While I was growing up I always wondered why people wouldn’t always reciprocate my kindness, why didn’t I get the same in return…. Over the years I worked it out, by learning about our blessed deen and trying to emulate our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his noble character. I found alot of wisdom in Imam Al Ghazali’s work and alot of the sufi concepts about working on the heart and how crucial it is that change comes from within. Pertinent to this, I recently read a short story in Muhammad Ali’s book ‘The Soul of a Butterfly’ and since I love short stories with lessons behind them I thought I would share it with you:
That Is Why
Two peasants were travelling down a winding road on their way to see the king. When they approached the gates of the kingdom an army of foot soldiers bullied them and ran them off.
Then one peasant said to the other,
“That is why.”
The next day, the two peasants travelled down the winding road again with hopes to see the king. This time an army of horse soldiers rode up, threw stones at them and ran them off.
Then the peasant said to his friend,
“That is why.”
The two peasants would not give up, so they travelled the winding road again. This time the king’s carriage pulled up, and when the king saw the two peasants standing there in torn clothes, with cuts and bruises all over them, the king got out of his carriage, walked up to the two peasants, put his arm around them, and gave them each a gold coin.
As they walked back down the winding road, one peasant said to the other again,
“That is why.”
When they were both back home sitting in their little huts, the other peasant asked his friend what he meant when he said,
That is why?”
The first peasant responded,
That is why they are foot soldiers, and that is all they will ever be.
That is why they are horse soldiers, and that is all they will ever be.
And that is why he is the king.”
What I love about this story is the peasants attitude and the acceptance of the way they were being treated by telling himself and his friend, “That is Why”. Instead of taking all the abuse personally, the first peasant simply affirms this is happening only because that is who these soldiers are, they know nothing else and cannot conduct themself in a superior fashion like the king had done. It’s not their fault, it is just how they are and if they knew better, they would probably not be those foot soldiers in the first place.
If we take the lesson from this story a little further we can apply it to our life and it can help us look at why we interpret things in certain ways, why we do certain things etc and we can reply in the same way ‘that is why’…. Our company, our attitude in life, what we do in our spare time all contribute and make up our mindset and how we think.
Mindfulness and consciously being aware of our thoughts will teach us that we shouldn’t treat anyone so they treat us well in return anyway. Good is only for Allah سبحانه و تعالى and only He can truly reward us in the most beautiful way. Humans are forgetful by nature, but Allah will never forget.
So continue to love, spread kindness (even on social media) without thinking about what you will get in return and be confident that not even one kind word or smile will go to waste Insha’Allah.
Keep me in your duas my beautiful sisters,