About a year ago I got into an accident. This one incident had a great impact on me and so I wanted to share my experiences and reflections. Here’s what I wrote about it at that time.
Last Saturday (April 26th, 2014) I was involved in a terrible car crash. It was the kind of car crash that you see in the movies or on the news and don’t think would happen to you. It has been one of the most intense experiences of my life and I wanted to share it and my feelings and reflections on it in the hope that this will help others in their journey toward Allah on this earth.
I was driving down Springvale road, coming back from the Glen Waverley shopping centre, with my father, 2 year old son and my grandmother. It had been raining a little. My mind was on the fact that I needed to finish my laundry, clean the fridge, do all these household chores…
Then I saw the bus in front of me had stopped. I braked, but we didn’t stop. I pushed the brakes harder, I could hear my father shouting my name, but the car kept going (I later found out we had skidded on the wet road). I remember seeing the back of the bus in front of me, screaming because there was nothing I could do and then that awful crashing sound as my car made impact with the bus.
Alhamdulillah the airbags went off immediately, my son Ibraheem started screaming and I remember thinking in my dazed state “Alhamdulillah… I’m alive!”. Not so much because I love life but because I don’t think I’ve done enough to meet my Lord in the best way yet.
I saw my grandmother had fallen and blood was gushing out of her face. She was stuck at the back between my seat and hers. Oh the guilt and panic when I saw her there and realised she had not been wearing her seatbelt. She is 80 and has osteoporosis. I called 000 and then got out of the car. I took Ibraheem, who was still screaming, from Daddy who had taken him out of his car seat and tried to calm him down. I was just standing there with Ibraheem looking at the crash, at how the front of my car was a smashed, crumpled mess and for some reason Surah Asr came to my mind:
إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَفِي خُسْرٍ
إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ
“By the time. Verily mankind is in LOSS. Except those who BELIEVE, and DO righteous good deeds and recommend one another to the TRUTH and recommend one another to PATIENCE.” [Surah Asr]
I started shaking and the tears came streaming down my cheeks, probably from shock but also with the realisation that Allah (swt) had given me another chance! Another opportunity to make better use of the precious resource of time, that we take so much for granted before my inevitable meeting with Him. Another chance at trying not be one of the ‘losers’ mentioned in Surah Asr, to be one of those who really truly BELIEVE, who do good purely for His Sake, and help others too by recommending truth and patience.
I thank Allah for making the verses of the Quran come alive in my heart at that difficult moment (May Allah (swt) bless the many Quran teachers I have had through out my life) and I want to keep that feeling of urgency with me that I felt at the crash site. The feeling of I MUST keep striving to do what I can to please Allah (swt) and stay away from what He is displeased with because I do not know when I will die…
Alhamdulillah as I write this my grandmother is recovering from surgery and the rest of us who were in the car crash are all physically ok. For me, I’m sure the mental scars will remain a little longer though I will fight that and Inshallah not let it overpower me. This whole incident was a powerful reminder for me of how suddenly our lives can end. For most of us (myself included) we get so caught up in our day-to-day lives working hard for success in this life, that we often forget to work for our Ultimate Success in the next life. Every single one of us has things we would like to improve about ourselves, how we worship Allah (swt) and how we live. I make dua that Allah (swt) helps us all to make those changes in ourselves and that He helps us make the best use of the time we have, before we are called back to Him. Ameen.
Imagine: you hear the adhaan for dhuhr, you get up, make wudu, lay down your prayer mat and begin. “Allahu Akbar.” You have begun a conversation with your Lord, your Creator. You recite Fatihah asking for guidance. You go down in ruku and glorify your Lord, the Mighty and Powerful. You proceed to the ground to make sajdah. With your head on the ground, glorifying your Master, you are in the closest position to Him.
The prophet (saw) said,
أَقْرَبُ مَا يَكُونُ الْعَبْدُ مِنْ رَبِّهِ وَهُوَ سَاجِدٌ
“The closest that a servant is to his Lord is when he is in prostration.” (Muslim)
In that moment, you are fully immmersed in your conversation with Allah. You glorify Him and praise Him and seek His forgiveness and seek refuge in Him…
But.. while you are in this state, someone walks in. Your spouse or your mother, a sibling or a friend, perhaps a colleague or even just a stranger. Someone walks in and sees you in this state. Your attention is immediately diverted: you start to think, “Is my back straight and my posture correct? Let me fix my posture so this person doesn’t think I’m making sajdah all wrong.”, “If I get up now this person will think my sajdah was so short, I should prolong it.”
