I was just about to arrive at the masjid nearby my house to perform my Maghrib prayers when I saw from the side mirror of my car an elderly gentleman, probably in his late 60s, walking slowly towards the masjid. He noticeably looks quite frail, yet that doesn't seem to hinder him from coming to the masjid for his obligatory prayers.
Witnessing such sight reminds me of a Somalian man in his late 70s/early 80s, living in Sheffield, who is the bilal (the person who calls to prayer) of the masjid that I and many Sheffield Muslim community would go to for our obligatory prayers.
Muslim Welfare House Sheffield - a house that is converted into a masjid
The bilal lives in Broomhall, a place populated by many Malaysian students in Sheffield. He usually goes to the masjid by car, driven by his son. However, his son occasionally could not make it to the masjid and therefore you would think that the bilal might miss the prayer at the masjid too.
Ohh, was I so wrong.
I remembered one particular day, as I was walking to the masjid for the Subuh prayer on a very windy morning in Sheffield, when I saw the bilal walking with his stick heading towards the masjid. Not only did we have to bear the gutsy wind, but those coming from Broomhall would need to walk all the way up the hill to reach our destination. Even for a fit, young adult, it can certainly make you gasp for breath by the end of it.
What more for a gentleman of his age, I wonder.
The bilal certainly epitomizes the famous hadith we hear ever so often, when the Prophet said:
“If they knew the merits of Salat after nightfall (`Isha’) and the morning (Fajr) Salat, they would come to them even if they had to crawl to do so.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
I remembered, whenever I had a chemotherapy treatment, I would be so weak, bed bound, and could only muster enough energy to perform my prayers on a sitting position. I'd not be able make the walk to the masjid for at least a whole week as my body would not permit me to. It was during those moments when I often talked to myself,
"O Allah, grant me good health so that I can walk again to the masjid for my obligatory prayers!"
But being a mere servant of Him, I, like any other human being, am bound to forget to appreciate the blessings of good health when I still have it. When good health deserts me, there I am praying earnestly to Allah. But when I regain my good health, I sometimes forget the promise that I made to myself about being consistent in doing my prayers at the masjid whenever I'm able to. Ya Allah..
He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything...
I guess that is typical of a human being. You will only appreciate the things that you possess when you lose them. And appreciating good health in the context of a Muslim, is when you use it to bring yourself closer to your Creator, Rabbul Jalil.
I was moved when I read about the story below. Be it a true story or not, let us all take lessons from it.
It is a story of a person from Bahrain named Ibrahim Nasser. He has been paralyzed completely since birth and can only move his head and fingers. Even his breathing is done with the help of instruments.
It was the wish of this young man to meet Sheikh Nabeel Al-Awdi. So Ibrahim's father spoke to the sheikh on the phone in order to arrange a visit to Ibrahim.
This is Sheikh Nabeel at the airport.
Ibrahim was very happy to see Sheikh Nabeel open the door to his room. We can only see his happiness from his expression as he is unable to speak.
The moment Sheikh Nabeel entered Ibrahim's room.
And this is Ibrahim's expression on meeting Sheikh Nabeel. Notice the breathing instrument around Ibrahim's neck. He is unable to even breath normally.
And a kiss on the forehead for Ibrahim.
Ibrahim with his father, uncle and Sheikh Nabeel.
Thus Sheikh Nabeel and Ibrahim started talking about da'wah on the internet and the striving it requires. They also exchanged some stories. And during their conversation Sheikh Nabeel asked Ibrahim a question. A question that made Ibrahim weep... and tears rolled down Ibrahim's cheek.
Ibrahim couldn't help but weep when he remembered some painful memories.
Here Sheikh Nabeel wipes the tears from Ibrahim's face.
Do you know what question it was that made Ibrahim weep?
The sheikh asked: Oh Ibrahim, if Allah had given you health, what would you have done?
And thus Ibrahim wept bitterly and he made the sheikh, his father, his uncle and everyone in the room weep..even the camera man wept.
And his answer was: By Allah I would have performed my salaah (prayer) in the masjid (mosque) with joy.. I would have used the favor of health in everything that would please Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala!