Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Kingdom of No Rules

(Dedicated to my children who often wish that rules did not exist)

Ali! Clean your room at once! Have you seen how messy it is? And don’t you have any homework to do? Get up at once.”

Ali groaned as his mother scolded him from the doorway. He pulled a pillow over his ears and tried to dive deeper into the bed. His mother glared at him for a minute and then gave a last ultimatum.

“I am going out to buy some groceries. When I come back, your room should be clean or you can do without your computer games for one week.”

“That’s not fair, Mom,” Ali tried to argue but his mother had already left the room.

“Bah!” Ali thought angrily. “I wish I was a prince or an emperor. Then nobody could order me around. I’ll give orders and everyone would jump to fulfill them. If I had a kingdom of my own, it would have no rules and no work, only fun … “

There was suddenly a bright light and Ali blinked in amazement. His bedroom was gone. In fact he was not even in his own house. He looked around in wonder.

“Where am I?” he wondered.

He was in a strange place. There were people everywhere and music blared at full volume. Many people stood around talking and laughing. Some slept on grass while others were just sitting and doing nothing. There was a big CLOSED sign in front of the school and kids were zooming around on skateboards, bicycles and roller skates, eating ice creams. When the people saw Ali, they rushed towards him shouting:

“Long live the emperor! Long live the emperor!”

“But where am I?” Ali asked in a daze.

“You are in your kingdom, Your Highness. The Kingdom of No Rules!” they said.

“WHAT?” Ali shouted in amazement.

“Yes, Your Highness. There are no rules here. Nobody works or goes to school. We are free to do anything that we want and we have fun all the time.”

“Oh! What a marvelous place.” Ali said in delight. “I would love to live here forever.”

Ali set out to explore his new kingdom but it proved to be rather difficult. Nobody followed traffic rules. People did not bother to throw empty cans or bottles in bins and there were piles of rubbish and junk everywhere.

Ali reached his castle. He was feeling hungry so he decided to order his royal chef to prepare a pizza. He told his footman to call the chef. The footman was playing a video game and looked annoyed to be disturbed.

“The chef is not here. She is away shopping,” he said. “Nobody works in your kingdom, Your Highness. Remember?”

Ali was upset. “All right, call the treasurer. Tell him I need money to order pizza from a shop.”

“The treasurer is away playing cricket with the rest of the castle staff,” the footman replied rudely. “And there is no money because nobody works.”

Ali was struck dumb. He was about to say something when he heard a great commotion outside.
“What is happening?  Call the guards, “Ali ordered a bit frightened.

“The guards have gone for a seaside picnic, Your Highness. Your orders were that nobody should work.”

Just then, a knight in splendid armour rushed in with lots of soldiers.

“Aha! I knew conquering this kingdom will be a piece of cake. There are no rules and so much chaos and commotion. Everybody is lazy and disinclined to work… Take this prisoner to the dungeon,” the knight ordered pointing towards Ali.

“No, no, no! Let me go, let me go…. “Ali shouted and struggled with all his might.

His eyes snapped open and to his utter relief, he was in his bed. It had all been a dream but Ali was not taking any chances. He jumped out of his bed and cleaned his room at great speed.

Then he went to the living room and cleaned that up as well. He opened his books and started doing his homework. Just then his mother came in and was amazed to see the tidy house and Ali immersed in his studies.

“Thanks for everything that you and Dad do for us, Mom.” he said, giving her a quick hug. “I just realized that our lives without rules and discipline won’t be much fun after all.”

A Truly Inspirational Story: I Tried...And I made It

Don't Give up
Posted by Faakhir Mehmood on Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Very Heartwarming Thai commercial which leaves me misty eyed whenever I see it.

Heartwarming Thai Commercial
Heartwarming Thai CommercialThe Most Crazy And Amazing VideosTintu-Mon
Posted by Tintu-Mon on Sunday, May 25, 2014

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Day the Animals went to School

One fine day, the beasts of the Animal Kingdom were lazing around a waterhole when they heard a loud “ding, ding, ding” sound. It was coming from a school near their jungle.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if we went to school too?” asked the Hippopotamus.
All the animals looked very excited.

“Yes, yes. Let’s go to school and get some education,” cried the Giraffe.

