It is a well-known fact that the Prophet
of Islam (sws) was the supremely successful man in the entire human history. But
he was not just a hero, as Thomas Carlyle has called him. According to the
Qur’ān, he was a good example for all mankind. He has shown us the way of
achieving supreme success in this world.
By studying the life of the Prophet (sws)
we can derive those important principles which were followed by him. In short,
the Prophet (sws) of Islam was a positive thinker in the full sense of the word.
All his activities were result-oriented. He completely refrained from all such
steps as may prove counter-productive.
The First Principle: To begin from the
possible. This principle is well explained in a saying of Ā’ishah. She said:
Whenever the Prophet had to choose
between two options, he always opted for the easier choice. (Bukhārī)
To choose the easiest option means to
begin from the possible, and one who begins from the possible will surely reach
The Second Principle: To see advantage
in disadvantage. In the early days of Makkah, there were many problems and
difficulties. At that time, a guiding verse in the Qur’ān was revealed. It said:
With every hardship there is ease,
with every hardship there is ease. (94:5-6).
This means that if there are some
problems, there are also opportunities at the same time. And the way to success
is to ignore the problems and avail the opportunities.
The Third Principle: To change the place
of action. This principle is derived from the Hijrah. The Hijrah was not just a
migration from Makkah to Madīnah. It was to find a more suitable place for
Islamic work, as history proved later on.
The Fourth Principle: To make a friend
out of an enemy. The Prophet (sws) of Islam was repeatedly subjected to
practices of antagonism by the unbelievers. At that time, the Qur’ān enjoined
upon him the return of good for evil. And then, as the Qur’ān added:
You will see your direst enemy has
become your closest friend. (41:34)
It means that a good deed in return of a
bad deed has a conquering effect over your enemies. And the life of the Prophet
(sws) is a historical proof of this principle.
The Fifth Principle: To turn minus into
plus. After the battle of Badr, about 70 of the unbelievers were taken as
prisoners of war. They were educated people. The Prophet (sws) announced that if
any one of them would teach ten Muslim children how to read and write he would
be freed. This was the first school in the history of Islam in which all of the
students were Muslims, and all of the teachers were from the enemy rank.
The Sixth Principle: The power of peace
is stronger than the power of violence. When Makkah was conquered, all of the
Prophet’s direst opponents were brought before him. They were war criminals in
every sense of the word. But the Prophet (sws) did not order to kill them. He
simply said: ‘Go, you are free’. The result of this kind behaviour was
miraculous. They immediately accepted Islam.
The Seventh Principle: Not to be a
dichotomous thinker. In the famous battle of Mūtah, Khālid Ibn Walīd decided to
withdraw Muslim forces from the battlefield because he discovered that the enemy
was disproportionately outnumbered. When they reached Madīnah, some of the
Muslims received them by the word ‘O deserters!’ The Prophet (sws) said: ‘No,
they are men of advancement’.
Those Madīnan people were thinking
dichotomously, either fighting or retreating. The Prophet (sws) said that there
is also a third option, and that is to avoid war and find time to strengthen
yourself. Now history tells us that the Muslims, after three years of
preparation, advanced again towards the Roman border and this time they won a
The Eighth Principle: To bring the
battle in ones own favourable field. This principle is derived from the battle
of Hudaybiyyah. At that time, the unbelievers were determined to engage Muslims
in fighting, because obviously they were in an advantageous position. But the
Prophet (sws), by accepting their conditions unilaterally, entered into a pact.
It was a ten-year peace treaty. Until then, the meeting ground between Muslims
and non-Muslims had been on the battlefield. Now the area of conflict became
that of ideological debate. Within two years, Islam emerged as victorious
because of the simple reason of its ideological superiority.
The Ninth Principle: Gradualism instead
of radicalism. This principle is well-established by a Hadīth quoted in Bukhārī.
Ā’ishah says that the first verses of the Qur’ān were related mostly to Heaven
and Hell. And then after a long time when the peoples hearts had softened, the
specific commands to desist from adultery and drinking were revealed in the
Qur’ān. This is a clear proof that for social changes Islam advocates the
evolutionary method, rather than the revolutionary method.
The Tenth Principle: To be pragmatic in
controversial matters. During the writing of the H~udaybiyyah treaty, the
Prophet (sws) dictated these words: ‘This is from Muhammad, the Messenger of
God.’ The Qurayshan delegate raised objections over these words. The Prophet (sws)
promptly changed the word and ordered to simply write ‘Muhammad, son of
These were the principles through which
the Prophet (sws) of Islam gained that success which has been recognised by
historians as the supreme success.
In the end, I would like to repeat these
ten principles of success:
1. To begin from the possible
2. To see advantage in disadvantage
3. To change the place of action
4. To make a friend out of an enemy
5. To turn minus into plus
6. The power of peace is stronger than the power of
7. Not to be a dichotomous thinker
8. To bring the battle in ones own favourable field
9. Gradualism instead of radicalism
10. To be pragmatic in controversial matters