Islamic Perspectives: “It is halāl (permissible) to celebrate academic achievements”- Ustahd Ibn Abdillah As-sudaisiy Al-Iloori

Education is the key to balance the growth of the personality by training yourself to be spiritual, intellectual, and rational. However, Islam placed a high value on education, and, as the faith spread among diverse. Muslim scientists advanced the fields of algebra, calculus, geometry, chemistry, biology, medicine, and astronomy. Many forms of art flourished during the Islamic Golden Age, including ceramics, metalwork, textiles, illuminated manuscripts, woodwork, and calligraphy. Some of the most significant achievements of Islam’s golden age include the building of a large library, known as the House of Wisdom, in Baghdad, Iraq. Here, ancient scholars were able to study the work of other intellectuals from around the world and expand on their work.

Meanwhile, Islam is the religion of truth. It is the embodiment of the code of life which Allah, the Creator and Lord of the universe, has revealed for the guidance of mankind. Today on our programme, Islamic Perspectives, Ustahd Ibn Abdillah As-sudaisiy Al-Iloori provides an explanation for the following questions: Is it appropriate to celebrate scholastic success? Is it exaggerated? How do Muslims celebrate any kind of achievement, whether it be in education or not? What are the boundaries and overreaches in this case?

1. It is halāl (permissible) to celebrate academic achievements in order to thank Allāh for the rare favour and to encourage others not to relent in their efforts to attain such feat. There is nothing bad in communicating this to well wishers and even inviting people to feast regarding it without being extravagant. Publicising the favour of Allāh or blessing is not necessarily a riyā’ (show off) if the person doing it does not intend it. Allāh says:

وَاَ مَّا بِنِعْمَةِ رَبِّكَ فَحَدِّثْ
But as for the favour of your Lord, report [it] (QS. Ad-Dhuhaa: Verse 11)

When people hear it and make du’a on it, this is a good thing. We do not know whose du’a Allāh will accept. This is the wisdom behind reporting an achievement and rejoicing over it. However, it is important to beware of the evil eyes. But this does not mean we should not report our achievements. It is not right to think that someone is oblivious of the evils just because he or she publicises his or her success. We should rather be steadfast upon ibadāt, especially adhkār, and avoid sin as much as possible. This is the best way to thank Allāh and seek for more blessings from him. Sheikh Abdurrahman As-sa’dī رحمه الله said in a poem on the importance of dhikr (remembrance of Allāh):

ووصّى معاذاً يستعينُ إلهَهُ****** على ذِكْرِهِ والشكرِ بالحسنِ يعْبدُ
And he (the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم advised Mu’adh رضي الله عنه to seek help from his God , upon His remembrance, and gratitude for the the favours as a form of worship.

2. Yes, an academic achievement can be over hyped and this is. Some people go overboard in praising an academic achiever and this is unnecessary. As Muslims, we have to be moderate in our encomiums. We should not underrate or belittle such achievement and we should not exaggerate it. One of the ways an academic achievement can be over hyped is to ascribe to the achiever qualities that he or she does not truly possess. While it is important to celebrate academic achievers, we must be truthful and sincere in our encomiums.

Then, as Muslims, the celebration must be done in a way that will not offend any provision of the sharī’ah. We should also know that the achievement is a ni’mah (favour) from Allāh and He will question us how we have used it. Allāh says:

ثُمَّ لَـتُسْئَـلُنَّ يَوْمَئِذٍ عَنِ النَّعِيْمِ

Then you will surely be asked that Day about pleasure. (QS. At-Takaathur: Verse 8)

Having this verse on the back of our minds, we will be moderate in our celebrations and be more focused how to use the achievement to attain the hereafter.

3. It is permissible to celebrate and rejoice over any achievement regardless of whether it is on western or Islamic education. As long as an achievement is beneficial to people, it is worthy of celebration. In fact, any beneficial knowledge is Islamic. What many people believe to be western education actually originated from Islam because the Qur’ān and Sunnah are the main sources of all beneficial knowledge. For instance, if a person excels in the field of medicine and his area of specialization is on something that Islam permits (e.g. Pediatrics), then the achievement is Islamic because he will always get rewarded each time he treats his patients. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said in a Hadith:

وكل معروف صدقة

Every act of goodness is charity.

4. It is important not to go beyond limits set by Allāh in expressing joy over an achievement or blessing. It has to be done with humility and not with pride. A Muslim must not despair over his failure and must not become arrogant over his success in worldly and spiritual affairs. In Suratul Hadid, Allāh said:

لِّـكَيْلَا تَأْسَوْا عَلٰى مَا فَا تَكُمْ وَلَا تَفْرَحُوْا بِمَاۤ اٰتٰٮكُمْ ۗ وَا للّٰهُ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخْتَا لٍ فَخُوْرِ
In order that you not despair over what has eluded you and not exult [in pride] over what He has given you. And Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful -[QS. Al-Hadid: Verse 23]

One of the excesses people commit in celebrating academic achievements is to sin in the process. For instance:
– Perpetrating bid’ah (innovation). E.g organizing group prayer where fabricated du’a are chanted.
-Eating or drinking things that are harām
– Listening and dancing to Music
– Free mixing of men and women
– Sharing pictures of female achievers on social media. This is unislamic, even they wear hijab. We can actually share their success stories without putting their pictures or videos out there. The most important thing is for the news to spread, so that other people can draw inspirations from it.

Read Also: Why I Studied Computer Science – Mahadi Abuhuraira, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Overall Best Graduating Student

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