The Quran and Sunnah contains clear guidance on how to a become titan of success. Muslims have historically used this knowledge to achieve amazing things. Think about it, it was the Muslims who wiped out both the Roman and Persian empires and replaced them completely. It was the Muslims who broke new ground in mathematics and science, such as discovering the algorithm which your computer uses in order to function. And it was through the Muslims that international trade and commerce spread, successfully democratising the world through entrepreneurship, which paved the way to making land– owning– nobility redundant. Throughout the so-called ‘dark ages’ when the rest of the world was steeped in superstition and ignorance, discovery and ingenuity flourished in the lands of the Muslims. This is because, those generations knew the secrets of success revealed in the Quran and Sunnah, and they implemented that knowledge to achieve, excel and better the world. But although this knowledge is not lost, it is for most people certainly forgotten.
The success I speak of is not solely in the hereafter, nor is it exclusively material, like some internet guru’s get-rich-quick course. In truth the two are inter-connected, because success in this life will inevitably impact on the hereafter. Can anyone argue that Umar’s defeat of Rome and Persia  or Bukhari’s completion of the Sahih collection  will not weigh in their favour on the day of judgement? Achievements in this life are the stepping stone to attaining the ultimate success in the akhira, i.e. Jannah. So in this series we will find out the Sunnah steps to success.
But we will not begin immediately with the actual steps found in the Quran and Sunnah for high achievement. Rather, it is best to start by finding out what true success actually looks like before talking about the steps to it. So this first instalment in the Sunnah Steps to Success series will be a journey through jannah (paradise). That is after all the goal without which everything else is pointless. And the Quran and Sunnah inspires readers towards this end goal by painting a vivid picture of what it is like. So let’s start the secrets to success by looking at what happens after judgement finishes.
Have I actually made it?
We will pick up from the moment when judgement is about to be passed on you. After you have been shown all of your deeds, the good and the bad, you wait to be told what will happen to you. You can see the angel coming towards you with your book of deeds in his hand. You know what he carries is a full record of all of your actions. The angel approaches – and he gives it in your right hand. The judgement which you’ve known about throughout your life has just climaxed and you now know that you have passed the test. It is a surreal moment where your dread of being judged has suddenly been switched with overwhelming joy. By the grace of Allah, your sins which you just were shown in detail have all been forgiven, and you are now among the successful. Your heart sings.
Immediately you are shown the way towards the gates of Jannah, and you start rushing towards it along with a large crowd of people. The happiness that you feel at this moment is immense, yet you can’t help but wonder what has happened to your family and friends. You have been alone since judgement started, and even while rushing towards the glimmering gates, you wish that you could share this moment with them. But as you are advancing and you start to smell the scent of Jannah, you look around and suddenly before you are your parents. Then you spot your spouse, and then your children, and one after another you find people you love until you are all together, bubbling with joy because now you have others with you. Thus you will be lead towards Jannah in large groups of people you love, because we humans need to share our happiness with others . This is exactly why we choose to go on holidays with family or friends, and when we are alone we love to share the experience through social media or ‘wish you were here’ cards.
Gates of Jannah
So now you and your loved ones are being ‘driven’ by the angels towards jannah, until you are all stood right before its magnificent gates. But you find it shut and guarded by towering angels who say that it will not be opened except for one man, and one man only. Hearing this makes everyone around you anxious, because you will not feel completely safe until you are actually over the threshold of these gates.
Suddenly the crowd splits in half and a man makes his way through it until he is at its front. A man has stood up again, just like he did when he said “this is for me”, and asked Allah to end the wait and start the judgement. Again he is the one who comes forward, walks to the gate and asks the angel to open it for the Muslims. The great mountain-like angel will ask, “who are you”, and they will get the resounding response, “I am Muhammad”. Immediately, as if some secret password has been uttered, they will rise to their feet and announce, “We were instructed not to open these gates for anyone before you, oh Prophet”, and right away the imposing doors to jannah will be drawn open . You along with everyone else will flow in behind the prophet, and the angels who only moments earlier were stern and unyielding, will speak the sweet words which every Muslim yearns to hear; “Peace be upon you, purified you are, enter into the garden ever-living and lasting”.
Your New Home
Thus, you will walk in and instantly be surrounded by angels, who welcome you as an old friend who has returned to his home after many years of absence. In actual fact, jannah is what we were created for and it is only right that we feel like returning natives. Yet everything still mesmerises us. The sights and sounds of jannah will be beyond anything we could have imagined; so we will take many years just staring open-mouthed at the new things we will see. We will therefore be left to our devices for some time, at least until we can find our own home and finish staring at the beauty of it all.
