(3) Why do we search for skills?
I once visited a deprived town to deliver a lecture, after which there came to me a teacher from outside the town. He said, “I hope you can help us finance some students.”
I said, “Strange! Aren’t the schools government funded, and therefore free?”
He said, “Indeed they are, but we would like to fund their university education.”
I said, “Well, the universities are also government funded.
They even offer student grants.”
He said, “Allow me to explain to you...”
“Go ahead”, I said.
He said, “Our students graduate from their secondary school with no less than 99%. They are so clever that if their intelligence was divided amongst the ummah, it would suffice! But when a student becomes determined to travel outside his town to study Medicine, Engineering, Islamic Law, Computer Science or anything else, his father prevents him from going, saying, ‘What you know is sufficient! Now, remain with me and be a shepherd!’”
I screamed impulsively, “Be a shepherd?!”
He said, “Yes, a shepherd!”
And indeed, the poor boy stays with his father and becomes a shepherd, whilst all his abilities are wasted. Years go by and he remains a shepherd. He may even get married and have children whom he may treat exactly as he was treated by his father.
Hence, all his children also become shepherds!
I asked, “So what’s the solution?”
He said, “The solution is to convince the father to employ someone as a shepherd for a few hundred riyals, which we will pay, and allow his son to take full advantage of his skills and abilities. Of course, we will also continue to fund his son until he
The teacher then lowered his head and said, “It is inexcusable that such skills and talents in people are wasted when they long to utilise them.”
I contemplated upon what he had said and realised that we cannot reach the pinnacle except by taking advantage of the abilities we have and acquiring those that we do not.
Yes, I would challenge anyone to find a successful person, be they successful in academia, preaching, lecturing, business, medicine, engineering, or influencing others; or be they successful in family life, such as a successful father with his children, or a successful wife with her husband; or be they successful in their social life, such as a person who is successful with his neighbours and colleagues – and I mean a truly successful person, not one who simply climbs upon others’ shoulders! – I would challenge anyone to find me any such highly successful person who does not practise certain interpersonal skills through which he has
been able to achieve such success, whether they realise it or not.
Some people may exercise such interpersonal skills instinctively, while others may have to learn them in order to be successful, and these latter people are the types of successful personalities whose lives we would like to study and whose methods
we would closely seek to follow in order to discover how they were successful, and to find out whether or not we can take their route to success.
A while ago, I listened to an interview with one of the most affluent people in the world, Shaykh Sulayman al-Rajihi, and found him to be a mountain in terms of his manners and thoughts. This man owns billions, possesses immense real estate, has built hundreds of mosques, and has sponsored thousands of orphans. He is hugely successful. He spoke of his humble beginnings around fifty years ago, when he was a regular person who would only have enough money to feed himself for the day, and sometimes not even that. He mentioned that he would sometimes clean people’s houses to feed himself and continue working at night at a shop or money exchange. He discussed how he was once at the bottom of the mountain, and how he continued to climb until he reached the summit.
I thought about the abilities and skills he possesses and realized that many of us are well capable of being like him, if Allah grants us the ability. If one learns these skills, exercises them, perseveres and remains steadfast, then yes, he can surely be like him.
Another reason for us to search for these skills is that some
of us may have certain abilities, which we remain unaware of, or which nobody has assisted us in discovering, such as the skills of delivering a lecture, business acumen, or possessing general knowledge.
One may discover these skills on his own, through a teacher’s or a work colleague’s help, or even through a sincere brother, however few they may be! However, these skills may remain buried inside the person until his personality becomes as stale as anyone else’s, and this is when we all lose out on another leader, lecturer or scholar, or perhaps a successful husband, or a caring father.
Here we will mention certain skills which we would like to remind you of if you already possess them, or which we would like to train you in if you don’t. So come along!

A thought...
When you climb a mountain, look to the top and not to the rocks that surround you. Make sure of where you step as you climb, and do not leap in case you loose your footing.