The sight of snow this past Sunday was hauntingly familiar, while at the same time, disturbingly foreign. As the day faded into Monday, and the unplowed roads froze over, more and more stories began to emerge of local residents losing power and water. Homes with little to no insulation offered little protection from the single digit weather, while around the state, more and more homes began to flood due to freezing pipes bursting in the cold.
Living in Texas the past few days has been a small adventure in hardship, but more clearly, a startling realization of the privilege that so many of us share. While there may be struggles for individual families, each and every single one of us can talk about the future with the optimism that our living circumstances allow us. For those with burst pipes, home insurance will pay for repairs, and communities that are still bound together by their geographic proximity and religious brotherhood will support each other. There is very little here in the way of despair and hopelessness, because the promise of a brighter day exists clearly in the minds of all of us.
Any degree of hardship, however, is a reminder of the blessings we take for granted that are bestowed upon us every single day. As our Prophet SAWS told us, “Look at those below you (in difficulty) and do not look at those above you (in worldly affairs), for it is the best way not to belittle the favors of Allah.”
Our brothers and sisters who have been forced to flee from Syria or Palestine or Burma or Iraq or Afghanistan or anywhere else, they don’t have the privilege of optimism and yet, you will never find them in a bad mood. They are tested everyday with hardships that none of us would likely be able to bear, but they do so with a smile, welcoming those who come to visit them. If one was to visit their tents in the camps they are forced to live in, the only response that would be given to a query about their living conditions would be gratitude to Allah SWT for what they had, rather than anger over their difficulties. They would be beside themselves only at the fact that they were unable to host their guests at the level they consider their standard and would offer all the contents of their homes without a thought.
If they knew of our difficulties, they would sincerely offer their help in whatever way, shape or fashion that entailed. In times like these, it is a powerful reminder for all of us to remember the Prophetic example of our brothers and sisters in need across the world, who smile in the face of hopelessness every single day. Let us emulate them in our own version of hardship, and smile and serve all those who we come across however we can in dark days and the brighter days that lie ahead.
Haris Ahmed Qudsi is the Helping Hand USA Area Manager for Northwest Texas.