“The Great” by Prof. Dr. Arshad Javed (My Mentor)

Prof. Dr. Arshad Javed

When I was very young, I wanted to be a fighter pilot. My favorite toys were warplanes and fighting equipment. As I grew older and started taking interest in sports; I was fascinated by the glamour of the star players and I thought of following them in my future life. Similarly, at different times, I wanted to be an astronaut, a film actor, a singer, a doctor and a photographer etc. This perhaps is the story of almost every child.
When I look back, I understand that it is the hidden desire of every human being to become prominent, popular and famous. Everybody wants to be noticed and be in the limelight. A time came when I became mature enough to conscientiously figure it out. I seriously evaluated as to whether I have a chance to do something extraordinary in my life. Something like discovering Penicillin, stepping on the surface of a distant planet, writing a book like Grey’s anatomy, acquiring sporting skills like those of Don Bradman, getting supernatural spiritual powers or things of similar caliber.
When I looked around, I could find many people amongst my teachers and friends who were much more blessed with natural talent and personal qualities than me but they were all ordinary people and apparently did not appear to rise to the extent that I dreamed. This was very disturbing and disappointing.
When I started understanding the basic sciences, I started addressing this issue more scientifically. I reviewed all the autobiographies that I could get from the libraries, tried to get through the history of mankind and read many books of the sort in which great people are discussed. This was with an aim to find a clue as to how an ordinary person can become great and can reach a level where he is in a position to influence the course of human history. This voyage through the human history again ended at a barren desert of calamity. I found that most of these great people started as ordinary humans but something happened, usually by chance, which opened the door of glory for them. I do not take away the hard work from them but the usual turning point was a fortunate chance. Flaming was doing his work for years and fungus use to grow in his culture medium regularly but just by chance one fine morning he noticed something different, which lead to the discovery of Penicillin. Another group of great people is the prophets, saints and other spiritual leaders, which apparently appeared different from ordinary people right from the beginning. It looks that they were selected by Almighty and their own efforts became apparent only after their selection. I thought that being a human and born with the same potentials that all great people possessed, I must also be standing in the same que from which people are picked up by random selection to become great. So, there appeared a ray of hope. Being a science student I planned to calculate my chances of joining the cub of great people statistically. I used famous book, “The hundred” as a reference. This book tells the life history of 100 people who in the opinion of its author were most influential in the history of mankind. The credibility of this book became very obvious when I found that a non-Muslim author has selected the name of Muhammad (may peace be upon him) to be put at No.1 in this list. I calculated the approximate number of people present now, which are about 5 Billion and divided it with 100. The answer came out that the chance is one out of 100000000. Now I divided this 100 over the possible number of people born on this earth since the time we can record the history of different civilizations. The conclusion was that my chance of coming at 100th position in this list was one in 1090000, which is practically none. I reached at a conclusion that although I was sent in this world with same potentials as Einstein had but most likely I will not be able to justify my creation and will leave this place without putting my signatures on the surface of the earth. I will have no contribution in any change in the planet. I will just disappear from the face of the earth like morning dewdrops that vanish unnoticed from the flower leaves. What is the difference between humans and other lower creature? Like them, we are born, we eat, we breed and we die. Is this our fate, is this our final destiny?
Although I remained in this depressing phase for many years yet somewhere in the depth of my heart there was some body who continuously kept on telling me that a day will come when I will have that golden chance. A moment is bound to appear when I will be picked to perform a history-making task. Pursuing this quest I asked the same question to many people. My students were the easily available sample of population for me. In various surveys I asked from my students whether they believe that they can do something extraordinary in their life. To my surprise, most of them never thought of it and almost all of them did not consider them appropriate for any great achievement.
And one day, within a split second, just in a fraction of moment that golden chance, came. An extra ordinary idea came in my mind. Just as if some body lit a candle in a dark cave and suddenly all the horrible looking shadows turned into visible objects. Everything became brilliantly clear with all their finer details. I am sure that the readers will be very anxious to know about this revelation. Those of you who already know me as an ordinary person must be thinking that I am going to write some kind of fiction or a philosophical idea that has no relation with reality.
I remember a famous Nobel Prize winner novel called “SADHARTH”, in which the hero was looking for the truth. He lived in jungle for years, joined “JOGIES”, read books and did various sacrifices till somebody told him about “BUDHA”. He went to see him. Budha told him his “NIRVAN”. He was impressed but did not stay with Budha and persisted with his own endeavor to find the truth. He believed what Budha had told him but he wanted to have his own “NIRVAN”. He did not only want to know but to experience the truth himself. This is the problem with all who are in the search of truth.
Whatever I found, is my own perception that may not be a satisfactory answer for my readers and their search may not end with this explanation. Keeping this controversy aside, I must tell you what I found. I happened to visit a small cave in the suburbs of Fort Munro Hillock. From the roof of the cave water percolates and falls on a big stone, drop by drop. There are stories and local people believe that thee drops are trickling for centuries. The place where drops are falling for so many years, has been carved into the shape of a beautiful bowl. Water collects in this bowl and visitors drink this clean filtered water with pleasure. This bowl on the stone is so symmetrical and beautiful that only an expert in stone carving can create a similar piece of art. I saw this and forgot it.
One day, when I remembered about this cave an idea came in my mind. I thought that creating the masterpiece of stone is a great job. There are two ways of doing it. A) by using the ability of the master craftsman and by the help of ordinary looking drops of water, continuously falling on the stone for years and years. Similarly, there are two ways of becoming great. Firstly, by having a chance to do something brilliant and secondly by doing small and ordinary but good deeds continuously and persistently. The first way of becoming great is by chance but the second way is by choice.
Life lived with empathy towards fellow human being with random acts of kindness directed indiscriminately and unconditionally towards everybody may not appear extra-ordinary at a particular moment but at the end, the cumulative effect of this attitude will result into a great task, no less than discovering Penicillin or stepping on the surface of the moon. I realized that no matter how small is the chance, but I still can have it in my life. Even if I do not get a chance to do extra ordinary act, I still have the choice to influence and beautify this world. I have no doubt that at the time of leaving this world, if I found on looking back that I shared the happiness and sorrow of the people and I consumed each and every moment of this precious life which was offered to me and returned it in the form of care, sympathy and love to the others, probably I will close my eyes with a bliss that it was worth living. If I am able to do that, I may live as an ordinary person but I will die as a great man, for sure …… Insha Allah.

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