Secrets of Success
By: Ayatullah Ja'far Subhani
Al-Qalam Translators & Writers Bureau
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Printed in 2004
The Period of Hopes and Aspirations
The period of youth is an age of aspirations and hopes. A time to be happy. This is the time when the future of every young person comes before his eyes in the form of sweet dreams. He begins to think. He makes programs and treasures grand ambitions in his heart.
However, sometimes it also happens that a man breaks down right during the time of his youth. Such a person is never able to achieve any of his aspirations, even till the time he becomes old.
Sometimes it also happens that, quite unexpectedly, a person obtains much beyond his expectations and all of his sweet dreams become reality.
Surely one man’s success and another’s failure are not accidental or without reason behind them. The causes of both must be sought in the very lives of the persons concerned.
We can be sure that one who succeeds has started life in a way, which assures his success and one who fails, most probably, does so due to his own mistakes. It is because he has walked a path that did not lead to his destination.
In this book, our aim is to describe the reasons for the success of the world’s successful people so that the young generation may benefit by it and adopt the path, which is straight, and avoid the alleys, which are unknown and full of hurdles.
Secrets of success are not merely one or two. Though a part of their success is due to what they had obtained as legacy from their parents in the form of internal qualifications, natural traits and intelligence. Certainly such traits cannot be obtained by making efforts, as they are Divine gifts, which the Almighty God has bestowed upon them for administering their worldly affairs.
This book will also prove that even though such factors facilitate the development of the youths they are not the sole determinants of a successful life. The actual factors of progress are different and they are such that anyone who aspires to be successful can seek them out easily and use them to his advantage. By adopting such techniques he can certainly become a distinct member of the society if not one of the most successful persons of the world. Such an achievement too is praiseworthy and laudable, because, there are so many young people who miss the path of success and meet failure in life.
The progress of man mostly depends upon training, zest, struggle and proper programming. The readers will find these things in the following pages of the first part. The influence of ‘heredity’ is much less in comparison to them.
We shall now explain briefly the secrets of success illustrating the same by examples from the lives of great men.
Liking and Enthusiasm
One of the causes of success is taking up the vocation to your liking and that which commensurate to your intelligence or mental ability.
God has not created all of us alike. We all are not bestowed with the ability of doing everything. But, in order to run the society smoothly He has given a distinct taste and tendency to everyone. It is so, in order that one may take up the profession of ones own liking or bent of mind, and that, which attracts one; thus deriving benefit from ones natural competence.
Generally one of the causes of young people’s failure and defeat is not following this established rule. As a result of wrong propaganda and faulty training they go after jobs, which are not according to their aptitude. They take up vocations for which they are not suitable.
They forget the accepted principle: “Every mind has certain predisposition. Lucky is the one who finds it out.”
I remember that in the years 1951-53 the subject of oil had seized public attention. Every Iranian man and woman was thinking only about oil. The value of oil exports had soared high in the eyes of the Iranian society. This had caused a change in the thinking of the student community. All or most of the students desired to join the oil industry though many of them did not have a natural bent for it.
The progress and success of a student gets a lethal blow if he enters a field, which is not in line with his or her natural bent. For instance, if a youth is interested in literature, if his tongue and pen spread literary pearls and he has no liking at all for mathematics he will definitely not succeed except in the field of literature.
A page from the Biography of a Famous Painter
Now let us read an extract from the diary of a famous painter: He was an idle boy during his college days. He neither studied properly nor allowed his companions to do so. He was a thorn both in his own path and that of others. Yet his appearance showed that he was a capable boy.
A professor who was an expert psychologist called him, gave him some advice and warned him of the bad consequences of his life-style. He counseled: Nobody is fortunate enough to have the protection of a father forever. Life is full of difficulties. The way you live will make you suffer badly in future…
However, the professor observed that when he was advising the boy he was busy drawing a picture with a piece of coal on the floor.
The intelligent professor at once understood that this boy was born to be an artist and had nothing to do with the problems of algebra. No amount of effort in the field of mathematics would benefit him.
Realizing his responsibility in this connection, he informed the boy’s guardian of this discovery. He told the boy’s father to the effect: “Your son is very much interested in drawing. If you change his faculty, he might earn much fame in art.”
