By Mumtaz Saley-Moosa
Like clockwork, Luqmaan reminded me that I had promised to take him and his friend to the mall to purchase the clothes and shoes. Before I got ready, I invited Nusaybah to accompany us. Ayesha decided to tag along as she needed to run some errands. Ayesha called Ramiz’s mother and explained the reason for the trip and that we would have Ramiz home before Magrib. With that all the way, we left on our journey with an excited Luqmaan and mostly reluctant Nusaybah.
Ramiz lived on the “other side” of town, and as we reached the home, I realised that the family were indeed in dire financial circumstances. The house was neat but needed some repairs. The windows were patched up with newspaper or cardboard, the gutters were coming loose, and a good lick of paint would spruce it up.
Ayesha and I went to collect Ramiz together with Luqmaan as she also wanted to meet his mother, Salamah. The slim, burqah clad woman who answered the door smiled as she gave salaam and introduced herself. She seemed a little awkward, but was warm and friendly.
“Ramiz, Luqmaan is here with his family to collect you.”, she called out. A chubby bot with a huge smile appeared from the back of the house, clad in his school uniform shirt and a pair of well-worn blue jeans and sneakers that had seen many a mending by a practised hand.
He stuck out his hand for me to shake whilst giving us salaam. After greeting his mother, he and Luqmaan bounded off to the car, laughing as they went.
Salamah thanked Ayesha and me for our kindness, and when asked about her husband, she explained that he had recently passed after having contracted COVID. I offered my condolences and returned to the car whilst Ayesha, and Salamah chatted.
After a few minutes, Ayesha returned and off we went.
Whilst we walked about in the mall, allowing the children to look at the clothes and shoes, Ayesha told me about her conversation with Salamah. Mother and son lived in poverty with only a few handouts from generous neighbours and an organisation. She could barely get by each month. Ayesha’s eyes welled with tears as she explained that Salamah had asked to repay for the clothing we had decided to purchase for Ramiz as soon as she could afford it. My heart felt heavy as I realised that this poor woman and her child were alone and desperate for assistance.
“Well, I hope you explained that this was a gift from us to him and that there was no need for her to repay us,” I said to Ayesha.
“Of course, Dad. And I think I shall also put together a small food hamper, and I have dozens of abayas, scarves, and some other clothing that I can share with Salamah.” She answered as she perused her cupboards in her mind’s eye.
“Ayshoo, did you notice how well Ramiz behaves? He has impeccable akhlaaq, and his mother seems learned as well.”, I said, remembering her manner and speech.
“Hey, I have an idea! After Ramadan, we could have Ramiz join the Boy’s Muslim classes at the madrassah. Ayshoo, couldn’t he stay over on Fridays twice a month to attend the classes over the weekends?” I asked, filled with excitement, as I knew that Luqmaan would love the idea too.
“You know what, you are a star, Dad. I’m sure the boys would love that, and it would be beneficial for Ramiz to have big brothers to guide him. I will call Salamah and ask her if this would be possible, in sha Allah.” she smiled happily.
The kids appeared with a small trolley laden with an assortment of boys’ clothes and shoes. Nusaybah arrived shortly with a pair of sneakers. What else!
While walking past a shoe store that Bibi and I used to purchase, I became a little emotional remembering how we would shop together for Eid. Nusaybah squeezed my hand as she remembered the store and her granny running after her when she came along.
“Nana, I know you miss Nanima, and this store always reminds you of her. Well, your tears reminded me of the story of Nabi ﷺ and how he would cry when he saw an item of jewellery or clothing that belonged to Khadijah R.A. I love that story.” she patted my hand. She smiled before running after her mother, trying to keep the boys in check.
After completing our shopping and Ayesha her errands, we walked to the car. I lagged a bit, feeling nostalgic but savouring the moment. I felt a little hand on mine, and looking down; there was Ramiz.
His eyes were full of gratitude as he looked at me. As I bent a little to talk to him, he reached out to wipe my face gently. I hadn’t realised that I had been crying.
“I miss my Abbie too”, he said softly, and suddenly fat, hot tears were rolling down his cheeks. I hugged the little guy as my family stood watching from afar.
“Nana, Allah sends people to us who cheer us up or help us when we need it. Umme says that is His mercy and blessings for us. So, you are chosen by Allah to help us. And Umme says that is a greater blessing.”, he explained innocently.
“JazakAllahu khayr for bringing me along and for the lovely things you have bought for me.”, he said, before planting a kiss on my forehead.
Ayesha had purchased some groceries for Salamah, and Nusaybah decided to pitch in as she made off to the ATM.
Salamah was grateful and couldn’t stop thanking us, and as we left, Ramiz once again gave us each a hug.
As we drove home, my curiosity could no longer be stifled, and I asked Nusaybah what she had given to Salamah.
Nusaybah shared a story with us. Instead, one she said had made a significant impact on her. She said that a man had purchased a beautiful scarf for his wife, who loved it but couldn’t bring herself to wear it as it was so strikingly gorgeous. She would admire the scarf daily, and no matter how much her husband persuaded her to wear the scarf, she couldn’t.
Soon she met a lady who described the scarf Mariam owned and said she had tried to purchase one, but none were available as they were a limited edition. Mariam offered hers to the lady, who said she would pay for it, but Mariam declined, saying it was a gift.
After handing the scarf to the lady, when they met at a book signing event at a bookstore, Mariam completely forgot about the incident. For years, though, she had had her eye on a beautiful collection of Riyadh us Saliheen at the bookstore.
A few days later, a courier brought a package for Mariam, and when she opened it, lo and behold, the entire set was packaged in bubble wrap with a small card included. The card informed her that this was a gift from the lady she had so selflessly given the expensive scarf.
Nusaybah said that the moral of the story was that what Allah has made for you will reach you, and anything that is not for you will be placed with whom it was meant for. Sometimes, this lesson comes as a test from Allah.
“Nusaybah, that is the truth, and since you have learnt the lesson so well, I ask Allah always to give you only what is best for you, aameen.”
What is meant for us will come to us. What is not meant for us will never come to us. And there is no error in what we have missed out on or what we have received. This is the will of Allah. But it is up to us to strive with good intentions, obeying the limits set by Allah.
“To whoever, male or female, does good deeds and has faith, We shall give a good life and reward them according to the best of their actions.” Surah An Nahl – 16:97