The Blessed Path
All of us face some experiences in our lives but only those who are critical and sensitive in their pursuit draw lessons. In this short story, Uzma Bukhari writes about one such person namely Amina who experiences events in her life that make her God-conscious.
Intelligent and brave Amina was the eldest child of the family. She lived in a serene village with her parents, uncle, aunt, and cousins (Umar and Shabeer). As usual, Amina’s Father and Uncle were up before Azan and left for Mosque. The sweet and melodious chirping of birds was echoing in the village, her mother and aunt offered namaz in a room beside the kitchen, specifically made for religious rituals. After namaz, her aunt lit the lantern and went to the kitchen to prepare breakfast, and Amina’s mother went to wake up the children but she knew they wouldn’t until they heard the melody of Salaat o Salaam from the mosque. After offering Fajar, Amina and her cousins joined the rest of the family members in the kitchen for breakfast. Amina was continuously staring at her father as if she wanted to ask something from him. As everyone in the kitchen was done with breakfast, her father stood up. He was about to leave. As usual, he muttered Allahu Akbar under his breath. Amina was observing everything carefully.
She followed her father to his room, where he was tuning the radio to get news updates. Amina joined him and asked “Abbu, What does Allahu Akbar mean? Her father turned the radio off and answered with a smile, it means “Allah is the greatest of all. Amina asked again, so are we supposed to say it every time we sit, stand, and while climbing the tree? He replied, “Yes, we should”. Amina would hear this word very often, her uncle even shouted Allahu Akbar while digging the fields. She was very curious to know its meaning and finally got it from her father. Amina was getting late for school, so she left her father’s room in a hurry.
Amina used to reach school prior to the school timing, as she was one among those who lead the Morning Prayer in school. The prayer began as
“Mera jeena, mera Marna, Ilaahi Teri khatir ho, mera rukna,Mera chalna, Ilaahi
Teri khatir ho”
(Oh Allah, may my living and my dying be only for your sake, may my acts and my restraints be only for your sake).
These lines always confused Amina. She had many queries in her mind regarding the prayer. She and her cousins used to come back home during a break for lunch at school which was a short distance from their home. This time as well, once they were done with lunch Shabeer started to enact his daily drama of illness. He sat and pretended as if he wasn’t able to walk. So he asked Amina and Umar to bring his bag from the school as he stayed at home to rest, his illness remained until they both left for school. He fell ill at least three times a week.
Amina after lunch went to her father’s room and asked, “Abbu, Who is Ilaahi? Her father replied, Ilaahi is the one who is the greatest of all, one who is master, who feeds us. She again asked in confusion but two days ago you told me that Allah is the greatest! Her father smiled and replied, Ilaahi and Allah are two names of our one lord. Her father asked Amina to stay in the room for a while and opened the closet from which he took out the Quran. After touching the Quran with his eyes, as usual, he handed it over to Amina and said this is the Kitab of Allah revealed to the last and the most beloved Prophet of Allah. You should love Allah and his Prophet (PBUH) and to love Allah and his Prophet (PBUH) you should read the Quran daily, it will help you. This is the book of guidance for the whole of mankind. If you want to succeed in your life and the afterlife, follow this book and implement it in your life. Amina knew the Quran as she used to learn it from Imam Saheb in the evening. She responded in excitement, I read this every day and took the Quran with her.
Once Amina was writing her homework on her takhti (slate), suddenly she heard voices of her cousins collecting walnuts. They came to her and said that they have collected twenty walnuts worth five rupees, and requested her to join them to go to a shop so that they could buy biscuits. Amina accompanied them happily to the shop as she always felt happy to visit Baba and had very interesting conversations with him. The shop was a small hut made of mud and was almost 1 kilometer away but they chose shortcuts through the fields. When they reached the shop, Shabeer and Umar handed over the walnuts to Baba from the small window and tried to get in from the door from the other side which was a bit away. Baba in return gave them biscuits. Umar jumped down from the window while Shabeer was still playing with the rod and unfortunately, his hand slipped off the rod and he fell down, Baba exclaimed, “Allahu Akbar, and rushed out of the shop to see him. When Baba asked Shabeer if he was fine, Shabeer started laughing and said he is fine. Seeing this, Amina and Umar sighed in relief. Umar and Shabeer started running steadily through the fields heading towards home but Amina was still peeping through the small window of the shop. She wanted to go inside but it was too late, she told Baba that she will visit him the coming Sunday and reminded him that this Sunday is her birthday and he had promised to give her whatever she would ask.
