A Very Strange Village

3 07 2009

bread

I have heard the following story from a pious and knowledgeable brother. Hopefully it will be beneficial for all of us.

Once a Scholar of Islam was travelling and came across a village where he noticed a very strange thing. He saw a store where a man was selling bread. What was strange is that the man was charging $1 for the fresh bread and $2 for the bread that was made a day before. However, all the people were buying yesterday’s bread though they were more expensive than the fresh bread. The Scholar approached the bread salesman and asked why the people preffered the old bread over the fresh bread. The man said “The people of this village love the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) so much, that they prefer to buy yesterday’s bread over today’s fresh bread because yesterday was closer to the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).”

Today, most of our love for Prophet Muhammad is much less than the love for a single dollar. May Allah give us the understanding of this beautiful religion of Islam. Ameen.

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Why Women Cry

26 04 2009

 

Why Women Cry

Author Unknown
Why women cry, a short storyA little boy asked his mother, “Why are you crying?”

“Because I need to” she said.

“I don’t understand,” he said.

His mother just hugged him and said, “And you never will.”

Later the little boy asked his father, “Why does mother seem to cry for no reason?”

“All women cry for no reason,” his dad answered carelessly.

The little boy, still wondering why women cry, finally asked the old wise shaikh (scholar). “He surely knows the answer”, he thought.

“Ya Shaikh! Why do women cry so easily?”

The Shaikh answered:

“When Allah made the woman she had to be special. He made her shoulders strong enough to carry the weight of the world, yet gentle enough to give comfort.

He gave an inner strength to endure both childbirth and the rejection that many times comes from her children.

He gave her a toughness that allows her to keep going when everyone else gives up, and take care of her family through sickness and fatigue without complaining.

He gave her the sensitivity to love her children under any and all circumstances, even when her child hurts her badly.

He gave her strength to carry her husband through his faults and fashioned her from his rib to protect his heart. He gave her wisdom to know that a good husband never hurts his wife, but sometimes tests her strengths and her resolve to stand beside him unfalteringly.

And lastly, He gave her a tear. This is hers and only hers exclusively to use whenever she needs it. She needs no reason, no explanation, its hers.

You see my son, the beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the beauty of her face, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart – the place where love resides.”





HHUG Video Presentation

24 04 2009

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She’s My Sister

21 04 2009

A true story translated by Muhammad Alshareef

Her cheeks were worn and sunken and her skin hugged her bones. That didn’t stop her though, you could never catch her not reciting Qur’an. Always vigil in her personal prayer room Dad had set up for her. Bowing, prostrating, raising her hands in prayer. That was the way she was from dawn to sunset and back again, boredom was for others.

As for me I craved nothing more than fashion magazines and novels. I treated myself all the time to videos until those trips to the rental place became my trademark. As they say, when something becomes a habit people tend to distinguish you by it. I was negligent in my responsibilities and laziness characterized my Salaah.

One night, I turned the video off after a marathon three hours of watching. The adhan softly rose in that quiet night. I slipped peacefully into my blanket.

Her voice carried from her prayer room. “Yes? Would you like anything Noorah?”
With a sharp needle she popped my plans. ‘Don’t sleep before you pray Fajr!’
“Agh … there’s still an hour before Fajr, that was only the first Adhaan!”

With those loving pinches of hers, she called me closer. She was always like that, even before the fierce sickness shook her spirit and shut her in bed.

‘Hanan can you come sit beside me.’

I could never refuse any of her requests, you could touch the purity and sincerity.
“Yes, Noorah?”

‘Please sit here.’

“OK, I’m sitting. What’s on your mind?”

With the sweetest mono voice she began reciting:

[Every soul shall taste death and you will merely be repaid your earnings on the Day of Resurrection]

She stopped thoughtfully. Then she asked, ‘Do you believe in death?’

“Of course I do.”

‘Do you believe that you shall be responsible for whatever you do, regardless of how small or large?’

“I do, but … Allah is Forgiving and Merciful and I’ve got a long life waiting for me.”

‘Stop it Hanan … aren’t you afraid of death and it’s abruptness? Look at Hind. She was younger than you but she died in a car accident. So did so and so, and so and so. Death is age-blind and your age could never be a measure of when you shall die.’

The darkness of the room filled my skin with fear. “I’m scared of the dark and now you made me scared of death, how am I supposed to go to sleep now. Noorah, I thought you promised you’d go with us on vacation during the summer break.”