When the people of jannah have settled in their own palaces, an angel will come to them and announce that Allah has ordered them to visit Him. So they will all gather in a valley of jannah, between lofty waterfalls and pillars of light. This gathering is not however, just a meeting with your friends, rather everyone of jannah is invited. So after arriving, as you are going to your seat, you walk past the heroes whom you’ve known about all of your life, like Imam Abu Hanifa and Salah Uddin. When you arrive at your seat you notice that you’re not far from Umar ibn al-Khattab. But wait, you can actually see Prophet Musa close by as well, who has already sat down. And just at that moment you sense a large crowd approaching, and immediately you know what it is – it is our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) surrounded by a thousand angels, yet still clearly visible to everyone around him. The man you modeled all of your life on now walks before you, honoured as the best of creation.
While looking around and thinking about the extraordinary company you are among, without warning, there is a sudden burst of light. It covers everyone and everything. You will raise your head and before you, you will see that it is All-Mighty Allah, covered in light and absolute majesty. All eyes gaze at the light of their Lord, knowing that they are now in the company Allah. It is beyond the power of words to describe this moment; it is simply ecstasy.
What Else Could We Ask For?
Even though Allah will be among us, He will still be covered in light. He will greet everyone and then He will order Prophet Dawud, who is famed for his beautiful recitation, to raise his voice and sing the Zaboor and glorify Allah with melodious praise. So Dawud will sing and no one would have heard anything as beautiful in their lives, neither in the dunya nor in jannah. Then a table will be brought down from above; its length and width encompasses the east and west. It will be filled with foods of every kind, and you will be told to eat and celebrate . Oddly, the food will taste better with every bite. So the people of jannah will feast like no one has ever feasted before, in the company of prophets, angels and All- Mighty Allah.
Once they have finished, Allah will ask everyone to request of Him whatever they wish so He can give them to their heart’s content. So the people, having been blessed with everything they could want, simply ask that to be pleased with them. Allah will reply, “You would not be in my jannah had I not been pleased with you, my servants”. After getting this reassurance, you and everyone in this gathering will feel confident to ask for the greatest favour from Allah – to see Him and look at his face. So everyone will cry out in one voice, “we wish nothing more, our Lord, but to see you”.
Allah will say, “You are the ones who worshiped me in the dunya without having seen me, and today I will honour you more”, and with that He will remove the veil of light and reveal His Countenance, full of majesty and glory. All who are present will fall prostate in gratitude. They will bask in the light and majesty of their Lord, knowing that this is what they were promised, and that Allah has not betrayed His promise to honour the believers .
The Roadmap to Our Destination
You will be told at that point that you are no longer in a place of work and exhaustion any more, since you had worked hard enough in the dunya. This is the place of lasting enjoyment where you are rewarded for your efforts and achievements in the dunya. That will be the ultimate success, but it can only be reached through effort and achieving success in this life first.
Allah has revealed through his prophet a methodology to achieve success in the most holistic way possible, in the dunya first and then in the hereafter, and in whatever field you choose to make your calling. Like Bukhari’s mission to compile the Sahih, or Abdur Rahman ibn Auf’s business success, or Nuruddin Zengi’s unification of a broken ummah; these are all different fields, but all are successes worth gawking over. So this series will present the steps found in the words of Allah and the actions of his messenger which, no matter what field or endeavour you apply them in, will lead to accomplishment. That is why the sage, Ibrahim ibn al-Adham, said,
“If the kings and emperors know of the happiness we have through our knowledge, they would certainly fight us for it with their armies.”
And Allah did not set us a destination without giving a roadmap of how to get there. The destination is jannah. The roadmap was shown by the Prophet. The fuel needed to drive on this road is effort and accomplishments of our own. If you want to get to your goals in life, you need only to follow the Sunnah Steps to Success. This series will reveal and explain them; you just have to learn and implement them.
By Mahmud Shahnawaz
3. Quran 39:73. And those who had Taqwa will be led to Paradise in groups till when they reach it, and its gates will be opened and its keepers will say: “Salam `Alaykum (peace be upon you)! You have done well, so enter here to abide therein forever.”) (74. And they will say: “All the praises and thanks be to Allah Who has fulfilled His promise to us and has made us inherit the land. We can dwell in Paradise where we will; how excellent a reward for the workers!”
4. Muslim, 197: Anas b. Malik reported: “The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “I will come to the gate of Paradise on the Day of Resurrection. and would seek its opening. and the keeper would say: Who art thou? I would say: Muhammad. He would then say: It is for thee that I have been ordered, and not to open it for anyone before thee.””
5. Quran 32:17 ‘No person knows what is kept hidden for them of joy as a reward for what they used to do’
6. Sifatul Jannah by Abu Na’eem: 397
7. Musnad of Imam Shafi’i: 374