The animals made an orderly line and went off to school. First in line was the King of the Jungle, the mighty Lion. He was followed by the wily fox, the big brown bear, and Jumbo the elephant.  Then came the monkeys, the wise owl and the old alligator. The spotted deer, the long necked giraffe and zebras also joined them. What a sight that was! In a neat straight line, each followed the other till they reached the school.

The Lion wanted to ask the permission of the headmaster to enter the premises. He thought that it was a polite thing to do. But what came out was a mighty roar that frightened all the students and the teachers who quickly ran away leaving the poor headmaster alone to teach the animals their lessons.

He stood in the corner of the classroom, shaking with fright as the lion entered majestically and sat on the chair in front of him. The bear also wanted to take a seat but alas it broke under his weight and so he had to sit on the floor. The alligator occupied the whole front area right under the blackboard.

The monkeys entered and quickly swung from the fans and tube lights chattering with delight. The wise owl flew in from the window. He perched on a stack of books on the desk and quickly went to sleep. It was day time, you see and he had spent the entire night hunting for mice and rats.

The poor giraffe tried to enter but could not get in. His neck was too long so it stayed in the compound sighing mournfully.  Next came the elephant but he got stuck at the door and had to be happy with just his trunk attending the class. The other animals found the door blocked so they decided to play outside.

Meanwhile in the classroom, the headmaster opened a book. The monkeys felt that ABC’s were boring so they decided to have fun instead. They pelted each other with chalks, books and ink pots and soon the whole class was a mess.

The bear wanted to be the monitor and keep discipline in the class but the naughty monkeys just leapt from desk to desk, leading him a merry dance. The bear scrambled all over the chairs and desks and broke everything. He flopped down tired and defeated.

The alligator also lost interest and eyed the headmaster hungrily. “Is it lunch time, already? “He wondered. He yawned broadly and when the headmaster saw its teeth, he quickly jumped into a cupboard and closed the door.

The alligator chomped down the book but did not find it tasty.

Alas! The school was over and the animals went back to the jungle without learning their ABC’s. It did not matter because they already know a very important thing.

They knew how to make a neat, orderly queue. Do you?

Image credit: pixabay.com

Telling Lies

Sarah and Mariam looked at the glass fragments on the floor with horror. They could not believe what had just happened. They stared at each other and could not find a single word to say. Oh! What will happen now?

Mariam was Sarah’s best friend.  They were inseparable in school. Now it was summer vacation and the two friends had missed each other very much. One day, Sarah’s mother invited Marium over and the girls were ecstatic. They had spent the entire day drawing and painting, playing games and watching the latest Hunger Games movie. Sarah’s mother had gone to the market to buy some goodies for the tea and the two friends were alone at home. 

Sarah decided to show her friend a very expensive crystal vase that her father had gifted her mother on their wedding anniversary. She took her friend to the drawing room and carefully removed the vase from the glass cabinet. 

She knew it was strictly forbidden but she wanted to show off a bit. 

Mariam looked at the fragile vase with wonder. There were tine roses engraved on it and it sparkled under the lights. It was really very lovely. When she was giving back the vase to Sarah, disaster struck. The vase slipped between their fingers and fell on the marble floor with a resounding crash. It seemed to the girls as if it had shattered into a million glittering pieces.

“Oh no!” cried Sarah in panic.” What shall I do now? Mother will be so angry.”

Mariam felt equally guilty. What a horrible thing to happen!

“I know! Let us sweep up the pieces and hide them. Mother would not know that I have broken it.”

“But she will ask when she sees it missing. What will we say then?” Mariam asked.

“She would not know for some days. Nobody uses the drawing room unless we have guests.”

“But Sarah, she is bound to notice it sooner or later. How can such a thing remain hidden?”

Sarah thought for a few minutes. “Maybe she will think that one of the servants have stolen it,” she said in a small voice.

Mariam was horrified. It was bad enough that they had taken the vase without permission and broken it too. How awful would it be if they lied and let someone else take the blame?

“Sarah, we can’t do that. This would be so wrong. I think the best thing would be to own up. We might get scolded but that would be better than telling lies.”

