In a tiny village, a ten-year old boy lived with his parents. This boy had a bad temper. He would get angry very easily and often threw tantrums. He taunted his friends, neighbours, smaller children and even strangers with his hurtful words. This made his parents very sad indeed.
When he spoke, he would sometimes forget to control his anger and choose the wrong words. When he disliked something, he would not hold back on his harsh opinions. More and more of his friends and neighbours started to avoid him.
His parents began to notice this and tried to advise him frequently. Unfortunately, all their attempts failed.
Finally, the boy’s father came up with an idea. One day, his father gave him a huge bag of nails.
He asked his son to hammer one nail to the fence each time he became angry or whenever he lost his temper. The boy found it hilarious but he decided to follow his father’s instructions anyway. So, there he was. Running to the fence in the backyard and hammering in a nail every time he lost his temper.
His anger drove him to hammer 30 nails in the fence, just on the first day! Despite being an angry boy, he was a determined and focused person, so he carried out the instructions carefully each day.
However, within a week, the number of nails hammered on the fence was reduced to half because the boy had become tired and found it very difficult to hammer the nails frequently. He had decided to control his temper instead as that was much easier.
Gradually, the number of nails hammered to the fence each day became lesser and lesser and the day finally arrived when not a single nail was hammered! Yes! The boy actually did not lose his temper for a whole day!
A few days went by. And the boy still continued to control his anger. Happily, he told his father about how he had not been hammering any nail as he did not lose his temper. His father was of course, very pleased. He now told his son a new set of instructions. He told the boy to remove 30 nails at the end of each day that he did not get angry. Curious, the boy obeyed.
Several days passed and the boy was able to pull out most of the nails from the fence, except a few which had been too hard to remove. He shared this discovery with his father and the both of them then went to the backyard.
His father asked the boy, pointing to the fence “What do you see, my son?”
“A fence with many holes in it. And with a few nails which can’t be removed no matter how hard I tried.” he answered.
“Yes, my son. You see, the nails are like your bad words, horrible temper and poor manners. They were hammered onto people’s hearts when you hurt their feelings. You may be able to remove most of the nails but the holes and scratches in the fence cannot be erased. A few nails are even stuck. They cannot be taken out as they have embedded themselves too deeply into the fence. They will remain there now permanently. The fence will never ever look the same anymore.
Therefore, we have to always be careful with what we say and do to people. Harmful words are like nails which stab people’s hearts and leave marks even when they have been removed. Some unkind words may unfortunately be too deeply fastened in people’s hearts. Unable to be deleted. So, my son. Let’s try choose our words and actions carefully all the time, insha Allah.”