Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Story of the Leper, the Bald Man and the Blind Man

Long, long ago in the dry and arid hills of Canaan, there lived three poor brothers, Levi, Ari, and Uriel. One hot and sunny day, the three men sat under the shade of a big date palm tree sipping mint tea and complaining about their horrible lot in life. "What a horrid morning it has been," Levi said taking a sip from his tea cup then quickly covering his face. Levi was a leper, and in the land of Canaan, he was despised by everyone who saw him. "Tell us brother," Uriel said quietly and compassionately. Levi took a breath of the dry, dusty desert air and said, "I tried to buy breakfast from the baker this morning but the selfish man chased me away with stones and sticks. It is like this everywhere I go, no one will sell food to me. If only I had beautiful skin," he sighed, tired, hungry and rubbing his injured legs and arms.

"Well, I had a terrible morning as well," Ari said. Ari was a big strong man and would have been a nice catch for any woman had he not been bald. "You?!?" shouted Levi, "how could you have a bad morning, you are not ugly and despised like me," Levi said. "No, but at my age, I should be married by now. Women do not find me handsome with my bald head. Their fathers say I have a disease of the scalp and will not let me marry their daughters," he said sadly. "If only I had thick black hair, I would be married and very happy," he sighed. Levi and Uriel nodded their head in silence.

Uriel reached his hand out slowly searching for his tea cup on the worn velvet carpet he and his brothers were sitting on. Uriel was blind. He was born with no sight and while he was content with not being able to see, he still had troubles from day to day. He found his tea cup and sipped carefully. He listened quietly to the sounds around him, "at least you have been blessed with the wonderful gift of sight," he said. "I would love to see the wonders of God's creation," he said thoughtfully. A frown suddenly spread across his face as he remembered an awful experience he had. Levi and Ari saw his frown. "What is it brother?" they asked "please tell us what has suddenly upset you."

Uriel gently put his cup down, "I am grateful to our creator for the way he created me, but things would be a lot easier for me if I had the gift of sight. Yesterday, I was robbed by some bandits." His brothers gasped, "are you okay Uriel? Did they hurt you?" they asked. "No, God be praised, I was not harmed, but when I tried to get help from the guards, I was unable to describe the robbers or the color of my donkey they stole. The three brothers sighed and finished drinking their tea. After prayer, each brother went home.

As the sun set and the red canopy of day's end vanished, a mysterious stranger knocked on Levi's door. Levi was afraid, who would come to his home, he wondered. He was shocked to see a tall and handsome stranger at his door. "H-H-How may I help you?" he asked the mysterious man. "Please come in?" he offered, but the mysterious man kindly refused and said, "It is not how you can help me, but how I can help you. Tell me good man, what would you like the most?" Levi stood shocked at the question and the stranger. "Well, I would love to have nice color and beautiful skin," he said longingly, "that way, people would not despise me and run away from me." The mysterious stranger nodded and gently touched Levi, "what kind of property would you like best?" the stranger asked. Levi thought for a moment and replied, "camels." Then as if everything had been a dream, the mysterious man vanished in a mist of fog carried away by a gentle wind. Levi blinked in disbelief, closed his door and went to bed.

Ari also had a mysterious visitor. Ari was not afraid when he opened his door and found a tall, bulky man at his door. "Good evening," he said gruffly. "Good evening good man. What thing would you like most?" he asked Ari. Surprised by the question and the questioner, Ari quickly answered, "who wants to know?" "I would," the stranger answered. "Well, I would like good hair, and to be cured of this balding disease. The people do not like me and the women will not marry me. The tall stranger touched Ari gently. "And what property would you like most?" he asked. Ari smiled, "I have always wanted to herd cows," Ari said wishfully. And just like that, in a blink of an eye, the stranger was gone. "How strange," Ari thought to himself, he closed the door and went to bed.

