Eternal Success Syllabus

Growing Goodness

Hamza’s roller skates whizzed rapidly down the path towards Talha’s strawberry fields. Talha was sat outside on a wooden chair his friend Umar had built for him. He was cutting the green stalks off a bowl of strawberries and putting the fruit into another bowl to be made into strawberry ice lollies for his visitors. He didn’t hear Hamza coming because his roller skates were so quiet and Talha was so absorbed in his task.

Hamza slowed down as he got nearer and gave salaam to his friend.

“Assalaamo’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu! What a wonderful day to enjoy these delicious strawberries!”

“Wa alaikumAssalaam warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu. Alhammdulillah indeed it is. Here you are Hamza, have a fresh strawberry.”

Hamza ate the strawberry, enjoying each sweet bite of it’s soft red flesh.

“Jazahkallahu kheiran…actually I came to ask you for advice.”

Talha stopped his cutting, put down his knife and turned to give Hamza his full attention.

“Of course, sit down, how can I help?” He stood up to give Hamza his seat and sat on a nearby rock.

Hamza sighed. Perhaps he shouldn’t have come. He felt like he was bringing dark clouds to these bright red fields. However, when he glanced up and saw Talha’s sincere and gentle smile, he knew he had come to the right place.

“The thing is…I made a mistake. I feel really bad about it…but it isn’t something I can fix. I feel so terrible. I don’t know what to do.”

Talha smiled kindly and put his hand on his friend’s shoulder.

“We all make mistakes my dear Hamza. Only Allah is free of any faults. You just need to say sorry, try to learn from it so you don’t make the same mistake again and of course follow it up with a good deed. Our Prophet (salliAllahu alayhi wassalaam) said: “Have taqwa of Allah wherever you may be and follow up a bad deed with a good deed which will wipe it out, behave well towards the people.”

Relief flooded over Hamza’s body. He had been feeling so bad that he thought maybe that was the only way he would ever feel again. But the truth was that he could say sorry, learn and find some good deeds to do. But what good deeds could he do?

As though he had read his mind, Talha reached into his pocket and pulled out a small paper bag. “Here you are,” he said. “There are five seeds in this bag, each of them is for a different plant. Find five places to plant them with the intention of seeking Allah’s pleasure and you will get at least fifty rewards.”

“Fifty rewards!” cried Hamza in amazement. He jumped up in such excitement that he forgot he was wearing roller skates and almost fell over.

Just then they heard a tractor coming down the track. They turned to see the neighbouring farmer Abdullah Ayoub driving towards them. He turned off the engine, jumped down and came across to them with a basket full of fresh baked flatbread and a bowl of steaming chickpea curry. After exchanging salaams, the three friends sat on the ground to enjoy the nutritious meal together. Abdullah poured water on all their hands so they could clean them then they started with bismillah and ate with their right hands. As Hamza popped a tasty mouthful of soft spicy chickpeas and fluffy flatbread into his mouth, he remembered what Talha had said.

“Talha, there might be around fifty chickpeas in this bowl. How can you get fifty rewards with only five good deeds?”

Abdullah and Talha exchanged a smile and then Talha carefully counted out five chickpeas onto his naan to show to Hamza. Then he recited:

مَن جَآءَ بِٱلْحَسَنَةِ فَلَهُۥ عَشْرُ أَمْثَالِهَا ۖ وَمَن جَآءَ بِٱلسَّيِّئَةِ فَلَا يُجْزَىٰٓ إِلَّا مِثْلَهَا وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ

Whoever comes [on the Day of Judgement] with a good deed will have ten times the like thereof [to his credit] with a good deed will have ten times the like thereof [to his credit], and whoever comes with an evil deed will not be recompensed except the like thereof; and they will not be wronged. (6:160)

مَن جَآءَ بِٱلْحَسَنَةِ فَلَهُۥ عَشْرُ أَمْثَالِهَا

“Wow subhanAllah! Allah is Al Kareem, The Generous One. We get ten rewards for every good deed but each mistake is just counted as one mistake.” He had a sip of water form the cup Abdullah passed him, then read his duaa for finishing he meal and stood up steadily.

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي أَطْعَمَنَا وَسَقَانَا وَجَعَلَنَا مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ
 
“All praise belongs to Allah, who fed us and quenched our thirst and made us Muslims”

Jazahkallahu kheiran for the food. Ok, I’m going to plant fifty good deeds! Fi’Amanillah!”

