By Roshan Shah, New Age Islam
24 November 2016
We all love surprises—but only if they are
pleasant, of course! I had a wonderful surprise the other day while in an
I generally refrain from talking more than
what’s necessary with auto-rickshaw drivers while they are driving, because the
traffic on the roads of the city where I live is so dense and chaotic that I
fear I might distract them if I chat them up—and who knows what might then
happen? But that day I was tempted to make conversation with the driver. We
began by talking about something quite mundane, but I don’t quite remember
exactly how, I soon found myself listening to some very wise words of wisdom on
life, religion and spirituality. The driver, it turned out, was a Sufi of
Imagine discussing Sufi spirituality while
speeding in an auto-rickshaw with someone you’ve just met for the first time
But that isn’t the really surprising thing,
though. I’ve had similar sorts of conversations with auto-rickshaw drivers
before, men from different faith backgrounds, so this wasn’t something really
new for me. What was definitely novel was what I learnt when we finally reached
where I needed to get to. The driver stopped the vehicle and carried on
speaking. He spoke lovingly about his master, a Sufi of the Qadri order, who
had left the world a while ago. I thought I saw his eyes brimming with tears.
He talked about truth being found in every religion. He also spoke of how faith
must go along with good deeds. And then—not in order to show off but to
demonstrate the point of service being a necessary part of spirituality—he told
me about a practice that he has made into a habit—which is what that great
surprise that I had that day is about.
Every day, the driver explained, he takes
out half the money that he earns on his first trip and keeps it apart. In this
way, over a few days he is able to set aside a fairly sizeable amount. He uses this
money for charity—to give to people in need. If I am not mistaken, I think he
also added that while giving this money to the needy, he does not consider
their community or religious background.
Now, isn’t this all really wonderful? It
was certainly a surprising learning lesson for me!
Service of one’s fellow human beings, the
driver wanted to say, is an integral part of true religiousness, without which
claims to faith are hollow. The poor, too, have a share in one’s earnings. The
driver’s enthusiasm to help the poor was truly touching. Imagine making it a
point to set apart a big portion of your income every single day for the needy?
I certainly had never thought of doing something like that myself.
There’s another wonderful thing that I
learnt from this beautiful experience. And that is, that you don’t have to be
materially rich to be charitable. The driver definitely wasn’t what you’d call
‘economically prosperous’. He perhaps lived in a small tenement in a
densely-populated area. Maybe he was the only earning member of his family. He
probably slogged long hours every day on traffic-clogged roads to eke out a
livelihood. And yet, he was such an incredibly charitable man!
Many of us do give in charity once in a
while, but how many of us do so every single day? Charity was an integral part
of this man’s daily life. Every single day, he thought of the needy, diligently
setting aside something from his earnings for them, almost the first thing in
the morning after starting work.
If this man could do beautiful acts of
charity every single day, maybe I should do something like that, too?
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