The Islamic Garden
Tranquility in a broken body
The true story of a woman’s near fatal accident, which proves to strengthen her inner self.
She tried to open her eyes but the constant thudding inside her head and the terrible pains that wracked her body sent her back into oblivion once more. Her mind couldn’t focus onto anything. No memories, no hopes, no illusions, just pain.
Unaware of the presence of any other person, but feeling love and strength coming from somewhere, she tried to move her fingers towards a hand that had stayed by her side for over a week as she hovered between life and death. Ahmed sat by her side, gently holding her limp fingers in his strong, caring hands. Every minute or so, he would search her face for signs of life, a flicker of her eyelids, a twitch of her mouth, then he would sit back for a time relieved that she was still with him. For days he forgot sleep and waited for the moment she might open her eyes and look for him. As the days passed she began to dream. She’d feel herself falling, falling and then, nothing. Blackness. Disturbed, she’d try to move but the pain would send her back. One day her eyes flickered and opened. She tried to focus but everything was rather blurry. She blinked hard and tried again. Finally she recognized her husband’s face and her eyes closed again in peace. A small smile spread across her swollen lips. A few hours later she awoke again.
“Yes! I’m here!” His voice croaked as he gently touched her forehead and smiled into her growing awareness.
“Where am I?” she asked in a husky voice.
“You’re in hospital Aminah. We’re still in Canada.”
“Everything hurts. I can’t move Ahmed.”
“I know but the doctors have given you as much pain killer as they can. You’ve been out of it for over a week. I was so worried about you.” He put his head on her hand and started to cry. “Alhumdulillah you woke up. I didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said, as tears wet his beard.
“How did I get here? I can’t remember anything clearly. Oh Allah, my head hurts like it’s busted in two.”
“Just try to rest and bit by bit you’ll be ok Inshaa Allah.”
Aminah drifted into sleep; a safe, natural kind of sleep that comes when the heart is at rest. Through her pain, her memory started to work. In her dreams she remembered her schooldays. Skipping home from school with her sister and climbing the four flights of stairs to their home. Happy childish days. Her new kitten, the first time she rode a horse and the day she met Ahmed.
It was all so long ago. The waves of sleep caressed her and took her away to far distant times, putting the pieces of her life together again. The day they married and started their lives together. He was a born Muslim but had forgotten much about the way of life he’d been brought up in. He married her before she became a Muslim. Through their discussions she’d learned something about Islam. She’d read books and magazine articles but in those days she didn’t really feel serious about anything. Life was just a means to pleasure. Spending time with the family, visiting friends, shopping – all this was her life. Her two boys were born during those years and that’s when Ahmed started to change.
As he looked down into the faces of those sweet little boys, he started to feel a kind of seriousness and responsibility that he’d tried to avoid for most of his life. The great responsibility of parenthood sent him to his Creator, seeking guidance and forgiveness. Often Aminah would get up late in the night and find him praying, with tears pouring down his face. She sat and watched him thinking how beautiful it is to see someone engrossed in prayer with the beautiful sounds of the Qu’ran echoing from his lips.
She watched as he sat quietly in the garden or in the living room reading and then staring into space thinking deeply. His heart grew softer and tears who come more easily to his eyes. All haughtiness and competitiveness had simply disappeared. He began to show more concern about human pain and misery. He wasn’t so interested in football games and television. If anyone needed help he’d jump off his chair and go straightaway. He also became more tender and kind with her, not that he wasn’t good to her before, but even more caring about her needs. He spent hours with the boys, talking to them, playing with them and reading to them before bed. In such an environment Aminah felt drawn to read more about Islam.
The whole situation came to a head when Ahmed was preparing to return to his country for a visit. He hadn’t been there for over ten years. He would return in a month. Facing life without Ahmed wasn’t an easy thing. She’d learned to rely on him in so many ways. She felt alone.
She felt that she was living her life just short of reality. The daily cycle of work, kids, house and all that, soaked up the days of her life. Was this all she was created for? Was there something else for which her existence could be justified. Without Ahmed to divert her attention, she had time to face the realities within herself. She’d always believed in God but shunned organized religion as something man-made and not in tune with human nature. She wouldn’t mind being a Muslim, it made sense to her but she wanted to be sure she was doing so for Allah s.w.t., not for Ahmed. During the time that Ahmed was away, Aminah found herself at the library reading more and more about Islam. She discovered a little Islamic bookshop and bought a number of books.
