Reflections: Redefining success?
By Halimat Shode
With just over a month until Ramadan 2017 begins, the month of fasting and spiritual activity to draw closer to our Lord cannot be underestimated. It is a chance for renewal without waiting for the end of the year to approach us once again. It is also a chance for redefining what is most important to us in our lives.
Since leaving university a couple of years ago, my definition of success has changed immensely. Success was measured in how soon I could get a career in my dream field. But when that didn’t happen, I felt like I had failed. I had to ask myself what the true definition of success was if things weren’t going according to the plan that I had for myself.
I had to seek out Allah constantly during this period of what seemed like no progress. For me, the Qur’an was a chance to reflect, to pause and see where my goals and my thinking were taking me.
Surely man is in loss,
Except for those who believe and do righteous deeds, and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.
(Surah Asr, Chapter 103)
This surah is a reminder to myself and hopefully others that no matter how much we accumulate and how successful we look to the world, if we are lacking iman in our heart and submission in our limbs, then our actions are futile.
Since then, my definition of success has expanded. I still have my career aspirations, but they are paired with spiritual and personal growth. Goals like being kinder and becoming more generous with my time and energy. Consistently working on my relationship with my creator and trying to be of benefit to people.
We live in times of success equating to wealth, what you own and your social status. Now in the social media era, we have retweets, likes and shares as an additional pressure for people to measure themselves up against.
Learning to be truthful in all of your affairs, being patient with events that impact your life, having patience with those close to you and trying to have the best of character are not spoken of in an equally praiseworthy manner.
It is a struggle to try and create your own standard of success away from materialistic pursuits and ego-driven goals. Though they are a part of our lives, as believers it should not be our purpose of living.
Worldly competition diverts you,
Until you visit the graves
(Surah Takathur, Chapter 102)
Halimat Shode is the founder and editor-in-chief of the online publication The Black Muslim Times UK and a writer. She is British-Nigerian, born and raised in London.
She has recently begun public speaking. She presented at the first British Islam conference in 2017 and spoke at Parliament for Islam Awareness Week.
She enjoys discussions around identity, representation, and books.
You can find her on twitter @Halimat_Writes.