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Diversions of this World…

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MM is pleased to announce that Umm Reem will be joining our team as a specialist. Many readers found Umm Reem’s last piece on exorcism very spiritually beneficial, and we hope this piece does the same. Her other articles can be found on her old blog. Umm Reem is expected to graduate this year from American Open University with a Bachelors in Islamic Sciences. She continues to home-school her children, which will allow her to blog about her experiences raising/home-schooling children and other topics of interest. Please join us in welcoming her.

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 Diversions of this World…

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I do not intend to pass any judgments neither belittle anyone. Only Allah knows what is in a person’s heart and only Allah is the judge of one’s actions. But we are told to take heed in what goes around us. May Allah forgive me, my fellow Muslims and guide us all to the right path.

This is a true story of a sister, Naveeda*, who had moved in our city for a few years and then moved away. I have a very vague memory of seeing her once in the Masjid during Ramadan. A few years later, her aunt told me about her and when she showed me her pictures I couldn’t stop looking at her face, mashaAllah, she wasn’t just beautiful, she was gorgeous!

The life of this beautiful sister was full of lessons, in her struggles to achieve her dreams. So, let me relate to you her story, as recounted by her aunt:

She was only 16 years old when she got married to a doctor in Pakistan. As beautiful as she was, her dream was to live “beautiful” too. Like many others, she wanted to live a luxurious life, envisioning a big, luxurious house, in a wealthy neighborhood of Pakistan. Doctors don’t make out that well in Pakistan, so her husband couldn’t afford what Naveeda desired.

A year after her marriage, Naveeda and her husband had a son, and her desire for a “good life” became even stronger. Why should her son not enjoy life as other rich children did, such as those who lived in Clifton or Defense (posh neighborhoods in Pakistan)! So she begged her husband to move to U.S. and kept insisting until he agreed to quit his practice and work in U.S. long enough to earn sufficient money to afford Naveeda’s desired lifestyle in Pakistan.

Naveeda looked at U.S. as the land of opportunities, especially opportunities to save tons of money, and as the only way to fulfill her dreams. One of her distant relatives owned a few gas stations in U.S. So when the family of three arrived in the States, she and her husband started working at one of these gas-stations. The couple though earned very low wages, because they didn’t have their work permits. After a few months, the couple recognized that all their earnings were being wasted in rent and bills. She didn’t move all the way to the States to pay bills! She wanted to save whatever she could and as fast as she could. When a desire becomes an obsession, then patience seems to lose its place and hastiness takes over!

No doubt, rent was a huge sum of money to pay every month, but isn’t it a natural need of every human being to live under a roof, and feel safe within the four walls? But Naveeda had a different plan. She had noticed the employee’s room in Exxon and believed it sufficiently big that they could forgo an apartment! So eventually, she moved into the employee’s room at the gas station, along with her husband and son! When her husband worked the night shift, she stayed in the “employee’s room” with her son, and when she worked the morning shift, her husband stayed in the room with the little boy. She would go to her aunt’s house every few days, and cook enough food to last the family until the next trip to her aunt’s!

Life was moving along and she was beginning to save money for her dream house. As the savings started building up, she saw more and more glimmers of hope, and her dedication became even firmer. She had no time for herself, her family or her son anymore. She only had one and one goal alone: Earn and save! She kept ruling out the need of living in a house; she kept ignoring the need of her child needing a “real home”.

I don’t know how it feels to live in a gas station day and night, and I hope that I never have to find out either. I don’t know what goes around in a little 3-4 year old child’s mind when he sleeps and wakes up at a gas station, eats at a gas station and finds his mother and father standing behind a counter dealing with ‘strangers’ all day long!

But for Naveeda, that was the way to her dreams and she could only visualize one thing: her own luxurious house in Clifton! Her plan seemed to be working, until someone reported their housing experiment to the gas station’s owner, one of the relatives. The relative found this to be absurd and unacceptable and didn’t approve of it, so they had to move out!

The question was where would she go now? She was not willing to rent an apartment again. It was a hindrance to her dreams and she was not willing to give it up especially after reaching half way there! She would rather live on streets, put up a fight with her husband ignore her child’s needs of a “home”, but she was not willing to spend a dime on rent from her savings!

Ultimately, her aunt (the one who related this story), who was living in the same city in a small apartment with her husband and a teenage son, offered to let Naveeda and her family move in with them. Naveeda accepted this offer in a heart beat. Her aunt, mashaAllah a very nice lady, had a big heart to make that offer: The tiny small apartment could hardly fit her owns family, let alone Naveeda, her husband and son!

