The Secrets of Success in My Own Room

Sunlight through the bedroom window

When I woke up this morning I asked myself:
“What are some of the secrets of success in life?”
I found the answer right there in my very room:
The fan said : Be cool.
The roof said : Aim high.
The window said : See the world.
The clock said : Every minute is precious.
The mirror said : Reflect before you act.
The door said : Push hard for your goals.
And finally, the carpet said : Kneel down and pray.

– Author Unknown

Too Small to Make a Difference? – Ask a Mosquito

Mosquito white background

By Wael Abdelgawad |

“If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent the night with a mosquito.” – African proverb.

A mosquito makes a difference in an annoying way, but the principle is the same. One person can stop a great injustice. One person can be a voice for truth. One person’s kindness can save a life. One person matters.

The Sun Will Rise

African sunrise

A sunrise in Africa

“However long the night, the dawn will break.” (InshaAllah) ~ African Proverb

Advice from a Mountain

Mount Everest

Mount Everest

By Wael Abdelgawad |

No matter how great you are, God is still above you.

There’s nothing wrong with having your head in the clouds, as long as you have roots in the earth. If you want to be beautiful and strong, be yourself. In anything, build your foundation first. Be solid, be real.

Rise above the bigotries of others. Provide refuge to the oppressed, the traveler, and the seeker. Protect the rivers, trees, and animals.

Keep your secrets. Cherish silence and solitude, but roar when you must.

Be patient: everything changes in its season, and all things come to those who persevere.

Don’t Just Talk, Bring It

heavy rain

By Wael Abdelgawad |

“A promise is a cloud; fulfillment is the rain.” – Arab proverb. Keep in mind that for the Arabs, living in harsh desert lands, rain is the bringer of life and Allah’s blessing, providing bounty and relief. The proverb is saying that a cloud is like a promise, offering hope of needed sustenance but not really giving it. If you want to be real, bring the rain.

Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “There are three signs of a hypocrite: whenever he speaks, he lies; whenever he makes a promise, he breaks it; and whenever he is trusted, he betrays his trust.” [Agreed upon] It is added in a variant of Muslim, “Even if he fasts and prays and claims that he is a Muslim.”

Deceivers and hypocrites are clouds that pass over again and again but bring no rain, leaving only drought and hunger in their wake.

Now, before anyone sends me a message saying, “Only Allah can bring rain!” – I don’t mean it literally. I’m speaking metaphorically, in keeping with the proverb.

Andrew Carnegie, the famous industrialist, observed, “As I grow older I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.”

If you want to make a real difference in the world, if you want to better your situation and your family’s lives, if you want people to take you seriously, then don’t only talk. Do. Bring it.

Do that consistently and people will take your word like a Himalayan mountain. You will move ahead in life like an orca – the most powerful swimmer in the sea – cutting through the waves. And you will have one of the characteristics of a true believer, as the keeping of promises is one of the most important aspects of Imaan (faith). (I should point out that the exception would be a promise to do something evil – such a promise should be broken, since there is no virtue in doing haram, and therefore no virtue in keeping the promise).

“O you who believe! Fulfill (your) obligations.” (Quran 5:1)

Amir al-Mu’minin (Commander of the Faithful) ‘Ali (RA), in his letter to Malik al-Ashtar, wrote:

“If you conclude an agreement between yourself and your enemy or enter into a pledge with him, then fulfil your agreement and discharge your pledge faithfully. Place yourself as a shield against whatever you have pledged, because among the obligations of Allah there is nothing on which people are more firmly united despite the difference of their ideas and variation of their views than respect for fulfilling pledges.”

Words are important. They are a starting point, and they have the power to heal or hurt. But even more important are actions. Fulfill your promises. Practice what you preach. Do. Bring it.

Respect the earth as you would an elder

Beautiful mountains with snow and green trees

“The earth is very old, so respect it as you would an elder.” – Bengali proverb

Most fears are false

Mountain field with wild flowers

An Arab poet said: “I said to my heart when it was attacked by a fit of anxiety, be happy, because most fears are false.”

Can’t is Dead

A country road and a bright sky

Can’t is Dead

Can’t is dead as old wood –
It was killed by could.

Can’t has tucked tail and fled –
scared off by a positive thought to the head.

Can’t departed in the ink of night
along with should have, would have, and might.

Can’t went to bed with a sleeping pill.
I’ll be happy instead with can and will.

– Wael Abdelgawad, 2010

Drop and drop makes an inundation

Drop of water on a vine

By Wael Abdelgawad for

“A little and a little, collected together, becomes a great deal; the heap in the barn consists of single grains, and drop and drop makes an inundation.” – Arabic proverb

Do what good you can in this life and don’t worry that it’s too little, or that it won’t change things, or that you do not see immediate results. Your contribution matters. The ripples spread outward, even unseen, so that your presence on earth eventually affects everyone else in the world.

Or, if you don’t put stock in proverbs, then remember the words of Allah in Surat Az-Zalzalah:

“Then shall anyone who has done an atom’s weight of good, see it! And anyone who has done an atom’s weight of evil, shall see it.” (Quran 99:7-8).

Never listen to those who say that it’s pointless to try, or that the good work you are doing is hopeless. The tiniest bit of good you do, matters. An atom’s weight of effort makes a difference! It changes things, whether you see it or not.

Shared happiness, happiness doubled

Double rainbow and bluebird

By Wael Abdelgawad for

‘Delad glädje, dubbel glädje: delad sorg, halv sorg.’ – Swedish proverb.

Oh, you don’t speak Swedish? Not to worry, neither do I. This proverb literally means, “Shared happiness, happiness doubled; shared sadness, sadness halved.” It’s about friendship, and how sharing your happiness with friends makes it so much more special; and sharing your sadness makes it much less painful.

Here are a few of my favorite quotations about friendship:

‘”And the believers, men and women, are protecting friends of one another; they enjoin the right and forbid the wrong.” (Quran 9:71)

Narrated AbuHurayrah: Allah’s Apostle (peace_be_upon_him) said: “Verily, Allah would say on the Day of Resurrection: ‘Where are those who have mutual love for My Glory’s sake? Today I shall shelter them in My shadow when there is no other shadow but the shadow of Mine.'” – Sahih Muslim

“The poor man is the one who has no friends.” – Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra)

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.” – Anonymous

“Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity.” – Edgar Watson Howe

“When a friend is in trouble, don’t annoy him by asking if there is anything you can do. Think up something appropriate and do it.” – Charles Caleb Colton

“When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends.” – Japanese Proverb

“A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.” – Bernard Meltzer.

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Pieces of a Dream