Stories of the Awliya
Hajj Mustafa Ali
There is a great
tradition from the Prophet Muhammad, where he says:
is the Mirror of the Moumin”
All human beings contain
the divine message, that Allah is in-charge of all things.
If we have the inward
panorama of Iman (faith) and establish reliance on it, we
will naturally reflect this inwardness to others, benefiting not
only ourselves but others as well. It is like phenomena of
sympathetic cords. When a cord is strung on a musical instrument, it
vibrates other instruments of like nature with the same notes. In
the same way if we have illness and confusion within, we will
reflect it to others, damaging not only ourselves, but also those
Our lives and deaths are
full of its signs and often we gift each other with precious moments
of reflection that change our lives and the lives of others forever.
In the ultimate picture of balance, humans are outwardly dependant
upon each other, and inwardly dependant exclusively to Allah. We
need each other to see ourselves. The most precious secret of the
path is to realize that the world around us, including all other
beings, human, animals and vegetables, are aspects and signs of our
own selves. This is clearly demonstrated in the first revelation
from Allah, via the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad, where
Gabriel orders him, as it states in the Qur`an, as follows:
In the Name of
Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Read in the
Name of your Lord who created. He created man from a clot. Read for
your Lord is Most Bountiful. Who taught by the use of the pen.
Taught man what he knew not.
These first verses of
the Qur`an were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad after he had spent
many days, weeks and sometimes months in isolation in a cave on Mt.
Hira. This was the way of all Prophets before him. In retreating
from the outer world one can inwardly expand the gift of awareness
to its human limits and through the grace of the Lord, break the
bounds of the limited consciousness to realization and enlightenment
to the one and only consciousness behind all created beings. The
order to “read” was both a command and a statement of truth, from
Allah, revealing to the Prophet his divine station and purpose. He
read what was before him, the ever-generous and effulgent symphony
of realities that all indicate the one and only reality behind it
all. The Prophet awoke to the true and ultimate purpose of mankind.
But more so and above others, he was charged to be the ultimate
mirror and guide to others on this path of realization.
This process hold true
for all of us, whether we are aware of it or not. The creation
around us mirrors our lives and speaks to us relentlessly about
ourselves. Either we are awake and “read” the message directed at
us, or we remain asleep and the content of our life is wasted.
In the fall of 1986, I
was attending an Islamic conference for Zahra Publication, to
introduce and sell our publications. We had a booth in one of the
conference halls where there were dozens of other book publishers,
food importers and various Muslim wares on offer. The conference was
over a three-day period. On the second day I was there, an Iraqi man
had come to chat with me several times. At first the conversation
was of a light nature, but as the day grew on, his visits, and words
began to hint of something of greater importance he wished to share
with me. I did not let on that I was aware of his subtle hints,
wanting him to feel comfortable and not wanting to appear prying
into his affairs. Towards the end of the day he approached me and
said that he had a problem that he wanted to discuss with me. He
explained how he could not discuss this with most others, and how he
felt comfortable with me. He sat down next to me and told me about
the problems he was having with his wife.
He started his story by
telling me that he had gone through a major transformation in the
last few years. Being raised a Muslim in Iraq he admitted to not
having much appreciation for Islam. That it was for the most part a
cultural aspect of his life. In regard to belief in God or in the
practice of Islam, he had no belief and little inclination to the
outer practices of Islam. He was educated in the UK, where he met
his wife and after graduation took up a job in the USA where he
remained to this day. His life was typically American, with the
exclusion of diet, to which he and his family remained loyal to
Iraqi cuisine. His wife and him drank, wine and other spirit drinks,
and there was the occasional affair with other women. He was
unhappy, but could not ever put his finger on where the source of
his discontent was coming from.
One day he was visiting
a friend in a hospital in Michigan, when over the public address
system there was a call for anyone who could read Arabic. For some
reason he explained, when hearing this message he suddenly felt
overcome with a sense of urgency to answer that request. He
immediately went to the information counter of the hospital and
volunteered his services as an Arabic reader. Within minutes a
doctor and a nurse came to escort him to a room where there was a
women dying of cancer in her last moments of life. When relating
this part of the story his eyes filled with tears. He dropped his
head and under his breath he said: “I wish Allah had given me a wife
like this woman”. He continued to the story. The doctor explained
that the woman dying was a Muslim and her last request was to hear
the Qur`an being recited as she passed on to the next world. He
could not believe what he was being asked to do. He had not picked
up a Qur`an for the better part of his adult life, he didn’t even
believe in Allah let alone is someone to read it to someone as their
last dying request. But all that consideration evaporated, when he
saw the face of the women lying in the hospital bed. Her face was
shown with a golden light, there was a deep peace and joy in the
room that could be seen reflected in the faces of all others present
in the room. All considerations he put aside, all thoughts fell
away. He knew in his heart that he was meant to be there. He picked
up the Qur`an, hands shaking, and heart trembling and began to
recite suratul Ya Seen. The words fell on his tongue like
sweet drops of rain on earth long parched by drought. His eyes ran
like rivers, as he watched the last moments of life lift from her
face. To this day he said he hears her last words, like a mantra in
his mind; Allah, Allah, Allah, into silence.
After finishing the
chapter through, he greeted the family of the deceased and with
tears in his eyes and words chocking in his throat, he expressed his
gratitude to them and the honor of being witness to such an event.
He could not fully explain them or entirely understand what had
really and fully happened that day to him, but his life was now
changed forever. Upon returning to his home he explained to his wife
what had happened. She was quick to dismiss the entire episode as a
fluke and criticized his weak character in the whole event. But he
knew different. He made a pledge that night, to make amends for all
his bad behavior, to memorize the entire Qur`an, becoming a Hafiz of
the Qur`an. He would from that day forward, do his prayers and fully
adopt the teaching of Islam into his life. But this did not impress
his wife in the way he had wished. She became more and more bitter
from his new commitment to Islam. She refused to pray, or do
anything that had to do with Islam. She even went as far as to spill
a glass of wine over the head of her husband while he was in
prostration on his prayer mat. Soon she was having affairs with
other men and the writing was on the wall, it was a marriage that
was coming to an end.
His reason for telling
me all this was to ask my advice in this matter. He felt that maybe
he should not let her go, in the hope that she would eventually come
around and accept Islam for herself. I would have agreed, but this
situation had been going on for the past four years, and it had just
gotten worse. My suggestion was clear in my mind and heart. Divorce
the women. I told him that there were plenty of women who would love
to marry him. He agreed and said that he would act on it as soon as
he returned home. He then said again how he would have loved to know
that woman who died. That he would love to find someone like her to
have as a life’s companion. I said, you never told me her name. He
answered that her name was Shakura. Upon hearing her name, I was
overwhelmed. My hair stood up on end and my tears flowed out in awe.
It was Shakura, a member of our community in San Antonio, Texas,
whom I had personally known for the past seven years, until she had
become ill with cancer and returned to her family for her last days.
I could only say Subhan ALLAH! How can this happen? Only by Allah’s
generous plot and design. He was shocked when I told him that I also
knew her for many years. Allah is great. How this man was guided to
pick me out of a crowd of thousands attending the conference, to
tell me this amazing story, and I know her. Subhan Allah!
May Allah give us the
honor of her company in the Garden of the next life.
May Allah protect us
from the illusion that we are in-charge of our lives.
May we always look to
His guidance in all things, and fill our hearts with His light and
May Allah bless
Shakura, give her the ultimate station of witnessing, and ease on
the day of rising.