In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.
Practise forgiveness, command decency
and avoid ignorant people. (Araf 7: 199)
SINCE the closure of ‘Hentian’ Puduraya (bus station) in March last year for upgrading and renovations work, I have not been there since; and one thing I miss is the time I spent speaking to beggars there, especially those begging on the roofed pavements stretching from the bus terminal to the Plaza Rakyat light rail train (LRT) station.
It was there, when I would be on my way to and from work that I got to know a few beggars with interesting characters. One of them was a blind man who used to sell packets of tissue paper. While observing the man who from his looks I thought was a Chinese, ‘at work’, I noticed he had a habit of throwing away small coins from his plastic container which passerby had dropped into.
After several days of witnessing the beggar's mysterious habit, one day I pulled up enough courage to approach him and asked the reason for his action. He told me small coins were ‘suey’ (could bring bad luck) so he had no choice but throw them away.
I told him that in Islam there was no such thing as ‘suey’ as every single thing given by the Almighty should be received with open arms. Even with half of a date one could make charity as there is a hadith (saying of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) about it. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "Save yourself from hellfire by giving even half a date-fruit in charity." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 498)
In another hadith Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “O Allah, grant me life as a poor man, cause me to die as a poor man and resurrect me in the company of the poor.” His wife asked him why he said that, and he replied: “Because (the poor) will enter Paradise (before) the rich. Do not turn away a poor man even if all you can give is half a date. If you love the poor and bring them near you, Allah will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection." (Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1376)
The beggar seemed to be interested in my ‘khutbah’ (sermon) and after several ‘acquaintances’, I got to know him better and better each day; the days changing to weeks, month and years. Almost every day while going to work, I would spend a few minutes with my new found friend, Ricky. I was glad Ricky’s bad habit of throwing small coins had stopped.
I started telling Ricky about Islam; the six pillars (Rukun Iman) of Islam. I teach him the declaration of faith (kalimah shahadah), ash-hadu-al-laa-ilaa-ha-il-lallaah, wa ash-ha-du an-na mu-Ham-ma-dar ra-suu-lul-laah (I bear witness that there is no god except Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah). Then I told him the other four principles of Islam that are prayers, fasting, ‘zakat’ (tithe) and hajj.
For weeks, I took pains teaching him to recite Surah Al-Fatihah (The Opening) which I told him it is a must if one is to say his ‘solat’ (prayers). It was difficult and at times I told him to go to ‘Pejabat Agama’ (Religious Office)’ or Perkim office (an association for Muslims convert) to ask for assistance. Ricky nodded but I knew he did not make any effort to seek help.
Ricky seemed to be interested in his ‘business.’ He told me he collected about RM600 a month, an amount which he said was not enough to pay for his room rent, transportation, food and every day necessities. Once or twice a month, he went to Singapore with some friends; the prospect of earning more money by selling packets of tissue paper there was better than in Kuala Lumpur.
Ricky surprised me when he said in Singapore he stayed in a budget hotel room which was shared with some friends. I laughed; the thought of a beggar renting a hotel room had never crossed my mind. A hotel room in Singapore was expensive; once while in the city state I put up a night at an economy hotel with a room costing me S$80!
After interacting with him for years, I sensed Ricky was lonely. He told me he needed a woman in his life; but he queried as to who would want to marry a blind man like him; who had no steady income. Again he surprised me; saying he liked girls and then suggested that I was very lucky because I had my sight which unabled me to see beautiful and sexy girls.
“Ricky, Ricky, Ricky,” I said to the 50 plus old man; “Please be thankful and patience to all that Allah has given to us. As a blind man you are one up compared to me; you are free from sins of the eyes, but for me, my eyes see ‘haram’ (forbidden) things that could made my life miserable in the Hereafter. To Allah SWT I beg forgiveness.”
Poor Ricky was blind, but I was not. My ‘very own eyes’ are one of the uncountable blessings that Allah SWT has given me. But for almost half a century now, what have I done with my eyes? Were there more good things seen as compared to the bad? I remember this story about His blessing including the eyes sent by my friend in Kuwait who obtained it in the book ‘Tambihul Ghafileen’ written by Shaikh Abul Laith Samarkandi.
Subject: 500 Years of Worship
Angel Jibrail (a.s.) told Rasulullah (pbuh) the following incident about a man in the past who worshipped Allah Ta'ala continuously for 500 years. He was granted a shelter on top of a mountain that was surrounded by salty water. However, Allah caused a stream of sweet water to flow through the mountain for that individual. The man would drink from this water and use it to make ablution. Allah Ta'ala also raised a pomegranate tree from which the man would eat one fruit every day.
One day, this person supplicated to Allah that, "Oh Allah, bring my death while I am in the state of prostration." Allah accepted this dua of his. Whenever Jibrail (a.s.) came down to the Earth, he found this man prostrating to Allah.
Jibrail (a.s.) said that on the day of Judgement, Allah will tell the angels to take this individual to Paradise through His mercy. However, this man will insist that he should enter paradise through the good deeds that he had performed.
Then, Allah will tell the angels to compare his good deeds with the blessings that were given to him in the world. It will be seen that 500 years of his worship does not even equal to the GIFT OF EYE SIGHT that was given to him by Allah. The angels will be asked to take him towards the hell fire. Then the man will plead, "Oh Allah! Enter me into Paradise only through Your mercy." At that point, the following discussion will take place between Allah and that man.
Allah: Oh my servant, who created you?
The worshipper: Oh Allah, You have created me.
Allah: Were you created because of the good deeds you have done or because of My mercy?
The worshipper: Because of Your mercy.
Allah: Who granted you the ability to worship for 500 years?
The worshipper: Oh the Almighty! You have granted me that ability.
Allah: Who placed you on the mountain surrounded by the ocean? Who caused a stream of sweet water to flow in between the salty water? Who caused a pomegranate tree to grow for you? Who granted you death while in the state of prostration?
The worshipper: Oh the Sustainer of the Worlds! You have done all of these.
Then Allah will say, "All these have happened due to My mercy and you too will enter Paradise only through My Mercy."
We can never thank Allah for the blessings that He has given us. Let us use these blessings including our eyes to recognize Allah before our death.
It was almost a year now (Puduraya was closed March 2010) when I last met Ricky. I missed him and eager to meet him again; but only Allah SWT holds the future.
Once my teenage daughter questioned me on why my stock of packets of tissue paper were never being replaced; to which I silently told her that ‘the supplies’ from a man named Ricky had stopped!