Anfal, a rich young girl, sat waiting impatiently at the doctor’s clinic to get the results of a medical test. She was in a hurry to attend a party and feared she might be late for her appointment with the hairdresser. She never thought the result would be anything important. It was just a precaution insisted upon by her family. She had never suffered any serious illness, apart from the odd ache in her never suffered any serious illness, apart from the odd ache in her limbs. Then, it was her turn to see the doctor. She hurried inside to get it over with as quickly as possible. She was surprised to see the doctor look sad and concerned as he asked, “Is this yours?”

She answered, “No, it is my daughter’s.”

She wanted to know the truth and thought that perhaps he would hide the truth, if she told him it was her own. He asked her to have a seat, so she sat feeling somewhat afraid. She looked at him anxiously, as he said,

“Why did not you send a man to get the results?”

Anfal said, “It was on my way so there was no need to send someone else.”

The doctor looked sadly at her and said, “You seem to be an educated girl. You understand the nature of life.”

He stopped talking, and she began to tremble.

She asked, “What do you mean doctor?”

The doctor said, “The result indicates that there is a blood disease.” He looked down at his papers and remained silent. Anfal had to ask him to give her more information. She cried in fear, “Is it cancer?”

He did not look at her, but a cloud of sadness covered his face. It was as if he was sentencing her to death.

She said in a broken voice, “I am finished then.” The doctor knew then that she had lied, but it was too late to hide the truth. He looked kindly at her and said, “I am sorry for you. Why did you lie? Anyway life and death are matters within Allah’s power. Many sick people live long and many healthy ones die.”

Anfal felt as if she were drowning, as if a hard fist was cruelly squeezing her heart. She tried hard to regain her strength and said, “I do apologize. Thank you doctor.”

The doctor encouraged her saying, “Be strong and optimistic. Medical science is constantly progressing. Some of today’s incurable sicknesses can be cured tomorrow I still have hope. Leave me your telephone number.” She repeated the number automatically without knowing what she was saying. Feeling great shock and bitterness, she again thanked the doctor and left.

At home she kept the truth to herself. She did not know how to share it. Anyway, everyone was busy, getting ready for the party. Her mother asked, “Have you been to the doctor? Why did not you go to the hairdresser?” It was just a by-the-way question, needing no answer. She briefly said, “I am not going to the party !”

She went upstairs into her room and locked the door.

She stretched out on her bed fully clothed and listened to her family’s voices, as if they were coming from a far away place. The wind seemed to her to be a funeral sad tune, lamenting her approaching death. The bedroom seemed strange to her as she would be leaving it soon. What about the house? It would not remember her. She was just a guest. Others would take her room and soon forget her. She tried to cry but tears did not help. She looked around her in pain. Those curtains that she had tried so hard to get, would stay after her. It would not have mattered if they had been made of the roughest fabric, she would leave them for others. She wished she had not troubled herself for such things. She wished she had saved her time and money for more useful things, which could have been helpful to her in her difficulty.

She wondered, “What is useful to me?” She was young, beautiful and rich with everything her heart could desire. Could anything help her and save her from death? She had always longed for an official job with a good salary. She had it, but could it save her from death?

An idea struck her. She hurried to the phone while everyone was away. She dialed the doctor’s number and asked eagerly, “If I travel abroad can I find a cure?”

He said, “There is nothing new abroad. It is a waste of money.”

She put the phone down and sat on a nearby chair.

Her salary would not change matters. She walked through the house’s rooms as if saying her farewells. She paced the small garden and looked at the trees. She whispered, “I wish these trees knew I am leaving them, those stones, walls…I wish these doors knew my hands will soon no longer open them. I wish those flowers, that I planted and watered knew. How often the thorns and hard stones tore my hands! How often I watered those dying flowers with my tears when there was no water. I wish they knew the meaning of my departure. These fruiting trees were tiny when I planted them. I did my best to help them flourish until they grew up healthy and fruitful. Will they know I am soon leaving? Will they remember my days in their company? What about these seats, I used to rest on. Will they miss my presence? Will they be ready for someone else to settle on them? My writing desk felt my writing in tears and in smiles, does it know I am leaving? Will it miss my pen and papers in its drawers? I wish they all knew I am leaving. I wish I had known I was leaving, then I would not have cared so much for this life. I would not have felt proud and arrogant…

Had I known I were a guest in this world I would not have been cheated or tempted by its luxuries…

Had I known this I would have been aware that leaving a simple life is easier than leaving a luxurious one…

Had I lived a simple life, I would not have found it difficult to cross from this world to the next. My family is now enjoying the party…how often I longed for such parties, how much I cared for fashion and hairstyles! Can they help me now?”

Anfal threw herself down on the nearest chair as if she had realized a truth previously unknown to her.

