Maslow’s Mistake

Many people know of Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs.A psychological theory meant to explain certain attributes in a human.I still remember the words mentioned by my CEO,about how after achieving a set of goals over the course of life,you will finally reach the zenith of self actualization.Interestingly though,perhaps unknown to many,just before Maslow died,he had denounced his theory to be non reflective and accurate.In actuality,the whole pyramid should be turned the other way round,with the apex of self actualization being the base,of needs to be met.Why?

I was thinking through this knowledge last night,after having a round of conversation with Kai,followed by my wife.In pertaining to their careers of education.If there is one area of career that should have its place in reverence and dignity,it will have to be teaching.So what the hell does Maslow have to do with all this?Well,in the conversation with Kai,he mentioned that teaching has indeed changed him to be a better human being.Inculcating the habits of being task and goal oriented whilst influencing the lives of his students,have proven to be better perks,compared to the debated amount of remuneration he gets.Interestingly,when I got home,my wife had a late night discussion on her forthcoming foray,and it was a good conversation.She mentioned that she was anticipating the opportunity,and the knowledge she will derive.Compare the following distinction,that both individuals were motivated by a psychological motive,that in turns remunerate them,to fulfill their basic needs,of food and shelter being accomplished.I believe this is a very important point to highlight,because,living in a capitalist and materialistic world like now,we may often forget the basic reason why we forget that “Work is ibadah”.

How often have we heard of people lamenting about their pay,and even worse,lamenting about their work/job?In unique situations,salary comparisons are often subjects of high debate.But the truth is,in our course of working,we had made money the motivator,instead of a higher calling of purpose.I know this best,as in my career of financial planning,I’ve found many a times,that when I am driven by the sheer scale of monetary rewards,opportunities come far and between.But as of recently,alhamdullilah,when my focus is on the service of deliberately helping people,prospective opportunities come a calling.Interesting eh?Anyway,Maslow’s inverted hierarchy of needs is not a new revelation.In the Prophet’s time,the whole model was lived and exemplified.Spirituality needs being the first basic need to be filled,and naturally basic physiological needs will be met.In fact,a hadeeth mentioned that,there was one night when the Prophet,Abu Bakar and Umar all met under the light of the night,coincidentally by the fact that all came out of their houses due to extreme hunger.Amazingly,in a land and in a state of abundance,these three blessed men,forgo the basic needs of food to fulfill their spiritual obligations.The western world has bastardized the whole concept by,making it that self actualization/spirituality is a function met only when the preceding physiological needs are met.

I made it clear to my wife also that,the whole purpose of getting into the career,will have to be about fulfilling a function in the socio-economic-spiritual aspects of the community.If the Prophet was an educator of the highest order,by virtue,that career should be a blessed one too.Kai spoke about his wish of perhaps taking a year break to do social work of any sort.I concur to that dream,because that is self actualization.Does one have to have his physiological needs constantly met to self actualize?Not necessarily.Cleaning the compounds of the mosque is voluntary and a social work.Who knows,the needs of food will be met,when an officer from the mosque gives you a packet of chicken rice.Am sure you get the drift.

There are certain things in life,worth pondering about.My mum mentioned to me the other day about the morning dawn sermon played over the radio,by a friend of mine.Well,we studied religious studies briefly together in Johor once.A bright chap nevertheless,he pursued his studies in Islamic studies over at Azhar while I endeared myself to secular studies.He came back just about a year ago,and became a full fledged ustadth under the institution of the sponsoring MUIS.Well,he is now actively engaged in forums and sermons all over.He’s just two years younger.Anyway,what my mum mentioned,begs a certain amount of interest,in the sense that,my mum said that the method he employed in addressing the listeners were akin to that of being “over matured”.You know those atypical calls of,”Bapak-bapak dan ibu-ibu…”and the examples cited were not just reflective of that from his age band.I think I got what my mum was trying to say.In Toastmasters,we learned about,”How to say It.”What you have to say,may not come across well,if you do not know how to say it.Trying to cite a sense of maturity beyond your level of life experiences to be incorporated in religious sermons should really be looked into.Because,there is “soul” in a religious message,and not everyone is given the privilege to deliver it.If there was one rallying call I will like to make to the preachers out there,is to avoid “commercializing” Islam.Islam is not a religion limited by time eras.Do not propagate Islam to suit the times.Propagate the times to suit Islam.

In summary…when preaching or educating,the self actualization portion should be the backbone for a framework that will ensure that God willing will secure your physiological needs.It will never be the other way round.If you preach or teach to eat…you may just have to eat what you teach or preach later,in the Hereafter.God forbid.Teachers and Educators…bless your vocations.You are an integral unit in society.


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