Anya and the Lion: Hard Times

pencil drawing by me


one person hurting
then all of us become hurt —
we must learn to help

Anya had never met someone who had to go without food, so she wasn’t quite sure about these people. Did they have a home? Were they dirty? Did they say bad things? She thought somehow they had to be bad people who wouldn’t work if they didn’t have food. Every parent she knew had a job, and everyone was clean and happy. So, who were these people, anyway?

Anya began looking for Lion everywhere, but couldn’t find Him. Where was He? Lion had the answer to all her questions, so she was sure he could help her understand more about the people who don’t have food. Later, Anya was playing ball with her Dad at the park and the ball rolled away from her to a park bench. A little boy sitting on the bench picked it up and threw it to her. She saw a woman sitting next to him with a sign that said, “Hungry, Need Help.” The little boy didn’t really look dirty, and Anya didn’t hear any bad words, but they both looked a little scared and sad.

Anya ran back to her Dad and told him about the Mom and the little boy. Her Dad immediately went to the bench with Anya and asked the Mom what she needed. Anya was so proud of her Dad, especially when he asked the Mom if he could pray with her to ask Allah for help. Anya smiled at the little boy because he looked so sad, and he gave her a little smile in return. Her Dad gave the Mom some money and his phone number and told her to call him to arrange for her to receive help from the women in their Mosque. The Mom began crying and turned to hug her little boy, and shyly told her Dad thank you and alhamdullilah.

Later, when Anya was thinking about what happened, she understood that poor people are just like other people, that sometimes people have hard times, and they need people like her Dad to care. As she was thinking, Lion appeared and said to her with a big grin on his face, “He who has plenty to eat while his neighbor goes hungry is not a Muslim.” (hadith narrated by Al-Bayhaqi, Al-Sunan Al-Kubra, Vol. 10, p 3,#19452)

“This is because, Anya, when Allah teaches the Qur’an that we are to share what we are given by Him with people in need, and then we don’t, this means we are not really following the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and listening to Allah. Also, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said, “The umma is one body; if one of its members is sick, the whole body experiences the fever and the affliction.”

Anya looked puzzled, and asked Lion to help her understand about the umma. Lion explained to her that when the umma or the Muslim community doesn’t take care of one another, then that shows Allah that Islam is not working together.

“This is not good Anya, because it makes us weak when Allah wants us to be strong to help the world. We are like a a large cloud that is moved by the wind to bring rain to the world to keep it green. However, when we don’t stay together the cloud breaks up so the rain doesn’t appear and then the streams will stop flowing. That means Allah’s Word is no longer quenching the thirst of believers and they will begin to die out.”

“The woman your Dad is helping will be brought to other women in your Masjid so she can become strong again. Because the women are doing this they are helping to keep the umma strong by helping one member become strong. Do you see?”

“Yes, Lion” replied Anya. “If other Muslims won’t help her then they probably won’t help other Muslims either, is that true, Lion?”

“That is true,” Lion replied. “The umma needs to be strong if it is going to be used by Allah to help the world.”

It is suffering that shoots streams of creativity out of my heart, and the brokenness of life that explodes my heart into its soul.