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Ten Principles of Success -- Al Risala

The Prophet of Islam (PBUH) was one of the most supremely successful men in history. But he was not only 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 ten important principles which he followed. In short, the Prophet of Islam was a positive thinker in the full sense of the word. He knew how to "pick his battles". All his activities were result-oriented. He completely refrained from steps that were counter-productive. These are the qualities which make for greatness. We can be successful in our own lives by implementing these principles when possible. Examine how the following ten principles used by the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) can help you in your daily life.

1. To Begin From the Possible

This principle is explained in a saying of Aishah. 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. To work from the point of least resistance enables one to work 'smart' without wasting resources.

2. To See Advantage in Disadvantage

In the early days of Mecca, 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) If there are problems, there are also opportunities. Turn a liability into an asset with creative and resourceful thinking. Keep an open mind for the possibilities.

3. To Change the Place of Action

This principle is derived from the Hijrah. Hijrah was not just a migration from Mecca to Medina. It was to find a more conducive point from which to establish and practice Islamic principles. This also leads back to the first principle.

4. To 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.

5. To Turn Minus into Plus

After the Battle of Badr, about 70 of the unbelievers were taken as the prisoners of war. They were educated people. The Prophet announced that if any one 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 ranks. As has been said about the Prophet (pbuh): "He faced adversity with the determination to wring success out of failure."

6. The Power of Peace is Stronger Than the Power of Violence

When Mecca was conquered, all of the Prophet's opponents were brought before him. They were war criminals, in every sense of the word. But the Prophet did not order them to be killed. He simply said: "Go, you are free." The result of this kind behavior was miraculous. They immediately accepted Islam.

7. Not to be a Dichotomous Thinker

In the famous Ghazwa of Muta, Khalid bin Walid decided to withdraw Muslim forces from the battlefield because he discovered that the enemy unproportionaly outnumbered them. 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 Medinan people were thinking dichotomously, either fighting 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. Choose your battles. 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.

8. To Bring the Battle in One's Own Favorable Field

This principle is derived from the Ghazwa of Hudaibiyya. At that time, the unbelievers wanted to engage the Muslims in fighting, because they were in an advantageous position. 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.

9. Gradualism Instead of Radicalism

This principle is well-established by a hadith of Al-Bukhari. Aishah says that the 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 and their faith strengthen, 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.

10. To Be Pragmatic in Controversial Matters

During the writing of Hudaibiyyah treaty, the Prophet dictated these words: "This is from Muhammad, the Messenger of God." The Qurayshi delegate raised objections over these words. The Prophet promptly changed the wording and ordered simply Muhammad, son of Abdullah.

Ten valuable principles.
Put them into practice in our lives and we can be
successful in this life ...and the next, in sha Allah.


The Islamic Bulletin
P.O. Box 410186, San Francisco, CA 94141-0186

January 1999
Ramadan 1419
Note from the Editor
Letters to the Editor
Islam in China
Ramadan is Here
1178 C.E. - Muslims Explore America?
Women in Islam - Then & Now
Supplications for Muslims
Wisdom of the Prophet
10 Principles of Success
How I Embraced Islam
Qur'an & Science
Stories of the Sahabah
Cook's Corner
Funny, Isn't It?
Dawa with Taste
Silver Linings From
a Muhajjibah
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