You sit with someone who is twenty years old and notice that he has particular etiquettes, logic and thought. You then sit with him when he is thirty to discover that he is exactly the way he was ten years ago and has not improved at all. Yet, you sit with others and you feel that they are actually taking benefit from their lives. You discover that they improve themselves on a daily basis. In fact, not an hour passes except that they improve either religiously or otherwise. If you wish to ponder upon the different types of people with respect to self-improvement, then think about the following:
There are those who like to watch those satellite television channels that help their general knowledge and intelligence grow. They benefit from other people’s experiences by watching constructive discussions, from which they learn the characteristics of debating and improve their language, understanding, and expertise in debate and persuasion.
Then there are those who cannot miss out on a series about a failed love story, or an emotional play, or a horror film, or films about useless fantasies with no link to reality at all.
Notice the difference between the two after five or ten years. Which of the two would have improved the most in his skills and ability to fathom information, gain general knowledge, have the power to convince others, or successfully be able to cope with diverse situations? No doubt the first person! You will find the mannerisms of the first person to be completely different. When he argues, he does so on the basis of legal references, facts and figures, while the second can only quote the words of actors and singers, so much so that one such person once said during a discussion, “Allah says: ‘Strive, my servant, and I shall strive with you!’’
We informed him that this is not a verse from the Qur’an. His complexion changed and he fell silent. I then thought about the phrase and it occurred to me that it is an Egyptian idiom which was imprinted on his mind after watching a drama series!
Let’s look at it from another angle – that of reading newspapers and magazines. How many people take an interest in reading beneficial news and information that helps them in developing their personality, improves their skills and increases their general knowledge? Yet, how many are those who cannot read except sports and entertainment news? This is true to such an extent that many newspapers compete with each other by increasing the sports and entertainment pages at the cost of other sections. The same can be said about our gatherings and the things in which we spend our time.
Hence, if you would like to be a head instead of a tail, then eagerly try to practice all skills, regardless of what they may be. ‘Abdullah was an energetic person but lacking in certain skills. One day, he left his home to pray Dhuhr in the mosque. It was his zeal for the prayer and respect for his religion which brought him out to pray. He was walking fast in order to reach the mosque before the Iqamah was given. On his way, he passed by a date palm tree on top of which there was a man in uniform, working on the tree. ‘Abdullah became surprised and thought, “Who is this man that does not care about the prayer! It is as if he didn’t even hear the Adhan, or doesn’t care about the Iqamah, which is about to go!”
He shouted in anger, “Get down and pray!”
The man responded coldly, “OK, OK…”
He said, again, “Hurry up and pray, you donkey!”
The man screamed, “You called me a donkey?!” He then took a branch of the tree and descended in order to hit him over the head with it! ‘Abdullah hid his face with his headscarf so the man wouldn’t recognize him and went on to the mosque. The man descended from the tree in anger, went to his house, prayed and rested for a while. He then returned to the tree to finish his job. Then ‘Asr time came and ‘Abdullah went to the mosque again. On his way he passed by the same tree and noticed the same man working. He decided to change his method altogether and said, ‘As-salamu ‘alaykum! How are you?”
The man replied, “Al-Hamdulillah, I am fine!”
He said, “Give me some good news. How are the dates this year?”
The man said, “Al-Hamdulillah.”
‘Abdullah said, “May Allah give you success and provision, make your life easy for you, and not deprive you of the reward for your work!”
The man was overjoyed at hearing this supplication and said ameen to the prayer.
‘Abdullah then said, “It seems that you are so preoccupied with work that perhaps you didn’t notice the Adhan for ‘Asr prayer. The Adhan has been called and the Iqamah is about to be given. Perhaps you should get down, relax a little and get ready for prayer. After the prayer you can get on with your work again. May Allah keep you healthy.”
The man said, “InshaAllah… InshaAllah…” and began to descend gently.
He then turned to ‘Abdullah, shook his hand warmly and said, “I would like to thank you for your excellent manners. As for the one who passed by me at Dhuhr time, I wish I could see him and show him who the real donkey is!”
Your skills of dealing with others determine how they deal with you.