Just a few weeks ago business dictated that I make a trip passing through country roads and sleepy country towns, landmarked by massive agricultural silos. It was at that time of the year the country landscape is decorated by vast green maize plantations while the road is, on either side, fringed with tall bushes of cosmos bursting forth in yellow, white and different shades of pink both announcing the imminent passing of summer with all it’s greenery while also heralding the coming of winter…..
Driving along such quiet, quaint and scenic routes offers an ideal opportunity for deep thought and contemplation and for one to be alone with one’s self and thoughts, in spite of the odd pothole here and there.
“Verily in the creation of the heavens and the earth are signs and in the alternation of night and day are signs for those who have understanding” (Ale Imraan, Verse 190)
A few years ago a motor manufacturer’s advertising line read
‘life’s a journey, enjoy the ride’.
For many of us though it seems that
‘life’s a destiny, miss the ride’
Our lives have become hectic and frantic characterised by a continuous race against time. In so doing, we have opted for the ‘highways’ instead of the ‘byways’ little realising the beauty of the byways…we enjoy the selfish exhilaration of speeding down this ‘highway’ called life, with the wind blowing through our hair and our fancy shades, little realising that these shades have obstructed our view of the scenery the ‘byways’ of life have to offer…the mountains, rivers and the colourful array of flora and fauna. Our ‘speeding’, our focus on racing against time – this deadline, that deal, the end result, the ‘destination’ – has caused us to focus only on finding the ‘shortest road’, the ‘highway’, thus preventing us to sit back and take in the beauty that the ‘byways’ have to offer. The irony is that our ‘speeding’ is in pursuit of that happiness and contentment which, strangely enough, lies in ‘slowing down’ and ‘taking’ in the scenery.
In the context of life what is this scenery?
It is the people that we come into contact with or are in contact with in our daily lives. They are those who we know, family and friends, as well as those that we do not, strangers.
Given the ‘speed’ at which we are travelling we often take for granted those that care for us and our well being and who go out of their way to make our lives comfortable, to make us smile and strive to make us happy. They are those whom we ‘receive’ from. If, for a moment, we ponder and acknowledge them, then we would appreciate their act of giving. When doing so we would realise how much joy they bring to our lives because of their ‘giving’. This, would in turn, spur us on to give.
Know that the joy of giving supersedes that of receiving and accumulating because giving brings an inner contentment while accumulating only provides an apparent contentment beneath which lingers the fear of loss. Knowing that some seemingly insignificant word or action has brought happiness and joy to the heart of someone provides more satisfaction than money and wealth can ever bring. It is, in fact, the very essence of kindness to spread goodwill and uplift the heart.
What do we give?
A starting point would be acknowledgment in word, deed (if and where possible) and in prayer (Dua) for those that make some sort of difference to our lives and give meaning. Thereafter we should strive to make a positive difference and impression in the lives of all others that we come into contact with.
More often than not we have programmed our minds to understand that only that which is ‘big, substantial, financial and material’ would be considered an act of giving and, in doing do deprive ourselves of the great joy and satisfaction that even a small act of kindness can provide. As a matter of fact The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) has mentioned that,
‘Do not belittle any good deed, even if it be meeting your brother with a cheerful face’ (Hadith-Muslim)
‘Every good deed is sadaqah(charity). To meet your brother with a smiling face (is sadaqah)’ (Hadith-Bukhari)
There is also an incident mentioned in the seerah where Sayyiduna Usama bin Zayd (RA) on one occasion, did not have anything material and financial to contribute in the path of Allah. At the time of Tahajjud he awoke and beseeching and crying unto Allah (SWT) he said,
‘Oh my Lord, I do not have any financial means to contribute for your sake. Instead, Oh my Lord, I forgive and overlook all those upon whom I have a right/s due’
The next morning The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) gave him glad tidings and said,
‘Oh Usamah! Rejoice for verily Allah (SWT) has accepted your charity of the night’
From the above it is evident that Islam, while encouraging the giving of material, has not limited the act of ‘giving’ to that which is material. So start giving today, whether it is a kind word to someone, an acknowledgment of a favour to a benefactor, a little prayer (Dua) for a friend or loved one, giving a loaf of bread to a hungry one or just a smile, for it could be to some the only sunshine that they enjoy today!
There are so much positives in our lives due, directly or indirectly, to those who care and have concern for us. Let it not be that, when we start to care we realise that those who have done so all along, have stopped.
Before lamenting and complaining of having no time…make the time!
We need to decide… are we driving? or are we driven?
Stop existing and start living!