Friday, November 3, 2000
The Ruby Red Oranges
by Youssuf El-Kalay
Asalamu Aliakom Wa Rahmat Allahu Wa Barakatu.
Welcome back to Egyptian Tales. This week's story will be
short but the lesson learned will be great Insha'Allah.
I have noticed through my travels around the world that a major
problem with many Muslims (including myself) is how we interact
with our Muslim brothers and sisters. We seem to have a lack
of forgiveness between ourselves. I hope that this story will
shed some light on what I am trying to bring across Insha'Allah.
As I have mentioned in my previous story (The
Streets of Old Cairo), Egypt is a mix of old and new. Many
people still purchase their groceries in open air markets. To
those of us who live in the West, it may seem awkward but it
is a part of everyday life in Egypt. Often times a buyer will
develop a rapport with the seller, and become a special customer.
It's a lot different than walking into your local grocery store,
purchasing some fruit and walking out. Usually it's the seller
that picks out the produce for you. Unfortunately a lot of the
fruit that is picked doesn't always stay in great condition,
especially from the harshness of the summer heat. That's why
if you have a good relationship with the seller, they'll pick
out the best fruit for you. Though as you'll see in a bit, this
isn't always the case.
It was late at night and I had spent the entire day with my grandfather
at the university. We decided to stop by a local fruit grocer
and purchase some fruit. It so happened that the owner of the
fruit stand was away, and had left his son Ahmed, to attend to
the customers. Ahmed was a young man: sixteen years old at most,
judging from his appearance. We greeted him with "Asalamu
Aliakom" and he replied "Wa Aliakom Asalam", while
adjusting the fruit in their boxes. He showed us all the fruit
he had, bananas, apples, and ruby red oranges in great quantities.
"Oh Hajj," he said, "I highly recommend these
ruby red oranges, you won't find them anywhere in this size or
price, they are the best in town."
Ruby red oranges are super sweet, loaded with even more natural
sugars than a regular orange and just bursting with flavor. They
are called ruby red oranges because the fruit is actually red
After discussing what fruit we wanted, my grandfather decided
to get a few kilos of apples, bananas and ruby red oranges. Ahmed
was very happy and went on to say, "I will pick out the
best oranges for you, Hajj". We paid for the fruit and headed
on home. Boy, was I looking forward to tasting some of those
amazing ruby red oranges!
When we got home, we took all the oranges and thoroughly washed
them. I proceeded to cut open several of the oranges but to my
surprise they were not ruby red at all. In fact, not only did
they look like regular oranges but they tasted like them as well.
I decided to cut open all the oranges since we were using most
of them to make orange juice. So you're probably thinking only
a couple turned out to be regular oranges, right? Wrong... of
approximately 45 oranges I found only one that was semi ruby
red. I was very disappointed and immediately complained to my
grandfather. How could Ahmed have sold us these oranges making
us believe that they were ruby red when they weren't? And of
all things, recommending them to us as "the best in town".
I told my grandfather that we should return to Ahmed and demand
that he return our money and give us the proper oranges. I was
My grandfather sat me down and said, "Calm down, is it
worth arguing with your Muslim brother about some oranges?"
I thought about it for a second or two and said, "But
he has stolen from us, he gave us regular oranges instead of
ruby red ones!"
"How do you know he did this deliberately?" my grandfather
replied. "Isn't it possible that whoever shipped him the
oranges told him they were ruby red when they weren't?"
I said, "But that's no excuse
My grandfather sighed and said, "Then forgive him! Let
it pass. Everybody, even you often make mistakes
So yes, I went to sleep that night a little disappointed about
the lack of ruby redness in the oranges we had purchased, but
looking back I see how important it is that we forgive one another.
You might remember a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and
blessings of Allah upon him) in which he said that we should
forgive our Muslim brothers and sisters and give them 70 excuses.
And that if we can name 70 excuses there is at least 1, which
we cannot name.
Until next time, Insha'Allah...
Youssuf El-Kalay has lived in Scotland,
Egypt, Bahrain, and the United States, and currently resides
in Southern California. It is his hope that through his stories,
you the reader will be able to experience some of his adventures
and the lessons he has learned from them.
If you enjoy these stories, let us know. Your
feedback is important and is always appreciated.