Impact. Her voice broke and her heart quivered. ‘I might be going on a long trip this year Hanan, but somewhere else. All of our lives are in Allah’s hands and we all belong to Him.’

My eyes welled and the tears slipped down both cheeks.

I pondered my sisters grizzly sickness, how the doctors had informed my father privately that there was not much hope that Noorah was going to outlive the disease. She wasn’t told though. Who hinted to her? Or was it that she could sense the truth.

‘What are you thinking about Hanan?’ Her voice was sharp. ‘Do you think I am just saying this because I am sick? Uh – uh. In fact, I may live longer than people who are not sick. And you Hanan, how long are you going to live? Twenty years, maybe? Forty? Then what?’ Through the dark she reached for my hand and squeezed gently. ‘There’s no difference between us; we’re all going to leave this world to live in Paradise or agonize in Hell. Listen to the words of Allah:

[Anyone who is pushed away from the Fire and shown into Jannah will have triumphed.]

I left my sister’s room dazed, her words ringing in my ears: May Allah guide you Hanan – don’t forget your prayer.

Eight O’clock in the morning. Pounding on my door. I don’t usually wake up at this time. Crying. Confusion. O Allah, what happened?

Noorahs condition became critical after Fajr, they took her immediately to the hospital … Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un.

There wasn’t going to be any trips this summer. It was written that I would spend the summer at home.

After an eternity…

It was one O’clock in the afternoon. Mother phoned the hospital. ‘Yes. You can come and see her now.’ Dad’s voice had changed, mother could sense something had gone deathly wrong. We left immediately.

Where was that avenue I used to travel and thought was so short? Why was it so long now, so very long. Where was the cherished crowd and traffic that would give me a chance to gaze left and right. Everyone just moved out of our way. Mother was shaking her head in her hands – crying – as she made dua’ for her Noorah.

We arrived at the hospital’s main entrance.

One man was moaning, another was involved in an accident and a third’s eyes were iced, you couldn’t tell if he was alive or dead.

We skipped stairs to Noorahs floor. She was in intensive care.

The nurse approached us. ‘Let me take you to her.’ As we walked down the aisles the nurse went on expressing how sweet a girl Noorah was. She reassured mother somewhat that Noorah’s condition had gotten better than what it was in the morning.
‘Sorry. No more than one visitor at a time.’ This was the intensive care unit. Through the small window in the door and past the flurry of white robes I caught my sisters eyes. Mother was standing beside her. After two minutes, mother came out unable to control her crying.

‘You may enter and say Salam to her on condition that you do not speak too long,’ they told me. ‘Two minutes should be enough.’

“How are you Noorah? You were fine last night sister, what happened?”
We held hands, she squeezed harmlessly. ‘Even now, Alhamdulillah, I’m doing fine.’
“Alhamdulillah … but … your hands are so cold.”

I sat on her bedside and rested my fingers on her knee. She jerked it away.

“Sorry … did I hurt you?”

“No, it is just that I remembered Allah’s words

[One leg will be wrapped to the other leg (in the death shroud)]

… Hanan pray for me. I may be meeting the first day of the hereafter very soon. It is a long journey and I haven’t prepared enough good deeds in my suitcase.’

A tear escaped my eye and ran down my cheek at her words. I cried and she joined me. The room blurred away and left us – two sisters – to cry together. Rivulets of tears splashed down on my sister’s palm which I held with both hands. Dad was now becoming more worried about me. I’ve never cried like that before.

At home and upstairs in my room, I watched the sun pass away with a sorrowful day. Silence mingled in our corridors. A cousin came in my room, another. The visitors were many and all the voices from downstairs stirred together. Only one thing was clear at that point … Noorah had died!

I stopped distinguishing who came and who went. I couldn’t remember what they said. O Allah, where was I? What was going on? I couldn’t even cry anymore.

Later that week they told me what had happened. Dad had taken my hand to say goodbye to my sister for the last time, I had kissed Noorah’s head.

I remember only one thing though, seeing her spread on that bed, the bed that she was going to die on. I remembered the verse she recited:

[One leg will be wrapped to the other leg (in the death shroud)] and I knew too well the truth of the next verse: [The drive on that day would be to your Lord (Allah)!]

I tiptoed into her prayer room that night. Staring at the quiet dressers and silenced mirrors, I treasured who it was that had shared my mother’s stomach with me. Noorah was my twin sister.

