Home Quranet Chapter 6 How should one accept success and failure?
How should one accept success and failure?
Chapter 6

إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ صَبَرُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ الصَّالِحَاتِ أُوْلَـئِكَ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ كَبِيرٌ (سورۃ هود, آيۃ 11)

But if We give him a taste of (Our) favours after adversity hath touched him, he is sure to say, "All evil has departed from me:" Behold! he falls into exultation and pride. Not so do those who show patience and constancy, and work righteousness; for them is forgiveness (of sins) and a great reward.. (Surah 11, Verse 11).

Muhammed decided to improve his grades when he entered the seventh grade. Before every examination in mathematics he studied hard and his grades were on the rise: 75, 80, 89, 92. Muhammed was very satisfied and persuaded himself that he knew the material well and no longer needed to work so hard. Towards the end of the year, the teacher scheduled a summarizing test and explained that this time they would need work hard to succeed. But Muhammed was convinced that he knew the material inside out and that he would have no problems.

When the exams were returned, Muhammed was stunned. He had failed. "It's not fair, I really studied hard", he claimed, and asked the teacher for a second chance. The teacher agreed to give Muhammed and several other pupils a repeat exam. This time he studied hard, but when the exams were returned, he discovered that he had failed again. He was depressed and said: "God is taking revenge on me. What have I done to Him?"

Muhammed lost his newly-gained. He thought he would have to study all the material again from the beginning and didn't know how to do it. He appealed to the school counselor who decided to restore his self-confidence but not to an excessive degree. She encouraged him to continue practicing mathematics and explained that not every exam is a precise reflection of the effort invested. "It happens", she said. "Sometimes we study for an exam but we don't succeed. But if we don't study at all, we are certain to fail. In your case, Muhammed, there is an appropriate verse which says: "But if We give him a taste of (Our) favours after adversity hath touched him, he is sure to say, "All evil has departed from me:" Behold! he falls into exultation and pride. Not so do those who show patience and constancy, and work righteousness; for them is forgiveness (of sins) and a great reward". "No, no", Muhammed replied. "I've learned something from this and from now on, even when I succeed, I won't boast or think that there's no need to study any more. I've learned something important in life. From now on, I will be one of those who show patience and constancy".

Explanation: it is only human nature. When we succeed time and time again, we may become arrogant and over-confidence and forget the taste of previous failures. This is true in various spheres and people who have reached high positions often are incapable of understanding the difficulties of others (for example, a parent who doesn't understand his children or a teacher who does not understand his pupils' problems). These people are actually not connected to themselves and are liable to encounter crushing failure one day. They are distancing themselves from the less confident elements that each individual contains within himself, denying their existence and are liable to fall. This is Muhammed's story. It is the counselor's task to restore his self-confidence but in balanced fashion. He needs to be aware that in order to succeed he needs to work hard, that he should not be afraid of failure. On the other hand, he should not fall into the trap of boastfulness when he succeeds, and should maintain tahe balance between success and failure and be aware that both linger at his doorstep. The Quran teaches us that human beings display two kinds of attitudes to success - disproportionate and balanced. Let us hope that Muhammed will belong to the second category.