Days passed and the words of the professor came true. That boy soon became an expert painter.
Edison was asked by some, “Why most of the young people are unable to live a successful life?” He replied, “Because they are not aware of their path and they traverse other routes.”
Such people prove harmful to the society in two ways: They do not adopt the vocation for which they are capable and wherein they can get success and another harm is that they take upon themselves a responsibility which they are unable to fulfill.
The arrow showing aptitude
Every child is born with a sign, which shows the field of activity for which he is born. Lucky is the one whose guardians can read this sign in time. Nowadays the talents of the people are ascertained through vocational tests in advanced countries and they are advised to go for the course for which they are most suitable.
How nice it would have been if the scientist, along with instruments of measuring temperature and tremors, also invented something to measure the capacity and capability of people and install it in all educational institutions! It would have saved many people’s talents.
Galileo was fond of making toys in his childhood. His parents ignored this aptitude of their son and got him admitted to a course in medicine. He could make no progress. Thereafter he studied Maths and Physics and as a result his talents in astronomy became apparent.
Galileo was the first one to prove that the earth revolves around the sun. He was the first to invent the pendulum, which was widely put to use in the manufacture of clocks.
Tolstoy loved books while yet a child. He read many books on philosophy. While reading he was trying to understand various issues about life. Till the end of his life he remained occupied in this field.
George Moreland took up drawing the figures of animals. His art became apparent from the time he was only six. Though he lived for only 41 years he left numerous memorable pieces of art.
The expertise of Zerah Calburn in mathematics could also be seen right from his childhood. Some times people used to ask him as to how many seconds were there in a year or more and he would give the correct answer in an instant.
James Watt was the inventor of many machines and the one who had discovered the power of steam. He was very fond of conducting experiments in his childhood. Subsequently he attained much fame in the world of physics.
Darwin had domesticated a number of animals in his childhood. This hobby encouraged him to study the lives of animals and the changes through which they passed. After making a long journey he wrote a book classifying and describing the different kinds of animals and put forth a new theory of evolution.
Our religious leaders have emphasized that we must know and be acquainted with ourselves; that we should delve deep to find out our inner self.
Our internal feelings are like a magnet attracting similar things. They store things or events in ‘memory’ so as to bring them out later when needed. Man is able to savor their benefits then.
If whatever we learn is in line with our inner aptitude then it is easily stored up in the treasury of our memory and remains safe for a long period.
But if we do a thing, which is contrary to our liking, then our mind forgets it soon. Thus the chances of our success are reduced.
One who has ignored his natural aptitude is like one who swims against the currents or like the one who has entrusted himself to the giant waves which could sweep him away to the other side. Such a man seldom succeeds in his work.
In short, when man becomes aware of his capabilities and knows his liking and then adopts a suitable vocation he soon becomes successful because he has a powerful inner attraction for the same.
Some powers appear at a certain time. An able and expert psychologist can detect them. Sometimes it so happens that a person appears a slow learner in the early stage of his schooling. But the same student proves to be intelligent later on. Obviously, particular conditions are required for the blossoming of such talents.
It is said that Einstein, who was a great scholar and mathematician of his time used to fail in his primary school examinations. But in particular circumstances his competence came out shining.
Sometimes it so happens that an officer appears to be mild and timid for sometime. But when the occasion arises he exhibits such bravery and courage that onlookers become spellbound.
News reached Malik Shah, the Seljuk king that the Qaiser of Rome was planning to conquer Baghdad. The Shah moved toward the borders of Iran with his regular army.
His Minister Khwaja Nizamul Mulk was once inspecting the forces when he spotted a short-stature soldier. He ordered that he should be brought out of the ranks.
He was of the opinion that a man of such a short stature would not be of any use in the army. But Malik Shah told his vizier, “How do you know? Maybe this man captures the Qaiser himself.”
Finally the Muslims were victorious and this soldier was the one to capture the Qaiser!
The system of world and every page of human history testify that everybody’s success is invariably related to his efforts. It takes hundreds of chemical actions and reactions for a small plant to become a big tree. Every living thing naturally knows that its existence depends upon struggle and efforts.
There are several reasons why our youths fail in their professions. One of the reasons of such failure is lack of continuous effort.
