What is faith? We can define it, at the very least, as complete trust. Faith has brought peace of mind to billions and has helped many find solace in times of need. Faith comes in many forms, but religions, as institutions, have shaped the world we live in.
SOURCE: Muslims of the World by Sajjad Shah
Lulu 42, New York, New York, US
Allah is the ally of those who believe. He brings them out from darkness, into the light. —Surat al-Baqarah 2:257
It was a hot summer’s day in New York City. The afternoon was dense with humidity that weighed heavily on everyone. I stormed out of the house to get fresh air. My head was about to explode from all the stress building up inside of me. I was a soon-to-be divorced single mother with twins who was living back at home with her parents. I was getting zero financial support for the kids from their father. I had no job, no husband—just broken dreams. Life had never looked so bleak.
Things weren’t always so dark. Not long before this day my heart was filled with complete joy. Allah (SWT) chose my womb to bring twins into this world. But now I was facing the reality of raising them as a single parent. Who could show me how to make it in this world on my own? I had no role model, no one to guide me. I started to panic about the future: How on earth would I be able to provide for the twins? How would I be able to afford a good school for them? Frustrated and almost resentful, I became someone I didn’t like anymore. Even worse, I wasn’t sure how I felt about my Creator, either. I was angry. Why me? Why the twins? What did I (or they) do to deserve this life?
I got in my car and little drops of rain began to hit the windshield. The sky was getting darker from a brewing storm. I placed my head on the steering wheel and prayed. I prayed for the rain to wash all my sins and anguish away. I prayed it would wash away all of my bad thoughts. I knew the thoughts I was having were wrong, but they hijacked every part of my being. When I picked up my head I noticed a woman dragging a suitcase, with two kids following behind. It was a busy intersection near the bus stop in front of my house. She looked as lost as I felt, and for some reason, I smiled.
I felt her anxiety and her despair. I decided to get out of the car to ask if she needed help. She said she was looking for a homeless shelter where someone had suggested she stay. Before then, I had never known that there was a homeless shelter in my neighborhood. Since I didn’t know where it was, I decided to get back into my car. I started the car and turned on my windshield wipers. They swayed across the glass quickly as the storm came in. Staring out the window, I could see the mom and kids looking worried as thunder rolled through the sky. My heart began to beat quickly, keeping time with the windshield wipers. My initial reaction was to drive off, to go, to run my errands. But I couldn’t move. I couldn’t leave them behind. Even though we lived in such a busy city, at that moment it felt as though the world stopped and it was just the four of us—and Allah above. When I offered to take her to the shelter, tears rolled down her beautiful, striking cheekbones. I’ll never forget what I saw in her kids’ eyes. The look of fear, instability, a feeling of not being wanted. They, too, were in despair.
The shelter wasn’t far from my house, but I couldn’t tell you how long it took us to get there. Time stopped for us as we drove. We weren’t a part of the world that day. We were being tested and watched. I know deep inside of me it was no accident or coincidence. I firmly believe we both had the same feeling. Our lives mirrored each other’s: we were two young, divorced single mothers who had left abusive relationships, were unemployed and had to care for a boy and a girl. We were both broken. The only difference between us was that I had a family to help support me; she did not.
I watched and waited until I made sure the three of them made it inside the shelter. A few blocks away, I pulled the car over to cry. My sobs were just as loud and hard as the thunder and rain pouring outside. I wasn’t alone at that moment. I felt His presence. It was clear to me that I was just given a test from Allah! I realized that it was time for me to make some difficult changes.
I thought I could control the direction of my life, but accepting Allah’s guidance and submission to His plan was the real destination.
The events of that day shook me from my depths of depression. I now understood what my existence was for. I needed to be present, to dismantle my past and not focus on the future. Nothing was under my control anymore—but at the same time, nothing was a mistake. I finally realized that there was a master plan.