The old pottery seller and the kindness of human beings

Pottery seller with his donkey in Istanbul, Turkey.

Pottery seller with his donkey in Istanbul, Turkey.

Farhia Yahya tells a true story on SuhaibWebb.com of an incident she witnessed in Cairo:

An old pottery seller was walking with his donkey. The donkey reared, sending the pottery crashing to the ground. The poor man, seeing his livelihood destroyed, was heartbroken. His face turned dark with sorrow as he surveyed the wreckage of his goods.

Then a wonderful thing happened. People came out of apartments, shops and cars to help him pick up the pieces. Then they gave him money, purchasing his broken clay.

In Farhia’s words, “It was incredible to see the hearts of people move like this. Humanity may disappear and people may be cruel towards the poor in certain places and at certain times, but in other places and at other times, the humanity is truly beautiful.”

Quick Quotes: Compassion, Taqwa, Allah, Nature, the Heart

Drop of water on a vine

Compassion

“Hatred and bigotry are NOT the permanent conditions of man. Dictators fall and pass. War, oppression and hunger remain, but the power to change those terrible things is in our hands. Allah made us khulafaa over the earth. We have the ability to forgive, to understand, and to comfort one another. I believe that compassion is the essence of who we are. Is the best part of us, the quality that makes us worthy of the mercy of Ar-Rahman. Our love is an elemental force, a vast untapped potential. We only have to be who Allah created us to be. If we can aspire to that, and hew to it, it will suffice us and the earth itself.”

– Wael Abdelgawad

***

“Do not become proud of your position. Do not become harsh toward those weaker than yourself. And always speak of Allah’s kindness to you.” – Ibn Isaq, “The Life of Muhammad”

Taqwa

“If we let Taqwa – Allah-consciousness – become our guide then it leads us to self-awareness and sincerity. A person who cultivates Taqwa can never become a terrorist, an oppressor, a hypocrite. A person with true Taqwa must shed compassion as the sun sheds light.” – Wael Abdelgawad

Changing the World

“Sometimes I want to ask God why He allows poverty, famine and injustice in the world when He could do something about it; but I”m afraid He might ask me the same question.” – Anonymous

Allah

“People will love you for a short time but Allah will love you forever. People will listen to you sometimes, but Allah will listen to you all the time. People will forgive you sometimes, but Allah forgives every time.” – Anonymous

***

“You don’t need a Plan B if Plan A is for Allah.” – Bilal Int’l

Nature

I gave my Salam to the mountain
And I drank from the mountain stream
And I walked upon its surface
And it all felt like a dream
And this mountain it is a Muslim
And I feel like he’s my friend
And as I climbed on to his peak
I wished it would never end

– Hamza Robertson

The Heart

“Your heart is a mirror that reflects the world. If it’s clean, it will see the world as it really is. If it’s dirty and warped, it will see a warped vision of the world.” – Yasmin Mogahed

***

“When you get close to giving up take a step back, pray and come right back to it. You just never know who you could be inspiring out there. May Allah keep our faith strong and grant us the ability to turn back to Him and to be grateful for that ability and many more…ameen ya Rabb. This goes out to all those who inspire me.” – Fauzia Mohamed

Lift the Torch High: How the Sight of Others in Pain Should Affect Us

Beautiful sunshine in a blue sky

By Wael Abdelgawad for IslamicSunrays.com

“The sight of other people in trouble is almost always something talked about or something laughed at. We must be careful what we laugh at, because we never know when it will be our turn to deal with those same troubles. If we won’t say or contribute something good to improve the situation, then we can at least be quiet.” – Hanan K Bilal

Sister Hanan is right. The sight of other’s misfortunes should never become a source of amusement. News of death, illness or hardship should never become a juicy piece of gossip.

It could be our turn next. Do you think anyone signs up to get cancer, or lose their job, or have a child who uses drugs, or to experience a failed marriage? Do you think you have some shield against misfortune? You do not, my friend. You absolutely never know what tomorrow will bring, or if it will come for you and me at all.

Beyond that, when we mock those who suffer, when we find the agony of others titillating, we’ve lost the thing that makes being human worthwhile. We’ve lost our hearts.

Extending Mercy

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) has told us that, “Those who have mercy will receive the mercy of the Most Merciful. Have mercy on those who are on earth, the One in heavens will have mercy on you.” (Tirmidhi)

Our mercy should extend even to animals, for they too are included in “those who are on earth”. Once the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, told the story of a person who had fed water to a thirsty dog by climbing down a well and bringing water in his shoe, and attained Paradise for that act.

I used to know someone who, whenever he heard of someone in the local community who was experiencing hardship, asked many questions to learn all the details. But it’s not because he wanted to help. When I asked him, “Why do you care?” He said, “I don’t care. I just want to know who to blame for the situation.” In other words, he was looking for an opportunity to cast aspersions on another member of the community.

That person has lost his way. May Allah help him and guide him, soften his heart and fill him with love for fellow human beings.

