What exactly is the human spirit? I have heard about it all my life, but didn’t really understand what it was. Now that I am wiser and have experienced various facets of life and have met people with diverse backgrounds and experiences, I am beginning to understand the concept of the human spirit.
Call it the inner voice, or the part of you that urges you to keep fighting no matter how bad the odds are stacked against you. It is what makes you get back up, time and time again, after you have been dropped to your knees. Historically, this spirit has been demonstrated during freedom fights in India. This spirit has been demonstrated when our Sahaba underwent torture at the hands of the enemies of Islam. Mashallah, their Imaan is so firm, that not even torture was able to dampen their fighting spirit. They withstood all for the sake of Allah.
Unfortunately, the muslims of today don’t seem to have that same level of Imaan today, but we shouldn’t underestimate ourselves. With all the trials and tribulations that Allah tests us with, if we are successful, we grow stronger in Imaan and as a result so does our human spirit. We become resilient to challenges in life.
I like to share a few examples of inspiring human spirits I have encountered in 2006 that simply amaze me. While I was taking a finance course in Northwestern University, I got a chance to get very close to my professor. We actually became buddies and kept in touch even after the class was done with. He had become my mentor and was teaching me the ropes of become a successful wealth manager. One day, I call him up to treat him to lunch and he gives me devastating news – he had cancer. He was only in his 40s. Anyway, I insist on lunch and we talk about what he can do and his options on treatment. For 6 months, he did all he had to do including some specialized Chinese cancer treatment. He seemed to be doing quite well other than his weight loss. When I met him after 6 months, he was cheerful and calm as he always had been. He told me, “Mushir, life is too short to worry about death. I am spending time with my kids and enjoying every moment and frankly do not care about what may come tomorrow.” That right there my friends is the human spirit. He was unshaken. The prospect of death had not rattled him in the least. Wow is all I can say. A few weeks later, I get a disturbing call from a mutual lawyer friend. My professor had passed away. I was so shocked I could not even shed a tear. I had lost my guru.
His jovial, fighting spirit is still alive in my mind and I learned a little something about how strong humans can be. We vastly underestimate ourselves and what we are capable of. Life is the best teacher. It forces us to find that inner strength we have and we amaze ourselves with what we can or have achieved.
As if I hadn’t had enough tragedy in 2006, one of my best friends suddenly developed a blood clot. The doctor did not realize what it was at first and just gave him some pain killers. For 3 days, the pain did not subside but got worse. Finally, the doctor realized his folly and announced the need for immediate surgery to remove the clot. Life changes in an instant. I had just seen my friend laughing and having fun just the other day and now, he was in intensive care. The first surgery was successful, unfortunately, the clot had spread to his intestines. They moved him to a better hospital for surgery #2. The doctor gave us the grave word that his chances of survival were very slim because they had to remove 75% of his intestines and it is almost impossible to survive on that.
Day and night we would be by his bedside to give him support. The surgery was done and my friend made it and is walking and running. The doctors are amazed. My friend has an undying spirit. He has a will to live and to strive against all odds. Think Lance Armstrong. It does make a difference.
Allah has rewarded each of us with tremendous potential. Most of us just do not realize it and hence do not capitalize on it. We tend to be satisfied with mediocrity not realizing we are capable of so much more. Some of us are lucky enough to find this hidden strength in us and use it. Some of us are taught the hard way when stressful situations in life force us to rely on our last hope of survival – our human spirit.
You, I, each and every one of us, is strong. Do not underestimate yourselves. Life will kick you down, get right back up. Do not show weakness, you have it in you to fight – trust yourself, trust Allah. You will be truly amazed when you give yourself that chance. Embrace this immense strength and blessing that Allah has endowed on each and every one of us and face challenges in this world with a smile.