I hope you are all doing well! Sorry for the delay in this blogpost! It really should not have been delayed, but I guess I got into the Summer mood too quickly 😎
Now you may be wondering, what’s Malikah’s Mind?! Oh gosh, is she really starting another series?!?! Not to worry, I have simply renamed my Reflection series to Malikah’s Mind! I thought the name was fitting for the out-of-the-blue thoughts that so often pop into my mind, such as my reflections! But, this also broadens the category for a wider spectrum of random writings hehe. Inshallah, I hope this series is helpful and insightful, and I plan to be posting more ‘reflections’ in the future!
I have been wanting to write this post for a while now, as it really summarizes how I’ve been feeling for quite some time, especially over the past couple of weeks.
We meet people all the time, and those people stay in our life for seconds, minutes, weeks, or years. We are often motivated to do things for other people, whether it be out of selflessness, gratitude, or kind nature. We do these things for others because we believe it is the ‘right’ thing to do. However, we also do things for other people because we would want others to express the same kindness to us. Going a step further, we strive do things for others without expecting reciprocation. This behaviour is not easy to emulate, but should ideally be our routine practice.
Last May, I went to a leadership retreat, and it was a really eye-opening experience (I wrote about my experience here). Before the retreat, we were all told to bring one item that represents us. We didn’t know why or what for, but we knew we had to present this in one way or another. I thought long and hard, and I ended up bringing a stapler.
Yes, a stapler.
A stapler brings things together. It creates a solid, unified packet out of loose pieces of papers. I like to think that I bring people together. I also would like to think that I bring ideas together. Makes sense.
But, a stapler cannot function without, of course, you guessed it….staples! Therefore, I cannot do what I do, whether it is school, work, HH, or community related, without my staples. My backbone, my supporters, the people that keep me going- these being my wonderful family and amazing friends. When credit is given to me, it should really be given to them.
But what does this have to do with anything I talked about earlier?
Well, people also use a stapler as and when they need it- and rightfully so. A stapler does not have a special place in one’s life, or heart, or room. It stays in a desk or drawer, is utilized when needed, and thrown back in until next time. And sometimes, that’s how I feel. I will always be there for you, no matter what. Whether we talk everyday or barely say hello- if you need me, I’m there. And I won’t ask for anything in return.
This is the part that’s really been troubling me lately. I used to think I was great at this! A pro, an expert… always willing to give and be nice to people, even if they didn’t show me that same kindness back.
Giving to others, doing nice things, saying kind words- that’s the easy part. The hard part is forgetting about the favours you’ve done for others. The hard part is being caring and good-natured even if the person you are showing this behaviour to has done the opposite. We have to live our lives and do things without the expectation of gratitude or thanks in return. This is where true sincerity comes from.
This reminds me of of treating others the way you want to be treated. We should be able to treat others kindly regardless of whether or not they respond to you with the same respect or high regard. It is very easy to be nice to someone who has also been nice to you in the past. It’s an easy transaction, right? You give me one thing, so I give you one thing back. However, we struggle when it comes to giving someone something – a kind message, thought, or gesture- when that person does not reciprocate or show appreciation toward your action.
So again with the idea of treating others the way you would like to be treated… treating people the way you want to be treated is something that you have total control over. But what we don’t have control over is the way those around us treat each other. Our wish for society is that everyone treats those around them with the same respect and kindness we would like for ourselves. This is much different from treating someone the way you want to be treated, because you can’t control the way others act. Pure, genuine behavior is having the desire to see others treated with good will. I heard this in a lecture by my local Imam, Sheikh Jaffer, and it really struck a chord with me.
It’s easy to not want to be nice to someone who has wronged you- it’s human nature. Why should you show affection to someone that seems to have no interest in you or your life?! But we forget, well, I forget, that this is opposite to the teachings of our Holy Prophet (SAWW). He always treated everyone with kindness, even if it was the people that taunted him or threw garbage at him. He never changed his behaviour, or forgot his morals- he had the same composure when interacting with his enemies as he did with his friends.
And of course, there is the famous quote by Imam Ali (AS) that so beautifully illustrates this message and summarizes this entire blogpost in one sentence:
“Be Like a Flower, that gives it’s fragrance, even to the hand that crushes it.”
~ Imam Ali (AS)
Hence, we should give with open arms and open hearts. We should give because we want to give and be kind, not because we are expecting kindness in return, but to just simply be kind. And we should allow anyone to receive the beauty of our kindness. Even if the action is not appreciated by the individual, and they show no gratitude in return, we should not change our attitudes, or allow it to prevent us from being kind to them in the future. Of course, your reward will come and your efforts are not in vain. Being a better YOU is already payback and a half, because at the end of the day, you have to live with yourself and who you are.
I’m speaking to myself first and foremost, and then reminding myself again, and again. When we allow these thoughts of doubt and mistrust to linger with us, it really hurts us more than anyone else. This really demotivates us and makes us waver from our genuine intentions. At the end of the day, you are responsible for what you do or don’t do, and what you say or don’t say.
Be kind and give freely. Regardless of whether you get a “thank you” or a nice action in return.
Sorry for the rambling and randomness.
🎀~Where Style and Modesty Save the Day!~🎀