“Mmm… these Kebab rolls are scrumptious!” complimented Ali, as he started on his second helping.
Samrah Apa smiled merrily from behind the sizzling fry pan, where she was more than eagerly smearing some aromatic Chutney (sauce) into her next roll. She offered: “Eat heartily, little brother. There is no greater joy in the world than a culinary expert being admired for his or her craftsmanship.”
“But why doesn’t Mom like your recipe? She always praises Hina Khala’s Kebab rolls. If you ask me, I don’t like them at all. Yours are the best!” Ali licked some Chutney off his fingers.
“Mom learnt to cook from Hina Khala, who is an excellent chef in her own right. Naturally, Mom admires her teacher. Honestly, I do, too. She can make plain water taste like cocktail.” Samrah Apa explained gently.
Ali continued pensively: “But Mom should be more thoughtful about your feelings. I don’t like it, when she compares your food with Hina Khala’s and always pins a badge of honour on Hina Khala’s cuisine.”
Samrah Apa, stowing away her apron, walked over to Ali and pulled up a chair next to him. “I know what you mean. It is difficult for me, too. But that is how we get a chance to improve ourselves. I don’t take this as Mom’s criticism. I consider it her honest feedback to help me try harder.”
Ali twitched his nose: “I still don’t agree.”
“Do you know, who Imam Abu Hanifa was?” asked Samrah Apa.
“The founder of Kebab rolls?” answered Ali innocently.
“No, silly, he was an extraordinary Muslim hero from the world of learning. He was an Islamic scholar and an expert on Islamic law. His legislation (Islamic laws) has served the Muslim world for nearly twelve centuries. He gave solutions to the futuristic problems of the people. He is the glorious Imam, who compiled judgements on 83,000 to 500,000 issues. This mammoth project consumed thirty years of his life.
He stood up against cruel rulers, who offered him high positions of government. But he refused and was imprisoned by Caliph Mansoor in 146 Hijri for four years. His work didn’t halt even then. He continued educating the people, until he was poisoned to death.
However, his own mother always consulted another scholar Amr bin Zarqa, when she needed a solution to any of her problems. She would ask her son Imam Abu Hanifa to go to Amr bin Zarqa’s house for answers to her religious queries. And he would abide by his mother’s orders. Amr bin Zarqa would be embarrassed by this, as he knew Imam Abu Hanifa was a religious expert of a much higher calibre than him.
At times, Amr bin Zarqa didn’t even know the answers to the questions. Imam Abu Hanifa solved them for him, and Amr would simply repeat what Imam Abu Hanifa taught him.
Walking alongside his mother while she rode a donkey, Imam Abu Hanifa would also take her to Amr bin Zarqa, so she could hear the answers to her questions personally from her mentor.
Imagine the reward Imam Abu Hanifa reaped for exhibiting this level of patience, love and respect for his mother. So, little brother, if Mom says Hina Khala’s Kebab rolls are the best, they are declared to be the best!”
Ali grinned from cheek to cheek, savouring the last bite of his spicy Kebab roll. “Whatever you say, Samrah Apa!”