Personal Thoughts for Today: Not Fulfilling Your Potential
This article is open to all people. It’s not an Islamic article, but I’m Muslim so occasionally the topics I cover will be related to Islam.
Allen Iverson was an amazing basketball player. I was a huge fan of his growing up, and he was an inspiration to me while playing ball in the hood. He had a killer crossover that I would try to emulate on the court. Recently he retired, and although he is a likely hall-of-famer, he never earned a ring. Despite his remarkable talents, he never obtained the ultimate NBA success of acquiring a ring. In an interview, Allen Iverson was questioned about his absence from practice when he stated:
We’re sitting in here, and I’m supposed to be the franchise player, and we in here talking about practice. I mean, listen, we’re talking about practice, not a game, not a game, not a game, we talking about practice. Not a game. Not, not … Not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it’s my last. Not the game, but we’re talking about practice, man. I mean, how silly is that? … What are we talking about? Practice? We’re talking about practice, man. We’re talking about practice. We’re talking about practice. We ain’t talking about the game.(more laughter) We’re talking about practice, man. When you come to the arena, and you see me play, you see me play don’t you? You’ve seen me give everything I’ve got, right? But we’re talking about practice right now.
It is because of this mentality that Allen Iverson never fulfilled his full potential and never obtained a ring. Allen Iverson constantly struggled with drugs and gambling problems and was distracted. Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, on the other hand, had a tunnel-vision focus to be stars whereas Allen Iverson never maximized his talents.
This brings me to the larger spiritual topic I want to discuss which is not fulfilling your potential. Everyone has unique talents and abilities, but it takes individual effort to reach your full potential. God created us for a specific purpose; we must fulfill that purpose. God has given people unique talents and abilities, but it takes individual effort to reach your full potential. Some people may be intelligent or physically stronger than others. On the Day of Judgment, we will be held accountable for our various gifts and how we used them. Did we reach our full potential?
It’s important to identify the barriers people face while trying to reach their full potential in life and discuss how to overcome them.
According to ESPN, “Allen Iverson is facing alcohol and gambling issues that have derailed his career.” God tells us right in the Qu’ran, “alcohol, and gambling… are tainted – by the work of the devil. You shall avoid him so that you may be successful.” Alcohol is very destructive and lowers inhibitions, and gambling is simply a waste of money. They are impediments on the straight path to success and reaching your full potential. Elsewhere in the Qu’ran, God says, ”The devil only wants to cause strife between you through alcohol and gambling, and to repel you away from remembering God and from the prayer. Will you not then abstain?” So we must not have our purpose in life unfulfilled due to alcohol and gambling.
Don’t get me wrong, Allen Iverson is my brother and I don’t mean to pass any judgments on him, but I’m going to examine different things in his life to talk about how we can all improve. Everyone, including myself, has these problems and as the Qu’ran says, “How is that you invite others to follow the Right path, while forgetting to follow it yourself? And this hypocrisy in spite of the fact that you read the Scriptures in which you are ordered to practice the righteousness!”
Needless to say, rappers frequently talk about money, women, cars, and clothes. Rapper T.I states, “money, hoes, cars and clothes, that’s how all my niggaz roll.” The message God tells us in the Qu’ran is the exact opposite of this: “The life of men is tempted by love and desire for women, children, the hoarding of treasures of gold and silver, branded horses, wealth of cattle and plantations. These are the comforts for the transitory life of this world; the everlasting best comfort, however, is with Allah.” In modern terms, the materialistic temptations of the world for men are still women, but now fancy cars, hefty paychecks, and real estate property are added to the list. The purpose of this particular excerpt from the Qu’ran is to assert that one’s existence should not be based upon valuing hedonistic pleasures, but upon valuing spirituality. There is nothing wrong with having a woman, a car or children, but we must achieve balance in life with God.
\God also tells us in the Qu’ran, “do not consume your wealth among yourselves in vanity.” Nowadays, people will waste on jewelry and brand names all in the attempt to appear impressive to others. This often leads to perpetual poverty and dependency. We must avoid this if we want to reach our full potential in life.
Another problem people have is dealing with calamities in life. The Qu’ran states, ”We will afflict you with some disagreeable events and misfortunes to test your faith’s qualities. We will make you experience fear, hunger and loss of wealth and lives, and a diminished yield in the earth’s fruits. But announce, O Muhammad, blissful tidings to the patient and constantly persevering, unwearied in the face of difficulties and hindrances.”
“Do the people think that they will be left alone and not tried with hardships for the mere fact that they profess belief? ” When I think about this verse in the Qu’ran, I think about the gang violence in my community and the various adversities and trials I’ve experienced in my own life. I think of all the hard-times I’ve experienced in my family and feel that I must overcome them. Maher Zain sings:
Do you remember the hard times we went through?
And those days we used to argue
But there was not one thing that could bring us down
‘Cause we always had in our minds
The place that no eye has ever seen
The place that no heart has ever perceived
The place we’ve been promised to live in forever
And best of all, it’s just me and you
I want to chill with Bilal, Abraham, the Prophet Muhammad and Jesus (Peace Be Upon them all) in Jannah. But in order to reach that goal, I must fulfill my purpose in this life and use the gifts that God has given to me for his cause. Sometimes I feel like I work hard enough. Maybe, I overslept or didn’t get up for Fajr. Sometimes when I plan out my schedule for the day, I don’t execute it properly. Whenever the temptations of eating unhealthy, beautiful sisters, or procrastination hit me, I think of this verse in the Qu’ran: “It may happen that you dislike something and it proves beneficial to you and it may also happen that you like something and it proves harmful to you,” and remember my ultimate goal. So we all must put in hard work because as the Qu’ran says, “man can have nothing but what he strives for.” We must live up to our potential in life.