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Many of us Muslims that live as minorities can attest to learning the value of perseverance when walking past candy stores and aisles filled with colorful gummy candies.
As children, our pleas of “Mummy, can I please get some?” would be met with responses about having to check the ingredients. Specifically, whether they included gelatin, especially pork gelatin.
“I’ll get you some when we go to the halal grocery store,” I find myself telling my son whenever he looks at me with pleading eyes.
At an Islamic gathering recently, the Muslim vendor selling sweets was inevitably the busiest booth. Even at 10pm on the final night of the three-day convention, her booth was buzzing with children and adults filling bags with halal gummies in various shapes, sizes and flavors.
My son and I did not want to miss out on the fun either. Let’s be honest, the joy isn’t just in savoring these chewy, unhealthy, sugar-laden treats but in experiencing the power of being able to pick any candy from the Pick and Mix section without worrying about the ingredients to be consumed.
Children definitely experience joy in being able to choose from a delightful array of halal candies.
As my son immersed himself in the world of candy, I stood watching the excitement around me. Suddenly, a teenager walked past the booth and deftly picked ONE cone-shaped gummy, popped it in his mouth as he unabashedly continued to walk away.
Another customer witnessed the same incident and we looked at each other, speechless while shaking our heads. It wasn’t just about ethics, but more so because we were at an Islamic convention – three intense days of lectures, discussions and more centered around shaping Islamic identities and values. “Haram,” said the lady.
Here, she wasn’t explicitly referring to the action of stealing. Legalistically, Haram means forbidden. In the context of customary phrases, it may also be used as an expression. What I’ve noticed is that my Arab friends would use the term “Haram” to also refer to situations that shouldn’t happen.
Something weighed in me- if I were to remain silent, I would be an accomplice. But how do I bring up the matter without being a tattle-tale? What solution can I offer?
When we got in line to pay, I realized I could offer to pay for that extra candy. The solution would be to ask the cashier to add a dollar or two to my final bill, and explain the situation.
But what was the intention of doing so?
I found myself telling the cashier that I wanted to pay for the candy the teenager took so that “he would not be held responsible in the akhirah”. To my surprise, the cashier refused my extra dollar and generously added, “I forgive him, it’s halal”.
We both smiled- a knowing smile that indicated the desire for a compassionate, loving society.
As humans, we constantly make mistakes and should seek forgiveness often.
At that moment, I realized why many Muslims say that they are truly liberated, freed from the bondages of other humans and the temporary life. The teenager’s action was not for me to pass judgment, but was a lesson in the power of forgiveness and seeking forgiveness.
Surely, I myself have many sins and mistakes that I may not even be aware of. The generosity of the person I have unintentionally grieved to forgive me is one that I wish for. The mercy of Allah s.w.t, The Most Forgiving, is what I am constantly in need of.
Ibn ‘Umar said:
“We counted Messenger’s saying a hundred times during one single sitting: Rabb- ighfir li, wa tubb ‘alayya, innaka Antat-Tawwabur-Rahim. (My Rabb! Forgive me and pardon me. Indeed, You are the Accepter of Repentance, the Most Merciful.)”
(Imam Abu Dawud and At- Tirmidhi)
To gain the forgiveness that we desire, we too need to be forgiving.
Abdullah ibn Amr reported:
The Prophet ﷺ said, “Be merciful to others and you will receive mercy. Forgive others and Allah will forgive you.”
In Strengthening Your Deen , which is a collection of supplications that can be streamed on Qalbox, within your Muslim Pro app, you can learn The Best Manner of Asking For Forgiveness. Qalbox shows can also be casted on the television screen- making it easy for the whole family to enjoy and to learn together.
May we be among those who are forgiven and forgives others easily, In Sha Allah.
This article was written by Suryani Omar, the founder of Deen Hubb, a boutique Islamic bookstore in United States.