There was a time when I was 17, and to put it simply, I wasn’t in a very good state of mind. It wasn’t my thing then to make phone calls to my friends, but at that moment, I did. I sought advice from a few of my closest friends in school and I decided I was going to contact one particular friend whom I looked up to as a go-to figure, whose character I constantly tried to model.
I shared my problems with him on the phone, and we talked about a lot of things.
He said, “When I’m feeling down, one of my favorite things to do is to buy gifts for my friends or for my family, my parents, especially. It could be me treating a friend with a drink, or even better, buying a cold one if I see a pak cik working hard under the Sun. When I see them smile, and how grateful they are, that’s the best feeling in the world. It makes my troubles seem so small.”
That was a moment of epiphany for me. It warms my heart when I think of how another person would give me something special, or put in the thought to buy a gift, no matter how simple, to make my day a lot brighter. That in fact is what Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) used to do with his Companians (ra).
Since that day, I became a fan of that practice. When I have some extra money, I’d try to get something nice for other people. It almost never fails to make me smile when I see others smile — When it gets me out of this limiting, egocentric world of my own self, and into this world where it’s more about what I could give.
It’s a paradox, but it works.
Last year I read in a book that the reason why people get loaded on drugs or alcohol, or basically live messed up lives is because they harbor resentments. The author of that book who was a recovered drug addict learned in his road to recovery to always pray for other people. Mention their names in your prayers, pray for them to get everything in the world that you would want for yourself.
That was kind of like a poke in the back, because that also is what our Prophet (pbuh) taught us. In a Hadith narrated by Muslim, he said :
“There is no Muslim servant who supplicates for his brother behind his back but that the angel says: And for you the same.”
This too, has always been a consistent practice. And I understand the wisdom behind them.
Hatred’s a real burden. I’m sure there’s at least one person in your life whose name enrages you. But ask yourself, what good has it brought? What problems have you solved?
You get nothing but a feeling of uneasiness, sometimes even excruciating, that stays with you for a long, long time until you finally decide to bury the old hatchet.
Life in this world is very short. And you could leave it at any moment. When you remember how small of a world we’re actually living in, as compared to the next world, you’ll find the strength to love and forgive.