One of the most challenging things about being a trying-to-homeschool stay-at-home mum is managing time effectively. Now that Bear has arrived, I’ve had to stretch myself a little and be a whole lot more creative.

One thing I have learnt to do is to be on the look out for and capitalise on teachable moments. These are often unplanned events that open the door to meaningful discussions. They may reinforce what the child has already learnt or spark off new ideas. The nice thing about these spontaneous learning moments is that they provide a context or real life example for the child so the lesson will leave a lasting impression.

My husband’s varsity mate came to Islamabad for a visit, accompanied by his wife Sameera and 2-year-old daughter Rania. They were such lively folks that we had lot of fun and laughs. A lovely change in our routine! Sameera was a delightful character who regaled us with tales of her escapades in Texas – like a mishap that almost got her hair burnt in a salon. Rania nicknamed my daughter “Aloo” upon hearing that this was the only Urdu word Marz knew and the two shared messy Nutella sandwiches.

They came to see us one last time on the way to the airport before flying home. We shared a few minutes with them mostly talking about how sorry we were that time seemed so short. Just before leaving, Sameera asked for a small favour. She said that her daughter, who was a picky eater, had refused most of her meals that day. She asked if we could make her a Nutella sandwich again.

I rushed to the kitchen and began preparing the sandwich, chuckling as I went about it. ‘Children!’ I thought. ‘The worries they put their mothers through.’ Marz wandered in and asked for a sandwich too. Unfortunately, she was left with the crusty end slices of the loaf, which she disliked – “hard bread” she called them.

I braced myself for a difficult moment… I thought, ‘She is going to insist on the softer slices and I will have a hard time telling her they are for Rania.’ Since I was in a hurry – I didn’t want our guests to be late for their flight – I had to think fast.

Then it hit me… I turned to Mars and told her, “Do you remember what Allah said about how we are to treat our guests?” She nodded and I pressed on, “What are we to do?”

She said, “Honour our guests.”

I then continued, “Do you understand then why we should give Rania the best pieces of bread?”

Alhamdulillah, she understood and a difficult situation was averted. Our guests left happily with their chocolate sandwich and Mars had happy memories of little Rania and how she was able to give her friend a gift.

This is the story that came in so handy during my teachable moment… I hope you enjoy it.

They Honoured Their Guests

Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Hurayrah said, “A man came to the Prophet and said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Poverty has stuck me.’ The Prophet sent a messenger to his wives (to bring something for that man to eat) but they said that they had nothing.

“Then Allah’s Messenger said, ‘Who will invite this person or entertain him as a guest tonight; may Allah grant His mercy to him who does so.’ An Ansari man said, ‘I, O Allah’s Messenger!’ So he took him to his wife and said to her, ‘Entertain the guest of Allah’s Messenger generously.’ She said, ‘By Allah ! We have nothing except the meal for my children.’ He said, ‘Let your children sleep if they ask for supper. Then turn off the lamp and we go to bed tonight while hungry.’ She did what he asked her to do.”

“In the morning the Ansari went to Allah’s Messenger who said, ‘Allah wondered (favorably) or laughed at the action of so-and-so and his wife.’ Then Allah revealed, ‘and they give them preference over themselves even though they were in need of that.’ (Surah al-Hashr:9)”

Al-Bukhari recorded this Hadith in another part of his Sahih. Muslim, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i collected this Hadith.

In another narration for this Hadith, the Companion’s name was mentioned, it was Abu Talhah Al-Ansari, may Allah be pleased with him.