Ahmad started his new job as a taxi-driver. At first, he was quite reluctant, as he considered this beneath him. But he also knew that he had no other option. He did not tell his parents of course, he had to make excuses for his absence from the house. Abdullah had Ahmad enrolled in a community college because that was all they could afford. Ahmad used this as excuse and said that he had night classes that were compulsory to attend.
While driving people around, he came across Bob, a young man much like himself. Bob would always use Ahmad’s taxi and eventually they got to talking. Ahmad told Bob all about himself. He told him about his past and everything that he did that led him to this point in his life. Bob was empathetic. He told Ahmad that what mattered now was how he planned to change his life. Ahmad was clueless about it. He wanted to talk to his father, but he was shy. Ahmad thought that if he told his father that he had forgotten how to pray, and read The Holy Book of Allah, Qur’an, his father would be very disappointed in him. And he did not want that.
He had stopped smoking all together, but he was still drinking. He wanted to leave this horrible habit but he never could. His parents noticed the positive change in him and hoped that it would continue incessantly.
Khadeejah said, “Masha Allah, have you noticed, dear? Our son is concentrating on his studies and I think he has stopped smoking and drinking. I’m so proud of him. May Allah forgive him for all his sins.”
Abdullah thought for a little while and then said, “I think he’s hiding something from us. “
“Stop it! Stop being so negative. He’s just busy with his studies.”
Abdullah did not say anything but he sensed that something was wrong. Meanwhile, Ahmad continued his part-time job as well as his education. Bob tried helping him in any way he could. He would sit and talk to him for hours. He would tell him that Ahmad should go back to his religion if he wanted to.
Bob said, “My friend, if you believe that Islam is the religion for you, then you must return to it. Forget about the people. Do you honestly think that you can please everyone? You must talk to your parents about it. I don’t know much about Islam as I am not a Muslim. And I will not preach my religion to you. I believe that everyone should choose a way of life for themselves. And I know that you’ve chosen Islam. What I don’t understand is why you refuse to do something about it?”
Ahmad looked up at him and said, “It’s not as easy as you think, Bob. I will have to start over, and I don’t even know if I can even become a Muslim now. Not after all the horrible things I’ve done. I just…don’t know what to do.”
“Ahmad, I cannot help you with that. I am not a Muslim. I don’t have an extensive knowledge on the religion or on Allah. I cannot help you with this spiritual turmoil that you’re going through. But I did think of something to help you with your drinking problem.”
“Really? What is it? questioned Ahmad hopefully.
“Have you ever heard of Alcoholics Anonymous?” replied Bob.
“Yes, I have. Why do you ask?”
“I think that you should join it. I know quite a few people who have benefitted from AA. Think about it.”
That night, when Ahmad returned home, Abdullah came into his room and sat down on his bed. Ahmad waited for him to say something but Abdullah kept quiet. Until finally, he said, “My son, I hope you’re not getting involved with something you shouldn’t be involved with.”
“I know that I have done many mistakes in the past, and I admit that whatever I’ve done is not something that can be easily forgotten or forgiven. But I need you to trust me. Please.”
“I worry about you. I want you to be okay.”
“I will be okay as long both of you are with me. I know that you will not let anything happen to me.”, said Ahmad with tears in his eyes.
Abdullah hugged him and kissed his forehead. As Abdullah was leaving, he turned around and looked at his son and made a silent prayer for him. Abdullah was relieved, although he knew that there was something that his son was hiding from him but he knew he could trust him this one time.
Ahmad was in a dilemma, he knew that AA could help him with his drinking problem but then he would have to tell his parents. He asked Bob for help. Bob told him that it was time to tell his parents. Bob also encouraged him to talk about the spiritual uproar that Ahmad was going through. Ahmad finally gathered all his strength and told Abdullah that he wanted to talk to him.
They had a long talk where Ahmad opened up about all his problems. He told them that he was wondering if he could revert back to Islam. He wanted to, but he was afraid of the people. Abdullah told him that the people do not matter once you make the decision. Allah Himself will protect you. He did not want to feel helpless and lost anymore. He wanted to have a goal towards which he could work. He wanted to repent.
Ahmad asked his father, “Do you think Allah will forgive me, father? I have committed so many sins. How can He forgive me for all the sins that I have committed?”
Abdullah quoted a verse from The Holy Book of Allah, “Declare (O Muhammad SAWS) unto My slaves, that truly, I am the Oft-Forgiving, the Most-Merciful.” “Allah forgives anyone who repents sincerely. Allah even forgives the biggest sin of all, ‘Shirk’, given that a person repents sincerely.”
“My son! You must repent to Him, He is the Most-Merciful.”
His mother quoted a hadith where the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) said: “Allah, the Exalted, will continue to stretch out His Hand in the night so that the sinners of the day may repent, and continue to stretch His Hand in the daytime so that the sinners of the night may repent, until the sun rises from the west”. (Sahih Muslim)
Ahmad had tears in his eyes when he replied, “I was so lost and hopeless. I just want to do something in my life. I want others to learn from my example. For that, I have to leave all my corrupt practices and become a better soul. I want to stop drinking, but I will not be able to do so without outside help.”
