By: Salman Dia-Eddine
“Me and running don’t always see eye to eye. Some days it hurts more than others. But it doesn’t mean I don’t do it. I deal with it and I keep running because not everything that is good for you always feels good for you.”
– Lance Armstrong.
This is a story for Muslim women, about a young woman of their own, named Sarah.
Do you know her?
To you, she’s just another Muslimah. She’s of average height and weight. Maybe you’ve seen her in class. Or at the office. Or at the masjid. Maybe in the mall.
She’s does her part in the community. She’s probably active in the MSA, or maybe not. I don’t know for sure. But you’ve seen her there often. Sometimes, she pitches in at the masjid. Helps little kids learn to read the Qur’an or cleans up the floor after the Ramadan dinner. Sometimes, she helps out a friend or an entire family in a pinch – freely and willingly – with no expectation of return. Sometimes, she helps out by writing articles, or blogs, or posts about issues affecting Muslims today. At other times, she’ll lend a hand in organizing an event raising local or even regional awareness about important social issues.
Of course, she’s human. Sometimes she gets tired, but can only sleep for a few hours at most. Other times she’ll be out cold for ten hours at a time, prancing around in dreamland with whatever version of Brad Pitt she fancies. Or maybe its Clooney. Omar Shareef. Shahrukh Khan. Amr Diab. Who knows. Maybe her mom.
She tries her best to keep her eeman decently high. And she does better on that score than she gives herself credit for. She hauls her weight around the house. Even though she might get into disagreements with family members, she’ll still do her fair share of work without being vindictive. Yeah, like many others, her parents also have high expectations of her, to which she doesn’t always measure up. She’s clueless as to how much her parents appreciate her and make dua for her, but it doesn’t matter. The angels know, and God knows. She herself will know too, one Day.
Yes, she makes mistakes, and yes she trips every now and then. But she gets back up, her resolve undiminished. Powered by that modest bit of taqwa, her conscience kicks into auto-correct mode and she glides back on course. She silently asks God for strength, and so it is delivered. She asks Him for the patience to endure gracefully, and so it is delivered. She asks Him to help her keep that torch lit ever so brightly, and so it is delivered.
Its there in her heart blazing the way for her spirit and tongue to follow. It’s there in her mind’s eye, giving her the pre-emptive foresight to overcome those pesky mountains in her way. It’s that determined sparkle you see in her eyes, it’s the potent juice which recharges her battery, and it’s what illuminates the strong ice that her confident steps walk upon.
And although she doesn’t carry her grandfather David’s sling, his blood runs through her veins like the torrential waters of the Niagara going over the edge of the precipice. His unflinching courage and determination make her legs become oaks more firmly rooted in certainty than the massive monoliths of Redwood yore. His legendary aim is as native to her in whatever she does as the sand that blows across the Sahara.
Unbeknownst to her, Sarah’s reputation has preceded her, and robbed the Goliaths of their sleep. She has hope from God, and they have none. She will stand, and they will fall.
Sarah is you.
::: AFTERWORD :::
In early December 2008, I was on the phone with that sterling champion of justice, the lawyer Dennis Edney. We were discussing a public event that had taken place a few days prior at the University of Toronto, and at McMaster University. Dennis and other speakers had been invited to speak on issues and challenges pertaining to social justice, about detainees in Canada and abroad for whom they were legal counsel, and to motivate the packed auditorium to stand up for the rule of law, fairness, and equality.
During the conversation, he expressed his admiration specifically for the young Muslim women who had worked so hard in bringing those events to life. He remarked about how proud and delighted he would be if such calibre of a woman were to become his daughter-in-law. When I asked him if he would be willing to be quoted on that, he agreed readily and sent me the following email – quoted here verbatim:
There is not much more that I can add than what I earlier stated.
I was greatly impressed by the young Muslim women who arranged and participated in my speaking engagements at the U of T and McMasters. Their approach in presenting the message of social justice for all was a tribute to their leadership and professionalism. I believe we can all learn from their example.
I had mentioned these young women represented the best of womanhood in that they exuded intelligence, a strong sense of identity, purpose and dignity. These are all the hallmarks of true leadership. We have a great need for such leadership in this day and age. I can only hope there example will be a catalyst for young Muslim males to follow.
Had my son been associated with any one of these women, I would have been well pleased at his choice.
I will always be available to assist in any way I can.
So I write this for Sarah to tell her to keep her eyes on the ultimate prize. That sparkling castle on 4600 Firdaus Lane, the laughter of the cherubs drifting across the clouds, the sweet cool waters of al-Kauthar, and the fresh sunshine of His Eternal Pleasure on her heart and soul. Everything else along the way is just gravy.
Sarah, keep going. This is that last mile, that challenging 12th rep. Kick in those afterburners, slam that pedal to the floor, and keep doing whatever it is that you were doing for His sake. This isn’t the first time you and your kind have stepped up to the plate. This isn’t the first time you’ve rallied the team when it’s down and overcome the opposing lead to take home the Cup. While the guys were simply aiming for left field, I saw you look straight at the Sun and told it to open wide, and I saw you belt one straight out of the stratosphere.
Out of our rib you were made, a fortified pillar you have become, and no man shall succeed without you at his side. Hidden behind that polite nod and the simple reply of “jazakiyallahu khayran” is a massive ocean of admiration and dua that you know not of.
But the angels know. And God knows.
And on the Day it counts most, you will know too.
“The reward of every deed is known, except for the reward of patience, which will be like heavy rain.” – Sulayman ibn Qasim
My sincere thanks go out to Saima for her assistance in giving shape to my thoughts. May God reward her. Ameen