The Story of Little Zayd
More rubbish than normal!
Maulana Abu Ubayd Attari Madani
‘Mum! We seem to have a lot more rubbish in Ramadan,’ Little Zayd’s mother said to grandmother.
‘Of course there will be more rubbish in Ramadan because all the peels and waste pile up. Has the refuse collector taken the rubbish yet?’ asked grandmother.
‘He must be on his way. I’ve taken out the bag of rubbish and left it by door,’ his mother replied. ‘When the garbage collector comes, give it to him please.’
Moments later, someone was calling from outside, ‘Bring out your rubbish bags please!’ Grandmother tried to get up but then called out,’ Little Zayd! Be a dear and take care of it please.’
‘I’ll do it in a few minutes Grandma,’ shouted Little Zayd from his room.
Minutes later, Little Zayd went out with the bag of rubbish in his hands. Looking around, he couldn’t see the refuse collector anywhere. He carried the bag to the end of the street but still could not find the refuse collector. As he walked back, he thought to himself, ‘What should I do with all this rubbish? Mum and Grandma will be very upset about this.’ Then, all of a sudden, he had an idea: ‘Why don’t I put this bag in front of somebody else’s house,’ he thought to himself. The sun was setting and it was getting dark. Little Zayd looked around to make sure nobody was watching him. He was alone. Chancing on the moment, he crept up to his elderly neighbour’s house and dumbed the bag of rubbish right by her front door. ‘I’ve done it,’ he mumbled as he raced home.’
As soon as Little Zayd had sat down in his room, the doorbell suddenly rang. Grandmother slowly walked across the room to open the door. The lady from next door was standing right there with a bag of rubbish in her right hand and a frown on her face. ‘This rubbish belongs to you,’ she sternly voiced. ‘I saw Little Zayd from the window leaving it in front of my house. We already have to deal with a lot of garbage in Ramadan and the refuse collector won’t be returning till next week. So please make sure this does not happen again.’ Grandmother was embarrassed but took the bag from her and apologised.
After placing the bag by the door, Grandmother went straight into Little Zayd’s room. ‘Little Zayd! Tell me something, will you,’ she gently said as she sat down next to him.
‘Of course, Grandma. Ask me,’ said little Zayd.
Grandmother asked, ‘Are your clothes clean or dirty?’
‘They are perfectly clean,’ replied a confused Little Zayd, unsure why Grandmother was asking this strange question.
Grandmother then asked, ‘And are your house and room clean or dirty?’
‘The house and room are clean,’ replied Little Zayd who by now was even more perplexed.
Grandmother then asked, ‘Why do you keep your clothes, room, and house clean?
‘Because our beautiful religion of Islam teaches us to be clean,’ replied Little Zayd.
‘Should the alleyway next to our house be kept clean also?’ she asked, looking straight at him.
Little Zayd said, ‘The alleyway should be kept clean too, but why are you asking all of this?’
‘I’m just curious,’ she said, ‘Now tell me, if you saw somebody dumping their rubbish by your house, what would you do and what would you say to them?’
‘Grandmother! I would stop them and tell them that this is a bad thing to do because it spreads germs. I would tell them to put the rubbish into a dustbin instead of dumping it here.’
‘This is why I have put our rubbish into the dustbin,’ said grandmother.
Little Zayd fell silent. ‘Our, our waste…’ he stuttered.
‘Yes, son. The neighbour saw you and she brought the rubbish back to us. She was very disappointed. It’s bad enough to trouble others but to do so in Ramadan is really bad,’ she warned. ‘There was a pious person called Qadi Shurayh Bin Haaris رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه. He was from the early Muslims and was a judge in Kufa. One day, his cat died. So, he dug a hole in his house and buried the cat in it. He رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه did not throw his dead cat onto the street because he رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه knew that others would be disturbed by its smell. (Makarim-ul-Akhlaq, p. 228, derived from Akhbar-ul-Quzat, vol. 2, p. 220, summarised)
‘Little Zayd! We should do unto others what we want them to do to us. I have apologised to our neighbour on your behalf but you should apologise to her in person.
Little Zayd felt truly sorry for what he had done. He walked over to the neighbour’s house, ready to apologise for his behaviour.