She said, “What shall I take with me? Nothing but the coffin and my deeds. What kind of deeds will go with me on my long journey? Nothing! Yes, nothing!” She remembered her friend Sarah, who used to advise her and guide her to the right path of Allah. She used to remind her of the Qur’anic verse: …and make provision, for the provision is the guarding of oneself. (AI-Baqarah:239)

She had never considered the importance of good deeds. Now she was in need of such deeds to present to Allah. She would stand to give her account, but what would she say? How could she expect Allah’s mercy when she disobeyed His orders? How could she ask for forgiveness when she never even thought of obeying Him in her life’s affairs? She wished she had read the Holy Qur’an instead of all those cheap novels. She wished she had gained some knowledge of her religion instead of reading film-star magazines. She continued wishing she had done few things, and not done other things. She wished she had not angered this person or that, and had never lied or gossiped about anyone. She wished she had not been proud and despised the poor.

She said, “I wish I could start my life all over again to make-up for my errors and to obey Allah’s orders. I worshipped my desires and ignored my Creator. I wish I could live for a while to make up for my sins.”

She remembered a Qur’anic verse, her grandfather used to recite: Until when death overtakes one of them he says: Send me back, my Lord. Haply I may do good in that which I have left. By no means! It is a mere word that he speaks, and before them is a barrier until the day they are raised. (AI-Mominoon:99)

Here she said, “Oh God, I do mean it…” Tears burst from her eyes. She cried bitterly in repentance, not pain. She decided to obey Allah in all His orders if she lived a bit longer. The phone rang and she walked towards it lazily. Tears in her eyes she said, “Yes?”
Someone said, “Can I speak to Miss Anfal?” She knew the speaker. It was her doctor. She said, “Yes, speaking.”

The doctor said cheerfully, “Congratulations my daughter! There is nothing wrong with you. Thank God!”

She was stunned with surprise. She did not know what to say. “No disease? How? You are joking, doctor!”

The doctor said, “May Allah protect me I am not joking. I have just got an apology from the analyst. He explained that there was a mix-up with the names. Your name was written instead of someone else. I have your medical report here in front of me. You are quite well. Be thankful to Allah my daughter.”

Excitedly she said, “Thanks be to Allah, Thank you doctor.”

She put the phone down, feeling as if she was new born. She knew she was safe for a while, but death would certainly come one day. She had no time to waste. However long she lived she was a guest. The first thing she did was to perform her prayer, which she had neglected for a long time. She promised Allah to obey His orders to pray, fast, and stick to wearing decent clothes. She would also give up whatever Allah had forbidden. In order not to forget this, she wrote the Qur’anic verse on a placard and hung it on the wall. On the other side she wrote a wise saying:

“Repent the day before you die. Because you do not know when you will die, then always be repentant.”

 

THE DANGEROUS GAME

Asia sat waiting for her friend Baidah who was coming to visit her. She was surprised at her friend’s demand for a private meeting. Asia thought Baidah must have a serious problem, so she was anxious to see her friend, when she arrived a few minutes late. Asia waited for her to start talking while Baidah tried to appear composed.
Then she said, “Can I ask you a question!”

“Yes, with pleasure!” said Asia.

Baidah said, “I want you to answer frankly.”

“Now you know I am always frank!” Asia assured her.

“Why did you refuse Foad’s proposal of marriage!” burst out Baidah.

Asia was taken aback by the question. She was silent for a while, and said, “Can I also ask you a question!”

“Of course, you can,” said Baidah.

“Why do you ask me a question that might upset me? You know he is my relative and I have refused him for certain reasons.”

Hesitantly Baidah said, “Well, he has proposed to me. That’s why I want to know your reasons for refusing him.”

“Oh, I see!” said Asia, and went silent. Then Baidah began to plead with her saying, “I must know. I am your friend, ain’t I! Don’t you care for me?”
“Yes, you are my friend and I do care for you, so I will tell you the reason. But first of all, what do you know about him? ” Asia asked Baidah.

“I know that he is a handsome, gentleman, educated, and well mannered with a good social position.”

“That’s right,” said Asia. “He is also wealthy. But is that enough?”

Baidah, pale faced, murmured, “He is not a committed Muslim !”

“You know this and yet you still ask me my reason for refusing him?”

“I know that religion is very important, but he might change”, said Baidah.

“How?” asked Asia.

“Have you ever thought that he might be guided to the right path?” proffered Baidah.

“Is this what you think?” said Asia.

“I think,” began Baidah, “that refusing him is a kind of cowardice. I think we can bring Foad and the likes of him back to religion, and that we should strive for that.”
“O.K., but how are you going to do it?” Asia said.

“I have means” said Baidah. “Anyway why should I refuse him when he has all these good qualifications?

If I leave him, he may marry someone who will increase his disregard for religion. If I accept him, I may bring him back to faith.”

“That’s your opinion” said Asia. “I won’t impose mine on you. However, it is a very dangerous game, or marriage at risk.”

“Oh, please do not exaggerate so Asia. Marriage is an adventure. I feel I can tolerate the experience.”

“You are quite wrong! Experience does not make a fool wise. There is a great difference between marriage to a committed believer, who is careful of his religious duties which protect him from deviation, and a non-committed Muslim, who cares for nothing but earthly pleasures, that change with the times.”

“It is a risk” said Baidah, “But if I succeed it would be in the best interests of religion.”

“You say: ‘If I succeed’, this ‘if’ indicates your doubts. Marriage should start on a firm foundation.” Asia told her.

