Friday, August 01, 2008

The Story of the New Emperor and His Seed- Motivational and Inspirational Story about Being Honest

Bismillaah

As Salaamu 'alaykum and peace to all,

First of all, i apologize to all my dearest blog readers for the lack of new stories in July 2008. I had bitten more than i could chew, and well, you saw what happened- i didnt get to write stories for my blog. But, i am still very thankful to everyone who still has patiently visited this motivational blog despite the lack of new stories. So, to compensate my loyal readers, i have decided to give away another story from my latest book- Life is an Open Secret- You, Me and We. Although this is not the full version of it as i think it will be a little too long, but, i only did cut out a few paragraphs in total; and i did that for one simple reason- following the rule of blog posting that readers might lose focus if the post is tooooooo loooonngggg! And inshaAllaah, from this month of august 2008 onwards, the posting on this motivational blog will resume as usual, inshaAllaah! So, grab a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate, and enjoy the story, inshaAllaah!


The Story of the New Emperor and His Seed

I usually do most of my banking electronically. But that day, for some reasons, I had to go manually. So, I decided to be brave and drive to the bank, despite the blazing sun and blistering hot weather. About fifteen minutes later, I reached my destination. As I entered the beautifully-decorated and most importantly, the fully air-conditioned bank's lobby, I noticed that there were quite a few customers in the bank. So, I pressed the button on the small number-ticketing machine at the door entrance.

“Hmmm… Twelve more people before me? That's not so bad” I thought, as I looked at the two digit number of yet-to-be-served-customers on my tiny white ticket.

Fortunately, I had a good book in my backpack, alhamdulillah, so, I quickly looked around for a good spot and began reading while waiting for my number to be called.

About ten minutes later, my eyes became tired and dry, so like a good patient who followed her eye doctor's advice, I knew I needed to roll my eyeballs up, down and sideways too. I could assure you that it is definitely not a pretty sight to behold.

Just as I was about to start the exercise by lifting my book up to cover my face (didn't want anyone to see me, of course!) suddenly my eyes caught something interesting- the bank teller.

Bank teller? Yes, the bank teller!

I just realized something. I have never paid much attention to bank tellers before, but they are the ones who receive our deposits and do all the nitty-gritty things for us, (the mostly nice but occasionally grumpy customers), right? And as they handle tons of money on daily basis, I figured one of the most important qualities that they must have is honesty, right?

Absolutely!

In fact, come to think of it, whatever it is that people decide to do in their life would really require honesty, don't you think so? I mean would you dare to trust someone of whom you doubt their honesty? Wouldn't it be like saying to the burglar “Excuse me (tap on his shoulder), in case you are curious, I left my house key under the doormat!”

Nope! Not going to happen, right?

Brigham Young (1801-1877) tried to explain why being honest is important:

"Honest hearts produce honest actions."


Totally! Be it from full time jobs like computer programmers (not to sell unstable programs that crash), doctors (not to do unnecessary procedures on patients), policemen (not to protect the criminals and blame the innocent), employees (not to take home office supplies), businessmen (not to sell harmful products), lawyers (not to lie just so they could win) and all the way to part time ones like babysitters (not to invite friends into customer's homes). Yup, they all must possess this one very important quality- the quality of an honest person.

Suddenly Felix the Cat in me became curios- if someone is said to be honest, what are we really saying about that person?

Then I remembered a hadith of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him),

"The signs of the hypocrite are three: when he speaks, he lies, when he makes a promise he breaks it, and when he is entrusted with something he breaks that trust. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Wait a minute! Stop right there, please.

All these mentioned characteristics - lying, breaking promises and betraying trust- don't they all sound like what a dishonest person would do?

Okay, let's see. Say you saw your friend cheating in an examination, but when you asked him about it he denied it totally. Would you feel that he is an honest or dishonest person? If you have a colleague who would never take an extra minute for his coffee breaks, would you think that person is being honest to the company or not? Perhaps your team leader took all the credit for the success of a project you did together with him, would you honestly want to trust him with your brilliant ideas in the future? Think about it.

I absolutely love what Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) once said in the Book of Wisdom:

"Wealth that you get by dishonesty will do you no good, but honesty can save your life."

Subhanallah! Don't you feel that by just becoming an honest person, we are actually wearing these protective shields like the striking orange lifejacket the beautiful stewardess painfully told us to wear just in case our plane lands in trouble, or the seat belts our wonderful mums make us buckle to avoid being thrown out of the car upon impact or the helmet we willingly put on when riding a bike to safeguard our heads in case we crash?

And all these things that we allow ourselves to be strapped on- what's the use of it? Why are we wearing them?

