By: Mehmudah Rehman
The still night descended upon a pensive Fatima like a canopy of dark opportunity. She gazed blankly at the glass in front of her. The deep red wine caressed the contours of the glass, its soft bubbles leaving their trace on the goblet. She sighed and licked her lips as she held the glass up, staring into the ruby-red beverage. She brought the cup to her lips, but put it down again, not sipping the wine.
She wanted to get drunk; it was always a good escape. All she wanted was to soar far, far away into a place where she could be happy. Into a place where being the person she was didn't matter.
And what was so bad about this little pleasure anyway? It wasn't like her liver would curl up and die if she got tipsy every now and then. She smelled the wine — ah, how satisfying the smell was! Once again, she brought the glass to her lips only to put it down again, frustrated by her inability to drink.
Alcohol had been a very significant part of her life ever since she met Ali and his friends. The first time she had been drunk was divine, and from then on Fatima indulged herself with sweet ambrosia. Possibly no one but her roommate knew just how much liquor Fatima could consume in one night. But then Fatima stumbled across a YouTube lecture about drinking in Islam.
Not that she cared — she was as far off the path of Islam as a Muslim could be. She remembered praying many years ago alongside her mother, but now Fatima enjoyed herself by doing as she pleased. First there had been Ali, then a couple others, but thankfully, she'd never gotten pregnant. Drugs were crass, but she had tried them as well. Drinking was where Fatima really found her liberty. And yet she was plagued by the lecture that clearly forbid drinking in Islam. She slept with men for crying out loud! Why was drinking such a tempting glass of wine suddenly so difficult?
And then, for the first time in years, Fatima rose from her seat on the couch and purified herself by performing wuḍūʼ. With every passing moment, she breathed better. With every movement of the water cleansing her body, she felt as though her heart cleansed itself. The wine still sat on the table, enticing her, and unable to take the sight of it any more, Fatima gathered her resolve and poured it down the sink. Peace filled her heart; a different peace than what the drink would have brought her. It was a sort of tranquility that she had never known.
But then she thought of herself and the way the past few years had been. What good was a single isolated incident in the eyes of God? Did it even matter? Looking for answers and assurances, Fatima searched the sayings of Prophet Muhammed (SAW). If she ever needed a sign that God was indeed with her, this was it.
“Allāh says, take one step towards Me, I will take ten steps towards you. Walk towards me, I will run towards you.”
The words were magnanimous, simple yet powerful and suddenly, the tears fell. Fatima had never known how sincere tears of remorse could wash away the grime that encrusted a heart. She realized she had taken one meager step towards Allāh, and, because of that, He, the Almighty had taken ten steps towards her.
Her effort was a drop of goodness in an ocean of darkness and sin, but the most respected Deity had taken ten steps towards her because of it. Tomorrow would be a new day, a new beginning. Who knew where one step in the right direction would lead her? Drunk with a feeling of contentment that she had scarcely ever experienced, Fatima settled into a satisfying slumber.