Obscurity: No one needs to know your greatness

Unassuming. That’s the best way I can describe one of my teachers when I first met him here in Cairo. We were in an apartment where I found him sitting after the prayer. Two shayukh sat teaching atop the sofa and he was off to the side with a few students circling him. The vast majority of the students were sitting next to the sofas fervently listening to the two shayukh share some lessons on the religion. I knew of those two, so who was this shaykh that was supposed to be visiting? I looked around the room and saw no one. Finally, I went to my friend and asked, “Where is the shaykh that’s supposed to be visiting this month?” He pointed towards the unassuming man I saw when I first walked in.

I was confused. This man was the shaykh? This is the man that students drove hours to come see, and some people flew globally to come sit with? How? I remember asking my friend, “What are we going to study with him?” He smiled at me, “We are going to study him.” That was the most ridiculous statement I had ever heard. It took me two and a half years to understand exactly what he meant and exactly why statements like this were uttered by the righteous people that preceded us. People of God don’t always have fame, in fact the majority of them live lives of obscurity. Lives where no one knows the greatness that they have accomplished except for God.

Like my friend here, Kareem. An amazingly kind, loving and no doubt great husband. He works a typical job and honestly isn’t someone you’d look at and say, “Oh hey that guy is on his deen!” But he is. Every weekend he’s in class memorizing poetry on Tajweed and memorizing Quran. From my knowledge there is no rush, piece by piece. This past week we celebrated his finishing Surah Al Baqarah. This is how we all should be, the world doesn’t need to know what we do for God, God will bestow His reward when it matters. Take it easy, and take baby steps. Until then, “Bury yourself in the soil of obscurity, for what grows without being buried gives no fruit.” – Ibn Ata’illah


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