One day, the Prophet (SAW) came across a friend, Zahif (SAW), shopping or selling something in the market place. The Prophet (SAW) then grasped him from behind. Zahir was shocked, and tried to break free, until he saw who it was. The Prophet (P) joked that he would sell Zahir (P) as a slave. Zahir (P) joked that he was unsellable, And he was told that to Allah, he had great worth.
I think about this exchange this Ramadan, especially when I hear Muslims talk of ‘idle talk’. It’s become fashionable to publicly abstain from ‘idleness’ this Ramadan. It’s a worthy pursuit, But what do we mean by idle talk? What does it mean to be consumed by trivial matters of this world with no effect on the next?
I’m going to propose something radical: nothing — nothing — done in kindness to another is idle. Even if an act of kindness seems trivial, it isn’t. A stray cat meows outside your window. It’s no effort to put milk (or water) in a plate and put it outside. But there is a woman who will sit in heaven for nothing more than giving a dog water out of her shoe.
I think about the Prophet (P) and Zahir (P), joking around in the marketplace. It’s something I’d expect kids to do, grabbing each other in jest and friendship Kids don’t need to be told about this behavior. They instinctively get how to act like this. How to just be kind to one another. Even in the most silly, trivial, ‘idle’ way possible.
There are a thousand ways into Heaven. Allah is merciful for giving us this. we can fast, pray, remember Him and ask for guidance. But the way we remember him in this world is how we interact with others. The way of kindness is broad, encompassing small and large, short term and long. It’s such a core value in Islam, weaved through the sunnah and the pillars. And I thank Allah for granting it to us.
And the best way to thank Allah for granting us kindness, is to show it others. Nothing idle about that.