Key to Success

Sep 10th, 2008, in News, by

SuccessOn why the Islamic world fell into backwardness, and the key to future success.

Addressing a meeting of the Indonesian Islamic Society of Brisbane (IISB) in Australia on 7th September Heru Sriwidodo Sari, founder of the Trainer Muslim Indonesia Association, worried that many parents today regarded their children’s school textbooks as being more worthy of mastering than the Quran, more likely to bring success for their children later in life.

Heru said this was wrong-headed, and that for seven hundred years after the time of Muhammad the Muslim world dominated world culture and learning while at the same time the European peoples had not advanced, precisely because people held fast to Quranic study and principles.

Heru Sriwidodo Sari
Heru Sriwidodo Sari.

After this period of dominance, and likely near-coinciding with what is called “the great divergence” – when northern/western Europe began streaking ahead of the Arab and Asian worlds in scientific, technological, and economic achievements – Heru says Muslims neglected the Quran and herein lay the seeds of their failure until today.

In order to achieve success in this life and the next Heru said only seven verses of the Al Fatihah chapter of the Quran were necessary to be learned and repeated every time one prayed, these being:

In the name of God, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful:

Praise be to God, the Lord of the Universe.

The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Master of the Day of Judgment.

You alone we worship, and You alone we ask for help

Guide us to the straight path;

The path of those whom You have favoured, not of those who have deserved Your anger, nor of those who stray.

This could be formulated or summarised into the following, by some uncertain process:

  • vision
  • potential
  • opportunity
  • motivation
  • mission
  • strategy
  • action

Reading the above verses would bring understanding, visualisation of goals, and obedience to God, the keys to success, Heru said.

32 Comments on “Key to Success”

  1. Andy says:

    Disagree, in fact if they focused less on religion and more on education and hard work they would achieve far more.

    Praying during busy worktimes is also counterproductive when it comes to running a successful business. This is why I would probably not hire one to work for me in my company. In the west you know what they say ”time is money”

  2. Geordie says:

    Andy, the only grounds for discrimination in the work place is ability to do the job. What you’re suggesting actually amounts to religious discrimination and could possibly be parlayed into racial discrimination by a silver tongued lawyer.

    Obviously I’m not sure about Australian Law but I can’t imagine that discrimination on the grounds of one’s religion is a valid reason for exclusion. Couldn’t this be conceived as the thin end of wedge? After all, excluding Muslims is only a one time OpEx gain and won’t your shareholders want to see more OpEx evolution? So who will be next? Women? Old(er) employees? Young(er) employees?

    By way of illustration, the most productive person I had reporting to me was a very pious Muslim woman; she prays, she fasts and she observes Muslim holy days. Of course, you might think that I’m making this all up to emphasize my point and that’s your priveledge but from my perspective, I’m largely ambivalent on that point. The fact of the matter is I was promoted from country director to regional director in less than a year and she must have made a contribution to that and I’d have been stupid to miss out on her talents simply because she observed what for her was an obligation before her God.

    For myself, I have no problem with God per se though having faith in his/her/its existence is too much of a stretch for me and, in that regard, assuming I’m wrong, I’m bound for the other place. This in itself is fair enough as we all have choices and the decisions we make carry consequences. For me whilst God and I don’t see eye to eye, I have a real problem with every religion and will not kow-tow to any priest, imam, guru or similar in His/Her/Its name. But, and here’s the point, that doesn’t make me superior to anyone that does nor should I discriminate those that do.

  3. Andy says:

    Ok nice one Geordie, so please tell us all then why muslim countries continue to lag behind western countries in all economic indicators….do you want to also look at some airy fairy theory from muslims that occurred several hundred years ago? Maybe just look at yourselves and make an honest judgement. Most muslim countries are 3rd world and not in the same league as the big players. With all the oil they have they should be ruling the world. But unfortunately it takes hard work and brains to achieve that too.

  4. Rambutan says:

    Many Christian countries (Africa, Latin America) are underdeveloped, too. What about other countries like India, Laos, Myanmar? I doubt there is a causal link between development and religion.

  5. timdog says:

    The “great divergence” eh? Did it happen because the “west” got cleverer than the “east”? Not a bit of it: while the dreamy intellectuals in Baghdad were stroking their beards, translating Ancient Greek epics and mapping the stars, the plebian builders’ labourers of Europe were grunting at each other and getting on with the far more low-brow business of building ships and factories…
    Religion, one way or the other, has very little to do with it – directly at least…

  6. Geordie says:

    Andy, please look at my post as in the same context as your own and I quote:

    This is why I would probably not hire one to work for me in my company. In the west you know what they say ”time is money”

    I am not about to argue against the fact that Islamic Republics tend to under perform when compared to the rest of the world but what you wrote was not about nations but individuals.

