Drop Your Buckets Where You Stand

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin

“Go forth, (whether equipped) lightly or heavily, and strive and struggle, with your goods and your persons, in the cause of ALLAH. That is best for you, if ye but knew.” 9:41

There was a great man in African-American history named Booker T. Washington, who founded the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama (where my youngest son is now in his third year of Veterinarian Medical School). Anyway, Dr. Washington coined the phrase “Drop your buckets where you are.” This phrase drew a lot of criticism from many segments of the African-American people because they felt Washington was encouraging the ex-slaves to accept their inferior status.

But the phrase also had a very positive point to it as well. This was a means of encouragement for the ex-slaves to utilize what they had at the moment to sustain and enhance themselves both materially and spiritually. You see, the great majority of the ex-slaves had nothing or at best, very little. Still, Booker T. Washington told them this is not an excuse. God did bless them with something–so use that to build up to more.

Similarly, some people think it is difficult to practice this religion or propagate because they feel they don’t have much to contribute. As a result they hold back from expressing themselves as Muslims because of fear of not measuring up. And they have a lot to give as strong, good, morally conscious human beings. There are many college professors that get informal counseling and comfort from guys that sweep the floor at night. It is not your worldly status that counts–it’s the amount of taqwa (God-consciousness) that you posses that determines your worth as a human being.

We should “go forth” with the special tools ALLAH has blessed us with–having the sole intention of pleasing Him If you are a brain surgeon, rocket scientist, or college professor, you are just a human being with a special skill to help society. In the Grand Scheme of things you are expected to be proficient in that skill so that we all benefit.

If you empty the garbage, or mop the floor you are also expected to be proficient. This is especially true in a hospital where your job may be the most important job there. If those small microbes are allowed to grow and flourish, more people in the hospital would die rather than be helped. Neverthe-less, some people who do these jobs feel inferior and don’t see themselves or their jobs as important.

I use these little examples to remind us that whatever skill we posses, we should use it consciously, in the cause of ALLAH–make your contribution to the peaceful evolution of His creation. Imagine how you would feel sweeping a street in the state of ihsan. You would see yourself as special because you know ALLAH is observing…and He is pleased.

So drop your bucket where you stand. Be mindful and appreciative of your special gifts and thank the Giver of those by utilizing them in His cause. And He says in Qur’an, “If you are grateful, I will give you more.” 14:7

As Salaam Alaikum
(Al Hajj) Abdullah Bey El-Amin


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