The rush of promising youths toward minor organizations shows that they have lost the enthusiasm and longing for great jobs. Consequently they become consumers of wealth instead of producers.
Lives of successful men show that each of them were ever struggling hard workers always making relentless efforts towards their goals.
Alexander Hamilton, a thinker and an intelligent man of his time says, “People say that I am very intelligent. But I am unaware of any such thing. I only know that I am merely a hardworking person.”
Another wise man says, “Whatever I am today is merely the result of my effort. I have not partaken even a single morsel that was not earned by me with my own effort.”
All the wonderful inventions are the fruits of untiring efforts of the scientists. The inventor of radio sometimes worked through the night while his family members slept soundly.
Edison, in order to complete some of his inventions, did not come out of his laboratory for days together. With an aim to control electrical energy in a way that its use may be cheap and easy, he often remained inside his laboratory for two or three days at a stretch. Sometimes he even forgot to eat. At other times he took only a few bites of dry bread and returned to his work immediately.
In the life history of the great French scholar, Pasteur, we see that the basic principle of his life was ‘work’. Sometimes he was so deeply engrossed in his work that he could not hear anything outside. So much so that when the Germans surrounded Paris and the guns were roaring, making deafening noise Pasteur was busy in his laboratory.
Napoleon slept only five hours a day and was busy the remaining nineteen hours daily.
A very intelligent scientist of the East, Ibne Sina (Avicenna) was a very studious and hardworking person. His numerous books on various subjects are the fruits of his relentless efforts. His masterpiece in philosophy Shifa and another of his great work Canon in medicine have earned global fame. Another of his book has been translated into several languages of the world.
Not a single day of the great Muslim scholar Ibne Rushd passed without reading and contemplating ever since he learnt how to read.
Jawahiral Kalam is a very valuable book and the fountainhead of Islamic jurisprudence. Till date no other Fiqh book has been written so comprehensively. Its last edition consists of around forty bulky volumes.
Muhammad Taqi Qummi is a great Iranian personality living in Egypt. He says, “When I showed all the aforesaid volumes to the professors in the University of Egypt and told them that all these books have been written so minutely by a single person they were astounded.”
Another great scholar, the late Shahabadi, who was an expert in science, philosophy and scholastic theology, narrates that his father was one of the students of the writer of Jawahiral Kalam. One day when that great scholar’s great and intelligent son passed away and it was nearly midnight by the time bathing and covering of the body was over, it was decided to put the corpse in one of the rooms around the shrine of Imam Ali (a.s.) till the next morning so that more people may be able to attend the burial.
Though the author of Jawaahir had suffered a shocking blow just a few hours ago he did not postpone his routine reading and writing after reciting some parts from the holy Quran besides the body of the departed son. Thus he gave a proof of his extraordinary patience, endurance and fortitude.
The great Islamic jurisprudent, Agha Burujardi says: One night I was pondering over a problem of the principles of jurisprudence and making notes. I was so much engrossed in this that I forgot that it was time to go to bed. When I heard the Morning Azan I realized that it was dawn and that I had been working the whole night.
Let us now consider this. All of us have heard folk tales regarding treasures that lie buried in the earth guarded by huge dragons and that unless we overcome the dragon we cannot get the treasure. Though some believe it to be true the majority thinks it is just folklore. But let us think this way: Those treasures are, in fact, the mental or physical capabilities, which have been bestowed upon man, and the dragons are the barriers and difficulties, which come in the way of attaining those treasures.
Edison says, “None of my discoveries was accidental. Whenever it came to my mind that a certain work would be beneficial I used to engage myself in it. Then I used to conduct experiment after experiment until I succeeded.”
Newton has said, “If I have reached any elevated status, it is only the result of work and effort.”
Mc Launge says, “If people knew how much troubles I have taken upon myself for attaining this position of a tutor they would not feel surprised at my wonderful success.”
In the words of Buzurgmehr, “Mouth must be kept shut and hands free; we must go on working with our hands and never talk of rest and should have faith that the golden key to success is effort.”
Masterpieces Created in Prisons
Really, some people are indeed great. They remain restless like the waves of the sea. Love for work and longing for the goal keeps them busy forever and to such an extent that they do not cease working even in the most difficult moments of their lives.
The great Muslim historian, Ibne Khaldun, had written his masterpiece Muqaddimah during his exile.
