Polished Virtues

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

It's late, but sleep escapes me as memories, sentiments, and flavours of lovely times gone past remain active on my cerebral palate. I can hardly contain a smile. Unlike my time in Yemen - Allahumma farij 'alayhim wa 'ala jami' al muslimeen, ameen ya Kareem - I did not record events in a journal. I carry my memories in heart and mind, but little good will it do to recollect them here or at all for that matter.

Instead, I shall try to let the favourable sentiments diffuse into something more palatable for anyone who may dare have a read .

It seems that some have sweeping ideas of what "Arabs" do or how they are as a people. I can't say I know much more about the way of Arabs, in general, than any other people, but I will say that it's especially ignorant to apply stereotypes of a whole ethnic group that spans the Arabian peninsula, the Levant, and North Africa. This absurdity is ever-more obvious when I recall nationals speaking about differences they have with their fellow countrymen.

Nonetheless, from my minimal exposure, I can say that many of the Arabs whom I've had personal interactions with overseas share the common virtue of karam - generosity and hospitality. It's a virtue that the world so desperately needs now, especially those of us living in metropolitan cities in the West.

Related by Al Bukhari and Muslim:

On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
"Let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day speak good or keep silent; and let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day be generous to his neighbour; and let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day be generous to his guest."
It sounds straightforward enough, but at the heart of it is that these acts are directly related to our belief, our iman.

Perhaps these three themes of choosing silence over ill speech, honouring our neighbours, and honouring our guests are part of the solution to our spiritual dysfunction. As our teachers advise, "fake it until you make it."

As a reference point, I shall mention the incident in which I went to drop something off at friend's home. Despite my excuses for not being able to stay, she insisted that I take a fruit or canned drink. 

Then there's the incident when I went to the airport trying to get a seat on a plane to the remote city that I lived in. There, I bumped into my friend/co-worker/neighbour's husband who took it upon himself to ensure my easy journey by bus to the main bus station that we were both headed towards. He paid for my bus ticket, carried my bag as we crossed the street, pointed out the restaurant at the station, asked if I needed any money, and then went on his way. Shortly thereafter, another friend/co-worker/neighbour came to the bus station. When we finally boarded the bus, we sat beside each other, and I held her sick baby who slept in my arms for the duration of the 6+ hour ride. She told her brother to pay for my bus ticket, but I told her I'd pay. "عيب يا فرزين" she said and then she went on to explain that it's common in Egypt for neighbours to pay for each other's bus tickets. So I told her, "well I'm your neighbour, let me pay." She would hear nothing of it. The bus ride was followed by another 2 hour ferry ride. Suffice to say, we arrived home two hours after sunset. Shortly after settling in, my doorbell rang and standing at the door was my friend's daughter holding a hot dish of rice and half a grilled chicken ordered from a nearby restaurant. I'm still speechless. I pray that I meet them all again inshaAllah. May Allah increase them all and grant them all the best of this world and the next, ameen!

While these memories continue to touch my heart, I ask myself: What of us? What of me? Beautiful manners make for beautiful people.

1 comment:

Amer said...



"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]