I sat at the dinner table with the family, discussing potential gift options for our new nephew. A story hidden deep in my memories resurfaced. It was a lesson for my children about good intentions and sincere actions being more important than the actual monetary value of a gift. I recalled a time, before my children were barely old enough to talk and walk and my dear husband was out of work. It had been months of unemployment. It was difficult for us. While we never lived lavishly, we were accustomed to a nicer apartment and organic food. Our nest egg of funds was quickly drying up and the hope of a new job felt like empty wishes. There were times, I made so much dua in sujood that my heart felt like it was going to explode and fall out of my chest. Alhamdullilah, one of Allah’s great tests for me.
During this difficult time, we got invited to a friend’s wedding. She was a youth that I mentored through many difficult engagement adventures and very special to me. She was finally engaged to marry a wealthy brother and an extravagant wedding was planned. I was shy to attend because I did not have a new outfit worthy of the occasion and I felt I could not afford an expensive gift. I debated for many days, trying to find a logical excuse not to attend. My husband was extremely kind and somewhat clueless as to why I was hesitating to attend. He said to me, “You go and have an enjoyable night out. Don’t worry about the kids. I’ll be fine.” How could I tell him I was ashamed to bring an inexpensive gift. Ashamed to wear an old outfit that I had already worn to several times? How could I trouble his dear heart? It was one of those self struggles that I could not confide to anyone.
Finally, one day after salah, some wise thinking came to me. I had no legitimate reason to decline an invitation from my Muslim sister. I had a suitable dress and I should make my intention to go and wish her well on her special day. All I needed to do now, was find an inexpensive sentimental gift that she would treasure.
As I sat around the dinner table telling my children this story, my husband looked completely perplexed. He never knew how I felt. I told my children, that many expensive gifts were given that night, but only Allah knows how I wanted to give her the best gift of all. Maybe, just maybe my intention and good action was granted.
Sarah Ibrahim is a loving mother of two budding mountain climbers. She enjoys healthy cooking, reading and finding creative ways for family exercise.