Want the Help of Angels?

“Verily, those who say: Our Lord is Allah (Alone), and then they Istaqamu, on them the angels will descend (at the time of their death) (saying): Fear not, nor grieve! But receive the glad tidings of Paradise which you have been promised! We have been your friends in the life of this world and are (so) in the hereafter. Therein you shall have (all) that your inner-selves desire, and therein you shall have (all) for which you ask for. An entertainment from (Allah), the Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Fussilat 41:30-32)

To believe in Allah (swt) is not enough. What is more important is to remain upon that belief until the last day, until you breathe your last. Istiqamah!

Allah (swt) is motivating us in this Ayah by telling us about what will happen at the moment of death to “those who say: Our Lord is Allah (Alone)” and then remain steadfast. Death is the most critical, scariest moment of anyone’s life, as even the Prophet (sa) described it saying: “Inna lil-Mauti La-Sakaraat” (“Indeed, death has got some agony”). Death is not easy; it’s a Museebah – a trial.

At this very critical moment, Allah (swt) will send his angels upon you telling you: “Are you scared of death?” The angels will tell you: don’t be scared and don’t be sad, because you are going to meet Allah (swt)! How could you be sad? Isn’t this what you want, to be in Jannah? Receive the good news of Jannah, which you were promised by Allah (swt) in this Duniya! How many pages have we read in the Quran describing Jannah for those who are Muttaqi, for those who are righteous, for those who fear Allah (swt), for those who know, who are aware that whether we are in public or in secret, Allah (swt) is watching us and giving commands to the angels to write down every single thing that we do. How could you sin? How could you do something Haram when you know that Allah (swt) and his angels are watching you?

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Allah’s (swt) Different Forms of Creation


Al Khaliq- the creator

                                                           Image Courtesy www.voqonline.com


There is an important point that is ignored by those who believe in evolutionary creation- which is Allah’s (swt) different forms of creation. Allah (swt) has produced living things that differ significantly from humans and animals, such as angels and the Jinn. This matter will be discussed in the following lines.


Two-, three-, and four-winged angels


Angels are beings that always obey Allah’s (swt) commands. The Quran describes their creation as follows,

“All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the (only) Originator (or the (only) Creator) of the heavens and the earth, Who made the angels messengers with wings, – two or three or four. He increases in creation what He wills. Verily, Allah is Able to do all things.”

(Fatir 35:1)

As we can see from this description, the forms of angels differ considerably from those of human beings. Allah (swt) draws attention to the different forms of creation in the above verse.


Verses also show how angels are at Allah’s (swt) command and obey Him,

“And to Allah prostate all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth, of the live moving creatures and the angels, and they are not proud [i.e. they worship their Lord (Allah) with humility]. They fear their Lord above them, and they do what they are commanded.” (An-Nahl 16:49-50)

“The Messiah will never be proud to reject to be a slave to Allah, nor the angels who are near (to Allah). And whosoever rejects His worship and is proud, then He will gather them all together unto Himself.” (An-Nisa’ 4:172)

“O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do that which they are commanded.” (At-Tahrim 66:6)


In addition, angels were created before man. In fact, Allah (swt) told the angels when He was going to create Adam (as), the first human being, and commanded them to prostrate before him.


At the same time, Allah (swt) gave Prophet Adam (as) knowledge that was different from that of the angels, and taught him the names of things. Angels do not possess that knowledge. As the Quran states,


“And (remember) when your Lord said to the angels: “Verily, I am going to place (mankind) generations after generations on earth.” They said: “Will You place therein those who will make mischief therein and shed blood, – while we glorify You with praises and thanks (Exalted be You above all that they associate with You as partners) and sanctify You.” He (Allah) said: “I know that which you do not know.”And He taught Adam all the names (of everything), then He showed them to the angels and said, “Tell Me the names of these if you are truthful.”They (angels) said: “Glory be to You, we have no knowledge except what you have taught us. Verily, it is You, the All-Knower, the All-Wise.”He said: “O Adam! Inform them of their names,” and when he had informed them of their names, He said: “Did I not tell you that I know the Ghaib (unseen) in the heavens and the earth, and I know what you reveal and what you have been concealing?”And (remember) when We said to the angels: “Prostrate yourselves before Adam.” And they prostrated except Iblis (Satan), he refused and was proud and was one of the disbelievers (disobedient to Allah).” (Al-Baqarah 2:30-34)

