The Extra Mile An Essay by

Ever wondered what was the difference between an ordinary person and an extraordinary person?

It’s just that one remained ordinary, while the other went the extra mile, making him extraordinary.

Sounds too simple to be true? Take a quick look at the famous personalities around us. Whether they are famous in the field of politics, sports, acting, or any other prolific career, they usually got there by simply putting in the extra time that others didn’t. In politics, anybody can theoretically run for an elected position, yet we only ever see two or three people, out of hundreds and thousands of people, run to get elected for a government position. This is true not only in politics, but in almost every type of leadership and working capacity. Roger Staubach, a businessman and Hall of Fame quarterback, once said,

There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.”

If you find yourself along the extra mile and look around, you will notice that there are only handful amounts of people . You essentially become a pioneer, carving out undiscovered lands of Barakah and opportunity for others to follow. Every step that you take in this extra mile is a historic first in its own right.

It sounds great from all aspects, so why don’t we see Muslims actually taking the extra mile? I personally see several syndromes that account for this:

1. The 9-5 Job Syndrome - It’s practically set in stone; an employee signs in at 9am, works the day (with lunch and several breaks of course), and then promptly leaves as soon as the clock hits 5pm. It’s a job after all, so why bother staying longer than necessary?

The sad thing is that many apply this rationale to their Islamic activism. This is not limited to part-time Islamic activists, but also includes those who work full-time hours for an Islamic cause and/or organization. It so happens that as soon as the time shows that it’s time to go, they promptly shut off their whirling brains and head out for home, their mind now thinking about what will be for dinner instead of caring for what they were doing just a few minutes ago. The problem is not necessarily that they leave immediately, but that there is no semblance that they have a strong attachment to their work. It shouldn’t be that they view their work…as work or as a chore, but it should rather be that they view it as their life mission. They eagerly share their ideas for Islam with others, they inspire their families and friends to get more involved in the community, and they’re constantly working and being productive because their motivation is not money, but Jannah. They’re always aiming to be along the extra mile.

A friend of mine was once talking to his mother-in-law, and he mentioned to her that he once became very amazed when this one brother  told him that he was working three jobs to keep his children in an Islamic school. His mother-in-law replied,

“This is not putting the brother down or anything, but this is what every Muslim needs to do to make sure that the Ummah moves forward. I also had to work two jobs, attend medical school, and look after my children”.

SubhanAllāh, just think about that for a moment; she is saying that at the very least, we need to pump more than 120 hours per week for Islam. This would not only us very far on the extra mile, but it would ensure that Islam truly becomes a Deen, a way of life, for us. I’ve seen Muslim friends wearing t-shirts that proudly proclaim, “I eat, drink, breathe, walk, talk, and sleep [insert favorite team]”.

Perhaps it’s time that we insert Islam in there.

2. The “Good Enough” Syndrome“Just slap a “beta” sticker onto the project and release it to the world” – that’s the way several Muslim organizations have been operating ever since their inception, unfortunately. They simply complete the bare minimum and see no reason to do anymore. As Muslims, this really should not be the way we conduct ourselves because our aim is to have Ihsan, excellence, in everything we do. Whenever I try bringing this up to others, they normally retort in an exasperated tone, “Well, I know that it’s impossible to reach perfection, so why bother trying?” Well, nobody’s asking you to be fully perfect, but we are saying that good is the enemy of great. We can no longer afford to be mediocre. We can no longer have our projects laying around half-completed. The focus needs to immediately shift from focusing on quantity, to focusing on the quality of our work as  this will directly accelerate our Ummah’s growth.

3. Laziness SyndromeAt the end of the day, it all comes down to being lazy (I wouldn’t be surprised if someone flinched while reading the title and seeing the words “Extra” and “Mile”). Ustadh Muhammad AlShareef once mentioned in his lecture, “Lazy Boy”, that laziness is actually at the root of many sins that people commit; they steal and gamble because they are too lazy to earn Halal money, they commit Zinaa’ (fornication) because they are too lazy to get married, etc. In the same way, many are just way too lazy to get up and go the extra mile. They are in their comfort zone and have no wish to ever get out of it.

