Eternal Success Syllabus

An everlasting gift

Sumayyah’s hands were tired. She had been crocheting a bookmark for her friend and found herself determined to keep going till she had finished. She stretched her fingers and looked down at her hard work. The pink and purple loops were tightly weaved together in a long rectangle. She imagined the joy on her friend’s face when she received the gift and ran to get some wrapping paper and ribbon so it would be even more beautiful and exciting for her.

She carefully wrapped it and tied the ribbon around it. It took her a few tries to get the bow right but eventually it was there in her hands, all ready. She smiled and said “alhammdulillah.”

While she was looking around the room for a safe place to store the package her eyes fell upon the new rucksack her mum had gifted her for Eid. She opened it up, put the gift safely inside and went upstairs to put her bag in her bedroom. She stopped, noticing her cupboard doors were open and shut them without a second thought.

If she had stopped to look she would have noticed that quite a few of her clothes were not where they had been that morning, hung neatly on the hangers. If she had checked the lobby downstairs she would have noticed her sandals were no longer on the shelf where she had put them after their morning walk. And, if she had looked up onto the bathroom windowsill, she would have noticed her toothbrush and toothpaste were missing also.

Instead, Sumayyah was focussed on being able to give her gift to her friend Fatimah.

“Mama,” she said earnestly as she skipped into the kitchen. “Please can we go to the post office before ‘Asr to post my gift to Fatimah?”

Her mother looked up from the fruit she was chopping and smiled.

“Sorry Sumayyah, I don’t have time right now but I promise we’ll get it to her soon. I have an appointment in a short while though so please get ready to go out. You can bring your gift with you in case we do manage to deliver it.”

Half an hour later Sumayyah and her sister Haajar were sat in the car looking out at the traffic surrounding them on the motorway.

“Mama, how much longer?” asked Haajar.

“There is a lot more traffic than I expected so please be patient,” her mother replied.

“Where are we going?” Haajar whispered to her sister.

“I don’t know. Mama just said she had an appointment.”

Haajar took out her notebook and started drawing while Sumayyah continued to observe the road outside. She was still thinking about her present and wondering when she would get the chance to post it to Fatimah. Ever since Fatimah had left for Egypt, Sumayyah would imagine her friend walking between sand dunes, past camels and pyramids in the heat of the desert sun. She thought about when they had said goodbye to one another and how hard it had been knowing it would be a few months before she saw her friend again.

“What about your friendship are you grateful to Allah about?” her mum had asked her yesterday before bed.

“I’m grateful that I have a friend who knows me well, who likes playing similar games as me, who is kind and who helps me do things that Allah loves and reminds me when I make a mistake.”

What she hadn’t told her mum, but she had told Allah while she lay in the dark, was that she was so grateful that she just wanted to play with all of her favourite people all the time. It was hard to understand why she had to say goodbye to her friends.

Allah, Al Wadud, The Most Loving, heard her sadness, and that morning when she was revising Surah Al ‘Alaa, she forgot two of the verses. When she picked up her Qur’an to check it, she was so amazed to realise that the the verses she had forgotten were like an answer to everything she had been feeling sad about the day before.

بَلۡ تُؤۡثِرُونَ ٱلۡحَيَوٰةَ ٱلدُّنۡيَا

But you prefer the worldly life,

وَٱلۡأٓخِرَةُ خَيۡرٞ وَأَبۡقَىٰٓ

While the Hereafter is better and more enduring.

“What is it Sumayyah?” asked Haajar, noticing her sister had a huge smile on her face as she read the verses again and again.

“You know when we really love something in this world and we just want to have it forever? I was feeling so sad about Fatimah leaving for Egypt and in Surah Al Alaa, Allah says that we get so focussed on the worldly life and just want more of it when actually the akhirah, the afterlife, is better in every way. The wonderful things we can enjoy in Jannah won’t end…and they’ll just keep getting better!”

بَلۡ تُؤۡثِرُونَ ٱلۡحَيَوٰةَ ٱلدُّنۡيَا

But you prefer the worldly life,

وَٱلۡأٓخِرَةُ خَيۡرٞ وَأَبۡقَىٰٓ

While the Hereafter is better and more enduring.

Back in the car, Sumayyah smiled as she looked out of the window and remembered this. The rest of the journey seemed to fly by and soon they were sat in an office next to their mum as a lady asked her some questions. The girls were reading their books and didn’t pay much attention to the conversation. However, when they got back into the car they were surprised to realise they weren’t driving towards their home, but they kept going towards Manchester.

“Mama, when can I post Fatimah’s gift?” Sumayyah asked again, worrying that they wouldn’t get home before the post office shut.

“How long do you want the gift to last?” asked Haajar.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, this morning you said that we prefer things in this world when actually what is in Jannah is best and will last forever. So if you want Fatimah’s gift to last forever, maybe you should think about why you’re giving the gift?”

Sumayyah paused and thought.

“To make her happy? So she can see how well I can crochet? Oh no! I’ve got it! To make Allah happy! Because Allah loves it when we give gifts! So if I make Allah happy the reward for this gift will last forever!”

She repeated the two verse from Surah Al ‘Alaa to herself again.

