On this ninth day of Ramadan, I’d like to ask myself whether I treat others around me the way I want to be treated, and reflect upon a very popular hadith:
“None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself” – (narrated by al Bukhari and Muslim)
I love this simple yet beautiful hadith. I think the lesson behind it is quite deep and applicable in many areas of our lives.
Because one act of treating others can impact many things just like what happened to me many years ago.
When I just moved to the UK and had my first baby, I went to the mother and baby group at my local mosque. As a newcomer in the area and in the group, I didn’t know anybody at all. And being an introvert didn’t help me to proactively interact with others. I was just shy and feeling awkward. On top of that, looking back, I was actually having ‘extended’ baby-blues at the time. Mentally I was a bit down. Although I was not diagnosed properly, in hindsight, I think I might have had postnatal depression then.
Anyway, as I was sitting with my baby in the corner, and busying myself with him, I looked at other moms. Not only they seemed experienced moms — as their kids were older than my 4 month-old baby — they also knew each other. This just left me being the only one who didn’t know anybody in the room. Everybody seemed busy chatting away with each other. No one seemed could see me. Maybe I was invisible.
About fifteen minutes later, I was so uncomfortably feeling left out that I decided to quickly feed my baby and leave the place.
But when I was feeding my baby, a lady came to me. She said salaam and asked me how I was doing. She also noted the fact that I was a newcomer in the group. And when she learned that I came to the place on foot, she offered me a lift. I felt that she was genuinely being nice to me and not just trying to make a conversation. Because she literally looked out for me during the rest of the group session. And when the session ended and everybody tried to get ready to leave the place, she made sure I’ve got everything with me. She helped me get ready with my baby and his pram, and she sent me to the door to make sure I could exit with the pram in ease. She was very nice.
From feeling left out and wanting to leave the group, I became feeling welcome and comfortable to stay until the end of the session. Also, her being nice made me come back to the group again and again in the following weeks and beyond — whenever I could.
Although it did take me a while to get to know all other members of the group — thanks to my being introvert — this nice lady had kept me coming back to the group and hang on to every group session. Alhamdulillah, she and I have become friends until now, for more than thirteen years.
SubhanAllah, when I think back to that very first day of going to the group, I feel so grateful for being treated nicely by this lady, my friend.
Because of her act of kindness in treating me nicely and friendly, she uplifted my mood and boosted my confidence. She encouraged me to go out and attend the group more often. Her way of treating me — a newcomer at the time — gave me a weekly schedule to go to the group. This could be one of the things that helped me through my baby-blues. Because not only I had an activity to look forward to, I was making friends as well.
Only Allah knows. But I’m grateful nevertheless.
So why am I sharing this story with you?
Because I’m hoping this can be a reminder for me and many to always treat others nicely, just like we want to be treated nicely too.
We don’t know what the person sitting next to us is going through in her life. Perhaps a little kindness, a smile, and a small talk can help her smile too. We’ll never know if her smile can give her confidence that her life is still intact, and that there are good people who can appreciate her and know that she exists.
Because I’m hoping that every time we see someone, we can stop for a second to think what treatment we would like to get IF we were in that someone’s shoe.
Would we like to be ignored and be left out? Or would we prefer a friendly smile and a chat? Surely we won’t want a rudely ignoring attitude from others, will we?
And when we think that perhaps a salaam is good enough, what kind of salaam is good enough? Is it a briskly and carelessly said salaam just to tick the box of practicing a sunnah? Or, would we like a genuine salaam that said from the heart as a truthful well-wishing?
In a broader sense, I’m hoping to remind us all to practice this hadith in making our decision that can affect others. For example, when we drive, do we do it sensibly that we don’t cause fear and danger to others? Or, during the panic buying time that happened recently, did we stockpile our food supply sensibly by leaving some for others to get? And when we tried to follow the government’s instruction on social distancing, did we really think of others’ well-being that we took all the precautions and the guidelines?
There are many situations where we can, we should, and we must apply this hadith. I pray that all of us will be able to do it. So that one day this world can be a lot better place as we, mankind, treat each other fairly and nicely. Ameen Allahumma Ameen.
Devy Dar, a blogger who owns and writes Thousands Of Miles Away, a lifestyle blog for women who relocated to a foreign land. Her topics revolve around self-improvement, motherhood, pregnancy, and life with kids.