Little Saffiyah was very excited. It was the end of the first term in madrassah. Her muallimah had therefore told the class that they could have a small party, on the last day. At home, she told her mother about the party and asked her, “Can I take paper plates and cups for the party please?” “Sure,” her mother answered. “We will pack them the night before the party, to ensure you don’t forget them and disappoint your friends.”
The night before the party, Saffiyah waited anxiously for her mummy to pack her party stuff. She was very disappointed however when her mother took out from the cupboard, some plain disposable plates and cups. “Can’t I have those pretty, colourful disposable plates and cups that match?” she asked. “No,” answered her mother firmly. “These are more suitable for your little friends. Besides, the colourful plates and cups are very expensive and are for special occasions.”
Saffiyyah felt very sad. She had imagined how proud she would feel when the table was set with the beautiful plates and cups she brought. She had looked forward to seeing her little friend’s eyes light up with delight at the sight. Didn’t her mother realise that this occasion was special? It wouldn’t feel special at all, if she took along plain plates and cups for the party.
Saffiyah thought deeply about the matter and eventually decided to help herself to the pretty plates and cups. Whilst her mummy was busy performing salaah, she quietly went to the kitchen and opened the cupboard that contained them. She was dismayed to discover those she wanted were kept on the topmost shelf. With great difficulty, she managed to get down the plates and cups she wanted and she then replaced the plain ones with the pretty colourful ones.
The following day she waited anxiously for 3 o’ clock. As she raced guiltily out of the house, she unexpectedly tripped and fell. Her stuffed bag, which was unzipped, fell to the floor and out popped the plates and cups. Her mother who had run to check up on her was shocked. “Saffiyyah,” her mother scolded. “Those are not the plates and cups I gave you for the party. How could you take these without permission? Didn’t you realise that Allah Ta’ala was watching you?”
Saffiyah felt so ashamed of herself. She then had to return the stolen plates and cups and take the plain ones instead. In madrassah she set them out on the tablecloth and her friends piled them up with goodies. Saffiyah then realised that the plates looked delightful anyway and that although they were plain, they served the same purpose.
She also realised that it was pride that had caused her so much distress and difficulty. It had also made her parents very disappointed with her behaviour. She realised then that when we are proud, we do things we later regret. That is why we often find that ‘pride comes before a fall’.