The Optimum Approach

February 16, 2016

Today I have come to realise that all walks of life can lead you to finding answers, answers about life, answers about God. In the most unimaginable places you find Him, speaking to you, guiding you, showering His love upon you. But that is, if we stop and realise that, what is happening around us is not just happening without reason.

Today, in an interview, I was posed with a question, to come up with an engineering solution to a problem, being told that there are multiple correct solutions, but one being more optimum than the others. I won’t get into the details of the engineering aspects of it so as to leave it comprehensible to all. So I came up with three possible solutions with the help of the interviewer.

The first one, which was with the use of an additional resource, which I will call the PAST approach. The second one, that was a solution based on some prior assumptions, I will call that the FUTURE approach. And lastly, the Top-down approach, which I will call the PRESENT approach.

Let’s apply these approaches to our life. Number one: the PAST approach.
I consider an investment which is providing me with some backup money as my additional resource. I feel that this resource will assist me in the problems that I will face later on in my life. A problem comes along and there it is, my investment money gets me through, and the approach is working. But let’s say suddenly that place where I placed my investment, goes bankrupt, and that’s exactly when I need that money, I’m doomed, and the system that I thought was optimum, failed me. Let’s take another example, let’s say, me being single, I feel that if I get married, I will have an emotional support system. I face a phase of depression, God forbid, and my wife stands by me, and helps me through it, and I make it out alive. Then one day, as that day is inevitable, but seldom remembered, comes and takes away the ground from beneath my feet, that solution I had relied on for so many years is now gone and is the time in which I need that emotional support the most. Another system has failed me. Hence, we can conclude that this approach, although effective for some instances is not one that can be relied on completely.

Let’s move on to the FUTURE approach. I make an assumption that if I follow such and such path, put in a given amount of time and effort, I will achieve my future goals. For example, I assume that if I study hard and get good grades in college, I am bound to land a job in a good company or obtain a scholarship in a reputed institution for further studies. I get an admission in a university, I follow a set study pattern, give appropriate time to my studies and get exceptional grades, I graduated with a distinction. Hurray! Sadly the job market I enter has reached its saturation point, and I am unable to apply for a scholarship because my country has been blacklisted from the top institutions of my field for some reason or the other, or there could be any reason for me being unable to pursue further studies. What am I to do now, where am I to go? Yet another approach has failed me.

Before I start off with examples about the last approach, let me tell you a little bit about it. The Top-down approach takes any problem, and starts at the root, where it all began and then traverses it’s way down to obtain a solution. So let’s get started. I join a company, and as soon as my probation period is over, it falls into a financial crisis, leaving me with a job that pays after every few months. I worked hard, got good grades, and even landed a job before I graduated, but it hasn’t worked out. Let’s apply the Top-down approach here. But first, let’s identify the top, the root. As a Muslim I strongly believe that there is one Creator of every single atom that exists in this entire universe, it is He who has given me life, it is He who has provided me with sustenance, and it is He who is in command of all things happening. Having identified the top, knowing that the top is a source of infinite capabilities, we can rest assured that when we are faced with a problem, such as that mentioned above, that the root, the one who has granted me this form of sustenance Has an infinite supply of sustenance, and if one source for me has extinguished, there is surely another one waiting for me. Let’s also apply this approach to the example that we used in the previous approaches. I come across a financial problems, my investment comes in handy why, not because it’s a resource I had allocated for this problem but because it was the source for that particular instance, and that if the next financial crisis I face, my investment has been jeopardised, I trace back to the root, and know that the source of my previous investment has infinite resources and that He will provide another source in this particular time of need. The same applies to my emotional circumstances. If we take the same approach for the FUTURE approach example, we know that despite the fact that we’ve worked hard and obtained grades, we are unable to find work, however, if we trace back to root, we know that He who provided us with the opportunity to obtain an education in the first place, has an infinite source of opportunities in store for us, and that it’s just a matter of time for that opportunity to arise.

All this said, what are we to do, knowing that He is in control and He is the provider of all things? Do we just sit and wait for things to happen on their own? No! In the Top-down approach we have only what is present, no additional resources that we allocated in the past, and no assumptions of what we will achieve in the future, we only have this moment. But not only that, we also have knowledge of what our root is, with those two things in hand, we make the most of that moment. Keeping in mind two key ingredients: PATIENCE and GRATITUDE, leaving what has past and what is to come, all to Him.

This is the very approach the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) had, and he succeeded in the most difficult of times, be it when, him and his tribe were exiled, or when his beloved wife Bibi Khadija (RA) passed away. This is the very approach that Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique (RA) had, who was able to stand strong, despite the demise of Rehmat-ul-lil-alimeen, because he knew that the root, Allah, still exists and always will!

May Allah guide us and may He make our faith as strong as the sahaba (RA)! Ameen

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