Right then, in that moment, you’ve committed shirk (minor shirk: riyaa). You’ve committed shirk while being the closest you could possibly be to Your Lord.
What a sad situation that is. You put so much effort in to this act of worship, and in a split second and tweek of intention, you ruined it.
This is something that has happened to a lot of us – or at least the thought has crossed our mind even if we didn’t act upon it. This is a trap which shaytaan sets for us and he is quite skilled at it. But, don’t worry, all hope is not lost. You can still redeem yourself. If this happens to you.
1. Rectify your intention: adjust your intention and purify it for the sake of Allah.
قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
“Say, Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds.” [6:162]
2. Still prolong your sajdah and correct your posture, but with the intention of doing so for the sake of Allah. This way you destroy shaytaan’s plot in two ways: you have already saved yourself from minor shirk by rectifying your intention, but now you prolong and perfect your sincere worship and he is unhappy with this as well.
إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ فَاتَّخِذُوهُ عَدُوًّا
“Indeed, Saytan is an enemy to you; so take him as an enemy.” [35:6]
3. Seek forgiveness from Allah: اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ أَنْ أُشْرِكَ بِكَ وَأَنَا أَعْلَمُ ، وَأَسْتَغْفِرُكَ لِمَا لَا أَعْلَمُ
“O Allah, I seek refuge with You lest I should commit shirk with You knowingly and I seek Your forgiveness for what I do unknowingly.”
قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِن رَّحْمَةِ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
“Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah . Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” [39:53]
If you have any other tips, please write them in the comments section.
May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala grant us sincerity and accept from us, ameen.
Day 4: Wednesday, 1/10/14, 7th Dhul-Hijjah 1435; 6:47 am
It hasn’t been that long but I’ve been missing home. However, I decided that these two weeks are between me and Allah (swt). Renewing my connection with Him is something I need greatly and this is the perfect opportunity to cut off from the world and focus on that, SubhanAllah.
We were so tired and the bed was so comfortable that we were late for Fajr. Here, being late means half an hour before adhan because the place fills up so quickly MashaAllah! So we were at the perimeters of the masjid courtyard, wondering if we could squeeze ourselves in once the salah started because people take less space standing in salah than they do sitting and saving space! It was a bit awkward just standing around and waiting, when a nice man made space for us. It was so lovely to feel that caring spirit, Alhamdulillah!
فَسَوْفَ يَأْتِي اللَّـهُ بِقَوْمٍ يُحِبُّهُمْ وَيُحِبُّونَهُ أَذِلَّةٍ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَعِزَّةٍ عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ يُجَاهِدُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ وَلَا يَخَافُونَ لَوْمَةَ لَائِمٍ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ فَضْلُاللَّـهِ يُؤْتِيهِ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ
“…Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him [who are] humble toward the believers, powerful against the disbelievers; they strive in the cause of Allah and do not fear the blame of a critic. That is the favor of Allah; He bestows it upon whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.” [5:54]
We wanted to head inside to wait for ishraq but due to the crowd of people moving out, we decided to sit in the courtyard and enjoy the beautiful sunrise.
There are so many things I want to take pictures of sometimes, but I’m glad I don’t have any picture-taking device – the temptation would be too great. I just might be one of those people who take selfies at the Ka’abah, the horror! It saddens me to see that, which makes me thank Allah more that we brought really basic phones on this trip..! It feels good to take in everything with my eyes and store it in my memory, with only words to relate it to others – just like the good old days.
قُلْ هُوَ الَّذِي أَنشَأَكُمْ وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ السَّمْعَ وَالْأَبْصَارَ وَالْأَفْئِدَةَ ۖ قَلِيلًا مَّا تَشْكُرُونَ
Say, “It is He who has produced you and made for you hearing and vision and hearts; little are you grateful.” [67:23]
We were not destined to pray ishraq at the Haram though because just as we were enjoying the weather, commotion ensued. It was the cleaners, having fun throwing soapy water and watching people scramble to get out of the way. Watching them have fun doing their job was contagious, and even though we were chased back to the hotel to pray, it was all part of the experience!