    My point, and only point, is to suggest that exclusion from opportunity on the basis of religion alone must be a limiting not facilitating factor when considered from a performance, of your business, perspective. If I understand you correctly, you would exclude from your employ approximately 17% of the world’s population simply because they are Muslim without first assessing, or ensuring that your assessment is not biased, whether they were fit for purpose? What about the Muslim born to the religion, raised in the West, educated at an internationally respected university, highly experienced with a proven track record of delivery in his/her chosen field?

    Moreover the thrust of my post is more about when, in your view, is it not okay to discriminate on any factor other than ability to perform a role? Race? Gender? Ethnicity? Age? Sexual Orientation?

    I thought my post was fairly clear on where I stand viz all religion and I tend to agree with Timdog in respect of religion having a direct correlation to advancement.

    Finally, to use the description Third World in the context I think you did might not be as appropriate as Developing Nation(s). Third World was used to, if you like, categorize those countries who niether aligned to the East or the West during the cold war and in that sense it is a political description rather than an economic one and we are debating economics rather than politics, no?

  7. sputjam says:

    during the initial phase of the islamic religion, the muslims around the medditeranean, absorbed greek and roman knowledge, and expanded from this. They also imported knowledge from india, especially in mathematics (and some say, religious rituals)
    The europeans of this period have converted to christianity and neglected science and upheld religious studies. Hence they reversed into the darkness.

    1500 years after being dominated by priests, the europens decided to overthrow these zealots and hence they found their renaissance.

    The islamic religion on the other hand is only 1350 years old and presently in reverse mode in terms of scientific knowledge. Maybe another 150 more years before the muslims starts to overthrow /ignore their imams.

  8. Rob says:


    I read the source article and I am not sure I see the “some uncertain process” to which you refer.

  9. timdog says:

    Rob – I think, by “some uncertain process” Mr Patung means that the process by which this Heru bloke has glibbly distilled the essence of Surah al-Fatihah into a series of abstract nouns purloined from a corporate marketing seminar, is not explained in the article…
    To be fair, he did “explain at length”, so perhaps his process was less uncertain to those listening – but not to us…

  10. Rob says:

    Yep, the process from the news piece does seem uncertain the jump from the seven Surah al Fatihah to the seven basic marketing principles…

    The Indonesian piece does use the phrase “at some length” and my feeling was that he probably did explain the transition from the Surah to the standard marketing spiel. It was simply a case of the author of the Indonesian article not considering this transition to be newsworthy…then again maybe he did not explain it and just assumed because he has written a book everyone would just take whatever he said as the God given truth…

    Who knows? I was not there…

  11. joao says:

    @ sputjam & timdog

    I agree. What I know, it’s the Persian & Indian Muslims (not the Arab ones) who gave us the Sufis, Ibn Sinna, Averroes, and other great mathematicians and philosophers of the East. So I guess it’s more of cultural than religious factors. The Wahabis and their likes can never give us someone as remotely brilliant as Jalaludin Rumi, only Osama bin Ladin.

  12. jam says:

    @sputjam: You are correct.

    It is not like the Europeans were all still cavemen while the middle east ruled the world.
    Heck, the Euopeans already ruled the world…It was called Rome. Before them there were the Greeks. In Central Asia Persia was was not exactly backwards, waiting for the muslims to come. On the other side of Asia China was doing pretty good too.

  13. DXP says:

    before we debate true or false, any one know who is Heru and what education achievements he had before ? was he another product output of another pesantren ? we shall not pay too much attention on what Heru’s said, who is he ??
    a loser’s theory doesn’t means that all of us who possibly smarter & more successful than Heru must response to his stupid ideas ?

  14. Purba Negoro says:

    Very good point.

    Empty vessels make the most noise, don’t they?

  15. perseus says:

    Several eminent figures – most notably Dr Mahathir of Malaysia – have bemoaned the underperformance of Islamic nations in the world. Islam does have some strong views on economic matters – especially affecting banking – which might be responsible for this. I think the key cause of underachievement in the Islamic nations is the deemphasis on creativity. Asking Allah to guide you in your goals is – not to put to fine a point on it – in my humble opinion – a complete waste of time. Allah doesn’t return my calls. Neither does Jesus…

    Figure out what you want and set your own goals accordingly…

  16. Rob says:


    Maybe you have the wrong number? 😀

  17. perseus says:

    Well, if these supposedly omnipotent beings can’t set up comms to autocorrect my technical incompetence they are unworthy of worship 🙂

  18. Andy says:

    perseus is right, anyone walking into Indonesia for the first time would think they have stepped back into the Stone Age. It is a lost world that clings onto a forgotten nationalist era which has bypassed it through globalisation. They don’t realise it but anyone from outside is laughing at them. Time to get with it boys / girls. Stop protecting yourselves and lift yourselves up off your a….