I remembered who I had swapped sorrows with. Who had comforted my rainy days. I remembered who had prayed for my guidance and who had spent so many tears for so many long nights telling me about death and accountability. May Allah save us all.

Tonight is Noorah’s first night that she shall spend in her tomb. O Allah, have mercy on her and enlighten her grave. This was her Qur’an, her prayer mat and …and this was the spring rose-colored dress that she told me she would hide until she got married, the dress she wanted to keep just for her husband.

I remembered my sister and cried over all the days that I had lost. I prayed to Allah to have mercy on me, accept me and forgive me. I prayed to Allah to keep her firm in her grave as she always liked to mention in her supplications.

At that moment, I stopped. I asked myself: what if it was I who had died? Where would I be moving on to? Fear pressed me and the tears began all over again.
Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar…

The first adhan rose softly from the Masjid, how beautiful it sounded this time. I felt calm and relaxed as I repeated the Muadhdhins call. I wrapped the shawl around my shoulders and stood to pray Fajr. I prayed as if it was my last prayer, a farewell prayer, just like Noorah had done yesterday. It had been her last Fajr.

Now and Insha Allah for the rest of my life, if I awake in the mornings I do not count on being alive by evening, and in the evening I do not count on being alive by morning.
We are all going on Noorah’s journey – what have we prepared for it?

Click here to listen





Barren but Blessed

16 04 2009
Barren but Blessed

 

J. Samia Mair finds motherhood in an unexpected place at the end of her battle to conceive. 
 

The kingdom of the heavens and earth belongs to Allah.
He creates whatever He wills.
He gives daughters to whoever He wishes, or He gives sons to whoever He wishes; or He gives them both sons and daughters;
And He makes whoever He wishes barren.
Truly He is All-Knowing, All-Powerful. (Quran, 42: 46-47) 

 

“I don’t see the heartbeat.  I don’t see the heartbeat!” 

Neither my husband nor the emergency room doctor responded to me. My husband stared straight ahead at the monitor searching the gray and white lines for any signs of life. The doctor pressed the cold wet probe down firmer, moving it haphazardly across my abdomen. My heart sank. I thought we had a chance this time. 

This would not be my first miscarriage. I had suffered several already. But this was the first time that we had actually seen a heartbeat. What an amazing sight.  If I had been told that my child was going to have five heads and six arms, it would not have mattered.   

It was my second in vitro fertilization procedure. None of my eggs were fertilized in the first one. Prior to that, I had five artificial inseminations—again with no success. Even before the years of medical intervention, we spent over a year trying to increase our chances of pregnancy by testing for ovulation and other less scientific methods — all to no avail. I braced myself for the inevitable disappointment that would interrupt the uncomfortable silence. 

“I’m sorry. The fetus did not make it.” 

Although the doctor merely confirmed what I already knew in my heart, hearing it affected me more than I had expected. It’s hard to describe now but it was more than emotional trauma. I felt actual physical pain from his words. It was as if I had been hit with a forceful blow.   

I looked to my husband who was already staring at me. I could tell he was holding back his emotions. I felt so defective. I had all these specialized organs that just did not work, that were virtually useless. I could not fulfil one of my main purposes for being. I had completely failed in something I was born to do.   

On an intellectual level I knew that I was not defective nor a failure as a woman.  I knew that my worth transcended my ability to procreate. But shame and inadequacy hit me on a level where reason does not tread.  

My husband could not have been more supportive. He was always far more worried about my welfare than his own whenever the bad news struck. He made it perfectly clear to me that he did not need a biological child. Yet, I still felt guilty. He was a young man that would not have an heir because of me.   

I looked at the monitor one more time. At that moment, I knew that I would never be in this position again. Although my work would pay for one more in vitro procedure, I had had enough. No more painful shots in the belly, no more ultrasounds counting egg follicles, no more anxious phone calls to the infertility doctor learning my HCG levels, and no more emergency trips to the hospital. I had learned far more about my reproductive system than I had ever hoped to know.   

My husband and I had always wanted to care for an orphan. We decided it was time to move in that direction. We investigated our options, completed mounds and mounds of paperwork, and then waited. We requested twins hoping to keep two children from the same family together. We were told that a referral of twins was very rare and not to expect it. Still, we hoped for twins as we waited and waited.  

