One day when Saad came home from school, he seemed upset and unusually quiet. His Dad observed his silence and after they had eaten their lunch, he asked Saad…
“What’s wrong Saad? You seem upset…You are never this quiet when you come back from school.”
“Yes, Dad. I am really upset today. There’s a new boy in class and my teacher made him sit next to me.”
“So what’s wrong with that?” Asked Dad.
“Oh, Dad! You don’t know! He is so black! As black as coal and he have huge lips as if a bee stung him! And…”
“Son!” said Dad, raising his hand to stop Saad. He was horrified at what Saad had just said. “Think about what you are saying! Nobody has made his own face and color”
“But Dad! Nobody likes to talk to him and everybody has started calling me Blackee’s Neighbour…they made fun of me the whole day. I don’t want to sit next to him, but I’m stuck!” Complained Saad.
“Tell me, did you at least talk to him?” asked Dad.
“No! No one wants to talk to him. He comes from some other country. He is not like us.” Said Saad.
“Isn’t he a human being, Saad?” said Dad unhappily.
“Well… hmm yeah he is but…”
“Is he not a Muslim?” asked Dad.
“Yes, he is a Muslim. I saw him reading the Quran during the lunch break. He does recite well. I could hear him when I passed by him. It sounded like he could even understand the Arabic!”
“So he is a Muslim and a human being. Sounds to me, he is definitely better than you.” Said Dad, sadly shaking his head. “You and your class mates broke his heart.”
“No, dad! I didn’t break anybody’s, heart.” Said Saad, defending himself.
“How else do you break someone’s heart?” asked Dad. “He was new and lonely and needed help and friends and you did not even speak to him, even when he was your neighbor sitting right next to you! Don’t you know Allah’s Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) has greatly stressed on the rights of neighbors.”
Saad was now feeling guilty. “What should I do now Dad?” He asked.
“It’s very simple. You should be friends with him.”
“No way!” Said Saad, jumping off his chair, in horror. “I don’t want to become a laughing stock of the class by being friends with the black boy! Besides, what about my friend Haroon? He won’t think that I am so cool anymore!”
“Sit down, Saad! That’s a horrible thing to say! Have you forgotten about the black Companion of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wassalam) Bilal Radiallahu Anhu? Do you know Prophet Muhammad in his dream heard his footsteps in Jannah? He was also the first Muazzin of Masjid e Nabawi.”
“Really?!!” Said Saad, shocked and surprised at the same time.
“Allah does not look at our faces or skin color or our wealth. He only looks at our hearts and our deeds. Remember, Saad. Allah likes those who do good deeds.”
“But everyone’s heart is the same, Dad!” said Saad.
“Yes, all hearts do look the same from the outside, but a heart full of Emaan which does good deeds is a heart that is really beautiful and full of light. But if a person does bad deeds then his heart becomes black. So we should be worried about our hearts becoming black, not our faces!”
Saad and Dad were quiet for some time.
“Tell me, Saad,” asked Dad, “How did you find his manners?”
“It’s only been two days, so I can’t say much.” Said Saad carefully, “But, he doesn’t bother me. My previous neighbor used to poke me with his pencil and laugh at me.”
“Don’t you see son!” said Dad. “If a person does not look good in your eyes from the outside doesn’t mean that he is a bad person. In some parts of the world, it is considered an honor to be the darkest shade of black. And to Allah all colors are beautiful.”
“Hmmm…” mumbled Saad, deep in thought, but still seemingly unconvinced.
Dad picked up his plate and got up, leaving Saad to think over the situation.
The next day when Saad came back from school, he was his usual cheerful self. After they had lunch Saad excitedly told Dad about his day at school.
“Oh, Dad! We had an exciting cricket match today. I made 50 runs…and the boy I was telling you about yesterday turned out to be a great player! He is such an excellent bowler that no one can stay on the crease. He took 6 wickets and our team won!”
“That’s great! So you finally made friends with him?” asked Dad.
“Oh yes dad!” said Saad, excitedly. “After our talk yesterday, I thought a lot about it and realized my mistake. I also told my friends about it and about Bilal Radi Allahu ‘anhu. Most of them agreed with me and admitted their mistake… and we included him in our team.”
“And what about those who did not agree with you?” Asked Dad.
“First they started making fun of us and made their own team but when they saw his bowling, they all became quiet.”
Dad smiled, “See, the color of the skin does not matter at all. Have you read the last sermon of our Prophet Sallahu Alayhi Wasallam?”
“Yes dad, it is a part of our curriculum,” said Saad nodding his head. “And I remember it by heart: Rasool Allah (SAW) said: “O people! Indeed your Lord is One and your father Adam is one. All mankind is from Adam and Hawwa. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab; neither a white has any superiority over black nor a black over white except by piety and good actions. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.”
“Masha Allah! You know it by heart!” said Dad, proudly patting Saad on the back. “But you should also remember it when dealing with people.”
“Yes, dad. I realize that now. Our teacher told us that knowledge which is not acted upon is useless.”
Dad smiled and said, “Right he is!”