Abdullah and Khadeejah were glad that their countless prayers were finally answered, they were gifted with a baby boy, whom they decided to call Ahmad. Little did they know that Ahmad would soon be taking their lives on a roller coaster ride. Ahmad had a normal childhood with parents who adored him; his mother took care of him when he was ill, loved and cherished him from the bottom of her heart. His father provided him with the finest of things as he was the apple of his eye and as Ahmad was an only child. His father did not have a lot of money, but he still sent Ahmad to the best private school foregoing some of his own dreams and desires just so that his son, Ahmad got the best of everything. He was a very lovable child, his friends, his teachers, everyone loved him.
Like every parent, Abdullah had many plans for his son. He wanted him to become a doctor. He wanted Ahmad to become a good Muslim like some of the other kids in the locality, many of whom had memorized the entire Quran by heart. Whenever Abdullah used to see them sitting and revising their daily Quran lessons in the masjid, he could picture Abdullah sitting there one day also making him proud. Ahmad proved to be a perfect son, he excelled in sports, academics and even his Quran instructors had said he showed a lot of promise. But this did not persist for eternity. Abdullah had to change jobs as his family now required more financial support, they had to move to a new city. Ahmad was twelve years old at the time. He did not want to change schools and make new friends, but there was nothing anyone could do. They went from a fairly Muslim neighborhood to a predominantly non-Muslim neighborhood.
Abdullah and Khadeejah realized that they would have to take special care of Ahmad as he would come across things which would be completely alien to him. “My dear, our son is depressed. You should talk to him. Explain the reasons for this decision.”, said Abdullah. “I know, but what do you expect me to do? Do you think he will understand? He is only 12 years old.”, replied Khadeejah. “I know, but you are his mother. If you won’t talk to him, then who will?” “Why don’t you talk to him? He is your son as well.”, said Khadeejah. “Okay, if you insist. I will talk to him soon, InshAllah.” Abdullah and Khadeejah got Ahmad enrolled in a school where he was the only Muslim.
The first day of school was approaching and Abdullah took Ahmed for a walk as he generally did every Friday. Before Ahmed could run ahead Abdullah embraced him hard and said, “Ahmad, I understand that things are going to be new, new place, new friends InshaAllah, but remember that here you might find boys and girls who are not Muslim, they may do things which we don’t do but don’t let that put you down. Show them how good Muslims are and see how fast you make friends. Always remember Allah tests the ones he loves the most. This will be a test for you, and I pray to Allah that you gain success. Get running now young man and make me proud”
Ahmad smiled and recited the only verse he had memorized from Surah Baqarah which he had been reciting at the top of his voice before the crack of dawn throughout the last month ; ““We will test you with something of fear, and hunger and loss of wealth, and souls and vegetation. And give glad tidings to those who have patience. Those, who are in any difficulty or trial, or a tribulation occurs to them or happens to them, they say: ‘Verily we are from Allah and to Allah we return.’ They are those who will receive prayers from their Lord and Mercy and it is those who are guided.” Abdullah hugged him and said, “Never forget this, my son. Your mother and I are counting on you. Don’t let us down. We love you.” Ahmad promised that he would never let his parents down. But little did he know that keeping that promise would be something else. He ran ahead leaving his dad behind reciting this verse again and again, getting looks from some of the couples in the park.
The first day of school arrived, Ahmad got ready to leave, his mother kissed his forehead and prayed for him. As Abdullah did not have a car, Ahmad went to school in the bus. He entered the bus and sat on an empty seat. A boy comes and sits next to him and asks him, “You’re new here, right?” Ahmad relied, “Yes, I just moved here.” “What is your name?” “Ahmad, and yours?” “I’m Kevin. So your religion is Islam?” “Yes, I am a Muslim.” said Ahmad. Kevin got up and left without any other word. Ahmad did not understand this reaction, he wanted to ask Kevin what was wrong but he would not even look at him.This was something new. The best part of school used to be the bus ride there as that was where all the fun happened. As soon as they reached the school, Ahmad was escorted to his first class by the Principal. He was asked to introduce himself, Ahmad said, “Hello! I am Ahmad. I just moved here.” He could hear whispers in the class. The teacher asked, “Ahmad? That’s an exotic name. Where is it from?” Ahmad replied, “It’s Arabic for someone who is praised a lot.” One of the students asked, “Why do you have an Arabic name?” Ahmad said, “I am a Muslim, and in Islam it is recommended to keep Arabic names.” he just made up on the spot. As soon as he declared that he was a Muslim, the entire class got silent. He was given a place to sit in the class. Nobody sat with him, or helped him find his classes. At recess, Ahmad went and sat on the table where Kevin and his friends were sitting. They got up and left, leaving Ahmad behind. The rest of the day continued in a similar fashion, everyone ignoring him and walking past like he was a part of the school walls.
When he returned home, his mother asked, “Ahmad, you’re back. How was your first day in your new school, my dear?” Ahmad forced a smile and said, “It was okay, mom. The kids here are not very nice. Can you call up Abu and Umar’s moms and ask them to shift here too?.” His mother hugged him and said, “I know that you miss your friends but you know that can’t happen. You must make new friends here. I’m sure they’ll behave better tomorrow, InshAllah. Remeber to ask Allah that when you pray.Now come and eat.” That night, Ahmad prayed that Allah give him the strength to get through this. He missed his old school terribly. He slept and dreamt that he was in his old school, with all his friends.
The next day at school wasn’t much better. Everyone at school knew him now. They did not let him buy food from the cafeteria that day. He was unable to understand why this was happening. He did not know how he should behave in such a situation, this had never happened with him before. He went home and told his mother the weird reaction of the people in school. His mother told him that everything would be okay soon. She was unable to answer her son’s questions. She knew that she should tell him that people are treating him different because of his religion. But she thought that maybe this could do more harm than good. When her husband came home in the evening, she expressed her concern about Ahmad. Abdullah said, “I have faith in Allah SWT, and I know my son. He will not do something wrong, lets give him a few more days to settle and then we’ll see”
To be continued next Friday, Stay tuned………