Baidah looked down as if in inner conflict. Then she said, “What is your opinion?”

“I don’t know what to say” said Asia. “I am afraid you will suffer as a result of such an experience. It is a dangerous game. A husband does not usually accept his wife’s opinion and he may even make her accept his. Then the wife may find herself standing at a crossroad leading either to the failure of her marriage or the loss of her religion. You know both are terribly hard to tolerate.”
Asia stopped for a while and waited for Baidah to speak.

When she did it was in a choked voice, “What then?”

“I think you can spare yourself such trouble!” said Asia kindly.

“Suppose I am forced into doing it. What should I do then ? ”

“That’s for you to decide Baidah. No one can impose their will on you, whoever they are!”

Baidah was silent, then said challengingly, “I shall take the risk. I hope that I will be successful.”

Asia looked at her and said coldly, “You are free to do what you like. I hope you won’t be sorry afterwards.” Baidah got up saying, “I apologize for having taking up your time.”

Asia, “Nothing to apologize for, I feel sorry for you! ”

They shook hands and Baidah left the house. Asia felt she had just lost a friend.

A few weeks later, Baidah sat, waiting anxiously for her husband. It was nearly 11 p.m. and she was very worried. She looked at the clock every other minute, and at half past eleven she heard the door open and close softly. She got up and saw her husband enter. Her face became bright with happiness. She said, “Oh Foad, you are late!” She was scared when she saw he looked disappointed. He said, “Why haven’t you gone to bed yet?”
“How can I sleep when you are still out? ” asked Baidah.

While he was taking off his suit and putting on his pajama, he murmured, “That will cause you a lot of worry.”

“How? ” asked Baidah.

“Because I shall often be late. There is no need for you to stay awake and alone.”

She was disturbed at his answer and could not believe her ears. So instead she said, “Your supper is ready.” Smiling he said,

“I ate out. Some friends invited me to a club. They held a party in my honour.”

“I hope you enjoyed it. But why didn’t you tell me about it before?” asked Baidah.

“There was no need to tell you, as you won’t go with me to such places,” said Foad.

“Well, at least I wouldn’t have got so worried.”

Foad said, “You should have known that I was at a social engagement. I live amongst educated liberals, and cannot be isolated at home with a woman…” he uttered the last words in a sharp tone and then said, “Now, go and have your supper.”
With tears in her eyes, she sadly said, “I am not hungry.”

Foad said, “Then let’s go to bed.”

Baidah said, “I expect you’ve already done your prayer?”

Coldly, Foad said, “It is after mid-night. Prayer time is over.”

“No”, said Baidah, “It is not yet mid-night. Anyway it must be done even if it is late.”

“You don’t know how tired and sleepy I am!” said Foad.

“Fatigue doesn’t exempt one from one’s religious duty.”

Mockingly he said, “Allah will accept my excuse.”

“No matter-if you love me you must do your prayer.” Angrily, Foad got up saying, “Please do not mix up my love with praying and fasting. Let me love you in my way not yours. Anyway, I will not allow you to call me to account about my prayer every night!”

He threw himself on the bed and fell asleep leaving Baidah shocked at his words. She recalled Asia’s words which had apparently come true.

She hurried to the Holy Qur’an to seek comfort and refuge. She opened it at random and read the first verse of the page which said: …We did them no injustice, but they were unjust to themselves. (The Bees: 118)

Days and weeks passed. Baidah could find no way of getting Foad to come to her way of thinking. Whenever she talked about religion, he either mocked her or turned a deaf ear. She tried her best to give him comfort and happiness at home, but she found him more and more interested in spending his time outside. One night she waited long time for him to come home, and when he did he seemed happy, so she thought it would be a good time for her to talk to him.

She said gently, “Don’t you see that I am unhappy?”

Foad surprised said, “You are unhappy? Why? Haven’t I provided you with all the means for your comfort?”

“Yes, I must admit you have! Anyway, happiness is what matters; without it, there is no comfort.”

“Why aren’t you happy then ? ” asked Foad.

Baidah said, “How can I be happy when you are so physically, spiritually and emotionally far away from me?”

“That’s partly true,” conceded Foad, “but I love you so I do not completely agree with what you say.”

“If you loved me you would please me. You know I am not happy about your behaviour.”

“Have I hurt you in any way?” asked Foad, much surprised.
“You have not hurt me physically, but you have hurt me mentally by your disregard for the belief that you promised to respect. You are not careful enough about religion, to bring us closer to each other.”

“Well, I am afraid I cannot change my life style. I cannot give up my friends or my social life. I cannot be cut off from others just to spend my life behind these walls. I cannot perform my prayer in a mosque just to please you. Faith stems from personal satisfaction. It would be nothing but hypocrisy if I worshipped Allah just for you. You know that I am an honest, straightforward person, both in my personal and business dealings. What more do you want? ”

Baidah listened, while her heart sank. She said in broken voice, “What about me? Have I no place at all in your life?”

“You are my beloved wife. I love no one but you. Come closer to my heart and you will know real happiness.”

“What do you mean?” said Baidah.

