Khidma and Cake

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Rahim

"...she was telling me that Habib Umar said that there are three things that must always accompany a student: 1) a miswak, in adherence and love of the sunnah, 2) khidma, a service of any kind to anyone, 3) good use of one's time, including a wird."

Last year (1428/2007) I was blessed to spend Eid ul Adha while at a boarding school. It was an insightful experience, though I'd be lying if I said it wasn't also emotionally challenging knowing that my family was out of reach. An emotional moment aside, it was a happy and festive day and perfectly beautiful in its own right. Due to the kind efforts of others, my housemates and I were all served sweets as we enjoyed the morning together singing nasheeds and spending time with each other. In the evening, most had their own plans which varied from meeting their brothers who resided in the neighbouring men's boarding school to visiting family or friends in the community.

That night, I was invited to one sister's house where I enjoyed a barbecue along with other Western sisters. The next day we gathered again and spent the morning on a rooftop playing games, eating cake, sipping hot chocolate and other beverages while we enjoyed each other's company and sisterly advices. I don't think those blessed sisters will ever understand what their efforts that day meant to me. Suffice to say, it is in my collection of treasured memories.

It was probably a bad idea for me to have eaten cake after not having it for so many months because the next day I was craving some more. I went to the kitchen of the boarding school looking for the large tray of leftover cake that I had seen earlier. I searched the kitchen in vain, and eventually asked a sister who was washing dishes if there was any cake left. She said no. I smiled and told her I was wishing for some but it was okay that I didn't find any. She told me to hang on and went to the fridge, pulled out a cake, and cut a slice for me. I'm assuming it was the leftover cake from a private Eid celebration. I accepted her kind gesture graciously.

Interestingly, it was from that slight interaction that Allah united our hearts and we became friends. The cake had unfortunately absorbed the various smells of the industrial-size fridge, but given so open-heartedly, it was a priceless treat.

The next day, one of my housemates came to my room to tell me that a mushrifa (supervisor) was calling me. Uh oh, I thought. As I headed to her room, I wondered if I had done anything wrong. After knocking at her door, she asked me to come in, and then she said "I heard you like cake." I laughed (in admission of my guilt) and asked how she knew. She told me that "someone" told her, and then she handed me a bowl with two or three small pieces of cake that someone had put aside especially for her explaining that she isn't one for cake. I insisted that she keep it and eat it, but she insisted that I take it. Again, all I could do was accept her kind offer graciously.

I have countless memories of being the recipient of selflessness and sacrifice. SubhanAllah. Allah is very generous. Since even before my birth, by God's infinite grace, my family has served my needs and they have all since taught me valuable lessons which remain a constant service to me now.

Beyond family, there have been countless strangers or distant acquaintances who have offered many things my way: kind words, sincere smiles, prayers, unexpected gifts, advice, and even more recently an invaluable e-book.

As I think about the great kindness that I've been privileged to receive despite being unworthy, I'm reminded of a lesson that I took from another set of sisters who I befriended as I lived amongst them. From them, I experienced and witnessed constant giving. I had nothing to give to them in return except a pair of almost new shoes and a watch, one of which was received with tears. SubhanAllah. They asked nothing of me other than my prayers.

I reflected on their lives and how their acts of selfless giving for my benefit was for none other than their Lord's sake. The same lesson was mirrored by the many sisters who I befriended in the boarding school along with a few others who wouldn't let me repay them (despite my insistence) for buying something on my behalf which I couldn't get myself.

I now know that the only way to repay such a service (khidma) from the hands of people is to live in the same way, that is, to give whatever I can, whenever I can, and to whoever I can for His sake alone, God willing. And certainly, the true benefits of such a lifestyle will benefit none other than myself, God willing.

Serving humanity is a vital obligation on every human, no matter his capability. In the least, one can smile and consider it a service, for a sincere smile touches hearts and brings joy. The sky is the limit with what we can do, but often times our self-serving egos will only give when it suits us and not when it requires a true effort.

It should also be noted that the attitude of serving people for the pleasure of Allah is beautiful to such an extent that the recipient doesn't feel guilty for accepting the effort but rather feels honoured.

As I write this, I remind myself that I need to try to rectify my ways to include this beauty in serving those within my reach so that perhaps my words here will be more than a mere lip service and my efforts can extend to those further than an arm's length away, God willing.

May Allah guide us and make us among those who continuously give of our time, knowledge, wealth, talents, and anything else we can offer for His sake alone, ameen.

2 comments:

Mustafa said...

Assalam a'laikum wa rahmatullahi wa'barakatuh,
Mashallah, the way you related cake and khidma was awesome and leaves one with a reason to keep reading your post till the end.
Hillarious however it is how much you love cake.
May Allah bless you and give us all the gift of doing khidma for Allah's sake. Ameen.

Farzeen said...

Wa 'alaykum assalaam wa rahmatuLlahi wa barakaatuh

JazakAllahu khayran for your comment, and ameen to your du'a.

"Do you think that you will enter the Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They encountered suffering and adversity and were so shaken in spirit that even the Apostle and those of faith who were with him cried: 'When (will come) the help of God?' Ah! Verily the help of God is (always) near!" [2:214]

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"Be mindful of God, and God will protect you. Be mindful of God, and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask of God. If you seek help, seek help of God. Know that if the whole world were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it would benefit you only with something that God had already prescribed for you. And if the whole world were to gather together to harm you, it would harm you only with something that God has already prescribed for you. The pens have been lifted and the ink has dried."
--Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him]