Often times, the external appearance belies what is in the heart. What we see on the surface can hardly prepare us for the potential that lies beneath. How often have we gotten close to someone only to realise they were nothing like we had imagined? How frequently do we dismiss someone only to realise later that our evaluation was wrong?
In Surat-ul-Abasa, Allah reproached the Prophet for frowning at and dismissing the blind Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum (the cousin of Khadija R.A.) when he requested his attention. You see, it was in the very early days of Islam and the Prophet was in the presence of some influential Makkah chiefs trying to convince them to accept Islam. Their conviction would have been immensely beneficial to Islam and would have helped in the spread of the deen. So being interrupted by a blind man whose conviction might not be as strategic to his mission may have seemed like an irritation at the time. This man could not even see the Messenger’s reaction but Allah took it up on his behalf. However, Ibn Umm Maktum who was among the first converts to Islam, and a muadhin (caller to prayer), helped propagate the religion while the prestigious ‘self-sufficient’ Makkah chiefs became great enemies of the deen and viciously antagonised Islam (hence, wasting the Prophet (SAW)’s precious saliva!)
In clinical practice, there is something called triage, a method of prioritising trauma patients. A patient may be evaluated and ‘left to die’ while resources are pumped into immediate resuscitation of a patient with better chances of survival. Sometimes, while claiming being ‘busy’, we miscalculate and while attending to that screaming patient, the stoic patient quietly slips away. Without a doubt, taking people at face value has prevented many a beautiful friendship from developing and wasted many golden opportunities.
Also, we should never underestimate human potential. That person we glanced dismissively at today could be at the top of his game in a couple of years’ time; there’s nothing impossible for Allah.
Have you had any similar experiences? You are welcome to share.