The famous philosopher of the East, Khwaja Nasiruddin Tusi was imprisoned by the Ismailis at ‘The Fort of Death’. He wrote his world famous book Ishaaraat there.
Our great scholar, Shahid-e-Awwal had authored his precious book on the Islamic Laws, Lumaa in the prison of Damascus.
The History of the World was written by Sir Walter in jail.
Robin Crumm had authored many famous literary books during detention...
We conclude this discussion here and present the words of wisdom uttered by our respected religious leaders about hard work.
Work and Effort in the View of the Religious Leaders
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) once saw a laborer whose hand had swollen up. The Holy Prophet raised his hand up and exclaimed, “The fire of Hell will never burn this hand. This hand is loved by Allah and His Prophet. Whosoever lives on his hand’s earnings will receive Allah’s blessings and mercy.”
A worshipper once came into the presence of the Prophet and the Prophet was told that this person passes the whole year in worship and the maintenance of his family members is borne by his brother. The Holy Prophet said, “His brother, who bears the expenditure of this man’s family is nearer to Allah than this man. That man’s worship is more precious than of this.”
Once Amirul Mo-mineen Ali (a.s.) saw a group of people sitting in the mosque of Kufa. On inquiry he was informed that they were ‘Rijalul Haqq’ meaning, they eat if someone gives them to eat otherwise they endured with patience.
Amirul Mo-mineen averred, “The dogs in the streets of Kufa are also doing like that.” Then he ordered that the ‘Rijalul Haqq’ should be dispersed and that everyone must work to earn his livelihood.
Good fortune and prosperity comes to those who make efforts and work for it, not to the idle ones.
Those who have shaken the world were not extraordinary from the viewpoint of brainpower. The cause of their victory was hard work, effort and perseverance.
The great personalities of the world never hesitated to do small jobs for making both ends meet. Many of the brilliant students of Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s.) were oil vendors, cobblers and camel-hirers.
Plato used to make up the expenses of his journeys by selling oil. The Famous botanist, Lena was a shoemaker.
It is pitiable that people look down at the job of coolies, though carrying weight is a gentleman’s honest work. If the Dockers at port or laborers of a city stop working even for a day everything would come to a stand still.
The great leader of mankind, Amirul Mo-mineen Hazrat Ali (a.s.) planted orchards with his own hands and later donated them to the needy people.
He had installed many tents in various parts of Medina with his strong hands. He was never ashamed of doing hard work.
The Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.a.) had condemned a person who became a burden for society and said that such a person remains away from Allah’s mercy.
Our fifth Imam, Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) used to work in his fields and orchards even during the hot season and perspire there. He worked hard and also exhorted his men to do likewise.
Once his friend, Muhammad Mankadar took exception to this. He was of the opinion that it was not befitting for a personality of the Imam’s stature to toil like this. Imam told him, “To earn by ones own work is a kind of worship. Through this I want to make myself and my family needless of you and others.”
Faith in Intention
Faith or belief in ones aim is such an inner motive force, which definitely takes one to the final goal. Man loves himself too much and this love never abates. From this view if one is convinced that ones welfare and success lies in a particular work he would definitely proceed towards it.
One who values ones health takes the most bitter medicine in case of illness and finds that it easy to do so. He even puts himself on the operation table if necessary. Why? Because he knows that his safety is in taking that bitter medicine and his welfare demands the cutting off of certain diseased parts of his body.
If the diver is sure that there are precious pearls at the bottom of the ocean he submits himself to the waves of the sea with a particular zeal and enthusiasm. But if his belief were weak he would remain sitting idle on the shore and never venture into the deep waters.
Man steels his will power to attain some goal under the influence of such belief and faith that he does not care for the difficulties, hurdles and bitterness on the road to his goal. He befriends the thorns in his path and never complains of pain.
Sometimes the love for attaining a goal is so strong that man does not care even for his life. He sacrifices himself for his aim. He even greets death with a smiling face and sacrifices his life for his goal. Someone has correctly said:
Shall I tell you the sign of a Faithful Man?
If death approaches him he embraces it with a smiling face.
It is the same trust and faith in the aim that carries the astronauts high up into the thresholds of death. They risk their lives to discover the mysteries of space and exploit them for the benefit of mankind. They struggle hard relentlessly and courageously to attain this goal.
