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Archive for October, 2012

The Last Goodbye

How do you know that the last words you say to someone are really the last?

There have been many a time when I have had a conversation with someone and walked away without the slightest realisation that this would be the last time I would ever contact them. Friends who have moved on, family members who have passed away… the circle of life ensures we drift closer and drift apart without rhyme or reason. I say this because I recently did an audit of all of my friendships and found that many have drifted apart not for lack of commonalities or sensibilities, but simply just because. I tried to remember the last time I spoke to them or saw them and sadly with some I couldn’t. These were friends I would see on a regular basis – now just a faint memory in the bigger picture that is life.

It reminded me of a hadith I once read, “A Muslim is the one from whose hands and tongue other Muslims are safe.” [Tirmidhi]. At the time I was young enough to think that so long as you didn’t abuse or physically harm another person you were abiding by this hadith. But I realise as I get older that the principles of being a good Muslim are essentially rooted in being a good person first and foremost. And that is also the requirement to be a good Christian, Hindu, Buddhist or follower of any other faith. The hadith mentions ‘other Muslims’ and this is a point which will be picked on by many as ammunition to reinforce their misguided opinion that Muslims should only be nice to other Muslims. Muslims are residents of this planet and we share it with others of every race creed and colour. If everyone abided by the simple stable principles of humanity we wouldn’t need to reinforce our values and beliefs through religion, democracy or any other form of enforcement. But sadly people are not so obliging.

And so we circle back to the initial question. How do you know that the last words you have just spoken to a certain person are really your last? You don’t. You don’t know what will happen in the next minute or hour or day and you don’t know if the tectonic plates of life are going to drift you away from this person. So be nice to them. Be humble to them. Be considerate towards them. And if you have not been – then apologise. Al-Tirmidhi narrated: Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “The best loved by me and the nearest to me on the seats on the Day of Resurrection are those who have the best manners and conduct amongst you, who are intimate, are on good terms with others and are humble, and the most hated by me and who will be on the furthest seats from me are those who are talkative and arrogant.”

Man’s Ego is his biggest downfall. It overrides humanity and compassion and drives wedges of distaste between family and friends. Squabbles that are easily resolved linger and fester into long standing silent treatments because of ones ego. If we learn to control our ego and not let it be master of our inner voice then as Robert H. Schuller says we can achieve our goals because the intention is correct. ‘Goals must never be from your ego, but problems that cry for a solution’.

So to every person I have wronged and drifted away from without a satisfactory parting, to every person who dealt with my ego and not my humility, to every person who I didn’t properly farewell – Forgive me. I was but a slave to my ego and only now learning to tether it so as to hear my inner voice. I know the tectonic plates of life will rarely give me another opportunity to rectify my wrongs but where they do I will endeavour to connect and where they don’t – I hope I can always remember that the last thing I say may really be the last thing I say to you and make it worth your while.

Parting is such sweet sorrow, That I shall say good night till it be morrow.  – Shakespeare

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