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Take the Initiative!

Take the Initiative!

The story is told of a man from among the Muslims of Madinah who came to the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) and asked for some nourishment. The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) was not one to refuse any request for help. At the same time he did not like to encourage begging or dependence. He therefore asked the man:

"Don't you have anything in your house?"

"Yes," said the man. "A saddle blanket which we wear sometimes and which we spread on the floor sometimes and a container from which we drink water."

"Bring them to me," said the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) who then took the items and asked some of his companions, "Who will buy these two articles?"

"I will," said one man, "for one dirham."

Another said, "I will take them for two dirhams."

The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) sold the articles for the two dirhams which he handed over to the man and said, "With one dirham, buy food for your family and with the other buy an axe and bring it to me."

The man returned with the axe. The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) split a log with it and then instructed the man:
"Go and gather firewood and I do not want to see you for fifteen days."

This the man did and after two weeks had made a profit of ten dirhams. With some of the money he bought food and with some he bought clothes.

The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) was pleased and said to him:

"This is better than getting a blot on your face on the Day of Resurrection."

This true story emphasises that you have the obligation to take your own initiative; in your actions, such as working and finding work. You are required to take your initiative and whatever resources you have available to you to make an impact. If you fail to do so; for example, in working and earning a living, you face the prospect of "getting a blot on your face" or in other words, of suffering some form of disgrace through your inactivity and dependence.

The story also points to the most effective method of offering aid and support. If you provide handouts to people who are well, able-bodied and have some resources, however small, you would not in fact be offering effective help to that person. You may help to meet an immediate pressing need, for example, but it will only be a one-off, short term remedy. You will in fact be encouraging dependence and the lack of self-respect and esteem in the person you wish to help.

'Give a person a fish and you feed just one person;
teach a person to fish and he can feed hundreds'
says an apt Chinese proverb.

Take the initiative. Don't rely on others to do the job for you. Do it yourself. Less talk, more action.





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