Jinn are created from fire


Like angels, the Jinn’s appearance also differs from that of man. The verses below show that man was created from clay, while the Jinn were created from fire,

“And indeed, We created man from sounding clay of altered black smooth mud. And the Jinn, We created aforetime from the smokeless flame of fire.” (Al-Hijr 15:26-27)

“He created man (Adam) from sounding clay like the clay of pottery. And the Jinns did He create from a smokeless flame of fire.” (Ar-Rahman 55:14-15)

In the Quran, Allah (swt) also reveals His purpose for creating man and the Jinn,

“And I (Allah) created not the Jinns and humans except they should worship Me (Alone).” (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56)


It is clear from this that although man and the Jinn are very different beings; they both were created to worship only Allah (swt) by living by the values He prescribed. He has revealed in many verses that both angels and the Jinn have some characteristics that differ from human characteristics. For instance, both can transport matter,


“He said: “O chiefs! Which of you can bring me her throne before they come to me surrendering themselves in obedience?”

He said: “O chiefs! Which of you can bring me her throne before they come to me surrendering themselves in obedience?” An Ifrit (strong) from the Jinns said: “I will bring it to you before you rise from your place (council). And verily, I am indeed strong, and trustworthy for such work.” (An-Naml 27:38-39)

The Quran also says that the Jinn, just like the angels, were created before man. When He created Prophet Adam (as), Allah (swt) commanded the angels and the Jinn to prostrate before him. After that, He reveals that Satan is one of the Jinn,

“And (remember) when We said to the angels; “Prostrate to Adam.” So they prostrated except Iblis (Satan). He was one of the Jinns; he disobeyed the Command of his Lord. Will you then take him (Iblis) and his offspring as protectors and helpers rather than Me while they are enemies to you? What an evil is the exchange for the Zalimun (polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc).” (Al-Kahf 18:50)

Creation is a simple matter for Allah (swt), Who can create from nothing and with no previous cause. Just as He created the angels and the Jinn in different forms from nothing, He also created man as a separate being from nothing, and with no need for evolution

. The same applies to other living things, such as animals and plants. Allah (swt) created all of these spontaneously out of nothing, and without having them evolved – in other words, without turning one species into another. As we saw earlier, the stages Allah (swt) uses in this creation- which we mentioned before- have nothing to do with evolutionist coincidence, or random events; for each is the product of the flawless system Allah’s (swt) might and sovereignty brought about.


How the bird created from clay by the Prophet ‘Isa (as) came to life?


Allah (swt) endowed Prophet ‘Isa (as), with metaphysical properties in the life of this world, as seen in,


“…the Messiah ‘Isa (Jesus), the son of Maryam (Mary), held in honour in this world and in the Hereafter, and will be one of those who are near to Allah.” (Al `Imran 3:45)


He came into the world with no father, spoke while still in the cradle, and cured the sick in a miraculous way.


Moreover, when Prophet ‘Isa (as) made a clay object in the shape of a bird, and breathed into it, the bird came to life by Allah’s (swt) will. This fact is related in the Quran,


“And will make him (‘Isa (Jesus)) a Messenger to the Children of Israel (saying): “I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, that I design for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah’s Leave…” (Al `Imran 3:49)


“(Remember) when Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection).”O ‘Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)! Remember My Favour to you and to your mother when I supported you with Ruh-ul-Qudus (Jibrael (Gabriel)) so that you spoke to the people in the cradle and in maturity; and when I taught you writing, Al-Hikmah (the power of understanding), the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel); and when you made out of the clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My Permission, and you breathed into it, and it became a bird by My Permission…” (Al-Ma’idah 5:110)


Allah (swt) can spontaneously create a living thing in that way. This is one of His miracles, and an important truth that evolutionist Muslims should not ignore.