“I mean give up ideas that keep you from enjoying life’s pleasures. Turn to me whole-heartedly, and I will make you taste a life that you are still unaware of. You are at cross-roads, either you put your hand in mine and I’ll take you into a world of happiness, or you stay a prisoner in your house, content with it.”

“Isn’t there a third choice?” she asked. Foad was silent for a while and then said, “Yes, there is. We can separate; and though it would be hard for me, it would be less harmful than if you decided to refuse my suggestion.”

Baidah was silent. She wanted to scream and run away, but she was helpless. She spent a long sleepless night, feeling as if she was between two fires both of which could burn her. She was about to choose a divorce, but then thought of the tiny creature moving in her womb.

This innocent creature tied her both to the house and her husband. She was soon to be a mother. She felt dizzy with thinking and, throwing her head on to her hand, she went into a dreamless sleep. When she woke up her husband said, “Baidah, why didn’t you sleep in your bed?”

She opened her eyes to see him standing near her with a cheerful face as if he was ignorant of the reason why she hadn’t gone to bed. She looked at him silently.

Anxiously, he said, “Why are you pale? Are you sick?” He put his hand round her and sat nearby.

She said, “Do you really not know why I am sad?”

He laughed gently saying, “Even if I know, what can I do about it? I have offered you my heart, so is it my fault if you reject it? By the way, today I have some visitors, so be ready for the occasion.”

“Who are they?” said Baidah.

“Just some friends with their wives.” He was silent waiting for his wife’s reaction.

She said, “Will it be a mixed meeting for men and women ?”

“Of course, you do not really expect me to stick to the old tradition of having a separate room for women, do you?”

“What about me then?” asked Baidah.

“You are free to do what you like,” said Foad.

She was silent for a while; then, wishing to compromise and thus show some understanding, she said, “O.K, I shall be present.”

Her husband was happy-he kissed her warmly saying, “Do you mean it? How happy I am. I shall be the happiest husband. I shall be so proud of your beauty. You are the sun that will outshine their dim lights.”

“What has my beauty to do with anything? To please you, I have decided to be present but I will wear hijab.”

Foad drew back in disgust, “In decent hijab? No! I do not want you to be mocked. Just prepare dinner and leave the house. That will be better. I can find some excuse to explain your absence.”

Baidah could not tolerate such an insult. She got up saying, “It is better if I leave the house at once.”

“What about the guests?” asked Foad.

“You can take them to a club”.

“When will you come back?” asked Foad.

“I may never come back!” retorted Baidah.

“What about my child?” asked Foad, calmly and deliberately. Those words were strong enough to remind her of the bitter reality, the great dilemma she was in.

She despairingly murmured, “Oh, what a fool I was! How right Asia was!”

When he heard Asia’s name, he said laughingly, “Oh, that snob! I proposed to her just to crush her pride and religious vanity. Now you remember her; what has she or her advice ever done for you? You are on the verge of destroying your marriage and your family life is about to fail because of this backward Asia!”

Baidah angrily said, “No, I won’t allow you to speak ill of her. Had I listened to her advice I would have spared myself such an experience. Anyway, it is my own fault. I must bear the consequences.”

**********

Two years later, Asia sat thinking of her friend Baidah. She had heard a lot about her that she found difficult to believe. She could not believe that after a bitter struggle Baidah had given in to her husband. She had heard she no longer cared for Islamic hijab but accompanied her husband to parties and nightclubs. She had given birth to a boy, Farid and they said she was always sad and hardly ever smiled. Asia heard such rumours and wished she could see Baidah and learn the truth from her.

That morning the doorbell rang and Asia hurried to open it. She was surprised to see Baidah herself standing in front of her. She was pale and unhappy. Asia welcomed her and led her into the living room. Baidah sat silently, not knowing what to say.

Asia said “Oh, Baidah, how I hoped I’d see you; I’ve heard so much about you, but I was anxious to hear from you yourself.”

Baidah cried bitterly saying, “I have no news except of disgrace and shame! I have been the victim of foolishness and self-deceit. Anyway I am not worthy of your friendship. I have fallen to the bottom of the abyss and am hopeless, may Allah forgive me!”

Asia felt great pity for her and kindly said, “You are still my sister and I must help you, to overcome this awful experience. Now, please tell me everything frankly as you did in the past.”

Baidah said, “Well, you know that I never listened to your advice. I believed in a dream and ran to get it; I tried hard to get Foad to come round to my way of thinking but ailed. He never accepted my religious commitment, and treated me cruelly, humiliating me often. Sometimes, he was gentle and kind and sometimes he was frightening. I thought about divorce, but my son caused me to give up that idea, so I gave in, and obeyed him meekly. He exploited my weakness and increased his domination over me, drawing me ever deeper into disgrace. I accepted everything just as a prisoner accepts his sentence. Now, you see me here!”

Asia could not blame her seeing her as she did and asked, “What’s the problem now then?”
“He divorced me a week ago, because he blamed me for the death of our son”, said Baidah. “Why?” asked Asia incredulously.

“Because I fasted in the month of Ramadhan.”

Asia asked, “Did your son die of hunger?”

