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Be grateful to God for everything!
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Four years ago, it was during the blessed month of Ramadan when I learned the meaning of Alhumdulillah, below I share how…

I stepped out of the office, with Zara and Max on my mind; a parlour trip would do no harm I thought! Eid was a week later so I had every excuse to indulge in self- pampering!

And I had the money.

The thought of spending it was special as that was my first ever salary of 10,000 Indian rupees - a measly Dhs 577 at current rate! It was 2011 and I was working at an NGO as a college intern.

When my mother heard about my plan, she said, “Arshi, this is your first salary and Eid is near.

“If you want to shop, take money from me.

“But share your salary with the less fortunate.

“God will bless you with more.”

I debated my mum’s plan in my mind, but finally gave in.

The NGO where I was doing my internship worked for the upliftment of self-employed women in Delhi slums.

My work involved field visits there and conducting surveys.

Due to the nature of my job, I got an opportunity to work with four slum dwellers who were employed in the same NGO as community workers.

One of them was a 21-year-old girl, Chand.

I asked her about people who were in the worst of worse conditions, as I had decided to give three such people Rs 2000 each.

Chand had her own tragic story.

Married off at 14, she got pregnant at 15 and separated from her husband at 17.

She was a victim of child-marriage, dowry related torture and wife beating.

At 15 and a half Chand decided she could not take the torture anymore.

She told me that as a heavily pregnant child, she faced hell as she went through the back-breaking legal procedures to wind up her marriage.

Chand said, “Arshi, there are many destitutes, but I will take you to three whom I personally know.”

The three visits would teach me an invaluable lesson, I didn’t know this then!

The first was a 56-year-old woman, Noor, a widow, who lived in a small room in the slum.

A little bigger than a single bed space, the room had no bathroom or kitchen!

But what shocked me was not the room which Noor contentedly called home, but that she had put her son and a daughter in a hostel in Lucknow…her children were being educated in Lucknow University, a very well-known Indian educational institution!

How did she do that, I wondered with deep respect for this woman.

She struggled and was patient; many of us would have miserably failed.

I gave her the intended amount, she thanked me and I hurriedly walked away.

I will never forget the smile with which she greeted me and the glow in her eyes as she thanked the Almighty for the blessings of children and good education.

Next was Shabnam, who lived in the dirtiest part of the slum.

I had to stoop to enter the room where she lived with her two daughters.

She said her husband, a ragpicker, had been “missing for 14 years”.But she had faith in God that he would someday return!

Shocked, I decided not to make her reveal more about the matter.

I gave her the money and visited the third person, a visually challenged old man, Abdul.

His wife was also blind.

When I reached his room (little bigger than a single bed!), I was shocked to find him with his two kids “living” there! How could ANYONE live like that?

I asked Abdul how he survived, even eat? He told me with a smile, “Alhamdulillah for everything! Allah is taking good care of us!”

Dumbstruck, I pressed the money softly in his hands, and left.

It was about eight in the night when I reached home.

I told my mother about the three people I met, their optimism amidst their herculean struggles and their faith in God.

My mother was pleased with me, and it’s not difficult to guess that God must have been too.

But I remember that day for the three awesome people I met - the courageous widow Tabassum, the patient Shabnam, and the blind but happy Abdul - who taught me you don’t need to be rich, beautiful or so and so forth to show gratitude to God.

Sincere gratitude towards God is a state, when you recognise deep down in your soul, that the Almighty who is the most wise and loving, has plans, that’s truly the best for you.

It’s in this state of faith, when our lips utter the word “Alhamdulillah”, shall I say, we win God’s love? And shall I say we ‘win’? Of course, we do!

So let me reflect on my own life now…hmm…

What should I complain about?

About my job? No; rather I choose to thank God for a decent salary when millions are struggling to make two ends meet.

About a flat that I share with four ladies? No! I choose to thank God for a decent roof over my head when many call street, “home”, all their lives.

Alhamdulillah for everything!

This Ramadan let us learn to truly thank Allah for the blessings he has endowed us with.

This can only happen when we “change our definition of blessing.” How? By acknowledging, with sincerity, that there are millions whose dreams we are living.

And if at all ours don’t get fulfilled, it is part of God’s plan! He is indeed the best of the planners!

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