Why Does Helping Another Person in Distress Make You a Hero?

Why Does Helping Another Person in Distress Make You a Hero?

By Babar Ahmadship

A passenger was once travelling on a ship when someone threw him overboard into the deep ocean. The waves engulfed him and, unsurprisingly, he tried his best to do everything he could to survive. The alarm was raised on the ship. The other passengers heard the call. Some of them did nothing because they were afraid of the deep water. Some of them did nothing because they were afraid that they might be thrown overboard themselves. And some of them did nothing because they thought it was no use, there was little chance of saving the man.

But other passengers came to the aid of the man in distress. One of them ran to the captain and pressured him to stop the ship. Another flung in a rubber ring. Another threw a rope to the drowning man. One of them even jumped into the ocean and swam out to try and save the man. Most of these passengers did not know who the drowning man was or how he ended up in the ocean; they simply saw a fellow passenger in distress.

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The situation was serious. The water was cold and sunset was approaching. The drowning man flailed his arms desperately to keep afloat but he felt himself slipping away. Frigid, salty water began to wash into his mouth and nose. He began to lose hope.

While some passengers tried to save the man, other passengers stood on the deck in tears as they watched the scenario unfolding in front of them. They felt unable to do something practical to save the drowning man. So they shouted out words of comfort to the man. They told him to hold on just a little longer because help was on its way. Most of these passengers did not know who the drowning man was or how he ended up in the ocean; they simply saw a fellow passenger in distress.

When the drowning man saw their tears and heard their cries, he suddenly felt a burst of energy inside him. Up to that moment, his fight for survival had only been about himself. But when he saw that there were others who were worried about him and invested in him, he realised that he had to survive for their sake, even if he no longer had the energy to survive for his own sake.

With the encouragement of the well-wishers, the drowning man managed to keep himself afloat long enough for the rescuers to arrive and save him.

A hero is someone who makes a positive difference to the life of another person.

Who are the heroes in this story?

A) The drowning man, who did what he had to do to survive.
B) The passengers who rescued the man and encouraged him to survive.

Why Does Helping Another Person in Distress Make You a Hero?

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The writer Mustafa Sadiq alRafei says, “When I looked into history, I found a small number of individuals whose lives mirrored the life cycle of a grain of wheat. They were torn from their roots then crushed then ground in mills. Then kneaded with fists, then rolled out and baked in ovens at high temperatures,  just so they would provide food for others!”

Patiently persevere in the face of hardship hoping for a good outcome because you never know how many dead hearts you will bring to life in the process. No hardship lasts forever.  There’s always an end!”

Babar Ahmad, HMP, UK
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How to be a Loyal Person: A Lesson from the Story of the King and the Servant

By Babar Ahmad, London

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Once upon a time there lived a king. Whenever any of his servants would do something to displease him, he would feed them to a pack of wild dogs that he kept in a special cage. Now this king had a servant who had served his master loyally for 10 years. One day this servant did something to displease the king, so the king ordered that he be fed to the wild dogs.

“I served you for ten years and this is what I get in return? Please, give me ten days respite, then feed me to the dogs,” the servant begged the king. The king agreed. The servant then went to the keeper of the wild dogs and asked if he could help him take care of the dogs for the next ten days. The keeper was baffled, but agreed.

So for the next ten days, the servant served the dogs. He fed them, bathed them and played with them. He took them out for exercise, stroked them and spoke kind words to them.

When the ten days were up, the king arrived to witness his servant being thrown to the dogs. But when the servant was thrown into the cage, something unexpected happened…

What is loyalty? What are the characteristics of loyal people?

Loyalty is remaining faithful and true to something, whether it’s your word, a promise or a person. Loyalty is unconditional love and attachment to an individual.

Loyal people move the earth for the people they are loyal to. They do anything for them: spend time, money and effort for them. They help them in times of hardship and do not forget them during calamities. They correct them when they err. They stick by their side when everyone else abandons them. They remain present in good times and bad, luxury and poverty, health and sickness.

Loyal people are loyal to everyone close to them. Loyal people never forget the good that others have done to them.

Loyal people move the earth for the people they are loyal to. They stick by their side when everyone else abandons them. They remain present in good times and bad, luxury and poverty, health and sickness. Loyal people never forget the good that others have done to them.

A loyal person is loyal first and foremost to God. He never forgets God, his Creator and Sustainer, no matter what he goes through in life. A loyal person is also loyal to those close to him, such as his family and close friends. Someone who is not loyal to his own family can never be truly loyal to anyone else. He may show signs of loyalty, but it is fake, not genuine.

In his book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen Covey uses the concept of an “emotional bank account” to describe the relationship between any two individuals, whether familial, romantic, friendship or other. The higher the balance of the emotional bank account, the better the state of the relationship and loyalty of the individuals towards each other. Like any bank account, you can make deposits to and withdrawals from the account.

Covey describes how the biggest deposit to the account (and the biggest proof of loyalty) is made by giving time to the other person. Time is the most valuable resource that we possess. It is more valuable than money. Money goes up and down but time is finite. So rich, busy parents can never compensate their children for not spending time with them by buying expensive ‘guilt gifts’ for them.

Whenever we give some of our time to someone, be it by a phone call or email, we make a deposit into the emotional bank account. Other deposits are made by way of gifts, anything good that we do to the other person, being there for them in times of distress, listening to them and apologising when we make mistakes.