It was Sunday morning; everybody greeted and prayed for Amina as it was her birthday. Her mother made her favorite Sabudana Kheer. As usual, her father and uncle gave her some money and she got a lot of blessings from the elders of the family. Amina and her cousins used to graze the cattle every Sunday. Amina told her cousins that today they will take the cattle to the pond which is next to Baba’s shop.
After reaching the pond Amina asked Umar and Shabeer to look after the cattle and went inside the shop to meet Baba. Baba greeted her, Yom-e-wiladat Mubarak dukhtar (Happy Birthday Daughter) and gave her some orange candies. She was very happy today and reminded Baba of his promise. Baba replied, yes my daughter I do remember. Baba asked Amina to sit and told her to ask for whatever she wants. Amina was lost in some deep thoughts. She thought of the book that Baba read secretly, whenever he was alone. She remembered the day when it was raining heavily and Baba was reading the book by candlelight. She remembered that he wept while reading that book. Baba’s voice pulled her back from her thoughts. Amina told Baba whatever she had observed and asked him to show her the secret book that he reads while alone. She said that this was going to be her birthday present. Baba stood up and took the book from the shelf and removed its gilaaf. Amina was amazed to see that it was The Quran that she learns every day from Imaam Saheb and the same book that his father gave her to read. Baba told Amina that this book is the Word of God and contains complete guidance for mankind. This is about God, His attributes and man’s relationship to Him. Baba was repeating what she had already heard from her father. Baba told Amina that Almighty is full of love and kindness for his creation and the purpose of our life is to worship Allah. Allah’s mercy has no limits. Anyone who regrets his or her sins, repents in front of Allah and asks Allah for forgiveness and does good deeds, will be forgiven by Allah. This is what made Baba weep while reading the book. Amina was listening to each and every word of Baba keenly. She wondered how she had completed reading this book thrice but didn’t know the reality of the book. The Quran which is a guide for her and for the whole of mankind, its essence still eluded her. Amina got too emotional and expressed gratitude to Baba for acquainting her to the purpose of her life. Baba wrapped The Quran in gilaaf and placed it on the shelf. Amina looked happily at Baba and left the shop singing her school prayer.
Amina went to Madrasa and asked Imam Sahab that she wanted to understand the Quran. Amina, who had completed reading The Quran thrice, wanted to understand it. Imam Sahab was impressed with Amina and told her to bring the Quran. Then Imam Sahab repeated the same words that her father and Baba had said that if we want to succeed in our life we should act upon this book. Imaam Sahab started with the opening surah Al_Fatiha with its translation and Amina listened intentively:
“In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.”
“[All] praise is [due] to Allah, Lord of the worlds. The Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.
As the surah started, Amina was completely lost in deep thoughts. Imam Saheb continued,
“Sovereign of the day of Judgement.
For the first time, each verse of surah touched her soul because for the first time she came to know what was written in the Quran.
“It is You we worship and You we ask for help. Guide us to the straight path.”
She felt that these verses are echoing in the valley and mountains are reciting it. It is as if everything around was telling her to choose the straight path, the path Allah wants her to follow. The path Imam Saheb was praying for.
“The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray.
Everything was becoming dusky, she felt as if someone was telling her Close your eyes, fall in love, stay there and she wanted to stay there for hours. This was the moment that changed Amina, her thinking and everything around her.
The author is a student of B A Hons. in Geography at Aligarh Muslim University, India.
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