S4E3 The Greengrocer. A Story About Insecurity, Comparison And Individuality with Mufti Menk

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Tarek Kareem Harris

Channel: Tarek Kareem Harris

Episode Notes

Episode Transcript

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Bismillahirrahmanirrahim the greengrocer is a story about comparing ourselves to others. greengrocers have a happy life, especially if they're the only ones in town.

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In a little town in North Africa, Zhi Shan the greengrocer had his store. He was in his late 30s now,

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he'd run this store since his teenage years. He started out selling mangoes from his house to his fellow peoples at school.

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Shoppers and townspeople alike. Enjoy his company. salons. My sister's many lovely apples here today. Please come and try this new variety. His voice was like a happy chirping bird, part of the furniture of noise in the small village of burka.

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He felt confident and good about himself.

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One spring though, another young greengrocer named Habib opened up in the same market. Hubby was driven and competent. Zhi Shan started to make comparisons. He saw what he had been, and began to experience self doubt, and felt inferior.

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With these doubts, his confidence diminished, and with it, his voice faulted.

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He was no longer as animated or as enthusiastic as before, no longer striking up conversations with the shoppers, and no longer happily drawing their eye.

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Not knowing what to do. He went to seek the advice of his older brother Moosa, who was an Imam in the nearby city.

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Sushant himself wanted to be an Imam when he was younger, but in those days, he was often too distracted to concentrate on his classes to become Hafez. He was a very social kid, perhaps even too jolly for such a serious profession as an Imam. He felt like a bit of a disappointment when sitting in the presence of his older brother.

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He found him at the beautiful central Masjid, surrounded by young scholars all taking turn asking questions.

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He felt even more inferior.

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But he asked his question,

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why am I feeling inferior?

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Why is my confidence gone? I've always been a brave and strong and competent man. When harvests were poor, I still came to market with what I had. When people had no money. I was able to survive by lowering my prices. And I've always just had enough. Why am I so intimidated and insecure compared to this young upstart hubby?

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His brother looked over and replied, can you wait for a while brother when everyone else is gone? I will answer your questions. So Zhi Shan sat and waited, and waited and waited. People flowed in and out all day visiting his older brother, who dutifully listened and dispense advice to them.

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Why should I have to wait? He found himself thinking this and grew impatient for an answer, but still he waited. And as the evening approached, he eventually found himself alone with his brother in the mustard.

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I waited as you've asked, everyone is gone. Can you please answer my question?

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Let's go out for a walk, replied Musa.

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When they left the masjid. Moosa pointed at two palm trees, growing side by side outside the mustards, pristine white marble wall.

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Look at those threes. Allah made them different in their own way. One is a date palm bearing fruit, just like the goods you see at your store. And the other is a traveller farm, which grows in a fan shape. And always the fan faces east to west. It's a guide for someone who is lost.

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Each tree has its own beauty, its own particular preferred soil, its own requirement of water.

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However, you will notice that this date bomb installer. When I first came to this Masjid, as a young Imam, these trees were barely a foot high.

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I've seen them grow daily. They share the same space, and I have never seen them be an argument with each other. One never asks the other. Why can't I be more like you?

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Now tell me why do you think they don't fight?

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Well, I'm not a child, you know, sensation. Please don't argue. They don't feel insecure. They don't compare themselves to one another. They each have their own growing to do and that's that.

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Moosa then looked over at his brother and said,

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so tell me again what you have come to ask me

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Suddenly, Zhi Shan indeed felt like a child. He had answered his own question.

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His brother smiled at him. Don't be embarrassed young brother, you need to see when competition is no good for you. It is part of our lot as human beings to compete to vie for superiority. This is part of our knifes our survival instinct. But it can get a little carried away.

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What were you most afraid of?

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I feared Habib would outsell me and take my customers. And did that happen?

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No, not really. In fact, more people came to the market because the whole place was growing.

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But I still feel nervous brother. I don't talk to the customers as much as I used to.

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Well, do you feel nervous when you first open your store a few years back?

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Yes, I felt very nervous when I opened.

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I channeled it into my friendly greengrocer thing.

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That's how I got round my nerves.

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So a little bit of nerves contributed to your success.

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Too much made you though.

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Yes. Well, if you put it that way, I suppose so.

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Well, Subhanallah, I guess things are exactly as intended.

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This story, again, inspired by my latest book, filled with low carb is about how we deal with understanding our anxieties and how Islam teaches us to balance these things. We have drives within us. And those drives are useful because they help us to grow. But sometimes they can become a little bit too enthusiastic, and they drag us along with them. And that's when we get tense. If you get to know yourself, you realize that actually, it's not about suppressing anything. It's about living with it and being sympathetic to yourself.

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I look forward to making another video for you, inshallah.

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wassalam