“And for those who fear Allah, He (ever) prepares a way out, And will provide for him from where he does not expect.” (Quran, 65: 2-3)
This ayah is two parts: the latter, of a great promise, and the first, ignored. We anticipate the promise – a promise of not just an escape, but a monumental victory! But to this end, like every other, His Majesty began by setting a condition. Let’s talk about what’s on you for once (yes, I must be so fun at parties): A condition of Taqwa and a story with Allah.
Everybody has a story with Allah and as I sit here and think ahead of the story I’m about to tell you, I feel a spiritual power pushing me down; humbling me. It’s hard to explain. I remember everything all at once. Everybody has a story with Allah. Here’s mine:
It was the beginning of a mistake. It was the end of high school. I never wondered about the roads not taken because I could not have ever wanted to take them. I wanted one thing; and by trial and error, I knew no-one could ever understand. Worse, I thought Allah would not understand. Some mornings I would vaguely pray to Him for guidance in other worldly affairs but I would dare not perform istikhara. Not for this. The possibility of the answer being other than what I would have wanted terrified me and in that terror, I found belief. Just like Adam believed the fruit would give him immortality. Just like Adam believed that Allah did not have his best interest. Safe to say that I have done my fair share of bad decision-making but this one definitely takes the cake.
For a while, things picked up and I started living the dream but outside of that bubble, I was miserable. Everything was falling apart: my relationship with Allah, my parents and everyone around. I was always tired and barely found the strength to get up in the morning. I was living, what I now realise, the darkest phase of my life and exactly one year later, my college shut down. That was one year just casually thrown away and another would soon follow. I had calculated my years like Qarun did his wealth and as I was concocting plans, Allah had sealed them.
Two years gone by and I applied to the last university and decided to try one last time. Although by this time I was actively praying tahajjud, I had avoided istikhara. I was scared the answer would be a no. The application was a long and stressful process and it took everything I could physically and emotionally offer and at the end of it all, I received an email. It said the seats were exhausted and at this point I had barely any chance of getting in. Life, as I had carefully planned and anticipated beyond a shadow of doubt, was over. Just like that. It was over. Any other kind of life was inconceivable because to me all kinds of life was over. Maybe, like everyone had told me: It was not meant to be. I genuinely thought there was no escape.
Before I knew it I was missing prayers left and right. I woke up every day miserable due to the fact I had woken up and spent my days looking forward only to sleep again. Amidst all this, one night I woke up in the middle of the night completely shaken. Something took over me and something drove me to stand in prayer. It was a shove as I remember it. As I tried to contain myself, I could not. I let it out, everything. I complained, I begged and when it looked like there was no hope, I asked for hope. Somewhere along the way I realised what the problem had been all along so I raised my hands and I said, “Ya Allah if YOU don’t want this life for me then I am happy”. And for the first time ever, I meant it. It was the beginning of a completely differently journey and as much as it terrified me, I swore I would never ask Allah for what He did not give me.
The next day, just like something drove me to pray, something drove me to check my email. It read,
“Congratulations, your enrollment has now been confirmed and a seat has been reserved for you.”
Just when I thought I had begun to understand what Allah is all about, He gave me a story….
Months later, as I struggled to keep up with my new found life, that shove came back to me and I stood in prayer and cried. This time, I prayed because I did not know how to thank Him and I cried because I did not know how to apologise. Everybody has a story with Allah. This was mine.