Sorry, but all of us need to get out of our comfort zones, especially since it may just be a trap of Shaytaan. Imam AbdulBasit once gave an excellent Halaqah on this topic and mentioned that Shaytaan’s initial trap is to get us to commit sins. If he doesn’t succeed in luring someone to do so, then he will try to get him to perform Mubaah (merely permissible, with no good or bad deeds gained) acts because that is better than that individual performing good deeds. It doesn’t stop there however, because an additional trap of Shaytaan, in the case that all else fails, is that he will try to get us to perform acts that are Mustahab (recommended, with good deeds gained). Why? Because it turns out that these good deeds are actually less in reward than others acts of worship of great reward and benefit that we could be doing with our time instead. SubhanAllāh…

Gauge yourself on this scale; are you in the extra mile zone, with Shaytaan frantically trying to keep you from performing the best of deeds, or are you still struggling with the bare minimum? Gauge your level, and then work on continuously improving yourself. Realize that Islam is a way of life, work around-the-clock for Allāh, make excellence your goal, and get out of your comfort zone. Insha’Allāh, in this way, our Ummah will move forward.

May Allāh (subhanahu wa ta’ala) help us to reach and continue through the extra mile. Ameen…


   
  • http://www.muslimyouthmusings.com/ Maryam

    ok honestly,jazakallah huge for this beautiful beautiful piece. i loved it. i want to wake up too, sometimes im just so lazy and we should learn something from our sworn enemy shaytan. he works 247 , and we should work 247 to counter his evilness.inshaAllahif you had asked me this :“I eat, drink, breathe, walk, talk, and sleep [insert favorite team]”- a few years ago, i wouldve inserted Arsenal FC in my Fav team, but i gave it up alhamdulilah.now i can say ‘Islam’ inshaAllah :) alhamdulilahWe can give up things, its hard at first cause ur the only one fighting ur nafs but then you do it and Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala become your strength subhanAllah.i love Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. i just pray i love Him the way He wants me too. inshaAllah.May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala give you all good both in this world and the Hereafter ameen.

  • http://www.momo17.wordpress.com/ Maryam

    SubhanAllah. I guess being a haifiz make you automatically wiser than your age subhanAllah- if i hadnt known that you were a college student, i wouldve thought that it was some 'uncle' lol ok honestly,jazakallah huge for this beautiful beautiful piece. i loved it. i want to wake up too, sometimes im just so lazy and we should learn something from our sworn enemy shaytan. he works 247 , and we should work 247 to counter his evilness.inshaAllahif you had asked me this :“I eat, drink, breathe, walk, talk, and sleep [insert favorite team]”- a few years ago, i wouldve inserted Arsenal FC in my Fav team, but i gave it up alhamdulilah.now i can say 'Islam' inshaAllah :) alhamdulilahWe can give up things, its hard at first cause ur the only one fighting ur nafs but then you do it and Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala become your strength subhanAllah.i love Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. i just pray i love Him the way He wants me too. inshaAllah.May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala give you all good both in this world and the Hereafter ameen.

  • shiney3

    nice article. It really makes us realize what we are doing wrong like being lazy all the time but the part that you mentioned about people working for money and not for akhirah doesn’t apply to everyone in the same way. some ppl work for money to give a lot of sadaqah or some ppl just want to help out their family members by earning money and send their children to islamic school, as you mentioned.
    another problem ppl have is that when they try to go the extra mile, they don’t have the support of their friends and family. maybe you specifically know about islamic organizations that don’t do the BEST they can but many also don’t have money. see how money comes in all the time? of course, educated ppl don’t really have this worry. i’m kind of actually confused about your article. it makes a lot of sense but at the same time, there are ppl who really want to do things in life but they can’t because either they don’t have the education, the money, or the support. i’m saying this from things i actually know.