He sped away on his roller skates and soon he was just a shrinking dot in the distance.

After a few minutes, Abdullah came to an old shop. He looked in the door and saw that the shelves were half empty, and it appeared as though no one had visited for a long time. He slid of his skates and stepped inside. Sat behind the counter was an elderly man with a short white beard and a light brown topi on his head. He looked very tired and very sad.

“Assalaamo’alaikum, how can I help you?” he asked, managing a faint smile.

“Wa alaikumAssalaam, oh I am so sorry I don’t have any money. I just wanted to ask if I can help you in any way dear uncle?”

“That is very kind of you but I’m not sure what to do. There is a huge supermarket up the road now and all my customers go  there to do their shopping. Nobody shops here enough for me to make money and without money I can’t buy more things and so no one wants to visit anymore. I don’t know what to do. I will be very sad to shut my shop. My father started this shop when I was a little boy. But whatever Allah plans is best and Allah is ar Razzaaq and He has already written how much money I will have.”

Hamza didn’t know what to say, he tried to share some kind words and duaas with the Uncle but he was unsure what he could do. When he stepped outside he saw an old tub on the floor. Suddenly, he had an idea. He scooped some fresh earth into it and placed it on the window ledge on the wall of the shop. Then, he took out one seed and planted it in the tub.

Following this, he put back on his roller skates and rode on. Before long he came to a prison. He slowed down as he approached it and noticed a pair of hands holding onto the bars. As he got closer, a voice called out to him. “Oh if I only I was as free as you I could start doing good deeds. All I can do in here is feel sad about my mistakes. I have made so many mistakes how can I possibly do enough good deeds?”

Hamza bent down next the bars and noticed some earth on the ground, he moved a little to one side and planted his next seed.

“You can do a good deed wherever you are and just one good deed will grant you ten rewards!”

“Ten rewards for one good deed? But how?” the voice replied.

Hamza recited:

مَن جَآءَ بِٱلْحَسَنَةِ فَلَهُۥ عَشْرُ أَمْثَالِهَا ۖ وَمَن جَآءَ بِٱلسَّيِّئَةِ فَلَا يُجْزَىٰٓ إِلَّا مِثْلَهَا وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ

Whoever comes [on the Day of Judgement] with a good deed will have ten times the like thereof [to his credit] with a good deed will have ten times the like thereof [to his credit], and whoever comes with an evil deed will not be recompensed except the like thereof; and they will not be wronged. (6:160)

مَن جَآءَ بِٱلْحَسَنَةِ فَلَهُۥ عَشْرُ أَمْثَالِهَا

“Allah really is Al Kareem, The Generous One. What good deeds could I do?”

“Remember Allah. Pray. Smile. Help others. Learn about Islam. Share your things. Write to your parents. Intend everything you to as something to gain Allah’s pleasure. Just keep trying.”

“And what if I forget?” asked the voice.

Hamza smiled and patted the earth where he had planted the seed.

“Allah places reminders all around us,” he replied, before rolling away.

An hour or so later Hamza found himself outside a library. It was dark inside and the doors were bolted shut. A little girl stood outside with her mother and she was crying.

“But I just wanted one new book,” she said quietly through her tears.

“I know my dear,  but the library is shut because they don’t have enough money to pay the workers and you know we don’t have enough money for new books. Come on, let’s go to the food bank and see what we can have to eat this week.”

Hamza’s heart trembled as he saw the little girl’s disappointed expression and he smiled at them both as he approached a flowerpot next to them. The pot was empty as nobody had been able to plant or look after anything for some time. He cleared some of the soil to one side and planted his third seed. Then recited:

مَن جَآءَ بِٱلْحَسَنَةِ فَلَهُۥ عَشْرُ أَمْثَالِهَا ۖ وَمَن جَآءَ بِٱلسَّيِّئَةِ فَلَا يُجْزَىٰٓ إِلَّا مِثْلَهَا وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ

Whoever comes [on the Day of Judgement] with a good deed will have ten times the like thereof [to his credit] with a good deed will have ten times the like thereof [to his credit], and whoever comes with an evil deed will not be recompensed except the like thereof; and they will not be wronged. (6:160)

The girl and her mother watched him silently as he skated away. Suddenly, the girl’s face lit up with a smile and she said under her breath:

مَن جَآءَ بِٱلْحَسَنَةِ فَلَهُۥ عَشْرُ أَمْثَالِهَا

“Mama,” she whispered. “I have an idea.”

