The Trees: A Lesson in Charity and Humility

As an Information Technology (I.T.) professional, I was directly responsible for over 200 users at one time during my career. And for those people who used computer and telecommunication services, I was the central point of contact for the resolution of any computer related issue.

Several years ago, I was called to the company’s corporate office along with site administrators from around the country to discuss ways to improve both our service and response time for corporate users. My strong point and the topic of my presentation – as determined by our company president was customer service. An overview of the discourse I gave is presented below:

“Have you ever just thought about the many varieties of trees? Some trees, like the oak trees or the pine trees grow tall, very tall in fact. They appear almost majestic as they reach toward the sky. Their branches are often turned upward or outward, toward the sun – in an almost “proud” repose. But while this splendor is appealing to the sight, these trees offer very little – other than their natural beauty.

Other types of trees by comparison, are often a lot smaller. Fruit trees, for example, are much shorter in stature. And while their branches might be outstretched, most are drooping or hanging downward. They’re heavy with the weight of the fruit they bear.

People, especially those of us in I.T. are like trees in a lot of ways. There are those of us who have achieved a real or imagined level of expertise in our respective areas. But oftentimes, we develop a sort of subconscious arrogance – like the tall trees. We have tons and tons of certifications. We’ve read countless books. But have no patience, no real interest in helping those of our users who genuinely need our help. We forget that our primary responsibility is service. Subsequently, like the oak and pine trees, some of us offer very little – except the certifications that declare our “greatness”.

Conversely, there are others among us who have similar skills sets. But they choose to remain in the background. They sit quietly, answering calls as needed. They often give more time to users to insure that all problems are taken care of before they move on. They’re like the low hanging fruit trees. They’re available to anyone who can reach them. And their purpose in life is simply to serve.

I’ve presented two extremes. And I doubt that many of us would fall solely into either group. The one thing that we should remember is simply this. At one time, we were all as ignorant as the dumbest of our users. We didn’t know the difference between a keyboard and a mouse. But we learned. And we became the professionals we are today. We cannot belittle or embarrass our co-workers due to their seeming lack of knowledge. They’re growing too.

We have to have patience. We have to remember that in the not so distant past, we were learning too. We need to offer ourselves as the low hanging fruit trees to those people who depend on us daily to help them understand technology.”

As Muslims, we too often fall into those subconscious traps, those nafs, those arrogant mindsets presented to us by Iblis. We tend to forget that ALLAH is Al-Hakim, the Wisest. No matter how many books we read, we only know what ALLAH allows us to understand. Whatever we are, whatever we become is only by His Grace. By ourselves, we are nothing, absolutely nothing!

Charity and humility are incumbent upon us. They’re mandated by both the Quran and the Sunnah.

Yes. Those noble traits, sanctioned by ALLAH are two that that we need to emulate. And that includes the sharing of our knowledge and our time – as well as our money.

Become humble. Remember the trees. But more specifically, become a fruit tree.

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