Interpersonal Skills: Who kicked the cat?

Who kicked the cat?

Before you answer this question, read the story in full.

A person used to work as a secretary for a very ill-mannered manager who did not have a single skill of dealing with people. This manager used to accumulate his workload and take upon his shoulders burdens he could not bear.

One day, he called his secretary, so he entered and stood in front of him.

The secretary said, “Yes. How may I help, sir?”

He said, “I called your phone but you never answered!”

The secretary replied, “That was because I was in the other room. I am sorry, sir!”

He replied, “You are always saying sorry! Take these papers and give them to the head of the repair department, and return quickly!”

The secretary, being annoyed, went to the office of the repair department’s head and threw the papers on his desk and said, “Do not take long with these papers!”

The man became irritated at the secretary’s behavior and said, “OK, but please, place them on the table appropriately!”

The secretary replied, “Appropriately or inappropriately, it does not matter! What is important is that you finish with the papers quickly!”

They argued and insulted each other until voices were raised, after which the secretary went back to his office. After a couple of hours, one of the minor workers in the repair department went to his Head and said, “I will now go to collect my children from school and return shortly.”

The Head shouted saying, You go out everyday!”

He replied, This is what I have been doing for ten years! This is the first time you are objecting.”

The Head said, “You only listen when you are being told off! Go back to your office!”

The poor man went to his office, perplexed at this attitude, and began to call people to arrange someone to pick up his children from the school and take them home, but found nobody. The children had to stand for a long time in the sun until one of the teachers decided to take them home.

When this employee returned home angry, his youngest son came to him with a toy and said, “Dad! My teacher gave this to me, because I…”

“Go to your mum!” says the father, interrupting him and pushing him away.

The child goes to his mother crying, and on his way, his beautiful cat comes to him and begins to rub itself against his legs as usual, but he kicks the cat with his foot and the cat ends up hitting the wall.

Question: Who kicked the cat?

Perhaps you will smile and say, “The Manager.”

That’s right, it is the manager, because he pressurized himself so much that he eventually exploded.

Why do we not learn the skill of distributing our workload? Why can’t we say with courage about the tasks that we cannot perform, “This is out of our hands… We aren’t able to do this…” especially when placing yourself under pressure may result in you behaving in a way that adversely affects people who were not part of the problem to begin with.

Be careful to not allow yourself to be pressurized by others, such that they embarrass you until you give in to their demands, or make empty promises.

Come with me to Madinah, if you please, and look at the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam), as he sat in his blessed gathering, after Islam had spread far and wide and the people worshiped Allah alone. The leaders of various tribes came to him in submission as believers, whilst some came to him disguising hate and malice in their hearts.

One day, one of the Arab leaders came to him. He was very well respected amongst his people. His name was ‘Amir bin al-Tufayl. His people, when they noticed how Islam had spread, would suggest to him, “O ‘Amir, most people have become Muslim. You may as well embrace Islam.”

‘Amir was very arrogant and haughty. He would say to them in response, “By Allah, I have already sworn that I will not die until the Arabs make me their king and follow me, for I am not going to follow this young man from Quraysh!”

Later when he saw that Islam had dominated and the people had agreed to follow the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam), he mounted his camel and went along with his companions to the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam). When he entered the mosque, he saw the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) sitting with his Companions. He stood in front of the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) and said, “O Muhammad! I want to speak to you alone.”

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) was cautious of such people, so he said, “No, by Allah! Not until you believe in Allah alone.”

He said again, “O Muhammad, I want to speak to you alone.” But the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) refused.

But he kept insisting, “O Muhammad, come with me so I may speak to you!” So the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) eventually got up to speak to him.

As he got up, ‘Amir pulled one of his companions over to him. His name was Arbad, whom ‘Amir conspired with to kill the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam). He had said to him, “I will keep him busy while you strike him with a sword from behind.”

Thus, Arbad placed his hand on his sword in preparation. As the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) stood and spoke with ‘Amir alone, next to a wall, Arbad grabbed his sword. But each time he wanted to unsheathe the sword, his hand would become stiff, and thus he wasn’t able to do it.

‘Amir was keeping the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) busy and looking at Arbad at the same time, whilst Arbad remained stiff, unable to move. The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) turned to Arbad to see what he was doing, and then turned to ‘Amir and said, “O ‘Amir bin al-Tufayl, accept Islam.”

‘Amir replied, “O Muhammad, what would you give me in return for becoming a Muslim?”

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) replied, “You will have what all the Muslims have and you would be expected to do what all the Muslims are expected to do.”

‘Amir said, “Do you agree to give me authority after you, if I was to embrace Islam?”