Baidah replied, “Of course not. He was both breast-fed as well bottle-fed. He died after an illness.” Asia was greatly moved and felt sorry for the bereaved mother who had suffered humiliation and disgrace. So you see, I have lost everything,” continued Baidah.

Asia hugged her warmly and said, “You have not lost everything. You still have your religion calling you back through repentance, and I am still your loving friend.

You still have the broad road of the future ahead of you. Perhaps this experience will help you to make a new righteous start; a future that is built on firm foundations. Don’t despair, “…surely none despair of Allah’s mercy except the unbelieving people.” (Yousef: 87)

SPI RITUAL SURGERY

Ikhlaas considered her sister-in-faith, Wafa, to be a real help to her in understanding life as being a righteous attempt towards achieving perfection. She could never be out of her company for even a short time, and Wafa was always nearby to support her in times of crisis. She would remind Ikhlaas of her duties, if ever she forgot, and was, to her, like a mirror, gently reflecting any defect or weakness in her character. In fact Ikhlaas felt uneasy and suffered spiritually, whenever Wafa did not call or turn up at meetings. Waiting would cost her a lot; therefore she rushed anxiously to enquire about her friend’s absence but could get no news of her. There was nothing for it but to go herself. Wafa, looked rather pale, but welcomed her friend with a smile. Ikhlaas kissed her saying, “Oh dear sister I why haven’t you come recently? I hope there is nothing wrong?” Gently Wafa said, “Nothing, but a little surgery.” Shocked, Ikhlaas said, “Oh dear, surgery? Where? When? Why? …” Calmly Wafa said, “Oh sister, you have raised many questions that cannot be answered all at once. Let us answer the first question, ‘Where?’, the answer is here at home!”

Ikhlaas wondered, “Here? At home? ‘Who was the doctor, who performed the operation ? Where is the pain ? You look, quite well, thank God!”

Wafa said, “You have again raised many questions, I shall therefore, follow your style in my answer. As for the doctor, it has been myself, as for the wound, it is unseen.”

Ikhlaas thought Wafa was joking; she said, “When did you become a surgeon? We know you as our spiritual guide.” Wafa spoke in a serious calm tone. She said, “Every person should be his own surgeon. A sick man is ready to resort to the doctors to rid him of a tumour or a rotten limb. Why does he do that? Why does he risk his life at the hands of someone else? Of course to be saved from a disease which is eating up his body. As for spiritual diseases, the case is different. When a person feels such diseases keeping him from happiness he should do something to cure himself. Surgery with a difference is necessary, in this case. He himself must be the doctor. By means of faith he can perform the operation, and hence the house replaces the hospital. So I was not joking when I referred to the reason for my absence.”

Ikhlaas was excited at this. She was about to cry out of fear for her friend. She anxiously said, “How do you feel now dear sister? Shall I congratulate you on your recovery?” Wafa did not answer, but was silent for a while. Ikhlaas was greatly concerned. It was not easy for her to see her best friend suffer such a dangerous disease and she was relieved when Wafa said, “I think I am quite well again.”

Ikhlaas wanted to learn something from her friend, so she asked, “How do you know that you are safe, sister?”

Wafa said, “Life’s incidents have helped me to recognize the disease and it’s cure. Don’t you see that these incidents are the experimental tools which operate upon the human personality?”

Ikhlaas said, “So I see, but still one should not forget the other surgeon’s knife.” Wafa nodded saying, “That’s a fact. Physical treatment is as important as spiritual.”

THE GIFT

She spent an uncomfortable day anxiously waiting for, she knew not what. Her beloved husband had left her shortly after their marriage. She was waiting for the gift he had promised her, before he went into death’s eternal sleep; into the bright world of heaven. His gift, (whatever it was) would be dear to her. It would be a token, a symbol of the love, emotion and harmony that filled their life together. Yet it was a unique gift; one prepared by the husband to be given to his wife in the wake of his death. It would be one of the most precious presents he had ever given her, and she was anxious to know what it was. She wondered who could tell her something about it. He had mentioned it first during his arms training, whilst preparing to fight for the rights and the dignity of his people, to either achieve victory or enjoy martyrdom. He did not give it her then but left her, waiting for his sake return. But he never returned. How could he come back? Those who rush to fight against the satanic enemy do not come back. They always expect victory or martyrdom. They desire either death, to vex the enemy, or life that pleases the friends. There are many who come and go…, but can a life of compromise and weakness, be considered a real life? It is really only death. Her husband achieved martyrdom in the battle of AI-Karamah (a village in the occupied Palestine). He fell whilst defending his homeland that had been seized by the Zionists. They did not even celebrate one wedding anniversary as he left during the early days of their married life. Her beloved husband knew that someone’s precious life, was worth sacrificing for a noble cause. He left her and joined the combatants in the battlefield, promising her his gift. He was away often and for long periods of time, but she got news of his struggle. She prayed to Allah to give him strength, patience and fortitude with which to face the brutal enemy…then, she was awaiting his return. But now she no longer waited. He had enjoyed martyrdom in the battle of dignity and justice and she would never forget his promised gift. His bright figure was etched deep into her heart and his martyrdom had increased that brightness. He was her love whether dead or alive, and she lived with him and for him. She was proud of, and happy with, him. She had a right to anxiously await his gift. At last, after waiting for what seemed ages, but was really only a few days, the gift was brought to her.

