A Leech is Born

// November 14th, 2008 // Blog

I assigned myself the somewhat derogatory title of “The Leech” during my PhD years, when I noticed a potentially annoying personal behaviour.

When faced with a problem, I used one of two 'extreme' paths in my search for a solution.

Where I suspected that I knew enough to fix the problem myself, I was very secretive, independent, and head strong. Even if someone offered me advice (though it would not have been requested), I'd politely listen to them, but in my head I was thinking:

“Yeah, yeah, I already knew that.

“No, that won't work.

“Please, just let me get on with it!”.

I think it had something to do with trying to 'prove' myself; either to my supervisors, or just as an ego rush. This behaviour lead to me wasting six months on an experiment, that never yielded any results. I kept repeating and repeating the assay, and I would report my work regularly, but I never actually thought to sit down and talk to someone about why I was failing so consistently; I was that determined to solve the problem myself.

One supervisor openly chastised me for this, and I think the embarrassment from that experience, combined with the frustration of having clearly wasted so much time, caused me to swing the other way completely. Thus, 'the Leech' was born.

Now, every time I had a problem, even a tiny one, I would seek human intervention. It didn't matter whether there were manuals written on the subject, or in-depth how-tos posted online; I still needed reassurance from someone more experienced in that field, to make sure that I didn't mess up to that extent again. I am surprised no-one ran away from me in the hall ways, screaming:

“Noooo… I have given all I have to give! You have sucked my brain dryyyy!”.

It was understandable in a way. I was a student after all, and for most of human history, knowledge has traditionally been passed from human to human. Even now, with books, libraries, and wikis, full of information, we still plan to send our children to school to learn from real teachers, not from Google; at least for the forseeable future.

Perhaps the Creator geared our brains towards speech-based learning for a reason; the Qur'an may be written down, but it has always been considered a recitation, not a book. And how often are we criticized, as Muslim students in the West, for taking sacred knowledge directly from the texts, and not from teachers? The main reason being, that you cannot appreciate context from a string of words alone. Nor can you learn manners and wisdom, except by being witness to it in person, by spending time in the best of company, for prolonged, regular periods.

The burden on the one being questioned is great. To be hassled, often at times of great personal inconvenience; to have your brains picked at, and your opinions analysed beyond your own comprehension. And then not even to get a thank you afterwards! It is tiring work being a good teacher, for sure. But who is more admired, than a great teacher?

The incentive should not be admiration, of course. Every useful word uttered, every grain of wisdom shared, every hair that turns grey, is an investment. Knowledge that benefits is an ongoing charity, that remains with the believer, even after the vessel for that knowledge has long become dust in the grave.

And as far as I am aware, the knowledge referred to above, is not just of the sacred variety; though I imagine that it has a much greater 'price tag' than that of the regular kind. But by helping others to function in this life, one is easing the path towards goodness, because as Muslims, we seek to worship Allāh with everything that we do. In addition, by saving others time in the dunya, we grant them more time to spend on the akhirah… at least, in theory.

So, cooking a nice meal, that brings a smile to the face of those who partake in it; especially family and neighbours – surely that recipe could be a source of reward for the one who shares it?

Or posting an entry about how to write a killer CV. If the reader takes your advice, and gets a job because of it, and then goes on to spend their earnings on their family, and community – well, shouldn't the author get a cut of all that reward, inshā’Allāh?

Allāh is most generous that way.

Why am I writing all this? Well, as much as I do not miss academia – that is, having to attend lectures, write reports, etc – it turns out that I have a lot of learning left to do; yes, with my deen, but also with the new directions I seem to be taking in life, such as editorship of a magazine.

A sister wrote something to me today, about professionalism. I agreed with her sentiments, that if we wish to be called professionals, then we should act like professionals, and not be expected to be molly-coddled when we are learning. I guess I have been in disconnect mode for all this time. I want the magazine to be a professional publication, but I am still working like it is a voluntary, part-time shindig, like all my other initiatives. It's time to take this to the next level – what that means exactly, I'm not sure – but her email was a big wake up call.

Does that mean The Leech is dead? Umm, no. The Leech will continue to leech all that she can from the people she believes that she can benefit from, inshā’Allāh. For that, I offer both advanced warnings, and sincere apologies.

