Rarely do people live up to everything that they say. It is part of our human condition. Some of us almost always follow through with what we say, so that there is almost never a discrepancy between our words and deeds. Some of us act before we speak. Some of us speak readily, then drag our feet when getting around to doing what we say we are going to do – but ultimately get it done. There are those of us who mean what they say, sincerely, but never get around to doing it. Then there are those who nobody should bother waiting for them to do anything, because they never seriously mean to do what they say.
This is a logical breakdown of people with respect to their doing what they say. Some people might consider it too obvious to need mentioning. However, more astute minds would have started pondering on this topic from the moment they read read the title. By the time they finished reading the introductory paragraph, they would feel some personal distress. This is what I intended. As the old saying goes: “When a person takes himself to task, only then he becomes worthy of esteem.”
We often say and do things without thinking. Then, worse still, we fail to evaluate our words and deeds. We never look at ourselves critically. We might fall into the trap of heedlessness on one occasion. We might succumb to difficult circumstances on another. We might even fall into sin. Allah says: It is most hateful to Allah for you to say what you do not do.” [Sûrah al-Saff: 2-3]
People generally look positively on those who practice what they preach. This is why it is a compliment to call someone “a man of his word”. We look upon a doer differently than we do upon a mere “sayer”. A doer is respected and trusted, someone you can do business with. The glib talker, on the other hand, is looked down upon, distrusted, and his words are laughed at. We know there is no substance to what he says.
A person who works is at the threshold of true satisfaction. If he makes work his habit, he will achieve it. Philosophers have contemplated the meaning of Earthly happiness, but I have not found anything better or truer than: “Happiness is in achievement.” This definition of happiness approaches the concept from the angle of activity and productive work. We should most certainly plan out our efforts, but we should not waste all of our time in aimless planning. I have seen so many cases where precious time is spent in holding consultations, mapping out objectives, and articulating dreams – but without any productive work ever coming of it.
Our ability to speak is no light matter. Indeed, a defining aspect of what makes us human is the ability to speak and to reason. Classical philosophers defined the human being as a “rational animal.” Without getting into the merits and demerits of this controversial and somewhat provocative definition, we can suffice it to say that if we focus on the human ability to speak without its connection to human activity, we will fall short in how we understand of our own humanity.
Those who people take as role models – and those who set themselves up to be role models – are individuals whose lives are their deeds. If their deeds disgrace them, then they are truly disgraced – in their own eyes, in the eyes of society, and maybe even in the eyes of God.
People are more comfortable with someone who is true to his word, even when that person makes a decision that is contrary to their interests. This is because they know where they stand with him, and they respect that.
A doer is someone driven by high-mindedness. A high-minded person always feels concern. This is because he has a positive attitude. He is not satisfied with less than what he can give. He does not allow himself to demand from others what he will not do himself, nor deny others what he will not deny himself.
Allah tells us that the Prophet Shu`ayb (peace be upon him) said to his people: “I wish not, in opposition to you, to do that which I forbid you to do. I only desire (your) betterment to the best of my power; and my success (in my task) can only come from Allah. In Him I trust, and unto Him I look.” [Sûrah Hûd: 88]
A person might stumble when he walks, but he is still better than someone sitting still. A person might fall when he runs, but he is still faster than someone who walks. A ship at sea is in danger of sinking, but the ship was not made to stay in the harbor forever.