She looked at it as if she were looking at his angelic luminous shadow. She remembered him when he was her hope in life, the man of her dreams. He went for the sake of her and every oppressed wife, every unhappy child, every lost young man… He went in order to liberate his country, for her and for all the people. He sacrificed himself for the sake of the country that was invaded by imperialists and strangers. He was worthy of her love and high respect. She got the gift. She was both happy and sad. She looked at it. It was balm for her wounded heart.

What could it be? It was a green board on which was fixed in big letters, the following Qur’anic verse : “…who when a misfortune befalls them say: surely we are Allah’s and to Him we shall return…” (AI-Baqarah:156)

She hung it on the wall where she could see it every morning, when she opened her eyes and every evening when she went to sleep. She looked at it and promised Allah the Almighty, and her martyred husband that she would tread the road of struggle till the banner of justice could be raised in Palestine. Whenever she longed for her husband she read the Qur’anic verse and a feeling of calm crept through her.
A BAD BARGAIN

Early on in their engagement, he sat near his fiancée saying, “Oh, how I love you…in fact I adore you, you are my life…” He uttered words of love that she vainly enjoyed listening to. He told her that he could hardly wait for their wedding day, as life away from her was meaningless to him. He wondered how he had managed to live before knowing her. He assured her that she was the source of happiness in his life. He was sure to rent a great house that would match his feelings. They would spend their honeymoon abroad, in one of the western capitals.

He carried on talking, repeating words of love, while his girl was lost in her daydreams, which had at last come true. Suddenly she was aware of her hair dropping across her forehead. She raised her hand to put it in place and said flirtatiously, “You were in such a hurry that you did not even give me time to have my hair done.”

He said, “Your hair is lovely anyway, and you are quite beautiful.”

She smiled, proudly encouraging him to praise her still more. She said, “You did not even wait for me to get my new dress from the tailor.”

He said, “Have not I said that this does not matter. I never worry about such things as my real aim has been reached.”

She eagerly said, “Are you quite sure?” He said,

“Yes. I swear by my love, that I mean every word.”

She said, “I am very happy. I have always hoped to get a husband who does not care for material things…”

He said, “I am just like that, you can be sure.”

She went on, “You know that money is something that comes and goes. I don’t care much for it. In fact, I give all of my salary to my father who suffers financial difficulties.”

At first he did not answer, then he said: “It is nice that you help your father. Financial problems cannot be tolerated. Then I suppose we can’t rent a big house!”

She said, “Whether big or small, it does not matter .It should at least be comfortable.”

He said, “Yes, there should be all the necessary amenities: a refrigerator, a cooler, a washing machine…”

She interrupted him saying, “Such items can be bought one by one. At first we can start a simple life. You know that at present my father cannot help us.”

He was silent again. He looked at his watch and then said, “Simplicity is nice. I think we should not go abroad! ”

She answered, “Yes, that is much better. You know I must pay back my debts!”

No longer he could conceal his disappointment, so he said sharply, “Then, your salary is already spent in advance!”

She said, “Nearly!”

He moved in discomfort saying, “I, myself am in debt, so, I’d better not marry at present.”

Standing up he said, “We may not meet again. I wish you good luck!”

He left quickly as if running away from a monster! Only few minutes before he had spoken words of love and claimed that he could not live without her. The waiter came to her with the bill that the young man had not paid.

Amused she said to herself, “I guessed right! I was right to lie about my wealth. How stupid he is! He never thought I was testing him. My bank balance is good and I am not in debt to anyone! Anyway, it was a good experience for me, even if it was a bad bargain.”

THE LAST DAYS

In despair Sarah wept saying, “Oh! I didn’t know that those were her last days or that that was to be our last meeting with her! Had I only known…”, her tears choked her. Saliha, the friend who had brought her the sad news, was brave enough to have carried the message. She offered condolences to her friend and stretched her cold and shaking hand in comfort, to Sara. She said, “It would not have made any difference. She kept it to herself and suffered in silence, patiently awaiting her end. She tolerated the horrors of waiting death. What could you have done, had you known ?”

Sarah said, “I would have learnt much from her, I would have learned lessons that would have helped me to find my way in life. I would have said farewell to her, and have assured her of my undying love and respect. Oh! I am lost since her departure…”

Saliha said, “She knew how much you appreciated her friendship, that is why she left you her writing.”

Sarah dried her tears and said wonderingly, “Her writing? ”

Saliha said, “It seems to be her diary …I ‘ve come to give you this precious trust.”

She opened her handbag and got out the diary. Sarah took it and noticed on the cover the Holy Qur’anic verse: We are Allah s and to Him we shall return.

On the first page she read:

…So, my life will come to an end soon. It is a matter of just a few days. Only yesterday was I informed of this fact. Anyway, it is the end, but I am not thinking of the end so much, as I am thinking of the beginning, and the incidents that have filled the space between the beginning and the end. Those incidents will strongly affect the end.

