Killing the Self, our Ego!

imageEgo is a killer. Over a lifetime I have learned that if there is one certainty of attracting Allah’s anger, it is through arrogance, pride and ego. Unfortunately, during the coarse of a lifetime all of us get this rather dubious opportunity. Our test is to navigate our behaviour in conditions, which invite such ego.

Consider a situation where young managers enter the world of commerce and trade. They are fresh from education and invariably work for older and more experienced people. These young managers are generally modest people with great listening ability; they learn the traits of practical management and workout how to function in the corporate world. Over time they too become experienced and adept at it. And so starts their trial. They will soon begin fighting the ego game. They are now ‘somebody’ and if they do not watch themselves, they will behave as if they have consequence.

My personal feeling is that, if and when they fall at the gates of arrogance, they will wipe out all vestiges of goodness in themselves. Its not that those good characteristics are not there, but our ego now subdues them, dominates them and any deed done then is evaluated on the alter of ego. As the days go by and life passes, that ego dominates more and more and Allah’s punishment has already arrived. The person has become a twisted, egotistical animal, listening to none, looking at life only through his/her filters and and unable to achieve anything of goodness. But there will be a further revenge, in that down the road, the very reason to be egotistical will get taken away from the person and he or she will suffer the pangs of failure. Our time always ends. So whether by old age/death or by failure or both, our downfall will come.

We have seen this in the house of the arrogant. Napolean, Hitler, the original Jews, Xerxes, the Romans, the Ummayids and all great nations who rise through merit but turn to arrogance, which eventually leads to their failure in the world – In my consideration it is happening right now with the USA. This is a terrible signal event. To reach the top and then fall down into an abyss called ‘nothing’ is a tragedy and a travesty. Its destructive.

It happens in our houses too. We are almost all involved in it. One spouse dominates the other and mostly it is the ego of one conquering the other. Similarly, we dominate our children. Many a times a man is shaping his children into the picture of himself. But to do that is itself arrogant. We are shaping Allahs beautiful creatures (our children), when we do not have a right to do this. Its our duty to impart knowledge and tarbiat. There is no requirement to shape them. That is also arrogance. You think you are worth cloning. So the people closest to you in life, you clone to satisfy your ego.

How does one fight this insidious creep which can happen to one and all in this life. Its by watching and being aware of oneself. This bears watching every living day of your life. You must fight it. When you wake up in the morning, remind yourself you are human and have to deal with other similar humans. We are all the same, regardless of position, wealth, age and gender. If we believe that and keep reminding ourselves, then the day may pass without arrogance or ego. Similarly at night, when you are about to sleep remind yourself..that as you go to sleep, you may never wake up again. That is enough of a thought to make yourself free of ego and arrogance, till the next reminder in the morning. Disregard this need to control your self importance and you will very likely fall into the trap and become arrogant. It is inbuilt in us!

Remember, we are all here because one Iblis thought he was greater than others. Iblis in turn uses this as his favourite weapon. As Al Pacino said “Vanity is my favourite sin”.

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Hanif – the original Little Master

imageThe excitement was supreme….all of 6 years old, dressed in short pants and ready to go. It was my first trip to the National Stadium, to see Pakistan play Australia. This was October 1964, there was no TV in Karachi. So my only experience of watching cricket was to see my cousins play in club cricket. One of them, I am convinced, should have played first class at the least, but then studies got in the way.

From memory, I think this was the fourth day of the match. Pakistan had 6 debutants. The old team of the 50’s was destroyed in 1962 by England. It had been a thrashing, accentuated by the bad form of Hanif, the star batsman. Later on it came to light that he had battled through pain in the knee. Nevertheless, the doubts about Hanif remained on his return, after physical rehabilitation. Post the clean out, Hanif had returned, and being by far the most senior and a great student of the game, been made captain. This apparently did not go down well with various regional lobbies in the BCCP and a war ensued. The pressure on the captain was huge.

Of the six debutants, two were to disappear quickly, two after few years of mediocrity and two were to last a decade and half. This pair opened the bowling for Pakistan in 1964 and took few wickets. However, they were destined to become iconic Pakistani batsmen in the 70s. I speak of Majid Khan and Asif Iqbal, who batted I think, at number 9 and 10 in the batting order. The openers, both debutants, made a 249 runs stand. Billy Ibadullah scored a century and Abdul Kadir was run out for 95. By the time we reached National Stadium on the 4th day, Pakistan had to score runs to consolidate a small lead and ensure that the Australians were given a substantial target.

It was most exhilarating. Thousands jam packed together, like sardines, sitting on steps of concrete, with no shamianas. When a shot was hit, the crowd stood up and a small 6 year old was not destined to see much. The heat – remember October in Karachi – was terrible and my uncle was burnt black. No cold drinks available, toilets non-existent and your back side burnt to boot on the concrete steps. But I do not remember this day for those reasons at all.

My memory recalls the roar which went up, when Hanif the Little Master came to the crease. Oh, the excitement and love which was showered on the man. Pakistan had wound itself back into problems. Some 100 plus runs on the board; 4 wickets down; mid way through the 4th day. Burki on the other side and Hanif join’s him. The tension was palpable and the fear was that if Hanif fails, Pakistan will fold. In the first innings we had gone from the heights of 249 for 0 to 300 plus for 7, before Intikhab had saved the day with a quick fire 50. Hanif himself had scored a couple of runs and clearly he was now fighting for survival and captaincy. Not much changes over the decades! A near 100 run stand later, with Hanif standing firm under pressure the day was saved. I remember being totally enamored with this man and a belief was born about Pakistan cricket which has lasted a lifetime.

The next 6 months were most prolific for Hanif. A century in New Zealand, another double made in Pakistan and almost another record at Melbourne. Having scored a century in the first innings, under the watchful eye of Bradman, who expressed admiration, Hanif approached a second century in the match. However, at 93 Jarman made a routine habitual stumping appeal. Much to his horror he saw the finger go up. Jarman apologized, as did the umpire, because Hanif would have had that unique record – eventually Gavaskar did – a century in each innings, twice over.

There was just one more day left in this masters career and that came with his 187* at Lords in 1967. But that is another story to tell.

Today the original Little Master sits at the ripe old age of 78 in a wheel chair and generally not well, unheralded, an icon of a past age. I would ask you to remember a little man, who stood tall for a decade and a half for Pakistan cricket, when others older and taller used to fall like nine-pins. Had he played today his technique would have made him an icon of this age too.

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