“Pray for guidance and you’ll be guided,” she kept reading over and over again. “Allah is closer to you than your jugular vein,” she read. She didn’t know how to perform the prayers, so she just raised her hands as she’d seen Ahmed do and started to pray.
“I know You are there,” she prayed. “I know You created me and all there is but everything seems in a mess, the world is upside down and I don’t know what You want from me. Is there really only one way to You?”
She kept reading. Gradually, through her reading, the pieces all came together.
She read in Qu’ran, “And Indeed We have honored the children of Adam, and We have carried them on land and sea, and have provided them with lawful good things, and have preferred them above many of those whom We have created with a marked preference.” (17:70)“
So mankind is not just an animal,” she thought after reading this. “There is a special purpose in life.”
“Indeed he succeeds who purifies his ownself, (i.e. obeys and performs all that Allah ordered, by following Islam and by doing righteous good deeds). And indeed he fails who corrupts his ownself (i.e. disobeys what Allah has ordered by rejecting Islam and following polytheism and doing every kind of evil wicked deed”. (91:9-10)
“This means that human beings do have a nature with which they are born,” she pondered. “When we satisfy this nature by finding Allah and following His Way, then we’re at peace but when we go far from Allah and disobey Him, the hearts find no rest.”
By the time Ahmed returned, she had become a Muslim. The first time they prayed together as a family, standing, bowing and prostrating in prayer was one of the most tranquil times of her life. A union of spirit, a group of people who lived together and worshipped together, each striving to gain the pleasure of their Creator, Who wanted nothing more from them than to worship Him. Their home began to change too. There was no real need anymore to watch television. Sometimes they’d switch it on to watch the news or some interesting program but generally they were too busy. Their house became a house of learning, a place of love and happiness. Aminah had never been so happy in all her life. A feeling of contentment and peace. She no longer lived just to enjoy herself but had a purpose; a goal. Knowledge to gain and then practice that knowledge. Everyday was spent trying to put her whole life in alignment with Islam, and the more she succeeded in doing this, the happier she felt. She started to feel sorry for people who chased after money, position and wealth. Her life was full, yet simple and she was content.
“When are we going on holiday Dad,” asked Saleem.
“Next week Inshaa Allah.”
“Where are we going?” asked seven year old Sameer.
“We’re going to Canada. We’re going camping Inshaa Allah,” announced Ahmed. The boys faces glowed with happiness. The next week passed very quickly as the family prepared for their trip. It would be the first holiday they’d had since the twins were born.
Aminah was learning how to dress Islamically but managed to find long shirts and loose pants that were suitable to go hiking in. She tucked her long hair up into a little bun at the back and tied a long cotton scarf around her head.The trip to Canada was a monument of beauty. Far away from the bustling, noisy city, they felt great peace as they canoed down rivers, hiked through forests and slept under the open sky.
“Why is it so peaceful here?” asked Saleem.
“All of nature praises Allah in its own way son. Even the tiniest insects, the trees, the sun, everything. There is always harmony in nature because it never disobeys Allah. So when we’re close to nature, we tap into that harmony and feel peaceful too.”
Aminah sat and listened to her husband explain this simple Islamic concept to her son and the words echoed in her mind. She realized more and more that this newfound peace she was enjoying was the direct result of her striving to obey her Maker.
“I never feel like this in the city Dad,” added Sameer.
“Me too,” said Aminah. “I don’t remember being as happy as this Mashaa Allah,” she said as she tucked the boys into bed.
The following day was to change their lives forever.The next afternoon Ahmed insisted on having an afternoon rest, so Aminah took the boys climbing on a nearby part of the canyon. At thirty five she didn’t feel so old but climbing that hill, made her feel muscles she didn’t know she had.
“I’m coming,” she called out to the boys who were way ahead. She looked to her left and saw the river gushing and swirling its way through the canyon.
“What a beautiful sight,” she said to herself. That was the last she remembered.
Now in the hospital, she’d woken again and was looking at Ahmed.
“What happened Ahmed? How did I get to be here?” she asked. Her eyes searched his face.