They indicate the end, as it says in the Qur’anic verse:

Allah is the Guardian of those who believe. He brings them out of the darkness into the light…(Al-Baqarah: 257)

Thus, I must review my past deeds and call myself to account, in order to know what is awaiting me. Light or Darkness, joy or sadness, chains or freedom…

In fact, I am seriously thinking of the beginning. What was the beginning? When and where should I start? Should I start at my childhood? Oh, no. I don’t want to write my life story that takes the time of whoever reads it. I shall express the feelings of one who stands at the crossroads of this life and the hereafter. My childhood has nothing to do with that. It has nothing to do with what is waiting for me now! Childhood is a break in man’s life, before he is required to perform his responsibilities. Yet, childhood signifies many meanings. I have heard and read about childhood. They say it is the happy joyful world of hopes and wishes. They say it is the time when a child gains the necessities for a life that will give him satisfaction. They say this and more. Though I have read about childhood, I have never realized the meaning of my childhood as defined by others. My childhood was a stage in life; I crossed it with no weapons of knowledge or faith. Hence I suffered a lot and was bewildered at the conflict between my inner self and the tiny body, between my great responsibility, which was ahead of me, and the limited range of my thinking. Childhood means nothing to me but a fruitless expanse of frozen time. So I won’t put those days of childhood on trial. I will start with the early days of youth and girlhood. What is youth to me? It is a film full of images; some are dull and heavy, some are light and bright. It is a theatre where one’s story is told; the story of someone searching for perfection; one who looked all around for the thread that would lead to it. I tried to understand life. I was never satisfied with its outward face. I dived deeper to reach my aim. I came to understand, through this universe, that there is a mighty Power with firm laws that regulates its movements. That is why it is so wonderful, so magnificent. I strived to understand people, but faced amazement, hesitation and disappointment most of the time. How often I returned home crying and broken-hearted; but, it was not always like that. Thank God! Through experience I gained more knowledge and more understanding of human nature and personal habits. I persisted in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding. Where did I find it? It was in Islam, in my Qur’an that is the message from Heaven. I felt so thirsty that I hurried to this spring. This was my early youth which I intend to record in this diary…’ shall write down its hours whether of happiness or sadness, satisfaction or disappointment. I will consider my life’s course and whether or not it was on the right path. I must tell the truth, whatever that may be. I am now standing at the doors of other world. What was my reaction to incidents and events in those past days? What was my reaction to faith and belief in Allah the Almighty? Hiding, or running away from the truth won’t help. I am on my way to stand in front of a Just Judge. There is no room for denial or lying. The Qur’anic verse says:

On the day when their tongues and their hands and their feet shall bear witness against them as to what they did… (AI-Nur:24)

I need to be frank and put myself on trial. I must be serious in calling myself to account, for haven’t I known that death is the certain end of every human being? It is written on every person clearly as a necklace on a young girl’s neck. Did I not hear that Imam Ali (A.S.) said, “Oh people! you are chased by death…!?” Then it is not only I who should call myself frankly to account. Everyone should know that he is created to achieve perfection through the worship of Allah the Almighty. When one dies, one will reap what one has sown. Oh, you who think you are safe, be careful! You will not be spared.

HARD TIMES

I must admit that I suffered poverty in my early youth. There was nothing to eat or drink, no home no clothing! Poverty is a cruel situation. It brings all kinds of misery and pain. How did it affect my life? Did it destroy me? Was I strong enough to pass the experience successfully? In fact, it was an experience that caused me to learn the importance of faith in the human life. It made me understand the great Prophet’s (SWAS) saying: “Whoever does not comprehend the Qur’an is not among my followers.”

Anyone can undergo the experience of poverty and financial difficulty and if one lacks tolerance and self-control, one may suffer an unimaginable situation. Tolerance and self-control stem from faith that can help man to successfully overcome difficulties. It teaches him to be master of himself and of others. Whatever earthly pleasures a man gets, will soon come to an end. It is no wonder that I was content with the little I had. I never thought poverty meant disappointment or failure. On the contrary, I tried to benefit from my spiritual strength and make use of it in fruitful deeds. I lacked the material necessities to help me carry on in life. Hence it was necessary for me to stand on the firm ground of constructive and creative values and ethics which help one to form a character completely aware of the dimensions of one’s existence. I came to understand the real meaning of poverty and richness. I came to know that a poor person is one whose social worth depends on his wealth. It is high when one’s bank balance is high, and low, when it is low. He needs money to prove his social existence, property to make people point at him, and luxuries to make others gather around him. He considers money as being the pivot of his existence and his dignity. He is careful to keep it because its disappearance means his own non-existence. I never let such thoughts about poverty poison my life with weakness and gullibility. I never allowed it to make me look at life with feelings of deprivation. I was happy despite my poverty. I was carefree, busy gaining religious knowledge that could shape my personality. The very little knowledge that I gained gave me so much pleasure and self-contentment that it gave success it’s real meaning. I was, thank God, happy with the little I had. It is a Divine Blessing in a believer’s life.

