hasanah is called al-muflih, the
successful person.

There are many states and/or actions which are required for one to be How to
successful (al-muflih) as mentioned in Quran. I will briefly elaborate
one of them in this paper.
In surah al-Hajj (22) verse 77, three prerequisites are mentioned for
one can attain success: prayer, worship and good deeds.

2 Farid, Malik Ghulam, ed. Dictionary of the Holy Quran with References and Explanation of the Text. Tilford:
Islam International Publications Limited. 2006 Page 184

3Hamzah, Muhammad. Hasanah Dunia-Akhirat. February 26, 2010.
Masjid Al-Markaz Al-Islami Jend. M. Yusuf
َ‫ﺠﺪُوا وَاﻋْ ُﺒﺪُوا رَﺑَّﻜُﻢْ وَاﻓْﻌَﻠُﻮا ا ْﻟﺨَ ْﯿﺮَ ﻟَ َﻌﻠَّﻜُﻢْ ُﺗ ْﻔِﻠﺤُﻮن‬
ُ‫ﺳ‬ْ ‫ﯾَﺎ َأ ّﯾُﮭَﺎ اﻟَّﺬِﯾﻦَ آ َﻣﻨُﻮا ارْﻛَﻌُﻮا وَا‬

O you who have believed, bow and prostrate and worship your Lord and
do good - that you may succeed.
The technical
Worshiping Allah may mean following His will. His will has been ways
‘formulated’ and compiled in what we know as books of Islamic
jurisprudence (kutub al-fiqh). In this field, human creativity is limited;
all actions of worship must be conducted by the book. There are strict
and clear rewards and punishments for those who obey or disobey
Allah’s will. By fulfilling the will of Allah, Allah will grant us al-falah.

On the other hand, doing good deeds (َ‫ )وَاﻓْ َﻌﻠُﻮا ا ْﻟﺨَ ْﯿﺮ‬is understood as
tightening the brotherhood.4 Making friends, expanding network,
visiting or making close contact with other people, helping and
cooperating with others are the small parts of doing good deed to
others that will also take you to al-falah.

Concisely, serving God and mankind are the two primary ways that
will lead us to al-falah.

I believe that it is not a mere coincidence that the word for ‘a farmer’
in Arabic is ‘fallah(un)’. The word fallah, farmer and falah, success,
are derived from the same root word f-l-h (‫)ﻓﻠﺢ‬.

Studying the root word f-l-h (‫ )ﻓﻠﺢ‬can lead us to the understanding that
there is a strong correlation between farming (cultivation of the land) The philosophic
and success. Furthermore, one can find similarity of the acts of ways
cultivating and acts of attaining desires; cultivation is a metaphor for
acts of attaining success.

At least, there are four major steps of cultivation: (1) cleaning or

changing the environment, (2) breaking up the soil - to prepare for
sowing seeds, (3) sowing or planting seeds, and (4) nurturing.5

The interpretation of the metaphor of cultivation as acts to attain

success could be read as follows: to be successful, one should (1)
prepare himself to be successful. Then he should (2) ‘break
something’ inside himself as if the farmer break the soil by ploughing
it. After that, he must (3) plant the ‘seed(s)’ or ‘tools’ that will be useful
to attain his desires. Finally, he should (4) nurture or utilize the ‘tools’
until they bring results or the fruit.

In a word, there are four major steps to be a successful person: (1) The cycle of
prepare yourself to succeed, (2) break the habit, (3) plant new habit, success
and (4) keep the new habit active.

4Antony Lazuardi, Febby. Meraih Sukses Menurut Q.S. Al-Hajj (22) Ayat 77. February 26, 2010.

5Abdul Basser, Aquil. Cultivating Your Spiritual Life: 4 Stages for Success. February 24, 2010.
Masjid Al-Markaz Al-Islami Jend. M. Yusuf

Discussing about success will always be interesting, moreover if we Conclusion

add the elements of Islamic teachings.

Success or falah is necessary to be pursued and I believe Quran and

Hadith have lots of ‘tips and tricks’ on how to succeed in this world
and in hereafter. Those tips and tricks are now waiting to be picked up
by you of course.

Basically, serving Allah and mankind is the core actions that you
should take in order to be successful. Additionally, preparing yourself
to succeed, adopting new habits after kicking the old ones, and
patiently utilizing your tools are the cycle of success that you should

Ultimately, understanding farmer’s mindset is imperative. A farmer

believes that the crops or the fruits are now hiding behind the curtain
waiting for him to locate them, and then unveiling the curtain and then
reaching them out. For the exact meaning of falah is “to expose what is

 This paper is written by Muhammad Hamzah, former President of MAKES, member of
Consultative Board of MAKES, Makassar English Plus! founder, and a personal life coach.

 The paper is written from February 24th to 26th 2010 and is scheduled to be presented on
Thursday, March 11th 2010 at Al-Markaz for Khudi Enlightening Studies, Masjid Al-
Markaz Al-Islami.

 Brother Ardhie P. Syam has voluntarily reviewed and edited this paper before it is printed,
copied and distributed. However, all mistakes, if any, are under the responsibility of the


Malik Ghulam Farid M.A., Dictionary of the Holy Quran

6Zulfiqar, Ahmad. Purification of the Soul. February 24, 2010.