Of course for only one reason, right? Peace of mind. Peace of mind, my brothers and sisters, peace of mind.

I asked myself- could we really have tranquility if at the back of our minds, we are always fearful others would find out some skeletons we carefully hide in our closets? Would we be able to sit back and relax, expecting to be in serenity knowing very well that the few cans of worms which we buried years back might be discovered by someone?

Astaghfirullah, thinking about it made the butterflies in my stomach come to life and decide to have a party in my tummy! Stop partying please, little butterflies…

No wonder a Chinese proverb once said:

"Slander cannot destroy an honest man - when the flood recedes the rock is there."

This proverb reminded me of a few people I knew who were slandered severely during some parts of their lives. And even if it took a few years for their horrible “flood” to subside,when it actually does, those people still stood there, standing tall- as solid as a rock, as solid as the Great Wall of China and as solid as mount Everest so to speak, mashaAllah! The flood didn't impact them a single bit.

They taught me very valuable lessons in life.

This was when I sat and asked myself- despite the lessons I think I learned from them, do I really and truly live a life of an honest person? Do you, my brothers and sisters?

Let us ponder upon it for a bit- When we borrowed a book or CD from a friend, did we return it as promised or did we make them as among our collections in our personal library? Did we whisper to others not to tell the secret a friend told us not to tell others about or did we keep mum regardless of how big the temptation was to blurt it out? Did we pay back the money we borrowed at the agreed time or did we pretend not to remember every time we bumped into the person who had so graciously lent us the money? Did we really study for our exams as we promised our mum before she left for work or did we go on to play the videogames the moment she closed the front door? Did we really care, love and protect our spouse after we pledged in the name of our Lord to do so when we slipped that ring on their fingers, or were they the first ones to take the heat from us when we needed to let off some steam? What about when we signed on those dotted lines, pledging to give full commitment and dedication to our employers, did we really do that, or did we actively find clinics that give away fake medical certificates?

Ya Allah, I surely do have a lot of reflections to do today…

I remember my dad once told me that honesty is the best policy, but unfortunately there are not too many policy holders nowadays! As funny as it sounds, I feel it is kind of worrying if you think about it, you agree? But, his words amused me so much that every single time I thought about it, I couldn't stop smiling. I know at some level, he was absolutely right.

But why is that? Why is it that being honest is not easy to do?

Our beloved Prophet(peace be upon him) told us this once,

"Verily, this world is sweet and appealing, and Allah placed you as vicegerents therein; He will see what you will do. So, be careful of [what you do in] this world…" (Muslim)


Ahhh… No wonder. Now I got it!

This world is indeed like a funfair or carnival that is full of amazing current attractions. Where everyone looks like winners and having so much fun, too- giggling and laughing, enjoying themselves with all the sweets, candies, toys, rides and games, you agree? So, of course we would all want to have as much of those things too, right? Especially if we saw someone else licking that big huge spiraled-colored juicy lollipop!

Hey! We want one too!

And this French proverb sure doesn't provide much help:

"The surest way to remain poor is to be an honest person."


So, if we believe in that, what happens? In the efforts to get what we desire in life, to please someone we love, to gain wealth we dream of, to win the love of a person we long for and to achieve our career goals and ambitions, dishonesty might slowly creep into our clean and pure heart, don't you think?

This is when the avowed enemy of our Lord would start to play his role, by slowly and gradually whispering into our hearts, increasing our desires and wants. And just like how the cunning Vince McMahon plotted the wrestling storyline in WWF, making many men (and some women too!) salivate in front of the TV set thinking “What's going to happen next?!”, he(the avowed enemy) plans a game too with us, too.

Yup! A one-on-one between us and our conscience.

Gulp! Help! Mayday! Mayday!


But you know something? If we could actually restrain ourselves from temptations, if we could exercise self-denial from getting the pleasures of life through the wrong means, if we trust Allah in our lives and not commit fraudulent acts in any way, if we could withstand desires to get things quickly or easily by using immoral ways; if we could fight the urge to cheat, lie, betray, deceive, misled, swindle, con, rip off and trick another human being who is created by our Lord, Allah has promised us with a fantastic reward, as is mentioned below.

"Honesty leads to righteousness and righteousness leads to Paradise…" (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)


SubhanAllah! Just look at what He promised us if we are honest to His creations and for treating His creations right! Totally!

He promised us something more, beyond and above what we deserve, you agree?

Just think- be honest and get Paradise in return! I couldn't help but felt it is like our teacher saying, learn these A-B-C’s in class and I shall give you a Doctorate degree!

