Several years back, I heard a story that deserved to be written in letters of gold. I did just that; immediately wrote down the story. Although not in gold, it was to me in meaning more glamorous than gold.
I heard the story directly from a Romanian brother, Muhammad, who was a guest on a program called Kayfa Aslamt (How did you accept Islam?) on the Quran Radio Station of a Muslim country.
Around 1992, Muhammad visited Bosnia, and seeing the state of the people there, was motivated to embark on a ‘peace tour’ on foot, as he called it.
One night his travels landed him and his wife in a small remote village in Turkey. As he searched for a motel or any roof to spend the night under, he came across a villager and asked him for information regarding a place to stay. The man responded that there was none, and through a few English words and Muhammad’s very limited Turkish, managed to invite him to spend the night in his home.
Seeing that he had no other choice, Muhammad agreed, although they were frightened of this stranger who was a large man and sported a long beard. Little did he know that the man he feared was the same one who would change his life.
As soon as he arrived at the man’s house, Muhammad and his wife were comforted by the fact that there was a family there; an elderly grandmother of about 80 years, a mother and five children all close in age. The family prepared a supper for them that he described as simple, yet tasty. Then they were told that they shall sleep in the same room and the family would go sleep in another.
Early the next morning, Muhammad and his wife got up to thank the family and complete their journey. (Remember, Muhammad was not a Muslim, yet).
To their complete astonishment, they discovered that the house only consisted of that one room where he and his wife had slept, while the old woman, the man, his wife, and their five children were all sleeping outside, under a tree. This was in the month of November and the cold was bitter.
Extremely shocked at the man’s behavior, Muhammad asked, “Are you crazy?”
The man, who could barely communicate, replied:
“No, I am Muslim.”
The words went through Muhammad like an electric shock. He could never forget that man’s action.
He began searching Islam, as he only had a distorted image of it, and even read the Quran. He visited Syria, Jordan and Egypt, were he furthered his studies about the Quran and the hadeeth.
When the host asked him when he embraced Islam, he replied that in his heart, he was a Muslim from the time the man said, “I am Muslim.” But he and his wife officially took their shahadah in Egypt, 2 months after the encounter with the Turkish man.
When he returned to his home country, Romania, he faced anger and rejection from his family. Taking heed in the conduct of the Turkish man, he decided that preaching would serve no purpose. He showed them the beauty of Islam through his actions. Later, the ones who carried the most enmity towards him, were the first to accept Islam.
Today, we look around us and witness how many have been deceived into limiting the beauty of an individual to their physical characteristics. But Islam disagrees; it is only magnificence of one’s character and conduct that make them truly attractive in the eyes of the people. Not only does it earn one an elevated status in the eyes of the people, but in the hereafter as well, where a special position is promised.
The Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) said,
“The dearest and nearest among you to me on the Day of Resurrection will be the best of you in conduct.” (Bukhari)
An individual who upholds good morals and cares to possess fine character is a gift to society. People feel contented in the presence of such a person; they trust, admire, and aspire to be like him. While others around us set ‘examples’ of beauty in their own terms, it is upon us to be the ones with whom people are dazzled by their beauty in moral uprightness. And while others undress their bodies in hope of earning titles in the race to beauty, we shall wrap ourselves in the garments of honesty, mercy, forbearance, courage, patience, humbleness and modesty. For our race differs: it is to be among the most perfect as described in the words of the Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) who said,
“The most perfect man in his faith among the believers is the one with the best behavior.” (Ahmad and Abu Dawud)
We wished to write the story of the Turkish man in gold due to the status the mineral holds in the eyes of the people for it’s shine. But it remains hard and solid, unable to smear those who adorn themselves with it permanently. As for the shine of good character, it blinds the beholders from all other faults, as they only see perfectness in the shining one, free from all blemishes.
The Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) said,
“Verily, the worshipper will ascend the higher ranks and superior grades of the hereafter through his good character, even though he is weak in acts of worship.” (Al-Tabarani)
Indeed, true beauty shall always leave a crown on your head. But, you do not have to wait for anyone to place it there.