Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem
Waseem: How it all began...
Fresh starts and new beginnings. They happen every year. A new start brings a new hope. A new opportunity for change, and a chance to let go of whatever has always been holding me back.
But what really gets to determine when the old ends, and the new begins? I mean, it can be anything. Maybe a stirring within… A seemingly insignificant change. Maybe an event that can make or break. Big or small. Something that just… ‘Moves’ us.
It’s a way of telling us that something needs to change… Something here has to let. And that was exactly how I felt that day, as Ziyaad gave me the famous ‘Are you for real?’ look.
Ziyaad’s eyes narrowed significantly, and I could just tell what he was thinking.
“Waseem… What the hell?!”
I expected that. Kind of.
“I think my life needs some direction,” I said, choosing my words carefully.
There was an underlying message for him… An ulterior motive. Realising that I needed to change made me want him to make the big move too. I wanted him to want it too. I wanted him to do some introspection and realise that just ‘being ‘ with a girl is never enough.
But just because you glimpse the light, even if it’s just a tiny bit of it, doesn’t mean that others will see it the way you do.
“This is too much, bru,” he said, shaking his head.
I watched his back walk back up the stairs, heading back to the Salaah area of the Madrassa. It was where a place I had stumbled upon one night, when I was just a little bit out of my senses, on my usual Saturday night spree.
I had heard a few things said, and being in the state in was in, got up, left, and never looked back again until two months later, when I was forced to reflect. Who would’ve thought that I would have come back here, attempting to change my life for good?
And then, amongst other great people, I met Maulana Umar. He was right when he said that the heart can be turned at any time. A simple moment, a mere second thought or seemingly insignificant occurrence can sway the depths of your soul. You never know what’s coming your way to drag you out of what you never realised was bringing you down. It was simple:
The Prophet (sallahAllaahu alayhi wasallam) used to often say these words, “O You Who changes the hearts, make my heart firm on Your religion.”
We said, `O Allah’s Messenger! We believed in you and in what you brought us. Are you afraid for us’
He said, Yes, for the hearts are between two of Allah’s Fingers, He changes them (as He wills)”
[Sunan Ibn Majah]
And I could literally feel my heart changing. The influence of the people around me and the recitation of Qur’an and Ahaadith that had always been lacking in my life, definitely had it’s effect on me.
Always having everything literally dished out to me on a plate didn’t always help when it came to figuring things out for myself. I never had the time or insight to stop myself and reflect.
And then, of course, who would have expected a girl to actually cause me to start doing some reflecting?
Scoring girls was always something of a game for me… Something I never took seriously. I had focussed my mind on more important things like my studies or earning extra cash, because to me… That was worth my effort. As a guy, I didn’t have that concern of not getting hitched one day… Until I realised what I was setting myself up for.
Did I really want to be that guy who didn’t think it worth his while to find someone to share his life with? Was I going to be the type to disregard one of the greatest practises in my religion, by just messing around?
So I made up my mind. I didn’t want that. I wanted something secure, something that lasted… And as my reality broadened and my heart had altered, I realised that I didn’t want what had been temporary. I didn’t want the short end of the stick.
And I knew I wouldn’t be able to speak to anyone about this. Speaking to my father would probably also be disastrous, as I knew that he would feel a need to control the situation. So when Maulana Umar came into the picture, I knew that the Almighty had sent him in our midst for a reason.
The fact is, I knew that I wasn’t the best of people, leave alone Muslims, and I knew I had a lot of work to do on myself. At that stage, I was battling with myself more than ever, trying to keep away from every vice I had previously given in to. It was a battle on that night, and I sat behind, thinking to myself whether it was all worth it. Whether all this effort was actually going to get me to the place that I wanted to be.
“You alright, Mus’ab?” a voice asked, penetrating my somewhat hopeless thoughts.
It took me a while to figure out that he was speaking to me. I glanced upwards to see him grinning. It was weird, but I never really pictured such pious people grinning like that before. Maybe because I had met so few in my lifetime before. And obviously, because I had never took the time to learn about what our Prophet (SAW) was really like.
I cracked back a grin, wondering if I would actually be able to talk to this guy. Like, would he ever be able to relate to what I wanted to say?
He was already sitting cross-legged, directly opposite me, looking like he was waiting for me to just pour out all my inner worries or concerns. There was no-one else around that night, and I wondered if he didn’t have anywhere else to be. Like, what about his life and his family? Didn’t he have things to do, a job… Or the world to pursue?
I had so many questions that had no answers. I had so much that I still needed to know.
And so I let myself say it, because Molvi, as I came to call him, didn’t seem to be going anywhere.
Hew listened, and basically, I just needed it to be heard, and I needed to know whether I was actually doing the right thing. Whenever I felt the need to give up, I always needed some coaxing to get me back on track again.
“Don’t let your thoughts interfere with what you know is right,” he was saying. “Shaytaan is greatest influence for people like you. Believe me, he doesn’t care about the ones who are out there doing the crap. He wants you, because you’re trying to get straight. And believe me, you’re gonna get there.”
He said it with so much of confidence, I really believed him. But how did I move passed it all? How did I not let my past suck me in… How did I not let it take me back to that dark place that I know I deserve to be in?
“Let Allah be the judge of that, boss,” he said simply.
“But it’s not fair,” I replied, getting anxious. “I’ve done every sin you could imagine… Every wrong a person could do. How can it be right if I still get a good ending here?”
That was my main concern. That was what scared me. Because although I know I didn’t deserve the happy ending, the thing that really got me was… I really wanted it. I wanted to be happy and content. I wanted the girl who would be good for me and my Deen. I wanted my kids to grow up differently to everything I had known in my life.
Despite previously not even scraping a pass with every other aspect of Deen, right now, I wanted distinctions.
It took a few moments for him to answer.
“When you change your life,” he finally said, looking at me straight in the eye. The brightness of his face, even on that dark night was absolutely remarkable. “A young guy like you… In this time and place of fitnah… Bru, you cannot imagine how significant an act like that, is in the eyes of the Almighty. Really, brother. You cannot even begin to think how much Allah Ta’ala is looking at you with so much of love and gratitude. He is As-Shakoor. He knows your battles and He loves it. What you are doing is really no joke. It’s not a small thing, and don’t you ever think that it is.”
There was a lot of truth in his words. He was right. I knew that we sometimes undermine whatever we go through, but I didn’t know that Allah appreciated every hardship we go through for His sake. Besides that, we are even rewarded for it.
I sat back, thinking to myself. I wondered how Molvi Umar found the energy to actually be away from home and spare time for people like me. He seemed like a busy man. It can’t be easy to do what he did, because it seemed like his job never ended.
I wondered about his life and his family… If he even had one. I wondered how people like him could be so selfless, because my life and it’s purposes had always been the exact opposite.
In essence, what he did, was no small thing.
“So,” he said, getting up, as if he was ready to take on the world. This guy was really something else.
“Let’s work this out,” he said, looking determined. “Let’s make sure you never go back to where you came from.”