Taqwa – The Foundation of Lasting Success

February 10th, 2010 @   -  No Comments

Taqwa implies possessing a high level of integrity, always doing the right thing, and taking actions to make improvements and add value, even when no one is watching. Taqwa builds trust, which is the foundation of every success and relationship, which cannot be built on the grounds of lies and deception. Not a single success throughout history, or a personal or business relationship, can exist for even a short period of time if some element of trust is not present. Would you go to a competent but untrustworthy doctor, or buy a product from a salesman you didn’t trust? Would you take your car back to a mechanic who replaced parts of your car with new ones, knowing the old ones were still in good condition?

In their book The Leadership Challenge, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner found that trust is the main thing people look for in leaders that they would willingly follow. It is not a coincidence, then that the two most important characteristics of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), even before he received the revelation, were truthfulness and trustworthiness.

“So is one who established his foundation upon piety (Taqwa) to Allah and upon His pleasure better, or the one who laid his foundation upon the brink of a falling cliff, so it fell along with him into the fire of hell? And Allah does not guide the unjust.” (Quran 9:109)

Here are some ways to build a strong foundation based on Taqwa, upon which you can build a lasting success:

Keeping promises

When you make a promise, you build hope. When you keep a promise, you build trust. Keeping promises can be manifested in something as small as taking your kids out on the weekends, being on time for appointments, beginning an event on time as indicated in your flyer or advertisement, to completing a big project within the prescribed timeframe. If you cannot keep your promises for reasons beyond your control, it is wise to inform those involved ahead of time. When you break your promises, you are sending a message, knowingly or unknowingly: “Do not count on me; I am not reliable.”

Telling the Truth

Telling people what they want to hear is easy. Yet telling the truth, even if it is unpleasant, builds credibility. Respect, influence, and success go to those who are strong enough to speak the truth. Leaders must tell and value the truth more than anything else. Here are the benefits when truth is prevalent in an organization:

  • When the leader speaks, people listen
  • Trust is evident among staff
  • No hidden agendas

Having the courage to act and speak up

Courage arises when the leader’s Taqwa will not allow any other choice. Courage is the commitment to do the right thing (even if it is the most unpopular choice), and to fight for what you believe is ethical and right. The lack of courage is more responsible for failure in life and work than any other factor. It is always fear that holds people back and causes them to sell themselves short or settle for far less than they are capable of.

Acknowledging mistakes

Making excuses is the easy way out. Acknowledging mistakes and taking responsibility, however, builds your credibility. The ability to admit mistakes, learning and growing from them, is a sign of a good leader. This sets an example for others to take ownership for their mistakes. A leader must accept that others are also prone to making mistakes. When handling mistakes, a leader must choose words wisely and discuss the issue in private. By contrast, when a leader does not admit mistakes, he is seen as untrustworthy. His team members will most likely hide their mistakes as well, and the consequences can be destructive to the organization. Have you been working in an environment where people are not taking the initiative out of fear of making mistakes?

Forgiving others

The presence – or absence – of forgiveness has tremendous consequences. A forgiving leader who creates an atmosphere in which both personal shortfalls and team failures are seen as valuable learning experiences builds and strengthens relationships, creates positive interactions amongst the team members, and fosters creativity. However, an unforgiving leader who does not tolerate mistakes creates an environment which is characterized by control, judgment, blame, and revenge. This type of environment is stressful, ineffective, and detrimental to team spirit, which ultimately affects the bottom line.

Maintining Taqwa

Taqwa is the result of always taking the right actions and abstaining from the wrong ones. Having and maintaining Taqwa is a continuous daily struggle against personal greed and desires. In our daily struggle for achievement, we need to remember what Allah (SWT) told us: “…and whatever good you do, Allah knows it. And take a provision for the journey, but the best of provisions is right conduct (Taqwa). So fear me, o you that are wise”. (Quran, 2:197)

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