The Meaning of Ambition
`Uluww linguistically: is elevation. `Ala al-shay’ `uluwwan so it is `aliyyun (A thing becomes high some highness, it is high). It is said: `ala fulanun al-jabal (so-and-so elevated over the mountain) if one has climbed a mountain, reaching its height. `Ala fulanun fulanan (so-and-so elevated over so-and-so) means that one has overpowered another. al-`Aliyy is the lofty one. Ta`ala means to become exalted.  Lisan al-`Arab, Ibn Manzur (15/83).
Himmah linguistically: hammah and himmah is what one is instigated to do. It is said that so-and-so has great hamm (concern), but so-and-so has little himmah (aspiration). So-and-so is ba`id al-himmah (has great aspiration). al-Humam is the great, aspirational king.  The previous source.
`Uluww al-Himmah technically: is belittling the road to great achievement, seeking lofty stations. It is looking down on what one spends when he spends it, and being uncaring about the means to the ends. It is to make light of what one owns, expending all that one can to whoever asks without reminding them of your favour nor seeking recompense from them.  Tahdhib al-Akhlaq, al-Jahiz (p. 28). The Difference between Ambition and Concern (Hamm)
Ambition is having expansive, far-sighted concern. This is why it is praiseworthy to be characterised with ambition. It is said: so-and-so has aspiration and resolve (`azimah), and has high aspirations and great resolve; meaning, he cares about great matters. Concern is thinking about removing what is disliked and receiving what is liked. From this it is said: ahummu bihajati (I am concerned for my needs).  al-Furuq al-Lughawiyyah, al-`Askari (p. 558). Encouragement towards Ambition in the Qur’an and Sunnah
❖ Allah, exalted, says: “Hurry towards your Lord’s forgiveness and a Garden as wide as the heavens and earth prepared for the pious.” Al `Imran: 133. It is a command from Allah to be ambitious.
❖ Allah, exalted, also says: “Endure patiently, as did the Messengers of Firm Resolve.” al-Ahqaf: 35. In this verse is praise of those who are of high aspirations, the foremost in this characteristic being the Messengers of Firm Resolve, the foremost of whom is their seal, Muhammad ﷺ. Their ambition manifests in their persistent struggling in their calling to Allah, honoured and majestic.  `Uluww al-Himmah, Muhammad Isma`il al-Muqaddim (p. 128).
❖ He ﷺ said: “Be diligent with what benefits you. Seek the aid of Allah and do not give up.”  Reported by Muslim (2664). Quotes of the Predecessors and Scholars on Ambition
❖ It is narrated from `Umar ibn al-Khattab, Allah be pleased with him, that he said: “Let not your ambition wane, for I have not seen anything that delays ennoblement more than a lack of ambition.”  Adab al-Dunya wa al-Din, al-Mawardi (p. 319).
❖ Imam Malik said: “Adhere to lofty, noble matters. Beware of the ignoble and lowly of them. Allah, exalted, loves lofty matters and hates the lowly among it.”  Tartib al-Madarik, al-Qadi `Iyad (2/65).
❖ Ibn al-Qayyim said: “Whoever’s aspiration is high and his soul is abject to Allah, will be characterised with every beautiful quality. Whoever’s aspiration is low and his soul is oppressive, then he will be characterised with every ignoble quality.”  al-Fawa’id, Ibn al-Qayyim (p. 97). Levels of Ambition
The first level is ambition which preserves the heart from desiring what is perishing, instilling within it desire for what is eternal, purifying it from the impurity of complacency. The second is the level which begets within one indifference to hurdles, veracity in work, and having trust in one’s hope. The third level is ambition which transcends temporalities and scenarios, is uncaring to recompense or high stations, and guides one away from reliance upon the self.  Madarij al-Salikin, Ibn al-Qayyim (3/6-8). Forms of Ambition
Ambition in : Seeking knowledge. Calling to Allah. Striving for Allah’s cause. Worship. Barriers to Acquiring Ambition
Sins and disobedience. Fear, worry, and grief. The trials of poverty or wealth. Despair and pessimism. Befriending the lazy. Excessive food, sleep, or speech. Business with the worldly life. Causes of Ambition
Knowledge. Remembering the Last Day. Parental influence in raising children. Prevalence of spiritual guides and role models. Reading the biographies of heroes, reformers, and geniuses. Appreciating personal responsibility. Not being vain, nor excessively disparaging it. Examples of Ambition from the Life of the Prophet ﷺ, Companions, Righteous Predecessors, and Scholars
❖ The Prophet ﷺ was the finest example to follow in high aspirations in worship. `A’ishah, Allah be pleased with her, said: “The Prophet ﷺ would stand during the night in prayer until the skin on his feet would break. I told him: ‘Why do you do this, Messenger of Allah, when all your past and future sins are forgiven?’ He said: ‘Shall I not then be a grateful slave?’”  Reported by al-Bukhari (4837) and the wording is his, as well as Muslim (2819).
❖ Abu Hurayrah, Allah be pleased with him, said: “Nothing would distract me away from the Prophet ﷺ, not planting palm-trees, nor dealings in the market. I solely used to ask Allah’s Messenger ﷺ for words to teach me and morsels to feed me.” Ibn `Umar said to him: “You, Abu Hurayrah, were most diligent with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and most knowledgeable of his speech.”  Reported by al-Bukhari (118), Muslim (2492), and Ahmad (4453) and the wording is his.
❖ al-Nawawi, Allah have mercy upon him, had high aspirations in seeking knowledge from his youth. When he was ten, other boys would force him to play with him, and he would run away from them crying. He would recite the Qur’an in that state, and this was mentioned to his father who ensured he finished the memorisation of the Qur’an before puberty.  Tabaqat al-Shafi`iyyah al-Kubra, al-Subki (8/396-397). Signs of Ambition  See also for more comprehensive reading: al-Akhlaq al-Islamiyyah wa Ususuha, `Abd al-Rahman Habankah al-Maydani (480-508).
Asceticism in this life. Rushing towards good deeds, and competing with one another in righteous actions. Seeking perfection and elevating oneself above shortcomings. Having disdain to engage with lowly, ignoble matters, and searching for lofty, morally perfected matters. Being swift in realising one’s resolve. Fulfilling obligations and bearing responsibilities. Caring for the concerns of the Ummah and exerting oneself to rectify them. Efficacy in time management. Ambition in Poetry
Ibn Hani’ al-Andalusi:
“I found man naught but the result of his besought.
The greatest seeking is the most deserving of glory.
With high aspirations, he rises to lofty stations.
Whoever’s seeking is superior will supersede.”  Majma` al-Hikam wa al-Amthal, Ahmad Qabish (p. 217).