A few days ago the temperature was spring-like, so the girls and I decided to go biking. Well, that is not totally truthful. They rode their bikes while I hiked behind them. We chose a challenging route that required lots of energy and a positive attitude.
Along the way, as our smiles began to turn into tears, a red minivan gave us a friendly honk, and the driver waved at us and kept on going. I waved back, wondering who the driver may be. Could he or she be someone I know or could they be a friendly stranger? I may never find out in this lifetime, but nevertheless, the effect was there. Smiley Face, as I like to call our friendly honker, had lightened our trip and given us some joy and encouragement.
Did it matter whether we knew the mysterious honker? I actually prefer thinking that is was a complete stranger giving some encouragement and love for no personal benefit to themselves. Isn’t it a wonderful feeling, how when a stranger greets you warmly, it brightens your day?
The next day, my daughter was reading me her daily page of Qur’an, and we came across Ayah 86 from Surat An-Nisaa (The Women): “And if you are greeted with a greeting, reply with a better one, or by a similar greeting.”
My daughter said, “Mama, that is like saying ‘wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,’ to the person who greets us with ‘Assalamu Alaikum’.” I asked her how we would reply to “hi”. She suggested with, “How are you?” I asked, “How do you reply to a honk if you are walking?” “By waving and smiling, of course!” she said confidently.
I have to side track a bit to reflect on the amazing reality of how the Qur’an always touches us in the place and at the time that we need most. An ayah that I’ve read a multitude of times can swoop up on me and surprise me with new meanings and new applications, but that’s a topic for a whole other blog so I’ll leave it at that.
What I’m trying to say today is that we shouldn’t underestimate the power of a friendly, heartfelt greeting. Isn’t that the key to loving one another, and that in turn our key to Jannah?
Khadeejah Akyurt lives in Virginia and spends her days trying to spark the love of learning in herself and in her two girls. She also teaches Tajweed at Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center and is active with the Muslim American Society.