A similar example mentions Prophet Ibrahim (as), and reveals how Allah (swt) endows inanimate things with life,


“And (remember) when Ibrahim (Abraham) said, “My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead.” He (Allah) said: “Do you not believe?” He [Ibrahim (Abraham)] said: “Yes (I believe), but to be stronger in Faith.” He said: “Take four birds, then cause them to incline towards you (then slaughter them, cut them into pieces), and then put a portion of them on every hill, and call them, they will come to you in haste. And know that Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.”” (Al-Baqarah 2:260)


How Prophet Zakariya’s (as) barren wife had a child


One example of miraculous creation concerns the joyous tiding received by Prophet Zakariya (as),  that his barren wife would give birth to a child,

(Allah said) “O Zakariya (Zachariah)! Verily, We give you the glad tidings of a son, His name will be Yahya (John). We have given that name to none before (him).”He said: “My Lord! How can I have a son, when my wife is barren, and I have reached the extreme old age?”He said: So (it will be).” (Maryam 19:7-9) As the verses reveal, creation is a simple matter for Allah (swt), Who requires no previous cause to create. He endowed this Prophet with a child, and by commanding that it should “Be!”- This Prophet’s wife spontaneously became pregnant. Our Lord reveals in the continuation of the verse,

“… He said: “So (it will be). Your Lord says; It is easy for Me. Certainly I have created you before, when you had been nothing!”” (Maryam 19:9)

A Handful of Earth

Imagine you are standing in the middle of a very large train station. Young people, old people and children are all rushing past; they are all in a great hurry. They are all trying to get on the same train, because they will all be setting out on the same journey. Some have carefully packed all they own. They are unaware that they will not need any of it at the end of the journey. Some are bidding farewell to their families. They do not realize there can be no return at the end of the journey. We are just some of the millions of travelers who will board that same train when the time comes. We stand there and wait for the train that will take us off to our eternal lives in the Hereafter – a train that we shall one day have to board.

At the end of the journey lie death and angels to meet us. We all carry ledger books that we cannot see. If we think of that train trip as the brief life we spend in this world, then everything we do on that journey, all our sins and merit, is written down in fine detail in those ledgers. We may not be aware of it, but the angels carefully write down every word we say, every step we take, and all our sins and merit. The opening of those ledgers is the best of tidings for believers, because the believer has filled his brief lifetime with good deeds, worship and prayer. He realizes that death lies at the end of that journey, after which will begin the unending life of the Hereafter. That is why he stands before our Lord in submission and trust:

“Then as for him who will be given his Record in his right hand will say: “Take, read my Record!” “Surely, I did believe that I shall meet my Account!” (Al-Haqqa 69:19-20)

Deniers, on the other hand, embark on that train journey with great joy and delight, since they are deceived by Satan into being caught up by this world. There is no training of the lower self on their journeys, no religious observances and no relying on and trusting in God; just living for the transitory joys of this world. Yet, the ledgers they carry with them all unaware will inevitably be opened at the end of the journey, and everything on that journey will be written down, day by day and hour by hour:

the ledgers they carry with them all unaware will inevitably be opened at the end of the journey, and everything on that journey will be written down, day by day and hour by hour:

“And the Book (one’s Record) will be placed (in the right hand for a believer in the Oneness of Allah, and in the left hand for a disbeliever in the Oneness of Allah), and you will see the Mujrimun (criminals, polytheists, sinners, etc.), fearful of that which is (recorded) therein. They will say: “Woe to us! What sort of Book is this that leaves neither a small thing nor a big thing, but has recorded it with numbers!” And they will find all that they did, placed before them, and your Lord treats no one with injustice.” (Al-Kahf 18:49)

In fact, if you look, there is a huge crowd full of false and insincere souls all around at the station that millions of people are passing through. It is such a vast crowd that people become lost in it. They may see one another’s faces but forget to see the face of God. They value one another very much. What their spouses and friends say is of enormous importance to them. They become so caught up by the events of the day that everything they say revolves around this world. They talk about how they make money, how they put their children through the best schools, and how they accumulated wealth and possessions; yet, they do not know that they will have to leave all these behind at the stations they stop at. They do not know that all that awaits them at the end of the journey is God.

