The Importance of Self Discipline
One of the essential and useful principles that contributes effectively to man's progress and development is discipline and the quality of his activity. This is a fundamental rule based on experience and insight. The intelligent man is one who keeps his eyes and ears open to opportunities. His mind is open to the right formulas and solutions, and before every undertaking he gives sufficient forethought to its potential for positive results.
The people who build their lives on deep foundations advance much more rapidly and more confidently than those who act in a disorderly and undisciplined manner. The absence of discipline and orderliness brings great harm, a loss that cannot be easily compensated by anything.
Someone may devote long years of his life to a certain kind of work but due to lack of sufficient insight and knowledge he makes no remarkable progress despite years of toil. Another person may spend lesser time doing similar work but every day that passes brings him closer to his goal. He benefits from the fruits of his work and constantly adds to the list of his successes.
In the same way, often one who makes undue haste either does not reach his destination safely, or he prolongs his journey by taking the wrong route. The harm of undue haste in making plans and decisions is not lesser than the danger of negligence and weakness of will.
Ultimately, it is calculated action and correct thinking concerning the solution of problems that determine an individual's capacity to make progress. The same holds true in case of nations.
More than anything else society for its survival and edification needs men of fortitude who are not deterred by difficulties and who combine in themselves this characteristic with knowledge and science and employ them in the path of reform. If scientific genius and political acumen are not accompanied with patience and fortitude they will not yield any noteworthy results.
The Noble Qur'an exhorts the Holy Prophet of Islam that in order to achieve success he should never flag in his steadfastness at any stage and that he should resist subversive elements:
Be steadfast as you have been commanded, you and those who have turned with you (to God). 11:12
Be as steadfast (in pursuing your sacred purpose) as you have been commanded to be, and do not follow the desires of the people. 42:15
In some verses God says to the great Prophet of Islam: "It is possible to attain victory and relief in the midst of hardships. It is possible to attain success as a result of adversity. Whenever you get relief devote yourself to effort and endeavour and put your hope in the great Lord." In these verses one is reminded that the flame of effort and enterprise must never be allowed to go out. Rather following every success and victory one must prepare oneself to welcome future hardships. That is so because there is nothing like absolute ease in this world and one should not expect to find it here.
Will Durant writes:
Will which is unified desire is ... the characteristic form of growing life; and its strength and stature increase only as life finds for it new labours and new victories. If we wish to he strong we must first choose our goal and plot our road; then we must cleave to whatever betide. The way of caution here is to undertake at first only that which we may rely upon ourselves to carry through; for every failure will weaken us and every success will make us stronger. It is achievement that makes achievement; by little conquests we gain strength and confidence for larger ones; practice makes will.
But then one can be too cautious and by turning away from the beckoning of great deeds remain for ever small. Make sure that modest virtues shall not content you; on the morning after your triumph having feasted for a day, look about you for the next week and larger task. Face danger, and seek responsibility. It is true that they may defeat you may even destroy you; but the date of the one death which you must die is too slight a chronological detail to distort) philosophy. If they do not kill you they will strengthen you and lift you nearer to greatness and your goal. Make or break. 6
A study of the triumphant life of the Prophet of Islam his patience and steadfastness for the sake of the triumph of truth and guidance of the mankind, will not leave any need for an explanation in this regard. The secret of the victory of Muslims in the early era of Islam was their faith and unflagging resistance against dangerous enemies. The record of these heroic efforts occupies a prominent place in the pages of world history.
6. Will Durrant, The Mansions of Philosophy, p. 271
Adapted from: "Ethics and Spiritual Growth" by: "Sayyid Mujtaba Musawi Lari"
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