  19. Rob says:


    When talking about under-performance do you mean because Islamic nations are still in the stone age? Or is your point much more towards the ability to be creative?

    Indonesia has recognized that Sharia-based finance is going to be one of the ways forward and are slowly but surely putting together a regulatory framework in this field. Underperformance in this sector will have a significant long-term negative impact on Indonesia’s development (at least in my view).

  20. Purba Negoro says:

    Of course Andy and the other cretins completely ignore the facts that Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and other ultra-orthodox Islamic nations have far better indicators than many Western nations, including Singapore- such as higher GDP per capita. higher mean annual wages etc.

    So this easily disproves the simplistic, flawed and reduced to absurdity argument religion is key to success.

    In fact- one could argue, via Andy’s genius: of argumentem ad reductio:
    Many Islamic countries are wealthy. Islamic countries chop off the hands of thieves. Therefore, if we chop off the hands of thieves we will be wealthy too and Islamic.

    An argument of absurd and ridiculous oversimplification of a fundamentally flawed argument based on inadequate knowledge or comprehension of the greater issue of contention- which though emotively successful fails the test of logic and empiricism.

    Example of argumentum ad reductio:
    Most people in Russia think that it is polite for men to kiss each other in greeting.
    Therefore, it is polite for men to kiss each other in greeting in Russia.

    The reality is you’d get a swift punch in the head.

    Or my favourite:
    “You’re not going to wear a wedding ring, are you? Don’t you know that the wedding ring originally symbolized ankle chains worn by women to prevent them from running away from their husbands? I would not have thought you would be a party to such a sexist practice.

    from “Attacking Faulty Reasoning” by Edward Damer.

    BY Andy’s flawed logic:

    Israel would be a pauper as well- due to its’ intertwined secular-Talmudic laws and large constituency of practicing Orthodox Jews.- with very similar customs to orthodox Muslims.

    Oh dear- crap logic fails again.

    Maybe US economically motivated installation and support of oil-rich dictators more interested in clannish self-enrichment rather than the education of their people is more causative than mere religion?

    But poor old Saddam al Tikriti is too busy playing golf at Martha’s Vineyard to talk about this right now.

  21. reedone says:

    Well in Qur’an it already stated that God won’t change the status/fate of the tribe if the tribe is not trying to change their first.
    So the fault of the Islam nations is that they are being static they afraid to change them self they afraid of loosing control of whatever they hold. Btw. you can put it on past tense also since the intellectuals in Islam is growing rapidly. And they actually refers to real Islam that have been overshadowed by culture habit.
    So no matter what his background of the writer, by him picking up the first Surah of the Qur’an is really hit the mark. The Moslem must put their orientation as to what the Qur’an said in the first ayah given to Mohammed: Read, read in the name of Allah.
    So it is clear that Islam really told the follower to read, to acquire as much as knowledges they can find and by that they must do the utmost to change them self, because God will only change the fate of one only if the one one self try to change one’s fate.

  22. purba negoro says:

    Excellent argument.
    God only help those who help them self first- not offer everything on a plate.

  23. Oigal says:

    Qatar, Oman and other ultra-orthodox Islamic nations have far better indicators than many Western nations = petro dollars, imported labour, science and inovation..

  24. muhammad ali says:

    This is what we call ‘the rise and fall of great empires’. Rome and Persia was a great empire, Islam came to defeat it, now it’s the West’s turn. Everybody had a go. It is part of the grand design of Allah, for the muslims and all to take lessons. Its not about who is in power, it’s about how those nations came to ‘success’ and how they carried out their ‘success’.

    Disagree, in fact if they focused less on religion and more on education and hard work they would achieve far more.

    The problem with this comment is that he is equating western history with Islamic history. True, abandoning religion will lead you to ‘success’. But this is only the case of the western world who left their churches entering into the enlightenment period and then carrying out imperialism including into Indonesia that had to suffer 350 years of dutch brutality, or the aborigins of Amerika and Australia and many more. Even today the western greed is not getting any prettier: of Africa, Iraq, and Latin Amerika.

    But this is not the case for the muslims. Everytime we turn their backs away from the Islamic way of life, and our prayers, then we are only openning those doors of oppression upon ourselves. This is the lessons for the Muslims.