The Messenger of Allah has told us how we should look upon those in pain:

Nu`man bin Bashir (May Allah bepleased with them) reported: the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy are just like one body. When one of the limbs suffers, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

In a very powerful statement of our human obligations, Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “Do not envy one another; do not inflate prices by overbidding against one another; do not hate one another; do not harbour malice against one another; and do not enter into commercial transaction when others have entered into that (transaction); but be you, O servants of Allah, as brothers. A Muslim is the brother of another Muslim; he neither oppresses him nor does he look down upon him, nor does he humiliate him. Piety is here, (and he pointed to his chest three times). It is enough evil for a Muslim to hold his brother Muslim in contempt. All things of a Muslim are inviolable for his brother-in-faith: his blood, his property and his honour.” (Muslim)

The Deed is the Destination

Let’s allow the sight of those in pain to move us, even to hurt us, because therein lies our redemption. Therein lies our salvation from our own sins and sufferings. When I say the sight of others’ pain should move us, I mean literally that it should make us move, make us act to help.

There is so much pain already in this world. I don’t want to add an atom’s weight to it, and I know you don’t either. Let’s be sources of ease and comfort to others. Let’s be helpers to Allah, which means being helpers to humanity. Let us be beacons of love. Does that sound like a huge, impossible standard? It’s really not. There is such a dearth of selfless caring in the world, that someone who lets the smallest amount of compassion flow freely becomes a torch bearer to all around.

It doesn’t even matter if those whom you help appreciate it. I once knew someone who took a small boat full of clothing, food and toys to the impoverished Kuna Indians of Panama, who live on tiny islands off the Caribbean coastline. She was bitter because they did not thank her, and the families who received the gifts tried to hoard them rather than sharing with other families. I can see how that might be disappointing, but as Muslims we must act fee-sabeel-illah, in the cause of Allah. The value lies in the act itself. We cannot control other people’s hearts, and we cannot determine outcomes. The deed itself is the destination.

It also doesn’t matter if others mock us for being compassionate. And yes, that happens sometimes. People will call you naive, foolish, idealistic… That’s okay, let them, and let it slip away. For every one who taunts you, ten others will be inspired, and once again it does not matter because we do what we do fee-sabeel-illah, not for the respect and admiration of others. The mission is action, and the end is with Allah.

Lift the Torch

There is darkness in the world. It is spread by the wicked among Muslims and non-Muslims. It takes the form of cruelty, bigotry, abuse of those who are weak, political imprisonment, torture, and war for material gain. It lies over the cities and continents like a shadow.

We need torch bearers of truth, justice and love. We need the torch of Islam and imaan (faith) held high. Lift the torch high. Laa ilaha il-Allah.

A Million Acts of Kindness

Beautiful lake and forest in Canada

Corner Brook, Canada

By Wael Abdelgawad for IslamicSunrays.com

TV news will have you believe that that the world is nothing but crime, tragedy and disasters. Don’t believe it. For every evil there are a million kindnesses.

A single day on this planet witnesses so many acts of human kindness that they could not be counted. They don’t make the news because they are neither glamorous nor shocking. There are everyday kindnesses, like a mother feeding her child, a father working hard to put food on the table, a teacher who strives to help children learn, or one friend who sits down with another, makes her a cup of tea and says, “You seem a little down, tell me what’s going on.” These common mercies may not be newsworthy, but they are profound nonetheless.

One time my daughter, who is four years old now, saw a two-year old girl in her preschool looking a little confused at clean-up time. She took the girl’s hand and led her around, showing her how to do clean-up. She explained everything to the little girl very carefully, showing her how to choose a clean-up task from the chart, and how to use the broom and dustpan. Another time one of the kids was a little sick, so my daughter went out to the yard, collected a few leaves and blades of grass, put them on a plate, then went to the sick child and said, “I made you a salad to help you get better.”

Silly, I know, but these are pure and innocent acts of kindness.

Some people say that human  beings are born with the burden of original sin, and with a predisposition to wickedness. Don’t believe it. Compassion is engraved on the human heart from birth. Everyday acts of kindness are repeated a billion times a day, ten billion times a day, from Sweden to Swaziland.

Even animals have a degree of inherent kindness that goes beyond the instinctive compassion of a mother for her young. Check out this story of a dolphin that saved two stranded whales by leading them back to the open sea. This is an amazing example of an animal showing empathy and compassion for others that are not even of its own species. SubhanAllah!

Beyond kindness, there is heroism. There are people who travel to far-off countries to work in disaster relief, to help the locals learn how to farm sustainably or prevent the spread of disease. There are journalists and human rights workers who persist in their work in spite of extreme dangers (I am reminded of people like Dr. Eyad Sarraj of Palestine, Natalia Estemirova and Anna Politkovskaya). There are doctors and aid workers who go into frightening war zones to treat victims of brutality and starvation.

Once again, these acts of heroism are seen even among animals.  Take a look at this amazing series of photos, showing a mother squirrel confronting a large dog in order to save her baby.

Don’t give up on this world, this beautiful ball spinning in the ink of space. This planet of wonders and miracles.

Don’t give up on the human race. Though we can be abominable beyond belief, we also produce Prophets, martyrs and heroes. We have far yet to go, by Allah’s will, and no one knows what the future will bring.

Don’t give up on yourself. You were created on fitrah (the natural, pure way); you have a striving spirit and a good heart. You have unique gifts and talents that the world needs. Your presence here is not an accident. Your life has meaning and purpose, as much as the mountains, the sea and the stars.

Don’t give up on Allah. He wants only good for us. He gives us life, guides us, helps us, answers our prayers, and waits for our repentance. He is a Merciful and Compassionate God. Have faith in Him, as He has faith in you.

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