Ten Principles of Success

It is a well-known fact that the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) was the supremely successful man in the entire human history. But he was not just a hero, as Thomas Carlyle has called him. According to the Qur’an, he was a good example for all mankind. He has shown us the way of achieving supreme success in-this world. By studying the life of the Prophet (pbuh) we can derive those important principles which were followed by the Prophet. In short, 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 steps as may prove counter-productive. He always followed positive methods to achieve his goal. [Some of the principles for success which may be derived form his life are appended below]

1st Principle: Begin with Achievable Goals:

This principle is well explained in a saying of Aysha. She said: “Whenever the Prophet had to choose between two options, he always opted for the easier choice.”(Al-Bukhari). To choose the easiest option means to begin from the possible and one who begins from the possible will surely reach his goal.

2nd Principle: Seek Advantage in Disadvantage:

In the early days of Mecca, (610-622)there were many problems and difficulties. At that time, a guiding verse in the Qur’an was revealed. It said: “With every hardship there is ease, with every hardship there is ease.” (Qur’an;94:5-6). This means that if there are some problems, there are also opportunities at the same time. And the way to success is to ignore the problems and avail the opportunities.

3rd Principle: Change the Place of Action:

This principle is derived from the Migration (Hijrah, 622 C.E). Hijrah was not just a migration from Mecca to Medina; it was to find a more suitable place for Islamic work, as history proved later on.

4th Principle: Make a Friend Out of an Enemy:

The prophet of Islam was repeatedly subjected to practices of antagonism by the unbelievers. At that time the Qur’an enjoined upon him the return of good for evil. And then, as the Qur’an added, “You will see your direst enemy has become your closest friend” (Qur’an;41:34). It means that a good deed in return of a bad deed has a conquering effect over your enemies. And the life of the Prophet is a historical proof of this principle.

5th Principle: Turn Disadvantage into Advantage:

In the Battle of Badar (624 C.E), about 70 of the unbelievers were taken as the prisoners of war. They were educated people. The Prophet announced that if anyone of them would teach ten Muslim children how to read and write he would be freed. This was the first school in the history of Islam in which all of the students were Muslims, and all of the teachers were from the enemy rank. Here I shall quote a British orientalist who remarked about the Prophet of Islam: ‘He faced adversity with the determination to wring success out of failure’.

6th Principle: The Power of Peace is Stronger to Power of Violence:

When Mecca was conquered (630 C.E), all of the Prophet’s direst opponents were brought before him. They were war criminals, in every sense of the word. But the Prophet did not order to kill them. He simply said: “Go, you are free.” The result of this kind behaviour was miraculous. They immediately accepted Islam.

7rh Principle: Not to be a Dichotomous Thinker:

In the famous battle of Muta (629 C.E), Khalid bin Walid, (Great Muslim General and companion of Prophet, pbuh) decided to withdraw Muslim forces from the battlefield because he discovered that the Muslims were un-proportionately outnumbered by the enemy. When they reached Medina, some of the Muslims received them by the word “O Furrar” {O deserters!) The Prophet said “No. They are Kurrar” (men of advancement).” Those people of Media were thinking dichotomously, only on two aspects of war, either fighting (advancing, success) or retreating. The Prophet said no. There is also a third option, and that is to avoid war and find a time to strengthen yourself. Now history tells us that the Muslims, after three years of preparation, advanced again towards the Roman border and this time they won a resounding victory.

8th Principle: Bring the Battle In One’s Own Favorable Field:

This principle is derived from the treaty of Hudaibiyya (628 C.E). At that time, the unbelievers were determined to engage Muslims in fighting, because obviously they were in an advantageous position. But the Prophet, by accepting their conditions unilaterally, entered into a pact. It was a ten-year peace treaty. Until then, the meeting ground between Muslims and non-Muslims had been on the battlefield. Now the area of conflict became that of ideological debate. Within two years, Islam emerged as victorious because of the simple reason of its ideological superiority.

9th Principle: Gradualism instead of Radicalism:

This principle is well-established by a Tradition (Hadith of Al-Bukhari.) Aysha says that the [initially revealed] first verses of the Qur’an were related mostly to heaven and hell. And then after a long time when the people’s hearts had softened, the specific commands to desist from adultery and drinking were revealed in the Qur’an. This is a clear proof that for social changes, Islam advocates the evolutionary method, rather than the revolutionary method.

10th Principle: Be pragmatic in Controversial Matters:

During the writing of Hudaibiyya treaty (628 C.E), the Prophet dictated these words: “This is from Muhammad, the Messenger of God.” The Quraysh delegate raised objections over these words. The Prophet promptly changed the word and ordered to write simply ‘Muhammad, son of Abdullah’. These were the principles through which the Prophet of Islam gained that success which has been recognized by historians as the supreme success.

Summary of Ten principles of Success:

1st Principle: Begin with Achievable Goals:

2nd Principle: Seek Advantage in Disadvantage:

3rd Principle: Change the Place of Action:

4th Principle: Make a Friend Out of an Enemy:

5th Principle: Turn Disadvantage into Advantage:

6th Principle: The Power of Peace is Stronger to Power of Violence:

7rh Principle: Not to be a Dichotomous Thinker:

8th Principle: Bring the Battle In One’s Own Favorable Field:

9th Principle: Gradualism instead of Radicalism:

10th Principle: Be pragmatic in Controversial Matters:

[By; Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, Courtesy, Monthly ‘Tazkeer’, Lahore, July 29]


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