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Eid Mubarak wa taqabalallahu minna wa minkum everybody! :)
I hope all of you have had a good time with family and friends this Eid, alhamdulillah. My family and I went visiting yesterday, and we visited the home of one of my favourite uncles — a humble man nearing 70 years old, active at the masjid, and who, in his life, had started and sold numerous businesses, one of which operates worldwide.
Because the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said in a hadith, “O Muslims! Sit with your elders, question the scholars, and meet wise people.”, in today’s letter I’d like to share with you five of the many nuggets of wisdom my uncle shared with my siblings and I yesterday.
May they benefit, inshaAllah!
Wisdom #1: You will get what you intend for (Biidhnillah)
In the course of his international business travels, my uncle has had the opportunity to meet people from all around the world. In light of the Hajj celebrations, my uncle shared that one of the most inspiring people he had ever met was an Indonesian who managed to save up enough money for the pilgrimage even though all that he knew to do was to fish and sell his catch at the market, day in and day out, for years.
“How did you manage to save up this much?,” my uncle asked.
“Because when I first started work, the first intention I ever made was that my work will bring me enough rizq to go to Hajj.”
Relating the story to us, my uncle laughed and shook his head, “It’s that easy; You get what you intend for. I’ve met many other Muslims around the world whose intentions when they get a job are to buy a new car, a new home, pay for their children’s education etc. But Indonesia is the only country so far I’ve been in where I’ve met numerous youth whose intentions when they get their first job is to go to Hajj. And so… they get what they intend for, and we get what we intend for.”
Wisdom 2: Learn to think big and to think ahead
My country, Singapore, used to be a part of Malaysia (back when the entire country was still called Malaya). However, the ruling government at that time was not able to see the potentials of our tiny piece of land as it was just ridden with swamps, and thus sold it off for a paltry price. Today, Singapore is one of the world’s major commercial hubs, with the fourth-biggest financial centre and one of the five busiest ports.
“Many Muslims around the world today are just making the same mistake as the ruler,” my uncle lamented, “We have knee-jerk reactions to everything, and we have lost the ability to analyse and to think ahead before we make any decisions or carry out any actions!”
Wisdom 3: Speak good or be silent
“The human heart is flesh and blood; it is not made of wood and stones,” my uncle mused. He had just shared with us a story about how one of his contacts had maligned and spoken ill of him.
“There is a Malay proverb which says that a person can paddle his canoe back when he has gone too far downstream, but words cannot be recalled once spoken,” said my Uncle, “So learn to not speak ill of others or even to speak badly to others, for the heart is soft and easily impacted.”
To add on, I remember listening to a dars by Shaykh Ebrahim saying that we should always be very careful of what we say, because sometimes something that might be trifle to us, when spoken, might sit in the heart of someone unconsciously and grow to become a negative echo within him.
“The first rule of speaking has to be to bear in mind what you are saying in the consciousness of somebody else, because very often what we say to another person is very viral in character. It’s an apparently small little idea, but the touch of unkindness often festers in the other person. You do not put this virus in the other person and you walk away; this virus eats up the person for days and months afterwards.” – Shaykh Ebrahim
Wisdom 4: Smile
“How did you manage to build such a wide network of friends and contacts, uncle?” I asked; Every time I went out with him in the past, people from all walks of life would often come up to him just to say hi.
“Speak only when needed, but smile all the time to everyone.”
Wisdom 5: Always be learning
As we were having our lunch, my uncle started asking me what my plans were. When I told him of my current freelance work developing websites and helping businesses navigate their way online, his eyes lit up and with the excitement of a child, he started asking me questions about E-commerce and online marketing.
Now, this is a man who is already 68 years old, and who by the end of this year would step down from his position in his international company. Also, bear in mind that this is a man who has built, from the ground up, many businesses and employed numerous workers.
And yet, this very same man is choosing to still educate himself despite his age, and in addition, even did not mind learning from a younger person! I’ve been reading a lot about having a “fixed mindset” vs a “growth mindset”, and I think my uncle is a perfect example of a person holding a growth mindset: he is always seeking to learn new things and better himself despite the odds.
And I think it’s this attitude of always learning, in both aspects of the dunya and the akhirah, is the attitude that all of us need to embed in us if we were to aspire success, biidnihillah :)
May we be awake and humble enough to learn from everything and everyone around us, inshaAllah. Have a blessed week ahead everyone!
Your friend on the path,
Nur Fadhilah Wahid