Mr. Ramzy was one of those incredibly rich businessmen; sharp, smart and intimidating. Forty-eight years ago, when he got his first job at a carwash, he knew in his heart he would make it all the way to the top. And he did! Today, he is the CEO of the well-known ‘Ramzy Empire’, owns tens of mansions, private jets, yachts and multi-billion dollar businesses on almost every continent. And even though his perfect life is sparkling proof that dreams DO come true, the man was dying inside slowly, and he had no idea why…
“I did it on my own! I overcame unimaginable roadblocks! I made something out of nothing, I built a whole kingdom and trained the world’s new leaders! I see the future before it happens and I create lucrative opportunities out of thin air!” Mr. Ramzy stated proudly.
“Was it you who did that on your own? Or was it God?’ I asked.
“Oh don’t get me wrong, it’s all God’s doing of course! But it was my hard work, achievements and me being thankful to Him. That’s why I’m different. Suceess stories don’t just happen by chance! I’ve dealt with all kinds of people, and through experience I’ve seen how some of them fail out of laziness, envy, and bitterness. I know how people can be down right ungrateful… even the ones I’ve generously and selflessly helped….”
He had seen her a couple of times at the office. There was something about this young woman’s mysterious aura that distinguished her from anyone else he’d met. He approached her a couple of times but she politely rejected him. She wasn’t the least bit intimated by his status or money! He found out later her mom was one of his employees and so Ramzy requested to see her immediately.
“How have you been Lila?” Mr. Razmy asked the old woman, before crossing his legs and lighting a Cuban cigar.
“I’ve been very good thanks to Allah. I don’t know how to show you my appreciation for offering me this job and for all your help You’ve been very kind to me since my husband died!” Lila said.
“Your husband was a good man! He was one of my best employees!” Mr. Ramzy replied. “So let me get straight to the point. I’m sure you’d be very happy to know that I’ve decided to get married again!”
“That’s wonderful. Congratulations!” Lila smiled.
“To your daughter!” Ramzy added.
“I’m sorry. I don’t understand. My daughter is already engaged” Lila stuttered.
“So I’ve heard. But I’m sure you can talk to her. It’s the least you can do given my huge investment in your family!” Ramzy said in a warning tone.
“I don’t mean any disrespect sir, but from what she hears about you from me, I think it makes her think of you more as a father figure not a potential husband!” Lila spoke firmly.
“I’ll give you three days to think about it” Ramzy frowned, motioning with one hand for Lila to leave. It was obviously payback time, for the look in their eyes said it all…
“And then what happened?’ I asked Mr Ramzy.
“That rude ungrateful woman! I practically kept her family afloat for years. You’d think she’d want to return the favor, but instead she refused my proposal!” He shook his head. “I fired Lila and cut her monthly charity of course! And sobhan Allah a couple of years later, I did marry her daughter, who by the way despises her mother till the day! That’s the punishment for her ingratitude! Allah is Fair ”
“Mr Ramzy, have you ever paid for a house or a car in installments?” I asked.
“My first car, yes!” He replied, a bit confused at the sudden change of subject.
“What happens if after the last installment, the vendor refuses to give you the car?” I asked.
“I’d sue him! If I pay for a product I expect to receive it! A deal is a deal!”
“Now, if you were paying Lila money, expecting one day she’ll return back the favor, why do you call it ‘charity’ and not a business deal? Isn’t it the same concept?” I asked.
Mr. Ramzy paused for a minute, and I took that chance to continue…
“You say Allah is Fair, but now many people are born into poor families, warzones or suffer a disability or sickness. Do you think Allah isn’t being fair to them?”
“It must be a test! They’d surely be rewarded for their patience!” He replied quickly.
“And just like He tests the less fortunate with poverty, He also tests the rich with their wealth and power. Those who were patient will get the fast track to Jannah! And as for the affluent, the wealth isn’t theirs to start with, it was a trial, and that’s why they’ll be asked on the Day of Judgment about how they spent it, in excruciating details! If we only give charity to get something in return or even expecting to hear a ‘thank you’, then the deal is done in dunya! But if we give it expecting reward from Allah alone, that’s when the Greatest and the Most Generous will multiply the blessings and happiness both in this world and in the Hereafter.”
“So are you saying I’m miserable because I denied Lila her allowance, even though I regularly pay my zakat (obligatory charity) and even though Lila and my wife, her own daughter, are estranged?!” Mr. Ramzy asked.
“All I’m saying is the concept of ownership isn’t real, because we don’t belong here!! We’re just visitors in this world. Allah gave you the brains and health to work hard, and allowed you to accumulate wealth. He then put needy people on your path to reward you for helping them! Allah doesn’t need your money, sir! He will put Lila on someone else’s path and she’ll be taken care of, no problem! He was only giving you a chance to help selflessly because Allah loves you Mr. Ramzy, and He wants you to be happy! Did you know it’s a scientifically proven fact that giving charity with no strings attached activates the mid region of the brain? That’s the part responsible for cravings and pleasure. Once we fulfill that innate need to give, we all receive! Some experiments even proved giving charity felt better than eating chocolate! I’m still skeptical about that part though” I joked.
Mr. Ramzy, the previously angry miserable man, finally smiled.
“This is what the third pillar of Islam is about. Zakat is true, heartfelt happiness. There’s nothing else like making a difference in a person’s world just for Allah’s sake! Try it and you’ll be hooked to this ‘joyous feeling’ forever! Once you see this life for what it really is, you’ll see it’s the poor and needy who are doing you a favor accepting your money, both in this life and the Hereafter. And when you help someone you don’t even like, or someone who has hurt you, it’s a clear statement you’re doing it for Allah’s sake alone!”
“Those who spend their wealth in the Cause of Allah, and do not follow up their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with injury, their reward is with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Holy Qur’an, 2: 262)
“Which would you rather do Mr. Ramzy; deny and punish the ungrateful and live a miserable life, or spend that money on Allah’s needy servants, and live happily ever after? With no fear and no grief? Think about it” I said as I closed the file. “And I’ll see you next week inshAllah.”
“I think we are done here!” Mr. Ramzy said. “There’s no need for me to come back! I finally found what I’ve been looking for!”
He walked towards the door, stopped and turned around to face me. “Thank you…” Mr Ramzy added and I nodded with a smile.
I was getting ready to leave too when my assistant walked in and handed me the phone, saying it was extremely urgent.
“It’s okay… You can tell me! Did you take it?” I asked the frantic caller two minutes later.
“No I didn’t!”
“Oh thank God!” I whispered.
“But I might….”
To be continued….
Lilly S. Mohsen