Sarah took a deep breath.” You are right. Let’s clean this place up while we wait for Mother.”

When Sarah’s mother came back she was alarmed to see their sad faces.

“What has happened, girls?” she asked.

Sarah and Mariam poured out their tale. At first, her mother looked furious. Then she saw how unhappy and guilty they both looked and her heart went out to them. She hugged them both tightly.

“I am so glad you were brave enough to own up, Sarah. I am very upset about the vase but I am happy you are both such truthful girls.”

“It was Mariam’s idea that we should own up, Mother,” Sarah added honestly.

“Well, then she gets to eat the delicious brownie,” her mother added, laughing.

The girls laughed too and they skipped to the table. They both felt as if a huge load had been taken off their shoulders. 

Owning up is so much better than telling lies, don’t you think?


One evening, Riwzan was sprawled on the comfortable sofa in his living room. He was eating peanuts while watching television. Rizwan loved to eat peanuts. They were his favorite snack. He found it difficult to shell peanuts and watch his favorite cartoon program at the same time so he yelled for Ali, the nine year old son of their house maid.

“Ali! Come here at once!”

When the thin, little boy came quietly into the living room, Rizwan ordered him to crack open the peanut shells and place them on a plate for him. After a while, Rizwan happened to glance at Ali who was sitting on the carpet beside the sofa. He saw that Ali had surreptitiously put a peanut in his mouth and was munching it silently.

Rizwan temper exploded in a flash.

“How dare you eat my peanuts? You thief!” He leapt from his sofa and smacked Ali hard on the face.

As Ali began to cry softly, Rizwan’s mother hurried into the room.

“What has happened? What is going on here?” She asked worriedly.

“He was eating my peanuts. He is a thief,” shouted Rizwan.

His mother patted Ali on the shoulder and told him to go back to the kitchen.

When Ali left the room, she turned towards her son. “I am ashamed of your behavior, Rizwan.”

“My behavior? What did I do? It was Ali who was stealing my peanuts and eating them when he thought I wasn't looking.”

“Rizwan. You love eating peanuts very much, don’t you? Ali is just about your age. Don’t you think he would like them too?”

“He had no right to take them. Dad brought them for me, “Rizwan said sulkily.

“Yes, he did. Your father loves you and he makes sure that you have everything that you want. He takes care of all your needs. Ali doesn't even have a father to take care of him or his mother,” she added gently.

Rizwan was silenced. It was true that Ali’s father had passed away recently and his mother had to work in several houses to be able to provide food and shelter for her three children.

“It is true that we employ servants to help us with household work but this does not mean that they are not human beings. We have to treat them with respect and dignity. You should not have asked Ali to do something which you are fully capable of doing, Rizwan. It would have been even better if you had been generous enough to share your peanuts with him.”

Rizwan thought for a moment and then hung his head.

“I am truly sorry mother,” he said.

“It’s alright, Rizwan,” she said smilingly. “But you must apologize to Ali as well. Didn't someone once say, ‘it is nice to be important but more important to be nice’?”

Rizwan laughed and went to his room. From his overflowing toys cupboard, he took out a ball, some old toy cars and a Ben-10 watch. He then went to the kitchen in search of Ali and apologized to him.

He handed the gifts to Ali and was touched to see that the toys which he had discarded long ago and never bothered to play with meant so much to the young boy.

Watching the joy in Ali’s eyes, Rizwan decided that it was indeed more fun being nice to other people than munch through a bag of peanuts.

Don’t you agree?

Image credit: Pixabay.com

Tearing Down the Walls

A football sailed over the boundary wall and landed with a thud on the driveway. It bounced a little and rolled over the green turf before coming to a halt near the big oak tree. A black tire was swinging from the tree branch where Ali spent most of his afternoons alone and silent.

A dull look crept in Ali's eyes as he recognized the ball. It belonged to his cousin, Fawad. Ali made no attempt to pick it up but continued straddling the tire with both his arms wrapped around the thick cord.

A memory, unbidden and unwelcome, intruded upon his solitude. "If I ever catch you playing with him, I'll throw you out of my house. Do you understand, boy?" Ali could hear his uncle shout as he shook Fawad's arm in a fit of uncontrollable temper. "You are never to talk to him again. Do you understand me?"

