My mom had been calling me, worried that I might miss breakfast. I still had to comb my hair and was frantically looking for my brush. My younger sister and I share a room, and she was already enjoying breakfast downstairs. I called to her, asking if she had seen my hairbrush, but she was busy eating and just ignored me. I finally decided to give up the never-ending search and just rolled my hair into a messy bun.
While I was gulping down my tea, about to rush out of the door, I saw my hairbrush lying on the sofa. Adrenaline raced through my body. I fumed with anger at my sister, who had not only used my hairbrush but also taken it downstairs and forgotten it on the sofa. I yelled at her and complained to my mom about her ignorance and insensitivity. If you have ever been in such a situation, you know how stressful it is when you are running out of time and can’t find what you need.
Being the eldest child, more has always been expected from me. My parents expect me to be a dutiful, resilient girl who understands responsibility. When we ignore and forgive mistakes, it helps avoid conflicts and maintains a congenial environment in the family. It’s not easy though. I have to let go of many things and sacrifice for the sake of my mom’s comfort and my younger siblings’ demands.
I’d like to tell you the story of our Holy Prophet (PBUH)*. A lady in his neighborhood threw trash on him everyday when he was walking down the street to offer prayers. The prophet ignored her act and forgave her every time despite the fact that her act made him late for his prayers and he had to go back home to clean himself up. Later, the lady became a huge admirer of our prophet.
“Hmm,” I thought. “So if I learn to be patient and forgiving I can also be liked, loved, and appreciated by more people?”
But I was too angry that morning to think and decided to complain. As expected, my mom told me to let it go and leave for school as it was getting late.
“I hate her,” I whined, and left.
This is just one incident that I am sharing with you among countless others where I have been furious at my sister and have avoided retaliating. Every time my mom thanks me for being a good daughter, and says that Allah will reward me for being patient and forgiving towards my younger sister, I try to remember the prophet’s story.
In school, I slowly became popular because of my soft tone and forgiving attitude. One more thing I learned in this practice was that when we forgive people, we relieve ourselves of the pain they have caused us. But my sister was a problem that lingered with me all the time.
“I always have to ignore and bear her and she doesn’t care for me a bit,” I said. “She always gets away with being younger and I always have to sacrifice because I am older. I wish I weren’t older or didn’t have a younger sister at all!”
When I shared these thoughts with my mom, she would tell me to be thankful to Allah to be blessed with a sister and that whatever patience I exercise will not go to waste. Islam teaches us patience and resilience, she would say, reminding me about the story of our prophet.
As exams approached, I focused more on my studies. I stopped helping Mom with chores and helping my younger brother with his homework. At 11:00 p.m., the night before my social studies exam, I finally piled up my books and decided to sleep. While I packed my bag and gave a last look at the exam schedule, my heart sank.
I was supposed to submit an assignment to my teacher the next day. I was already drained. It was late so I couldn’t go to a friend’s home for help and my mom was asleep. I threw the diary aside. Out of exhaustion and despair, I started to cry. My sister, my insensitive, uncaring sister, woke up from the sounds of my whimpers, and asked me what was wrong.
She got up, turned on my mom’s laptop and asked me to guide her on the assignment.
“You can’t do it!” I yelled at her.
“Just tell me what it is!” she insisted.
I threw my diary at her and went to bed thinking,“Will she help me? NEVER!”
I don’t remember when I fell asleep in the midst of my sobs. The next morning, not only was my hairbrush in its place, nearby it lay my neatly-prepared assignment.
Did she really make it? I turned to her and asked her if she had really done it.
“Yes, I was up until 3:00 am to complete your assignment.”
I ended up getting a really good mark that improved my overall grade, and learned a very important lesson. Patience brings rewards. My mom was right; our faith teaches us things that are necessary for our overall well-being. Islam wants us to be kind towards our fellow human beings. When we are kind, it is reciprocated. The results are happier, supportive relationships.
My sister and I have a very good relationship. We still do argue and fight, but we try not to hurt each other. I am still popular with my friends but I get immensely happy when my sister shows her admiration and appreciation. It’s easy to be liked by friends, but with siblings it’s tougher.
I share a lot with her: my bedroom, some belongings; I even share my parents’ love with her. The level of tolerance needed is greater, but the rewards are greater too. True, forgiving and accepting each other’s shortcomings is not easy. In the short term, I have to exercise a lot of self-control. However, in the long run, this endurance pays off — I’ve gained respect from my mom and admiration from my sister.
My mother was right all along. Patience does reward us. I realize these rewards take time, but when they come, they offer a kind of happiness and satisfaction that money can’t buy. Not that I have become a perfect human being; I still lose my temper. But I consciously remind myself of the benefits of exercising restraint, learning to let go, to forgive and forget.
Allah says multiple times in the Quran, “I am with those who practice patience.” I now know that life teaches us many lessons and these lessons help us transform our behaviors for the better. I learned to forgive, to be more resilient, to enjoy the good things in life and to not mull over the bad things for too long.
When I tried applying Islam’s teachings of forgiveness and patience in my life, I realized that this can be a source of true happiness. It raised my endurance for the unpleasant, and gratitude for the blessings. These blessings include my sister’s love. The Holy Prophet’s teachings and Quran’s verses reassert the fact that the secret to a happy life is learning to forgive and valuing the bounties bestowed upon us. This will help us be more thankful and be gentle in our dealings with people and result in a more tolerant and compassionate society.
*“Peace be upon him” (PBUH) is a kind gesture towards the beloved Prophet since he was a highly respected man. The Muslim Ummah (brotherhood) should say this since this little action is, among others, another promise for Muslims to enter Heaven.
Ammarah M. Imran is 15 years old, lives in Pakistan, and attends the City School. She likes reading, writing, and photography.
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