Fourteen hundreds years ago the Muslims were not more than 313 in number and they did not have enough weapons when they faced the powerful army of Quresh at Badr. From the viewpoint of warfare experts there was remote chance of the Muslim victory. It was unimaginable that such a little group of Muslims would scatter the powerful army of Quresh. But contrary to the thinking of Materialist the small group, which was armed with Faith, overpowered the physically strong opponents within hours. The cause of the victory of the tiny minority was the same Faith, which had made it very easy for them to sacrifice their lives in the path to their goal. This truth was also accepted by their enemies. Before the Badr encounter, a brave soldier of the unbelievers was asked to ascertain the material and spiritual power of the Muslims. He said, “Though the Muslims are much less than us in number and also inferior in material power they are much more strong in spirituality and steadfastness in the path of their religion. They are a group whose shield is their sword. None of them would die unless and until he kills at least one of your warriors. What can we gain when they kill an equal number of our men?”
Huzaifah in the Court of Qaiser
A warrior who has complete faith in his goal never hesitates in sacrificing anything. For him there remains no difference between the nuptial bed and the battlefield.
The history of Islam is replete with such examples and we come across such incidents in the history of others communities also. A brigadier was arrested along with his men by the Byzantine army. The martial court of the enemy sentenced all the Muslim prisoners to death and ordered their massacre. The said brigadier was told that if he becomes a Christian the court would reverse its decision.
But the Muslim commander valued his aim more than his life. He knew that even if he gives up Islam apparently and becomes a Christians just for show, the resolve of all the other Muslim warriors who had fought courageously would also weaken and they would be deceived by the conspiracy of the enemy.
Thinking on these lines he rejected the court offer in unequivocal terms. Then the court promised that if he (Huzaifah) embraces Christianity the daughter of Qaiser would be given to him in marriage, and moreover he would be given a high position, but he rejected this offer too.
Emperor Qaiser was personally present in the court. He ordered that one of the commander’s men be thrown in boiling oil so that he may see with his own eyes that the court’s decision was serious and not a joke.
Huzaifah witnessed his man being thrown into the boiling oil and saw his flesh coming away from his bones and being dispersed in boiling oil. Seeing this Huzaifah wept in grief.
The enemy thought that Huzaifah was weeping due to fear. But suddenly he turned toward the courtiers and spoke thus: “I am not weeping over the consequences of this man. I myself am awaiting for this end. I grieve because I have only one life to sacrifice on Islam. If only I had as many lives as the number of my hair, I would have sacrificed all of them on my religion.”
Those who heard these words were extremely astonished at this unflinching faith and under some pretext they released Huzaifah along with his eighty companions.
In the world of politics today there is a problem called ‘Vietnam’. It was a poor nation having the power of bow and arrow only but it has complete faith and trust in its aim. This nation brought down America’s vast economy and administration on its knees. In fact only one ‘Viet Kong’ compelled America to spend 10,00,000 million dollars.
In the year 1965 alone America dropped 80,000 bombs on South Vietnam (which is under the control of Viet Kong) and on North Vietnam and in 1966 America had to spend 15,80,00,00,00 dollars in these hostilities.
We see today the religious leaders of the Buddhists immolate themselves in the fields of ‘Saigon’ without the least sign of grief on their faces as they burn like a candle before the eyes of their followers who surround them singing religious songs. All this is only due to their unflinching faith and therefore their land has today become the battlefields for the east and west.
On the other hand, for creating courage and determination America has to dispatch a group of artists at a huge cost to provide light to the darkened hearts of their soldiers by dance and other material entertainment.
The Vietnamese soldiers are fighting for a particular aim and their goal is to end the rule of injustice and oppression and live freely, while the American soldier does not know what he is fighting for because there is a distance of thousands of miles between his country and Vietnam.
There are many examples of faith in aim. The greatest sign of Faith is that one bets ones life on it. The Holy Quran has mentioned this very clearly.
Patience and Perseverance
Patience and perseverance, tolerance and forbearance are common traits of the world’s most successful people. Patience is a very high quality of man.
Sometimes one errs in differentiating between patience on one hand and laziness, inaction, tolerating oppression and relying on luck on the other. Whereas patience and forbearance guarantees victory and success while laziness and inaction causes misfortune and results in failure.
