Everyone is afflicted with tests at some point or another. Life goes on of course, but it is not quite the same when you have lost someone you love. There is the grief you do your best to keep locked away and there is the void that the memories don’t quite fill. Still, we all have to push along…

You may find that I talk an awful lot about my father… Well, truth be told, I think about him and miss him a great deal. He was a very good man, who loved his family and friends well, mashaa Allah.

Today, I remembered something that my mother told me about my father and it made me smile. So bear with me while I take you on another ‘ramble’. *S*

Islam places a great emphasis on good character. We are commanded to be honest in all our dealings and to be trustworthy as well. We are forbidden to consume wealth by means of falsehood and injustice and we must never ever get involved in haraam transactions like bribery, stealing and so on. “And eat up not one another’s property unjustly (in any illegal way, e.g. stealing, robbing, deceiving), nor give bribery to the rulers…” [al-Baqarah 2:188].

My father mashaa Allah was a man who believed in good old-fashioned solid values. He was a principled man who believed in doing his best in everything he pursued. He pushed us as children to do well in school and did everything he could to help us – he would ferry us for tuition twice a week, pay for any study materials we wanted and encourage us with pep talks every chance he got.

Once we started working, he often fussed at us about good work ethics. Whenever we were late for work, he could hardly contain his anxiety and disapproval. He saw work as a trust and often told us, “How would you feel if your employers were to cut your pay by $5 every month? You would not like it would you? Now tell me, is it fair that you are always late for work?”

My father started his career in the Ministry of Environment as a Public Health Inspector. He would conduct inspections in his sector and check that companies, especially hotels, restaurants and coffee shops maintained hygiene standards. Failure to maintain these standards would result in warnings, fines and suspension of business.

The food industry is a competitive one here, so many of these business owners feared the repercussions of a bad report. Some would try to bribe these officers at times – subtly or directly. They would offer cash, expensive wines and cognacs and even women!

My father, however, was scrupulous to a fault and always refused *S* Sometimes hotel managers would invite him to a meal before the inspections but he only accepted a glass of water. One particular restauranteur offered my father a pack of cigarettes but my father refused, saying he did not smoke. The man kept urging him and practically pressed the box into his hand. When my father kept insisting he did not smoke, the man leaned closer to him and hissed under his breath, “Its not cigarettes that are in the box!” Allah knows best how many bills he placed in the box – my father never found out.

My father always said that a moment’s indiscretion and greed could destroy a man and his family, so he never accepted nor gave any bribes. It was never worth it.

Now, Singapore has very strict laws – some would say draconian. The government takes a very harsh stance against corruption – any government officer found guilty would be sacked and lose his pension.

One day, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau called my father in for an ‘interview’. He was naturally alarmed for he had no idea what the matter was. He knew that he had always been above board but feared that perhaps someone may have incriminated him out of spite.

He turned up at their headquarters and there, they told him that they had been watching him round the clock for close to 4 months. FOUR MONTHS, subHanAllah! They had tailed him EVERYWHERE HE WENT, TWENTY-FOUR HOURS A DAY!

When my father asked why, they said they had received a tip-off that my father had had a stake in a bakery that was located close to our house and that he was receiving bribes and favours from the owner. My father said that the family that owned the bakery were indeed close family friends, but stressed that that was all they were. He denied the charges vehemently. While he was outraged, he was at the same time, afraid. He was close to retirement and feared losing everything he had worked for. Still, he stayed calm and maintained his dignity.

It was huge relief for him when they told him not to worry – they said that they had no evidence anyway! In fact, the officers who tailed him often complained to their superiors – they said that it was exceedingly BORING tailing my father. All he ever did was go to work, do his prayers and take classes at the masjid and stay home with his family.

Their only concern was that there was one day when records showed that my father had left the office for a few hours. This was easily explained – my father clarified that a Muslim friend of his had passed away. Since Muslims bury their dead without delay, he had to leave immediately for the prayers and funeral.

Anyway, the CPIB found NO DIRT on him – my father was THAT trustworthy, mashaa Allah.

This story never fails to make me smile. As a child and a teen, I DID used to think that my father was boring. Now though, when I remember, I think, it’s not a bad thing at all…