Recently, I have read an amazing story by Sheikh Ali Al-Tantawi (1909-1999 AC), and I would like to share it with you, my dear readers, with the hope that you will learn something out of it as I, myself, have learned a lot!
For those who do not know who Sheikh Ali Al-Tantawi was, let me introduce him very briefly. The late Sheikh Al-Tantawi was a Syrian jurist, man of letters, judge, and is considered by specialists and critics as one of the most prominent figures of Islamic Da`wah (i.e., Call for Islam) as well as Arabic literature in the 20th Century.
It came on the tongue of the Sheikh that one day, he was heading to the airport in a taxi and the driver was a committed person who observed the traffic rules very strictly and honestly.
Now, I will let the Sheikh relate what happened next.
Suddenly, another car emerged from nowhere and was about to crash into ours. Luckily, my driver was attentive and he quickly pressed the brake pedal and we narrowly avoided a serious crash.
However, this was nothing compared to what happened next. To my astonishment, the driver of the other car “the fool guy” turned his head towards us and started to insult my taxi driver and curse him in a savage manner!
Notwithstanding, my taxi driver restrained his anger, smiled, and waved with his hand to the other man as if he was saying, “I am sorry. Forgive me, please!”
I was amazed at his attitude and reaction! Therefore, I asked him: Why did you apologize to him while he was the wrong-doer? That man was about to cause an accident and hurt us!
At that very moment, I was taught a lesson that I have never forgotten since then. Later on, I called this lesson, “THE GARBAGE TRUCK RULING”. The driver said: “Many people act as a garbage truck. They move around with a load of trash, different types of problems, depression, failure, anger, and disappointment. When the load becomes unbearable or exceeds the limit within their souls, they need to unload their trucks at the nearest location. So, you should never make a DUMBSTER or a JUNKYARD out of yourself!”
The lesson I learnt from that wise taxi driver was: One should never take such things personal. Instead, one should smile, move forward, and continue his own way. One should make du`a’ to Allah the Almighty so that He, Glory be His, may guide such people to the straight path and relieve their distress and alleviate their agonies! One should be careful lest he turns into one of those people who collect junks and trashes and then throw them at others, be it at work, at home, or on the road!
A successful person is one who does not let the garbage trucks consume his day, nerves, or thought.
One should be grateful and thankful to those who treat him kindly. These kind people represent the beautiful flowers and roses of this present life. Their very existence makes life bearable and welcoming.
One should make du`a’ for those who abuse or wrong him; they are pathetic and deserve sympathy.
However, one should be forgiving and kind to all just for the sake of Allah. One should purify his intention in order to be eligible for the abundant reward from Him, Glory be His. One should not be good just to be known by others as to be a kind person or a man of good manners because this is considered riya’ (showing off) and it may become or turn into hypocrisy which is both unlawful and abhorred.
One should always remember that his whole life is governed and determined by what he does and the way he receives and interprets what goes around him.
Commending those who enjoy good manners, and those who utter good words when they are insulted or wronged by others, commending those people, the Qur’an says what means,
“And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace.” (Al-Furqan 63)
Also, Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) said, “I have been sent to perfect good manners.” (Malik’s Muwatta’; An Authentic hadith)
Dr. Ali Al-Halawani is Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Translation, Kulliyyah of Languages and Management (KLM), International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He was Assistant Professor and worked for a number of international universities in Malaysia and Egypt such as Al-Madinah International University, Shah Alam, Malaysia (Mediu) and Misr University for Science & Technology (MUST), Egypt; Former Editor-in-Chief of the Electronic Da`wah Committee (EDC), Kuwait; Former Deputy Chief Editor and Managing Editor of the Living Shari`ah Department, www.islamOnline.net; Member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS); member of the World Association of Arab Translators & Linguists (Wata); and a member of the Malaysian Association of Applied Linguistics (MAAL). He is a published writer, translator, and researcher. You can reach him at [email protected].