Monday, 12 March 2012

The power of mindsets and the wisdom in stories

The photo attached to this blog is of an ornament I bought on my trip to Israel/Palestine last November. I found it in a gift shop in Tiberias. It reminded me of a workshop that we had run as part of the research phase of this diabetes eye care project.

During the workshop we had reflected on what we had learnt from participants about knowledge and attitudes to eye health in general, and eye health and diabetes in particular. One important factor that emerged was that some people had a fatalistic attitude, 'it is Allah's will'; or a sense that poor and failing eyesight is just inevitable, that nothing can be done.

One member of the workshop recalled a saying 'Trust in Allah but tether your camel'. We tracked the saying back to a Sufi story which is a light-hearted yet powerful counter to mindsets of hopelessness or fatalism.

I shared it with one of the two groups of people with diabetes participating in developing the interventions for the project. They enjoyed the humour of it, and had no problem in homing in on the story's main message. You might enjoy the story too:

A Master was traveling with one of his disciples. The disciple was in charge of taking care of the camel. They came in the night, tired, to a caravanserai. It was the disciple's duty to tether the camel; he didn't bother about it, he left the camel outside. Instead of that he simply prayed. He said to God, "Take care of the camel," and fell asleep.

In the morning the camel was gone -- stolen or moved away, or whatsoever happened. The Master asked, "What happened to the camel? Where is the camel?"

And the disciple said, "I don't know. You ask God, because I had told Allah to take care of the camel, and I was too tired, so I don't know. And I am not responsible either, because I had told Him, and very clearly! There was no missing the point. Not only once in fact, I told Him thrice. And you go on teaching 'Trust Allah', so I trusted. Now don't look at me with anger."

The Master said, "Trust in Allah but tether your camel first -- because Allah has no other hands than yours."

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