Her gentle soul was taken back to its Creator at 95 years, surrounded by her children and loved ones.
Alhamdulillah for a beautiful end to long positive life.
Indeed she was a gentle soul, yet a strong exemplary woman. Strong, not because she engaged in physical fights or power sports.
Rather, her legacy and super power was kindness. She weathered through different life situations without ever losing her touch of kindness.
Everyone remembered her for her kind manners and gentleness; even during the prime of her youth.
Do you ever think much about kindness, especially in today’s trendy and ever changing world?
It may seem more trendy to…
Ridicule one another;
Make negative assumptions;
Insult and lash out on social media;
Use harsh negative words and language;
Condemn and complain instead of making excuses for others;
Bully, be bossy, troll or spew hate especially from behind the screen;
Name and shame, judge and begrudge, hate and hurt people as a way of life.
Best part (not!)… there are fancy names and hash tags for them all.
So, sadly you can choose harshness and still be trending – with more likes, follows and popularity for you.
Kindness as Charity
Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Every act of kindness is a Sadaqa (charity)” (Bukhari, Muslim)
This means you should consider kindness as charity. Seems easy but it really isn’t an easy act to engage in – because it involves your ego, desires, sense of self… unlike giving out an extra clothing you never really used from your closet or donating the change from your shopping.
Kindness comes from within – it requires an inner will; it involves subconscious thought first – intention, then action to go along.
A deliberate act of kindness comes from deliberate intention.
Kindness in Ramadan
It is so easy to forget that Ramadan isn’t only about refraining from food and drink, but also having a level of self control and managing your behaviour in general. Watching what you say, controlling tempers and mouth etc. If anything, you should keep your mouth and words purer in Ramadan. If you are able to invest and get working on this character upgrade during the blessed month then in shaa Allah you should be able to continue beyond the month.
As we strive to gather good deeds in Ramadan, we engage in voluntary worship acts and touch up with good deeds and righteous behaviour. It’s not about random or ritual acts alone.
The prophet (saw) said: ”Whoever does not give up false speech and acting upon it, and ignorance, Allah has no need of him giving up his food and drink.” (Sahih Bukhari)
What did I learn from Grandma?
She seemed to have an ingrained habit of kindness and a personality filled with kind thoughts, words and actions. She was a guru of kindness.
And even though grandparents are an epitome of kindness – its only expected that a grandchild would remember the grandparents through a lens of kindness – hers was on a different level, even her contemporaries and enemies (if ever) would agree she was a kind person.
Hajiya Hadiza (my maternal grandmother and last of my grandparents) passed away in Rajab – while we were counting down to the blessed month of Ramadan. Such was the beautiful inheritance she left behind, to be carried forth and used in the month of charity.
Kindness beyond Ramadan – 5 enduring lessons
1. Be kind to yourself
Grandma, although a simple and minimalistic person, would give herself a treat from time to time.
She was known to be assertive on such occasions. So, although she dished out kindness to
everyone who crossed her path, she didn’t forget herself. When you are kind to yourself, you lead a happier, more fulfilling and engaging life and can spread more happiness and positivity to others.
Don’t forget yourself, in and out of Ramadan – your body, mind and soul are an Amanah (trust), don’t neglect them. Be kind to yourself always.
Kindness begins with kindness to yourself and then to others.
He who is deprived of kindness is deprived of goodness. (Sahih Muslim, Sahih)
2. Choose kindness as a way of life
Hajiya Hadiza became known for her unwavering kindness. Although she had the choice of being bossy, a bully or dictator in many circumstances as a leader in her home; she chose kindness.
And even in her final years while bedridden, she was kind and considerate towards her carers and always showed concern for their needs over her own. With one kind act at a time, you can build an enduring habit of kindness. Use each day in Ramadan as a stepping stone to build your kindness DNA.
Start by doing one small act of kindness each day.
Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
Harshness is not found in anything except that it disgraces it. Verily, Allah is kind and He loves kindness. (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, Hasan)
3. Use kind words; be polite and approachable
She was known for her sense of humour and would turn around a tense and uncomfortable situation into a laughable moment – for example referring to those younger than her as her seniors.
Or once I asked her to borrow me some money; and she thought me a financial lesson, saying
”lend me is different from gift me” (I was a teen in Uni but respected that sincerity and discipline and it is a policy I’ve held onto today as an adult running various businesses and projects).
My memories of her are of speaking mildly and choosing her words carefully. When you choose your words carefully, you gain more respect ultimately than one who is annoyingly loud and spews harsh or hate words at the slightest opportunity.
Whether you are giving or withholding, mind your words; they can be charity.
Ibn Mas’ud reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
Shall I not tell you for whom the Hellfire is forbidden? It is every person accessible, polite, and mild. (Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Hasan)
4. Forgive and overlook
As its popularly said: ”Do unto to others as you wish to be done unto.”
This may sound like an over beaten cliché, but it is so easy to judge others, nurse expectations, get angry, feel disappointed by actions of people; and not feel same about our own actions and behaviour.
Grandma was one known to welcome all the weak and oppressed people into her personal space. Her lenses clearly had no mighty expectations pinned on others. She was welcoming and overlooked easily. She did her thing and let others do there’s.
“Serve Allah and associate none with Him. Show kindness to parents, relatives, orphans, the needy, the neighboring kinsman and the neighbors who are not of your kind, the companion, the traveller in need, and to the slaves you own…” (Suara An-Nisa, 4:36)
5. Be humble and helpful
Seek to bring benefit to others; don’t become known as an oppressor or arrogant person.
In her younger days, she didn’t mind shopping errands and would tirelessly run errands in a large family setting. People would make requests knowing she won’t refuse. Even with the opportunity to travel to many parts of the world and enjoy certain benefits, it never changed her – the humility and kindness remained.
Woe to those who pray, who are heedless of their prayer, who pray to be seen and withhold small acts of kindness. (Surah Al-Ma’un, 107:4-7)
We all need more kindness
I cannot say for sure how many verses Grandma memorised of the Qur’an or if she ever learned Arabic – language of the Qur’an. What I can testify to is her kindness, a virtue that isn’t easy to come by especially in today’s world.
She sprinkled it generously on everyone who came her way. She was an embodiment of several verses of the Qur’an and sayings of the hadith. She walked the footsteps of our beloved Rasul (saw) who was named as kind and merciful.
Allah has named the Prophet as kind and merciful. (Sahih Muslim, Sahih)
May Allah have mercy on the soul of our Grandma and sister-in-deen, Hajiya Hadiza Muhammad.
May we all live kinder, more fulfilling lives and leave a legacy of good, noble character just like the Rasul (saw). For surely, our world needs more enduring kindness and good character – not just more money, power, ammunition, property, popularity, travel destinations or the next blingy project.
Try to be kinder each day – be your own competition.
You may be in the midst of people with different character, but you have the choice to carve your own path.
May Allah reward you with multiple good as you choose kindness as charity this Ramadan, and beyond. May we exemplify kindness in our lives, for it is charity – rewarding and a superior way of life.
Over to you – In what ways will you be embracing kindness as a way of life?
Amina Edota is a writer, educator and entrepreneur. She is the chief mentor at YouthlyHub.com and author of The Savvy Muslim Youth Manifesto, a smart manual for Muslim youth. Amina is on a mission to inspire, mentor and train young Muslims, their families and schools with relevant skills needed to live as an ambassador of Islam in today’s world.