I am moving to Dubai! Alhamdulillah. This is perhaps one of the happiest days of my life. I re-read my transfer letter to affirm what I read. Really? Ever since I started working, I have forever been making dua for a way out of this office. No, it is not that I don’t like my work. This is perhaps the dream firm of so many architects. From a third person’s view, I seem to have everything- a dream job, great salary at a young age and caring parents. What more could a person ask for at 26?
But if the third person was a practising Muslim, he would see through the void in my life within a snap. Honestly, I struggle everyday. I struggle to run away from the fitnah of this world. I struggle to lower my gaze, I struggle to bear the scorns when I get up in between important meetings to make it on time for salah, I struggle on jummuah to walk out and join the jamaat, I struggle to ignore the glances I get due to my not-so-trimmed beard or due to my wierd-lengthed pants. The awkward moments I am taken aback when female colleagues unbashfully grab an arm, pat the back or extend hands for a shake. The numerous dinner parties I refuse due to involvement of alcohol, all sorts of fitnah or the times I had to attend and sat like a stork with my eyes pinned to the floor. This world is but a prison for a believer.
“Truly, the life of this world is nothing but a (quick passing) enjoyment, and verily, the Hereafter that is the home that will remain forever.” [Qur’an 40:39]
It shall not be the same anymore! I will be moving to a Muslim country. Everything will be halal. Work ethics, clothing, dinners, meetings, work schedule and every other thing will be in line with our deen. In-shaa-Allah.
We were the happiest to arrive at our new home. My heart knew no bounds to know that I am going to officially have an off on Fridays! SubhanAllah. Things seemed amazing. Breaks were scheduled as per salah timings and Masjids at every nook and corner for you to fulfill your obligations. My heart truly knew no bounds. Though a majority in my office were not muslims, yet everyone seemed to be so cooperating.
My boss, Mr Khaled was the kindest man. On my first day he made all efforts to make me comfortable. I was given my cubicle and my colleagues were the warmest. SubhanAllah, I spotted some brothers with beard and sisters in hijab. I don’t get the awkward glances!
However, often things are not how they seem. When the clock struck 13:00 and adhaan was called, I excitedly got up to move to the masjid and looked around if anyone was joining. Nobody. I waited for a minute or so. Brother Hamza? I tapped on his table.
– ” masājid?”
He shrugged his shoulders.
-” I will read it in the prayer room here brother. Not too much time.”
-“I pray qadhas at the end of the day man. Work load doesn’t permit all 5 times regularly.”
Brother Ahmed had a back pain, so would sit and pray in his cubicle today. Brother Farhan was surprised and exclaimed, “masajid? it is jumuah?”
Narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, I had thought of ordering that wood be gathered, then I would command the call to prayer to be given, and I would appoint a man to lead the people in prayer, then I would go to men [who do not attend the congregational prayer] and burn their houses down around them. By the One in Whose hand is my soul, if anyone of you had known that he would receive a bone covered with meat or two (small) pieces of meat in a sheep’s foot, he would come for ‘Isha’ prayer.”
[Al-Bukhaari, 7224; Muslim, 651]
With disappointment, I started my walk outside when Mr Khaled(my boss) caught me by surprise.
-“hey, Shahid, where are you going?”
-” the local mosque, Mr Khaled. It is time for salah”, I murmured looking at him expecting him to come along
There was a frown on his face. “We got less time my boy. Break is for 30mins of which 10 is already gone. Make it on time, lest you may pray in the prayer room. We got an important client meeting today at 1400hrs!”
My throat got a lump. I slowly move towards the prayer room and found only 4 brothers besides me there. That was my first day.
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever hears the call to prayer and does not come, there is no prayer for him [i.e., his prayer is not valid], unless he has an excuse.” Narrated by Ibn Maajah, al-Daaraqutni, Ibn Hibbaan and al-Haakim with a saheeh isnaad. It was said to Ibn ‘Abbaas, what is an excuse? He said, Fear or sickness.
As time passed, I realised it will always be the same everywhere. Allah should never be a back up or substituted, rather He is my priority. From day 2, I made sure that I hurry to the masajid as soon as the adhaan was called. Alhamdulillah, on most of the days I made it back on time. The few delays, were scorned and commented upon but they are humans. We can never please humans.
It was the same here. I was struggling again, but for different reasons. I was called a show off, indisciplined, as someone not serious about work etc. Somehow, very often my seniors wanted their work to be ‘urgently’ done by 2pm! Any extension or lack of quality would be blamed upon my 1hour break for salah. The smoke breaks that everyone took was ignored!
My heart pain when I overheard brother Abdul and Rashed speaking of how pretty a female colleague Sunayna was! and how it is no fun to even speak to girls Rubiyah, Ameena etc (colleagues and sisters). They mocked their hijab and modesty. They laughed at how stupid they were since their presence won’t even be noticed to make them eligible for promotions!
I saw so many hijabi sisters change as the year passed. The scarf went slightly behind, sleeves went just a little bit up, faces were adorned and abayas became flashy. I saw so many brothers discarding the cap and beard, I saw them getting into the latest fashionable attire and getting rid of those unshapely clothings. I could not even imagine the ache in their hearts when they gulped down the beer lest the client feels humiliated! I could only see in the eyes of those young souls. All I could do is make duaa for their heart’s ease for I knew, they are going through their ordeals too.
Yet again, I was back to square one. The only relief was perhaps halal meat in every restaurant and lots of meat! SubhanAllah.
I was mistaken to think that alcohol would be any less in parties here or music wouldn’t be loud. I was mistaken to think fitnah would be any less and perhaps it was even more. It was shameful to see people with beard acting completely opposite to sunnah and Qur’an. I wish they understood whose appearance they were imitating to keep that beard.
I know it is easy to judge and as a brother in deen, I must be a mirror. My attempts to serve a reminder were followed by comments like,
“Why you acting as a sahaba man?”
“You’re so on your way to sainthood”
“Why are you an architect? Do a maulana course”
“What’s with you? Stop judging me”
“Allah is in my heart. I don’t believe in 5 prayers.”
“Allah understands. I will seek forgiveness. He is the most forgiving.”
“Oh I am disobeying and you are sinless?”
Sigh. This is but the bitter truth. The world this side was no better. I still loved my work and my office but if I thought being a muslim would be any easier here, I sure was dreaming!
Abdullah Ibn Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) said: “The life of this world is Paradise for a disbeliever and a prison for a believer. When a believer dies and departs from this world, he feels himself like a prisoner who was released to go freely on the spacious earth.”
#a fictional tale