Don’t I want to take advantage of such an absolutely outstanding, amazing and unbelievable offer? Don’t you want to, my friends? .

Let me share with you a story I once read about the emperor and the seed.

Once there was an emperor who needed to choose his successor. So, he decided to call the young people in the kingdom and announced, "It is time for me to step down and choose the next emperor. So, I am going to give each one of you a seed today- a very special seed. I want you to plant the seed, water it and come back here after one year from today with what you have grown from this one seed. I will then choose the next emperor based on the plants that you bring!"

So, everyone took a seed and started planting, including a boy called Ling. After about four weeks, some of the other youths began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Ling kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Six months went by and Ling heard that everyone else had grown various types of trees, plants and flowers. But still, he had nothing.

Then, the day came when all the youth of the kingdom brought their plants to the emperor for inspection. Although afraid, Ling went to the castle anyway. There, he was amazed at the variety of beautiful plants grown by the other youths. Ling put his empty pot on the floor and many of the other kids laughed at him.

When the emperor arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted the young people. Ling just tried to hide in the back. "What great plants, trees and flowers you have grown," said the emperor. "Today, one of you will be appointed the next emperor!" All of a sudden, the emperor spotted Ling at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered his guards
to bring him to the front. Ling was terrified. "The emperor knows I'm a failure! Maybe he will have me killed!"

When Ling got to the front, the emperor asked his name. "My name is Ling," he replied. All the kids began laughing, but the emperor asked everyone to quiet down. He looked at Ling, and then announced to the crowd, "Behold your new emperor! His name is Ling!" Ling couldn't believe it. Ling couldn't even grow his seed. How could he be the new emperor?

Then the emperor said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone here a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But what you didn't know was that I gave you all boiled seeds, which would not grow. All of you have brought me trees, plants and flowers. All except Ling! When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Ling was the only one with the honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the only one I know fit to be the new emperor!"

SubhanAllah! What a magnificent reward for a simple act of honesty!

This story made me ponder- do I have the courage and honesty like Ling, to have an empty pot when all my friends' plants are growing beautifully? How many pots have I tried planting new seeds in, instead of seeds that the emperor gave me? Who are the emperors I tried to trick? Is there any emperor who gave me boiled seed to see if I am honest? What do these emperors think of me now?

What about you, my friends? Is honesty your middle name? Have you ever laughed cynically at your Lings thinking that you beat them to becoming an emperor, only to find later that they were crowned instead? Have you ever been a Ling yourself, ready to face whatever comes as long as you stayed honest? How many times have you been made the emperor because of your honesty?

So, every time we felt the urge to be dishonest, let us all remember these words-
Hail the New Emperor! And ask ourselves- is that us?

Sis Zabrina also known as Zabrina A. Bakar, is a Life Storyteller, motivational and inspirational writer and speaker; and author and creator of Islamic motivational book Life Open Secret book series http://wwww.LifeOpenSecret.com. She maintains an active blog at http://www.WisdomThruWords.blogspot.com. and social networking platform a Web 2.0 at http://www.LifeStoryteller.ning.com

Copyright © Sis Zabrina 2008

Sis Zabrina
Life Storyteller
Author of Life is an Open Secret Islamic Motivational Book Series:
Life is an Open Secret- Think about It
Life is an Open Secret- You, Me and We
Hidup Bukan Rahsia http://www.lifeopensecret.com

-18 Inspirational Stories from Ordinary life experiences-

Now blogging at http://www.wisdomthruwords.blogspot.com




~ Life Storyteller Blog: Your Source for Islamic Motivational and Inspirational Stories~

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Sis Zabrina, also known as Zabrina A. Bakar, is a Life Storyteller, motivational and inspirational writer and speaker; and author of Islamic motivational book series Life is an Open Secret http://www.lifeopensecret.com She maintains an active blog at http://www.wisdomthruwords.blogspot.com
and her personal Social Networking Platform http://www.LifeStoryteller.ning.com

2 comments:

F.a.r.i.h.a.n ~ said...

hye sis,, i met u in MPH midvalley with my partner, najib.
finally i arrived at ur blog!hehe :)
banyak ni yg nak kene go through read dlm blog ni..hee..
keep on writing!! ^_^

love,
A'an

cikli said...

Salam Sis,

Very good & useful stuff from u. Sometimes looking at my mom's & dad's faces especially the eyes, makes my eyes watered because I could see the meaning of "HONESTY".
I 'd like to share "honesty" defined indirectly by my late father, here in http://garamsicho.blogspot.com/2008/07/politik-selipar-ayah.html

Cheers.