(from The Fragrance of Faith, by Jamal Rahman)
The Qur'an was revealed over a period of twenty-three years. It was sent down, little by little, stage by stage, in order that it might "strengthen the heart."
There is sacredness in the words "little by little." God could have sent full-blown perfect beings, flying through the cosmos, to arrive here in one instant. Gradualness, it seems, is favored by that mysterious Intelligence.
The marvelous creation of a child takes nine months. A great task is often accomplished by a series of small acts. A skillful cook lets the pot boil slowly. Night by night the new moon gives a lesson in gradualness. The Qur'an says that "God only commands when willing anything is saying to it, 'Be!'—and it is" [Surah Ya Sin 36:82]. But even the Universe took a few days to be in place! Gradualness, indeed, is a characteristic of the action of the Sustainer of the Universe.
Do your work of transformation little by little. Rumi says: "Little by little, wean yourself. This is the gist of what I have to say. From an embryo, whose nourishment comes through the blood, move to an infant drinking milk, to a child on solid food, to a searcher after wisdom, to a hunter of more invisible game."
Grandfather said that by doing the work of inner growth, little by little you make progress, increment by increment and again, a big jump! The big jump happens because of the little-by-little application. It's a law. Truly, it pays to persist, little by little.
Grandfather enjoyed telling the following story. The Mullah was enamored of Indian classical music. He eagerly sought out a teacher to take private lessons. "How much will it cost?" asked the Mullah.
"Three pieces of silver the first month and one piece of silver from the second month onward," replied the teacher.
"Excellent!" replied the Mullah. "Sign me up from the second month!"