Are Some People Born Gifted and Talented?

24 September, 2020
Q Assalamualaikum,

May Allah's eternal mercy be upon you dear counsellor, I humbly ask for your guidance in this question.

I propose and believe that some people were born with different level of abilities, does this concept exist in Islam?

Were some people born with limited abilities and average intellect while some were blessed with superior intellect and exquisitely high talents, causing the other to work harder just to compete with the talented individual?

Answer


In this counseling session:

  • Talent is a natural aptitude or skill. You are right; Islam confirms that people may differ in both talent and intelligence. 
  • Psychologists say that everyone has certain talents they are born with. What makes a talented person is a complex issue, but it mainly depends on the effort they put in. 
  • The earlier you get to know what you are good at and focus on nurturing your talent, the earlier you excel in it.
  • Talent requires continuous effort for years. Writers, actors practice for years before they win any price. They practice every day.
  • How people work matters more than natural talent. 
  • IQ is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.
  • From an Islamic perspective, we should complete each other and not compete.
  • Allah rewards you for the way you do things and your intention, not the results.

Salam Aleikom brother,

Thank you for asking such an interesting and important question. I was wondering what has triggered you having this question. I assume some frustrations in your life. Therefore, if you have more specific questions, do not hesitate to write us back.

Talent from an Islamic perspective

Talent is a natural aptitude or skill.

You are right; Islam confirms that people may differ in both talent and intelligence. 

The Quran mentions,

It is We who have apportioned among them their livelihood in the life of this world and have raised some of them above others in degrees [of rank] that they may make use of one another for service….”43:32

He also says,

He bestows wisdom on whomever He pleases. (2: 269)

Yes, highly talented or intelligent people exist as well who are beyond the average – however, oftentimes due to a mental disease

Please brother note that the emphasis is on “they may make use of one another for service…” So, the whole point of our difference is that we can serve each other. There is no injustice in such differences as EVERYBODY has a certain talent. Everyone is better in something than the other. What matters is what you do about your talent.

Are Some People Born Gifted and Talented? - About Islam

Talent from a psychological perspective

What does being talented mean to you? Usually, we mean excellence in a field, people who have made something outstanding is “talented”.

However, psychologists say that everyone has certain talents they are born with. What makes a talented person is a complex issue, but it mainly depends on the effort they put in. 

Talent needs a nurturing environment. The earlier you get to know what you are good at and focus on nurturing your talent, the earlier you excel in it. This is why a person who has talent in acting and grows up in an actor family, or has the chance to visit theater or join drama classes early will seem to be “more talented” later on. 

Likewise, you can have some talent, but if you do not nurture it, you will never become “talented.” 

Talent takes time.

Talent requires continuous effort for years. Writers, actors practice for years before they win any price. They practice every day. They have a mentor usually who gives them feedback, criticize them so that they can grow better. Were they not talented? Yes they were, otherwise they would not pursue that particular field. 

However, excellence does not happen overtime. 


Check out this counseling video:


Talent needs motivation. 

Many people have the talent to become Olympic athletes. The have the “required anatomy”, they love the sport – but they do not want to make the effort to be a professional. They do not want to be a private student at school, train twice a day every single day for decades, follow a diet, and sacrifice their youth years, their friends. Talent needs motivation. 

Even Einstein said:

“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”

and 

“Genius is 1% talent and 99% percent hard work…”

Linkedin has an excellent article, please read the entire text. 

“Does talent matter? Sure. Some people are more natural at sales, for example. But these results suggest that talent is not the most important factor when it comes to explaining job performance. How people work matters more than natural talent. The next time you see a very “talented,” high-performing person at work, watch how they work.”

Different levels of intelligence

IQ is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.

Intelligence is another complex topic with many theories. IQ, emotional intelligence, linguistic, kinesthetic intelligence,..etc.? Which one are you talking about? 

some people might have a diploma, can talk eloquently while they are terrible with other people. Other people can be homeless, yet when they speak, they have great ideas. Some people can solve math problems easily, yet they can’t write a simple poem. 

Some people with a high score on IQ tests may suggest a potential for success, but fulfilling that potential requires skills, traits, and support that IQ tests alone can’t measure. 

What matters is that you acknowledge your intelligence and use it to better the world. 

The disease of Competition

You wrote “causing the other to work harder just to compete with the talented individual?” I feel you are experiencing some frustration at work or at school. You might feel unappreciated or belittled that makes you feel not talented enough. If so, I am really sorry for that.  

From an Islamic perspective, we should complete each other and not compete. Unfortunately, in individualistic/ capitalistic societies, since childhood, people learn to compete. We want to be the best student, the best worker, a successful person who achieves something no one has ever done – on the cost of others’ failure. 

Islam encourages us to do great things, perform with excellence, and work hard.

 The prophet said, “If the Resurrection were established upon one of you while he has in his hand a sapling, then let him plant it.” (Ahmad)

However, we should not oppress or deal with others in a bad manner to be successful. In Islam, the only thing we need to compete with each other is acquiring taqwa. 

In the eyes of Allah talent, IQ, money, status, nothing matters when it comes to judging people on the Last Day – only godliness.

“O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. (This also confirms that we are different to serve each other. – counselor)

Verily, the most honourable of you with Allaah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa [i.e. he is one of the Muttaqoon (the pious)]. Verily, Allaah is All-Knowing, All Aware”. [al-Hujuraat 49:13] 

Therefore, dear brother compare yourself to the one of yesterday, and compete with people only in terms of taqwa.

I know it is easier said than done since “comparison is a fundamental human impulse, there’s really no way of shutting it down completely. But if we understand its origins, mechanisms, and what to watch out for, we may be able to mitigate the negative effects and amplify the good—both online and off.”

The hyperlinked article gives you excellent tips on how to get rid of comparison:

1, Seek connection, not comparison

2, look up to others, but just a little 

3, count your blessings

4, compare yourself to yourself

5, cultivate joy for other people’s success

Check these tips, gain your confidence, and get rid of comparison.

Allah rewards your efforts, not your results

In our world, you get appreciation and respect when you “have put something on the table.” However, Allah’s world differs. Allah rewards you for the way you do things and your intention, not the results. So, the most important thing is that you find your passion and do something good with it. 

“[And it will be said], ‘Indeed, this is for you a reward, and your effort has been appreciated.’” (Qur’an, 76:22)

The question is not who is more intelligent or talented, but whether YOU actually do something about the talent Allah has given you. Talent is a blessing.  

Muslims should acquire this mindset. When you know that nothing you do on earth is wasted., you feel peace. The feelings of burnout avoids you, and you feel motivated to pursue your talents every day. 

I hope I answered your question. If you need further help, please do not hesitate to reach out to us,

Salam,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees are liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Timea Aya Csányi
Timea Aya Csányi pursues her BSc. degree in Psychology and Islamic Studies at the Islamic Online University. She is a certified NLP® Practitioner, one of our writers and counselors at the "Ask the Counselor" section. She works as a fitness trainer who is specialized in the spine and functional training. She is advocates for gaining self-love and confidence through exercising. If you are a Muslimah who seeks spine-friendly online training with a PT, you can reach out to Timea at [email protected]