In the city of Mumbai I became acquainted with a very remarkable personality. While I’d like to share his name with you, prudence dictates that I refer to him as Ahmed. As his name suggests, he was a follower of The Prophet, and a very devoted one at that. Ahmed supported, and took an active interest in more charitable enterprises than I’ve seen any other single individual sponsor. He had a particular interest in creating job opportunities for downtrodden peoples, and it was of scant interest to him if the needy were labeled Moslem, Christian, Buddhist or Hindu. Need qualified any one for his help.
In addition to his own considerable charitable enterprises, Ahmed found time to get involved in organization and support of educational and healthcare institutions sponsored by foreign organizations. It was in this connection that I first met him. He was a regular donor to our annual fund raising activities for schools and hospitals. Ahmed never tolerated poor management of his gifted money. I well remember his close inspections of projects he’d donated money to. If he was not satisfied that best results had been achieved from his gifted money, he’d demand satisfaction or his money back.
Knowing his reputation, it was with considerable apprehension I answered his first summons to a business luncheon. As it turned out the occasion was quite enjoyable and I developed a keen interest in West Asian arts and literature at that meeting that I retain to this day. The dinner meeting also heightened my respect for this man, whose practical life shone through everything he did without it being offensive or threatening.
Ahmed had a lot of money, and conducted his national operations from a tower building in Mumbai city. There were property development monuments to his business skill scattered around India. It was some time before I knew him well enough to enquire how he’d achieved this success.
The fact is Mr. Ahmed was not born to riches. As a boy he ranged about the city of Mumbai selling balloons, combs and other cheap items from a push cart to make a living. Hard work, long hours, combined with clever business deals raised him step by step to the head of a business empire. He was noted in a corrupt business environment for honesty and integrity. It was an impressive rags to riches story!
Ahmed refused to dwell on his obvious skills in reaching such a lofty pinnacle. He modestly told me, “When Ahmed is in partnership with Allah, no one can hold Ahmed back?” That was his simple explanation for his rags to riches success story! Because of his philosophy countless people were blessed. He made Islam more understandable than any other person I’ve met of that persuasion. There was no hard sell preaching or high blown militant theology in his contacts with others, just acts of charity and kindness to all. When he died, thousands mourned his passing in the great funeral processional.
How wonderful it would be if all exhibited that same disinterested benevolence which motivated the life of Ahmed. The art of walking the talk rather than charity for a manipulative purpose.
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