Fruits of Striving, Wealth and Prestige, Perfectionistic Parents
Issue 676 » March 9, 2012 - Rabi al-Thani 16, 1433
Fruits of Striving
Al Najm (The Star) - Chapter 53: Verses 39-41
For all committed people the above passage carries an inspiring message. It is especially relevant for institutions engaged in training younger generations, for it contains an elaborate moral code and set of guidelines for the young.
Allah has promised man that he will obtain success in his striving. It is emphasized in the Quran that man's efforts will bear fruit. As to the time-scale of gathering the fruit of one's striving, the Quran hints that this may take a very long time. Man is thus told not to despair if he does not gain immediate results. Man is to be credited for much in the world - the vast empires, the rise of various civilizations, the spread and advancement of knowledge, and intellectuals appearing on the public scene. All these are manifestations of man's striving.
Knowledge Without Action †
Abstract knowledge alone will neither increase us in power, nor strengthen our situation. Likewise if a brave warrior†in possession of ten Indian swords and other weapons was alone in the wilderness, and a great ferocious lion attacked him, do we think the weapons could defend him if they were not used against the lion? †
By the same principle, if a man read a hundred thousand theories, they would be of no use to him if he did not try and apply them. Therefore, if we studied a hundred years and collected a thousand books, we would not be prepared for the Mercy of Allah, the Exalted, except by action.
Three Principles to Remember
From this verse three important principles can be derived:
- that every person will get only the fruit of his own deeds;
- that the fruit of one person's deeds cannot be given to another unless he has a share in that deed;
- that none can attain anything in the Hereafter without the desire to strive for it.
Some people wrongly apply these principles to the economic problems of the world and conclude that no person can become the lawful owner of anything except of his or her own earned income. While Islam encourages everyone to†work hard to earn their own livelihood, there are provisions, such as Zakat and†inheritance laws that allow one person's income to be transferred to others on the basis of their moral and legal entitlement.
"Guidance from the Holy Quran" - Sayyid Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, pp. 229, 230
"Dear Beloved Son" - Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali
"Towards Understanding the Quran" - Abul Ala Mawdudi
Wealth and Prestige
Two hungry wolves sent against a sheep will not do more damage to it than a man's eagerness for wealth and prestige does to his or her religion. [Ahmad, Tirmidhi]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) was explaining that the damage done to a person's religion (deen) by his eagerness for accumulating wealth and attaining prestige is no less than the damage done by two hungry wolves to a flock of sheep. This is quite obvious, for if a human's faith is sound, he will not have an eagerness or anxiety over these secondary things. Once the heart has tasted the sweetness of true servitude to Allah and love for Him, nothing else will be dearer to him than that and nothing else will take priority over Allah in one's life.
How many times do we find ourselves having to choose between obedience to Allah and doing that which we know to be right or following our desires in pleasing others or self-gratification by means that are prohibited? Surely the two choices are not equal and a person of character is content with the former in all circumstances.
Let us remember this hadith the next time we 'sacrifice' some duty of Islam for some worldly gain, the next time we are 'prevented' from praying due to our 'busy schedule' or embarrassment amongst people, the next time we are so 'blinded' by our devotion to our career, academic or leisure pursuits that we forget our responsibilities towards our families, communities, and most fundamentally, our own preparations for the akhirah (hereafter).
What good is all that if one was to lose his or her connection with Allah and closeness to Him and hence any hope of inner peace or spiritual contentment?
"Al Ubudiyyah" - Ibn Taymiyyah
Instead of receiving encouragement and support from their parents, children of perfectionistic parents tend to receive only criticism, demands, and sometimes ridicule. Consequently, they often grow up feeling inadequate, incapable, awkward, or inept. Since they receive little praise or constructive guidance, their self-esteem is usually very low, and they have little faith in their own abilities. They are often overwhelmed with anxiety whenever they have to perform in any way, and this sets them up for failure. In addition, people raised by perfectionistic parents tend to suffer from any or all of the following problems:
- A sense that they are valued for what they do instead of for who they are (doing versus being)
- A tendency to be self-critical, never satisfied with themselves or their performance
- A tendency to doubt themselves and to second-guess
- An inability to identify and express their emotions
- Compulsive behaviours (extreme dieting, overexercising, excessive cleaning)
"Healing Your Emotional Self" - Beverly Engel, p. 51