English - Ma'ariful Qur'an - Mufti Shafi Usmani RA - Vol - 6
Surah Al-Mu'minûn - 23 : Verses 1 - 11
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What is Falah? How and From Where Can it be Obtained?
Success is really attained by the believers - 23:1.
The word falah (translated above as 'success') has been used in the Qur'an and Sunnah on numerous occasions. The call to prayers invites every Muslim towards falah five times a day. The word signifies the attainment of all desires as well as protection from all misfortunes. (Qamus). It is so comprehensive in its connotation that it may be regarded as the acme of one's desire - but the total falah, where no desire remains unfulfilled or complete immunity from the vicissitudes of fate exists, is not granted even to great kings or to the most revered prophets of Allah. In any case there is an ever-present fear of a decline in or loss of good fortune, or the apprehension of an impending disaster, and no living person can claim to be free from it.
Thus it is evident that total falah cannot be achieved in this world which is a place of pain and suffering, where nothing is everlasting and everything must ultimately perish. However this priceless commodity will be available in another world, namely the Paradise and it is there that people will achieve all their wishes very promptly (They have all that they call for - 36:57). In that world there will be no sorrow, no distress, and everyone will enter there with the following words on his lips:
Praise belongs to Allah who has put away all sorrow from us. Surely our Lord is All-Forgiving, All-Thankful, who of His bounty has made us to dwell in the abode of everlasting life - 35:34, 35.
This verse also suggest that in this world there is nobody who at some time or the other has not been afflicted by pain and anguish. Therefore, on entering the Paradise people will say that they have been delivered from all sufferings. In Surah al-A'la while the Qur'an says that falah may be obtained by purifying oneself against sins (), it also says that total falah may be achieved in the Hereafter only. A Person who aims at falah must not succumb to the temptations of this world:
Nay, but you prefer the present life; and the world to come is better, and more lasting. - 87:16, 17
In brief, while total falah may be obtained in the Paradise only, Allah grants falah to his servants in this world also in the narrow sense of the word i.e. he grants them prosperity and relief from pain. In the present verse Allah has promised falah to those believers who possess the seven attributes mentioned therein, and it includes the total falah which can be achieved in the Hereafter only in addition to whatever falah may be obtained in this world.
Here one may ask that while the promise of total falah in the Hereafter to the believers who possess the seven attributes mentioned in this verse is understandable, the common experience is that in this world the recipients of falah (prosperity and success) are generally the infidels and the impious persons. On the other hand the prophets and other reformers have, in all ages, suffered privations of life. The answer to this is that since total falah is to be achieved in the Hereafter only, it is inevitable that every body in this world, whether he is a good and a pious man or whether he is a wicked person and an unbeliever, must face a certain measure of pain and hardship. Similarly every person, good or bad, has some of his wishes granted in this world. In these circumstances how is one to decide as to which of these two categories is the recipient of falah. The answer to this question can only be provided by the fate which awaits them.
Human experience and observations provide sufficient evidence that although the pious people who possess the seven attributes mentioned above may at times face hardships and tribulations in this world, yet very soon they are released from all distress and they achieve their wishes. They command the respect of the whole world as long as they live and then after their death their memory is cherished and revered by all.
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