- Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Principles of Success—in the Light of Seerah
It is a well-known fact that the Prophet of Islam, may peace be upon him was supremely successful man. He was not just a hero, as Thomas Carlyle had called him, he was also a good example for all mankind. He taught us the way of achieving supreme success in this world.
By studying the life of the Prophet, we can derive those important principles which were followed by the Prophet. As we learn from studying his life that the Prophet of Islam was a positive thinker in the full sense of the word. All his activities were result-oriented. He completely refrained from all such activities which may prove counterproductive. He always followed positive methods to achieve his goal.
Beginning with the Possible - A practical Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him.
Fourteen Centuries ago, Arabia was racked by multiplicity of problems. The Romans and Sassanid empires had made political inroads into Arabia; the society was beset by evils such as usury, adultery, excessive drinking and senseless bloodshed; and there still stood in the Kabah with no less than 360 idols.
It is significant to know that the first commandment in the Quran was revealed to the Prophet was not about purifying the Kabah from idols, or waging war on the Persians and Byzantines, or punishing criminals and wrongdoers according to the Shariah. On the contrary, the first commandment was concerned with reading, that is, with education. This was a clear indication that the proper starting point for Islamic activism had to remain within the realm of the basics, common sense, learning , education and what is possible. At the time of the Prophet’s advent, the prevailing circumstances in Arabia did demand the purification of the mosque, political stability and the imposition of Shariah law, yet, in spite of all the urgency, it was not practical starting point. On the other hand, starting point on the basis of dawah with education was conceivably within reach. "Ease in Difficulty" When the Prophet of Islam and his early companions began communicating the message of monotheism in Mecca, it seemed that Meccan soil would yield up little to Islam except problems and difficulties. At that point in time a verse of the Quran was revealed which offered consolation and guidance. It said, “Every hardship is followed by ease. Every hardship is followed by ease” (94:5). The Prophet was inspired by this belief that he was able to define and pursue a course of action which would ensure success. This was a very important aspect of the Prophet’s approach to any difficult situation. The fact of his success proves, moreover, that God never intended this world to be one of endless difficulties— with a definite solution in sight. It was the will of the Almighty that all difficulties should be resolvable; alongside apparent disadvantages which were also a part of the divine scheme. It was just a question of human beings having the confidence to acknowledge this fact, and then to seek out appropriate solutions. One instance of ease counterbalancing difficulty was the presence of the believers alongside unbelievers, two notable examples being Umar and Abu Jahal, who both lived in Mecca in the early days. If it was impossible at that time to cleanse Kabah of idols, it was still quite possible to convince people that the worship of these false gods was an falsehood. Seen in this light, the difficulties faced by the believers in the first phase of Islam were, in fact, challenges which awakened Muslim potential, ultimately transforming each Muslim into a hero. This aspect of recorded life of the Prophet shows that whenever believers find themselves in a quandary, they should feel convinced from the very outset that, side by side with their problems, opportunities to resolve do exist. Instead of lamenting over difficulties as if they were insuperable, they must set about grasping such opportunities as will set them on the path to progress.
Prophet peace be upon him had a clear strategy to approach any difficult situation , which was to start from what was possible, what was the easy starting point, what was natural and organic and what was common sense!
For example , he started his mission with an education and learning mindset. While he was learning directly from God Almighty thought Angel Gabriel, he was teaching his companions and potential companions the message of God! He was training and developing himself in the knowledge of God as well as people around him. The future course of actions for himself and the companions became aligned for them as they chose the correct starting point, which was learning and education.