Hamza was started to feel tired now, he had been skating most of the morning and he needed to rest and find somewhere to pray. Soon enough he spotted a small masjid with a bright blue dome. As he got closer he saw the imam of the masjid, Ustadh Abu Bakr, stood in the doorway, shaking his head.

“Assalaamo’alaikum, is everything ok Ustadh?” he asked.

“Wa alaikumAssalaam, alhamdulillah Hamza. I was just trying to think of a way to get the children to come to the masjid.” He pointed across the street and Hamza saw some children giggling together outside a sweet shop. After they prayed the four rakat of Dhuhr salaah together, Hamza gave his salaam to the Ustadh and sat  on the masjid steps to put his roller skates back on. As he put them on he noticed a muddy patch of ground near the masjid entrance. He smiled to himself, bent down and carefully planted his fourth seed.

مَن جَآءَ بِٱلْحَسَنَةِ فَلَهُۥ عَشْرُ أَمْثَالِهَا ۖ وَمَن جَآءَ بِٱلسَّيِّئَةِ فَلَا يُجْزَىٰٓ إِلَّا مِثْلَهَا وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ

Whoever comes [on the Day of Judgement] with a good deed will have ten times the like thereof [to his credit] with a good deed will have ten times the like thereof [to his credit], and whoever comes with an evil deed will not be recompensed except the like thereof; and they will not be wronged. (6:160)

Hamza was almost home and had almost forgotten about his fifth and final seed when he saw the Children’s Hospital on his right. On a bench outside sat a nurse and in front of her was a wheelchair. Sat in the wheelchair was little girl covered in all sorts of tubes and wires. At the bottom of her wheelchair was a machine which kept lighting up with different numbers. Every time it beeped, the nurse would glance at it and at the little girl and utter a gentle word towards her. She noticed Hamza’s gaze and called him over.

“How is Salema?” Hamza asked after giving salaam to the little girl who briefly opened her eyes to acknowledge him.

“Alhammdulillah she is well enough to come out of the hospital today. We think it will be some time before she is well enough to go home though. I wonder if she remembers her home.”

Another machine beeped. “Oh her medication is finished,” said the nurse. “I will need to take her back in now. Fi Amanillah.”

Abdullah felt a lump in his throat as he watched the wheelchair disappear back inside the colourful hospital doors. He sat down on the same bench and looked to his right where there was a plant pot overgrown with weeds. He picked out the weeds one by one before making a small indent to plant the last seed in.

Several weeks passed and during that time some incredible goodness grew. Allah is Al Kareem and He is Generous in ways we cannot imagine. One seed can grow into so much reward and benefit.  

Abdullah had some extra eggs form his chickens he had not sold at the market. He took them to the Uncle’s shop and was amazed to see how different it looked. Inside had been cleaned and many of the shelves had been moved. In their place were mats on the floor. But what was even more incredible was how busy the shop was. Sat around on the floor was a range of different people sat busy talking and eating. The Uncle spotted Abdullah and waved him over.

“Jazahkallahu kheiran for the eggs Abdullah. We will put them to great use inshaAllah. I can see from your face you are amazed at the change Allah Al Kareem has made occur in my shop alhammdulillah. Well, let me tell you. Several weeks ago, I had an unusual guest who left me an unexpected present. Come and look.”

They walked outside together and Abdullah was astounded to see a collection of tubs and boxes which were filled with different herbs. The man pointed to one in the middle which was full of coriander.

“When I found this coriander that boy planted for me, it gave me an idea. I decided to change my shop and turn it into a simple food hut. I used these fresh herbs to make food with whatever I can source from the fertile land around us. Yesterday I made baked potatoes topped with a parsley  sauce and today I will make omelettes topped with coriander, using the eggs you gave!”

From that day on, Abdullah always made sure that anything extra on his farm would go to the shop.

Talha also made an incredible discovery when he went to visit his nephew in the Children’s Hospital who was having some surgery for a tracheostomy which was when tube would be put in his neck to help him breathe. Outside the hospital were benches surrounded by lavender plants and a wheelchair was being pushed forward with some balloons tied to it. “8 months,” one bystander said to him, “8 months Salema has been in hospital. The nurse said the smell of one lavender plant someone planted helped to remind her of home and start to get better alhammdulillah.”

