Ayoob was the kind of person who would always amaze you. He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!"
He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Ayoob was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day Ayoob was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.
Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Ayoob and asked him, "I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?"
Ayoob replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, ' Ayoob, Allah has given you two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood.' I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life."
"Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested.
"Yes, it is," Ayoob said. "Life is all about choices Allah has given us. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: Allah has given you an option how you live your life!"
I reflected on what Ayoob said. Soon thereafter, I left the restaurant industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life before reacting to it.
Several years later, I heard that Ayoob did something you are never supposed to do in a restaurant business: he left the back door open one morning and was held up at gunpoint by three armed robbers. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Alhamdulillah [all praise is to Allah], Ayoob was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local hospital's trauma centre.
After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Ayoob was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body.
I saw Ayoob about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, "Alhamdulillah , Allah is so Great and so Merciful" and then he added "If I were any better, I'd be twins. Wanna see my scars?"
I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place. "The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door," Ayoob replied. "Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that Allah had given me two choices: I could choose to live, or I could choose to die. I chose to live. By the Will and Acceptence of Allah I choose to live and Allah accepted my dua[prayer]"
"Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" I asked.
Ayoob continued, "The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the emergency room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read, 'He's a dead man.'
"I knew I needed to take action."
"What did you do?" I asked.
"Well, there was a big, burly nurse shouting questions at me," said Ayoob. "She asked if I was allergic to anything. 'Yes,' I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, 'Bullets!' Over their laughter, I told them. 'I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead."
Ayoob lived thanks to Allah who made available skilled doctors at this critical moment and also because of his amazing attitude that Allah had given him. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.
Attitude, after all, is so important! We may not be feeling happy or at ease at the moment, however we can still show a smile on our face or share a few friendly words and kind gestures. Often times, it is simply our attitudes that can influence someone or inspire someone to seek Islam. It is so paramount to live in obedience to Allah, but it is not just the service to others and the code we follow that we must keep in check, it is also the attitude we carry along with all of our actions. It only takes a second to affect a person in a bad or good way, and this may very well depend not on your actions or deeds, but simply upon the attitude you have at that second. If you carry a frown walking into a house where there are guests, they may feel un-welcomed. The frown may only last a few moments, but that will be long enough to leave a bad impression on some hearts.
Allah Most High says: "Nor can goodness and evil be equal. You shall resort to the best possible response. Thus, the one who used to be your enemy, may become your best friend." (Quran-41:34)
The Messenger of Allah Muhammad (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) has said: "Almighty Allah says, 'I treat my slave (man) according to his expectations from Me, and I am with him when he remembers me" [Hadith]