    • http://www.muslimyouthmusings.com/ Arif Kabir

      You’re thinking in the right frame of mind Alhamdulillah :)

      See, that’s what the whole Extra Mile is actually about, and I’m happy you brought it up because it’s allowing me to better understand the Extra Mile concept as well.

      The Extra Mile should actually mean, weird as it may sounds, that one does not have the support that they need because if you look at it, they are in the land of pioneers; the work that they are doing is unprecedented and would therefore be viewed very skeptically by people that have never traversed the Extra Mile. The Extra Mile is all about doing more than everyone else in terms of quality and giving it the extra effort and push. Consequently, family members as well as others may not give their immediate support because they may not want you in that direction for whatever reason. I’m sure you’ve seen many family members and friends that go as far as to discourage you from working for Islam (citing there’s no money in that field and that you’ll have no future, etc.), but that’s what makes gives the Extra Mile its special appeal because so few would be able to withstand these obstacles and move forward.

      In terms of money, it all goes back to Tawakkul (reliance upon Allah). My Imam, Sh. Safi Khan, once mentioned: “One of the signs of this dependence is that if the means are available or not, it is OK and your heart does not depend on the means. So, you don’t get frustrated nor do you give up; rather, you keep pressing forwards depending totally on Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala for the results.” One should definitely work towards having money and resources (as mentioned in the hadith on tying the camel and then putting one’s trust in Allah), but if they’re not there, the heart does not depend on it.

      I would actually categorize the points that you made into another syndrome called the Fear Syndrome. Belal Khan, of Leechon Films once said, “If you…have a low tolerance of risk and you let your behavior be guided by fear, know that you are destined for mediocrity.” (Quote via Jawaad). Some people do not go the Extra Mile because they fear that they are putting themselves into too much risk, and they would rather remain comfortable in the mediocrity of work and lifestyle that they are choosing.

      Lastly, I know a lot of people that say they work for money so that they can support others financially. Okay, that’s fine, but is their intention the money itself, or to use it to secure their Akhirah? That’s what was meant by the statement. Some make money, and the luxuries that come with it, the ultimate goal when it should merely be one of the means that can be employed. I can easily say that every Muslim organization is in need of some serious funding, but that doesn’t stop them from trying their best to establish the way of Allah.

      At the end of the day, only those who have great levels of Taqwa and Tawakkul can truly traverse the Extra Mile because it’s not as simple as spending an extra hour or two on a projects; it’s more of dedicating one’s in that direction.

  • shiney3

    nice article. It really makes us realize what we are doing wrong like being lazy all the time but the part that you mentioned about people working for money and not for akhirah doesn't apply to everyone in the same way. some ppl work for money to give a lot of sadaqah or some ppl just want to help out their family members by earning money and send their children to islamic school, as you mentioned. another problem ppl have is that when they try to go the extra mile, they don't have the support of their friends and family. maybe you specifically know about islamic organizations that don't do the BEST they can but many also don't have money. see how money comes in all the time? of course, educated ppl don't really have this worry. i'm kind of actually confused about your article. it makes a lot of sense but at the same time, there are ppl who really want to do things in life but they can't because either they don't have the education, the money, or the support. i'm saying this from things i actually know.

