Active Agents of Good

Beautiful advice from Imam Zaid Shakir :
Know that Almighty God is in control of the affairs of the creation and has promised good to the people of goodness. Therefore, do not allow the climate of hatred being fostered by some to cause you to despair. Your love and mercy are greater than their hatred.  Also, know that if you are an active agent of good you will see unexpected positive consequences result from your actions. 
God mentions in the Qur’an,
“Good and evil are not equal. Respond to evil with what is best. Unexpectedly, you will see one between whom you and him was great enmity become like an intimate friend. This is only realized by those who patiently persevere; this is only realized by one possessing a lofty spiritual station (41:34-35).”
I have often been told that I am too sympathetic with people.  I feel a need to give anything people may ask of me, because I know all too well what it means to be in need and I don’t wish that struggle on anyone, not even those who have been against or hurt me.  A friend of mine once joked that if someone came to me naked, I would give them shirt off of my own back.  When I see kids dancing on the subway for money, or the guy who gives away peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for anyone who is hungry, I always give whatever few dollars i have in my pocket, even though I too may not have more than that at the moment.  But at least I know –or at least have hope–that more will come, Inshallah.
Last year, I had a couple renting a room in my flat.  The woman was pregnant and her husband, whom she said was suffering from depression, just decided one day that he did not want to work.  So all he did all day was sleep, drink, hang out at the coffee playing cards and watch television.  When the following month came, they could not pay their rent on time… And the month after that, not at all.   This was an incredibly stressful period for me because financially, I could barely manage to support– in addition to my son and myself — two grown adults, twice my age.  I tried to find him jobs, but no avail, he just had no interest in working.  Months went by and it came to the point where I just could not handle it any longer.  My son needed a new pair of shoes and I could hardly afford to buy them, even though I was working 12 hour days, 6 days a week.
My friends, neighbors and even my landlord got involved in the situation… All of the asking me why I hadn’t kicked them out months ago and all offering to do it for me know by force.  The problem however was not that I felt sorry for the husband who refused to work and support his family, but for the woman and her soon to be born child– who was of no fault in this situation.  Her predicament was a little too familiar for me to brush off.
Seven years ago, when I was pregnant with my son, my ex, who never wanted kids, tried to force me into having an abortion.  When I refused to go to the clinic, he tried to physically inflict one on me with the help of his brother.  I still thank god everyday I look upon my son’s beautiful face because it is by his grace alone that that misguided man was not successful and I was able to bring him into this world.  After that, having no where to go, being thousands of miles away from my family, with no money of my own and nothing but the clothes on my back, I experienced what it is like to truly have nothing or no one to turn to. During this time, my family had no idea what was going on because I couldnt even bring myself to call them to say hello because I knew my mother would ask how I was doing and I didn’t want to have to lie to her and tell her I was doing fine.  I felt so stupid, so ashamed and loathed myself for the mess I had gotten myself into.  Never the type of person to ask help from anyone, I didnt.
I lived like that for about 2 months, sleeping in random places… walking several miles to work each morning… arriving an hour early to change so no one would notice I was wearing the same clothes as the day before… and the only food I ate was what I had while I was there.  Eventually, an older woman I worked with figured it out. She didn’t ask me any questions, she just stopped me one day when I was about to leave after my shift and told  me that she was coming to pick me up the next morning and asked where she would be able to find me.
I stayed with her in a tiny apartment for about 3 months. During that time, she took care of me and made sure my health was in order.  She was tough with me when i needed it and gave me a shoulder to cry on when I needed that too.  And the most important thing that she taught me was to have respect for myself, and that I was not to blame for the actions of my ex no matter how much he tried to tell me I was.  It was because of her that I was able to finally stand on my own two feet and get my life back in order. I saved enough money working to get my own apartment and was able to eventually hire a lawyer to start petitioning for support.
Not a day passes that I don’t thank God for bringing that woman into my life, and I pray that Allah will always keep her and bless her with happiness and comfort in this Dunya and she will see Jannah in the next.
As for the couple living in my flat, they eventually moved out.  I found them a temporary place to stay with another family nearby and a month after that they moved back to Morocco, where they have family, a house and proper jobs, which I think was for the best.  Do I think that they took advantage of me for months? Yes.  Do I regret my decision to let them continue to stay? No. Simply because I often wonder if I had not been give that small kindness, what would I have went through instead and what would my life be like today? The act of one person made such a profound difference in my life, so if I am capable of doing something for someone, how can I refuse, even if I can’t see the difference it makes if any?
I am just thankful for what I have been given and the things that I have achieved by his grace in this dunya.  I pray that i never forget that what the Lord giveth, he may also take away at any moment.

O Allah, master of the kingdom. You give kingdom to whomsoever You like and take away the kingdom from whosoever You like. You exalt whomsoever you like and abases whomsoever You like; in Your hand is the good; verily You have the power over all things. You cause the night to pass into the day, and You cause the day to pass into the night; You bring forth the living from the dead, and You bring forth the dead from the living, and You give sustenance to whom You like, without measure.

 The problem, however, with many people today is that they see kindness as a form of weakness and an opportunity to take advantage. Since when has selfishness and lack of empathy become a virtue?  If we do not help others in their times of need — how can we for one second think that we are deserving of God’s aid and mercy in our own times of need? Astaghfirullah.
Have faith in God and His promise and never despair. Good is more powerful than evil; do all in your power to ensure that you are a force for good in the world. Patience is a great virtue; patiently persevere in doing all of the good things you are currently doing and God will bless you in many wonderful ways.
-Wael Abdel Gawad
May Peace and The Compassion and Blesssings of God Be Upon Us All.
– Shams Al-Ghayeb

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