When I got married I was a terrible cook. I actually didn’t know how to cook anything at all – not even plain rice. The first few days and weeks of my cooking attempts lead to some strange and confusing meals. I combined spices that shouldn’t be combined, I burned the bottom of every pan I used, and I turned great ingredients into leathery, rubbery messes.
But Amr ate every one of those meals, even though I knew they tasted pretty odd. He never gagged or pushed the plate away, he never reached towards the phone to order a pizza instead – God knows he my have wanted to. He ate the meals, and then he thanked me for cooking them.
And every meal I ever cooked for him from the first (terrible) one to the very last one, he thanked me for. At the end of every meal he’d say, “Alhamdulillah. Thank you, Asmaa.”
When was the last time we put the feelings of someone above our own, or above the need to always be right? Oftentimes we hold the quivering hearts of others in our palms, not understanding that what we say or do can damage them. We think being completely honest trumps protecting hearts and feelings. And yes, sometimes it is more important to be honest, but in some situations, it isn’t.
When people offer us something – a meal, their company, a gift – they open themselves up in a way that’s hard to do. They’re giving you something they believe is worthwhile.
So even if it means grimacing through a not-so-pleasant meal, or being in the company of someone we don’t find particularly interesting, or pretending to like a gift even though we think it’s kind of terrible, we do it.
We do it out of love, out of respect, and out of a desire to emulate our beloved Messenger Muhammad (saw) who was the kindest and gentlest of all.
It takes personal sacrifice to protect someone else’s feelings. But it’s a sacrifice that comes with a great reward.
I’m a better cook now. I’m better now at most things actually. And it’s because “thank you, Asmaa,” was Amr’s response to everything I tried. Instead of making me doubt myself or feel embarrassed because I couldn’t do things perfectly, he equipped me with the confidence I needed to continue. He put my feelings above his own, and for that I ask God to raise his status in the hereafter. Ameen.
(EDIT: the instance from the Prophet’s life that I had previously written here seems to not have any basis. I have deleted it. Thank you to those who let me know, and I apologize for spreading something untrue!)
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