Allah (swt) knew just how to help me accept that I was barren: desensitization therapy! While I was trying to keep a pregnancy or waiting for the referral, there were nearly twenty babies born to female co-workers or to the wives of male co-workers on my office floor. So many women became pregnant those years that jokes started circulating around the office that if you drink the water on the fifth floor you will get pregnant. The first six or seven baby showers were very difficult. The expectant parents’ joy only reminded me of my sorrow. I would remind myself that most of the Mothers of the Believers (RA) were barren. I had no reason to complain. By the tenth baby shower, though, I was blessedly desensitized. I no longer wondered why I could not have children. I no longer felt pangs of jealousy. I no longer experienced sorrow at others’ joy. SubhanAllah, Allah (swt) knows what is best for His creation.

      

Although I had accepted that I could not give birth, I still could not bring myself to fix up the baby’s room. I thought a room full of baby things would be too painful to pass everyday in case something went wrong. I decided not to buy anything until the referral came. We continued to wait. Then the phone rang. 

“Twin girls!”   

When we heard the news, my husband and I blurted out simultaneously: “I have to quit my job” and “I have to make more money!” We looked at each other and laughed and cried – there is nothing as telling as unedited visceral utterances.   

I remember so vividly the moment they handed us the girls—it was the happiest moment of my life.  I couldn’t believe that we had been entrusted with such an awesome responsibility, that we had been blessed with so much love.

The other day one of our three-year-olds came into the room where I was praying, sat down and made dhikr, saying “Subhan’Allah” a hundred times. After she finished she asked me: “Is Allah proud of me?” I replied: “I think very proud.” She gave me a big hug and ran off to play. Later that day, her sister ran into my room with a big smile on her face. She had put on her pink hijab by herself. Part of it was upside down and the other part hung sideways on her little head. She announced proudly: “I’m a beautiful Muslim girl!”  I smiled back:  “Yes, you are my darling—a beautiful Muslim girl, both inside and out.”   

I try to thank Allah (swt) each day for the two beautiful blessings that He has entrusted to us. I pray that we raise them to be good Muslims and that they come to Him surrendering and with a sound heart. I never thought I would be able to say this, but I am so grateful now that I was unable to conceive. If I had been able to give birth, these precious wonders would have never entered our lives. I thank Allah (swt) for helping me to be patient and content with His Decree. And I remind myself often that hardships are ultimately not hardships at all with trust in Allah (swt).      
 

  “We will test you with a certain amount of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and life and fruits.
But give good news to the steadfast.
Those who, when disaster strikes them, say, “We belong to Allah and to Him we will return.” Those are the people who will have blessings and mercy from their Lord; they are the ones who are guided. (Quran, 2: 154 -156)





The Pearl Necklace

16 04 2009

Qazi Abu Bakr Muhammad bin Abdul Baqi Ansari is an illustrious personality of Islamic History. He was the most pious person of his time. Even after the lapse of nine centuries, his exemplary life is a source of guidance to Muslims. His biographers tell a number of tales of his honesty and reliability but the one that affected his whole life is full of strange and unique events. He has narrated this story in his own words and it adorns the pages of history books.

“In the middle of the 5th century Hijri, I was a student of the Holy Quran and Hadith in Makkah. During that period, I once became jobless and my means of income came to an end. I managed, somehow, to subsist for a few days but soon it became hard to obtain even two square meals. My studies were discontinued and I had to sell a few of my books to support myself. I was at the edge of starvation but my feelings of self-respect did not allow me to borrow or beg from anybody.

One day, I was hungry, as usual. I went to the Holy Ka’bah to pray to Almighty Allah to save me from my sad plight. On my way back, I saw a velvet cloth pouch lying near the road edge. I picked it up. It was nicely sewn and neatly tied with a silk cord. I looked around to find its owner but the road was deserted and nobody was in sight. I carried the pouch to my house.

I was curious to know the contents of the small bag. As I untied the cord, a very precious necklace of pearls slipped into my hand. The luster of the spotless pearls almost lit my room. The pearls of different sizes were nicely put together in a string of crimson colored silk. It was a radiant beauty and I was thrilled to hold the valuable ornament. For a moment, I altogether forgot the hungry and pitiable state in which I was. My thoughts went to the unfortunate owner who had lost the precious jewelry. He must be unhappy and very worried due to his great loss. The course of action which I instantly decided on was to look for the owner and give him back his necklace to relieve him of this mental suffering. It never came to my mind to keep it wrongfully in my possession. So I set out to search for him. Leaving the bag behind, I went straight to the place were it was found.

