Planning ahead

By His Eminence, the late Religious Authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra)

At a time we maintain that one should benefit and deduce lessons from the experiences of others in his course of action throughout time, it would be useful to lay emphasis on another issue that is more capable of ensuring the success and vitality of one’s work; the issue of planning ahead.

It has become clear that making plans ahead of any work spares the workers much lost efforts and makes them more focused on the needs of every phase, for making plans necessitates the need to understand every phase and study the nature of its problems, the kind of people that can be hired for the job and the specialties needed in this domain, as well as the relation of every phase with the previous and coming phases so as to maintain the organic bond between all the phases of any work.

It might not be enough for the one who wishes to advance in any work to believe in it and act enthusiastically and rush into it, for that might result in his failure as he falls into a hole not knowing where to step. Thus, he ought to know at what phase the work is, where will his steps lead him to and what are the results of taking that road.

The plan might demand, at a certain phase, cultural action, and at others, it might demand political, charitable or other actions. Thus, if we mix all these actions and squeeze them into one phase, we will fall into a state of chaos at the level of the methods and results.

Perhaps, one of the most critical steps of planning for the religious Islamic work is to assign to every country and region its role in the general course of Islamic action. It must be noted that such roles ought to be correlated with the general plan of the work at the social, cultural and political levels, so that the results of work in a certain area do not contradict with those in another area, which drains and wastes much potentials and results in the accumulation of problems considering the difference of the nature of trends and currents residing in those regions and affecting them and their tendencies and the kinds of influences affecting the Islamic work in general.

Depending on the region, some thoughts might be influenced by the internal problems and conflicts, while others might be under the influence of external problems and differences. Others might be subjected to both internal and external problems, which necessitate understanding the nature of every region separately, so that we can be able to loosen their entangled knots and try to solve their various problems so as not to mix the internal circumstances with the external ones.

One of the benefits of planning ahead is that it enables us to pause at the end of every phase to take a deep breath and examine the results of the work accomplished so far, compare how conforming the theoretical dimension was to the executive plan of the work and discuss the gains and losses throughout all that. Actually, this guarantees that the work goes on just well in the coming phases for the smallest mistake in any phase will affect the coming phases as a result of the organic bond between them. Thus, if we ignore all that and confuse or join between the phases, we will get a reverse result, since this will undoubtedly lead to the mixing of mistakes, which hinders us from knowing where exactly every mistake or deviation was made. Then, as the mistakes become intertwined, the features of the problem get lost, which eventually leads to the collapse and destruction of the entire work.

Moreover, planning makes every person aware of his role in the intended work, each according to his ability and proficiency, in the sense that no one takes the role of another, for this would lead to the loss and squandering of the workers’ efforts and potentials by directing them to fields they are not skilled in or charging them with tasks they cannot fulfill. Thus, the entire work would fail if the elements and atmospheres of success were not provided for it, as when the jurisprudent undertakes the role of a politician, when the writer undertakes the role of a Mufti, when the lawyer undertakes the role of an architect, and when any person tries to undertake a role that does not go with the nature of his education, specialization and training.

By that, I do not mean that every man should be limited or restricted to certain narrow limitations; nay, I am not trying to keep the jurisprudent away from knowing politics, or the writer from understanding jurisprudence. Rather, I mean that every person should benefit from the other in the field he is skilled in, no matter what field that was, for he would be more able to fulfill his role, be successful in his work and stay away from mistakes in his method and goal.

In short, ensuring the success of any work, at the level of the method and goal, demands that we better understand the work, which cannot be achieved unless we figure out all its steps and phases, which, in its turn, cannot be done except by the act of planning which is based on understanding the reality and its goal.

[Source: Extracted from the book “Steps on the road to Islam”]