Little Ali, bewildered and afraid, could only stare at his uncle as the adults around him continued to rant and shout at each other. Sniffling and gulping back tears, he sought the eyes of his childhood friend and companion, Fawad, who was three years his senior. But Fawad stood there equally mute and sad as he watched his father quarrel with his uncle.

Ali had never seen his father so angry. At the age of eight, he had been too young to understand about "grandfather's will" and "property dispute" but Fawad was wise beyond his years. He had understood that his father and his uncle were fighting over a piece of property that their grandfather had left in trust to Ali's father for his two grandsons. Fawad's father, in a fit of pique and jealousy, had taken the matter to court. Each brother had vowed to destroy the other and both had severed all family ties.

When their grandfather had been alive, the two brothers had lived in adjacent duplex houses. They shared a huge lawn where birthdays were celebrated with balloons and buntings and the kids played tag. Their grandfather would sit on the white wrought iron chair and watch his two grandsons fondly. Sometimes he would make the two boys recite the verses from the Holy Quran and correct their errors. Sometimes he would tell them stories as the golden sun bathed their house with warmth and contentment.

But not any more. With each court hearing, the bitterness had grown and Ali's father would come home tired and grim and filled with anger. Three years had passed but there seemed no end to this dispute. Now an ugly brick wall, grey and cemented, marred the beauty of the lawn, cutting off any communication between the two houses. The air that was once filled with joy and harmony was now cold and silent.

Ali sometimes saw Fawad as they both left for school. His uncle would firmly propel his son towards the car and scowl with extreme dislike at the sight of his young nephew. Even his Aunt Farah who used to love Ali like a second son seemed helpless in face of her husband's stubborn attitude. Ali wished his mother had been alive. Maybe she would have understood his loneliness!

"Psst. Ali. Come here for a second." Ali's head jerked up. Fawad was peeping above the boundary wall. "Are you alone?"

Ali instinctively looked towards the house. Everything was quiet as his father was having an afternoon siesta. Even their old servant was not in sight. He hurriedly got down from the tire swing and approached the wall.

"What are you doing here, Fawad?" he whispered. "Did you come for your ball?"

"No. I had kicked it over, hoping for an excuse to see you. Here, mother has sent this. Happy Birthday." Fawad handed Ali a package in a brightly colored gift wrap.

Ali felt a lump in his throat. He made no attempt to take the gift.

"I don't want it."

"Take it, Ali. This might be the last time I can give anything to you. Father is selling the house. His business is not doing too well and we are unable to pay the loans that he took from the bank. We might have to look for a smaller house and move soon. "

Ali was aghast at his cousin's words. He had always hoped that his father and uncle would patch up one day and he and Fawad could be like brothers once more but now he felt all his dreams turning to ashes. He took the gift, whispered an anguished "thank you" and went back to his house.

Later in the evening, while father and son were having their tea, Ali decided to mention his uncle's financial woes to his father.

Screwing up his courage, he softly said," Uncle Bilal is selling his house and moving away. They need money."

Mr. Jamal's hand stilled for a fraction of a second. Then he resumed spreading butter on his toast.

"Finish your meal, Ali," came his brusque reply.

"Father, you know how much grandfather loved and trusted you. Do you think he would have liked you to be angry with Uncle Bilal for so long? Can't you forgive him? Can't you help him? He is your brother, "Ali pleaded.

When his father said nothing, Ali tried a different tactic. "Father, you know the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Do not desert one another, do not nurse hatred towards one another, do not be jealous of one another, and become as fellow brothers and obedient to Allah. It is not lawful for a Muslim to stop talking to his Muslim brother for more than three days. Is a piece of land more important than your relationship with your own brother?''

Tears glistened in Mr. Jamal's eyes. He held his son close to his heart.

"How did you get so wise, my little boy?" he asked with pride in his wet eyes. "Let's go and see your uncle."

Hand in hand, the two went to the house next door. Fawad's father opened the door and Mr. Jamal was shocked at how careworn and beaten his younger brother looked. Without a word, he enveloped his brother in a fierce hug. Bilal broke down and wept. He wanted to ask for his older brother's forgiveness but could utter no coherent word.