A group of excited men were standing there and were busy in anxious conversation. I went close to them. Their topic of discussion was the missing pouch of pearls. An old man whose nobility and magnanimity was evident from his imposing personality, was standing amidst them. He was explaining the loss of his pearls to the attentive audience and was announcing a reward of five hundred gold coins to the person who could help him in recovering the lost necklace.

I listened to his account of the loss very carefully. When I was sure of his ownership, I held his hand gently and requested him to come along with me. He looked at me very hopefully and without asking any questions, he followed me. On the way back to my house, I was delightfully thinking that a handsome amount of five hundred dinars would be mind after a short while. The very thought of getting a reward of that much money was very pleasing. I was wondering whether my miseries would be over. I would no longer be a hungry or poor person. With such happy ideas in my mind, I entered my house and also invited the old man to come in.

When we sat down, I asked my perplexed guest about some marks of identification of his lost bad, so that his ownership could be established beyond doubt. He readily explained the shape and color of the pouch. He told me about its contents and gave an exact count of the pearls. He even described the tying cord. It convincingly proved that he was the rightful owner of the bad and the necklace of pearls. I silently rose and brought out the necklace pouch. As he saw it, his gloomy expression at once changed. His shining eyes beamed with joy and he looked at me with sincere gratefulness. His pleasant glance of thanks impressed me, and my own mode of thinking suddenly changed.

A little earlier, I was enjoying the idea of getting a good reward but now my mind was reasoning as to what I had actually done to deserve it. It was by sheer chance that the bag had came into my possession. I had exerted no efforts to obtain it. Therefore, why did I expect to get a reward for returning it to its rightful owner? But I was actually in dire need of money. My poverty and the grim realities of life were looking me in the face. Why shouldn’t I accept the reward? It was absolutely legitimate and surely there was no harm in taking it. A painful conflict of indecision was going on within me and I was in an uneasy state of double mindedness.
The noble old man was looking at the necklace again and again as to assure himself of its recovery. He then looked at me and said, “O dear me, you are a virtuous person and I thank you from the core of my heart. I am unable to express fully my feelings o fgratittude for your act of praiseworthy conduct. Nevertheless, I offer you a purse of five hundred dinars as a humble present and request you to kindly accept it.”

He then placed in front of me a purse full of gold coins. A conflicting struggle of ideas was still going on in my mind. The sight of money which was within my easy reach was very tempting but I checked myself and said, “Sir, I thank you for offering me a substantial amount as a reward but it is impossible for me to accept it.”

“Why not?” asked my noble guest, “You justly deserve the reward because I am giving it entirely of my own free will. I gladly give it to you as a humble token of my gratitude. Please do not dishearten me by refusing it.” I replied, “Sir, I cannot even think of being rude to decline your kind offer, but iti is certainly improper for me to take it without doing anything to earn it. The necklace is yours and I happened to find it only by chance. Its restoration to you does not entitle me to take anything in return. Please do not insist on me to accept what is not morally due to me.”

He was rather surprised by my firm refusal. Normally people yearn for money but I was adamantly declining it. He said, “My son! It is a virtue to be an honest person but the money is which is being offered to you is not disallowed by our faith. It is not prohibited to offer or accept such presents. Therefore, I request you to reconsider your unrealistic stand and keep that purse for the sake of my pleasure if not for anything else.”

I said, “Sir, I do not at all intend to displease you, but the pleasure of Almighty Allah is more important to be reckoned with than your or my pleasure. If there is any good in my action, I will prefer to leave the matter to His Grace for compensation, which I do not wan tot risk for all the riches of this world. Kindly do not insist because I am determined not to accept any undue reward.” My guest collected his pouch and purse and stood much dejectedly to leave. He patted me on the back and left without a word.

After a week or so, I got back my previous job. My days of deprivation and hunger were over. I rejoined my classes and forgot all about the incident I my busy schedule of daily routine. I exerted all of my energy to acquire knowledge of the Holy Qur’an and Hadith. My main subject of interest was Islamic Jurisprudence. I completed my studies with a distinction.

On the recommendation of my tutor, I was offered an appointment as Qazi of Qurtaba, (Cordova) the capital city of Haspaniyah (presently known as Spain). I readily accepted the post and started to prepare myself very happily for the long journey. I took leave of my colleagues and went to the port of Jeddah to embark on the ship for my destination. I boarded a merchant ship to carry me to the land of my future hopes.