I always used to wonder why the Prophet (saw) mentioned, that when selecting a spouse choose both religion AND good character. When I was a child, I thought both qualities were inseparable in all practicing individuals. I thought that if one is practicing Islam, then they must surely be of good character. That was until one day, I learnt that in the Qur’an, two types of goodness are mentioned; both which go hand in hand and both which should not be separated. Religious goodness and moral goodness. Meaning, a person not only has to fulfil their duties to Allah (religious), but must also be kind, courteous, caring, and good to the people (moral).
لَّيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَلَٰكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةِ وَالْكِتَابِ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ وَآتَى الْمَالَ عَلَىٰ حُبِّهِ ذَوِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَالسَّائِلِينَ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَأَقَامَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَى الزَّكَاةَ وَالْمُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِهِمْ إِذَا عَاهَدُوا ۖ وَالصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَحِينَ الْبَأْسِ ۗ أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا ۖ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ
“Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah , the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous.” [2:177]
Notice how Allah (swt) began this verse by mentioning the absolute fundamental principles that Islam is built upon. Those principles without which one cannot even claim goodness or claim to be Muslim. Belief in Allah being the first, then belief in the last day, belief in angels and finally belief in His books.
Following on from this, Allah (swt) goes on to list all those things that comprise righteousness. In other words, if righteousness was a person, this is what it would be like. Now, Allah could have mentioned Salaah first, even Hajj, for aren’t they amazing acts of worship? Sure! Yet, Allah chose giving. He chose charity. He chose freeing slaves. He chose serving others. Why? Because when a person gives his time, money, or effort for the cause of Allah, it speaks volumes about his personality. It speaks volumes about his MORAL goodness, which, just like religious goodness, is equally as important.
This really struck me. Firstly, because today we live in an age where many claim to practice both types of goodness, yet in reality, more emphasis is given on religious acts, such as Hajj, Zakah, Salaah, and moral goodness is totally neglected. Now, this is not to say that one must not stress religious actions, rather it is to say, that moral goodness is often brushed under the carpet and is never really given the same amount of importance that religious duties are given.
How many times have we come across individuals, who have performed so many Hajj, are consistent in their prayers, give Zakah every year, and do as much voluntary acts of worship as possible, yet they are foul-mouthed, bad-tempered, dishonest, and unreliable and are drowning in pride and arrogance? Of course, we are not to judge, for Allah is the One who Judges, however, this example should give us an understanding of the reality we live in. The reality, where complete goodness is not being embodied, where good character and morals are not being emphasized along side religious duties, as they should. Where our children are being brought up as ill-mannered, and where akhlaaq is not taught or implemented as it should be.
We look at the state of the Ummah today. We reflect upon its state, and realize that so many are lacking moral goodness. Where is the trust? Where is the loyalty? Where is the respect? Where is the kindness and generousity?
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw) is the best example and role model who implemented BOTH types of goodness. He was the one who always strove to perfect his salaah, the first to rush to give in the path of Allah; at the same time he also performed Hajj, gave Zakaah, and stood in lengthy night prayers. Yet, he (saw), understood that there was more to this, that it doesn’t stop there. In addition, he practiced modesty, was polte, bashful, caring, giving, loyal, trustworthy – so much so, that people knew him as ‘Al-Amin (the truthful)’, before they knew him as ‘Rasul. (messenger)’ They could make up plentiful lies about his prophethood, about the message he was preaching, yet they could never lie about his character.
The Prophet (saw) embodied both types of goodness, and he also instructed us to do so. I ask you and I, how is our character? How much effort do we put into improving and mending our character; our moral goodness? Do we emphasize moral goodness as much as we emphasize religious goodness?
In a beautiful hadith, the Prophet (saw) gave glad-tidings to the one with good character, he said:
“The best of people are those with the most excellent character.” [Tabarani, Sahih]
We are an Ummah who have been given the best book, to the best prophet, in the best month, in the best days, on the best night… Shouldn’t we then also strive to be the best in every way possible? We need to embody complete goodness. We need to strive to beautify our characters, beautify our acts of worship, but without forgetting that both go hand in hand, and that together they make-up complete goodness, a goodness which our Ummah today is lacking. Moral uprightness and religious uprightness are two sides of the same coin. May Allah (swt) perfect our eemaan and our character, ameen.