“What outside help?” asked Khadeejah.
“Someone told me about ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’, it is a place where I think I can be rid of this horrible habit. Will you let me go?”
“Of course, if you think it will help then you most definitely should go. Son! You can ask us for anything, we have given everything we can to you, and inshAllah, we will keep giving.” said Abdullah
The next day, as he was on his way to AA, Bob called him and wished him luck and said, “I’m rooting for you my man. Don’t let me down.” Ahmad was hopeful as he entered the abode. He saw that a group of people, mostly adolescents like him, they were sitting on the ground huddled together in a circle. He went towards them and they invited him to join them.
He introduced himself and the others did the same. He was taken aback to learn that there were Muslim boys as well. He asked one of them, named Ali, “You’re a Muslim, yet you are in AA?”
Ali replied, “Yes, unfortunately I got involved with a wrong bunch of people and lost my direction in life. But now Alhamdulillah, I’m trying to get my life back on track.”
“I got involved with drinking the same way.” said Muhammad.
Ahmad told them his story and both of them could very much relate to his story. They told him that they also go to a place where an Islamic teacher helps them understand Islam and come towards the religion of the prophets. Ahmad wanted to join and learn more about his religion as well.
That day, he went home and made wudhu’ for the first time in 3-4 years. He could feel a weight being lifted off his heart. He started praying, although he did not remember any of the chapters that were to be recited. He called Ali and told him that he wanted to memorize a few chapters from the Holy Book of Allah. Ali told him that he could help Ahmad.
Muhammad and Ali both went to Ahmad’s house that night and helped him read the Qur’an and told him the right way to perform the ablutions. They told him, that if he really wants forgiveness that he should beg and cry to Allah SWT, and he will be forgiven. Allah is the Most-Merciful. He decided to do exactly that. But first, he wanted to become a Muslim again. He wanted to do it right this time. He told his father to take him to a Masjid where he would proclaim once again that there is no Lord but Allah, and Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) is the messenger of Allah. He wanted to take the oath again. His father could not be happier with this decision.
Then, he prayed. He prayed like there was no tomorrow. He would wake up in the middle of the night to pray the nightly optional prayers. He begged for forgiveness. He would cry till he could cry no more. He would discuss Islam with Ali and Muhammad for hours. Together, they would help each other until finally they stopped drinking and were able to live a quality life. Ahmad was so much engrossed in Islam that he would spend hours reading about the stories of the prophets. He enthusiastically studied the Qur’an. He memorized many chapters and wished to memorize the entire Qur’an. Abdullah and Khadeejah would beam with joy when they saw their son. They would proudly tell everyone about him. And as for his job as taxi-driver, he continued it and saved enough money to help his father buy a house for them.
Ahmad did face many challenges, but he considered them to be miniscule. His love and devotion for Allah and Islam was not something that could go unnoticed. He got a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and decided to help teens that were going through the same snags that he went through. He had the help of Ali, Muhammad and his friend Bob; together they decided to change the world.
19 Years Later
“Send them in sister”. said Ahmad to his secretary over the buzzer. This was the last patient he was supposed to see today. He leaned back in his chair reflecting on his life and how he had come from being a drug addict, a no one, to become one of the countries leading psychologist. Weird yet awesome were the ways Allah wrote all our life scripts for indeed he is the best of planners.
A knock on the door and loud noises outside bought him rushing back to reality. “Come in-Come in” he shouted. In walked a boy of around 17 ushered in by his father who looked like his years were finally catching up. The way he looked at his son showed that his son wasn’t helping his ageing years either.
“I still don’t get why you got me here, I’m perfectly fine” shouted the boy at his father. His father looked at Ahmad exasperatedly.
“Sir, I have heard a lot about you and you are my last hope for my son, please help him, please help me” begged the father. Ahmad couldn’t bear looking into the eyes of the father.
“Yes Inshallah, I’ll do my best but come on now have a seat first – What’s your name son?” asked Ahmad signalling the boy to a chair closer to him.
“Ma names Ahmad, don’t know why you would care to know that” snapped back the youngster.
“Hey there young man, that’s my name too” said Ahmad suddenly feeling a tinge run down his spine, something was about to happen.
“BEHAVE” shouted the father. “He has gotten into smoking, drinking, drugs and what not these people do on the streets, I’m completely at loss at what to do, he is not at all ready to listen. Can you help hammer some sense into him that this is wrong?”
The kid started howling with laughter. “Dad have you seen this guy, his beard is longer than my arm, you think THIS man would know how it feels to be high, the pleasure when the ecstasy kicks in, when you are taken to another world away from all the troubles of this world”
“What indeed would I know?” retorted back Ahmad with an evil grin curling up his lips.
Ahmad’s journey does not end here, the courage that it took for him to change his persona is something worth applauding. There is an Ahmad in all of us, we just have to look deep enough to find him. If Ahmad could choose to be on The Right Path, then so can all of us. Once you find the right path, don’t look down at others for once you were also one of them. Everyone sins, its just that Allah has hidden you sins better. Always be ready to lend a helping hand to those in need. Raise them up – DON’T PUSH THEM DOWN!