Do not cry over spilt milk

Written on 03/31/2022
Nuural Hudaa

Some people believe that the traits they have been nurtured on, which they are recognised by and which have left a certain impression about them on the minds of others can never be changed. They surrender to this thought, just as a person would surrender to the fact that he cannot change his height or skin colour. On the other hand, an intelligent person thinks that to change one’s nature can perhaps be easier than changing his clothes. Our nature is not like spilt milk that cannot be scooped up again. Rather, we are always in control of it and there are certain ways in which we can alter it, and even the way we think! Ibn Hazm mentions in his work Tawq al-Hamamah a tale of a famous Spanish businessman: There was competition between him and four other businessmen and as a result, they disliked him. They were therefore determined to aggravate him. One morning, he left his house to go to his workplace, wearing a white shirt and turban. One of the four businessmen met him on the way. He greeted the Spanish businesman, looked at his turban and said, “How beautiful this yellow turban is!” 

The businessman said, “Are you blind? This turban is white!”

He replied, “No, it is yellow! It is yellow, but it looks good.” The businessman left him and moved on until he met the second of them. He greeted him, then looked at his turban and said, “You look handsome today! Your clothes look fine! Especially this green turban!” The businessman said, “Actually, the turban is white.” “No, it is green,” he insisted. He replied, “It is white! Go away from me!” The businessman walked on, talking to himself, and every now and then looking at the flank of his turban to make sure that it was indeed white. He reached his shop and opened up the lock. Meanwhile, there came to him the third of the four businessmen and said, “How beautiful this morning is! And especially your clothes, they look fine! And your beautiful blue turban only adds to your good looks!” The businessman looked at his turban to ascertain its colour, then rubbed his eyes and said, “Dear brother! My turban is white!” “No, it is blue. But the important thing is that it looks good, so don’t worry!” the man said, and left, as the businessman began to yell after him saying, “The turban is white!” as he looked at his turban to ascertain its colour once again. He sat in his shop for a while and couldn’t take his eyes off his turban. Meanwhile, the fourth person came and said, “Greetings! MashaAllah! From where did you buy this red turban?” The businessman shouted, “My turban is blue!” He replied, “No, it is red.” The businessman said, “No, it is green! Actually, no, it is white! No, it is blue, or black!” He then laughed out loud, then screamed, then began to cry and then started to jump up and down! Ibn Hazm said, ‘Thereafter, I would see him in the streets of Spain. He had gone mad and children would pelt stones at him.’ If these four people, by using their skills, were able to change not only the nature of the person but also his mind, then how about the tried and tested skills that are supported by revelation which a person can put into practice in order to become closer to Allah? Put into practice whatever good skills you come across and you will be happy. If you say to me, “I cannot.” I would say to you, “At least try!” If you say to me, “I don’t know how.” I would say, “Yes, you do!” The Prophet  said, “Knowledge is only gained through learning, and clemency is only gained through perseverance.”