Aunt Farah and Fawad came out too and were amazed to see the two brothers hugging and crying. The two brothers spent the entire night reminiscing about the past and making plans for the future. The two cousins too were overjoyed while Fawad's mother thanked Allah for His mercy in making her husband see the errors of his ways.

Next morning, a crew of workers was seen tearing down the ugly, grey wall in the garden as the sun once again bathed the green lawn with its golden light. Even the birds seemed to chirp more gaily than usual as the air was filled with sounds of laughter once again.

The Missing Crown

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a king. He was a very good, kind-hearted king but he had one major fault. He was always forgetting his things.

Someday he would misplace his royal shoes. At other times, he would lose the gold keys to the treasury. Sometimes he would not be able to find his diamond ring. So you see, he had a very forgetful memory His servants would always rush around the castle looking for his things.

One day, the king got up early in the morning. A very important guest was coming to his castle that day. The guest was the king of the neighboring country and the king wanted to look his best. He took five hours to get ready.

First, he wore his white, silk tunic. He then put on his new, purple robe. Then he tied his bright, red sash around his waist. On his feet he wore velvet shoes. He put on his gold and diamond rings. At last when he felt that he looked his best, he decided to sit upon his throne and wait for his noble guest. He looked at the red cushion where his crown was usually placed. To his horror, the crown was not there.

Oh, what a catastrophe!!

You see, a king is not a king unless he is wearing a crown. Now you can understand why he was so upset. He did not call his servants and started looking for his precious crown.

He looked under the bed and inside his cupboards. He searched the wardrobe and looked inside his shoes closet. He looked inside the queen’s cupboards too but the crown was nowhere to be found.

He hurried to the breakfast room and looked under one hundred chairs. He went to the dinner room and looked under two hundred chairs and fifty long tables but the crown was not there. The king’s face was red and his legs were tired but finding the crown was very important.

He went to the stables and looked under the horses’ feet. He went to the royal swimming pool and peered at the clear, blue water. Just then the trumpets sounded. The royal guests had arrived and the king had not found his crown.

“Oh my!” the king said in panic. “My guest has arrived and I have not yet found my crown. What shall I do now?”

He clutched his hair in desperation and his hands touched something hard and pointed.

It was the royal crown!! It had been on his head all the time. 

“Silly me,” the king thought happily, relieved to have found his crown. “But now I wonder where I left my purple robe?”

Image credit: Pixabay.com 

True Happiness comes from Helping Others

Amir woke up feeling very happy. It had been his birthday a few days ago and his friends and family had given him many presents. Best of all, his grandfather had given him five thousand rupees.

His father had promised him that he could do whatever he wished with his money and Amir knew what he wanted – a complete cricket kit with gloves, pads, bat, helmet and, of course, a shiny red ball. With this kit, he knew, he would be the envy of all the boys in the neighborhood.

Cricket was Amir’s passion. He wanted to play for his country when he was older. His room was adorned with posters of cricketing giants like Imran Khan, Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar and his favorite Shahid Khan Afridi. He wanted to emulate these stars when he grew up and right now a good cricket kit would help him further his ambitions.

Every night he would lie in his bed and dream about playing cricket. What runs he would score with his new bat! Fours and sixes, half centuries and maybe hundreds. The shiny red ball would race towards the boundary and he would raise his bat to acknowledge the applause of his teammates and the crowds..what dreams!

Amir belonged to a well-to-do family. He was the only son but he was not a spoiled child. Early in the morning, right after breakfast, he asked for his father’s permission to use the car. His father promised that he would send the car back with the driver after he had reached his office. Amir got ready and went out in the garden to wait for the car to arrive.

It was a beautiful day. The sun cast a golden light and the air was perfumed with the scent of the blooming flowers. Amir walked slowly towards the garden, inhaling the smell of freshly mowed grass. His eyes fell on Tariq who was working in the garden.

Tariq was the son of their gardener, Ali Akbar. He was usually relegated the job of a fielder whenever Amir played cricket with his friends. Ali Akbar had been unwell for some time and had not been coming to do his chores. Amir had heard his mother complain about Ali Akbar’s frequent absences to his father. Amir noticed that Tariq’s face was tear-stained as he silently weeded the grass.