In the same way, when we do any wrong to that person we make a withdrawal from the emotional bank account. Covey described that the biggest withdrawal we can make from this account is to when we fail to fulfil a promise or honour a commitment we made to the other person. Failing to keep to our word shows the other person that they are not worthy of our time or energy.

Being loyal to one’s word is a characteristic of every great person. Even in prison, there is this thing called your “word.” You are nothing without your word. Conflicts, business and agreements are made with a handshake sealed by your word. If you go back on your word, your worth as a person ends. It is better for a person to give up his life, his wealth and his time than to go back on his word.

If the emotional bank account balance is high, it can withstand withdrawals but only up to a point. At some point, we can withdraw so much from an account without realising it that we can fall into the red (overdrawn) or become bankrupt, thus destroying the relationship.

Returning to the story of the king and the servant, when the servant was thrown into the cage full of wild dogs, instead of tearing him to shreds, the dogs gathered round him and began to lick him.

The king was surprised at this sight so he asked what had happened to his dogs. The servant replied. “I served these dogs for only ten days, yet they never forgot what I did for them. But I served you for ten years, and you forgot all of that at my first mistake.” Upon hearing this, the king realised his mistake and set the servant free.

I served these dogs for only ten days, yet they never forgot what I did for them. But I served you for ten years, and you forgot all of that at my first mistake.

The moral of the story is: always remember the acts of kindness done to you and never forget the good that people have done for you, even if it was only on a single occasion.

How to be a Loyal Person: A Lesson from the Story of the King and the Servant

7 Lessons in Leadership From the Life of Muhammad Ali

7 Lessons in Leadership From the Life of Muhammad Ali

Whenever a great person passes away, the tremors felt by the world are in proportion to the legacy that that person left behind. In this week’s blog post I reflect on seven lessons in leadership that we can learn from the life of the boxer Muhammad Ali.

  1. Leadership is most valuable during times of crisis

Ali grew up in the ‘Deep South’ of America at a time when black people were still considered inferior human beings to white people. As recently as the 1960s, African Americans were still forced to sit on buses in sections separate to white Americans.

When Ali rose to prominence, the black community in America was suffering from despair, disheartenment and a lack of confidence.

It was in this atmosphere that Ali demonstrated leadership. He realised that wallowing in victimhood restrains a community from growing and moving forward. And so he exhorted his people to do something to change the world around them, rather than sit and cry about it:

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

2. Every great leader in history suffered for their beliefs and were reviled before they were revered.

Change is hated by man because people prefer the status quo. No-one likes change, especially those in power.

Once Ali began to encourage his people to believe in themselves, that they did not have to accept the world for what it was, that they could do something to change their lives, he was considered a threat and punished for his beliefs. He was stripped of his title, fined and sentenced to 5 years in prison.

In the eyes of the law, Ali was a convicted criminal. But this did not prevent billions of people around the world venerating him until and after his death.

“I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.”

3. Just like cowardice is contagious, so is bravery

In the Quran, fleeing the battlefield is considered a major sin because of the infectious nature of cowardice. When one person flees the battlefield, he injects seeds of cowardice and fear into the hearts of those around him and causes them to flee too.

But likewise, when one man stands up and takes a brave, principled stance, he encourages others to be brave too.

“To be a great champion, you must believe you are the best. If you’re not, pretend that you are.”

4. Leadership is not just about talking the talk, it is about walking the walk

During my years in prison I saw many people who talked tough out in the world, but crumbled to pieces once inside a prison cell. Some of them even turned into rats. Talk is cheap, but action is costly.

Muhammad Ali did not just openly declare his opposition to going to Vietnam to fight. He declared that he was prepared to go to prison, give up boxing and sacrifice everything that was dear to him, for the sake of holding true to his principles.

And true to his word, he was stripped of his title and could not box for several years.

“I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars… I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.”

5. The importance of being on the right side of history

Many of the people lining up to venerate Muhammad Ali today were the same people who demonised him when he was disgraced for refusing to go and fight in Vietnam.

As for the few who supported Ali when he was disgraced, they turned out to be on the right side of history. The rest of the American public soon turned against the Vietnam war and the United States brought its troops home.

Nelson Mandela suffered the same fate. The same people who castigated Mandela as a convicted terrorist later lined up to pay tribute to him once the whole world realised that he changed the world for the better.

“The service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.”

6. Publicly accepting your errors of judgement is a sign of strength, not weakness

The strong leader does not run away from his mistakes; he acknowledges them and learns from them. Muhammad Ali first joined the black supremacist sect ‘Nation of Islam’ but once he realised what they were about he publicly disassociated himself from their racist message:

“Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.”

7. People respect you more when you stick by your principles, than when you live your life to please people

Many people did not like some of the things that Muhammad Ali said, or the way that he said them. But he never once cared what people thought of him. He was proud of his beliefs, his lineage and his heritage. He realised early on in his life that if he was to spend his life trying to please people, he would waste his life.

“I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.”

Under the witty, fast-talking, charming man was a humble individual who really loved the world and cared about its people. He realised that he was not going to live forever so he spent his days on earth trying to carve a positive legacy that would remain long after he departed.

“Live every day as if it were your last because someday you’re going to be right,”he used to say.

And on Friday 3 June 2016 Muhammad Ali was right. May Allah have mercy on him.