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) did not want to promise ‘Amir that which might not be fulfilled. Hence, he was boldly straightforward with him and said, “Authority is neither for you nor for your people.”

‘Amir attempted to make his demands more plausible, so he said, “I will accept Islam if you give me authority over the Bedouins and you keep authority over the cities.” But the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) did not want to oblige himself with a promise would not fulfill. Thus, he said, “No.”

Thereupon, ‘Amir became angry, his complexion changed and shouted at the top of his voice, “I shall fill your spaces with men and cavalry and tie a horse to every tree. I will attack you with two thousand horses!” He then left, foaming at the mouth and screaming.

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) looked at him and then raised his gaze to the sky and said, “O Allah, suffice me of Amir’s evil and guide his people.”

‘Amir set off with his companions until he left Madinah heading towards the dwellings of his people, intending to go back and prepare an army to attack Madinah. During the way, he became tired and the signs of exhaustion became apparent on him. He needed a place to rest, and by chance, he was passing by a woman from his people, known as Saluliyyah who used to live in a tent. She was known as a debauched woman. She was condemned by the people and whoever entered her house was accused of debauchery and evil.

Since, ‘Amir could not find a place to stay, he had no choice but to descend from his horse and sleep in her house. Overnight, he caught a disease in the thyroid gland near his throat which usually afflicts camels and due to which they die. He became terrified and confused. He began to feel his tumor and say, “It is the sort of tumor that camels get, and it is death in the house of Saluliyyah!” Meaning, it was neither an honorable death, nor was the place honorable.

He wished that he could be killed in a battle, struck by the swords of brave men. Yet, there he was, dying of a disease that usually afflicts animals, and in the house of a debauched woman! Woe to this humiliation and disgrace!

He screamed to his companions, “Bring me my horse!”

When they brought him his horse, he mounted it and took hold of his spear. He began to roam around on his horse, while screaming in pain. He kept feeling his throat with his hands and saying, “It is the sort of tumor that camels get, and it is death in the house of Saluliyyah!” He continued moving about on his horse in this manner until he eventually fell from his horse, dead.

His companions left him and went back to their people. When they entered their dwellings, the people came to Arbad and asked him what happened.

He said, “Nothing much. Muhammad called us to worship something… I wish I was with him now, so I could shoot him with an arrow and kill him!”

SubhanAllah!  How audacious!

A couple of days after he had said this, he left to sell his camel. Allah struck him and his camel with lightning, which annihilated both of them.

Allah revealed with respect to ‘Amir and Arbad, “Allah knows that which every female bears and that which the wombs absorb and that which they grow. And everything with Him is measured. He is the Knower of the Invisible and the Visible, the Great, the High Exalted. Alike of you is he who hides the saying and he who noises it abroad, he who lurks in the night and he who goes freely in the daytime. For him are angels ranged before him and behind him, who guard him by Allah’s command. Indeed, Allah changes not the condition of a folk until they (first) change that which is in their hearts; and if Allah wills misfortune for a folk there is none that can repel it, nor have they a defender beside Him. He it is Who shows you the lightning, a fear and a hope, and raises the heavy clouds. The thunder hymns His praise and (so do) the angels for awe of Him. He launches the thunderbolts and smites with them whom He will while they dispute (in doubt) concerning Allah, and He is mighty in wrath. Unto Him is the real prayer. Those unto whom they pray beside Allah respond to them not at all, save as (is the response to) one who stretches forth his hands towards water (asking) that it may come unto his mouth, and it will never reach it. The prayer of disbelievers goes (far) astray.”

Yes! Do not commit yourself to anything unless you are sure that you are able to deliver, with Allah’s aid.

One day the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) was delivering a sermon. During it, he spoke about the Last Day and what will happen therein. He then raised his voice and said, “O Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad! Ask of my wealth whatever you like, for I will be of no help to you when you deal with Allah!”

Lastly, having emphasized that one should not commit himself unless he is sure he can deliver, it is also important that we excuse ourselves in an appropriate manner.

For instance, if a man comes to you asking your help in finding his brother a job because either you, your father, or your brother happens to be a well-known person, and you feel that you cannot deliver, then excuse yourself in a way in which he can preserve his honor, where he feels that you share his agony.

For example, you can say to him, “Dear brother, I feel your suffering. I consider your brother as my own. If I have five brothers, then he surely is the sixth. However, the problem is that I cannot do anything at the moment. So please excuse me, although I do pray to Allah that He helps him.” You should say this with a gentle smile and the right facial expressions, as if by responding to him in this manner, you have already delivered what he needed, isn’t that so?

A point of view…
Be straightforward with yourself and bold with people. Know your own abilities and keep to your limits.

Leave a Reply