He went up to him and put his hand on Tariq’s shoulder. “What is the matter, Tariq?”

“Baba is very ill, Amir,” he replied, his voice tremulous. “He urgently needs to be in hospital. But he was discharged today without proper treatment because we had no money to pay for the medical bills.”

Tariq further told Amir that no one was ready to help them as they had already borrowed a lot of money. Tariq had left his school to fulfill his father’s duties but the future looked very bleak for their family. Tariq feared for his father’s life.

Amir listened silently. He and Tariq were of the same age but how different were their circumstances. He looked at the wallet containing all his savings.

“This money could save someone’s life”, he thought.

“But you wanted to buy that kit,” a small voice said inside his head. “You have been saving for quite a long time and now with your grandfather’s gift, you can buy it now. If you give away the money you won’t be able to buy that kit,” the voice persisted.

Amir felt torn. But with another look at Tariq’s tear-stained face, his mind was made up. Without a word, he handed his wallet to Tariq. Tariq was taken aback but then, slowly and silently, he raised his hand to accept it. Amir went back inside and spent the rest of his day in his room. He was a little sad and disappointed but he knew that he had done the right thing.

A few days later, when Amir was going outside to play, he saw Tariq in the garden. Before he could say a word, Tariq ran towards him.

“Your money saved my father’s life, Amir!” he shouted with tears rolling down his brown cheeks. “We took him to the hospital and the doctor said we were just in time. He is fine now. I can never thank you enough,” he said. “You saved my father’s life, Amir”, Tariq kept on repeating.

Suddenly, Amir felt that he had just hit the biggest six of his life, a more powerful sixer than any hit by Shahid Khan Afridi. He felt the shiny red ball soar high up in the sky and sail towards the boundary. In his mind he saw the people in the stadium rise to applaud and acknowledge his selflessness and sacrifice.

He hugged Tariq and, with arms around his shoulder, he went out to play cricket with his battered bat and the old taped ball.

Yasmeen's Prayers

Razia and Yasmeen worked silently in the spacious kitchen.  Razia was making batter for the pakoras while her young daughter, Yasmeen was carefully cutting fruits for the chaat. 

There was going to be a lavish iftar party in the house later in the evening. The owner Mr. Hameed worked in a large multinational company and a few of his colleagues were coming over for iftar. Mrs. Hameed was busy making delicious dishes and giving out instructions to Razia and Yasmeen.

Fruit chaat

The sight and aroma of all the food being prepared reminded Yasmeen of the quarrel between her mother and her older brother that had taken place in the morning. Her brother Rameez had passed his matric exams with very good grades and some of his friends wanted to come over to congratulate him. 

Razia did not have enough money to feed six or seven boys. Her husband was a car mechanic and Razia worked as a maid in two houses to make ends meet. 

Rameez had been bitterly disappointed when Razia had told him that she could only serve a few simple dishes at iftar time. Passing the matric exams had been a special occasion for him and he thought that he would be humiliated in front of his friends. He knew that money was scarce in the house but he wished that just for once, his parents could provide a special meal for his friends. 

Yasmeen loved her brother very much. Seeing his anguish and disappointment, she had prayed and prayed for a miracle. Maybe their father could earn some extra cash before evening. Maybe some kind lady would give their mother some money before iftar time. It was Ramadan after all….the month of mercy and blessings.

It was now almost five o’ clock and no such miracle had happened. Razia and Yasmeen were still working in Mrs. Hameed’s kitchen and six boys were coming over to their humble home later in the evening. 

Just then the telephone rang out.

Mrs. Hameed bustled out of the kitchen and returned a few minutes later looking harassed and troubled.

“Razia, there has been a change of plans, she said.”Hameed is stuck in the office for an important meeting and the iftar party has to be cancelled. They all have to work late in the night and will be breaking fast in the office.”

She paused and looked at all the dishes neatly laid on the kitchen counter. A few could be frozen and saved for the next day but not all. The fried pakoras and samosas would lose their crispness, the dahi barhas might become stale and the fruit chaat would certainly spoil in the heat and the humidity.

