Tuesday the 4th of February was a day, which changed my life, my thinking and my spirit irreversibly and forever. It will always be my pot of shining gold at the end of the rainbow, my hope in times of despair, my silver lining in every dark cloudÖ
I often relate my magical little story to people, and more often than not, I can hear the disbelief in their voices, and see the doubtful expressions on their faces. But I cannot blame them for this, for, had someone told me the same story a few years ago, I, too would have probably thought it was fabricated, or at the very least, exaggerated.
You see, I had always thought that each individual has his/her own preferences in terms of the form of ibaadah he/she gravitates towards. Some people prefer standing in supererogatory prayers for long hours, others prefer reciting Qurían, some enjoy dhikr others prefer du'aÖ
And I had resigned myself to the fact that duía just didnít seem to be something which I could put my heart into. Perhaps it was lack of faith on my part, or perhaps it was sheer laziness. Or perhaps I didnít know how to ask, or when to ask. For whatever reason, duía was always something ritualistic in my day-to-day life - a few lines of memorized Arabic words at the end of fardh salah, no tears, no smiles, no emotions, and that was it. In fact more often than not, I would leave it out.
Until Ramadan, two years ago. I was going through an extremely tough time - sadly most of us are when we decide to ask Allah - when I received an e-mail from a mailing list I subscribe to. The brother who had sent the mail reminded readers of the assured acceptance of duía made on the Night of Qadr (Laylatul-Qadr). He said that since this night, in all probability, occurred on one of the last ten days of the month, and since nobody knew exactly which night it was, everyone should make a list of the things which they really wanted, and on each of the last ten nights, they should fervently and passionately cry out to Allah, asking Him to give them those things. This way, the brother said, everyone would have made duía on each and every one of the last ten nights, and hence they would be sure that they Ďcaughtí the Night of Qadr, and if Allah willed, their duía would be assure of acceptance.
I took great inspiration from this mail, more so, because the brother spoke of how he had done this during a previous Ramadan, and how his duía had been accepted. And so my journey of discovery of beganÖ I would accompany my brother to the mosque for Tarawih salah every night, and we would always arrive a little early.
I would throw my head on the ground and cry my heart out, asking Allah, like Iíd never asked Him before: I asked for all the things which were missing in my life, I asked Him to remove my grief, to Bless me with what I always wanted. I finally put all the theories I had heard and read about duía in lectures, articles and books, into practice: I acknowledged that I was weak, and my virtues, if existent at all, were few, I mentioned a few of my good deeds to Him, and asked if He would reward me for them, small though they were. I told Allah that I loved Him - and wondered why I had never bothered to tell Him this before. I told Him that I believed He could do anything - and wondered why I had never believed this before.
That Ramadan, in those few nights, I spoke to Allah, and ask of Him, as if He was my friend, as if I truly believed He could help me, as if I was there, listening. And quite honestly, I donít think I had done that before. And He responded. I got what I had wanted; I got what I had asked for.
It didnít come all at once, but it came. It didnít come with great ease; there were many difficulties on the way, but I knew, that if I had asked Allah, then I had to have faith in Him, and if I had faith in Him, then I had to have faith in His Words: "Verily with difficult comes ease." [Surah Al-inshirah]
I shared this little story with a few of my friends, because I felt it was blessing which other people could benefit from, and I found that I wasnít alone.
There were people out there who had realized the sheer power of duía long before I had, and they inspired me further. These people made duía for everything they wanted, no matter how big or small it seemed. There was a sister who was certain she would fail an exam, she hadnít studied for it all - the night before her paper, she realized that there was one thing she could do for herself: make duía! And so she did. And she passed that paper.
Then there was another who would even make duía to lose weight, and she said it worked. I might have laughed at her five years previously. But who was I to laugh now? A person can make duía for he/she wants, as long as it is not haram, for e.g. asking for a premarital affair to work out, or impossible, for e.g. to be turned into an animal. And why wonít the One who says, in Surah Al-Baqarah: !When My servants ask you concerning me, I am indeed close to them: I listened to the prayer of every suppliant when he calls unto meÖ! Accept it? And nothing convinced me of this like February 4th 2003 didÖ
My brother and I had been for Hajj in the year 2000. We desperately wanted to return, but finances never allowed it. Then shortly before Ramadan 2002, I heard of an all - expenses paid Hajj, which the Saudi Royal Family offered to journalists, wanting to gain insight into the background happenings of Hajj. I called the Saudi ambassador to South Africa, Dr Saud Zedan, who told me that there werenít any places available for this Hajj, but that I should apply to go as a guest of the Ministry. He told me that I should fax our details to a sister called ĎAmalí and I did so the next day.
That Ramadan, I was faced with another test. Alhamdulillah, the previous Ramadan, I had learnt that duía was the answer to finding my ways passing such test. So I made my list, and high up, of course, was that Allah would take me and my brother for a second Hajj. I called a close friend of mineís, and asked her to make the same duía.
I kept calling the embassy to ask if my application had been successful, and I was always faced with the same answer: "We donít know yet." January came - we would know towards the end of the month, Amal told me. The list of applicants had been faxed to Saudi Arabia, and the selection would be made there, and the names would then faxed to her. She asked me to call back on a Monday. Even today, thinking back, I can almost feel my sinking heart when I heard her words. "Dr Zenden says to tell you he is very sorry, and that in sha Allah, next year, you and your brother will be his personal guests." I called Dr Zenden for his efforts, and he had already heard the news. "Itís Allahís decision," he said.
I was heart broken. I thought to myself, "if I truly believed in Allah and His Power, then I will practice on that belief." So I made Wudu, and thanked Allah for His Decision, and I told Him that I understood that He knew of some good, in this outcome, which, I as a human being was unaware of. But I couldnít help asking Him too, if He could somehow reverse the Decision. I told my close friend the bad news, and all she said was, "I am still making duía."
A week passed, and I heard the last flight of Hujjaj had left South Africa that weekend. I spent all weekend reminiscing and feeling sorry for myself, because I wasnít on that flight. I felt that asking for Hajj now, was like asking for something impossible, so I didnít include it in my duía anymore.
Monday the 3rd of February was a devastating day. Something terrible - too personal to talk about - happened, and I felt this time, I couldnít go no. At 3am on Tuesday I was speaking to a friend, and last words of advice I heard were, "Fatima, make wudu and pray." So I prayed. After a restless sleep, the memory of what had happened the previous night woke me up at 8am. I made wudhu again and I sat down, raised my hands and asked Allah to help me. Barely five minutes had passed and my cell phone rang. The Pretoria dialing code flashed on my screen. "Fatima?" it was Amalís voice. "You are going for Hajj on Friday. I need your passports."
Until today I am not sure of the hows and whys - Dr Zenden was surprised when I told him that I had been accepted; he asked me if I was sure, and he said didnít know how my name had found its way back onto the list. "Its Allahís Will." He reminded me.
I later heard that my brother and I had probably been replacement for a couple who had decided not to go at the last minute, but in my heart, I know that this was probably Allahís way of answering my duía.
My friend and I have spent long hours on the phone speaking about the power of duía. Itís like a treasure, which I have started to, and continue to, discover. And I want to share it with the world.
Talk to Allah, in times, of need and in times of happiness. Ask Him and thank Him. Ask from your heart. And if you do not get what you wanted, know that He is giving you something better, if not in this world, then in the Akhirah. Where there is duía there is hope. Believe this.