#24 Reflections: Waiting For People
Over the past week or so, I’ve been made to wait by a lot of people. Either a friend who turned up hours late, or a confirmation message I’d been waiting for days, or for a lift to the station to catch my train.
The waits for all the various scenarios were long, sometimes exhausting. But it made me reflect.
It made me reflect on how I was feeling.
Although I would love to say it didn’t bother me at all, the truth was I was slighlty irked. I tried my best to give excuses and have good assumptions. But the main thought that kept coming back to me was, ‘do they think my time is more expendable, worth less than theirs?’
To be honest, they are very busy people and I am aware of that. I am sure they all had extremely valid excuses. So this is not about what they should or should not have done.
But this is about what type of person I want to be.
Who I want to be
I want to make sure, regardless of how busy I am, that people do not feel like this with me. I want to make sure they don’t need to make excuses for my tardy responses. I want to make sure I never make someone feel like they need to be understanding of my busy schedule and feel like they need to work around me.
One of my favorite incidents from the seerah is the one about a woman who approached the Prophet (pbuh) when he was on the way to the masjid and asked if she could speak to him. He stood with her as she spoke and continued to speak about everything she wanted to. The hadith indicated that the woman spoke for a very long time but the Prophet (pbuh) never hinted for a moment that he needed to go. He simple stood there patiently, listening intently to her until she was completely done.
Never too busy
It’s a favorite incident for me because it shows how selfless the Prophet (pbuh) was. There could not have been a busier man in his time. He was the leader, an army general, the community judge, and more. Yet he never made anyone feel that he (pbuh) was too busy for them. He was always fine to put the needs of the people above himself, his to-do lists and plans.
It’s something that I aspire to because I know its not something that comes innately to me. I grew up prioritising achievement and tangible success over most things. Which meant I grew the habit of prioritising my to-do lists over people.
For those years, it served me well. But my priorities have shifted now. Although to-do lists and plans will never leave me, I no longer want people to revolve around them. I want my to-do lists to revolve around people.
I end this reflection with a hadith that I always go back to when I feel like I am prioritising my to-do lists over people again:
‘The most beloved people to Allah are those who are most beneficial to people.
The most beloved deed to Allah is to make a Muslim happy, or to remove one of his troubles, or to forgive his debt, or to feed his hunger.
That I walk with a brother regarding a need is more beloved to me than that I seclude myself in this mosque in Medina for a month.’
If being there for someone is better than worshipping in the masjid for a month, then how can we ever think anything is more important than being in service to others.