What are some of the self-improvement books that helped you in life?
The following is a passage from "Enjoy your Life" by Sheikh Mohammed Al-Are'efe.
I remember once giving a lecture in a police convention in Riyadh. After the lecture, one of them came to me and said, "Dear Shaykh, I need your help regarding a very important matter."
I said, "Go ahead, what is it?"
He said, "I cannot tell you now, but we must meet again when we have more time." He was speaking as if the matter was very important as I listened with interest. My life has taught me that many people give a lot more importance to issues than they deserve. This person who came to me was fanatical about his problem. He said to me, "I think you have a lecture tomorrow in such-and-such a city." The city was about 200 km from Riyadh.
"Yes", I replied.
He said, "I will come to see you there and meet up with you after your lecture."
I was stunned at his eagerness. As I left after delivering the lecture, he came after me in a hurry, barefoot, with a small piece of paper in his hand.
I stood by his side and said, "Go ahead. May Allah reward you for your eagerness, but what do you need?"
He said,"Dear Shaykh, I have a brother who only has primary education certificate, and I would like you to find him a job."
I said, "Is that it?"
He said, "Yes, that's it."
The man seemed really keen and his appearance made me pity him. It seemed as though his brother was going through a rough period. However, I knew that if I promised him anything, I would not have been able to keep it. We are living in times where one with a bachelor's degree cannot find work, let alone someone with a primary education certificate. I knew the limits of what I could do. It was an embarrassing moment for me, and I wished that I really could do something to help this grieving person's need.
However, I literally was able to do nothing, so I said to him, "Dear brother, by Allah, I want to help you. Your brother is my brother. I feel for him as you do. However, I am not able to help you at all. I hope you can graciously excuse me."
He said, "Dear Shaykh, please, at least try."
I said, "I am sorry, I cannot."
He then gave me the piece of paper in his hand and said, "Okay, dear Shaykh, just take this piece of paper with our phone numbers. If you ever find a job, please give us a ring."
I realised that he still wished to have hope in me. I knew that if I took the numbers, he would continuously wait for my call, pin his hopes, and encourage his brother to do the same.
I said,"Actually, keep the piece of paper and take my number down, and if you find a job for him then please give me a call. Perhaps, I will write recommendation letter to the employer for him to be accepted."
The man remained silent for a while as I waited for him to say goodbye. I was surprised when he then said to me, "May Allah brighten your face! By Allah, dear Shaykh, I have previously spoken to Prince so-and-so about the matter a year ago. He took the piece of paper and still hasn't called me! Once I spoke to Major General so-and-so, and he too took the piece of paper and didn't call me or even care about me. These people do not care about the weak! Allah will seek revenge from them!"
When he began to pray against them, I thought to myself, "Al-Hamdulillah, if I had taken the piece of paper, I would have been the third person to be prayed against!"
The first time I read the book, it was in 2010. Since then I've went back to it time to time. Whenever I'm faced with some difficulty, the book seems to have a perfect story for it.
The above passage has helped me a lot. People tend to come to me for help. Sometimes to understand a chapter, sometimes an invitation to a program/marriage, financial aid etc. If I'm able to attend to their concern, I tell them straightforward that I'll do it. If I've even a slight doubt, depending on the person I politely reject or reschedule my timetable.
I've yet to come across a person who has taken it offensively. It's our culture which makes us think that rejecting something is always offensive. No. It's not.
Outliers is a must read!
I read it last month. One of the topics it deals with is the inter cultural communication problem. Malcolm Gladwell speaks about how a simple misunderstanding led to a loss of 228 lives and 60 million dollars. That's just to begin with. The Korean airlines ran into a lot of trouble and many more accidents occurred before the problem was discovered.