A friend, when asked in her job interview, named me as her inspiration. That was probably one of the most touching things anyone has ever said to me. It got me thinking about my own inspirations in life.
Immediately I do think of my mum. A single mother who raised four kids with little finance and little academic background – each of us now succeeding in our own way, strong in our own way and bettering ourselves in our own way. Her strength still gives me strength and her courage gives me courage. But I suspect many people are inspired by their mums – the role itself, done properly, is inspiring.
But after that I struggled.
There are many people who inspire me – through things they do and achieve, things they write, things they say and things they discover. My friend inspired me to write this post, another inspired me to start this blog, and a teacher inspired me to even start writing. But I wouldn’t consider these people, even though they’ve touched me in some way, to be my answer when asked ‘who inspires you’. The word in my head has so much more to it than inspiration to do an action. I imagine it to encompass a changing of heart and soul.
So I looked to the past and found my Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), his companions (blessings upon them) and the other figures of the past like Asiya (wife of Pharaoh). I read about their lives and struggles, try and emulate their lifestyles and aim to be like them. They inspire me to be kind, to be generous, to be honest. They inspire me to be strong in my faith, to trust my heart and to be humble enough to ask for help.
I find all the giants who’s shoulders I stand on. The world shakers, the ones who have paved the way. The likes of Malcolm X and all those who’s names I don’t know. The ones who dedicated their lives to liberating our lives and mind so I can be where I am today, study what I have today, think what I do today and be who I am today.
And then I look to the people who I know. All the students who innovate and create – start projects and campaigns to transform their worlds – be that their families, their classrooms, their community or the system. Each radical individual who teaches me not to give up, the power of optimism and the unfaltering strength in unity.
Till I’m filled with hope and just for a moment I look to the future and see my siblings and cousins questioning things I never noticed, the children in Palestine who resist their oppressors, the babies born despite the poverty around them.
I realised and remember just how lucky I am to have so much inspiration around me.
Who inspires you?
[This post and quote selection had been written before the passing of my friend. How funny that just a few days ago I struggled in answering this question but now he is the first person to come to mind. We don’t appreciate the giants around us till they have left a gaping void.]
Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he? – Clarence Oddbody