Finally, I am home. I pause to take in my surroundings and acknowledge my profound happiness. I smiIe to myself as I feel the breeze of the gulf against my face. I have longed for this day for many years. And now, I am finally standing at the birthplace of Islam, just a few steps away from my father’s resting place. I salute my father and pray for him. I tell him his son is trying to do the best he can. Indeed, “Every soul will taste death, and you will only be given your [full] compensation on the Day of Resurrection. So he who is drawn away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise has attained [his desire]. And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion.”

قال تعالى: ﴿ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ وَإِنَّمَا تُوَفَّوْنَ أُجُورَكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فَمَنْ زُحْزِحَ عَنِ النَّارِ وَأُدْخِلَ الْجَنَّةَ فَقَدْ فَازَ وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا مَتَاعُ الْغُرُورِ ﴾ [آل عمران: 185]

The time flies by very quickly, and I realize that I have to leave. My visit has left me feeling a little bewildered. How on earth can I honor the man, my father, who is such a huge part of me? I think to myself, what does Islam say? I come up with a simple plan. I must revive any broken ties with my relatives and kin. As the idea forms, I recall the Prophet’s saying: “The person who perfectly maintains the ties of kinship is not the one who does it because he gets recompensed by his relatives (for being good and kind to them) but the one who truly maintains the bonds of kinship is the one who persists in doing so even though others have severed the ties of kinship with him.”

عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم‏:‏ ‏ “‏ليس الواصل بالمكافئ ولكن الواصل الذي إذا قَطَعت رحمُه وصلها‏”‏ ‏(‏‏(‏رواه البخاري‏)‏‏)‏‏.‏

Overwhelmed by an odd mix of calmness and anxiety, I arrange my first visit with my uncle.

My nervousness rises as I step into a home I have never entered before. A young East Asian man opens the door and politely invites me into a beautiful yard. I step onto a pathway surrounded by bright lights, similar to the glittering stars in the sky. I can hear the sprinklers working hard to water the plants despite the blistering heat of the desert. They magically create the illusion of an Amazonian garden. Each droplet creates a melodic and refreshing sound. My thoughts are soon broken by these words: “Sir, please come in, Sheik A. is waiting for you in the Majlis.”

I step into a lavishly decorated reception area with Italian marble covering every inch of the floor. As I enter, I notice gold-plated door knobs, expensive porcelain, exotic fabrics and luxurious fragrances in every direction. Is this what heaven is like, I wonder to myself. I stop to check myself. I feel like I am in a dream, lost in the Palace of Versailles about to meet Marie Antoinette. I soon come crashing back to reality. I am beckoned into the house, welcomed by my uncle. Yet the man standing before me feels more like a stranger. I have not seen him for decades.

With a deep sense of uneasiness and restlessness, I am ushered into a grandiose dining area. There we are greeted by two impeccably dressed servers, who stand straight and tall like sentries guarding the table. They submissively attend to our needs, watching us carefully. They serve us a shocking variety of local and imported foods – lobster, lamb, quail, Arabic, Italian, French, more than enough to satisfy two guests. The quantity of food on the table could feed an entire neighborhood. I am hungry, starving in fact, as the aroma of saffron teases my nostrils. I am also overcome with fear and shame due to the excessive display of opulence and wealth in a Muslim home for Allah says “eat and drink, and do not be extravagant; surely He does not love the extravagant.” I force myself to eat so as not to appear rude.

قال تعالى: ﴿ يَا بَنِي آدَمَ خُذُواْ زِينَتَكُمْ عِندَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ وكُلُواْ وَاشْرَبُواْ وَلاَ تُسْرِفُواْ إِنَّهُ لاَ يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ ﴾ [الأعراف: 31]

Did you know that Saudi Arabia wastes an astounding $35 million in food every day? The country’s affluent upper class displays shocking decadence while the poor go horribly deprived. It is time we stop this recklessness and remember the stern warning from Allah: “And Allah presents an example: a city which was safe and secure, its provision coming to it in abundance from every location, but it denied the favors of Allah. So Allah made it taste the envelopment of hunger and fear for what they had been doing.”

قال تعالى: ﴿وَضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا قَرْيَةً كَانَتْ آمِنَةً مُّطْمَئِنَّةً يَأْتِيهَا رِزْقُهَا رَغَدًا مِّن كُلِّ مَكَانٍ فَكَفَرَتْ بِأَنْعُمِ اللَّهِ فَأَذَاقَهَا اللَّهُ لِبَاسَ الْجُوعِ وَالْخَوْفِ بِمَا كَانُوا يَصْنَعُونَ ﴾ [النحل: 112]