  • http://www.muslimyouthmusings.com/ Arif Kabir

    You're thinking in the right frame of mind Alhamdulillah :)See, that's what the whole Extra Mile is actually about, and I'm happy you brought it up because it's allowing me to better understand the Extra Mile concept as well.The Extra Mile should actually mean, weird as it may sounds, that one does not have the support that they need because if you look at it, they are in the land of pioneers; the work that they are doing is unprecedented and would therefore be viewed very skeptically by people that have never traversed the Extra Mile. The Extra Mile is all about doing more than everyone else in terms of quality and giving it the extra effort and push. Consequently, family members as well as others may not give their immediate support because they may not want you in that direction for whatever reason. I'm sure you've seen many family members and friends that go as far as to discourage you from working for Islam (citing there's no money in that field and that you'll have no future, etc.), but that's what makes gives the Extra Mile its special appeal because so few would be able to withstand these obstacles and move forward.In terms of money, it all goes back to Tawakkul (reliance upon Allah). My Imam, Sh. Safi Khan, once mentioned: “One of the signs of this dependence is that if the means are available or not, it is OK and your heart does not depend on the means. So, you don’t get frustrated nor do you give up; rather, you keep pressing forwards depending totally on Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala for the results.” One should definitely work towards having money and resources (as mentioned in the hadith on tying the camel and then putting one's trust in Allah), but if they're not there, the heart does not depend on it.I would actually categorize the points that you made into another syndrome called the Fear Syndrome. Belal Khan, of Leechon Films once said, “If you…have a low tolerance of risk and you let your behavior be guided by fear, know that you are destined for mediocrity.” (Quote via Jawaad). Some people do not go the Extra Mile because they fear that they are putting themselves into too much risk, and they would rather remain comfortable in the mediocrity of work and lifestyle that they are choosing.Lastly, I know a lot of people that say they work for money so that they can support others financially. Okay, that's fine, but is their intention the money itself, or to use it to secure their Akhirah? That's what was meant by the statement. Some make money, and the luxuries that come with it, the ultimate goal when it should merely be one of the means that can be employed. I can easily say that every Muslim organization is in need of some serious funding, but that doesn't stop them from trying their best to establish the way of Allah.At the end of the day, only those who have great levels of Taqwa and Tawakkul can truly traverse the Extra Mile because it's not as simple as spending an extra hour or two on a projects; it's more of dedicating one's in that direction.

  • shiney3

    I have a question though. What kind of things would be considered going the Extra Mile?

    • http://www.muslimyouthmusings.com/ Arif Kabir

      Things that would be considered going the extra mile would be like perfecting a report for your school or company, even though you necessarily don’t have to because they may just want a summary. Going the extra mile would be cleaning the whole house when you were just asked to clean your room. The extra mile is literally the extra mile; going past what people expected from you.

  • shiney3

    omg, I just remembered something. In our Arabic lesson at school, we’re learning about advices in life and it said something going the “extra miles” more than others. i just realized that. It mentioned something like that if a person aims to go one mile, they’ll get tired when they finish that and that will be the end of it but if someone aims to go five miles, at least they’ll end up with 3 or 4 instead of one and they’ll want to keep going. So basically, this Extra Mile thing is very important I guess.

    • http://www.muslimyouthmusings.com/ Arif Kabir

      Many times, it’s what differentiates us from nonMuslims. I remember hearing a story when I was younger when two men, one Muslim and one nonMuslim, were having some sort of competition in which they were seeing who could endure pain longer and the Muslim was about to stop but then decided not to, and that was when the nonMuslim let go, and the Muslim man basically said I held on because our religion is one in which we do not give up or something to that effect.

      Why do we go the extra mile, especially in terms of Islam? It’s because we want to reach Ihsan (instead of the minimum and status quo) and because we try our best to do everything that we can to get into Jannah. The extra mile is what separates great from mediocre and ordinary from extraordinary :)

  • shiney3

    omg, I just remembered something. In our Arabic lesson at school, we're learning about advices in life and it said something going the “extra miles” more than others. i just realized that. It mentioned something like that if a person aims to go one mile, they'll get tired when they finish that and that will be the end of it but if someone aims to go five miles, at least they'll end up with 3 or 4 instead of one and they'll want to keep going. So basically, this Extra Mile thing is very important I guess.

