Welcome and thank you for dining at our restaurant — the Restaurant of Life. Every man, from the first to the last, have gone and will go through these doors and have a meal with us, but many have and will leave the restaurant unfulfilled and unhappy.

But not you. Definitely, not you.

You will leave these doors fulfilled and happy. When your meal is done, you will step outside, content. And when you look back into the restaurant, you will have nothing but the sweet aftertaste of an unforgettable experience; the kind that leaves you with no regrets, the kind that restores you with hope in tomorrow.

“Why is it,” you may ask, “why is it that I will leave fulfilled and content, when countless end up with nothing but the bitter aftertaste of regrets? Aren’t all of us dining at the same restaurant and served with food cooked by the same Chef?”

The answer is simple, our wonderful guest. Although the Chef is the same, and the restaurant is the same, there is one element that differs for every guest that enters through those doors – the guest himself.

You. You are different.

You are unlike any other guest that enters through those doors. And thus your outcome will be different.

You see, in the Restaurant of Life, it is you who will determine your own dining experience. It is you who would have made the choice, consciously or unconsciously, to leave with a sweet or bitter aftertaste. It is your thoughts, decisions, and actions that will determine if you will look back at this dining experience with fond memories or regrets.

So step in, and have a seat. The Chef will be serving you His special shortly, cooked especially for you with nothing but love and infinite Mercy. To help you get the best of your dining experience with us, here are 5 House Rules that you should follow in the Restaurant of Life.

House Rule 1: The Chef is called The Chef for a reason

Here in the Restaurant of Life, The Chef holds the highest power and knows more about the guests that come in and the food that He serves than anyone — including you. You may think that because you have read a dozen books and have gone through many experiences, you know all that there needs to know about yourself, and about food.

I’m sorry to say this, but the truth is that you don’t. The Chef knows more than you. Period.

The sooner you step off your imaginary pedestal and stop trying to judge The Chef and His food, the sooner you will realise this and begin to really enjoy what He serves you. And you will, without a single doubt, always conclude that The Chef truly knows what He is doing, and that you don’t.

So leave the cooking to The Chef, and submit that He has power and knowledge over all things. Don’t criticize, just learn to enjoy the experience.

House Rule 2: Focus on what is on your plate

One thing we noticed among guests of the restaurant is that they love to compare the dishes that The Chef serves them. Once their food arrives, they will glance at their plate, analyse the plate of the person sitting across them, and start sending in complaints:

“Why does she have eggs and I don’t? Why is his steak bigger than mine? Why are all of them served salmon while I am only given sardines?”

Remember, my dear guest, The Chef is The Chef, and The Chef, in His infinite wisdom, cooks our dishes specifically for us. What this means is that every guest in the restaurant is served different dishes, and at the times which The Chef finds most suitable.

So when you begin to compare the food you are served with to that with another person’s, you are committing injustice to The Chef by thinking that He is withholding the good stuff from you. In effect, all He is doing is carving you the best meal you will ever experience.

Worse still, you are committing injustice to yourself too because you are not giving yourself the chance to even enjoy the food served to you. Because you are constantly thinking that you have been shorted and that you deserve better, you will never appreciate the love The Chef has shown you in His food.

You have been given your plate. Focus on what’s on it. Remember that The Chef is The Chef, and He is in the process of cooking up the best food uniquely for you. So stop comparing your food with others. (And please, stop shoving your food in the face of others too!)

House Rule 3: Understand the science of food

Another complaint we often get here in the Restaurant of Life is that there are certain ingredients in the food that the guest doesn’t like — particularly the bitter ones. In fact, if we allowed the guests to choose their own ingredients, they would probably all choose to consume sweet and salty food all day!

But the fact is that The Chef understands the science of food, and you don’t. Good, safe, food contains the kinds of ingredients that are traditionally liked, but great, awesome, food is the result of a controlled explosion of flavours and textures on your tongue.

So whatever’s on your plate, both the greens and the blacks, both the sweet and the sour, understand that The Chef has placed it there for a reason. Eat the ingredients in isolation and they may be tough to swallow, but savour them together and you will begin to see sparks fly.

Trust The Chef and His knowledge.

House Rule 4: Thank The Chef

Can we let you in on a secret about the food served here in the Restaurant of Life? Maybe even two?

The first secret: The food’s on the house! The Chef doesn’t have to cook for you, but He does, because He loves you and wants to provide the best food for you. Yes, The Chef is known as Most Generous for a reason.

The second secret: The food’s magic! The Chef doesn’t need your gratitude, but the more you show appreciation and thanks for what you are served, the more the food on your plate will multiply. Why does it happen? We have no idea. That’s just one of the many wonderful promises given by The Chef, and The Chef never breaks His promises.

House Rule 5: Once the Chef says you’re done, leave gracefully

Lastly, when The Chef says that your time in the restaurant is up, please stop eating, leave whatever remains on your plate, and leave the restaurant gracefully.

One of the problems we have with certain — many — guests is that they have grown so attached to the good food and their stay here in the restaurant that they mistakenly made the restaurant their home.

They start getting territorial over their tables, start demanding that food is served to them, and get upset when they don’t receive what they “ordered”. When The Chef finally cooks His last meal for them, they refuse to face the reality that the restaurant was never meant to be a place of permanence; it is, like all things, transitory. And when The Chef orders the guards to escort the reluctant guest out, despite the good experiences he has had in the restaurant, he will still leave unhappy because he has wrongfully attached himself to the Restaurant of Life.

Don’t make that mistake. Whether you like it or not, there will come a time when you will be served your last meal, and you will be asked to leave. You can choose to forget that fact now, and suffer later at having to constantly long for the unattainable, or you can choose to remember that fact now, and remind yourself that your true journey awaits you once you leave the doors of this restaurant again.

Oh look! Your food is here, compliments of The Chef!

May we just add one last thing before we leave you to enjoy your food?

Knowing the 5 House Rules won’t do you much good if you don’t embrace them in your time here at the restaurant. We have briefed every single guest that walks through our doors the same rules we are sharing with you now, but most guests forget, and in the end, leave with the exact opposite outcome that The Chef wishes for them.

We pray that you will be different, and that you will find your dining experience here in the Restaurant of Life a fulfilling one. Please, dig in! Don’t forget to say your Bismillahs ;)

P/s. Credits to my friend Atikah for inspiring this article by telling me to focus on my plate when I started getting anxious that every one of my friends are getting married… except for me (heh).