I recently returned home after having been away for ten days. The taxi from the airport hastily brought me home. I walked up the driveway dragging my dusty suitcase and rang the doorbell nervously. He came running to the door at the sound. I realised then that I had missed the patter of his small footsteps. He gazed at me through the foggy glass panes separating us. A look of awe filled his pearly little eyes, he was transfixed. He then frowned with a look of complaint, as though asking me ‘where have you been?’ and within an instant beamed at me radiantly, forgiving and forgetting all. His smile melted away the stresses and fears of my travels. He held out his hands and called out to me, wanting to be picked up. I gently picked him up. He grabbed my travel ridden and unkempt facial hair and embraced me. In that embrace was an unconditional acceptance and warmth, a testament to the innocence of children. It brought home all those incredible moments, and mercies that I had encountered on the journey and sealed them all.
The journey had taken me with a group of the IUS Aid volunteers to the troubled yet recovering land of Iraq. We wanted to be a source of support and joy to the impoverished orphans, widows and displaced people of Iraq long marred and ravaged with decades of violence and terror. If estimates are correct, there are over 3 million orphans in Iraq at the very least, and with the onslaught by Daesh (ISIS) this number is increasing exponentially. We wanted to offer the little we could within our limited and humble capacities, in the hope that Allah might accept it from us. In our trip we wanted to meet some of them and bring a little happiness in their troubled lives.
When I first set out to plan my journey, I wanted my experience to be beyond the transactional; I wanted it to transform my life. Although I recognised the importance of visitation in Iraq and the blessings it brought, as well as the importance of supplicating and seeking, I did not want to be a mere empty-handed visitor. I did not simply want to take, take and take more from my generous hosts. I was all too aware and had been brought up knowing of their generous nature. I wanted to give something back. I wanted to take back a humble gift in the hope that it might find their acceptance. That they might proudly call out and say “yes he is from among us.”
When I had reached the threshold of my home and picked up my one year old who had been eagerly awaiting my return, when I stroked the curls of his hair, when I smelled his innocent baby fragrance, when he held me in his embrace, it was perhaps in that moment that I truly glimpsed the immensity of the loss the 8 year old Jawad was left with. What awaited him was a life full for struggle. He had been deprived of love, left with a yearning for affection. Although Jawad could be materially helped through the kindness of strangers, no one could bring back and replace his father for him. His sense of loss, inflicted so early in his life, would stay with him forever. It would shape his future, his way of thinking, and his outlook on life. I could only try to make his experience easier.
Written by Abu Hassan
 Source: Sahih Bukhari 5659