Better than me, more than I’ll ever be
BismiLlah Al Rahman Al Rahim
My job requires me to travel around 60km a day back and forth. I sit in a car for around two to three hours everyday. It is boring, tiring, close to sometimes unbearable. Most of the time I sleep in the back seat, “junk sleep” as we call it because you can still hear the noise around you even if you can’t make it out. I go back home in a bad mood, lazy, I just want to sit around not moving a finger. And when any family member suggests an outing or anything of the sort, if it includes me in a car for at least an hour, I go…nuts. I start complaining about the requirements of my job and how tired I am, etc. It’s a song I soon learned to sing everyday.
But believe it or not, I’ve grown accustomed to these eternal car rides. Sometimes when I’m in no mood for reading, writing my to-do list or anything of the sort I look out the window. I look at the same landscapes, clouds, sun and I think. It is a “shallow reflection” as Shaykh Ali Gomaa puts it or it is like a true inspiring moment where I am amazed by this world and its mechanisms. Sobhanna Allah.
At times when we get in this routine like a hamster in a wheel, we forget. We become the center of our universe, expecting everything to go as smooth as possible whether at work, home, friends, etc. we forget that we are imperfect creatures. We become disconnected.
Other than being mesmerized by Nature, this window allows me to look at people. All shapes and sizes, all classes and all colors. I am brought to my knees by the sight of a woman at a bus stop. A regular woman probably in her thirties, waiting under the hot sun, on a highway, for the microbus to come and take her where she needs to go everyday, to make a living. Everyday I find her waiting, holding a Qur’an and reading. Waiting patiently and consistently. Staying connected. I see a gardener watering the grass of the avenue for hours and hours. As soon as he hears the call to prayer, I see him in the midst of working, of water dripping everywhere, all drops coming together to make a rainbow, where the grass opens up to receive it with arms wide open, I see him making a sajdah. A man in rags, with probably less than five pounds in his pocket, worried about how he’ll feed his family, or which bus to catch to avoid traffic, or maybe about his superior not being satisfied with his work, he finds the time to stay connected, to pray, to turn to Allah. Our driver who gets up at 4am to make it at 6:30am at my house, who goes back home at not earlier than 7pm, I find him reciting verses of the Qur’an along with the radio: name it: any chapter, any verse, he knows it mash’Allah.
Wake up. Stop complaining and count your blessings. I am very fortunate compared to these people I see. We always had everything that we ever wanted (almost), I have seen more things and known things more than these people. I am fortunate in work, education, social class. I am surrounded with blessings that I got used to having around me.This “hard work” that these people go through everyday does not exist in my daily life dictionary. I am not saying that these people are saints, but when I saw them it was a sanctified moment. It was at the peek of their total immersion.
Of course, Allah says:
لاَ يُكَلِّفُ اللّهُ نَفْسًا إِلاَّ وُسْعَهَا
“Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity” (Quran, 2:286)
Imagine we’re in game where A, B and C are playing:
A has a horse to get him to the final destination.
B has a Fiat 128
and C a corvette.
The Creator of the game knows that A is better off with a horse than a Chevrolet and the same goes for B and C. In other words, they have what it takes within them to make the best of what they possess. So logically, the one who uses his mode of transportation more efficiently is the winner. The woman at the bus stop is A riding her horse knowing that she has to feed it, let it rest, give it a shower, comb it etc. The driver is B with his Fiat driving at a limited speed with the thought in mind that it’ll stop in the middle of the road sometimes so he’ll have to fix it and get it running up again.
I’m C. The thing is my corvette is still in the parking lot.
These people know their capacity, they work with it, they do their best to move ahead. I have to count my blessings, I have to make my best with what I have instead of complaining. Make an effort. It’s hard. Too hard…“Inch’Allah kheir” as a song called “here” says.
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ
O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted. (Quran, 49:13)
Out of the car, during work, I am introduced to a 9 year old girl. Curly hair, light hazel-blue eyes, still in her little Disney phase. I chat with her for a bit, make jokes, laugh, like I would do with any other little cute girl. Once she’s out of the room, a colleague tells me that she knows 6 juz’ (parts) of the Qur’an by heart…
What a slap on the face.
Better start counting now and get my corvette on the road.