Religious Concepts

Success – A Treatise by Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra)


Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra), Second Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community

Translated by Professor Amtul Razzaq Carmichael for The Review of Religions Translation Team.

The Review of Religions takes full responsibility for any error in translation.

The coronavirus pandemic has had many people redefining or reconsidering their definition of success. In this brief treatise from 1929, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra), the Second Head of the Worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has profoundly explained the true concept of success which the world needs now more than ever.

The true meaning of the word success is something that has not been fully understood by our country’s people, and this is why we fail to succeed. In our country, success is equal to money, success is equal to being well-dressed and eating fine foods, and success is equal to wielding power and authority over others. However, the truth of the matter is that there cannot be a more flawed definition of success. If we have as our goal those things which are [usually] called success, they will actually prevent us from achieving true success. These things are not success in and of themselves, but are sometimes achieved as a result of attaining success.

Because of this poorly understood definition of success, sometimes people ask, why was  Imam Husain (ra) unsuccessful and why did Yazid succeed? However, if they reflected more deeply, it would become evident that despite his wealth, power and authority, Yazid failed, and even though Hazrat Imam Husain (ra) was martyred, he ultimately triumphed, because his aim was not power, but to safeguard the rights of humanity. 1,300 years have passed, but the principle which Imam Husain (ra) defended – that is, that the people have the right to choose the caliph, and that no son can take over this office as an inheritance from his father – is just as sacred today as it was then. In fact, the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Husain (ra) has strengthened this principle even more. Thus, the ultimate triumph belongs to Hazrat Imam Husain (ra) and not Yazid.

The Holy Qur’an has explained the key to success concisely and I draw your attention to these words. Allah Almighty states:

وَٱلسّٰـبِقُونَ ٱلۡأَوَّلُونَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُهٰجِرِينَ وَٱلۡأَنصَارِ وَٱلَّذِينَ ٱتَّبَعُوهُم بِإِحۡسٰنٍ رَّضِيَ ٱللَهُ عَنۡهُمۡ وَرَضُواْ عَنۡهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمۡ جَنّٰتٍ تَجۡرِي تَحۡتَهَا ٱلۡأَنۡهٰرُ خٰلِدِينَ فِيهَآ أَبَدًاۚ ذٰلِكَ ٱلۡفَوۡزُ ٱلۡعَظِيمُ

‘And as for the foremost among the believers, the first of the Emigrants and the Helpers, and those who followed them in the best possible manner, Allah is well pleased with them and they are well pleased with Him; and He has prepared for them Gardens beneath which flow rivers. They will abide therein forever. That is the supreme triumph.’ [1]

In this verse, it has been stated that true success is attaining the pleasure of Allah Almighty. The provisions of comfort and ease are not objectives in themselves, but are gained as a result of attaining true success. This verse also explains that the key to success is that any nation should strive to exceed and excel other nations in achieving these high objectives, which require sacrifice and which benefit others but brings no personal benefit. This is the key principle that our nation has ignored; without following this principle, success is not possible.

Our nation has wealthy people and landowners, but despite this we are not successful. This is because the efforts of our nation and our people are spent in securing their own honour and personal comforts. But the key to success is that the whole nation ought to become either like a muhajir, [2] who selflessly works for the greater good of the nation, or become like an ansar, [3] who helps and supports the muhajir. They should work like this until every single country finds itself surrounded by the kinds of goods and resources without which life would be difficult, and whose attainment would have been impossible without the immense sacrifices of the whole nation. Such nations succeed and their legacy never fades.

I hope that my fellow countrymen will understand the reality of this principle and will devote their complete attention to it. We cannot succeed by simply imitating other nations. Until we strive to be first in excelling others in certain sciences and disciplines to the extent that other nations come to emulate us, we will remain in a cycle of perpetual failure. Has the time not come that our previous failures should instil a sense of realisation within us? Are we yet to fall into even deeper humiliation? Despite having progressed from childhood to youth and then to old age, will we remain at the stage of immaturity [as a nation]? May God Almighty safeguard us from this and may He enable our nation to awaken; may our nation develop the spirit of the muhajir and ansar and stand shoulder to shoulder with those who excel in bettering this world. May our sacrifices not be temporary, but make it easy for us to sacrifice always. May we achieve such memorials of success that will stand the test of time. Ameen.


[1] The Holy Qur’an, 9:100.

[2] Muhajir refers to those Muslims who were native to Makkah but later migrated to settle in Madinah. [The Review of Religions]

[3] Ansar refers to the Muslims that were native to Madinah. [The Review of Religions]

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  • A most profound piece about what success actually is. Alas, the path is hard but true success cannot be achieved without sacrifice.