“So leave them in their error for a time. Do they think that We enlarge them in wealth and children, We hasten unto them with good things (in this worldly life so that they will have no share of good things in the Hereafter)? Nay, but they perceive not.” (Al-Muminun 23:54-56)

Believers, on the other hand, board that train with deep faith, submission and a sincere heart. They know that the journey is actually quite short. God will test them with difficulties and sickness in the brief life of this world, and they will respond to these tests with fortitude and goodness. Their journeys will be filled with good works, prayer and worship. They will also have to leave behind their wealth, possessions, spouses, friends and children at every stop because all that awaits them at the end of the line is the cold ground and a white shroud. Since they are aware of this, they have no passion for the life of this world; and realize that the life of this world is not a place for greed and desire. At the end of this journey, which they make with a sincere heart and deep faith, stands open the gates to the Gardens of Paradise to meet them.

“For such, the reward is Forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens with rivers flowing underneath (Paradise), wherein they shall abide forever. How excellent is this reward for the doers (who do righteous deeds according to Allah’s Orders).” (Al-Imran 3:136)

“And this life of the world is only amusement and play! Verily, the home of the Hereafter, that is the life indeed (i.e. the eternal life that will never end), if they but knew.” (Al-Ankabut 29:64)

It is a fact that not a single person will be able to avoid waiting at that station and boarding that train. All the people we value so much in the life of the world will board that train, and at the end of the journey, those millions of much-valued bodies will turn into a mere handful of earth. As those bodies all enter the ground at the end of the journey, the bones will fall apart and not a trace will remain of all those millions of people; all that will remain is the souls bowing in awe before our Lord and hoping for forgiveness.

“Except those who repent and believe (in Islamic Monotheism), and do righteous deeds, for those, Allah will change their sins into good deeds, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Al-Furqan 25:70)

“The Forgiver of sin, the Acceptor of repentance, the Severe in punishment, the Bestower (of favours), La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), to Him is the final return.” (Ghafir 40:3)

Quran at Fajr

Dawn_-_swifts_creek02Today, I would like to share with you a small reflection from one of the very beautiful passages of Surah Al-Isra.

In Surah Al-Isra, Allah (swt) talks about the value of the Quran, and the institution that helps us experience the Quran. One thing is to learn the language of the Quran. Another is to study its Tafseer, and recite and memorize it. The Quran is experienced in Salah itself.



“Perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat) from mid-day till the darkness of the night (i.e. the Zuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha prayers) and recite the Quran in the early dawn (i.e. the morning prayer). Verily, the recitation of the Quran in the early dawn is ever witnessed (attended by the angels in charge of mankind of the day and the night).” (Al-Isra 17:78)

So establish the Salah from the time the sun starts getting “loose” and it starts sinking, meaning around Maghrib time. You know one should strive to pray the Maghrib Salah exactly on time, not when the sun is completely gone and it is the depth of the night. He ordained us to establish the prayer at Maghrib and establish the prayer at Isha when it is dark at night. However, when it came to Fajr, He did not even call it Salat Al-Fajr, He called it Quran Al-Fajr or “The Quran of Fajr.”

Hence, we should recite extra Quran at Fajr. But there is something special about me as a person, me as a Muslim developing a relation with the Quran, especially at Fajr. So the advice I give to myself and the same I share with you all is: Try to make Fajr an institution in your life. Set some time aside for making a good Fajr Salah. Young men reading this, go make your Fajr Salah at the Masjid. And the days when you do go to the Masjid, sit there and recite Quran a little bit. If you dedicate that time to worshipping Allah (swt) and make the best of that time, then in your life you will notice a remarkable change; you will receive both spiritual and worldly benefits from your Lord soon, Insha’Allah.

Allah (swt) says: “…Indeed the recitation of dawn is ever witnessed.”

Try to make Fajr an institution in your life. Set some time aside for making a good Fajr Salah. Young men reading this, go make your Fajr Salah at the Masjid. And the days when you do go to the Masjid, sit there and recite Quran a little bit.

Allah (swt) declares that the Quran of Fajr (in the same verse), no doubt about it, is witnessed. It is such a beautiful thing to say. The word Mashooda means that which is witnessed. So the Fajr Salah, the recitation of Quran, the prayer that you recited and that you attended is witnessed.

