Wednesday, April 23, 2008

On surat Al-asr

Asalamu alaikum, (peace)
This is a random post .. and just a set of reflections I'd like to share.
So, I was listening to surat Al-asr (which means the appointed time), and usually, this surah is quoted in order to emphasize the importance of time... So, I started looking into the translation/tafseer of it... and somethign hit me like 'whoa'.

Surat al-asr is a God given mini yet comprehensive version of '7 habits of highly effective people' or books that GUARANTEE success... and you just need to look at the six things mentioned in the surah...
2- impending loss for mankind (except!!!.....)
3- Those who BELIEVE
4- and do Good deeds
5- and encourage the truth
6- and encourage patience

Those six things are the most essential factors of success, whether its "dunyawi"(within this life) success or success in the hereafter...

So, lets look at this in a 'business' mentality.

The first element of a successful business is the ability to work with time, meeting deadlines, creating deadlines, getting up early, working late... setting priorities and so on.. You're working with time!!! There has never been a successful business that didn't revolve around efficient time planning. Now, back to surat Al-Asr, Allah (swt) is giving an oath by His creation time... You know how Allah (swt) grants rights for everything?! Animals, trees, other human beings have rights upon one another? What is the rights that Time has on us as human beings?! Islamically, we cannot abuse time, because we are breaching it's rights, we are abusing a creation of Allah (swt)... So, in a business world... they say TIME is MONEY!!! meaning don't waste it... but how about outside this business world? are we granting Time the rights it has upon us, or do we neglect its importance, like a stray cat begging for a bowl of milk.

The second element of a successful business is to know that you are a potential loser. No business man starts off cocky... they have to work their way up... and even when they make it to the top of the business world, one mistake can lead to a suit that pulls away everything they worked for. It doesn't even have to be business related... the business man could accidentally disregard courtesy 'laws' and walk into a person, the person suddenly falls and breaks their leg, and your top of the line business man is suddenly a broke bum singing over fire lit garbage cans.

So, what does this mean Islamically for us, well cockiness should never be on our agenda, we need to recognize the potential slippery slope that may confront us... We need to be cautious and prudent. We need to recognize that there is always a potential for failure, because everything is beyond our control without recognizing the framework in which the world works... i.e. Allah (swt)'s world

The third element of a successful business is the belief in the business. You believe in the business and that is why you are willing to dedicate your time, and confront risks, if that belief did not exist, than your goals will be short lived. How about what Allah (swt) is telling us?! well He's telling us that belief is essential for success, other wise, we would already slip into the slippery slope of failure... moving forward is essentially pointless without faith, without belief, without conviction in what you're working for.

The fourth element of a successful business is the action, being able to take wise decisive action. It is not enough that you believe in your business, and plan your time and plan for defenses against the potential failures, but you need to execute! otherwise, everything will be left hanging, your call will be left rotating, stuck in queue, in an never ending circle of inaction. Of course we know that Allah (swt) mentions plenty of times in the Quran 'Believe and Do good deeds', just as He reminds us to do so in surat al-asr. :)

The fifth element is encouraging truth.. In a business, if you and your staff cannot be honest, then no one will be on the same page, and everyone will be holding each other back. Truth is essential for a working body for success. People must be able to be honest and upfront about everything. They must be willing both to receive and give honest constructive criticism. Competition is ineffective if people cannot be honest with one another. Often we find in business, people start competing with one another, under-handing one another, and eventually we find that their success is short lived. However, people who do honest-to-God work, well their success is based on a foundation without loopholes, without excuses, without falsifications, without faults (in a moral sense). Their foundation does not have the cracks that weaken it, because their honesty and truth fill in all the gaps. Allah (swt) says the same thing about us, He tells us in this ayah, that we need to ENCOURAGE truth, not only apply it in our lives, but in those around us as well. Because doing so will fill in the cracks and gaps between the brothers and sisters in Islam. Honesty will strengthen their relationship with one another and with Allah (swt). Honesty in words and actions leads to no contradictions (again morally :) )

The final sixth element is encouraging patience, not only applying it to your selves, but encouraging an atmosphere of patience. It the business world, if you are not patient, then the people you work with will feed off of your impatience and react in the same manner you do. Nevertheless, patiences does not mean passivity. One doesn't sit back when their company is falling off a cliff and says, well theres nothing i can do about it.. NO!!! Patience in the business world means action till you're six feet under. Inaction is not patience, it is reluctance. Patiences is WORKING WITH WHAT CARDS YOU ARE DEALT WITH! :) while maintaining a healthy working atmosphere. So, what is Allah (swt) encouraging in this ayah, well not only to be pleased with what Allah (swt) has given you, but for you to work as hard as you can, and get the people around you to work as hard as they can, in order to attain success.

These six elements are the factors that add up to success, whether it is success in the dunya (this life) and akhira (the after life). So, why did i talk about the business world? because we all live in some sort of equivalent to the business world, either as a worker or consumer. Now a day, success is based upon books written by 'successful business men'.. Yet, their books contain no more than what Allah (swt) taught us within a short surah of about 3 verses... now think about the other 113 surahs in the quran...

SubhannaAllah (glory to God), I don't know why this surah struck me so strongly today, well i kind of do, because i've been having problems with work and school, but subhannaAllah, Allah gives us the solution to everything. We probably read this surah 75% of the time during the week for our prayers, but does it really mean until a brick hits you in the face, knocks out your two front teeth, and suddenly something dawns on your that you felt like you've been looking over an entire life time....

Anyway, this post is just to say this... success is spelled out for you in surat Al-'asr...
hopefully i didn't say anything contradictory to the teachings of the prophet or the message of Allah in the Quran
Jazakum Allahu khairan (May God bless you)
Asalamu alaikum (peace)