After more than 750 years of rule, the Islamic empire of Al-Andalus came to a bitter and bloody end. As morality and religiosity vanished, so did the power that this great empire once had. As the last and final king, Abu Abdullah, fled his homeland he turned back to watch in agony; the last moments of the kingdom he was responsible for losing. He began to weep. He shed tears over what had been given to him, what he had lost and the shame that would live with him for the rest of his life and in the history books for eternity: the man who allowed for the fall of the banner of Allah. Boabdil, as he is now known in modern texts, stood from afar, lamenting what could have been and probably what should have. And just like any loving mother who saw their child in such a state of utter devastation, his dear mother turned to him and said these famous words:

“Cry you, like a woman, over something you could not defend like a man.”


I was told this story by a dear brother of mine in the Louvre in Paris, France.  As we walked past countless pictures of Jesus supposedly eating his last meal and statues of naked men in the backdrop of portraits of the Virgin Mary (irony?), I couldn’t help but think of the concept of ‘legacy.’

What was it that I wanted to leave this world having done?  My absolute biggest fear has always been this: Lying on my deathbed, looking back at a life regretting what I could have or should have done. Taking my last breaths knowing that the life I had lived was ‘blah’ and absolutely defined by eating, sleeping, and fulfilling transient desires. Never having accomplished the goals my Lord had set for me and never becoming the person  I wanted to be when I ‘grow up.’

It is a quaint thing: this want to be ‘that guy.’ Everybody wants to be ‘him.’ The guy who everyone likes and the guy who follows through on what he intends. The man who is honest and hard working and the man who never makes excuses for himself. I mean, these ideals are so universal across every cultural line. It is the natural inclination of whatsuperman-flying we love. To be strong and confident in what we believe. To stand by principles of morality and self-sacrifice. To care about others over our own wants and needs. There are story books about these men. Movies and comics idealize them and make them super heroes. Nobody ever wants to end a conversation having made another feel bad or insulted or annoyed (except maybe the devil nurse from university hospital that enjoys putting people down… I am just kidding of course, she doesn’t count because she doesn’t have a soul… Okay, maybe she does, and she is probably just severely misunderstood).

Anyway… back to the point of this post. Legacy. What makes some men never make a single movement of any significance and others, who are composed of the same flesh and bones, fill their lives with value, meaning and significance. What is the secret ingredient??? Kung Fu Panda would have you believe there is no secret ingredient and it just comes down to believing in yourself… Really Pixar? All they did was steal the whole premise of the karate kid and replace Mr. Miyagi with a rare primate. 







I guess I really do not have the answer but if I had to give one, I would probably say that what it really requires is hard work (so cliche, I know).  Hard work is, well… hard to do, which is why so few human beings reach the heights of these people we so love and respect. I, personally, do not believe that ANYONE is born great.  Every single human being has flaws that they must overcome,  though sometimes very different in nature.  I have found one of the many in myself to be an issue with accepting the fact that sometimes, the results of things are not within my hands and that no matter how hard I try/want something, that sadly (and probably fortunately), I cannot ‘make things happen.’  I cannot change the hearts of people and I cannot make everything fine for everybody (that usually has to be done by themselves).

In understanding the ‘hard work’ reality of greatness, I have decided to try to better myself with the small things that I have always wanted to learn and be better at but never actually pursued due to lame excuses.  My advice to you is to do the same… Whether it is getting back into shape, learning how to cook, picking up golf, getting involved in volunteer work, strengthening relationships that you value, learning about what the hell they are talking about on Bloomberg radio, or memorizing the rest of that surah you kind of know… It is simply: game time. It is just about that time to look at ourselves in the mirror and figure out where we are heading and what type of people we want to be.  ‘What I want to be when I grow up?’ has taken on a whole new meaning. It can no longer be  minimalized to just a profession and can’t be as generic as ‘being a good person’ or ‘being successful.’  It is time to build on a legacy that I have not yet set the foundation for.



~ by Yousaf on August 5, 2009.

One Response to “Legacy”

  1. What is the foundation?

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