By Aamir Kanji (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)
The word “listen” simply means to hear something with thoughtful attention. (Merriam-Webster). Listening is a very important skill one needs to have in their daily life. Across the globe challenges arise and get resolved. However, some of these challenges do not simply because we do not want to utilize our natural ability to listen appropriately.
In this world every living thing strives to make a mark in a satisfying way to one’s needs. A tree makes its mark by producing fruits so that it is valued by the people who eat from it. Without the fruits the tree is still able to make a mark by being the source of oxygen for other living things to be able to breathe healthy and pleasant air. An animal tries to make a mark by either producing food to satisfy hunger or by showcasing dominance towards other animals. Such is there natural cycle of life.
Instinctively, humans have their own innate desire to make a mark and prove to everyone that their story is worth a listen. We all come from different backgrounds and lifestyles hence making each and every one of us unique and special. We have been mentioned in the Holy Quran as “Ashraful Makhlukaat” which means the best of creatures. Within us, lies the ability to accomplish tasks beyond any other living creature’s capacity as well as overcoming challenges by the simple use of our intellect.
Let’s look at one of the key challenges facing the Muslim world today. Listening well and thoughtfully is something that we fail to follow and sometimes this happens on a daily basis. If this basic ability is not enhanced efficiently and followed appropriately it leads to misperceptions among other issues. To understand this subject further let us carefully examine this basic tool in three aspects.
Firstly, in order to be able to listen to others we must first be able to listen to ourselves. This may sound easier than it actually is but usually is the most common cause of conflicts in our daily conversations. The power of listening is generally underappreciated to the extent that when difficult situations arise we sometimes lose control of our anger and cloud the voice in our head that usually speaks to us. Listening to yourself requires perseverance and deep understanding of who we truly are and what we intend to become. “And no one will listen to us until we listen to ourselves” – Marriane Williamson.
Spend at least ten to fifteen minutes before sleeping at night to listen your heart and mind about the activities that you pursued throughout the day. Analyze your actions and evaluate your decisions. This will help you to maintain your right ones and improve on the ones you feel weren’t the choices. Ultimately, this will give you a deeper understanding of life.
Secondly, we must be willing to listen to others. Whatever we do, wherever we go we will always meet people and ask for assistance. In order to benefit from people’s advice we must be willing to listen thoughtfully and give the appropriate time to appreciate what they have to say. This can only be achieved if we are willing to listen. It is also a way of showing respect to the people including our families and friends. Sometimes the only help that struggling people need is someone who can listen to them. Giving someone your time is also a form of charity. In today’s world many people head into depression simply because there is no soul to listen to their battles and struggles. Try and listen to what people have to say, who knows what you may learn or in what way you’ll teach. There is always a plus side of helping someone out.
Lastly, listening to our creator. Since childhood we have been taught that God is everywhere. He does not need to be found in order to be spoken to. He loves having conversations with us. He voices out to us to speak to him on a daily basis whether through our actions. Obviously, this varies with every religion’s methodologies. However, the goal is one and the same. He also gives us the option of listening to him by reading His books i.e. the Holy Quran, The Holy Bible among others. Always remember that while humans are limited in their capacity to help each other out the creator is not bound by such boundaries. He will always be ready to listen to us. Prayer is the cure for a lost soul, confused mind and a broken heart.
Remember that listening is a key tool in changing lives. It is a gift from our creator to us. Always be ready to listen to yourself, make time to listen to others and most importantly spare time to listen to your creator and then see this life in a more positive reflection.