It was sizzling that Friday noon – typical of the gulf summer. I left my house to attend Jumah prayer at the masjid in the next neighborhood. When I started my car, I could see mirage at the end of the road ahead of me. I turned on the AC with desperation. Just as I was about to drive, I saw a man walk pass our lane. He was small, thin and was carrying a couple of grocery bags in both hands. That the bags were very heavy was evident from the stiff and brisk manner of his walk.
He wasn’t from my neighborhood, so I knew he had a long distance to cover to reach his destination on foot. I had a convenient mode of transport. I had shelter from the heat of the blazing sun. I had plenty of space in my car. I wanted to help him; to lighten his load; to shorten his difficult tread; to offer some cool respite from the sweltering air, but, I didn’t. I couldn’t. ‘If only I was a man, or was not alone in my car, ya Allah, I would have assisted your servant,’ I said earnestly in my heart.
I drove on towards the masjid. My heart still restless and anxious for the man I didn’t help – or couldn’t help – my mind still imagining him walking with his heavy load in the sun. ‘Ya Allah, you know what is in my heart and you know my intention and limitation,’ I conversed with All-Hearer.
The nagging feeling didn’t go away. I reached the neighborhood block where my intended masjid was. About half a km away, I took a turn into the service-lane. Suddenly a black shrouded form caught my side-vision. I don’t know why or what prompted me, but I stopped and reversed till I could see clearly. Dressed from head to toe in a black khimar, was a woman who was walking briskly and purposefully in the direction of the masjid. This was most strange. Women dont usually walk to the masjids here and that too during the middle of the day. Now, I’ve never done this before (i.e. stop or talk to strangers on the streets and offer them a lift), but because I was so conscious about what I was unable to do a couple of minutes ago, I grabbed this opportunity.
I rolled down my tinted window to show her that I’m a female, offered my salaam and asked if she was heading towards the masjid. She was a bit stunned but replied in the affirmative. I asked her to join me in my car. She readily accepted. In two minutes we were both inside the masjid, alhumdullilah.
She was thankful for the lift. I had another Being to offer gratitude to. So overwhelmed was I that I had to offer the sajda as-shukr (prostration of thankfulness). I was in awe of how Allah listened to the words of my heart that didn’t even reach the tongue. I was touched by how beautifully HE removed my restlessness by providing me with another viable opportunity. Never before have I seen women, in this area, walking to the masjid during the day time. HE created this situation for me.
We are all expertly woven with each other in a complex network, spreading outwards and inwards, merging, entangling, so that the path taken by one, opens the way for another and subsequently opens the heart of yet another. And the intricate chain continues to link our lives according to HIS master plan i.e. destiny.
I realized then, the meaning of His Name – Al-Lateef. The Most-Subtle, the Most Considerate. One whose knowledge encompasses all the secret and hidden matters and HE understands the most subtle things. The One Who is Kind to his believing servants, guiding them to that which would benefit them and taking care of their interests through means that they are not even aware of.
That unknown man, that stranger woman and I did not begin our day knowing how we would affect each other. But Al–Lateef knew and planned.