  • http://www.muslimyouthmusings.com/ Arif Kabir

    Things that would be considered going the extra mile would be like perfecting a report for your school or company, even though you necessarily don't have to because they may just want a summary. Going the extra mile would be cleaning the whole house when you were just asked to clean your room. The extra mile is literally the extra mile; going past what people expected from you.

  • http://www.muslimyouthmusings.com/ Arif Kabir

    Many times, it's what differentiates us from nonMuslims. I remember hearing a story when I was younger when two men, one Muslim and one nonMuslim, were having some sort of competition in which they were seeing who could endure pain longer and the Muslim was about to stop but then decided not to, and that was when the nonMuslim let go, and the Muslim man basically said I held on because our religion is one in which we do not give up or something to that effect.

    Why do we go the extra mile, especially in terms of Islam? It's because we want to reach Ihsan (instead of the minimum and status quo) and because we try our best to do everything that we can to get into Jannah. The extra mile is what separates great from mediocre and ordinary from extraordinary :)

  • http://JawaadAhmadKhan.com/ Jawaad Ahmad Khan

    MashaAllah great article.

    I actually began to question and realize that when I started reading more often (books like “Made to Stick” and “Developing the Leader within You”), I realized that the information was great. I thought at first that this was a hidden treasure. If anyone else found out, they’d be my “competition” because they’d be following the same genius principles and produce. (Obviously, I now know I shouldn’tve seen it like that, that competition in good works is always good)

    However, after thinking long and hard, I realized that I could lend out those invaluable books or give the greatest information on how to get started doing projects and work that was effective. However, if I give it to 10 people, there aren’t going to be 10 projects started.

    The difference between ordinary and extraordinary people is actions. And, in essence, now this reminds me of “Fundamentals of Islam” by Maulana Maududi, where it clearly defines that the difference between a Muslim and Kafir is knowledge and deeds.

    Everyone could know that by reciting the Qur’an, they gain 10 blessings for each letter. I could tell that to a non-Muslim friend.
    However, the difference between the people that hear about the blessings, and the people that get the blessings is the ACTION they take. We are judged by these two things, knowledge and deeds. If we have one without the other, we will be doomed in the eyes of Allah.

  • http://JawaadAhmadKhan.com/ Jawaad Ahmad Khan

    MashaAllah great article.I actually began to question and realize that when I started reading more often (books like “Made to Stick” and “Developing the Leader within You”), I realized that the information was great. I thought at first that this was a hidden treasure. If anyone else found out, they'd be my “competition” because they'd be following the same genius principles and produce. (Obviously, I now know I shouldn'tve seen it like that, that competition in good works is always good)However, after thinking long and hard, I realized that I could lend out those invaluable books or give the greatest information on how to get started doing projects and work that was effective. However, if I give it to 10 people, there aren't going to be 10 projects started.The difference between ordinary and extraordinary people is actions. And, in essence, now this reminds me of “Fundamentals of Islam” by Maulana Maududi, where it clearly defines that the difference between a Muslim and Kafir is knowledge and deeds.Everyone could know that by reciting the Qur'an, they gain 10 blessings for each letter. I could tell that to a non-Muslim friend.However, the difference between the people that hear about the blessings, and the people that get the blessings is the ACTION they take. We are judged by these two things, knowledge and deeds. If we have one without the other, we will be doomed in the eyes of Allah.

  • Pingback: Iron Man Hawaii 2005 | Directory of hawaii

  • shiney3

    I have a question though. What kind of things would be considered going the Extra Mile?

  • SumaiyahKhan

    jazakallahu khairan. i could totally relate. sometimes, i just feel like im being too lazy. too lazy to wake up and pray, too lazy to fast mondays and thursdays…

    alhamdullillah. very inspirational

More in Essay (26 of 65 articles)
youthpage


This is a question which has probably been lingering in the minds of many “Islamically-aware” youth in the Muslim community for a very long time. They may be the main volunteers in their masjid, be ...