Now we shall explain the difference between these two opposing qualities illustrating them through different examples:
A gardener desires that there be so many flowers in his garden that it always remains fragrant and the different colors of the flowers please the eyes and the atmosphere of the garden remains good.
If the gardener wants it to be so he must work hard. He should endure the sun and heat and cold and rain. He must become habituated to the pricking of thorns also and he ought to visit his garden often.
Hardships that one must endure to attain the goal are termed as patience.
If a trader wishes to earn profits and increase his wealth he must undertake arduous land, sea and air journeys. If a student desires good marks, a diplomat intends to woo the people they must work hard with utmost steadfastness and determination.
Regarding this Hafiz Shirazi says:
Patience and success are friends of each other,
Success comes as a result of patience.
One may wonder why as the causes of success ‘steadfastness and firm resolve’ is not discussed along with ‘work and effort’. It is so because there is a difference between the two. There are some people who do make efforts in the beginning, yet they break down when confronted with difficulties. Looking from this angle, steadfastness and endurance should be regarded as the supports of work and effort. They must be considered as the motive forces assuring that the work continue unceasingly.
Every triumph is not of the same kind. Sometimes it arrives early and sometimes it takes a long time. One must not expect that everything would be done in the same manner and that everything will end in success.
Works differ from one another. There are some easy jobs, which must be undertaken in difficult circumstances. Moreover the capacities and capabilities of people also are different. It is possible but the degrees of their intelligence may not be the same.
If a man is able to learn a vocation and becomes habituated to endure difficulties of the field within a year it does not necessarily mean that another person would also require the same time to master the same line of work.
It is said that George Stephenson, the mathematician who also came to be known as the father of the steam engine was very slow in learning and in making educational progress. Yet he manufactured the world’s first railway engine. He produced the world’s first passenger train in 1825.
Scholars say: High intelligence is of two types: one is late-coming intellect and another, which come soon.
The lives of great men show this disparity. Hence we can say that success is also of two types: one comes sooner and the other, late.
So if success does not arrive early one must not give up efforts. One must not imagine that victory is impossible and very difficult. A great Muslim scholar Abu Ja’rana is famous for his firm determination and steadfastness. He has said, “I have learnt firm determination from an insect called ‘Bijju’. Once I was sitting near a clean and shining pillar in the Jame Masjid when I observed that the tiny insect was attempting to climb the upright stone pillar to reach a lamp that was on the top. I kept sitting whole night and observing until dawn that how relentlessly that insect was struggling to climb up the slippery column. I counted 700 attempts when he was falling down from the middle of the path because the pillar was very smooth and glassy. His legs could not hold on. I was extremely astonished to see the extraordinary determination of that little worm. As it was time for Morning Prayer I got up from my place, made ablution and engaged myself in worship. After concluding my Namaz I looked back toward the pillar to find to my absolute astonishment that, as a result of its perseverance and untiring effort the insect had achieved its aim and was sitting close to the burning light!”
In the words of a melodious poet: Firm determination and perseverance is a nail. Man must take a lesson from it. The more you hit on it, the more firmly it sticks into its place.
The Role of steadfastness in learning art
‘Demotson’ is a great American orator who had to face failure a number of times while learning the art of public speaking and consequently had to stop speaking for some time. But he was not one who would give up so easily and in order to perfect his art he began to practice in his cellar. Sometimes he shaved half his face to look satirical so that he may be compelled to remain indoors and continue his practice. At last he succeeded.