Uriel was sitting outside enjoying the cool night air when the stranger appeared before him. "Good evening good man," the stranger said. Uriel jumped up in fright, he had not heard any footsteps approaching, this could only be a special visitor, or a very clever robber. "Who are you? what are you doing in my garden?" he asked the stranger. "Don't fear," the stranger replied, "I have not come to hurt you, but to help you." And just like his brothers before him , the stranger asked Uriel what he wanted the most. Now Uriel had always been content with his blindness despite the hardships of not seeing the dangers around him, but still, he did wonder about the beautiful things in God's creation like the birds that sang in the trees, or the rare rushing of streams in the desert oasis, or the echos of the Canaan rocky hills. "I would like that God give me sight, so that I may see the wonders of His creation," he smiled dreamily.

The stranger gently touched Uriel and then asked him, "what property would you like the most?" the stranger asked him. "Sheep would be nice," Uriel replied. Before he knew it, Uriel was once again alone in his garden. The mysterious stranger had disappeared. Uriel was bewildered, who was that strange visitor? Why did he ask such strange questions and then disappear? Uriel shook his head and slowly made his way into his house and went to bed.

The next morning, the brothers woke to a wonderful surprise. Each had been cured and given what he had asked for. Levi was handsome, Ari had thick, curly hair and Uriel could see. They were also amazed when they stepped outside their doors to find a pregnant she-camel, a pregnant cow and a pregnant ewe. The brothers were quite grateful and pleased with their miraculous gifts. After many years passed, each brother was quite rich. Their herds had multiplied and soon they each had a valley filled with camels, cows, and sheep.

One night, as Levi sat drinking tea with his family, a poor leper knocked on his door. Levi was appalled, "what do you want, leave my home," he shouted at the poor man. "Please, I am a poor man who lost all means of livelihood due to this illness. In the Name of Him Who has given you such nice color and beautiful skin, and so much property, I ask you to give me a camel so that I may have milk and a ride," he replied. "No," replied Levi haughtily, I can't give you anything, now please go away." The leper continued, "don't I know you?" he asked, "weren't you once a poor leper like me, disliked by everyone? Then God blessed you with all this property?" Levi shook his head, "No, you are wrong, I got this wealth from my own hard work, now leave my home right now wretched creature" Levi shouted. Suddenly, the leper turned into the mysterious visitor that had visited Levi so many years ago. Levi was shocked. "Do you remember now?" the stranger asked, "I was sent to test you, but you have failed. You are ungrateful to God and rude to those less fortunate than you. Go back to the way you were, a poor leper, despised by everyone." And with that, the stranger vanished along with all of Levi's wealth, family and good looks.

Ari was having dinner with his family when a stranger knocked on his door. His wife answered the door, it was a poor bald man. "Good evening kind lady of the house, I have come to see your husband." Ari invited the stranger into his home. "Dear sir, I come to seek your daughter's hand in marriage. Indeed, I am a poor man, but I'm a hard worker and I will do my best to make her happy. I ask you in the Name of Him Who has given you such a beautiful family and so much property. Ari frowned, "No, I will never give you my beautiful daughter, only a rich and handsome man is worthy of her. Now leave." The poor bald man shook his head, " weren't you once a poor bald man which the people did not like and women refused to marry you, then God blessed you with much wealth and a beautiful family?" he asked. Ari laughed, "I think you are mistaken old man, I inherited this wealth and good fortune from my forefathers, now go before I call the guards," he shouted angrily.

Before Ari could say another word, the bald man turned into the mysterious bulky stranger that had visited him so many years ago. Ari was shocked. "Do you remember now?" the stranger asked. Ari shook with fear. "I was sent to test you, but you have failed. You are ungrateful to God and rude to those less fortunate than you. Go back to the way you were, a poor bald man, disliked by the people and rejected by the women." And with that, the stranger disappeared along with all of Ari's wealth, family and good hair.

