Adapted from Ahmad, September 1993
Some of the villagers of the Marj and the other villages nearby held their annual meeting recently, to discuss how to improve their social conditions.
Everybody came to the meeting with a clear idea about what kind of welfare projects could improve their villages.
They studied all the proposals, but they chose the one they considered urgent: Building a resort for the elderly. It gained their full approval, and they decided to prepare a field construction study and to organise a contribution campaign. This meant that they had to pay visits to the village's very rich men who lived in the city, especially Abu-Ma'rouf, who was probably the richest among them. They formed a delegation, which included representatives of the Marj and all the nearby villages.
They went to visit Abu-Ma'rouf with a detailed description of their project, hoping that they would come back with a generous contribution as a token of appreciation for their noble efforts.
Abu-Ma'rouf listened carefully to what they had to say. He nodded his head in a way no one was able to make anything of. In the end, he promised that he would look into the matter, and send whatever money he could afford to donate to the village.
A few days later, the people in charge of "the Aged" project were shocked by the modest sum Abu-Ma'rouf had sent. Many of the low income villagers had had donated about the same amount money if not more. Rumours had it that Abu- Ma'rouf was not impressed, and that he believed that the project was useless, and that it was not worth all the money that it was supposed to cost. More importantly, he did not believe that the problem of the old people was an important issue.
Yet, none of those who were striving to carry out the project were discouraged. They went on with their campaign as planned.
A few years later, the modest project began to emerge as a "concrete" fact between the oak and poplar trees. People came to the village of the Marj from all the nearby villages to help in the construction work or to learn about the resort.
Then finally the work was completed, and the resort opened its doors to the elderly.. to those who found in it comfort and happiness. Allah blessed this work, and the donations increased. As a result, it developed, gaining a wide reputation as the best sanctuary in the region.
Meanwhile, another kind of development was going on at Abu-Ma'rouf's house. All the members of his family were insisting that he should live in a house for the elderly. He had lost nearly all his money and his physical condition was no better. He grew weak and feeble. His children and grandchildren turned away from him and pursued their own interests and pleasures.
They all insisted that the old man should live in a home for the elderly, having heard what kind of care and love old people found there.
Abu-Ma'rouf felt that everybody around him was irritated by his presence, and he had no alternative, but to live in a home for the elderly in the village. Abu Ma'rouf went to the village with some of his relatives who wished to see him off. When they got there, Abu-Ma'rouf looked at the building and saw how big it was.
An image of the past swept through his memory when he was visited, many years ago, by the villagers to ask him to donate. He remembered how he did not care about the project and how little of his money he paid; the same money that had faded away.
The sweet sound of the recitation of the Quran interrupted his thoughts. The words were coming from the nearby mosque, in preparation for the call to prayer, and he felt as if they were talking directly to him.
Bism Allah! AL Rahman AL RaheemAllah, the Most Exalted speaks the truth.
Behold! You are those who are called upon to spend in Allah's way, but among whoever is niggardly against his own soul; and Allah is Self-sufficient and you have need (of Him).
Tears began to fall from the old man's eyes. "We are poor and Allah is rich" he said. He refused to go in before he signed some papers in which he donated all what was left of his property to be used in the further development of the project. What happened that day had a profound impact on the large crowd that witnessed the incident. The story of Abu-Ma'rouf became a moral lesson which they took care to convey to their children and grandchildren.