Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

What makes a believer successful? Praying taraweeh (special night prayers in Ramadan)? Going for Umrah (minor pilgrimage) every year? Giving charity in Ramadan?

These are the qualities of a true and successful believer, but what are the essential, requisite qualities that fashion the spiritual framework of a believer?

Surat al-Muminoon starts with a description of some of the most salient qualities that we must pursue in order to be counted among this elite group for whom success is guaranteed in the hereafter. Allah (swt) mentions:

“Certainly the believers will have succeeded.” (23:1)

Allah (swt) also mentions their special reward, which is al-Firdaws (highest levels of paradise). “They will abide therein eternally.” (23:10-11)

Some of the qualities of successful believers are as follows:

  1. They pray with khushoo (23:2)

    , being humbly submissive to Allah, aware of Him, and filled with awe of His Majesty.

And this isn’t a one-off or occasional experience for them. They have khushoo‘ in their hearts in every single prayer, every day of their lives. This is not as difficult to achieve as it seems, but it needs effort and practice on our part.

Action point: Read about the things that increase khushoo‘ and practice them one at a time. In order to achieve one hundred percent khushoo‘, it is crucial to know what you’re saying in your prayer. You can check out online short courses on this or read through this beneficial text: 33 Ways of Developing Khushoo’: Humility and Devotion in Prayer.

  1. They keep away from laghw (useless talk and behaviour). (23:3)

They are aware that time is an asset which spills out of ours hands like sand falls down an hour glass. Laghw, according to Ibn Katheer, refers to “falsehood, which includes shirk and sin, and any words or deeds that are of no benefit.” It is a wolf that eats away that precious asset. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t engage in entertainment or have everyday conversations with our friends and loved ones. It just means to be aware of the limit to which entertainment and conversations are beneficial in relaxing us and improving social relationships.

Action point: Make a checklist of things that waste your time the most. Are you constantly checking your social media alerts, or playing games whenever you get a five-minute break? Calculate the number of hours you spend in similar activities and decide whether this time could be spent in a way which will earn you assets in the hereafter. Pick sources of entertainment which are beneficial in themselves, such as reading a good book, watching the sunset, or playing with your spouse.

  1. They are observant of zakah. (23:4)

Zakah technically denotes the obligatory charity we pay every year on our surplus wealth. But linguistically, it also means purification and both meanings probably apply here. (Ibn Katheer) True believers not only purify their wealth, but constantly strive to get rid of bad habits and purify the heart.

Action point: Make a list of bad habits or weaknesses that trouble you the most. Take one item of the list at a time and work on it. Many books are available to aid you in this, if Allah wills.

  1. They stay away from shamelessness. (23:5)

Shamelessness has always been a problem. The Prophet (sa) said: “After me I have not left any trial more severe to men than women.” (Bukhari)

In this chapter, Allah (swt) dedicates three verses to this point alone:

“And they who guard their private parts. Except from their wives or those their right hands possess, for indeed, they will not be blamed – but whoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors.” (23:5-7)

Action point: In our times, the problem of shamelessness is more widespread in the society than ever before, because it’s just one click away. All you need is an internet connection and a smart device. And most often you don’t even have to seek it out; it flashes before your eyes when you least expect it – in advertisements, movies, and in public places. So never underestimate the power of this filth, because it can take over your life before you know it. Shun all those things which have even a minute possibility of throwing it in your way, so as to close the door to Shaytan’s easy entrance and control over your life.

  1. They are to their trusts and their promises attentive. (23:8)

These people know that they will be questioned about violating people’s trusts on the Day of Judgment, and even if their good deeds are piled as high as the mountains, the people they have betrayed will come one by one and take away from it. Betraying people’s trust and breaking promises are two of the most salient characteristics of a hypocrite. (Bukhari)

Action point: Learn to say “no”. Often times we feel compelled to say yes to things we don’t want to do to avoid hurting people’s feelings. But the thing is, their feelings will get hurt anyway when we don’t keep our promises, and the burden we put on ourselves in doing so is unnecessary. Know your limits, and learn to refuse politely.

  1. They carefully maintain their prayers. (23:9)

Allah (swt) mentions prayers again, as though it is the deed that encompasses and leads to other righteous behaviour. Guarding one’s prayer means “they persistently offer their prayers at their appointed times” and “at the fixed times, with proper bowing and prostration.” (Ibn Katheer)

Action point: Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan mentions that praying the extra voluntary prayers provides a shield to guard the obligatory prayers. We may not always be able to do this, but try your best to do them, as well as other Sunnah deeds attached to prayer, such as dhikr (remembering Allah), and renewing your ablution for every prayer.

Copyright 2016 IIPH. This article was originally published on IIPH blog here: http://blog.iiph.com/six-qualities-of-a-successful-believer/

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