A Littered Heart

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Rahim


The morning after my first night in a boarding school, I heard what sounded like rain splashing on the tiles right outside my door. "Ah beautiful rain" I thought. I desperately wanted to go see it, but I was in the peak of my illness and couldn't find the energy to move.

Eventually, I moved out from that room and settled in a room further away from the typical dorms. It was a classroom of a public school, nestled within the boarding school, that was used to house guests who could no longer be accommodated in the dormitory. It was after settling in that room that I learned that my first morning at the boarding school wasn't met by the sound of rain but rather by the pitter-pattering feet of many little girls heading to class.

Having never lived in a boarding school before and then having a bedroom in the midst of classrooms, it fascinated me how school and boarding co-existed. My schedule was different than everyone else's which afforded me a couple more hours of much-needed sleep in the mornings before I had to get to my one-hour long class for the day. By the time I returned, break time was over for the little girls and the walk back to my room was often marked by candy, chocolate, and chip wrappers strewn across the floor.

It became a habit for me to greet the two sisters who were responsible for cleaning up this mess, and often I would apologize to one as I continuously neglected to greet her with proper respect by using the plural form of address "Kayfa haalukum?" as opposed to the singular form which I was more accustomed to using "Kayfa haaluki?" She would always respond with a forgiving smile. Our conversations were usually quite simple because my Arabic is too weak and her Arabic is much too dialectal for me to have had much hope of understanding her words without taking up a lot of her time and patience (though I'm sure she had plenty in the patience department, masha'Allah).

There aren't many things that bothered me about life in Yemen, but litter was certainly an exception. Six days a week these ladies cleaned the school of garbage that could have been easily placed in a garbage bin by the guilty litter bugs. But it seemed not to bother others much, and thoughts of this type were definitely a part of my "Western baggage" that I needed to deal with.

One Western sister advised that the untidy garbage is problematic for us because it reflects a diseased condition of the spiritual heart and soul both of which need to be purified. I imagine some might want to challenge her words, but she's absolutely right. I suppose the first counter-response would be that cleanliness is an essential part of our deen. Sah, it is... but being personally bothered by the less-than-desirable habits of others is not.

For one to be able to clean the filth of others, in my opinion, points to some admirable characteristics of the soul.

I remember once when I returned from class and headed to the sinks to make wudhu. There I was met by, as you can imagine, the repulsive sight and stench of one sink clogged with vomit. When I returned much later, it was cleaned up, most likely by none other than one of the two sisters who I often greeted.

My respect for them is great, and I love them for the sake of Allah. In my eyes, they have hearts of gold and the way that they carried themselves is well worth reflecting upon. It's reasonable to expect that we may never meet again in this life, and I may never have the opportunity to thank them and to tell them how special I think they are. I suppose even if I did get such a chance, they wouldn't easily accept my words as true, such is their humility and bashfulness. May Allah unite us in Jannah, ameen.

I pray that one day we can be among the internally purified, and I pray that Allah blesses them and the many others like them with goodness in this world and the next. Ameen.

Written on March 19, 2009


Anonymous said...

As-salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh,
mashaAllah Farzeen, this is written beautifully, and I agree with you about the 2 sisters who clean up. MashaAllah they do have patience and probably hearts of gold. I think anyone who does this kind of work are of the ones who do need the most repsect. You made me remember a garbage man in Jordan that I used to see everyday. MashaAllah he always always had a big smile on his face, and just seeing that used to make my day. May Allah bless the ones who work sincerely for His sake. People w/ Nur shine through..mashaAllah.

Farzeen said...

Wa 'alaykum assalaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuhu ya ukhti

Thanks for stopping by and sharing that beautiful anecdote. SubhanAllah... Such beauty in people can serve as great reminders for us as we try to put things into perspective.

الله يزيدهم في الخير,آمين

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]