My mother never throws away left-over or old bread. The idea of food landing in the bin is heart-breaking to us all. We would rather that it be consumed by any living creature than go to waste. Every day my mother collects the stale bread, tears them into small pieces or crushes the hard ones into crumbs, places them in flat open containers and carries them out in the back yard along with a water can. She pours water in the tray containing bread pieces to let them soak and soften. The dry crumbs are left as they are. Along side these two, she places a bowl of water.
This is food for the birds. And this has been regular practice for years. As a result, everyday literally hundreds of birds visit us in two-shifts to partake in the feast. The Laughing Doves relish the big moist pieces while the flocks of House Sparrows peck on the crumbs. The Red & Blue Vented Bulbuls stake claim to both ‘dishes’. Occasionally, the Hoopoe, Parakeet, Common Myna & Tree Pipits also drop by to grace the banquet with their presence, if only for the water.
Our mornings and afternoons are infused with the chirps & twitter of ‘mum’s birds’, as we call them. By evening, the trays are empty. For my mother, this is her way of earning ajr from Allah. Any deed, however small, that serves or benefits the creatures of God is reward-worthy.
Recently, my mother had to travel for a few days. I was sitting by the window checking my email when I turned to peek outside. The contrast of the scene struck me. The place was deserted. ‘Mum’s birds’ weren’t there. Obviously, why would they come if there is nothing for them? I was saddened and felt guilty. I wondered where they must’ve flown to searching for food that day after being used to coming here. I went to the kitchen, took out the previous day’s bread from the fridge & did what I had seen my mother do all these years. I didn’t want mum’s birds to go away.
As I went out to place the container of bread & water, I prayed to Allah that He would accept this act on my mother’s behalf. I was but only a follower; she had initiated the practice. Alhumdullilah, the birds returned by afternoon & our backyard once again resounded with the chirrups of those lively creatures.
It is from the Mercy & Generosity of Allah that HE not only rewards us for our good action, but also accounts and rewards for the deeds of others who we inspire. Whether we are aware of it or not, present or absent, living or dead, if we inspired or initiated a good deed to be followed by others, we continue to reap the benefits of that repeating action. The impressions & traces of our actions continue to be counted for us.
إِنَّا نَحْنُ نُحْىِ الْمَوْتَى وَنَكْتُبُ مَاَ قَدَّمُواْ وَءَاثَارَهُمْ وَكُلَّ شىْءٍ أَحْصَيْنَـهُ فِى إِمَامٍ مُّبِينٍ
“Verily, We give life to the dead, and We record that which they send before (them), and their traces, and all things We have recorded with numbers (as a record) in a Clear Book. (Quran 36:12)
Prophet Muhammad (Sallullahualaihiwassullm) said:
“(Whoever starts (or sets an example of) something good in Islam, will have a reward for it, and a reward equal to that of everyone who does it after him, without that detracting from their reward in the slightest.” [Muslim]
Let us look at the legacy we want to leave behind.
Read ‘Lasting Impressions’ to learn about some of the wonderfully inspiring examples of impressions people are leaving around them.