“You fell. It was about a fifteen meter drop onto rock. I can’t believe you’re still alive.”
“Subhanah Allah,” was all Aminah could say.
“When I found you I was scared to move you so I left the boys with you and went for the emergency rescue team. In no time they’d flown you here by helicopter.”
“Can I walk Ahmed? Is my back broken?” her eyes were wide but she looked at him calmly. Her heart was racing but she still felt a deep seated sense of peace and wellbeing.
“We don’t know yet,” he said truthfully. The doctors were waiting for you to wake up then they want to do an operation. I suppose you’ll have this done today or tomorrow, then we’ll know Inshaa Allah.” Ahmed looked at her and tried to smile. Aminah closed her eyes and prayed silently.
“O Allah give me strength and faith enough to accept Your will.” Her thoughts became a scrambled mess, so she went to sleep.
The operation was performed the next day and took a long, long time. Ahmed sat in the waiting room and read Qu’ran. There was nothing he could do but pray and wait. “The test of patience comes at the worst time of the difficulty,” he remembered. He had to be patient now and never give up on the Mercy of Allah s.w.t.
The doctor’s quiet footsteps made Ahmed lift his head.
“Your wife is a lucky lady,” he told Ahmed with a gentle smile. Ahmed jumped off the seat and didn’t speak, not wanting to prevent the doctor from telling his news.
“Her spinal cord is in tact but four discs were destroyed, so we implanted some metal plates. She has multiple fractures and her skull is fractured. We don’t know if any part of her brain has been affected, but you know, if she hadn’t been wearing her hair in a bun with that cloth tied around it, I’d say she wouldn’t have made it. It cushioned her fall. I think she’s going to be all right.”
“Will she be able to walk?” asked Ahmed, scared of the answer.
“It will take time and a lot of effort but I believe she will learn to walk again.”
Ahmed slumped down onto the chair in relief. “Alhumdulillah,” he kept saying, “thankyou Allah for giving us another chance.” Tears of happiness wet his face.Aminah was in the hospital for a long time. The initial shock of the situation, gave way to gratitude as she remembered what she used to do with her hands. How much evil she had inadvertently sent out! And her legs and feet. All the places she had made them go, places she should never have been in. Now, although her body is broken and filled with pain, she is glad to be alive and have the chance to cover the evil of her life, with good.
After months, she held onto Ahmed’s arm and started to take her first steps. She was overcome by pain but her determination was stronger than her calamity.
“Inshaa Allah , I can do it,” she kept telling herself. “O Allah, it is Your mercy that I hope for, so do not leave me in charge of my affairs, even for a blink of an eye and rectify for me all of my affairs. None has the right to be worshipped except You.”
Depending on Allah s.w.t., Aminah continued to struggle, learning how to use her broken body again. Her scrape with death, makes her appreciate her life, in whatever form it comes each day.
Now at home, she is unable to do all the activities she used to do, but her family are so happy to have her with them that they cheerfully help out in the extra duties. She can move around the house, and slowly she is getting better. The little boys whom she had coaxed and helped to learn to walk, now take her hands firmly and steady their mother as she takes each painful step on the way to her recovery. Her short term memory loss often troubles her but her family leave notes around the house and gently remind her of things that get lost somewhere in her mind.When she has bad days she sits down and gives herself a good talking to.
“Just remember,” she tells herself, “you can still see and hear! Mashaa Allah. Of all the senses to have lost, they would have been the worst I’m sure!” Aminah can no longer smell or taste because of the damage caused by the fracture at the back of her skull but each day that she wakes up and realizes Allah has given her another day to live, she feels a kind of joy and peace, glad that she still has time to learn, overcome and better herself.
She continually calls to mind the words of the Prophet (peace be upon him) who told us that Allah said, “O son of Adam! I created you for Myself. So do not neglect your duties towards Me and guaranteed your provision so that you may not feel tired seeking it. O son of Adam! Ask for Me and you will find Me and if you find Me you will have found everything, but if you lose Me you will have lost everything. And I should be dearer than everything to you.”
“You know, sometimes I wonder what might have happened if this accident had happened before I became a Muslim. I don’t know that I would have felt the same way. In fact I’m sure I wouldn’t have.”