“Razia, why don’t you take a few things home? Just leave enough for my iftar and take these pakoras, samosas, fruit chat, few of these sandwiches and dahi barhas home. I am sure your children would enjoy them,” she smiled kindly.

Yasmin could not believe their good fortune. She helped her mother to quickly pack the food in plastic containers that Mrs. Hameed gave them. She poured the sherbets from crystal jugs into plastic bottles and tightly screwed the lids. 

She helped Mrs. Hameed tidy up the kitchen while her mother washed the now empty dishes. Smiling broadly all the time, she went home with Razia, their arms laden with hot, delicious food. 

Most of all she enjoyed the look of amazement and joy on her brother’s face when he saw all the food on the table just before his friend arrived.

That night, the young girl slept with a smile on her lips and a heart full of happiness. Her prayers had indeed been answered. 


Ramadan: The ninth month of the Islamic calendar which is observed as the month of fasting by Muslims all over the world

Iftar: The evening meal with which Muslims end their Ramadan fast at sunset.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Good Deeds Never Go Waste

"Oh, dear! I can’t remember if I have locked the back door or not,” said Hafsa.

Her husband brought the car to a screeching halt. 

“Really, Hafsa!” Abdullah said in exasperation. “Now we will have to go all the way back.”

They had been looking forward to their holiday. Abdullah had booked seats in a newly launched luxury train for the weekend. They were to go sightseeing, do a little shopping, eat some exotic food and spend some time together.

“I’ll just be a minute!” Hafsa promised, keys in hand, as they reached their house.

The house had two doors. One in front, which the family used, and one at the back, which was mainly used by the maid, milkman etc. Hafsa dashed to the back only to find the door firmly locked and bolted.

“What a waste of time,” she said wryly, shaking her head. Just then, there was a frantic knock on the back door.

Startled, Hafsa peeked out of the side window. There was an old man outside. She unlocked the door.

“I am very hungry, lady. Do you have some food for an old man?”

Hafsa was torn between her need to go outside to her waiting family and her innate desire to help a needy person. Making up her mind, she told the old man to sit under the shade of the big tree growing just outside their back gate.

She heated some food in the microwave and popped some bread in the toaster, ignoring the impatient honking outside.

Precious minutes ticked by. Hafsa quickly wrapped the food in a disposable dish and handed it to the old man.

“Here you go,” she smiled.

Eyes glistening with gratitude, the old man heaped prayers on her. 
“May your family never go hungry. May you live a happy life. May Allah always keep your family safe..,” he prayed with each morsel.

Wiping the kitchen counter, Hafsa quickly locked the back door again and dashed outside.

Their car sped with all possible haste to the station. They were late by 7 minutes.

Two hours later, the train rammed into a delivery van illegally crossing the tracks. The force of the impact caused the front carriage to fall off a bridge. 

Amazingly, there were no casualties—the couple booked into that carriage had missed the train.

Image credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Uzbek_man_from_central_Uzbekistan.jpg

The Electricity Bill

Why aren't you eating your pizza, Saba? Don’t you like the flavor?”

Mrs. Hameed asked her daughter who was staring at her dinner plate silently.

“No, mother. It’s fine. I am not very hungry,” said the young girl.

“What the matter dear?”

“Mother, do you know Yasmeen got punished in her school today? She has red welts on her palm where the headmistress has caned her,” Saba told her mom.

Mrs Hameed frowned. Yasmeen was Razia’s daughter who worked as a maid in their house. She was about the same age as Saba and studied in a government school.

“That’s terrible, Saba. But do you know why?”Mrs. Hameed asked.

“Razia does not have an iron in her house.  And even if she did, they can’t afford to pay the electricity bills. Yasmeen went to school and her uniform was very crumpled. The headmistress got angry and punished her severely.” Saba answered her mother’s questions forlornly.

“That’s very sad. But dear, what can we do?”
 “Mother can’t you allow Razia to iron Yasmeen’s uniform in our house when she irons ours?” Saba asked.

Mrs Hameed was rather taken aback by her daughter’s sudden request.

“My dear, you know how high electricity bills are nowadays and I am not sure what you father will say…You know he is always telling us not to waste electricity in the house,” she answered, a little hesitantly.

