Abdulbary's words are paraphrased from the original
and are probably not direct quotes. A number of
facts in certain places have been changed to
preserve the relevance, and names have been
removed to protect the guilty.
"Do you remember when you were little," asked Sheikh Abdulbary, "and you used to steal quarters from your mom's purse to buy candy?"
Yeah, some of us remember.
"And you used to only steal 25 cents at a time so she wouldn't notice?"
Not quite. When I was younger, it started out with 25 cents here and there. But quarters went so quickly on candy, and you could only buy so much. So I decided to go for something bigger. Something so big, it called for a night mission.
So in the middle of a dark and scary night in my life, I snuck out to our living room where I'd noticed my mom had left her purse. My little heart raced forward in anticipation of where the prize lay, and backward to her bedroom for fear that she should wake up.
As I opened the clasp of her purse, my eyes saw green. They greedily scanned the bills, some bigger, some smaller, and finally rested on fifty dollars. Ahhhh! I thought of the possibilities. So much candy! Enough for what seemed like a lifetime supply.
I pulled the bill out of the purse to look at it more closely, and my thoughts became more fixed. Money. Candy. My heart beast faster with the thoughts. Money. Candy. Money. Candy. (Well, I was only eight?)
By now, every sound in the house that wasn't the pounding of my own heart was the footsteps of my approaching parents. "Put it back!" my mind screamed, "Fifty dollars is insane, and if you don't get caught now, mama will surely notice in the morning." But my heart only beat faster. Money. Candy. Money Candy Money Candy Money Candy Money Candy. And then?
I took the fifty dollars and hurried off to my room. No, I didn't get caught. And no, she didn't even notice!
I guess it was because she didn't guard or chase so zealously after money. I guess it was because her heart didn't beat to the very sound of the word "money." I guess it was because her priorities were straight, starting with pleasing Allah ta'ala and the love for her family. Money was a priority that wasn't high on her list. And I guess when it's only money, that's a good thing.
Eventually, I gave it back. An overwhelming sense of guilt for having taken so much forced me to.
"Are you sure"my mom asked in astonishment, "Are you sure you took this from me and not somebody else?"
Boy, it was fun explaining that one. I should've just put it back. Why I thought she'd notice reappearing money when she hadn't noticed disappearing money is beyond me.
"Well," said Sheikh Abdulbary continuing, "this 25 cents from your mom's purse is exactly what the shaytaan does with us. He takes from our salah, when he distracts us and makes us look left and right. He takes in small pieces, here and there, so we don't even notice. He's stealing from us all the time, and we don't even know it."
Narrated Aisha, may Allah be please with her: I asked the Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) about one's looking here and there during the prayer. He replied, "It is what Shaytaan steals (his ikhtilaas) from the prayer of any one of you." [Sahih AlBukhari, Book 54: Beginning of Creation].
In the Musnad of Imam Ahmad, it is reported that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said: "A person may offer a prayer, and nothing will be recorded of it for him except half of it, or a third, or a quarter ? or a tenth."
"Ya Allah!" my heart screamed. And we thought we were so smart when we stole from your mother's purses, and here is one who steals from our salah. And sometimes, it will be a small 25 cents. But sometimes also, it will be a whopping 50 dollars. But you know what? When you don't care that much about something you don't even notice!