What do many consider as success? When does a man fail in life? What constitutes trial or tribulation? What is the source and essence of power? What are sins and how can one attain forgiveness? Is death an unbearable loss? The way we react or answer these questions depend on the value we uphold as this is what clarify our perception of them. In materialistic, competitive, hedonistic or voyeuristic environments for instance, success will be defined by primitive accumulation, profane display of wealth and material poverty as failure. Power will be seen as both a means to an end and an end itself. Look at the following Yoruba expressions: Olowolayemo (the society recognizes and adores only the wealthy); Eni ti ko lowo lowo, ko raye wa (He who is not wealthy is living a life of waste, not alive; Olowo lagba (the wealthy is the most honoured). Virtually all classical and modern musicians have sang in praise of wealth to the diminution of the struggling hands and soul.
As a Muslim, I will explore these values from some Quranic expositions. The Quran connects success with purity of the soul and failure with its corruption. He succeeds who purifies his soul and he fails who corrupts it. In Quran Chapter 23, there is also connection of success with some six or seven habits of a muslim: Humility in Prayer, Consistency in prayer, avoidance of vanity, engagement in charity, habit of chastity and integrity in trust and promises. In both references, I did not see accumulation of wealth as indication of success. In another part of the Quran, success is defined as nearness to God. It is not the possession of earthly possessions. Power is said to be God-given and a trust. It is not for vain gloriousness. Its righteous use is ibaadat, service.
Death is said to be a certainty, inevitable. It is a test for some. It is also a mercy for some. Loss, fear, disaster are trial of faith. The muslim is taught to be patient. He is also taught that repentance brings back the lost or what he is denied. He is also made to understand that gratitude in all situations leads to multiplication of blessing.
What of trial and tribulation? He is enjoined to show patience. One of the articles of a muslim faith is Qadar. So, it keeps him calm in turbulence this is an ordainment from Allah. He mourns less, frets little and composed at all times. He races in life with measured pace despite the blistering speed of those around him who often crash. Not that he is not ambitious. Rather, his ambition is to please his maker. Once his maker is pleased with him. He is fulfilled and successful, even if he dies without a dime. The world cannot measure his worth of soul or the richness of his faith. The muslim understands the beautiful verse, ‘’whoever puts his trust in Allah, Allah will be sufficient for him, and He would open for him many doors of abundance from the least expected of angles’’. At what age does one understand these fundamentals of living a life of ease?