If one wants to know whether one is climbing upwards toward success, there are certain signs and indications that can help one to determine one's progress.
1) As one becomes more knowledgeable, one becomes more humble and merciful to others. Think of an expensive pearl: the more heavy and valuable it is, the more deep it is in the ocean. A wise person knows that though knowledge is a gift, Allah tests the one whom He gives it to. When one is thankful for the gift of knowledge, one will be raised in ranking.
"AIlah will exalt in degree those of you who believe, and those who have been granted knowledge." (Quran 58:11)
2) The more one performs good deeds, the more one becomes cautious and fearful, in the sense that he does not feel secure from error, such as a slip of the tongue or a change of heart. He is always in a state of watching over himself and of being wary. He is like a careful bird: each time it lands on a tree, it soon leaves it for another, afraid of the skilled hunter and his bullet.
3) The older one gets, the less covetous one should be for this world, because he knows with certainty that his time is soon finished.
4) The more wealthy one becomes, the more generous should one be toward others. The wealthy Muslim must understand that his wealth is a trust given to him, and that Allah is testing him in that wealth.
5) The higher one's status becomes in society, the closer should one be to ordinary people, showing humility and fulfilling their needs.
The signs that indicate wretchedness and misery:
1) The more knowledge one attains, the more haughty and arrogant he becomes. Such a person's knowledge is not beneficial. His heart is empty and his company heavy to bear.
2) The more he increases in deeds, the more proud he becomes and the more contemptuous he becomes of others. He doesn't give the benefit of the doubt to anyone except to his own self. Thus, he deems that he is the only one who achieves salvation while all others are bound for destruction.
3) The older he gets, the more avarice and cupidity become part of his character. He gathers, but he never shares. Calamities and misfortune fail to move him into becoming a benefactor to others.
4) The more wealthy he becomes, the more miserly he becomes .
5) The higher his position in society, the higher his level of arrogance and haughtiness.
Source: Don't be Sad - Shaykh Aaidh ibn Abdullah Al-Qarni
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