But I pray that the investment so kindly provided (voluntarily or otherwise) will result in great returns for whomsoever has become prey to my blood-sucking tendencies; both in this life, and the next. Āmīn.

Now, back to work for me… {replaces her Leech cap, with her Editor cap}

{Wonders what a Leech cap would look like?}


8 Responses to “A Leech is Born”

  1. Salaams ukhti!

    Eww… no, the leech cap is not your color. The editor cap is definitely more stylish on you, LOL. But hey, we all put on the leech cap sometimes! And you raise some valid points too about going to the people you can trust to learn from them directly, rather than trying to make sense out of just the written word. I had forgotten temporarily about the benefit of the connection to a fellow human that is forged by your method.

  2. Organica says:

    I know what you mean! When a parent from the Sunday School pointed out a situation I was part of, I froze. Wow. I acted so unprofessionally and more than likely would have never acted the way I did in a regular school setting.

    No one is perfect. We live and learn ;)

  3. Salam sister,

    I pray that all will be good with your SALAM magazine and your other future endeavors, insya Allah. I’ve subscribed to it too! :D So imma looooking forward to that~

  4. Alefyah says:

    Salam.. How true.. You know I go through the same thing! For my thesis, I was like “I will do it on my own!” only to realise that there are people out there who know better and can tell you ‘one tiny thing’ that can collapse your entirely ‘only-in-my-mind’ theory :)

    I have subscribed to SAL.AM do let me know if I can help, write something or anything.. (Professionally ofcourse though am not exactly posting my CV here lol)

  5. iMuslim says:

    Wa ‘alaykum salam wa rahmatullah

    Aaminah: in this digital age, human-to-human contact is more important than ever! Having a human teacher also means we are less likely to suffer from information overload, insha’Allah.

    Organica: I am living and learning!

    Hidayah: Thank you for your prayer – ameen! I hope we exceed your expectations, with Allah’s help.

    Alefyah: I was going to call on you at some point! How could I ignore my favourite fiction blogger? :)

  6. hfm says:

    I think you’ve put this across in a manner I wouldn’t have thought of,interesting.

    In the Google age-where ignorance is frowned upon and the words:’Google it’ give the answer to all buzzing questions, I think human contact is precious.
    I always have the itching need for someone to tell me-it’s old school but I really hope it doesn’t die out!

  7. […] of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal […]

  8. K.ibrahim says:

    Ashahadu An Laa illaaha illal llahu
    Wa Ash Hadu Anna Muhammadan Abdu Hu Wa Rasooluhu

    ”I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah
    who is without partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) is the Rasool.”
    “O Allah, Shower Your Peace come upon Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, as you have brought peace to Ibrahim and his family. Truly, You are Praiseworthy and Glorious. O Allah, Shower your blessing upon Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, as you have blessed Ibrahim and his family. Truly, You are Praiseworthy and Glorious”.
    Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam, As-Salaam Alaikum!
    My Name is Khalid U.Ibrahim. I am in need of your (Du’a) Prayers for ALLAH’s Help and Protection. (Ya ALLAH!) OALLAH! I Beg of you to Bestow on us (the Believing Muslims) a Home, a Home of Safety, Security and Peace in this World Life, Out of the Reach of the Dajjal and his army, and also Grant us a Home of Safety,Security and Peace in the Life Hereafter,Out of the Reach of the Fires of Hell!.(Ya ALLAH!) OALLAH! I Beg of you to Increase our Faith and Devotion, and to Bless us with Peace in our Hearts and Souls.(Ya ALLAH!) Please Forgive All The Believing Muslims,(Ya ALLAH!) Please grant All the Believing Muslims the Best in this world Life and the Best in Hereafter, and(Ya ALLAH!) Please Protect us(the Believing Muslims) from own Nafs, and(Ya ALLAH!) Please Protect All the Believing Muslims from the hands of the Dajjal and his army.] {No One in this World care!} (Ya ALLAH!) OALLAH! I Beg of you for the means to do good, and to avoid evil, and Bless us to Love the poor, and I beseech you forgive us(the Believing Muslims) and have mercy on us. And When you subject the people of theWorld to trial, Protect us from being affected by it.(Ya ALLAH!) OALLAH! I Beg of you, your Love and Protection,and the Love of those who Love you, and Grant us the Love of all such actions that will bring us closer to you, with our Love and Devotion to you.(Ya ALLAH!) OALLAH! I thank you

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