“But mother, Razia masi works in three houses. If everyone allows her to iron Yasmeen’s uniform, then it will be only for two days per week as 6 divided by 3 is 2. This way, it won’t be a burden on anybody and Yasmeen won’t get punished in school,” Saba pleaded with her mom while showing off her math skills.

Looking at her daughter’s earnest face, Mrs. Hameed didn’t have the heart to say no.
“Okay. I’ll tell Razia that she can iron Yasmeen’s uniform here every day. Are you happy? Now eat your dinner,” Mrs. Hameed said laughingly as Saba let out a whoop of joy.

Mrs. Hameed went to the kitchen where Razia was working and gave her the permission to iron Yasmeen’s school uniform at their home every day. Razia was extremely grateful and thanked her profusely.

Just then they heard the car come in the driveway.

 “Daddy’s home,” shouted little AbuBakr sliding out of his chair. Mr. Hameed came in with a bouquet of flowers which he handed to his wife and a big box of chocolates which he gave to his children.

“Guess what children. I have been promoted in my office. Isn't this great news?” he said, beaming at his family.

Mrs. Hameed was very happy to hear this news. Just then she saw Razia plug in the iron to do the clothes. In her heart, she was already regretting her decision. The bills will be so high. What will the children’s father say? She wondered.

“And do you know what the icing on the cake is,” Mr. Hameed said, taking a bite from his daughter’s pizza.

“Now that I have been promoted, in addition to a new car, I will be getting a monthly allowance for our utility bills too. Now I won’t get mad if you walk out of a room without switching off all the lights,” he joked.

Mrs. Hameed could not believe her ears. From the corner of her eyes, she saw Razia neatly fold her daughter’s uniform that was smooth and without any wrinkles. Saba looked at her mother with a mischievous smile and Mrs. Hameed looked back at her daughter with tears of gratitude and pride in her eyes.

She felt as if they had just been paid the electricity bill for Yasmeen’s uniform in full with added blessings for their kindness.

The rich harvests of sowing kindness

Once upon a time, in a village called Kukkupura, there lived an old farmer, Karim Deen. The people of the village were very poor and worked hard to feed themselves and their families but times were hard. Sometimes there was little rain and the crops failed to yield a good harvest.

Though poor, both Karim Deen and his wife possessed a heart so kind and generous that they would gladly loan their farm tools to any farmer who had no money to buy his own. They would also give a portion of their crops to the neighbors who had a poor harvest. People came to Karim Deen and his wife with their troubles and they never turned anyone away empty-handed.

One day Karim Deen had an accident while working in his field and hurt his back. He came back home in great pain. His wife called the local hakeem, who gave him some medicines and advised him to rest. It was harvest time and the crops were ripe in the field. Karim Deen worried and fretted that if the crops were not harvested in time, they might rot and months of hard work would be wasted in no time. As he did not have enough money to hire laborers to work in his farm, he felt miserable.

Things seemed very bad to old Karim Deen as selling crops was his only source of income. About a week later, Karim Deen lay in his bed by the window and gazed at the view of his farm outside. He gazed sadly at his green fields and the golden mustard flowers that were swaying gently in the slight breeze. Then he saw something that made him sit up in sheer amazement, without being careful about the backache.

He called his wife who hurried to his side. Through his window, they both saw a sight that brought tears of joy and gratitude to their eyes.

All the villagers, young and old, men and women and children too, approached Karim Deen`s fields with sickles and scythes, tractors and threshers, and other reaping equipment to gather the ripe crops. Shoulder to shoulder, they all worked under the hot sun. The elders called out instructions while the women and children plucked the ripe crop.

The men made neat bundles and carried them to the tractor trolleys to transport them to the market. Day after day, they came to work on Karim Deen`s field after working in their own and harvested his crop for him.

Karim Deen's neighbors and fellow villagers had not forgotten the generosity they had been shown. They arranged the transport and sale of his crops and gave all the money earned from it to Karim Deen. Such are the rich harvests of sowing kindness and goodness.

Say MaShaAllah Laa Quwata Illa Billah

After Alhamdulillah, the second phrase which I feel we should all start using frequently is MaShaAllah Laa Quwata Illa billah (Surah Kah...