09:46 – I wasn’t getting any closer to my destination. I was still on the bus, stuck in traffic. I had left extra early to be on time but the lecture starts in less than 15 minutes. I started panicking, wondering whether I’d be able to make it on time.

As I waited in distress, it eventually dawned on me that I was worrying over something that was neither under my influence or control. I had jumped on the bus with a ticket of my own doing. Someone else had the wheel.

“That is Allah, your Lord. There is no god but Him, the Creator of everything. So worship Him. He is responsible for everything.” [6:102]

Outside free will, there are some things that we have no control over that have been planned by Allah to come onto our paths, whether it is situations, circumstances or even people we meet.

09:49 – I glanced at my watch again, realizing I had only moved a few metres. The line of cars ahead of me stretched further than I could see.

I was on the highway of highways, bound in an intricate connection of split-second decisions and shouldering  strangers, each in their own cars and on their own ways. Arriving on time depended on how many people decided to take that same route at that time, how quickly the traffic lights changed, whether there were any hurdles such as road works and how promptly my lecturer would start.

Although it was this network of decisions made by people that would affect the outcome of my journey, this scenario was a part of my destiny that had been planned and put into action by my Lord.

Knowing this fact allows us to not worry about what will happen if it is no longer in our hands; everything is left to Allah, the Greatest Planner, so why start panicking?

I rapped my feet against the solid black floor, waiting.

09:53 –I was anxious. At the rate I was travelling, I would reach my destination 20 minutes late.

I pressed my forehead against the cold window and stared into my reflection. My breath fogged up the glass.

They say Allah is not only the best of planners but also wishes the best for the believer at all times, putting our hearts at ease. Allah loves us more than our own parents, sends down blessings and even tests us, for which we will be greatly rewarded if we persevere with patience and dedication. And although turning up to a lecture late and risk getting told off may not seem like the best for me, maybe there was something more. Something like this ayah – it may be that you hate a thing which is good for you, and it may be that you love a thing which his bad for you. Allah knows and you know not” [2:216].

Having this level of faith – one in which we fully trust and are thankful for everything that happens because it is for our best – is not necessarily an easy task but nevertheless it is an undeniable fact.

“Say: ‘Nothing can happen to us except what Allah has ordained for us. He is Our Master. It is in Allah that the believers should put their trust'” [9:51].

The knowledge that not only is Allah in control but that there is no one who loves us more than Him fuels us. We are able to accept these situations and become happier as a result.

So, I sat in the bus, waiting patiently. Somewhere in the red backlights, I knew that Allah intended for me to reach my destination when He thought best. A green light would bloom.

09:57 – I had accepted I would be late. Time told me.

Still, I thought about my options: I could either remain on the bus or get off and run the distance. It was a sizeable distance by foot  but I estimated that it would probably be faster, although very tiresome.

I asked the driver what he thought I should do. He suggested I get off the bus as the traffic was not moving at all.

At this point I realised that there are some situations where we do have some control. The Prophet (saw) has taught us, in these times to tie our camel and then put our trust in Allah. So even though I knew I would be late, perhaps there was an opportunity to do some damage control?

The traffic had tied my transportation option. So I ran.

09:58 –I ran as fast as I possibly could and I took a different, shorter route. The bus driver held the wheel before – I held my own.

10:09 – I could see my destination a hundred metres away. I was nearly there.

As I harnessed whatever was left of my energy for the final push, I saw the very bus I was sitting on only 10 minutes ago, drive past me. As I chuckled to myself, I saw the driver wave and smile as he went past. We both knew my efforts were in vain and that I could have reached my destination at the same time without all the sweating and breathlessness if I had stayed on the bus.

However, running the distance was neither the wrong choice at the time nor not putting my trust in Allah for I did have a choice, I was not entirely dependent on others. But it did make me appreciate that Allah is in control of all matters.

As the Quran says, “No misfortune can happen on earth or in your souls but is recorded in a decree before we bring it into existence: that is truly easy for Allah: in order that ye may not despair over matters that pass you by” [57:22-23].”

Time passed. Cars passed by. I had zoomed forward on my feet. The bus had stalled in a sea of red lights. We both made it.

Aamir Shamsi and Fatimah Waseem contributed to this short story.

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5 Responses to "Who is in Control?"

  1. Saba Nasir says:

    MāshāAllāh, I’m amazed at how you’ve broken down this intense topic of Qadar into a language understandable, with all apt information and wonderful pointers, and of course an enjoyable read!
    I know this might have been a challenging one coz I’ve studied the topic of Qadar in detail at my Islamic university. In fact, I was even working on a piece related to it but had to step back half way because the topic is such that one cannot afford to make mistakes.
    Anyway, great effort akhi! May Allāh ta’āla reward you for it and forgive you if there are errors in it.

  2. Shahin says:

    Wow. I loved how so many reflections stemmed from such a small incident.

  3. Bint A says:

    I literally thought I was reading my own story and my own reflections subhanAllah — this is almost exactly what happened to me but my final outcome was an amazing one subhanAllah, one that I continue to benefit till this day!

    I too was late for class and had to catch the bus –running to the bus stop I was about one street across from it when I saw it zoom by, not even stopping because there was no one at the bus stop. I huffed up till the bus stop now knowing that I had to wait 20 min till the next bus came and reprimanding myself from leaving the house 5 min late. In the midst of beating myself up, I stopped and said: QaddarAllahu wa maa shaa’a fa’al –and realized no matter what I could have done I would have missed the bus that day and been late for class. This subhanAllah lifted my burden and I continued to wait patiently and in peace, relying and trusting that what Allah had decreed for me was for the best. Not 5 min had gone by but someone in a van pulled up to the bus stop. It was a muslimah sister who I had never met –she asked me if I was going to the university and needed a ride… subhanAllah! w’Allahi what was the most amazing thing, she offered to give me a ride every time since we shared the same timings, and what’s more, she STILL continues to give me a ride to school till this day! (its been more than 7 months subhanAllah) Allahu Akbar. A simple decision to trust in Allah’s plan and rely on Him and His mercy can continue to benefit much after the initial issue is passed…. wa lillaahil hamd.

    I was hoping your story would have a similar happy unexpected turn of events :) but your story has taught me that we need to rely completely and fully whether the end turns out in our favour apparently or not… baarakAllahu feekum

  4. Aysha Khan says:

    This is definitely a reminder not to write off such minor incidents as “luck” or “coincidence.” Allah SWT is no passive, Descartes-esque clockmaker God; he controls every second of our lives.