“…And when you get to the point where all you want to do is be successful as bad as you want to breathe then you will be successful.” – Eric Thomas
When you read the above statement, you must have experienced one of the two types of sentiments; logical disagreement or sudden surge of motivation. And the latter emotion gaining more votes!
Humans, by nature, are impatient and unsatisfied. They cannot commit to long term goals where results are fuzzy and far ahead in future. Therefore, motivational quotes, such as above, fuel on your internal desires of success in a short time or your recent failures which are relatable to the quote. This impatient human behavior is often exploited by motivational speakers whose talk thrives on human emotions. I am not against any of the motivational speeches but merely pointing out the apparent flaw in them.
When I decided to attend ‘I believe I can fly’, I was expecting more or less the same kind of motivational speech that we are so accustomed to. However, I was wrong and glad that I took out time for such an insightful event.
The event was arranged by NUST Community Services Club (NCSC) – Character Building Team earlier this month at NIT Hall, SCEE. The guest speaker was Mr. Raja Zia Ul Haq who is currently the CEO of Youth Club and a former Senior Manager at Microsoft, Middle East.
The event began with the Quran recital followed by an introduction from one of the members of NCSC. He related a story of an eagle who grew up thinking it was a chicken; a bird born to win but conditioned to lose. “And this is exactly we all are here for”, he pointed out before giving the podium to the guest speaker.
The guest speaker, Mr.Raja Zia Ul Haq, started with the usual Salaam and joked a little about the title being from R. Kelly song lyrics. He, then, picked off from the eagle story narrating a verse from Surah Falak,
“Allah has created each and every single one of us with great capacity, so all of you have the potential inside of you.”
He further explained through an example of a seed which itself is very small yet has the potential within it to become a tree. Now it is up to that seed, whether it will be planted in fertile land or just disposed of somewhere. He made the comparison and said,
“You need to recognize and harness the unique potential Allah has gifted you with.”
But, at the same time, he pointed out the need to be aware of the traps that are turning Muslim youth into slackers (people who just waste their time and life away), deviating them from the true path and potential.
These distractions (useless pass time) can be anything from Geo Kahani to candy crush to wasting time on Facebook to listening to insane songs with ridiculous lyrics; all in the name of innovation. At this point, he took instance from Aladdin story to make us realize the importance of Islamic teachings. The magician tried to get the magic lamp from Aladdin’s mother by chanting “new lamps for old”. The mother ended up with a useless lamp (new lamp) in exchange for a magical lamp (old lamp). He said,
“Our old lamp, being Muslims, worked and made us rule the world for a thousand years after the Holy Prophet.”
This was the Islamic Golden Age where Muslims made countless discoveries and innovations to benefit the mankind. Nowadays, the typical slogan is, you need to buy the new and improved, as he added
“So the psychological state is, if it’s new or improved it has to be better. Not necessarily. Every new thing is not always good. For example, the old way was that everyone including parents, siblings, husband, and wife used to sit around and have conversations with each other. The new way is that everyone is sitting around the television, everyone is looking at it, no one is talking to each other and everyone is listening to what the TV is saying.”
Mr. Zia elaborated that he was not against technology rather he want us to have the intellect of differentiating between good or bad. E.g. the smartphone technology, though useful, has harmed the social engagements so much that we don’t even have time to spend more than 15 mins with our parents. This unintelligent use of technology is impacting what you could have achieved in your life. He added,
“Holy Prophet (PBUH) said that there are two favours of Allah; health and free time. A lot of people have this blessing from Allah but they don’t use it to their full potential. Wasting time is worse than death. Because death separates you from life of this world but wasting time separates you from God Almighty.”
So if you want to fly, you need to to give up on things which are reason for wasting time and use the available time in fruitful activities. He, then mentioned another reason that is clipping the wings of our youth. This is giving them terrible role models such as Miley Cyrus or Eminem. The role models acting as slackers, dumb or stupid who expose you to a typical life style and make you obsess over it.
He gave example from the movies shown nowadays and the kind of lessons given to young generation. If you are stupid and a ‘no-one’ in class, you will be the hero or cool guy and the real guy who is helping save the world ends up being labelled geek or nerd. That’s not just it, these role models are also exposing youth with abusive language and bizarre ideas of being a gangster, outlaw or a thug.
“…. .Allah Almighty says if you obey most people on Earth, they will lead you astray. (Surah Inaam, Chapter 6, Ayat # 116). So be the odd one out because the whole world is treating you like the chicken, that you have no potential. The pitch you are getting from this world is eat, sleep, drink, die. That’s it. That’s your life. In the middle of all this, keep yourself busy and that’s pretty much all that. There is no ambition, there is nothing pushing you to achieve a higher goal.”
While referring to Iqbal’s poetry and his vision of depicting youth as “Shaheen”, he explains Iqbal’s poetic verse,
“….Don’t sell yourself cheap. You are not a person born for luxuries. You are a falcon. You are an eagle who has to live on High Mountain. This garbage is not for you. This filth, this dunya that they are attracting to you, this is not for you. Your ambition should be far beyond that. Because as people, as Muslims, we believe that even if you fly in this world and loose hereafter, that is not really flying…..that is a failure in my books.”
If you have achieved the best of dunya and your soul objective was the fulfillment of wordly affairs only, then you have achieved nothing except God’s wrath. The true believers have their sight on Jannah and that is the only way you can fly. You will not only be successful in this life but also in the life hereafter. The only true dream you need to follow is the one that connects you to Allah Almighty. He summed up the talk with five steps to achieve success in life. He took these five steps from Surat Al-Baqarah explaining each Ayat with examples.
I am leaving these Ayat translations for readers to read, re-read and try to discern the message and apply it in their daily life.
1. “This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah-”
2.” Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them,”
3. “And who believe in what has been revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what was revealed before you, and of the Hereafter they are certain [in faith].”
4. “Those are upon [right] guidance from their Lord, and it is those who are the successful.”
The talk proved to be a reminder for me, a reminder of life hereafter, a reminder of my good or bad deeds, a reminder of living a purposeful life, a reminder of turning to Quran for my little problems, a reminder of who matters more in life, a reminder of time slipping away so quickly, a reminder of unnecessary materialistic wishes we so desperately work for, a reminder of balance between religion and daily commitments, a reminder of life gifts from Allah and a reminder of acing an exam far important that any examination in this life.