IDLENESS

This was a period of inactivity. Thank God, it did not last long. Now that I see my end approaching, before the fulfillment of my aim, which is to worship for the sake of Allah, I feel sad about that period of idleness. Man’s life is worthless, unless it is devoted to work for the sake of Allah, the Almighty. How despicable idleness is! How

strange that man is careless of his religious duties and neglects religious rituals! Now, I feel those past days blame me for neglecting them. They are sorry for having passed by without the performance of anything but the ordinary duties. Nothing more has been recorded in the pages of good deeds. Those days are ashamed to demand Allah’s pleasure, on the Day of Judgment. What can I do? Whatever passed away won’t come back. I should have made up for those days later. I know that one’s days are counted. I wonder if I did my best. Only Allah the Almighty knows that.

A NEW START

However, because of Allah’s mercy, my idleness did not last long. Something happened to shock me and inject new life into me. It caused me to understand my responsibilities more fully. Usually one gains experience through hardships and difficulties. Thank God, such hardships caused me to understand the importance of faith in my life.

Thus, I thank God, for His trying man with troubles and hardships that must be considered as some of His bounties. Such hardships and difficulties must not be considered in terms of their cruel appearance alone, but rather through whatever good lessons are gained from them. We should consider them spiritual benefits and face such situations with strength and determination.

I recall such an experience and how deeply it affected me. Its effect was so great that I was on the verge of hopelessness. All that time I dragged myself from the house and strolled the streets, as if to escape the barbs of that experience. I found that I was wrong. The house had nothing to do with that difficulty. Leaving the house did not make any difference. I was defeated and at a loss as to where to go or what to do. Then suddenly I listened to the Qur’anic words that came from a distance, as if I was hearing them for the first time:

Until when the apostles despaired and the people became I sure that they were indeed told a lie, Our help came to them and whom We pleased was delivered and Our punishment is not averted from the guilty people. (Yousef: ll0)

On hearing those words I was made aware again, I woke up as if from a sleep that could make me despair. I remembered that Allah, the Almighty never leaves His faithful believers in trouble. Those troubles are nothing but a means or a method towards perfection. To a human being they are the same as a laboratory where the real nature of man is analyzed so that he can learn things about himself that he ignores and discover his weaknesses and defects. After that experience I continued my life amid hopes and pains, flowers and thorns. Thorns are only found near flowers. Hope comes from pain. Hence I found myself in harmony with various roles and incidents. Good things did not tempt me, neither did bad things lead me into despair. I waited for the relief after hardships and expected darker times after happy days, as if those happy days warned of what might follow. The years passed on and I enjoyed Allah’s mercy in full. I felt I was too unworthy to receive such mercy and compassion. I belittled whatever I did for the sake of Allah. My pains increased due to my shortcomings in serving Him. Such shortcomings seemed the result of weakness or laziness. I felt uneasy in my surroundings as if I were an intruder. I tried to keep away. How hard it is for one to feel handicapped in the performance of one’s duties. I was overwhelmed with sorrow and pain that tarnished my spiritual pleasure in serving Allah the Almighty…it was Allah’s mercy that engulfed my inner self and helped me to overcome the obstacles in life. Thanks are due to Him Who keeps the doors open for His worshippers.

THE LAST HOURS

Now I must write about the last hours, which have been imposed, on me. There is no way out; death spares no one. The Holy Qur’an says,

Wherever you are, death will overtake you though you be in lofty towers… (Al-Nisa:78 )

Is there any escape from Allah’s order? The Divine narration says, Whoever rejects My rule, should leave My Earth and Heaven. Every believer should accept death willingly; with whatever pleases Allah, the Almighty. Am I sorry to be leaving this world? The answer is: Yes and No. I am sorry at leaving it because it is the way that leads to Allah’s pleasure and mercy. Its days are trials offered to man in which to make his choice. Had I to live longer I might achieve a better level in the worship of Allah. There is another reason for my sorrow. My friends and relatives will feel sad and miss me; but this is the nature of life. I am not sorry, because it is not worth a feather, as a poet says, …One should be careful of its plots. Divorce is thrice (three times in the Islamic Religion) yet I divorced it a thousand times…Its changes are fearful, its promises are false and its hopes are worn out. I wonder how some hold onto such a hope Don’t they know, good deeds are the best provisions and that the final settlement is in graves? … Oh, how sorry one feels when the last hours draw near. How regretful one is for past errors! How one wishes for a new chance to make-up for them! One is ready to give whatever one has, to make-up for those sins. How wonderful it is for one to call oneself to account. How wise it is for one to consider the result of each step one takes in life, so that one may not feel sorry at the last hours. The Holy Qur’an says,… most surely (one’s) self is wont to command evil except such as my Lord had mercy on, surely my Lord is Forgiving, Merciful. (Yousef: 53)

Oh God, I do love Thee, the same as I fear Thee… Oh God, grant me Your mercy and forgiveness, deprive me not of Your pleasure…Oh Mighty God, how happy I am to be released of the chains and concerns of this world. I am happy to becoming free of its evils and sins. Oh God, grant those who loved me patience and double their reward. Oh God, keep them on the right path, so that they can continue their good deeds through which I may survive…Oh God, grant me mercy… surely Thou art the most liberal Giver….Al-i-Imran: 8)
Source: al-shia.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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