Allah ta’ala says in one of the most beautiful surahs in the Qur’an:
قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ
Successful indeed are the believers.
Allah ‘azza wa jall begins this surah, Suratul Mu’minoon (23), with this amazing statement. This Surah is named after the subject of the first ayah, Al-Mu’minoon, the believers. This word is from hamza-meem-noon and a mu’min a person who has emaan. What is emaan? To believe in Allah, His Angels, His Messengers, His Books, The Day of Judgment and the Divine Decree…. Anything else? Emaan is much deeper than this; emaan is what takes a firm position in the heart, confirmation with the tongue and the actions prove that statement. These believers do not just claim they are believers, but they have emaan in their hearts and the actions to prove it.
If you look at the ayah, Allah ta’ala begins it with قَدْ “qad” and when this word appears before a verb (in this case, أَفْلَحَ “aflaha”, “he succeeded’) it shows two things:
1- It appears before an expected matter, a matter that will surely occur. This denotes the meaning of: certainty, it is definitely going to happen. So with this in mind, this ayah will mean: in fact, certainly, those with emaan will succeed.
2- ‘qad’ makes the verb after it in the present and future tense, so it will give the meaning: certainly, the believers will succeed and will be successful and are successful.
The word Allah ta’ala uses for ’success’ is أَفْلَحَ “aflaha”, and a muflih is one who is successful. This is an amazing word that cannot be explained in English except with a deep analysis. It is from ف ل ح (fa-laam-ha) and it literally means to split something and cleave it. A falaah is a farmer. How does success connect to farming? Think about it: a farmer splits the earth, sows the seeds, waters it and takes care of his farm, tending it and watching over it everyday. A falaah is a person who puts in the work. A person who wants to achieve his goals breaks them down into tasks, with determination and consistency. The farmer cannot water his plants one week and leave them the next thinking they will still flourish properly, So a Muflih is one who bears difficulty and hardship and puts in his effort to achieve his aim and goal, effort is the key here. The farmer will go in the sun and heat, seven days a week and he will put in his maximum effort until his plants are harvested properly. Falaah is not just one who does a good deed once in a while, or here and there, but he does it until he reaches what he wants, consistently. Al-Muflihoon are the people who are successful, and not a partial success – a complete success: in this dunya and Aakhirah. And this success is not because of luck or good fortune, it didn’t just happen, but they became successful because they put in the work and effort to reach their goal (Jannah).
Who are these believers? What are their actions?
Allah ta’ala says:
الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ
Those who offer their Salat (prayers) with all solemnity and full submissiveness.
In their prayers, these believers are خَاشِعُونَ “khaashioon”, ones who are humbly submissive. This word has two literal meanings:
1- to bend down, to be humble.
2- to become still.
Khushoo’ is used for the submissiveness of the heart which is reflected on the limbs. So when the heart is humble and submissive to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, especially in salaah, how will the person be physically? Will they be moving? Will they be restless? They will be still. Inside they are humble and on the outside they are still and tranquil. If the heart has khushoo’, the body will have khushoo. So khushoo is not just a state of the heart, it is a state of the heart which is visible on a person’s actions, in their posture, and in their movements. Khushoo is a state of the heart and body, and the state of the body cannot be humble until the heart is humble…until this “feeling” is in the heart. What brings khushoo’ in a person? It is the fear of Allah azza wa jal, knowing that He is Watching you, and that He Sees you.
Moreover, these believers, who will be successful, are:
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنِ اللَّغْوِ مُعْرِضُونَ
And those who turn away from Al-Laghw.
They turn away from اللَّغْوِ “al-laghw”, and this word is from ل غ و (laam-ghayn-wow) or ل غ ي (laam-ghayn-ya), and laghw is defined as every word and action that is useless, without purpose, in vain and brings no khayr/good to the doer. Laghw in the Qur’an carries four meanings:
1- talk that is said without thinking/thoughtless talk
2- statements of indecency (fuhush)
3- meaningless and purposeless actions
4- very loud speech that is meant to drown out another person’s voice so they cannot be heard.
These people, from “laghw” are مُعْرِضُونَ mu’ridoon, ones who turn away. Think about it: when do we turn away from something? Firstly when we want to avoid it, and secondly when we don’t want to do it, and also when we are invited. Mu’ridoon gives two meanings:
1- They abstain from laghw
2- If and when they are invited to laghw, they refuse and don’t indulge in it.
Allah ta’ala continues:
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِلزَّكَاةِ فَاعِلُونَ
And those who pay the Zakat/purify themselves.
زَّكَاةِ Zakaat is from ز ك و (zay-kaaf-wow) or ز ك ي (zay-kaaf-ya), and has two meanings:
1- to purify something and make good.
2- to make something grow/growth.
Tazkiyah is a combination of both things: firstly you purify something from evil and that which not good and filthy (for example in one’s character, if one uses bad language, the first step in tazkiyah is purifying or getting rid of the bad words). And secondly, growth. (they learn how to speak in a good way).
The Zakaat which is paid on wealth is when one gives a certain amount of wealth on a certain kind of wealth at a certain time, given to certain people. As we know, Zakaat is very specific. It purifies the wealth and also makes it grow.
Allah says these believes with zakaat are: فَاعِلُونَ “faa’iloon”, ‘ones who do’, and if we take the meaning of zakaat given on wealth, it means they constantly give zakaat, regularly, and never miss giving the zakaat due on their wealth. Secondly, zakaat in this ayah can be taken literally as tazkiyah. They are constantly purifying themselves, their nafs and their akhlaaq. They regularly try to improve themselves and clean themselves. – The second meaning of tazkiyah may be more appropriate in this ayah because Suratul Mu’minoon is a Makkee surah and Zakaat was made obligatory after the Hijrah, 2 AH to be exact, and Allah knows best.
May Allah Ta’ala make us among those who believe and affirm their belief with sincere and good actions, Ameen.