Most Lenasians are familiar with the figure of a tall man with a red henna dyed beard walking along the town’s roads, wrapped in a shawl, staff in hand. Let us call him Abdullah (Slave of Allah). This is the wondrous story of a great act of charity by Abdullah, himself by no means a wealthy man. More importantly, perhaps, Abdullah’s astounding act is a lesson in the importance of keeping one’s word.
A man who gives in charity and does not reveal his good deed, is indeed a person who cares more about helping other people than about what other people think of his good deeds. Our Beloved Prophet Muhammed Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, in a lengthy Narration about who would be shaded on the Day of Reckoning, said amongst those will be “a person who practices charity so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given.” (Abu Hurairah & collected in Saheeh al-Bukhari & Saheeh Muslim).
Abdullah had a sister who passed away nine years ago. He was in possession of a packet of costume jewellery which had belonged to his sister. He decided, one day in the recent past, to try and sell the plastic bangles and earrings, and other such items, and make something out of it. He says all the accessories were in a simple plastic bag, the kind one buys bread in, and he took it all to a local sweet wholesaler, where he sat outside and tried to sell the items at a mere R5 each. He narrated how he had not managed to sell even a single item and decided to call it quits.
He says the next Saturday he went to see an elderly lady he knows, to give it all away to her. She was reluctant to take it, perhaps as she being 75 years of age, was unlikely to use it. She did, in fact, protest, saying she did not want the jewellery, but Abdullah had become tired of the matter and insisted she accept it.
He said, “Take it, and if you do not want it, just give it away.”
So, she agreed. Just then, a pair of bangles caught Abdullah’s eye, for some reason. They appeared somewhat different from the rest of the jewellery. Perhaps covered by a little grime over the ages, he had not noticed anything special about them before. He pointed them out to the lady he had gifted them to, and asked her if he could have them back for a short time, to check if they had any value.
He says she gasped and asked, “What if it’s gold??!’
He replied in a loud voice, “I’ll GIVE it to you!”
Abdullah added in an aside that his late mother always told him that the tongue has thirty-two soldiers (teeth) guarding it, and yet it cannot be controlled. He had given the lady his word.
Abdullah took the two bangles to a jewellery store in the Oriental Plaza, and had them evaluated. To his astonishment, they were indeed gold. He says his sister had always told him she owned gold, but he never took note of her words as they were not a wealthy family. The jeweller, meanwhile, offered Abdullah R20 000 for the bangles. Abdullah decided to get a second opinion at a jeweller whom he knew was also both a Haafidh and an Aalim. The man told him to leave the bangles with him and return after 10 days. He left Abdullah with a scrap of paper on which he had scrawled ‘IOU R25 000’.
When Abdullah returned to the jeweller, he handed Abdullah an envelope full of cash. Abdullah found in it R31 800. Abdullah immediately had the outstanding zakaat on the jewellery calculated, and distributed. What remained was roughly R28 000. He says he could not sleep at night, because all he could think about was the verse from Surah al Faatihah: Maaliki yawmiddeen, Master of the Day of Judgement.
One cannot help but wonder, what must have gone through Abdullah’s mind for such a verse to haunt him? A man not wealthy, a man of no means... who would blame him if he was to keep the money? After all, the bangles had belonged to his sister, and he was her only heir...
Who would blame him if he were to keep half of the cash and give the lady the other half? He had no assets of his own, and besides, how would she possibly know?
Who would blame him if he were to part with R5000 and keep the bulk of the money for himself, did he not also have needs?
‘Maaliki yawm middeen’ continued to haunt Abdullah.
The following Saturday, Abdullah again paid the old lady a visit. He gifted her the entire amount the jeweller had given him for the bangles, minus the Zakaat. The old lady tried, in all modesty to refuse the money, she offered to share it with him, and eventually succumbed and accepted it all. Scarcely anybody would not.
Abdullah, meanwhile, in concluding his narration, said, “I lost nothing.”
I think we must all ask ourselves, are WE as good as our word?
Umm Muhammed Umar