    To admit, the problem with muslims is that most of us are negleftul of the Shalah. Just look at the mosques, it’s only full on the Friday prayers and very less in the Subuh, which is not the prescription from Allah.

    So calling all Muslims, go back to the Quran and the Sunnah (the exemplary practices, because is Islam is not just prayer, its practice), only then we will attain that Golden Age again.

  25. muhammad ali says:

    Oh one more thing, part of the grand design of Allah, in the Quran, it says that Islam will reign again. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the western world, and that is not by breed – by conversion. SubhanaAllah, those who seek the truth find Islam. 20,000 americans converting to Islam annually. if an oppressed race half a century ago can enter the president candidacy, then why not Islam. So you better be ready for the next switch.

    Allahu Akbar!

  26. Andy says:

    Islam is the fastest growing religion in the western world, and that is not by breed – by conversion.

    What nonsense!!! The fastest growing religion in the west is paganism and witchcraft. Islam has spread from breeding. Buddhism also continues to grow, in Australia, our largest place of worship is a buddhist temple. Where islam is common, there is a huge majority of migrants from guess where…Islamic countries.

    After the terror cell was discovered in Australia and we learn what parasites we have amongst us I think you will find Islam becoming even less popular than it already is. For those who don’t know, there was a plot to bomb our biggest stadium on Grand Final day by a maggot who migrated from Algeria 3 times (couldn’t get enough of us) and has lived for 19 years on social security. Not worked a day (legally) in nearly 20 years. Another example of islamics without any work ethic.

    Keep praying muhammad ali (ooo I hate calling you that cos I loved the real one) and living your fantasy but keep your ill informed comments to yourself and your friends from the mosque who are probably as uneducated as you are.

  27. korrill says:

    @ muhammad ali:

    Rome was not defeated by Islam. It collapsed due to the rise of christianity and its fanatical intolerance to learning and other religions. Power struggles was another cause of the division of the empire. If you would go for accuracy, barbarians were the ones who conquered and ravaged most of the roman territories.

    The roman empire was virtually dead by the time of the muslim conquests.

  28. Purba Negoro says:

    a plot to bomb our biggest stadium on Grand Final day by a maggot who migrated from Algeria 3 times (couldn’t get enough of us) and has lived for 19 years on social security.

    Sounds too awfully convenient to me- it has the stench of ASIO all over it- in that ASIO knew about it from well before the beginning but did nothing but gently steer him.

    Assuming it is completely ture- the oversimplifcation begins again.
    One Morroccan Islamic was a terrorist. Therefore Moroccans are terrorists and Islamics are terrorists

    Americans are crazy Christians. Australians are Christians Therefore Australians are crazy Christians like the Americans?

    People have feet. People wear shoes on their feet. Therefore people who wear shoes must have feet, those who go barefoot are via faulty logic have no feet?

    See now the stupidity of oversimplification- it fails evidence every time.

    Don’t believe all you read in the papers Andy- you seem far too bright for that.
    If you don’t believe Indonesian newspapers- what makes Australian ones so infallible- especially when almost all are owned by conservative party funder Murdoch- like Fox News?

  29. muhammad ali says:

    Andi says:

    In the west you know what they say ”time is money”

    In the west (the ones who are paganists) “money is God,” so if you just look at how they die, their facial expressions, you can see a horrified looking face. I’m seroius man. That is because they know that that money they worshp, pilling up day after day with the expence of the poor, can never ever help them in the day of resurrection. Have you ever seen a dead man taking his money into the grave.

    Andi says:

    Keep praying muhammad ali (ooo I hate calling you that cos I loved the real one)

    What! That just goes to show how uninformed you are! The real Muhammad is the greates prophet who ever walked the face of this earth (peace be upon him). The man (pbuh) who revived the religion that you hate – Al Islam! And the real Ali is the great companion and the fourth khaliph. These men (pbuh/ra) are those that made Muhammad Ali the boxer surrender to Islam. But you don’t wanna know that do Andy, cause you don’t wanna know about Islamic history and Indonesian history. Maybe your own forefathers history of how they treated the Aborigins down under there?

    Andi says:

    keep your ill informed comments to yourself and your friends from the mosque who are probably as uneducated as you are.

    Don’t worry about my education, Andy. I’ve got scholarship paying for my graduate degree here in the US. And Alhamdulillah I got Ben, John, Andrew who are my muslim brothers in the campus mosque, and our tarawiyah in this blessed Ramadhan are led by by a somali imam brother who is Al Hafiz who is taking his course in Lab Tech. Subhana Allah, can you imagine a Hafiz taking courses in Lab Tech? But then again Andi doesn’t know what Hafiz means.

  30. Andy says:

    muhammad ali, can you even spell my name correctly?

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