The story of a famous seventh century Muslim scholar, ‘Sakkaki’, is also very interesting. He began to study at the age of thirty. Though his teachers were not at all hopeful of his success he continued his study with a wonderful zeal and enthusiasm. With a view to ascertain the extent of his intelligence a teacher once posed a problem of Shafei jurisprudence before him. The teacher said, “The Shaykh says that the skin of a dog becomes clean and pure by pounding.” Sakkaki was supposed to learn this by heart. So he repeated it many times and became ready to recite it when called for. Next day the teacher asked him to recite the sentence in front of all the other students. He stood up at once to say, “The dog said, the teacher’s skin becomes clean and pure by pounding.” Hearing this, everyone, including the teacher burst into laughter. Yet the aged pupil’s determination was so sound that despite this experience he did not give up his study, but followed the same course for another ten years. Of course, due to advancing age, his grasping power was becoming weak day by day. Once he had gone to the forest to memorize his lessons where he noticed that drops of rainwater constantly fell on a rock and made marks on that hard stone. He thought over it and told himself, “My heart is not harder than this rock. If drops of knowledge fall on it constantly like these raindrops they too would certainly leave imprints on it, at least to some extent.” He returned home and began to study with added zeal. At last, as a result of his untiring and continuous efforts and nonstop endeavor he became a distinguished personality of the literary circles of the Arab world. He authored a book, which was, for many years, a textbook in the course of Arabic education.
A Spring and a Mountain
A spring or a rivulet always flows from the mountain downwards. On its path it has to face many obstructions. Sometimes its water does not move further for several hours. Hurdles try hard to restrict its flow but it does not relent in its effort to push forward and weaken the hurdles every moment. Finally it succeeds in carving out its course by any means and in any way.
Another example is worth attention. The late Malik-us-Shoraa “Bahaar” has put this truth in verse thus:
A rivulet sprang from a mountain.
A rock came in its way.
It asked mildly to the rock: O kind one, please give me way.
But since the rock had a rigid heart, it slapped it and told it harshly to go away from there.
I am not to move from here even if there is a flood.
Who are you to make me move? Why should I care for you?
The spring did not get disappointed with this harsh lofty claim.
It kept on putting pressure and tried hard to find a way.
By making constant effort you can attain anything you like.
Those who engage in public welfare require more patience, perseverance, endurance and steadfastness. Unless they have these virtues they cannot move a step further.
An English philosopher was of the view that anybody can do anything. In the light of this principle he went out riding with a companion. On their way they came across a low wall. The expert rider spurred his horse and crossed it. The philosopher attempted to do so but could not succeed and he fell off his mount. But he got up and tried again, but again he failed. Then at last he succeeded in crossing the wall.
‘Odobon’ was a famous American zoologist who had drawn some pictures and after that he went on a journey putting away the papers safely in a box. But during his absence a rat chewed away those pictures and on returning home when he opened the box he saw that all his hard work was destroyed and he became very sad. Yet he remained determined and drew all the pictures afresh.
Carlyle had written a volume on the history of France. A friend of his borrowed the first volume though it was the only copy with him. This book was destroyed in fire due to the carelessness of the friend’s servant. With profound patience and perseverance Carlyle rewrote that volume.
Harvey had discovered blood circulation but he continued experimenting for eight years. Only then did he become sure of this. Then he put forth his view with simple arguments but met with strong opposition from all sides. A group called him mad and a lunatic. His friends began to avoid his company but he continued to defend his stand strongly. Today his view is accepted by all and is considered a fact of science.
One of the causes of success is focus or total attentiveness. As a consequence of centering thoughts on a single point the mind remains attached to it. Then even the hardest hurdle cannot weaken the man’s concentration.
Focus is for work what a lever is for lifting weights.
The principle of a lever is that force concentrates at one point, which makes it easy to lift up heavy objects. Similarly by concentrating the mental powers on a single point one is able to solve complex problems.
The working of our mind and body is like that of raindrops.
When collected at one place they make a vast ocean. But if they fall here and there in scattered manner they disappear in the dust with out any visible effect.
We all must have heard about the great personality of Shaikh Bahai. He had mastery over many sciences like physics, mathematics and Islamics and has left a number of his precious books for the posterity. He says, “I have debated with many scientists and scholars. Though their knowledge was very wide in every field I used to win the debate. However when I came across a person who was a specialist in his field, he vanquished me easily. It was so because my knowledge was insufficient in that particular subject.
Mental abilities resemble the sunrays in the matter of solving problems. If sunrays are made to concentrate on a certain point with the help of a magnifying glass they burn down whatever is kept there. Though the scattered rays do not affect anything.
In the same way unless the rays of human thoughts focus on a point they cannot remove hurdles, as the different aspects are not illuminated. Veteran teachers always instruct their students to study everything deeply which only means that the thoughts must concentrate on a particular subject. All inventions and discoveries are the result of concentrated effort.
