The coat

I remember that day at university when my new Muslim friends clubbed together to buy me a smart long woollen coat, to replace the threadbare jacket I was found wearing. It must have been shortly after my testimony of faith, when they didn’t yet know me very well. It’s amusing to think of it now, because they must have thought me to have been raised in poverty, going on my appearance: that skeletal frame of mine, gaunt face and worn-out clothes.

Funny, because it was those gifting me that expensive coat who were from deprived socio-economic backgrounds, whereas I had been raised in privilege. While two hundred miles north, my parents had just moved from their five-bedroom house in the affluent suburbs of Hull, to take up residence in a vicarage near York, my father was still driving his luxury saloon. By rights, I should have been the generous one, bestowing luxury gifts.

I wore that coat through the cold winters for the next few years. It kept me warm when I moved up to Scotland for my Masters degree. I may even still have been wearing it in the early days of my marriage. It was the most generous of gifts, so unexpected. May Allah reward those friends of mine, and always keep them warm as they kept me warm. May God shower blessings upon them and grant them a good return. May He always clothe them as they clothed me.

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