Thursday, November 15, 2007
THE MECHANICS OF TRANSFER OF TRAITS
Here is another important query. And this time it from a brother called Miqdad. Again, the benefit, I feel, would be for many, and thus I hereby present my answer to all the esteemed readers. The question first: "Where is the balance between arrogance and self-confidence? Or put it this way: when can I say I'm teaching him humility or destroying his self-esteem?" Clearly, as experience has shown, humility is built and transferred through humility. Likewise is the case with humiliation, which is transferred through humiliation. Humility, however, does not contradict self-confidence. A teacher or parent can interact with utter humility, yet instill self-confidence in the child. If the child, for example, fails in a subject, he can humbly introduce ways and means for the future improvement of the child, but confer confidence of getting good marks next time. Contrarily, he can reprimand the child and call him a failure, and dishearten and perhaps create despair in him. The process of transfer of habits is so beautifully depicted in a tradition of the Holy Prophet (s), who says that an offspring is a master (sayyid) for the first seven years, and then a slave ('abd) for another seven years, and finally a minister (wazir) for the third seven years. The reason why, exegetes of the tradition say, a child is a master (sayyid) for the first seven years, is that he must be obeyed and whatever he actually needs must be given to him. When he orders the parents, and the parents say “yes” and “ok” or substitute that with soft and kind words, they have practically taught him the lessons of obedience and soft spokenness. The child registers and understands all the reactions of his parents, and learns from them for the first seven years. At the age of eight, when the parents start requesting him to do things for them, he has already learnt the language of obedience and thus obeys them with no problems whatsoever. If he encounters some problem and cannot obey them, he explains to them in the soft language of love, or even introduces substitutes to what they require. In reality he has learnt his lesson for the first seven years well. Then after having had the practice of obedience for the seven years, he comes to a level of already knowing what His parents prefer and can therefore represent them in their absence. In this stage, without the father telling him to off the lights at 9:30 pm, for example, he runs to do so. This is because he already knows the likes and dislikes of his noble parents. Miqdad also asked, “How can I be sure that when I stand up for something, it is not out of arrogance, and if I don't stand up or say or do something, it is not because I don't believe in myself but rather out of humility.” I feel this is a matter of self-awareness and human intention. Both arrogance and humility have roots-causes and motivations. If one is able to decipher them, he would be able to know whether he is arrogant when he speaks up and humble when he is quiet. The definition of arrogance, however is so explicit, that many an arrogant person would clearly know about his arrogance. Arrogance is defined as “overbearing pride evidenced by a superior manner toward inferiors” The feeling of pride and superiority is something that one presentially witnesses in his heart, and thus can well appreciate his arrogant stance. Many at times, however, humbleness and humility have been misinterpreted and mistaken with cowardice. If truth is attacked and one is powerful enough to support it, then the question of humility does not arise. Rather the sheer support of truth displays utter humility to truth. But support for the truth has to be done as taught by the truth, which sometimes requires diplocmacy, soft encounters, etc. before any kind of aggressive encounters.The subject is vast, and it has been comprehensively covered in books of ethics where the Divine scholars speak of the equilibrium of the faculties of the soul, which needs Divine help to distinguish. May the Almighty assist us in our noble endeavors.
Posted by Muhammad Khalfan (email@example.com) at 7:42 PM