سَيَقُولُونَ ثَلَاثَةٌ رَّابِعُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ وَيَقُولُونَ خَمْسَةٌ سَادِسُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ رَجْمًا بِالْغَيْبِ ۖ وَيَقُولُونَ سَبْعَةٌ وَثَامِنُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ ۚ قُل رَّبِّي أَعْلَمُ بِعِدَّتِهِم مَّا يَعْلَمُهُمْ إِلَّا قَلِيلٌ ۗ فَلَا تُمَارِ فِيهِمْ إِلَّا مِرَاءً ظَاهِرًا وَلَا تَسْتَفْتِ فِيهِم مِّنْهُمْ أَحَدًا “
They will say there were three, the fourth of them being their dog; and they will say there were five, the sixth of them being their dog – guessing at the unseen; and they will say there were seven, and the eighth of them was their dog. Say, [O Muhammad], “My Lord is most knowing of their number. None knows them except a few. So do not argue about them except with an obvious argument and do not inquire about them among [the speculators] from anyone.” [18:22]
“No, but…” she said hand on hip, pointing a finger at us all.
Her face lit up. “What if he saw the Angel of death before he crashed into the tree? Because if he did, then I think maybe the fright he got when he saw the Angel caused him to swerve and then crash! I think that happened.” She said nodding her head agreeing with her own predictions.
I recently heard a sister say something close to this at my college regarding a famous celebrity who passed away in a car accident. The sister, to make things sound interesting I suppose, was speculating about when this man actually saw the Angel of death… was it before the car swerved or as it hit the tree?
This was something that shocked me. This is just one example, but there are so many other instances when things like this happen. When people begin to question and guess at the unseen when knowing the answer to their question has no benefit whatsoever either in this world or the next. People do this for amusement, debate, argument etc.
There is a type of questioning which will lead to beneficial answers and will increase one in knowledge, but on the other hand there is also another type of questioning, questioning of matters the knowledge of which only lies with Allah and will not bring us any benefit. With such things, the best thing to do is stay quiet, because as human beings, we’ve got to accept that we won’t always know everything.
“They will say there were three, the fourth of them being their dog; and they will say there were five, the sixth of them being their dog – guessing at the unseen…”
In this verse in Surah Kahf, Allah talks about a group of people, similar to the group we discussed earlier, who sit in gatherings, debating and guessing, in this situation, of the number of the companions of the cave. Yet, what does Allah command the Prophet (Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam) to tell them?
He says: “Say, [O Muhammad], “My Lord is most knowing of their number. None knows them except a few. So do not argue about them except with an obvious argument and do not inquire about them among [the speculators] from anyone.”
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala could have easily revealed to us the answer to this question. But He chose not to. In doing so he teaches us a lesson. In matters like these we should accept what we are told, not speculate about what we don’t know and leave it to Allah. Allah clearly informs them to not argue without evidence, for such things lead to speculation. We waste so much time arguing over matters we have no control over, that are unseen to us, that we forget the more important questions that will benefit us in this world and the next. Questions such as, How can I attain Khushu’ in my Salaah? How can I strengthen my relationship with Allah? Rather than other non-beneficial, guess-game type questions.
Or in this instance, rather than worrying about how many people there were in the cave perhaps we should concern ourselves with their characteristics, what did they do to deserve the honour of their story being preserved for eternity? How can we follow their footsteps towards pleasing Allah and attaining righteousness? What can we learn from them?
Excessive questioning was one of the traits of the Bani Israel. When Allah swt commanded them to slaughter a cow, they questioned Allah over and over again, to the point that in the end, they could almost not find the cow, because of their constant questioning of its description.
They said, “Call upon your Lord for us that He may make plain to us what it is!” He said, “He says, ‘Verily, it is a cow neither too old nor too young, but (it is) between the two conditions’, so do what you are commanded.” [ 2:68]
However, a point to remember, Islam is simple, realistic and easy. Even though there may be some questions that we shouldn’t ask, there are those that we should ask, and those are the questions that will bring benefit in this life and the next, inshaAllah.
The point here is not that questions are bad but rather that asking a question should be done with a purpose. Islam is the only religion which emphasizes and encourages thinking and questioning and reflecting as part of the learning process. How many times in the Qur’an does Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala ask us: “Do you not ponder?”, “Do you not reflect?”, “Do you not think?” May Allah swt guide us to ask the right questions, ameen.