The daily office routine is killing, thought Suleman, going by his morning train to work. Well, if not killing, then at least making him feel ‘tied in chains’. His personal likes or dislikes were being sacrificed every day. He didn’t have a choice, whether he did or didn’t want to get up and go to work. It was work, work and work… and for what? Just to make a living? Look at the birds, the bees, the animal and all the vegetation, he thought, they are all provided for. Only man, the uppermost in the food chain, is in chains! He knew that humans were created for better and more important things than slogging eight hours a day for a living! Suleman felt unhappy.
His station was announced, and he got off at Baker Street. He reached the office and saw his colleague Brian. “Hi Brian!” Suleman greeted. “Hi Sal! How are you doing today? Lovely weather, isn’t it?” chirped Brian. “You know, Brian, it feels the same to me as yesterday, but tell me honestly – don’t you get bogged down with this daily office routine?” asked Suleman. “It does not help to think too much about such things, old chap. I just look forward to my evening beer, TV and a good time out with my girlfriend – and that’s enough for me,” Brian replies.
Suleman, who had never touched alcohol in his entire life, now began to think that maybe there is something there. Maybe a glass of beer and TV are enough for ridding the mind of all worries. At least that’s what they show in all those tempting beer ads.
During lunch break, it was Suleman’s routine to walk over to the nearby mosque for his Zuhr prayer, collect a takeaway from the mosque’s canteen and then go across the road to the park for eating. Today, during prayers, he saw his friend Moiz a few rows back and went to meet him after the prayer. Moiz had just returned from a four months retreat with his Jamaat. Maybe he will have some good stories to tell, thought Suleman. He loved these stories. Whenever these guys came back, they had some pretty unreal experiences to share. He recalled that last time a chap, who had gone for the seven month retreat, told a story of how they had survived a blizzard in North Pakistan.
The story went that they were going by foot from one village to another, when all of a sudden they got caught in a blizzard. For protecting themselves, they took shelter behind some trees. They waited for a long time, but the wind showed no sign of letting up. Since the night was descending, their Jamaat leader (or Ameer) decided to walk again. When they came out from behind the trees, the cold wind hit them so hard that they froze! Then the chap told that their Ameer raised his hands and started to pray, while the rest of them stood behind him frozen to their bones.
Suddenly, as if by a miracle, the wind let up and then became still altogether. It was still freezing, when suddenly a gentle breeze started to blow, but instead of a cold wind, it was a warm breeze! It was unbelievable; there was no habitation close by, nothing that could have caused it. The warm breeze kept blowing over them, making them warm and alive again, while they stood stupefied and dazed from witnessing a miracle. When their bodies were completely warm they started moving again, with the breeze keeping them warm like a blanket. When they saw the lights of the village, the warm breeze started to weaken. Upon entering the village, the breeze disappeared altogether, and it was the biting cold and freezing wind again!
There were other such miracle stories by authentic people, who had devoted their lives to the service of God, and Suleman wanted to hear, if Moiz had something similar to tell.
The first thing, which hit Suleman about Moiz, was how peaceful and radiant he looked. Suleman wondered, how it was possible to achieve this. What’s the secret? He did his prayers regularly, give or take a few, were they not enough? Is it Tahajjud or more Tilawat or Tasbeesh or maybe some sort of Taweez from a saint? He was determined to find out the key to this secret.
“Assalamu Alaikum, Moiz! Welcome back!” Suleman hugged Moiz and shook hands with him. “How was your break?” Suleman wanted to make it sound light. “Wonderful, and it really did not feel like four months at all!” Moiz replied. Suleman could not contain his curiosity and asked: “Please, tell me all about it, Moiz.”
“Well the first thing is that you truly feel Haq. Suleman, I swear to you that all the goodness, peace, joy and happiness are available – you only have to walk over and get it!” Moiz continued: “You know, Suleman, your hands do order you to do things, and neither do your feet or your tongue. It’s always your heart! And that’s where the root of all happiness lies – in your heart!”
Suleman did not wish to interrupt Moiz, he just listened with rapt attention. This is what he wanted to know, and as if by a miracle, Moiz knew exactly what he wanted to hear.
Moiz continued:“Our Prophet (sa) said that the heart is like a piece of iron – if you leave it, it rusts. And the more you leave, the more rust collects on it, and finally it not even visible! When you tell a lie, it gets a black spot. When you lie again and again, it becomes so black that there is nothing left but blackness. Now, Suleman, tell me how can such a rusted and black heart feel light, happy and full of joy? It’s not possible!”
Suleman agreed, but he wanted to know, how to get a light heart and asked: “So we need to do Tahujjud or Tasbeeh, or what is it that we must do to lighten the heart, Moiz ?” Moiz gave a little laugh and a big smile appeared on his face. “What’s wrong with doing all these things? You sound, as if they are a burden! Like Allama Iqbal said: ‘We do our Farz like giving Qarz!’ Hahaha! But jokes apart, yes, do all these, if Allah (swt) so wishes you to do – they all lead to wisdom and guidance.
Allah (swt) has given us many ways for lightening the heart, so that anyone who wishes to “lighten up” would find a way suitable way. Nobody will be left out from His blessings. Allah (swt) knows the differences in His creation, so He has made different routes for each person to choose from.”
(to be continued…)