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Bismilalah Ta'la, قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنِ اللَّغْوِ مُعْرِضُونَ وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِلزَّكَاةِ فَاعِلُونَ وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِفُرُوجِهِمْ حَافِظُونَ ... Holy Quran, Chapter 23 (The Believers), Verses 1-5 We live in a society where we are constantly judged and compared to others. This was also the case during the time of Rasoulallah(p.b.u.h). This is because it is in the nature of human being to judge, compare, and rank people based on their character and achievements. In this process of comparison and ranking, some are ranked high and some low, some are considered winners and some losers. Some are considered failures and some sucessful. This sorting, ranking and comparison is usually done by people according to their own personal tastes, likes and dislikes, or the likes and dislikes of whatever society and age they are living in. It is not an absolute comparison and ranking but a relative comparison and ranking based on the mood and thoughts of the people of the time or a particular person. In the Holy Quran, in the Chapter above, Allah(s.w.a) states clearly that there is a ranking, there is winners and losers, but it is based on criteria which is set forth by Allah(s.w.a) and which is absolute and doesn't change from moment to moment and year to year or generation and generation. In this verse, he is making clear to everyone what this criteria is and how winners and losers are determined, in reality. Let's go over these verses of the Holy Quran one by one to see what is, in fact, the true criteria for success. قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ Surely, the Believers are successful. The phrase قَدْ in Arabic represents certainty. In other words, whatever statement follows this phrase is unqualified and absolute. It is a marker in the Holy Quran so that those who are reading will pay attention to what comes after it and will be able to have certainty about it. أَفْلَحَ is the objective form of the verb falah, which means success and at the same time receiving the thing that the person was seeking. It is the same word used in the athan 'Haya Al Falah', sometimes translated as 'hasten to true success'. الْمُؤْمِنُونَ. The Believers. This phrase, Al Muminun, which is the name of the Chapter, has a very deep and broad meaning in the religion, but in brief it means those who believe in the phrase 'There is no God but God and Muhammad in the Messenger of God' and put the meaning of this phrase into practice in their lives. How do they put this phrase into practice in their lives, the proceeding verses describe in detail how the Muminun do this.... الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ 'Those who are sincere in their Salat' The word 'Salat' in Arabic is not the same as the word 'Prayer' in English(The meaning of Prayer in English is the word 'Dua' in Arabic). In fact, there is no word for word translation of the word Salat into English. The approximate meaning is 'the ritual act of worship of God that is obligatory and is done at fixed times during the day and involves a ritual purification before it's beginning....'(this could be extended but I think most of you get the point). It is Salat, not prayer that distinguishes the Muslims from the non Muslims. Every religion has prayer but only Islam has Salat. In this verse Allah(s.w.a) is saying that the Muminum, those who are successful are the ones that do Salat, i.e. the Muslims, and when they do it, they do it with sincerity. They do it with the intention of 'Qurbah' , seeking nearness to Allah(s.w.a) and in that act they make every effort to obey Allah(s.w.a) sincerely by doing Wudu properly, making the prayer on time, praying the proper number of rakats, saying the Surats correctly, etc. It is by this care and attention and patience that they practically demonstrate their sincerity. وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنِ اللَّغْوِ مُعْرِضُونَ Those who, when they are in the midst of vanity and nonsense, they turn aside from it. Vanity is described in another place in the Holy Quran as scum (13:17 and 23:41) , i.e. that which is carried on the surface of a torrent, but quickly disappears and becomes nothing. It is those things which society tags as very important, but which actually do nothing to push us forward toward our goal of becoming Mumineen and Muminaat, and getting true success. This verse is saying that when the Muminun are surrounded by those things, after realizing they are vanity, turn aside from them. وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِلزَّكَاةِ فَاعِلُونَ Those who give Zakat(charity). This is something easy to understand but hard to do. We do not like parting with our money, and we tend to think of it as our own property and the fruit of our own achievement and hard work. We must realize, in order to succeed, that it is actually the property of Allah(s.w.a) and we only received it as a result of Allah(s.w.a)'s Grace and Mercy on us by giving us the time, skills, and insight necessary to gain this money and wealth. If we think of it as the property of Allah(s.w.a) and not our property, and only a trust that is given to us to achieve a certain purpose, then it will be easier to part with. Also, remember you death and the fact that you can either give charity in this life according to the Islamic value and as a result of your own free will, and you will be rewarded for that, or it will be forcibly distributed to others after your death, a process which you will have no control over and won't be rewarded for, since it didn't occur as a result of your own free will and deliberate obedience to Allah(s.w.a). وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِفُرُوجِهِمْ حَافِظُونَ Those who guard their private parts. The ones who limit their sexual desires to their lawful spouse(s). Sexual desire is actually a great benefit given to mankind from Allah(s.w.a), if it is used in the proper way (there are many other verses of the Quran as well as countless hadith that describe in detail how to do this). It is thru this desire that relationships are established and maintain and families and communities are built thru these relationships. Sexual desire is the super glue that holds marriages together and without it, human beings would not have managed to reproduce and expand the population. It is also a great force that can eviscerate families and relationships and tear societies apart. So there are regulations in Islam about how and when to use this desire. If these are practiced properly, they will lead the Muminun to success. There are other verses that go into more detail about how to achieve success. The takeaway from this verse is that society has standards that they use to rank and gauge success and failure, but the true criteria of failure and success is outlined and established by Allah(s.w.a), it is public and accessible, and true success is open to all and achievable, unlike the false criteria of success laid down by society which is only possible and achievable by a few. So if we have to choose, we should choose the way established by Allah(s.w.a).
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