Ali, Omar, and Hassan were taking turns to play. Ali’s cell phone had broken down. Omar’s had been taken away by his parents for a bad grade in science. Now they only had Hassan’s mobile phone to rely on. And Hassan knew that too well. He decided to make the most of the situation.
“Hey guys! I am thinking of charging you for using my cell phone from now onwards,” Hassan thought aloud, looking seriously at Ali and Omar who were enjoying their turn.
Ali and Omar laughed heartily: “Yeah! Right!”
“No, I’m serious,” Hassan replied with a somber expression on his face. “Heaven knows when you two will get your phones back. Until then, I am renting my phone to you. Enough of free loading.”
Ali’s face turned as red as a cherry. Omar stopped and switched off the game and gave Hassan a hard stare: “What do you mean by that?”
“Well, it’s my phone. I can use it as I please. I want to earn some money out of it,” Hassan shrugged his shoulders casually.
Ali and Omar exchanged grim looks. Suddenly, Omar got up and tossed the phone in Hassan’s lap: “I like neither your deal, nor your attitude.”
Hassan yelled: “Are you crazy? You nearly killed my phone. Anyway, I was just pitying the two of you. I don’t want to have anything to do with the two of you either.”
Suddenly, Ali sprang out of his chair and was at Hassan’s throat. Before anybody knew, the two were down on the floor in a wild scuffle. Omar shouted: “Stop it, you two! What’s wrong with you?”
But the heat was on and nobody could hear anything, as Ali and Hassan abused each other at the top of their lungs, hitting in between whenever they got a chance to throw in a punch.
A firm set of hands grabbed the two at their collars and thundered: “That is quite enough!”
Swinging their punches wildly, they stopped in mid-air to see a large man staring down at them. Out of breath, they calmed down, as sweat rolled down their temples. Ali was the first one to realize what had just happened, as he nervously tucked in his orange shirt, gasping in between: “He started it!”
“Liar! You punched me first!” Hassan spat with furious eyes.
“I don’t need a reporter,” boomed the stranger, “I was watching the episode all along. Don’t try to defend your foolishness please.”
Omar, wide-eyed, was dumbstruck standing in the corner, just trying to visualize the worst, if this man reported the incident to their parents. Hassan was silently blinking, not knowing what to think. Ali was close to tears but would not dare to cry in public.
The man sat down on the same bench, where the boys had sat a while ago. “Sit down, all three of you,” his command was gentle but firm.
The three boys clumsily dragged themselves to the bench and sat at a careful distance, without making any eye contact.
“So Satan got the best of you today, eh?” the stranger smiled unexpectedly.
The boys just looked at each other, bewildered.
“And Satan is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need.” (Al-Furqan 25:27-29)
“Satan made Qabeel kill his own brother Habeel. He poisoned Yusuf’s (as) brothers to throw him in the well. He has been sowing enmity among friends, family, and the Ummah since Adam’s time.”
Ali looked at Hassan and Omar. They appeared jet-lagged.
The man continued: “Things are not important. People are. And an opportunity to share with friends should never be cashed into business.”
Hassan cast his eyes low, appearing ashamed.
“Similarly, if a friend lends something, use it as an Amanah (trust). When he asks for it back, return it to him with gratitude and no complaints.”
Omar and Ali sat quietly, thinking.
“Well, gentlemen! You’ve had a rough time. I think you all should head home. But before that, what needs to be done?” the stranger asked.
Hassan sluggishly got up and walked over to Ali and Omar: “I apologize for being rude.”
Ali stretched out his hand slowly for a handshake: “Sorry, it was my fault.” Omar jumped up and hugged them both, shaking them from head to toe. Hassan broke into a giggle: “Stop it! You are causing an earthquake.”
The boys turned around to find an empty bench. Surprisingly, there was no sign of anyone around. They looked here and there for the stranger, but all they could see was a dog barking far away and a few pigeons fluttering nearby.
Completely spooked, the boys nervously turned to go home. Was it a dream? Who was the strange visitor? They kept babbling on their way back, trying to figure out whom they had just met. But whoever the stranger was, he taught them a lesson alright.