September 13, 2015
When I went to maghrib prayer I decided to go up and pray on the roof. I was running a bit behind for [congregational prayer], and didn’t want to go through the crowd inside—and the courtyard was blocked in certain areas—so I decided to go up, knowing fewer people would be there. On the way up, I passed by a brother who said salams. Then he gestured that he needed help. He had his sandles in one hand and was trying to open the plastic bag they give you to put your footwear in, while also holding a tablet. He had a friendly, thankful smile. I tried to open the bag, but it was a dud (I got a few myself, [where] the plastic just does not open). I took the plastic bag I had on my sandles and gave it to him. He looked so thankful. We walked out on the roof together. He pointed at his tablet and mimicked taking a picture. [He gave me his tablet] and I pulled [it] out [of its case] and took a few pictures of him on the roof. Then he pointed at me, then him, then towards one of the custodians. I quickly knew that he wanted to take a picture with me. We gave the tablet to a custodian and got our picture taken together. We repeated the same process with my camera. We didn’t speak. The only full conversation we had was this:
Him: “Egypt. JazakAllah khair. (May God reward you)”
Me: “Waiekum. (And you as well)”
And then we parted with a smile.
The city is full of these small gestures. Whether it’s a simple “salam alaikum”, sharing your prayer rug with the brother beside you, giving an orange to a poor child, or buying a brother you just met some tea.
And we are told, “Any good you do, God is fully aware thereof.”
In Medina, it’s easy to do good deeds. There are opportunities all around you. More importantly, though, there is a mutual understanding as to why people treat each other with kindness. We are all in the Prophet’s (p) city, and any good deed we do in Medina is multiplie, so the wisest people take full advantage of this while they stay there. Whatever good deed we do is to earn the reward from God.
It’s a feeling that’s hard to bring home with you.
In Canada, sometimes it’s hard to do a simple good deed. You’re afraid how people will react, what they will think. Maybe it’s as small as picking up garbage on the sidewalk, or even just saying good morning to someone. Perhaps they find your kindness suspicious, as if you’re expecting something from them. But that exact same struggle is what makes it more precious.
In my exchange with the brother, we were able to communicate through small gestures—imitating a camera, or pointing at me then at himself, indicating he wanted a picture with me. We only understood many two or three words in each others’ sentences. But kindness is a universal language that extends beyond all boundaries.