There are some of us who do not have any particular aim in life. They wander here and there like a drifting ship that dashes against submerged rocks. We can also compare it to an aeroplane without a compass. People without a program of action also smash against the rocks of difficulties or sink in an ocean of nothingness.
There also are some people who do have some program of activities but midway to their goal backtrack and begin to walk in another direction. Only those succeed who do not leave their path before reaching their goal and even if the journey is very long it does come to an end after continuous travel.
Some people fail despite being active and prepared because their mind is not constant. It wavers and jumps from one place to another. They step in different fields, starting a new venture before completing the previous one. They are jack-of-all-trades but master of none and they are not perfect in any particular field.
Nature has taught us a nice lesson. If we continue to uproot a sapling and put it in another place over and over again it would wither away and cannot grow up. But a plant that remains firmly rooted at the same spot grows into a huge tree. Then it flowers and also bears fruit.
Want of concentration or hesitation is same as a plant that is uprooted every now and then. So it neither flowers nor gives fruits. Rather it withers away and dies.
It is rightly said that concentrating the thoughts at one point is the hallmark of the wise.
Taking up many assignments together brings personal loss and also harms the society. It can damage a nation’s economy and culture and result in anarchy, which is difficult to control.
Boron used to say: Man’s interest and natural talent implies that he can concentrate his conscience and feelings on one point.
Newton was asked how he was able to discover so many things. His answer was that by constantly thinking about them. He was thinking on a subject so thoroughly and deeply that the subject became as clear as daylight before him.
A special feature of the modern civilization is specialization. We have experts in all walks of life. Specialization has become so necessary that the world cannot advance in its absence.
Not only that discipline is a secret of the success of great men, our universe also stands on the same foundation. If the solar system is working regularly, if the stars are revolving around the sun systematically and if there is no flaw in this function for millenniums it is only due to the fact that the solar system is based on order.
Order is found in everything around us from the largest bodies of the universe to the minutest thing called ‘atom’. Everything in this world is made up of tiny atoms. A wonderful discipline is in action and it is seen in each and every movement of the universe. There are tiny atoms in every system.
Every atom has its own center, which is called ‘proton’. Many ‘electrons’ move round the center like stars and moons. In the words of a great Muslim scholar: “If you tear up the heart of every atom you will find its sun in its center.”
The universe is the best guide for all of us. We should learn about life and the causes and reasons of its stability and success from it. This universe tells that: “The secret of my survival is the regularity and orderliness which my Creator has ingrained in me.”
If the educational system of any country becomes chaotic, if the trade and economy of any nation is disturbed, if the balance of supply and demand is upset, if the law and order of any country turns corrupt, if the army gets out of control the end of that nation becomes certain.
When the commander of the Faithful, Ali (a.s.) was fatally injured by the sword of Ibne Muljim, the first bequest uttered by him to his sons, after advising them to refrain from Allah’s disobedience, was regarding this orderliness in every affair: “I advise you to refrain from disobeying Allah and to abide by law and order and regularity in life.”
One of the ways of orderliness is to divide our daily time according to our needs. Doing every necessary work in its proper time is life. We should further this foundation of life. We must refrain from disorderliness and indiscipline because irregularity ends propriety and destroys our talent and competence.
The leader of the God-fearing people Ali (a.s.) says, “A Muslim must divide his time into three parts. One part should be reserved for Allah’s worship, one for earning livelihood and the third for attending to the demands of the body which cannot be ignored.”
If there was no orderliness or discipline in our past life can we benefit from such orderliness in the remaining years of our life?
“Certainly, we can…” because the three stages of our life, viz, childhood, youth and old age are like three compartments of a ship which can be separated from one another by pressing a button. If a compartment is damaged it can be separated from the rest.
Only he is successful who can, using his wisdom, separate different compartments of his life and deal with them separately.
It is pitiable that man, instead of gaining from the present opportunities, should remain sorrowful for his past, thus wasting the time available to him and become careless about bringing order in the forthcoming time.
A competent minister was carrying out his administrative duties with the help of his assistants. When asked as to how he was arranging his affairs he replied, “I never postpone today’s work for tomorrow. In my view it is not correct to delay anything.”
We see signs in offices and workshops saying: Time is Gold. It surprises me because the value of time becomes more than gold if everything is done in time.