It was a pretty typical day. I had a bunch of things on my to-do list and managed to cross all of it off, Alhamdulillah; I had my day structured out well since I wanted to finish everything possible before I had to go to the kids. My day ends when I leave because once I come back, it’s a whirlwind until bedtime!
I’ve taken to walking there recently. It gives me a chance to enjoy the weather while getting a bit of exercise in, although there are times when I’m late and my leg muscles are protesting that I wonder if I shouldn’t have taken the bus instead! (By the way, when I’m late, I prefer walking. It gets me there faster than waiting for the bus..! I’m an impatient sort of person when it comes to getting places.) Anyway, so I walk there as quick as possible since I wanted to be on time. Only a little bit out of breath when I ring the doorbell, I find out that they have all gone out. When this happens, she normally lets me know in advance to save me the trouble, but today has not been such. I called her to confirm and found out I should be heading back home.
My state of mind then was as follows:
Mild irritation at having walked all the way; however I am a believer in qadr and so I figured there was some purpose behind it. I also realized it is so much easier to get more annoyed at family for less offenses than it is to get annoyed at an acquaintance. Go figure! I stopped over at a clothing store to browse – something I’ve wanted to do every time I pass the place but never have the time to. I figured today I was given that time! Instead of looking for clothes I could purchase though, I was looking at the insides of the clothes that I had similar designs of in my head, so that I could see how it was made. I guess I really am in this sewing zone!
As I continued on home, I formed the rest of the day in my head – what I would do with this extra free time that I was gifted so generously. In contemplating between working and relaxing, I picked the latter because I felt I deserved it. Satisfied with that – mental planning always makes me happy – I was waiting to reach home when a lady stopped me just three minutes before I could.
And they planned, and Allah planned. And Allah is the best of planners. (3:54)
It was a stranger looking for the bathroom – a public one – and I have no idea where they have those! The closest outlets were stores, not restaurants or a mall and I puzzled over this moral dilemma before inviting her home to use the washroom.
Now, this is not normal behavior for me. I had no idea what my mother would say to me bringing home a stranger, who could very well be a serial killer. (If I was to have an imagination, it would have to be the exaggerated sort). Why then did I do it?
I guess I wanted to be a Muslim. We hear so much about Western hospitality and how Muslims should behave like that and I wanted her to have a good impression of us – that we are normal, nice, helpful people just like everyone else, rather than a stereotype that everyone assumes we are. There are many opportunities to showcase this – not for the reason of showing off, but to show the world what a Muslim is truly supposed to be like. This, for me, stems from a post I read by a Muslim in America who decided to make food baskets for her neighbors before Ramadan – something I might have mentioned before – and the response she received where her neighbor said they didn’t believe the image the media portrayed about Muslims, she knew it wasn’t right because they “actually knew Muslims”. And that struck me deep. It made me realise that we stereotype others for stereotyping us, while what we can be doing is really changing the image we have by simply being true Muslims.
This lovely old lady from New Zealand ended up staying for more than an hour, and meeting the whole family as they walked through the door one by one after their long day, their faces a portrait of surprise at finding a stranger there. It was refreshing to talk to someone who knows nothing about us about different issues, and to show her what Islamic hospitality is like. We didn’t actually talk religion until she brought up the topic. She said she didn’t know what made her talk to me because she normally would not have approached someone in “the whole attire”, and so we attempted to explain why we dressed in such a way.
It was interesting to see the kind of details that are shared between strangers, things that you would not tell normal acquaintances. We exchanged email addresses, she extended an invitation to be our tour guide, should we ever decide to visit New Zealand, and she parted, leaving behind a feeling of warmth and friendship that has been strung in an unplanned moment.
My ward called me in the middle of that meeting, to apologise for the inconvenience, truly sorry for the lack of communication, but all I was at that point was amazed at Allah’s planning. If I was where I was supposed to be then, I would not have met her. If I had been pre-informed that they wouldn’t be at home, I wouldn’t even have left the house. If I hadn’t stopped at that clothing store on the way, I would have missed her by about 20 minutes. SubhanAllah! Every single step of ours is planned, if we only understood the depth of that. We say we believe in His decree and sometimes we actually mean it, but even so, there are moments that can still blow my mind away at His amazing coordination of events that we shall never truly understand.