Talha walked over to the lavender and took a deep sniff of its calming scent. Then he shook his head in disbelief and smiled as he recited.

مَن جَآءَ بِٱلْحَسَنَةِ فَلَهُۥ عَشْرُ أَمْثَالِهَا ۖ وَمَن جَآءَ بِٱلسَّيِّئَةِ فَلَا يُجْزَىٰٓ إِلَّا مِثْلَهَا وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ

Whoever comes [on the Day of Judgement] with a good deed will have ten times the like thereof [to his credit] with a good deed will have ten times the like thereof [to his credit], and whoever comes with an evil deed will not be recompensed except the like thereof; and they will not be wronged. (6:160)

Some time later, Hamza was walking past the library when he noticed something unusual. The lights were on and it looked very busy with people constantly coming in and out. He went to take a closer look and was met by the young girl he had seen crying not so long ago. When she saw him she pointed to where he had planted his seed and there were some lovely tulips growing.

“When you planted your seed, I wondered why you had bothered to plant something where nothing else was growing and it looks so dark and gloomy. But it made me think about how we can bring our own light with us and I decided to ask lots of people in my community if they would volunteer to work at the library so it could open it’s doors again. Alhammdulillah Allah willed for many of them to agree and now not only do people come here to borrow books but it is also a great resource for people to share things they don’t need, like light bulbs, cleaning equipment and other things that are difficult for families like mine to buy.”

Hamza watched in amazement as the whole library did seem to be lit up with a whole different sort of light. Just then someone tapped him on his shoulder. He turned around to see a young man he had never met before.

“Assalaamo’alaikum,” he said. “Wa alaikumassalaam,” replied the man. “You are the boy who planted a rose outside my prison window aren’t you?”

Hamza nodded quietly. He was lost for words.

“Well, you know that rose became a reminder for me alhammdulillah. Every time I lost hope. Every time I felt like I was never going to improve or escape. I look at it and Allah helped me remember what you said about each good deed being multiplied by ten. Today I am going to the masjid because I have completed my memorisation of the Qur’an and my teacher is going to do my test. Please come with me because your reminder helped me to focus on the Qur’an and Allah’s pleasure when I felt so sad and so stuck.”

Hamza agreed and together they walked towards the masjid. As they went they recited together.

مَن جَآءَ بِٱلْحَسَنَةِ فَلَهُۥ عَشْرُ أَمْثَالِهَا ۖ وَمَن جَآءَ بِٱلسَّيِّئَةِ فَلَا يُجْزَىٰٓ إِلَّا مِثْلَهَا وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ

Whoever comes [on the Day of Judgement] with a good deed will have ten times the like thereof [to his credit] with a good deed will have ten times the like thereof [to his credit], and whoever comes with an evil deed will not be recompensed except the like thereof; and they will not be wronged. (6:160)

Hamza was taken aback to realise that the outside of the masjid was not quiet and empty as usual. Instead, a crowd of excited children were wondering around and playing together while the Imam spoke to them. Ustadh Muhammad gave Hamza a huge smile when he saw him, but he didn’t say a word.

Instead, he pointed to the patch of strawberries that had grown since his last visit. Tiny hands were all around, grabbing and sharing the delicious fruit.

Hamza was overwhelmed with gratitude to Allah Al Kareem.

“Fifty good deeds would have been undeserved my Lord but you have increased everything in such goodness in the way only you can. Al Fattaah forgive me and make me amongst the righteous. Ameen.”

With that, he entered the masjid with his right foot first and together with the excited children he listened to his new friend reciting the Qur’an he was tested on. Just before Ustadh Muhammad announced that this young man would be leading the Ramadan taraweeh prayers in the masjid that year, he tested him on Surah al An’am …. He recited:

مَن جَآءَ بِٱلْحَسَنَةِ فَلَهُۥ عَشْرُ أَمْثَالِهَا ۖ وَمَن جَآءَ بِٱلسَّيِّئَةِ فَلَا يُجْزَىٰٓ إِلَّا مِثْلَهَا وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ

Whoever comes [on the Day of Judgement] with a good deed will have ten times the like thereof [to his credit] with a good deed will have ten times the like thereof [to his credit], and whoever comes with an evil deed will not be recompensed except the like thereof; and they will not be wronged. (6:160)