بَلۡ تُؤۡثِرُونَ ٱلۡحَيَوٰةَ ٱلدُّنۡيَا

But you prefer the worldly life,

وَٱلۡأٓخِرَةُ خَيۡرٞ وَأَبۡقَىٰٓ

While the Hereafter is better and more enduring.

“An everlasting gift,” said her mother with a smile. “Now isn’t that special?”

Sumayyah looked in her bag to see if she had any snacks. She found a small tub which had one date left in it. Her stomach grumbled as she stared at the date and imagined it’s chewy, sweet interior. However, she found herself looking towards her sister who was busy drawing.

“Haajar, would you like this date?” asked Summayah.

“Oh yes please!” responded Haajar excitedly as she was feeling hungry too.

Just before she bit into the date she looked at her elder sister and realised the tub was empty. Hajaar broke the date in half and gave one half to Sumayyah.

“Jazahkallahu kheiran,” said Sumayyah gratefully.

“I did it to make Allah happy because Allah loves it when we share,” said Haajar.

“An everlasting gift,” replied her sister with a huge smile.

It was in that moment, as she bit into her date, that Sumayyah saw the airport signs and realised they had taken the motorway exit towards the airport.

“Mama!” she cried in surprise. “Where are we going?!”

“We need to meet someone at the airport,” responded her mother gently.

“Meeting someone?” wondered Haajar. “I wonder who we’re picking up.”

A few minutes later they were parking their car and as they got out they saw their father jogging towards them.

“We’re meeting Baba? But Baba hasn’t been anywhere! He prayed Fajr with us this morning!”

“No I haven’t been anywhere,” replied their Baba. “But I will be going somewhere inshaAllah.”

The girls watched in amazement as he opened the boot of the car and they saw it had suitcases inside.

“Shall we deliver your gift in person?” asked their Mama.

Sumayyah nodded in stunned silence as they walked together into the airport.

Soon they had passed through security and were waiting at the Gate to board their flight to Cairo.

The girls heard two women speaking to one of the airport workers earnestly.

“Please can we sit together? My sister isn’t feeling well and I might need to give her medication to her.”

“I’m sorry the flight is full I cannot change your seats,” the worker replied.

“Mama,” Haajar whispered.

“Can we change seats so they can sit together? You know we might want to sit together but the reward for giving our seats is an everlasting gift.”

“Ok, but you might have to give up your window seat, is that ok?”

She thought for a moment, then Sumayyah reminded her.

بَلۡ تُؤۡثِرُونَ ٱلۡحَيَوٰةَ ٱلدُّنۡيَا

But you prefer the worldly life,

وَٱلۡأٓخِرَةُ خَيۡرٞ وَأَبۡقَىٰٓ

While the Hereafter is better and more enduring.

“Yes Mama, I’m sure.”

Her mother nodded and went to speak to the worker.

Soon they were all seated on the airplane and as they listened to the safety instructions the girls were both so grateful to be travelling on this adventure that they didn’t worry about the window seats they no longer had. A few hours later they woke up and as they gathered their bags to leave the plane they could fill the dry Egyptian heat outside.

“Alhammdulillah we’re here!” exclaimed the delighted girls.

Cairo was alive in a way they had never seen a city come to life. The sandy streets were lined with stalls selling sweetcorn, tea and sweet potatoes. While behind them stood rows of shops covered in Arabic writing they tried their best to decipher. Cars seemed to beep for sorry, thank you and excuse me wherever they went and there were donkeys and camels walking next to them in the road. One on side were trucks laiden with fresh Egyptian fruit and on the other, a man collecting rubbish in his green pick up truck.

Their were people everywhere. Busy, smiling, working. No one here seemed to stop.

Sumayyah was enchanted.

Just then the adhaan went and they watched in awe as people stopped their conversations, packed up their work and made their way to the masaajid. And there were so many masaajid to chose from!

As their was so much traffic they agreed with their taxi driver that they too would stop at a masjid to pray their salaah. When they had prayed Sumayyah retrieved her precious gift from her rucksack and held it tightly on the drive to Fatimah’s flat.

“I wonder,” said Haajar quietly, as their anticipation at seeing their cousin rose.

“What will it be like in Jannah? When we all get to meet again? Will it feel like this? We’ll just be so excited that Allah in His Mercy let us enter Jannah and everyone who died before will be asking questions…and saying where is this person and that person… but we won’t feel too hot or too cold…and we’ll never have to say goodbye again or feel any sadness or pain. It will be so amazing!”

“Oh Allah grant us Jannah with all those we love,” responded her sister softly.

“Ameen,” replied everyone in the car.

بَلۡ تُؤۡثِرُونَ ٱلۡحَيَوٰةَ ٱلدُّنۡيَا

But you prefer the worldly life,

وَٱلۡأٓخِرَةُ خَيۡرٞ وَأَبۡقَىٰٓ

While the Hereafter is better and more enduring.

“Aaaaaand we’re here,” said their Baba.

Sumayyah leapt out of the car as soon as stopped because there on the pavement, in front of a towering block of flats, stood her dear friend Fatimah!

“Assalaamo’ alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatu! This is for you!”

“Jazahkallahu kheiran…what is it?” asked Fatimah curiously.

“An everlasting gift.”