I was constantly annoyed at an unknown someone living on the same floor as I am throughout the whole semester.
A short background: I currently stay in a hostel on campus. Each hostel block has two wings, and on each floor of a wing are five rooms. These rooms house eighteen students who share a common washroom, and a cleaning lady comes once a day to maintain the washroom.
To spare you the details, someone (or several people) on my floor has been leaving a mess in the washroom almost every single day.
At first, I regarded it as an honest mistake. I’d grab a bucket and clean the mess myself. But it happened again. And again. And again. By the fifth time I was cleaning the mess, I was clearly pissed off. There I was, needing to use the washroom urgently, and I had to time and again clean someone else’s mess.
I stopped cleaning.
Every time I went to the washroom and saw the mess, I would grumble under my breath, and walk over to the other wing. Then I’d complain about it to my roommates. I weaved in my head all the words I would write on a poster to inform the guilty parties that I was on to them. (I never did get those words down to paper though, Alhamdulillah.)
One day, however, as I was about to enter the washroom, I bumped into the cleaning lady. I gave my salaams, exchanged some pleasantries with her, and watched her pick up her tools and walk to the other wing. Her eyes were tired, her gait defeated; she hobbled slightly due to the cut she received the day prior when some broken glass fell on her.
I turned my back to her and stepped into the toilet, all fresh and gleaming.
And then it struck me, finally, that all these while when I was cleaning the mess, I was helping her indirectly. And when I left the mess as it was, I had unconsciously made the decision to let her clean the mess.
By turning away from an opportunity to do good, I had unknowingly turned down a blessing of Allah SWT.
Often times we tend to measure the things happening to us at surface level. When something happens that directly causes us grievances and inconveniences, we label the event as negative. Our first instinct is to dislike it, and to, as quickly as possible, try to remove it from our lives.
We grumble. We complain. We dismiss. We retaliate.
But rarely do we ever appreciate.
Borrowing from the wisdom of Shaykh Ebrahim, this entire world and the time it contains are the unfolding of a grand story that Allah SWT has written. And in each and every paragraph that is written for every single moment, is a narrative that has only one motive: your benefit.
Every single moment happens for your benefit.
Every bump, every irritation, and every moment we are under heat has the potential to weld and mould us into a person better than are now. When we give what is asked for us in that moment, we realize that moment’s true potential. Likewise, when we withhold or fight back, we are halting the narrative’s full potential and our story falls short.
Quite simply, the mess we see before us are blessings given by Allah SWT, in order for us to clean the mess that is within ourselves.
So the next time we stumble into a situation that was not what we signed up for, let us ask ourselves, “Whose mess will I clean next?” ;)