This is the start of a new series, which explains how one can rise above a state of personal defeat into a state of victory. It guides us on how to overcome our darkness, humiliation and disgrace by embarking on a journey of dignity, elevation and dignity.
“Victory” means to win, triumph or conquer. The opposite of this word is “defeat” which means that one has been beaten or conquered. The notions of victory or defeat in this article are not in the worldly sense, but rather from the perspective of Islam. However, these concepts also have practical implications in our daily lives, the way we think and the way we behave.
We will show various examples of Prophets and Messengers who have achieved the highest victory across the ages. We will talk about normal men and women, such as the People in the Cave, the Man from Surah Ya Seen and the People of the Trench, where although most personal details of the protagonists – including even their names – are unknown to us, they were nonetheless honoured by Allah because they had died with dignity for Him. We will also see examples of other notable Muslim figures such Asiyah AS (the wife of Pharaoh) and Talut, who had to extreme hardship in order to attain their ultimate victory.
“Victory” in Islam does not mean a triumph which is tangible, a success which is measurable by material achievements, military conquests or status amongst our peers. In Islam, our ultimate victory is not quantified by our academic achievements, the wealth we acquire or our gains in the stock market.
Victory in Islam is to live and die with dignity whilst carrying the name of Allah, to be resurrected with dignity and to be admitted into Paradise.
The opposite of all this is defeat. If defeated in the Kingdom of Allah, we will suffer agony in life, die in disgrace, be tortured in the grave, be humiliated on Day of Judgment, and experience the agonies of hellfire.
Today, a new breed of championship has emerged in the Muslim world – the competition of constructing and owning luxury houses, skyscrapers and vast amounts of wealth. Muslims are trying to outdo each other on every material level – money, clothes, cars, furniture, vacations, real estate and social connections.
Yet, instead of feeling fulfilled, such people go through their life cycle with the increasing obsession to earn even more money, until that desire enslaves them. Money is the forefront of their minds, and persistently drives them to keep accumulating, even if it means their health, family lives and even happiness will take a huge beating in the process. We see an unprecedented amount of people being dedicated to their jobs, carrying two or three smart phones so that not a single call is missed, wasting hours of time trying to extend their social network, and in the process, neglecting themselves, their families and their original purpose in life.
This slavery is connected to the ego and desire of proving their status to their peers. Yet, it makes them constantly worried and stressed. Such people usually die in agony – and will be tortured with all the wastage and unnecessary accumulation and spending by which their lives were defined.
Apart from placing reliance on our earnings or financial stability, many of us are easily affected by our environment. Any slight shift in circumstance sends us spiralling into stress, panic and despair. Whenever something undesirable occurs, we swear, curse and complain, without any gratitude or even acknowledgment to Allah. We drown under our circumstances instead of rise above them.
Those who are enraptured by the material world think that their victory lies in this earth. Eventually they become so greedy and selfish that no matter what Allah has bestowed upon them, they are unsatisfied and still crave for more. This submission and addiction to riches leads people to being unable to share their wealth with the needy – a state which is a total contradiction of Islamic values of generosity and economic justice.
Because one’s life is now evaluated by one’s worldly achievements, parents are now pushing their children to achieve even greater material success. Education is no longer for the sake of knowledge but for the sake of a lucrative career. When parents marry their children off, the criteria is money, skin colour, passport type and wealth, instead of iman or even basic character and manner.
By being too relaxed with our material accomplishments, we become heedless of Allah’s various warnings and admonishments to us. Instead of being on a high alert about our iman, we enter a comfort zone, get used to the status quo and we eventually grow to like it. For those who are trapped in this cycle, heedlessness of Allah is the consequence.