"Those were the wise words of an illiterate bus conductor."
Go to any quotation site, and you’ll notice that most of the quotes come from famous people.
However, whoever said that wisdom comes only from famous people?
The following is a compilation of true stories and conjured tales from MYM staff writers (as well as a special guest writer towards the end) that think otherwise and have encountered wisdom from unlikely sources. Here goes:
Sr. Maryam: Go Down To Go Up
I remember going to a hospital for a meeting with a doctor. I got off the car, the hospital’s entrance door was a few steps away, and I was walking really fast towards it because I was a bit late but then I suddenly stopped. It wasn’t premeditated because I had other things on my mind at that time and I didn’t know why I had stopped walking.
But when I looked at my feet, I saw a chained fence just a feet above the ground and then I thanked God, because if I hadn’t stopped, I would have fallen in front of all those people and would have been laughed at, or perhaps I would have badly injured myself. As I carefully walked past the fence, I smiled because that incident made me reminisce something that happened ages ago, a time when I was in Grade 6.
I remember that day very clearly. The bell had just rung and all of us went out of the gate with our huge school bags. I was walking alone, thinking about what my mum had made for supper when I tripped over the footpath and fell near an area where all the school buses stood. I was 11ish back then, but I had an ego as we all do, and I was just completely red with embarrassment. To add insult to injury (literally), a bus conductor came to me, he was an old fellow with a white beard, wearing not so clean shalwar kameez and he said something to me which I didn’t really understand back then. He said,
“Do you pray? Because when you pray, you will never fall.”
Those were the wise words of an illiterate bus conductor. SubhanAllah and they made sense to me 10 years later when Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala saved me from complete public humiliation.
You see when we remember Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, He remembers us. Praying is a form of remembrance of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Allah swt says:
Remember Me and I shall remember you. Be grateful unto Me and deny Me not. [al-Baqarah 2: 152]
Br. Jawaad: Dangling Prescriptions
One necklace stay wrapped around his neck, dangling slowly. He walked through the Masjid, smiling, meeting up with his friends, unconscious of the foul words that left his lips or the the arrogance with which he glided past the prayer area. On his necklace was a small box, and I approached him, asking him what was inside. He said, caught a little off guard, that it was a Surah from the Qur’an that’s supposed to protect you. What Surah might that be? He didn’t know. He was unsure, going through and thinking about it. Eventually, forgetfulness was his excuse for not knowing. But what he did know for sure was that it was supposed to protect him. So, I tried to get him to think a bit deeper about what he was wearing. I told him to imagine me with a really harsh cold, where I’m sneezing, sniffling, and my eyes are bloodshot red. If I go to a doctor, he’ll write me out a prescription for some medicine that I have to take. So, I posed the notion:
“So, if I put that paper in a bottle, string it, and wear it on my neck, will I be cured?”
“No, that’s silly…” a high-pitched voice came from behind. A little boy had been listening in, and reacted to the silly notion,“Aren’t ya supposed to take the medicine so you won’t have the cold no more?”
My friend, speechless, walked away, trying to open up the box attached on his neck..
Br. Ammar: The Sun and the Moon
Talking to my friend one Friday afternoon turned out to be a philosophical thinking session in which we started discussing how the sun and moon are different. If you think about it, the difference between the sun and moon is like the difference between Haya’ (modesty, bashfulness, and shyness) and Kibr (arrogance, pride, and conceit) and how Muslims can give off lights similar to these two.
You see, the sun gives off light, which isn’t debated, but is it always for the best? Sunlight isn’t bad; it guides us during the day, allows the whole ecological system to grow, and is our main source for Vitamin D. On the hand, what happens if you get too much of it? You burn! In a spiritual way of relating this, it can also apply to pride. Sure, it’s a good thing to have pride in your religion and your Muslim identity, but when things start to spoil, this permissible pride turns into arrogance in other affairs, and you begin to walk with a “swagger,” that’s when you burn, literally!
Reported in the Sahih of Muslim ibn Hajjaaj is the following hadith:
“He who has, in his heart, an ant’s weight of arrogance will not enter Jannah.” Someone said: “A man likes to wear beautiful clothes and shoes?” The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “Allah is Beautiful, He loves beauty. Arrogance means ridiculing and rejecting the Truth and despising people.”
This hadith by itself give an example of two different sides of carrying one’s self.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have moonlight. In the middle of the night, it guides us, gives us light, and illuminates everything around it. You can look at it for as long as you want and absorb its light, but never be blinded. Similar to this is Haya’. No matter how much you humble yourself, you will never lose anything! It is said that before an arrogant person, you should humble yourself. This is can also relate back to the hadith mentioned above. We are told that “Allah (SWT) loves beauty.” Now this doesn’t mean one should be flashing fresh $100 Nikes to school, but rather, they should be presentable in their clean attire. One must act in a humble way and carry one’s self with a Muslim identity, but not an identity that looks down upon others.
Sr. Sadiyah: Wisdom Graffiti
Did you ever go to the bathroom in a public building like at school and see that the walls are covered with writings? You would think these people have run out of paper or maybe they just want to have a conversation with every person that enters that bathroom stall. Last term I remember one particular ‘conversation’ where this woman wrote, “They tell me to be grateful, but I have lost EVERYTHING!” And a few spaces away, someone replied to her,
“No You didn’t. You still have hands that you can write with, and eyes you can see with.”
There’s no such thing as, ‘Oh I have nothing to be grateful for.’ You might look at people around you and think that they are so much better off than you. So? Who cares? We’re not here to be better off than others. We’re travelers with a destination. So next time you feel like you don’t have anything remember this Hadeeth: “Look towards those who rank below you, so that you may get used to being thankful, and do not look at those who rank above you, lest you should despise the favours of Allah upon you” (Ibn Hibban).
“Kung Fu Panda” Po: Special Does The Charm
Ho! So like right before I became the ‘Dragon Warrior’ and the coolest Panda ever, I had always wanted to figure out the special ingredient my dad (who is incidentally a goose) was known for using in his ah-mazing cooking. I thought it would be some Halal variant of Char Sui sauce or something, but this is what it turned out to be:
Mr. Ping: The secret ingredient is… nothing!
Mr. Ping: You heard me. Nothing! There is no secret ingredient.
Po: Wait, wait… it’s just plain old noodle soup? You don’t add some kind of special sauce or something?
Mr. Ping: Don’t have to. To make something special you just have to believe it’s special.
[Po looks at the scroll again, and sees his reflection in it]
Po: There is no secret ingredient…
It’s all about you, your faith, and your effort! Or something like that…
Yoda: Hmm. Wise, these stories are. The Iman is strong with these ones.
Po: Yeah. Whatever…
We hope you enjoyed these stories! What’s your own story on wisdom from unlikely sources?