For the first few days, the voyage was smooth and very enjoyable. Then suddenly a violent storm of severe intensity overtook us and the ship was engulfed by stormy waves. The mountain high waves tossed the ship around like a tiny toy. The masts were broken and the sails torn. A mighty wave crushed the ship and wrecked it completely. A few screams were heard and it was all over. I saw some floating boards and a few victims of the crash swimming around trying to save their lives. They were the only survivors of the hapless ship who were drifting over the ocean surface. When I recovered from the shock, I found myself clinging to a plan and moving with it at the mercy of the waves.

After drifting for two days, in a semi-conscious state, the waves tossed me upon the shore. I thanked Almighty Allah for saving me from the jaws of death. I was so weak that I couldn’t move. I helplessly lay there exposed to the scorching heat of the burning rays of the sun. I crawled to the dim shadows of a thorny bush. I lost track of time and was in a state between dizziness and heavy slumber.

After some time, I slightly opened my eyes and saw a few strange faces staring at me. They poured a few drops of water into my mouth and I came out of my oblivion but was still unable to speak. They made up a stretcher and carried me to a nearby town. When we approached near it, the first man-made thing which caught my eye was a towering minaret of a Masjid. I thanked Allah for being among my own brethren of faith.

They took me to a house belonging to one of them and laid me on a comfortable bed. With proper care, feeding, and treatment, I soon regained my lost energy. I told my kind host all about myself and the mishap of the ship wreck. My host, whose name was Faleh Hasan, informed me that I was in Hodeida, a coastal town of Yemen. The tract where I was luckily found was a desolate region and was a less treaded part of the coast. Faleh Hasan and his friends noticed a few vultures circling over the area, so they went to investigate and found me there in an unconscious state. He introduced me to his friends and I expressed my heartful thanks for saving my life. Due to their loving concern, I was soon normal, both mentally and physically.

I began to attend Masjid to offer my regular prayers and there I came to know many persons of nobility and of high-ranking positions. They all knew my unhappy episode through my host and treated me with understanding and respect. One of them was the aged and pious Sheikh Ahmad bin Suhail who usually led the prayers. He always greeted me with fatherly affection which touched me to the heart.

One day, he was a little late to arrive to the Masjid, so the people requested me to lead the prayers. My hesitation and excuses proved to be useless before their sincere appeals. That day I performed the duties of Imam. I did my best to recite clearly the Verses of the Holy Qur’an during the prayer and afterwards delivered a brief sermon on Islamic Law. Everyone seemed to be highly impressed. Sheikh Ahmad bin Suhail came forward and congratulated me on my excellent performance. I thanked him for his appreciation and encouragement. I came back to the house of my host filled with delight and self-confidence.

But later, I had sometimes thought that I had overstayed my welcome. So after the evening prayers, I stated my intention of leaving, but my host disagreed with me. He wanted me to stay for a few more days to recoup my health fully. At night, when I was going to bed, Sheikh Ahmad bin Suhail came with a few respectable people of the town. The friends of Faleh Hasan, who were my saviors, were also with them. When the preliminary formalities of greeting each other were over and all were comfortably seated, Sheikh Ahmad turned his eyes towards me and said, “Dear Abu Bakr, I have been honored by these gentlemen to speak to you, on behalf of them, about their commendable wish. I expect, you will please assent to it.”

I was perplexed by that kind of address. So I said nervously, “Sir, you are very helpful and kind to me. I cannot disregard any of your commands or wishes. You can order me to do anything and it will be an honor for me to obey it.”

He said, “Dear son, we all earnestly desire you to stay here with us forever. The regular Imam of our Masjid had died last year. We still mourn his death and perhaps will do so forever. His respect is deeply rooted in our hearts. He had enlightened our lives with the torch of knowledge. We wish you to take his place and consent to be our Imam. We may not be able to offer you a better paid position than that of the Qazi in Qurtaba, but we will surely give you our love, affection, and respect.”

“But Sir,” I protested, “I am a fresh, inexperienced student and feel small to carry out the sacred duties of the high office of Imam.” The Sheikh said, “My son, do not underestimate yourself. We all have heard your recitiation and sermon, and are fully convinced of your ability to fulfill those responsibilities.”

Before I could think of any evasive answer, my host, Faleh Hasan, and his friends vehemently backed up the proposal. I was left with no other alternative but to nod in affirmative. Everybody was pleased with my decision, especially Sheikh Ahmad who thanked me and kissed my forehead. They all rose to leave and thanking me individually, departed very happy.

