This article is republished with a kind permission from www.ruqayasbookshelf.com
Last winter I had some car trouble and started getting incredibly frustrated with my vehicle. It was a 2001 model, practically falling apart at the seams. It felt like every month or two I was forking out a few hundred dollars to get different parts replaced or fixed.
I finally decided it was time for me to purchase a newer car. Like most people looking to buy a car, I spent weeks scouring Auto Trader and test-driving different makes and models. For some reason, though, none of the cars felt exactly right to me. I made dua, asking Allah (SWT) to bless me with the car most suited to me.
A few weeks after I started my search, my father received a call from an old friend of his. This man was traveling overseas for an extended period of time and needed to find a new home for his car. So he asked my dad whether his daughter Asmaa would like to have the car, as a gift.
I wasn’t sure how he knew I needed a car, but my answer was a resounding YES!
The next day I went to pick the car up from my dad’s friend, and we made sure all the paperwork was in order. What happened then, surprised me.
When I thanked him for his incredibly generous gift, he acted as though I was the one doing him a favor. It can feel a bit uncomfortable when receiving such a large gift, and I really was quite nervous on my way to his house. However, his demeanor immediately put me at ease.
When I looked at the car, I noticed it was perfectly clean. (Having a clean car in the middle of a slushy, icy, snowy, salty Canadian winter is impossible – he clearly had it washed specifically for me.)
When I got into the car and turned on the ignition, I noticed the gas tank was completely full. He had also hung a new vanilla air freshener in the car, and there was one single CD lying next to the gearshift – Juz ‘Amma (the 30th chapter of the Quran) as recited by Muhammad Jibreel.
The state of the car immediately reminded me of how Aisha (ra) treated money before giving it away in charity. She was known to spray perfume on the coins before placing them in the hands of those in need. When asked why she did this, she would reply that the charity would reach Allah (SWT) before it ever touched the hands of those in need.
The very first word I thought of while sitting in that newly-cleaned, freshly scented vehicle was: Ihsan.
Not only did my father’s friend want to gift this car to me – a very generous deed in and of itself – he did it in the kindest and noblest way possible. He made sure that it was one hundred percent ready to drive, that it looked clean and smelled fresh, and that I would even have something to listen to while driving away!
He didn’t have to do any of these things. I would’ve been equally happy picking up a car that needed some cleaning, or that barely any gas left in it. It was still a car after all! But he was practicing Ihsan.
What Is Ihsan?
The word “Ihsan” in Arabic is derived from the word “ahsana,” which roughly means, “doing things better.” In a well-known hadith of the Prophet (pbuh), Jibreel comes to him in the form of a man and proceeds to ask him a series of questions concerning Islam, Iman, and Ihsan. Umar (ra) narrates:
While we were one day sitting with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), there appeared before us a man dressed in extremely white clothes and with very black hair. No traces of journeying were visible on him, and none of us knew him. He sat down close by the Prophet (pbuh), rested his knee against his thighs, and said, “O Muhammad! Inform me about Islam.”
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “Islam is that you should testify that there is no deity except Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, that you should perform salah, pay the zakah, fast during Ramadan, and perform Hajj to the House, if you are able to do so.”
The man said, “You have spoken truly.” We were astonished at his questioning him (the Messenger) and telling him that he was right, but he went on to say, “Inform me about Iman.”
He answered, “It is that you believe in Allah and His angels and His Books and His Messengers and in the Last Day, and in qadar (fate), both in its good and in its evil aspects.” He said, “You have spoken truly.”
Then he (the man) said, “Inform me about Ihsan.” He (the Messenger of Allah) answered, “It is that you should serve Allah as though you could see Him, for though you cannot see Him yet (know that) He sees you.”