It was fifteen minutes to midnight and sleep was the last thing on my mind. I lazily scrolled through the news feed on my Facebook account before logging out.
Suddenly, something caught my attention. My heart skipped a beat and my fingers went numb. “It can’t be… But how?” I whispered to myself. Yet there it was, right before my eyes. Involuntarily, tears began to well up in my eyes.
Vague memories of the past flashed before me. I saw him – a tall, dark brown figure, with spectacles and a prominent Adam’s apple, playing cricket with the other boys from our neighborhood. He was one of the few people whose university timings unfortunately collided with mine, and almost every afternoon, I was forced to see him flaunting his sports bike. I never really paid attention, perhaps because I abhorred his ego. He was just another insignificant part of my routine. But now, he was no more. He was gone. Forever.
Unable to come to terms with what had happened, I read through the comments with little tears occasionally streaming down my cheeks. There were a number of comments about how rough driving leads to the losses of so many lives these days, how unfair life had been to that 19 year old, how losing an only child leaves behind tremendous sorrow for his parents, and how much his friends would miss him. People were still commenting as I read.
“….R.I.P bro. May you be happy with Jesus in Heaven. Amen.” I paused in disbelief as I came across the words. What had really happened?
Did he die a Christian?
My heart sank. I wanted to cry out loud in pain. It was a brutal stab by bitter reality. I hated this peculiar feeling of deep sadness and wanted to escape, but with a thousand thoughts unceasingly striking my mind, I knew that it was going to be yet another sleepless night.
I lay in bed gazing into the darkness, trying to find a light to guide me through the fog of confusion. Deep within my soul dwelt the fact that Islam was the only way to salvation. Yet around me, I saw multi-religious societies. Many of us have at least one friend who believes that Jesus died for our sins, another who’s waiting for a Messiah to come, and yet another who believes in rebirth along with others who hold completely disparate beliefs. But there’s only one key to Paradise.
إِنَّ الدِّينَ عِندَ اللَّهِ الإِسْلَـم
“The only religion close to Allah is Islam.” (Surah ‘Āli `Imrān: 19)
It’s lucid enough for everyone to understand. Then why don’t people pay heed? Why do we hesitate to give Da‘wah to our non-Muslim neighbours, friends, and acquaintances? The questions blared in my ears. Then, for a moment, all was quiet. Though I was at a loss for answers, the silence was promising.
It’s rare for someone to research a religion other than his out of the blue, realize the truth, and accept it. People are usually too attached to their religion with a certain belief, trust, and love that have all been nurtured in their hearts over the years. But for us, words of wisdom struggle to break free and flow smoothly from our lips into a listening ear. What is it that holds us back? It all comes down to mere thoughts rotting in some corner of our minds.
I was one of many prisoners, bound by invisible fetters. I neither felt the pain nor did I see the loss… until tonight. I would run, sprint, fly to bring my neighbor back to earth. It was an unrealistic hope. He was gone forever, never to return again. I looked down in regret, only to find my soul aching. That’s when I noticed the fetters, the chains, the shackles. I was unable to give the message of Islam to him though I was able, simply because of my own shortcomings. I yearned to break free from the unseen evils within me – the ones that prevented me from speaking the message of Islam, the ones that stopped me from handing Islamic books to those who could benefit, the ones that held me back from sharing a hadeeth or two, the ones that have always subjugated me. I sought forgiveness from Allah SWT and as helpless as I felt, pleaded for Him to guide me.
Disappointment began to take flight, and my heart beat steadied. Traces of regret were still reluctant to leave as I tried to console myself. I loosened the fetters and struggled to open my mind. Today, I have my own life before me. Each day is a race against time with a deadline unknown. The situation is much more urgent than I had first perceived. There are people out there who are completely unaware of the true message of Islam, and they shouldn’t be. We, as Muslims, are obliged to play our parts to the best of our abilities before it’s too late. I took a deep breath, wiped one last tear, and prepared myself for an arduous task ahead, no longer bound by those invisible fetters.
“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair preaching and argue with them in a way that is better. Truly your Lord knows best who has gone astray from His path, and He is best aware of those who are guided.”
(Surah An-Nahl: 125)