They left me thinking how the secret hands of fate change the course of destiny in a secret manner. Circumstances secretly take such a turn that they altogether change the plans made up by man. I had cherished the hope of being a Qazi of Qurtaba and had taken steps to attain that goal, but preordained events made me an Imam of the Masjid in Hodeida.

So a new phase in my life began. I took charge of the imposed position and shifted to the assigned house of the Imam. I restarted the primary school that had closed due to the sad demise of the former Imam. I also commenced evening classes to impart lessons to explain the meaning of the Holy Qur’an.

I completely adjusted myself to the new environment and people generally accepted me as their religious leader. I was very contented and never for a moment regretted my decision to settle there. All the people, young and old alike, were happy and respected me. The feelings of any estrangement all faded away and I became as if I was one of them for ages.

One day, Sheikh Ahmad came to me and after enquiring about my welfare, said, “Dear Abu Bakr, your services to or townsmen are praiseworthy and beyond our expectations. I am glad that you had accepted our offer of staying with us. Now have come to you to ask one more favor.”

I said, “Sir, I am at your service. Please tell me and I will comply with your order.”

He said, “Dear son, a man is not perfect without his partner of life. I want you to marry and take full advantage of life. Marriage is also a sacred Sunna of our Holy Prophet. The sweet marital responsibilities are a real blessing which have been conferred onto man.”

I replied, “Sir, you have always advised me in my best interest. I take you as a father to me and in this matter also, I will follow you counsel.”

The Sheikh said, “Your predecessor, the late Imam of this Masjid was a very close friend of mine. He had a daughter, and when he was sure of his end, he entrusted her to my protection and care. Since then she has been under my guardianship. She is a lovely and adorable girl of good manners. Allah has endowed her with physical and mental beauty. She is virtuous and is a suitable match for you. I wish to give her in marriage to you and I feel sure that it will be a marriage of true minds.”

I had no objection to the proposal whatsoever. A few days later, the bonds of marriage united us. After the festive ceremonies were over, Sheikh Ahmad escorted her to my house that was in fact her old abode where she had lived with her late father. I looked at her and my gaze was concentrated steadily on her. I forgot to even say welcome to her. I was not only looking at her beautiful and charming face, and at her downcast eyes; but my glance was riveted upon her pretty neck, which was ornamented by precious pearls. I at once recognized that necklace. It was the same necklace that I once found on a deserted road of Makkah. I looked at her in silent and open-mouthed wonder.

Sheikh Ahmad noticed my confused condition and thought that her beauty and the luster of the pearls had enchanted me. He politely said, “Dear Abu Bakr, that necklace and its wearer, both are yours now and you can take all your time to behold them. It may, perhaps, interest you to know that the necklace has a strange story of its own. Five years ago, my friend went to Makkah for pilgrimage and took that necklace with him to get it re-polished. There, he lost it. But due to the goodness of an honest young man, he recovered it intact. That commendable young man refused to sell his honesty and declined the pressing offer of a handsome reward. He left a lasting impression upon my friend who always remembered and talked about him. He once confided to me that he had a mind to go to Makkah again and ask that virtuous young man to accept the hand of his daughter, but time did not allow him to do so. Anyhow, it was destined differently. His daughter was to become your wife instead of his. The decreed decisions of fate are strange and beyond the understanding of man.”

An emotional storm erupted within me. The strange happenings of the fateful events which were unfolded by the hidden hands of destiny agitated me and drops of tears rolled down my cheeks; I looked towards Sheikh Ahmad through misty eyes and said, “Dear Sir, you are very right to say that insight into the unknown mysteries of fate is not possible. It would perhaps be a pleasant surprise to know that I am the same person who found the necklace and restored it to your friend. He, in return, offered me an amount of five hundred dinars. Although I was a pauper and was suffering from the agonies of hunger in those days, my conscience did not allow me to accept anything that was not my due. I pinned all my hopes and expectations of Almighty Allah for any reward. And here I am with His gracious and greatest reward of all.”

Sheikh Ahmad was amazed and without saying a word, he held my hand and shook it was a passion. My newly wedded wife lifted her eyes and looked me full in the face. Her eyes were filled with enthusiastic love that any husband ever could desire for. Almighty Allah had bestowed upon me His favors by giving me a considerate and loving wife and nothing in life surpasses that bliss.”