Ali was feeling very hungry on the way back from school. He was thinking about eating two chapatis instead of one, today. Food was the only thing on his mind till he reached home. After changing and refreshing himself he went straight to the dining table.
“Oh no! We have vegetables for lunch again?”
“It’s not so bad Ali. Do not turn your face away from the food,” his mom replied.
“I don’t dislike all foods but why do you cook daal and vegetables knowing I don’t like eating them? My friend Amjad always has a meat dish cooked at his home every day,” Ali complained.
Mom looked upset. “Ali, meat is very expensive. We cannot afford to have it every day. Some families can’t even afford cooking meat once a week. They have to eat daal and vegetable every day. It’s the only food they have.”
“But meat is the only food that gives us the proper strength!” Ali said.
Mom shook her head. “Who told you that? Allah SWT has placed different nutritious value required by our body in all different kinds of food. Like, if meat is the source of protein, then vegetables and fruits have minerals and vitamins.”
Ali looked at his plate quietly and got up after eating only half a piece of chapati.
“Ali! Why have you eaten so little? You came back so tired, aren’t you feeling hungry?” asked Mom.
“I was really hungry but all my appetite is gone after seeing the vegetables,” Ali explained.
Mom was angry now. “Now you’re just being picky. Some people don’t even have food to eat, so be grateful!”
The next day, Ali’s stomach was growling again. He hadn’t eaten his sandwiches either because Mom had put in jam instead of his favorite, butter.
‘I so wish Mom has cooked mincemeat or meat rice for lunch today. But what if it’s vegetables for lunch again? If she has, then I won’t eat at all. Mom will get worried and will cook my favorite things, right?’
Ali was lost in these thoughts when he saw a little boy looking for something in a pile of garbage. Ali was very shocked to see him. He stood beside the boy and asked him, “Why are you picking food from the trash? It’s so dirty! You’ll get sick if you eat that!”
The boy said unhappily, “I haven’t eaten anything since yesterday. We don’t have any food at home. I found some pieces of bread from the garbage to fill my stomach, though.”
Ali felt sorry for the boy. Thoughts of helping the poor boy made him remember the untouched jam sandwiches in his lunch box. He took the food out and offered it to him.
The boy was so grateful. “Oh, thank you so much! Do you have some water, too?”
“Yes I have water but it’s gotten very warm by now. I can’t drink it. If you come home with me I could give you some cold water,” replied Ali.
“No, no! Warm water good enough for me.”
Ali gave his water bottle to the boy which he drank very happily.
When he finished, the boy thanked Allah for the food and water and ran off with a salaam.
Ali felt terribly ashamed of himself. When his mother entered the dining room, she told him that she’d made shami kabab especially for him. Ali replied guiltily, “Mom! Please forgive me for all the trouble I caused you! I won’t do it again. I’ll eat whatever you cook.”
Mom looked at Ali with surprise. He told her the story of the poor boy.
“Yes, my dear son. We should always be grateful to Allah for the things He has given us.”
Ali made a face. “But Mom, how can we be truly thankful for something we dislike?”
Mom smiled. “Prophet Muhammad (SAW) taught us a way to be grateful to Allah for His blessings, Ali. It’s to always look at the people who have less than you.”
“How’s that going to help?” asked Ali.
Mom: This way, we’ll remember that Allah gave us many blessings that we should be thankful for, like the poor boy who didn’t have food and water.
“Oh, okay. Then I’ll share my blessings with anyone who needs it,” said Ali happily.
His mom smiled and patted his head. “Mashallah, Ali, you’ve understood the point.”
Ali loved his mother’s smile.