11.

Mummy was always nagging Naseeha and Sabeeha to switch off room lights, when they left a room. They would switch on lights and simply leave them on for hours, if their mother didn’t go around checking regularly. They however felt that she just nagged unnecessarily and that it was no big deal if a light stayed on, after a room was vacated.

Their mother often told them all bounties are from Allah and that we would have to account for all wastage. Allah could snatch away His bounties at any time especially if we did not show appreciation. “Don’t you know Shaitaan gets happy when we waste. Wasters are regarded as ‘brothers of shaitaan’,” she often reminded them. One night not long thereafter, there was a sudden blackout in the area and the bounty of electricity was snatched away. All the houses in the area were plunged into darkness.

It was not very pleasant. Their parents brought out some candles and matches and lit them. The girls were relieved to be able to see once more. They felt much remorse over all the times they had wasted electricity, by carelessly leaving the lights switched on. The family was forced to cluster together in one candle-lit room. A torch had to be used by anyone needing to use the bathroom or leave the room. It was very inconvenient but their mother advised them to have sabr (patience) and make shukr (give thanks to Allah), for the little light they still had.

The candlelight was really appreciated. It enabled them to carry out certain tasks that couldn’t have been done in the dark, without much difficulty. “A little light is better than no light,” their mother comforted them. That was so true, they thought to themselves.

Time passed slowly that night and Naseeha and Sabeeha were really miserable. They had eaten a cold supper and it had been difficult to read or play easily by candlelight. The house was so quiet without their favourite Islamic radio station and they missed the kiddies’ programme. They realised that many bounties that they took for granted, weren’t possible without electricity.

They had to go to bed very early that night and as soon as they had recited their kalimahs (prayers) and settled down, their mother blew out the candle in their room. “Can’t we leave it on?” asked Naseeha drowsily. “No honey, replied their mother. She refused to allow them to leave the candle lit as they slept. She quoted them a hadith that teaches, “Verily, fire is your enemy. So before going to sleep extinguish it.” (Bukhari) The children realized the wisdom of the hadith and slept without further protest. They made a firm resolution that night to avoid wasting electricity in future.

The following morning when they awoke for Fajr, they were delighted to discover the blackout was over and the electricity restored. They informed their mother of their new resolution. She was pleased and made a wonderful suggestion that every night, when the family retired to the lounge after supper and Esha salaah they should go around switching off lights, that were not in use. Only the main ones should be left on. They were then to count every light switched off as a point and record it in a book. Once they reached an agreed number of points, she promised them a reasonable reward of their choice.

At first the girls collected lots of points, but later the points became less and harder to obtain as everyone in the household become aware of conserving electricity. Sometimes though somebody would forget or be careless, so slowly but surely, they reached their target. Their mother then enquired what reward they wished for and guess what? They each wanted a torch of their own, which they could keep in their bedside drawers. They wanted to be prepared, should there suddenly be another blackout. Did they choose wisely? What do you think?

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