Now, the question is who witnesses our actions at that time?

You know that Fajr time is that hour of the day when most of the people are asleep. Therefore, even if somebody is walking to the prayer area or driving to the prayer area, nobody sees them. Allah (swt) prescribes the Fajr time as the time that is witnessed (Mashood). Usually, the things that are witnessed are in middle of the day: popular acts, popular places. However, a Masjid is not a popular place and Salah is not a popular act at Fajr time – not for most of us. It is the time when you do not see many people around you. Allah (swt) says it is witnessed. The question is witnessed by whom? Not by the other people who are sleeping! Not by the people who are in heedlessness or the people in sleep, but by the angels who are recording our deeds and rather by the Almighty Allah (swt) Himself Who is making a note of the slaves who are coming and leaving sleep for Him and His Word. Subhan’Allah!

We need to abide by the rule that Allah (swt) has made the night for us to rest and the day to work. We ought to inculcate this habit in our life of going to sleep early and thus, waking up early. Only then, we can give the “Quran of Fajr” its due right!

Thereby, this is a very powerful thing. Try to implement this advice. Make a good habit of going to sleep early, which is easy to say and so hard to do, I know! We always have things piled up and we start getting around to them in the evening. Of course, Shaitan gets a little over-active in the evening too and hence, our distraction comes. You know you are sitting and watching videos late in the night, knowing you will not be able to wake up for Fajr. But you are doing everything late night and your Fajr is kind of getting out of the way! You are half-asleep, you pray a couple of Rakah and even you do not know what you have prayed! You know your Wudhu was when you were half-asleep and your prayer was when you were half-asleep! Moreover, you go about your day with the delusion that you were amongst those who woke up for Fajr.

We need to abide by the rule that Allah (swt) has made the night for us to rest and the day to work. We ought to inculcate this habit in our life of going to sleep early and thus, waking up early. Only then, we can give the “Quran of Fajr” its due right!

Therefore, I pray that we all are able to take advantage of that time. Once you make a habit of this and you try to implement even a little bit, you will start seeing its benefits soon Insha’Allah! You are going to notice your mood is different, your days are different, what you can accomplish is different, the Barakah in your time is different. I can guarantee you a fruitful experience since I have experienced this personally in my life.

I pray that Allah (swt) make us the people of the Quran, and make us amongst those who are able to take advantage of the specific times when Allah (swt) offers His special assistance and teaches us His special lessons. Ameen

The Four Orange Rinds

Orange Rinds

Suleman loved fruit, and there was plenty of it to enjoy in Pakistan. Living in Karachi, he enjoyed mangoes, oranges, pomegranates, pears, peaches, grapes, melons… such a wide variety of fruit, which came one after the other throughout the year from all parts of Pakistan. Today, after a heavy dinner at home, he had an orange. It was so sweet and juicy that Suleman, not a very religious person, spontaneously uttered ‘Alhumdulillah’ with pleasure. Suleman then forgot all about it. His career, work and entertainments kept him very busy and happy with his life.

Zaheeruddin Niazi was very grateful to Allah (swt). His orange orchard had 742 trees on his 20-acres farm. He loved each tree like his own child. His oranges with sticker “Shireen Sweet – Niazi Farm” were the best oranges in the entire Attock Mianwali area. They fetched the best price and were sold out in advance well before season.

FSC113 was the angel responsible for fruit supply to Suleman. There were hundreds of angels with all types of duties for fulfilling the needs of each individual on earth. Some angels were providing the exact Rizq appointed each year for a person; some were protecting the body, ears or eyes, while others were responsible for all types of food supply. FSC was an easy designation for the angel in charge of ‘fruit supply chain’. Since there were hundreds of fruit varieties, there were over 150 angels for bringing different fruits to Suleman. Allah’s (swt) vast network worked day and night for bringing Rizq and sustenance to His creation. All was planned to perfection and ran like clockwork.

