If you have ever given a speech or taught a class, one of the most remarkable things to observe is which of your words stick with your audience. Which bit did you say changed their heart?
I can think of numerous examples where I thought the audience would take one particular message away, but in fact benefited from something completely different. Over longer periods, the events you had often forgotten as insignificant are the ones which turned the hearts of the listener.
Just today, I met a friend who recalled how I had offered him a place to stay before we first met. I had thought of this as a common courtesy and gave little thought to it. He was so moved by it that it still lived with him.
Another friend once told me he started practising his faith as we warmly welcomed him to the prayer room at university. As a non-student, he thought he would be shunned as an imposter. We just shared the #Bromance, welcomed him one of our own, and never even thought to turn away someone coming to a sacred space.
When I lived in Egypt, a near complete stranger was adamant to help me upon my arrival because, 10 years earlier, my father had helped his father when they first arrived in the UK. When I asked my father, he couldn’t even remember what he did!
In the age of soundbites and social media, we search for the perfect words to say. We want to go viral. We want to have an impact. We want people to benefit through the work we do.
But the truth is guidance does not come from us, it comes from God. Even our Beloved Prophet ﷺ, the greatest guide to have walked this earth, was told:
إِنَّكَ لَا تَهْدِي مَنْ أَحْبَبْتَ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ
“You surely cannot guide whomever you like ˹O Prophet˺, but it is Allah Who guides whoever He wills, and He knows best who are ˹fit to be˺ guided.” [28:56]
The words you speak and work you do are yours, but which of them transform the heart is down to Allah ﷻ. He honours us by allowing us to take the credit, but the reality is, it’s Allah who does the work.