Imam Khalid Latif is blogging his reflections during the month of Ramadan for the fourth year in a row, featured daily on HuffPost Religion. For a complete record of his previous posts, visit his author page, and to follow along with the rest of his reflections, sign up for an author email alert above, visit his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter.
Priya, Madina and I spent the last few days in California. The last night we were there, we ended up breaking our fast with some alumni of NYU and their family members. My friend Tamim Katawazi and I were in one car and were looking for parking for a while. Eventually we found a spot and as we got out of the car, a young man stopped me and asked if he could take a picture with me. We exchanged a couple of pleasantries and then Tamim and I walked over to the restaurant.
When we returned back to the car, we noticed a plastic bag hanging from the driver's side door. Tamim, fearing the worst, told me to be careful. (He thought there might be poop inside.) What it really ended up being was two bags of chocolate chip cookies and a note.
I was the person you took a picture with once you parked your car. I feel bad that I did not greet you properly and give you a gift since you are in my city. So I'm hoping this gift comes to you. I know your wife steals your cookies because you post your Facebook statuses about that. I hope this packet fulfills all those days she stole your cookies. LOL. Have a wonderful time in San Fransisco and safe flight back. Please make dua for me and my family.
- your brother from SF, California
- Usama Shahbaz"
"Do not regard any good deed insignificant, even meeting your brother with a cheerful face." ~ The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him.
It's remarkable at times how little it takes to make someone feel good and special. What would compel this brother to go the extra step and out of his way to do what he did? And, more importantly, would we do the same if the opportunity came in front of us?
A young boy by the name of Abu Umayr lived during the time of the Prophet Muhammad. Abu Umayr had a pet bird that he cared for and the little bird unfortunately passed away, leaving Abu Umayr in tears. When the Prophet heard about this, he went to console Abu Umayr and asked him in a rhyme, "Ya Aba Umayr, Maa Fa'l an-Nughayr?" meaning "Oh Abu Umayr, what happened to An-Nughayr (the little bird)."
The Prophet Muhammad wore a lot of different hats simultaneously. He was a teacher, counselor, advisor, community leader, husband, father, and much more. If anyone could get away with having too much to do to take the time for others, he could. But despite how busy his day was and the responsibilities on his shoulders, he goes out of his way to make a little boy feel better whose pet bird passed away.
The last couple of weeks, especially the last few days, have been really heavy for me. With everything that is taking place around the world in Palestine, Syria, Burma, Iraq, Nigeria, Chicago and elsewhere, things just seemed very dark. Although my mind and heart are still thinking about these conflicts, I really felt Usama's thoughtfulness. It helped me to realize that just because there is evil and pain in the world does not mean that we should stop putting good and compassion into it. Arguably at times like this, we need to be doing it moreso, even if just in small quantities.
Take a moment to break away from the distractions of this world and purposefully to do something for someone who you could get away with not doing anything for. Buy a gift, send a letter, help out with a chore, make a donation, anything that you know you can do that would make someone else's day better.
Thanks for the cookies Usama. Hopefully I'll get to eat one before my wife steals them. May God reward you for your generosity and return to you the same warmth and goodness that your thoughtfulness brought to me. Ameen.