Recently, I had a sister as a guest at my home. She’s someone I’ve known for a long time, but because we live on opposite ends of the Earth, I haven’t seen her since our college days! I can still remember all our crazy MSA road trips, going to ISNA or an Imam Zaid talk in CT or even just to see the leaves in Vermont. She’s someone who has always loved traveling, especially to better herself Islamically. She’s actually one of the best Muslims I’ve ever known. After she left here I started thinking about her and her pure heart. I really felt honored to host her, and felt like Allah had sent her by arranging a million different factors to all coincide. Somehow I was here, at this time and place in my life for us to meet at this exact moment. And I know Allah does not do random!
Then I wondered if perhaps everything I had right now, home, food, transport was given to me so at this one instance I could be a host for her, a traveller on the path to Fee Sabeelillah. SubhanAllah. It’s truly Allah who gives Rizq. Sometimes what we don’t realize is that the guest has already come with their Rizq. It’s not something that we give; but has already been appointed for them.
I still remember a few instances of just extreme kindness of fellow Muslims when I used to travel for work. I’d end up in some strange place like Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania or DC or Miami and not know anyone and have to go to work the whole day, then eat alone at some restaurant usually at the hotel and going to bed early, I’d flick through the channels to pass the time until I fell asleep.
Luckily, in those days all the active Muslims were networked and knew each other. And sometimes I’d email one of them and say “Oh I’m going to be in Columbus, OH for a few days, do you want to meet up?!”
And the most amazing thing happened: I met so many great Muslims! One day I was in Detroit, Michigan and this huge Buick pulled up and this tall white girl in Hijab came out. She was a recent convert on my website who went by the nickname ‘Angel’. That’s about all I knew about her! But over the next few days while I was there, she took me to Shatila which I discovered for the first time! and showed me around the University and we went to an amazing real authentic Arab student dive place. Not really sure where she is now, but last I heard she had married her Palestinian bf from college and had a baby, but I’ll never forget that memorable trip.
Another time I flew into DC for one day and a brother active in MSA insisted I come visit him and his wife. So I went and had a wonderful lunch and was about to call a taxi to go to the airport and was told NO WAY would I be allowed to! So the brother with his very heavily pregnant wife, drove like the wind all the way to the airport in his tiny dilapidated car. I still remember the back bumber of his car was tied up with a hanger, “but it’s still holding on” he said and “it still took him to all the events he had to speak at”. At the airport he actually parked and made sure I went in and that’s when I found out my flight had been cancelled! They invited me to stay but the next flight was so early and my company would pay for a hotel, so he drove me all the way to my hotel and said Salam. An hour later the front desk called up and said someone was there for me. So I went down and he had dropped off some Halal yummy Afghani food from a place down there so I’d have something to eat for dinner!
I mean… what can you say about people like that. Seriously, again I rethink the past and wonder if the purpose of that job and that traveling was to meet these people and be inspired by them, and not have anything to actually do with the job!
One time I went to Miami and met a sister I barely knew. She insisted I live at her house with her family until I was done working there! So I stayed 3 or 4 days at her house, doing my job and in the evenings we’d go out or they’d have a dinner party for me at her house.
I can’t even talk about the generosity that lives in the hearts of Arabs in Shaam and Egypt for foreigners, who they consider their guests. That is above and beyond even writing about here and has no comparison.
I can’t forget these small kindnesses when I was in a strange town or place, lonely and working. I remember the beginning of the end was when one day late at night I was just sitting in my hotel room watching the snow fall under a street lamp in the parking lot, thinking, realizing how lonely and difficult traveling really was. I had just talked to my family on my “cell phone”(no one had these yet!) It had seemed like such an exciting lifestyle, traveling to a different city each week, getting (very well) paid, having a cool laptop and new cell phone. But I just couldn’t do it any more.
And now all I remember from those years is the loneliness and those small acts of kindness.
Hast thou observed him who belieth religion?
That is he who repelleth the orphan,
And urgeth not the feeding of the needy.
Ah, woe unto worshippers
Who are heedless of their prayer;
Who would be seen (at worship)
Yet refuse small kindnesses!