Currently, FSC113 had the single duty by his supervisor to supply the best oranges available in Pakistan to Suleman. He had to supply 240 oranges in that particular season, which was not a bad bargain for offering Shukr for one orange! Suleman had shown gratitude, and Allah (swt) never forgets such things. FSC113’s job was not easy. He targeted Zaheer’s farm, since it was the best. Next, he targeted trees number 303, 304 and 305, which were in the best location and produced the most succulent sweet oranges in the entire orchard.

FSC113 settled next to these trees, in order to oversee their production for the next four months. He was dozing, when the hot sunrays jolted him awake; too much sun, he noted. The oranges will dehydrate and lose some glucose content and sweetness! FSC113 rushed skywards and instantly arranged for a cloud cover from his fellow cloud angel, which cut down the sunrays to just the right amount for providing sunlight, but not too harshly. FSC113 sighed with relief. He was well in control. He handled numerous daily challenges, such as ensuring the right amount of water supply, fertile soil conditions, absence of disease, and pest control when needed. He either brought the matter to the attention of Zaheer through intuition or whisperings or took help from his fellow angels, like he had done just now.

Finally, the oranges ripened and were packed and ready to be sent to Peshawar. But, at the last moment, the wholesaler called Zaheer that he had lots of stock, so if he wished, he could send it elsewhere. Zaheer had bookings from everywhere, so he directed the fruit to Quetta. Suddenly, it started to rain heavily in Quetta valley and the truck driver was instructed to change the route to Karachi. The Shireen Sweet were meant for a Gulshan fruit vendor. The truck driver, however, was obliged to grant a favour to his friend in the DHA fruit market. He promised the Gulshan vendor to bring his oranges on the next trip.

One day, Suleman got out of his office, intending to head straight home. But, as he approached the high street, he remembered that they were out of fruit. At the last moment, he turned his car, parked in front of his fruit vendor, and called him through the car’s window:

“Oranges hain (Do you have oranges)?”

“Jee Sahib; abhi taza aye hain. ‘Sweet Shireen’ bohot aala aur meetha hai. (Yes sir. Fresh oranges are here. ‘Sweet Shireen’ are very high quality and sweet.)”

“Theek hai, theek hai bhai, do dozen do – aur jaldi. (Alright, alright, brother. Give me two dozen and hurry!)”

He pays and drives home.

After dinner, Suleman asks his wife for an orange, but she is busy enjoying her banana. He tells his daughter, Sharmeen, to bring one for him. She picks one up, her phone rings, and she puts it down again. Suleman grunts and picks one up for himself. He cuts it in his usual four slices and eats it. No doubt, it was absolutely delicious. Suleman gets up to wash his hands, when he hears the Adhan and suddenly remembers Mufti Sahib’s talk of last Friday on Shukr. He sits down again, brings his hand together and says: “Alhumdulillah”.

More than 150 angels, who had worked hard to bring these oranges to Suleman’s plate, were all standing by the table, waiting to see the effect of their handwork. Suddenly, all of them broke out in a thunderous applause and bowed down to Allah (swt) saying what they said, when they bowed in front of Adam: “Allah Almighty, yes, You know what we know not!”

Allah (swt) then signals to His Archangel, who then just for a moment lifts the veils of ignorance from Suleman’s mind, giving him the gift of understanding and perception. In a flash, Suleman sees where his oranges were grown, how they were protected from sun, rain, disease, and pests and how they were switched from going to Peshawar to Quetta to Karachi and then from Gulshan to DHA. He saw how, by the greatest of miracles all the way from Mianwali traveling over a thousand miles in a period of four months, the oranges landed on his plate!

The veil lifted, and he was back in the world, sobbing like a child. He could barely make it to his bedroom, where he fell on his prayer mat, his body racking with sobs of Shukr, Shukr, Shukr – Alhumdulliah. “Oh Allah (swt), in my slumber, I did not know, but now I know how Rahim how Karim and how Rahman You are. Oh, the Mighty One! Oh, the Great One! Accept my thanks and also accept my repentance for not being grateful for my daily blessing. I know now, and I will be your true and grateful servant for the rest of my life.”

Suleman then collected the four rinds of the orange. After drying them in the sun for a few days, he had them carefully placed in two jars. One jar sits on his plush office desk and the other in his study at home. They serve as constant reminders to be grateful and not to forget his great enlightening experience, which changed his life forever!