Earlier, I had been trying for some time to get him to drink – he doesn’t drink easily. I approached, as usual, head-on from the front – and then I remembered:
“This is how I do it,” he said. “Watch.”
Then I watched. He placed the cup to the side, on the desk. Gently, he dipped the spoon into the cup and drew out some of the nourishing, raw, goats’ milk that has kept our boy plump and strong for almost his full 9 years. There were drips that spilled to the floor as he positioned himself behind our boy who was standing, flailing his arms in ecstatic dance to the upbeat music of Rio.
His hand with the milk-in-spoon came round one side of our boy at mouth-level as the other hand tucked-in gently around the other side, just below his chest, in a sort of “embrace” from behind. Carefully, avoiding the thrashes and gyrations, he managed to navigate to mouth. Much to my surprise, rather than the usual “get that thing outta my face” shove, he accepted.
Blinded by habitual, the usual, direct approach, we need another way but often don’t see it.
Wisdom is like that: there’s a subtlety of angle, a compromise – here a drip, there a drop – that accomplishes.
Inspiration, profundity of angle, plus vigor to do the job: those traits embodied create the worthy teacher. His is the worthy example, the one worth following.
Sayyidina ‘Ali (may Allah be content with him) has said:
“There is no sounder way for the astute believer than to follow the example of others. It is the clearest path and the soundest goal.”