Dr Farhat Hashmi challenged a group of young women to define whether they thought of the work that they did for their Deen as a “job” or “work”.
The classification aroused a lot of discussion and definitions.
One woman read out this story of a man from Cape Town and you can come to an answer to the question unaided:
Here is the story (I have researched, paraphrased and added information on this man)
Not too many years ago a child was born to African black parents in Ngcingane, a village in the Transkei region of the Eastern Cape of South Africa The eastern cape is the poorest part of South Africa, where the summers are hot and the winters are frosty.As a child he was a shepherd who herded sheep in the expanse, protecting them barefoot with only a sheepskin to protect him from the cold.
He received 6 years of education till age 14 after which he found a job as a gardener cutting grass and rolling the tennis courts a the University of Cape town.
He moved to a township in Langa, apartheid was alive and well at that time and he walked 14 miles daily to get to and return from his work as gardener.
One day a surgeon working on the mystery of why a giraffe does not pass out when he bends his neck needed someone to hold the giraffe’s neck while he performed surgery and needed a strong man. After the failure of many assistants in holding the giraffe, frustrated he looked out of the window and saw a strong young black man working in the garden, he beckoned him and he came.
He held the giraffe for 8 hours while they performed surgery, took tea, food and restroom breaks and said nothing. After finishing he went back and completed his work in the gardens and the tennis court.
Several things become apparent here:
- He was a shepherd as a child as have been many of the Prophets. Shepherding is one of the most challenging areas of work, as sheep do not use common sense. They are oblivious to danger unless they are neck deep in it. Thus guarding them, feeding them, herding them in an open expanse with no boundaries requires, alertness, observation, and proactiveness before the sheep veers into danger and constant vigilance.
- He grew up in an impoverished village where education was treasured and freedom was valued. It was one of the places that were declared independent of South Africa, before it was annexed.
- Living in a township with no running water and electricity and walking 14 miles to work in one of the most posh Universities did not make him bitter, sarcastic, resentful or envious. He did not try to destroy what others had because he did not have it.
- In the eight hours of holding the giraffe for surgery he did not do “ho hum when is this going to be over so I can finish cutting the grass” but he observed and learned not only anatomy and physiology but human nature and learned to work with it with humility and dignity.
- He did not demand money for his assistance or to be let off his gardening chores as he had assisted the senior research surgeon.
- He had istiqamah, sidq and consistency in his work.
- He truly belonged to the era and character of Nelson Mandela.
I am sure you can come up with many more lessons from his life.
Are these qualities we need to imbue in us as while we embark on Allah’s work?