“if you want your name to be remembered after your death, either write something worth reading or do something worth writing about” Abraham Lincoln
I start this in the name of Allah, the most beneficent, the most merciful. I have just attended the 55th Fosis Annual Conference – my second ever Fosis conference – and it was a great experience indeed; Alhamdulillah. Upon arrival, I was pleasantly surprised by the intensity of the first 15 minutes. I had never had so many people approach me all at once trying to get to know me and I forgot more names within 30 seconds of hearing them than I care to admit. Nevertheless, I did make several friends and we concluded the night with some delicious cuisine from Afghanistan (Kobeda kebabs are a wonderful creation of Allah).
I had many deep discussions with my new friends and old friends alike. I remember one particular conversation with some brothers from Birmingham about whether there was a need to change one’s personality upon attaining a new position of leadership – and if so to what extent? It really got me thinking about the concepts of sincerity and personal development – two themes explored rather widely in the Quran. I request that my dear readers think about this after concluding this article.
While the event was brilliant and enjoyable because of the ample banter and nice food (Kobeda kebabs!), it was fantastic because of the well-chosen topic of the conference; explored thoroughly through the talks and workshops. The topic was legacy; its meaning, examples from history and ideas about how we can go about leaving our legacies.
Isaac Newton is known to have expressed a metaphor created by Bernard of Chartres that goes: “we are like dwarves perched on the shoulders of giants, and thus we are able to see more and farther than the latter.” And while these legends were only saying this as an expression of their humility it is indeed how every legend is born – all giants were once dwarves. And, as we were shown in the many talks at the conference, we have more than enough giants preceding us. We simply have one job… climb onto one of their shoulders.
It’s easier said than done though, since the media and the way in which the world is generally run is fined tuned so that from birth we are conditioned to think small of ourselves and to settle for the ‘normal’ repetitive lives we are used to. Anything above that is left to be depicted in the movies and fairy tales. Shaytaan gave himself a job to do and his work ethic is remarkable! We should at least try to match it.
“Fame is a result of what you get in life, greatness is a result of what you give in life.” I got this from one of the talks. Our legacies are what we give to the world, a concept regarding which Islam provides much encouragement (does sadaqah jaariyah ring any bells?). The thing is, a lot of us are studying to become engineers, healthcare professionals, lawyers etc where we will get the opportunity to help people everyday and leave our legacies. But, with all due respect to these professionals and without diminishing the significance of their sacrifices, these are ‘normal’ legacies which many people achieve. If one is extending a helping hand, let them maximise the reach of their extension. This is the mentality the Prophet (peace be upon him) had and as such it is the mentality we should copy.
We should not be content with the amount we give to the world. We need to break away from the attractive spell cast onto us by the dunya. I ask Allah to make it easy to adopt this mentality and to make possible for us a legacy worth being proud of.