3 Life’s Greatest Lessons from an Unexpected Source: My Grandfather
August 28, 2023

On the 22nd of July, as per the will of God, my grandfather passed away peacefully in his sleep.

Death, as painful and incomprehensible as it can be, is an integral part of life. It reminds us of the transient nature of our existence and the importance of cherishing every moment.

While he never had a formal education, my grandfather’s wisdom and insights surpassed any book or classroom teaching. His experiences and the stories he shared became my foundational life lessons.

Although the pain of his departure is immense, I find comfort in the memories he left behind. He might have been an illiterate man, but to me, he was an encyclopedia of wisdom, experience, and lessons.

إِنَّا ِلِلَّٰهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ
“Indeed, we belong to Allah, and Indeed, to Him, we shall return.”

The Holy Quran (2:156)

1. Nurturing Curiosity

The lack of formal education never dimmed my grandfather’s reverence for knowledge. To him, knowledge was sacred, a form of empowerment beyond the printed word or formal classrooms.

He might not have gleaned insights from textbooks, but his personal stories, anecdotes, and lived experiences provided far richer and more impactful lessons than most traditional books.

He often reminded me of the power knowledge held, urging me to remain forever curious.

“Knowledge is power,” he would say, emphasizing that one’s understanding of the world could shape their destiny.

His tales from his youth, filled with challenges, decisions, and the life he carved out, were not just stories; they were lessons, each with its own pearl of wisdom.

One of the most profound ways he cultivated this curiosity in me was through our cherished weekly ritual.

Every Wednesday, despite the constraints of our middle-class lifestyle, he’d take me to the local bookstore to purchase a copy of Majid magazine. As I read out its content, he’d pose questions, pondering the characters’ motives and the underlying morals: “Why did this character make this decision?”, “What distinguishes right from wrong?”, “What truly is justice?”. This wasn’t merely a reading exercise; it was a philosophical journey.

2. Rituals Matter

One of the key lessons from my grandfather was the importance of rituals in daily life. It’s not about extravagance or complexity but consistency and connection.

Our family would gather for tea every day at around 4 or 5 p.m. We’d sit outside, drink tea, chat, and watch the flowers. It wasn’t an event; it was a routine. But this simple act did more than quench our thirst. It brought us together, offering a break from the day and a chance to catch up.

This ritual showed me the power of routine. In a hectic world, having a consistent time to connect and relax was invaluable. It wasn’t just about tea or flowers but about family, pause, and togetherness.

Grandpa’s lesson was clear: rituals, even small ones, play a big role in strengthening bonds and providing stability.

3. Love & Integrity

My grandfather was a man of strong principles.

He believed in doing the right thing, even if no one was there to witness it. He often said, “Character is who you are when nobody’s watching.”

He placed a lot of emphasis on respect.

For him, it wasn’t just about being polite; it was about truly understanding and valuing others, looking beyond the surface, and appreciating the stories and experiences that shape a person.

And when it came to work, he had a unique perspective.

He didn’t just see it as a means to earn a living; he viewed work as an extension of one’s passions. He often told me to find meaning and joy in whatever I chose to do.

“Love what you do,” he’d advise, “and it will love you back.”

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that the lessons he imparted weren’t just random pieces of advice.

They were the threads that wove the fabric of his life, filled with love, integrity, respect, and dedication. As I walk my path, I carry his wisdom with me, understanding that life isn’t merely about the milestones but the memories we make along the way.

May you rest in peace, Baba.