It was on Thursday morning as I prepared to go to school, I noticed that my neighbour, Maryam*, was cleaning the compound. I was amazed, and I soliloquised ‘What kind of spirit has overcome Maryam today?’. The state government had set aside a few hours on the morning of the last Saturday of every month for general sanitation of individual homes and the environment. During this period, nobody must be found loitering on the streets as everybody is expected to be actively involved in the sanitation process. Maryam, however, would not come out of her room to join the neighbours during the cleaning exercise. The neighbours are already used to her lackadaisical attitude to cleaning the compound and do not bother to call her for sanitation. So, it was quite a surprise that morning when everyone saw Maryam sweeping the compound. She also cleaned the drainage and made sure that everywhere was sparklingly clean. Nobody could ask Maryam what happened as we were all minding our own business as we prepared for the day’s chores. However, I assumed that perhaps, she had seen an angel in her dream, hence her change of heart.
When I came back from school in the evening, I noticed that it was not just the compound that Maryam had cleaned, but she had also given her apartment a complete make-over. Naturally, I became curious as to what the reason for the sudden change could be. However, I was not to be kept in suspense for long, for she came to my apartment to collect some materials and then told me what the whole exercise was all about.
According to her, she was expecting some visitors who would be coming to spend the weekend with her, and since they are her family friends, she would like to impress them. That was why she had cleaned everywhere in anticipation of their arrival. Also, she had stocked her refrigerator with assorted drinks and filled her cupboard with enough foodstuff to last for a month; she wanted them to have a wonderful weekend with her. I shared Maryam’s enthusiasm about her guests’ arrival and prayed for their safe arrival.
Later in the evening, after I had taken my meal and said my prayers, my mind flashed back to the events of the day and I could not help but ask myself – Why not Allah (SWT)?
Often, I see people refurbishing their apartments, stocking their refrigerators and filling their kitchens, all in a bid to please their visitors and get their approval. I then wonder why we do not put in the same level of preparation, if not more, to the arrival of the sure guest – death, and the eventual meeting with our Lord!
This is not to say that we should not make preparations in expectation of a visitor or that we should not treat our guests well, for it is a well known fact that our role model, Prophet Muhammad (SAW), used to honour guests and even enjoined us to do the same. He was reported to have said: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day let him honour his guest” (Bukhari and Muslim). However, it would be beneficial to us in this life and the hereafter, if we keep up preparations not only for our visitors, but also for the angel of death that is certain to come and visit us one day, as well as Allah (SWT), to whom our return is sure.
Some people go as far as borrowing money in order to please a guest; this is not a crime in itself, but it could become disastrous if one becomes unnecessarily extravagant just to please a guest. It would be uncalled for if one prepares a meal he cannot afford for a guest and is then neck-deep in debt after the departure of the guest. The Prophet (SAW) would sometimes welcome his guests and entertain them with dates and water, while at other times, he would order that a lamb be slaughtered and a sumptuous meal would be prepared. It all depended on his capability at the time.
It is also not uncommon in this society of ours to see people going for an outing dressed extravagantly. This is especially common among women. In a bid to impress others at the function, people would go to the extent of borrowing things to wear such as shoes, bag, jewellery and clothes. Someone informed me of an incident that happened in her neighbourhood where a woman was publicly disgraced because she borrowed a gold earring to wear to a party, the earring accidentally got lost, and because it was so expensive, she could not afford to replace it!
I then imagine, if only we put the same vigour and enthusiasm into making sure that we impress Allah (SWT). If only we cared so much about whether Allah (SWT) approves of us just like we are concerned about knowing if people approve of us. We seem to forget that Allah (SWT) cares more about what is in our hearts.
And disgrace me not on the Day of Resurrection. The Day when wealth or children will be of no benefit except him who brings to Allah a pure heart… (Ash- Shu’ara:87-89).
Why don’t we prepare for the arrival of Malakul Maut (the angel of death) the way we prepare for the coming of our guests? Why don’t we sanitise our hearts the way we sanitise our environments due to government instructions? Why don’t we dress our souls with virtue the way we dress our bodies in order to gain people’s approval? Why don’t we care about what Allah (SWT) thinks of us as much as we care about what our friends, relatives and neighbours think of us? Why not Allah?
*Not real name.
Haleemah Oladamade Ahmad is a young, budding writer who loves to pour her thoughts into her pen. Her observation of the attitude of Muslims to Islam inspired her to write this series. She can be contacted via email on firstname.lastname@example.org