By Mumtaz Moosa-Saley
“Papa!” I looked up at Nusaybah over my glasses as she called me. Her calling me Papa meant she: was going to ask for a favour.
“Papa, can you speak to my parents about getting me a new iPhone? Uncle Mohammed bought his children one each, and here I am still stuck with my 1954 model!” she said eagerly.
Laughing, I responded that she did not need a new one, seeing as her phone still worked. She looked gutted and gave me a sad look, which she knew worked to get me to agree to most of her requests.
I asked her to sit with me and inquired if the phone would make her happy.
“Of course, Papa!” she said excitedly as she saw a glimmer of hope.
“But you know Poppy, that happiness will be fleeting as you will soon see a better phone, and then you would want that one. Why not be happy for your cousins as a good Muslim would be?”
“Poppy, be content with what you have. Some don’t even know of a mobile phone, let alone all the brands and functionality they offer.” I explained patiently, even as I saw that my words put a damper on the hope that had shone in her eyes.
“Also, remember that you should always be thankful to Allah for the blessings and khayr He constantly provides you. It is a way of gaining His pleasure, and in sha Allah, He will answer your dua as He as only He knows what is best for you.” I explained that these were hard lessons for young ones, but they had to be taught.
Disappointed, Nusaybah left me to fix my plug. I would move the world for her, but I must choose when to teach and when to spoil. My biggest worry was her wanting something because someone else had received the same item. Ya, Allah, calm my heart and mind and allow me to help my grandchildren be good Muslims.
As I sat there pondering over Nusaybah, there was a knock on my door. “Now, who could that be as? I got to the door and inquired who it was.
“Mohammed.”, came the response.
Who is this, Mohammed? Almost every Muslim male is called Mohammed, I thought irritably.
And then I heard the soft, unmistakable chuckle, and I flung open the door, and there stood my son Mohammed. I was speechless, and he stood grinning at me like a Cheshire cat.
I grabbed him into my arms, happy to see him after such a long while, and grateful to Allah for sending him to me.
“Wow, you give hugs now?” he asked, teasing me as I was never in the habit of showing affection so openly.
Hasad (jealousy and envy) is among the most destructive emotions or feelings a man may have towards his fellow human being. It causes him to wish evil for others and be happy when misfortune befalls them. The Prophet ﷺ warned against envy by comparing it to fire that completely burns the wood. He ﷺ said: “Beware of jealousy, for verily it destroys good deeds the way fire destroys wood.” [Abu Dawood]
Farouk was over for iftaar and was informing me regarding his day.
“I must tell you about my attempt at baking today. My oven was something else, and never mind that I made such a mess, it took me years to clean. You know, buying from the bakery is easier. Solly, I am telling you not to get bright ideas after watching all those videos.” Farouk had had quite a messy affair with his attempt and was now warning me off trying my hand at baking.
Patting my friend on his shoulder, I was confident that he was going crazy living all on his own. His face still showed traces of the flour he had used earlier, and there were smudges on his shirt. As we waited for the adhaan to be called, I prayed for my family and my friend, who missed his family so far away.
As I prepared to go to the masjid, Nusaybah thanked me for having taught her the dua for contentment.
“Papa, it works, as I feel thrilled and content. Thank you for teaching me.”, she said, hugging me.
On the way to the masjid, Luqmaan was deep in thought. Eventually, Mohammed asked him what was up.
“Uncle M, did you bring us presents?” the precocious bugger asked coyly.
“Sorry, Mohammed, but I did say that you may have brought presents along for them.”, I apologised.
Mohammed smiled at Luqmaan and informed him that he had brought gifts and would give them to him later that day.
Luqmaan, excited, began to jump up and down, “I can’t wait to see what you brought me. Can we see it tonight, please? The suspense will kill me.”, he said. Thank heavens we reached the Masjid before a full-blown nag marathon began.
As I took my place in the front. Luqmaan asked if the front was only for older adults, but he spoke so loudly that the Imam heard. After the salaah, the Imam asked everyone to spend five minutes talking about the front saffs being “reserved” for the older men.
He scolded the younger men and explained that in Surah Baqarah, verse 2:148 says “Race to righteousness.” Generally, children are advised to stand behind the men. The Fuqaha (Scholars) have stated that when forming the Sufoof (rows) for salah, children should stand behind the adult men. But if there is only one child, he may stand in the same saff as the men for a single salah.
“So, Luqmaan, in future, since most often, you are the only child here, you can join the rows of the children or stand by your grandfather in the front. Is that a deal?” the Imam asked and received a nod in affirmation from Luqmaan before he shouted out, “and that is a deal, Imam.”
With that, the Imam asked that all children sign a roster, and for each salaah, one child would be given a chance in the front row, provided they came early. The children all seemed motivated, and the Imam smiled.
The masjid erupted with laughter, and Luqmaan was so delighted that the Imam noticed how many days he came for salaah. He rushed home, leaving us behind to tell Ayesha that he would not miss a salaah from today as the Imam wanted him there personally.
As Fajr prayer started, the masjid was surprisingly full as children accompanied adults after the news spread that one child for one salaah a day would be given a chance to stand in the front row.
Prophet ﷺ said in a hadith, narrated by Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud RA and reported by Imam Muslim: “Let the matured and adults among you stand behind me, followed by those below them and then those below them.”