Failure Is Not An Option
One of the biggest problems many people have is their fear of failure. This same problem exists within Muslims also. Many Muslims are unwilling, even afraid, to do something because they think they’re going to fail.
How many times have you tried to begin a good habit and quit after a few tries? For example:
- Have you tried to make Tahajjud or the night prayer, only to quit after a week or so?
- Have you tried to work or exercise only to stop within less than a month?
- Did you promise yourself you’d finish the Quran this year and are still somewhere in the middle of Surah Ali Imran?
You’re not alone. All of us have failed at something at some point in our life.
It may have been something simple like a game.
Or it may have been something serious like a career or big exam.
Those who give up after failure and never try again are the real losers. They will never have a chance to taste success because they won’t even try for fear of failure.
But those who continue, even after failure, are the ones who will win in the end.
One of the greatest examples of resilience and refusing to give up is in the story of Prophets Jacob and his son Joseph (peace be upon them both).
I’m sure you know the story. Prophet Yusuf (AS) was thrown down a well by his jealous brothers. Later, he was sold into slavery and served in the King of Egypt’s court.
Prophet Joseph went through many trials while in the royal court, including being falsely accused of sexual assault and imprisonment. But I want you to focus on the patience and determination of his father, Prophet Yaqub (AS).
His sons told him that Prophet Yusuf (AS) was killed by a wolf. Listen to what he said when they gave him the news:
Rather, your souls have enticed you to something, so patience is most fitting. And Allah is the one sought for help against that which you describe.
Chapter 12, verse 18
These words tell us many things about Prophet Yaqub (AS):
- He knew something was up and that his sons weren’t telling him the complete truth. He was going to be patient with the news of this tragedy.
- He would rely on Allah for help in the matter.
This is amazing patience for a parent who hears the worst possible news. But what is even more amazing is his reaction when he thought he would lose another son, Benjamin, who had been arrested for stealing.
(Benjamin’s arrest was really just part of a plan by Prophet Yusuf, and the young man was never in any real danger.)
He said, “I only complain of my suffering and my grief to Allah , and I know from Allah that which you do not know.
O my sons, go and find out about Joseph and his brother and despair not of relief from Allah . Indeed, no one despairs of relief from Allah except the disbelieving people.”
Chapter 12, verses 86-87
Even after losing two of his beloved sons, Prophet Jacob (AS) refuses to lose patience. He refuses to despair of Allah’s mercy. And he refuses to give up.
He took his grief to Allah and complained to Allah. He was humble, and sorrowful, and full of grief before Allah.
But to the creation, his sons, he was strong and resilient and advised them to never to give up on their brothers.
Not just Benjamin. But also Prophet Joseph (AS) whom he hadn’t seen in years.
Yes, even though he hadn’t seen Prophet Yusuf since he was a boy, Jacob kept his faith in Allah that he was still alive. He put his trust in Allah and was rewarded with the return of his sight and both sons.
Learn From the Lesson Of Prophet Jonah (AS)
In contrast to the resilience of Prophet Jacob (AS) you can learn something different from Prophet Jonah (AS) who was impatient and gave up. He gave up on his people who refused to accept his message of Islam and obedience to Allah.
There are only two cities in history that went from complete disbelief to complete belief after a Messenger of Allah came to them. One was the city of Nineveh where Prophet Yunus (AS) was sent.
The other, of course, was the city of Mecca where Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was sent.
Then has there not been a city that believed so its faith benefited it except the people of Jonah? When they believed, We removed from them the punishment of disgrace in worldly life and gave them enjoyment for a time.
Chapter 10, verse 98.
Unfortunately, Prophet Yunus (AS) gave up too early. After preaching to them for a long time to accept Islam and not receiving a positive response, he stormed off and left the city threatening them with the punishment of Allah.
He got on board a ship and after some time they hit rough waters. To lighten the load, the people on the ship, including Prophet Yunus (AS), drew lots to see who would be thrown overboard to lighten the load.
Prophet Yunus’ (AS) name was drawn three times and he was thrown into the sea and promptly swallowed by a whale.
While in the whale, Yunus (AS) realized his mistake and turned to Allah in repentance. Though he had given up on his people, he did not give up on the Mercy of Allah. He knew that Allah is the Most Merciful and forgives all sins with sincere repentance.
Prophet Yunus (AS) prayed to Allah a powerful prayer:
And the man of the fish, when he went off in anger and thought that We would not decree upon him. And he called out within the darknesses, “There is no deity except You; exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers.”
Chapter 21, verse 87.
Allah forgave Prophet Yunus (AS), rescued him from the fish, and returned him to his people who were now believers.
Never Give Up!
The primary lesson from the story of Yunus (AS) is DON’T GIVE UP!
- Just because something seems impossible to you, it certainly is not impossible for ALLAH.
- Never, ever, NEVER, despair of Allah’s mercy. Even after you’ve done wrong, given up, and ran away from your responsibilities, you can still turn to Allah and ask for forgiveness.
- You must continue striving for good and justice, no matter how difficult it may seem, and no matter how many obstacles are in your path. ALWAYS stand for righteousness even if everyone else is against you.
One day it will happen to you if it hasn’t already. You’ll be confronted with difficulties and you’ll want to give up. You’ll want to run away. You’ll want to despair.
When that time comes, DON’T GIVE IN TO THIS WEAKNESS!
Remember the story of Jacob (AS) and how he continued to hope for his son after many years.
And remember the story of Jonah (AS) and how he gave up just before Allah’s mercy came to his town.
And if you do make the mistake of giving up, it still isn’t too late. You don’t have to continue “giving up.”
Remember Allah. Glorify Him. Admit your mistake.
And then get back to work.by