Striving for Excellence in Taqwa & Character

Traffic lights

Subhanallah, I remember the days when I used to literally drive my instructor crazy. We’d end up arguing on the road. I’d go back home from my hour or two driving lesson totally exhausted. I couldn’t help suddenly breaking when I panicked. Or not changing gears when as I knew I’ll have to turn right at the next road. I didn’t really slow down as I approached a traffic red traffic light as I was hoping that it’ll change soon and I won’t have to stop the car and risk stalling.

Now in this journey of becoming a legal driver I could’ve identified areas of control, influence and others that though they concerned me I could neither control nor influence. I was concerned with potential accidents, staying away from other cars and pedestrians, on and off the road. I was concerned with the amount of time and money I was spending on my driving lessons and the impact this had on other aspects of my life.  I was concerned with how dumb I felt when I just couldn’t get a three-point-turn. No wonder I dreaded getting into that car for another lesson and was incredibly nervous on the test day.

That was a huge area of concern that I was carrying around with me. Maybe if I had broken things down as in the diagram below I could’ve had more of a positive experience. Within that huge area there were things I most certainly could’ve controlled. My emotions would be the first. I overreacted so much, when I think about it now I think it was silly. I would get annoyed, frustrated then build up to impatience and then make bigger mistakes and forget the sequence of how to do that three-point-turn safely and efficiently.  I’d get back home upset. Mind you, not after every lesson was like that but when I did I would think to myself: “do I really need to learn how to drive?”.  

When you decide that something is in your control, I think, it makes you more pragmatic. The approach becomes ‘what can I do to sort this out now?’ or ‘what can I do to prevent this from happening again?’. The third option is ‘what will make me the person who won’t fall into that trap in the first place?’ So when I made a mistake I could’ve used it as a learning experience and moved forward with what I gained about myself and the situation. I had noticed that some lessons were better than others and found a pattern that helped me prepare better. As for ‘what can I do to sort this out now?’, I could’ve parked the car and took few minutes to breath and calm down. Yes, something as simple as that would’ve helped.

When in London’s narrow roads and among few temperamental drivers the area of control shrunk quite rapidly and the area of concern seemed to envelope me. The buffer zone or the circle of influence could’ve come to the rescue. A closer look at the dynamics of a road shows many influencing techniques happening all over the place. When I slow down and indicate I am influencing other drivers to change their driving in a way that will keep the road safe for all of us.   When I press the car horn to warn someone I am influencing them to move away from the danger of my passing car or something else. That driver may choose to slow down and let me pass and that pedestrian may choose the zebra crossing instead, they can also choose to ignore me. That’s where influence differs from control.

One can influence another to pray by giving the evidence and reminding them of Allah’s mercy and might but cannot control them and force them to pray.  Fulfil your obligation to them in kindness, guidance and support. How they use that is their choice. One may have been trying for a child for years. It’s a concern of hers. Her influence is limited to the natural causes Allah has created so she seeks medical intervention. Her heart and actions are within her control. When she keeps her heart attached to Allah with patience & reliance and is constant on dua and good deeds then she has fulfilled her duty with regards to what’s within her ability and control. Allah wouldn’t ask her about why she didn’t have children, she’ll be asked about how she responded to such a test.  

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Comments on: "Traffic lights" (3)

  1. Assalamu AlaikumI love the real life examples and concersn that we can all relate to and how you tied it into Islam – it was a real pleasure reading this.

  2. Salams @ TheMuslimCoach – looking forwards to your articles@ Jodi – Thanks dear. You have a fun & lively blog.Keep reading and commenting 😉

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