The Prize Giving


By Abdur Rahmaan Umar

“What! Are they crazy?” shouted Fatima, banging the knife on chopping board hard enough to scatter carrots in every direction and send the cat racing for the back door.

“What do they think? How can they possibly…” she sighed deeply, and raised the knife for another assault on the chopping board.

“Don’t they realise we have so much work to do? I mean who schedules a prize giving for the night before Eid.”

“But ma…that’s what Moulana(Sheikh)  said today. That there definitely is a prize giving,” whispered Ahmed, cowering behind a chair in case another barrage of carrots was launched.

“Which Moulana? And why don’t they think!” she continued, pausing just long enough to heave another heavy sigh, “We have so much to do the night before Eid. Get the kids clothes ready, prepare the plates, layer the biryani…and…this year Eid is by us, so everyone from ninety nine kilometres around will be here. So is Moulana going to come layer the Biryani?”

“I think I must phone him. Now! He must cancel this madness,” she moaned, “Prize giving before Eid! My foot!”

“And who must be there? Must we all come?”

Ahmed lifted head just a little above the chair and said “Ja, ma. He said it’s for everybody. No one should be left out.”

“Well I’ll explain to him,” said Fatima, reaching for the cordless phone, “then maybe he’ll understand why some people…some people…like me just can’t be there. We have work, you know?”

Fatima began banging the numbers into the phone which let out loud beep with every painful prod.

“Gee, Moulana Yusuf!” she began, “What’s this about a prize giving the night before Eid? Whose crazy idea was this? Do you people know what the night of Eid is? We have so much to do?”

Without waiting for answers she continued, “I thought being a Muslim school you would think about us poor mothers who have to do EVERYTHING. I mean who decided that the school should have a prize giving the night before Eid? So whose grand idea was it?”

She sighed deeply and wiped the moisture collecting in her eye.

Moulana to advantage of the brief pause to squeeze in a word, “Sorry sister, but it wasn’t my idea.”

“Then who’s grand idea was this! Who decided this?” she shouted. The phone nearly slipping out of her hand.

“Allah’s idea,” came the almost inaudible reply.

“Moulana! If I didn’t have roza (fast)  in my mouth I would have said such things that would have made your head spin in two directions. What has Allah got to do with the school timetable?” cried Fatima, her big frame collapsing into the nearest kitchen chair, accompanied by more deep sighs and a few moans.

“Sister, please listen to me,” said, Moulana taking advantage of the few second of silence, “There is a prize giving and it was at the request of Allah Ta’ala.”

Fatima straightened up in the chair and began to say something but Moulana continued, “As part of  a lengthy Hadith in a book called Targheeb narrated by Ibn Abbas Radiallahu anhuma, the Noble Messenger Sallahu alaihi wasalam said that the night of Eidul Fitr is called Laylatul Jaa’izah – the night of prize giving. And in another Hadith narrated from Abu Hurairah Radiallahu anhu, Rasulallah Salallahu Alaihi wasalam mentioned that on the last night of Ramadaan Allah Ta’ala forgives the believers. The Companions Radiallahu Anhum enquired if that last night was Laylatul Qadr, and the Messenger replied “No, but it is only right that a servant should be given his reward on having completed his service.”

“So I explained to the children that just as they want to be honoured at the school prize giving and they work hard the whole year so they could get an award – Allah Ta’ala also rewards those servants of His who excelled during the months of Ramadaan and they are honoured with special awards for the Aghirah.”

Fatima’s faced flushed a bright pink and she let out a soft moan, “I didn’t know that”

“The the night before Eid,” continued Moulana Yusuf, “is a very important night and we should at least spend part of it in the worship of Allah. Despite all the other work we have, we should not lose the blessing of this night, because this is a such a night that who so ever remains awake on this night in the worship of his Lord, Allah, his heart will not die on the day when hearts will die?”

“What does that mean?” enquired Fatima now curious about this special night.

“On the day of Judgement when hearts will nearly die out of fear, this person will be free of such fear and anguish. Also, that person who remembers Allah is like a living person and the one who doesn’t is like a dead person. So to emphasise – this is a very important night that we often forget because we are too busy preparing for the next day or have already started celebrating Eid.”

Fatima stared at the pink slippers on her feet, “I’m sorry I shouted at you Moulana, but we just have so much pressure with Eid coming, there is so much to do. But I will have to make some time for Ibadat on this special night. But why didn’t Ahmed tell me this.”

Ahmed now stood boldly away from the kitchen chair, “Because, Ma…..you didn’t give me chance to explain.”

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