Akhtar came late from school one day. He was feeling cross and looked untidy. When mother asked him the reason, he did not answer. Everybody was surprised to find him, so. As, the family sat down to lunch, the children's favourite uncle, Mr. Inayat, came to visit them. The children were very happy to see him because he had been to many parts of the world and always told them interesting things. Even Akhtar was not cross any more.
Akhtar's sister Rukhsana told uncle Inayat that he had come home unhappy. Uncle Inayat looked at him and asked him what had happened. He said: "Uncle, we are having the social service work at school and have to do the work of servants and gardeners. The teacher made me dust the cupboard and the desks."
Uncle: “Is it work that makes you cross?"
Akhtar: "Should I not be cross if I am made to work like a servant?"
Uncle: "Did your teacher do anything himself?'
Akhtar: "O dear, yes! After we had taken out the desks and chairs, the teacher swept the room and emptied the dustbin. The headmaster cleaned the bathroom, which made us all feel ashamed.”
Uncle: “Is it a matter of shame to clean what we ourselves make dirty?
Akhtar: "But think of a gentleman cleaning the bathroom; shouldn't the sweeper do it?"
Uncle: "Is the sweeper not a human being?"
Akhtar: (quietly) "Yes, he is.”
Uncle: Are not our servants human beings like us?"
Akhtar: " "I should say they are."
Uncle: "Then we should treat them as we treat ourselves and should always be ready to do ourselves what we ask them to do for us.
Akhtar: "But it looks so odd."
Uncle: "Yes, perhaps it does. But this is because we have forgotten the noble example of our Holy Prophet. He would never ask anyone to do anything, which he himself would not do. He loved doing work for himself and for others with his own hands. He repaired his shoes, mended and washed his clothes and swept his room. When the Mosque at Medina was being built, he carried mud and building material. During the battle of the Khandaq, he joined his companions in digging the trench outside Medina."
Rukhsana: "Were his companions not like him uncle?"
Uncle: "You are right, Rukhsana. Hazrat Abu Bakar not only did his own work but also fetched water for widows and neighbours who were very old and had no one to work for them. Hazrat Omar once carried on his shoulders a large sack of flour for a needy family. Hazrat Ali laboured in the garden of a Jew and gave away his wages in charity. Hazrat Fatima fetched water, ground corn and swept the house. Caliph Omer bin Abdul Aziz refused to hire a servant to help his wife. At table, Caliph Mumun-ur-Rashid served not only himself but also his guests. Sultan Nasir-ud-Din earned his living by making caps, and Emperor Aurangzeb by transcribing the Holy Quran. "
Akhtar: "But uncle, all these are the stories of the past."
Uncle: "O, no! It happens in the advanced countries even . They have learned the dignity of work while we have forgotten it. In China everyone has to spend some time each year, working in the fields or in a factory. Even the Prime Minister and his wife do this work. They believe that all ought to work and, no wonder, they are making such quick progress. In the U.S.A., once I stayed with a high government official as a guest. His son, who was just as old as you are, went out early in the morning to sell newspapers. 1 asked him why he did so. He said that it was simply because he wished to be independent and useful. One day he fetl.ill. His father went out to deliver the papers for him so that he may not lose his customers. Once, the President's own son took the job of white washing rooms in a hotel.”
Rukhsana: "Uncle, did you do any cleaning when you were there?"
Uncle: “O, yes! I lived in a hostel where we swept our own rooms and cleaned our bathrooms. Once I needed extra money for books I washed dishes in a hotel.”
Akhtar: “Thank you, unlce. I will never mind working with my hands in future.”