After greeting them both, I noticed her asking if the women may be interested in a bag. One of the two women accepted it eagerly, excitedly pulling out one item after another. “A toothbrush!” she exclaimed with such delight. I realized these women might be amongst the very poor who traveled to Makkah with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.
As I watched the young girl and the two women, I saw the elderly woman pull out a small box with the widest grin on her face. As she held the box and fumbled to open it, she exclaimed with pure joy, “A mushaf (copy of the Qur’an)!”
The girl was taken aback. “No…no,” she stammered to correct the elderly woman. “It’s just a small box with things for…” The woman could not hear the girl beyond her enthrallment as she continued to try to get it open. She kept exclaiming her joy for the mushaf while the other elderly woman across from her grinned. Finally, she got the box opened and stared at it blankly. The girl sadly repeated what she had been trying to share, what she now knew the elder woman had unfortunately discovered. The girl mumbled with embarrassment, “It’s not a mushaf…it’s a sewing kit.”
The elder woman looked up from the box and peered into the girl’s face. The woman’s excitement re-appeared in her eyes, her smile lighting up her face full of soft wrinkles. She exuded with passion, “Please, give me a mushaf. Please, get a mushaf for me!”
Watching this, I was absolutely floored. This was a woman whose face, body and clothing were marked with signs of age, difficulty and poverty. And while many may not have looked twice at her because of her appearance, because of her sincere love and excitement for the Qur’an, she may have had a greater station with Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) than all the rest of us combined.
Many of us consider great individuals in our communities to be those whose names are celebrated; some of us judge a person’s worth by the number of subscribers, comments or likes on their Facebook. Some of us consider those with hoards of followers on Twitter as those who are superior. Some of us look to Imams (religious leaders), scholars or pious individuals in our mosques as those who have a special place with Allah. But the reality is that we have no idea whom amongst us are the inhabitants of Paradise and who may be closest to Him to Whom we will all return. And perhaps those who are truly special with Him are those who are unknown to us. Perhaps it is because of them that Allah (swt) sends angels of mercy and protection to surround them and in turn, envelop us because of our proximity to such special people.
Some of us in the West are being tried with one of the greatest forms of tests in this life, and that is the test of luxury and ease. Will we continue to remember Allah, love His Book and cling to His path even amidst our comfort? How will we work to be of those whose hearts soar and eyes light up at the possibility of holding His Book and hearing His words?
For many of us living in lands of wealth and ease, accessing the Qur’an is as simple as clicking on an app, going to a website or taking it off our home’s bookshelf. Yet how many of us make a point to do so? How many of us put in the effort? How many of us, like this incredible woman who did not even have a mushaf, choose to have the Qur’an embellished in our lives?