Uriel was sitting outside his garden gazing at the moon and the stars. It was such a beautiful night. The air was cool, the moon shone brightly over the hills and valley of Canaan. He smiled and thanked God for the gift of seeing all the beautiful things around him. Uriel then sat and closed his eyes, he began to listen to the happy sounds of his wife and children laughing and chattering as they prepared evening tea. He smiled again, "God is Great," he whispered contently. Suddenly, an old blind man appeared in his garden, "Good evening kind sir," he said humbly. Uriel jumped to his feet. "How did you enter my garden without me hearing you?" he asked the old man. "I'm sorry if I have startled you dear sir, but I am lost. I was travelling with my family, and during a storm, I was separated from them. I have no means of livelihood or way to get home. In the Name of Him Who has given you your sight and so much property, I ask you to give me a sheep, so that with it's help, I may reach my home."

Uriel gently took the arm of the old man. "Indeed, I was once blind and God restored my sight, I was poor and He blessed me with much wealth. Please come inside and rest. After you have eaten your fill, take what you wish from my wealth, I will not stop you." Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, the poor blind man turned into the tall, mysterious stranger that had visited Uriel so many years ago. He smiled at Uriel, "keep your property with you. I was sent to test you, to see if you would be grateful for the favors granted to you and you have passed. Your Lord is pleased with you but displeased with your selfish and ungrateful brothers. With that, the stranger vanished, leaving Uriel once again alone in his garden.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Even in Darkness..

......the light of Allah's mercy will always shine through.

9:71 The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practise regular charity, and obey allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Contagious Smile

Today started off terrible. I woke up late and missed my bus. My teacher gave me a tardy and sent me to the principal’s office. That wasn’t the end. Sam, the bully, took my ball then pushed me down. But something amazing happened; a little girl passing by gave me a wonderful smile. “Let me help you,” she said taking my hand, her smile spreading from ear to ear. I tried to stop it but could not help it; my frown began to turn upside down. Then I began to smile. As I walked home, what did I see? Mr. Hamoodi’s Ice Cream truck was broken in three. I smiled at him, with a smile from ear to ear, “it’s okay Mr. Hamoodi; help is on the way.” Suddenly, his frown turned upside down and he began to smile. “What a wonderful child, thank you for your kind smile.”

Mr. Hamoodi called for a tow truck. As he waited, he heard a cry. Mrs. Hannah tottered by with three bags and a crying child. He smiled at them with a smile from ear to ear, “please, let me help you,” he said carrying her bags. “And here is an ice cream for two.” Soon their frowns turned upside down, and they began to smile. “God bless you kind sir,” she said. The bus arrives right on time; they get on board and ride across town. Along the way, an old lady gets on, “I lost my wallet, I have no money to ride,” she cried. The bus driver frowns, “Please get down,” he bellowed. “Don’t worry,” the small child smiled, “I have extra coins; you can ride with us.” The old lady’s frown turned upside down and she began to smile, “May God bless you child, and your kind mother too.”

The bus stopped and the old lady got off, she noticed a young man in a nice suit standing on the corner looking quite confused. “Can I help you young man?” she asked smiling from ear to ear. “I am lost, I need to find Apple Street or I will be late for my first day of work,” he said sadly. “I know that street, it is near by. Follow me,” the old lady chirped. The young man’s frown turned upside down. He took her arm and followed her to Apple Street. With a smile from ear to ear, he thanked her and hurried on his way. As he rushed along, he heard a tiny cry. It was the little girl, sitting lost and all alone.

“Where’s your mommy?” he asked. She looked up, “I don’t know, I can’t find her,” she whimpered. “Well, don’t you worry,” he said smiling, “there is a police officer. She will help you find your mommy.” The police officer took her hand, “let’s go find your mommy dear,” she said smiling ear to ear. Soon, her frown turned upside down. Suddenly, she heard her name. It was her mother. With a smile from ear to ear, they thanked the nice police officer for her help and went skipping on their way. Today began as a horrible day, but all it took was a kind, friendly smile to turn a frown upside down.