There is a cartoon that I oftentimes have my students consider entitled “The Ungooglable Man” by Roz Chast. The “Ungooglable Man” has no social media account, “No Myspace, no Facebook, no NOTHING! And yet, HE WALKS AMONGST US.” No Google search yields any results about him. There is absolutely no traceable data on him. He simply cannot be found online, period. This might be a blessing and it might be curse, depending on how you look at it. Most of my students came up with a lot of of unsavory adjectives to describe him, and that’s not surprising given that we live in the age of social media where the “self” has fallen in love with itself, and self-promotion is paramount. A time when digital narcissism is commonplace. Where if you have a social media account and do not post a “Selfie” with Bambi eyes or pouting lips, you’re missing out. The selfie-cutlure is a sign of our times, as is #Selffeet apparently. What is more troubling to me is when I people assume that if one is not flaunting their good deeds /charities /donations /kindness /compassion on online then it is safe to assume that he or she are not involved in any of these commendable acts. There was a joke once on social media about a volunteer distributing food to needy families in my hometown #Aden/Yemen. When he got to the needy families, he decided to postpone food distribution to the following day because he forgot his Smartphone. He wanted to take pictures and document himself as a “volunteer in action” and post it on his social media account. Believe it is or not , there is an audience for this as well. Those who donate, the “audience”, wants to see photo documentation of the journey his/her money has made to the hands of the poor and even testimonials from the poor of his kindness. What a travesty.
But jokes aside, let’s go back to the idea of the “Ungooglable Man” who is digitally non-existent but exists among us. There are many like him, who cannot be found in one of the most powerful search engines of our time, but can in a bigger and better more comprehensive data bank. A data bank possessed by the Creator of the heavens and the earth. Indeed His Infinite Mercy and Knowledge encompasses all things. No doubt that one of the greatest motivators to do good is to be recognized and appreciated by others, but not all people function this way. That does not mean that their contributions are of lesser value, contrary to the fact they can rater higher in ranks according to Allah’s scales. It is as if Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) has chosen them to serve humanity for His sake all of their lives, but no one knows about them but Him (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala). Allah is enough of a witness to their service. Take for instance, how many parents have wringed every drop out of their youth to raise and present to the world masterpieces. All this for no other reason other than it was their duty , and because the Prophet (Salah Allah Alayhe Wa Salam) said, “Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock.” These are anonymous heroes whose names will never be immortalized in any history books, yet the angels raise their deeds to Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) and the earth bears witness of them on the Day of Judgment, “That Day, it [the earth] Because your Lord has commanded it.will report its news.” (Qur’an 99:4-5) It is sufficient for them that Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) knows. They are as Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) describes them, “And whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger, these are with those upon whom Allah has bestowed favors from among the prophets and the truthful and the martyrs and the good, and a goodly company are they!” (Qur’an 4:69) They probably don’t know how high of a status they are in the eyes of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala), because remarkably their goodness is not only concealed from others but also from themselves. We are lucky to only glimpse the trail of kindness, generosity , and service that they leave behind.
Question is, are these people doing extraordinary deeds? In fact, they are probably doing what we consider to be “mundane” deeds but when these deeds are in Allah’s scales they are weighed accurately and given their correct weight. Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) says:
“And We will set up a just balance on the day of resurrection, so no soul shall be dealt with unjustly in the least; and though there be the weight of a grain of mustard seed, (yet) will We bring it, and sufficient are We to take account.” (Qur’an 21:47)
Consider the following Hadith :
A man passed by Allah’s Apostle and Allah’s Apostle asked (his companions) “What do you say about this (man)?” They replied, “If he asks for a lady’s hand, he ought to be given her in marriage; and if he intercedes (for someone) his intercessor should be accepted; and if he speaks, he should be listened to.” Allah’s Apostle kept silent, and then a man from among the poor Muslims passed by, an Allah’s Apostle asked (them) “What do you say
about this man?” They replied, “If he asks for a lady’s hand in marriage he does not deserve to be married, and he intercedes (for someone), his intercession should not be accepted; And if he speaks, he should not be listened to.” Allah’s Messenger said, “This poor man is better than an earthful of the former.”
If you are a person whom Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) has chosen to be known and recognized for your service in the path of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala), then be grateful and say ” Alhamdullilah that Allah has beautified us among His creation.” It is not of your own doing, and should humble you. Humble yourself immensely, because it’s a situation that can be your undoing, Riya is not too far off . And if Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) has sheltered you from being recognized for all the good you do among people, do not strive to display what Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) has hidden. Allah is aware of all that you do, and that should be sufficient for you.