Naveeda continued working day shifts. She would take her son along too. On her return, she would clean and cook. The poor lady wanted to reciprocate her aunt’s kindness, and instead of resting and spending some time with her son after a 10 hour day-shift at the gas station, she felt “obliged” to help her aunt around, although her aunt never asked for it.

She was determined not to lose her aunt’s sympathies. Or perhaps to redress her embarrassment of dumping her family in her aunt’s tiny, cramped apartment. So, she practically made herself available as a maid to them, although again that was never asked of her.

Her obsession of saving money knew no bounds. She was practically ‘saving pennies’. Naveeda didn’t even spare two quarters to run the washing machine for the dirty laundry. She washed her clothes, her husband’s clothes and her son’s clothes with her own hands!

I wonder how, after a 10 hours work shift, then returning home to cook and clean did she have time or the energy left to hand-wash clothes everyday! I wonder that after all this, did she even have time to open Qur’an? Or read some Islamic literature to learn more about her deen? Or teach her child about his religion? Did she have time to take her son to the Masjid – a source of a child’s major connection to his religion in Western world?!

Her aunt’s apartment was walking distance from the Masjid. We used to have our weekly halaqah there every Tuesday. Her aunt used to come sometimes, but of course Naveeda never had the time to attend. Although, she lived at a walking distance from the Masjid for four years, the one and only time she made it to the Masjid, was in Ramadan for an iftaar.

So, as time passed, Naveeda collected enough money to fulfill her dream of a residence in Clifton. But, right around this time, her plans adjusted. Naveeda didn’t want to settle for just one apartment in Clifton; she wanted two apartments to live in, and one more for her husband’s clinic!

She had enough savings to buy two apartments, and without delay, she put a contract out on two apartments, side by side, in the very ideal location she had dreamed of. Only one more left!

She had reached two-thirds of her “new” goal. Desires never end. The dream that once started with one house, extended to two, and finally settled on three!

Her life took another turn. Her relative, who owned the gas stations, informed her that she would have to move to a very small city, to work at another gas station there. Furthermore, she had no option but to move.

However, by this time, her lifestyle had stabilized a bit, because she had enough savings, and she was only one apartment away from her goal. So she not only rented an apartment at the new location (rents were quite low in this small locality), but she also bought a car! She spent another two years or so in that small city, struggling and doing even more rigorous work shifts to balance out the new spending. Obviously all hopes of getting any Islamic influence were lost in that small city, where the one and only Masjid resided in a tiny rented apartment.

Finally, the day arrived when she was within striking distance of her “adjusted” dream. She had enough money to purchase the third apartment. It seemed like all the blessings were cutting across her path; not only did she found the third apartment of her liking, but the seller was also in the same city as her. This wasn’t all— she was expecting her second child, a baby girl – a daughter that she always wanted!

At the height of our happiest moments, what do we do? Do we bow down and thank Allah azzawajal or do we emerge more in our worldly life? Naveeda was very happy and obviously she had every reason to be. Her aunt went on to say (and she has no intention of pointing out Naveeda’s mistakes, rather she was full of sorrow and grief) that the day before purchasing the final apartment, Naveeda set herself free to feel the moments of happiness and accomplishment; she spent the whole day shopping, then she went to a beauty saloon and got a nice hair cut and got her eyebrows’ threading done. Ever beautiful Naveeda was looking even more beautiful, the happiness inside her was showing through her glowing face. The next day she was going to see the fruits of her 5 years of relentless efforts.

That day she invited the seller’s family over for dinner. Here, she was going to make the final arrangements for the property transaction. Her husband was working the day-shift, while she was at home, cooking dinner for the guests. But her son, now six years old, kept bothering her. Naveeda was excited, and wanted everything to be perfect, so she thought of leaving her son with her husband. She drove off to the gas station, but her husband told her that he was too busy to look after their son.

So she got back in the car. Her husband could hear the loud music coming out of the car; he saw her putting their son in the back seat and heading towards the main road. And then the Decree of Allah azzawajal took over.

truck.jpgHer husband could still see her entering the freeway (the gas-station was just besides it), when Naveeda failed to yield, and missed the 18-wheeler coming at her. He saw the 18 wheeler, plowing into her car, and dragging it along, for quite a distance. He ran towards his family. The truck had finally come to a halt, the traffic was at a stand-still, and Naveeda’s car was completely totaled.

People were rushing towards her car, some calling 911 and some trying to pull her out of the car. Her husband reached the car and saw the remains of Naveeda. Her body was trapped in the car; she was dead, and her skull had cracked from several places. He looked at his son, who still had a heart beat. Emergency responders rushed him to the hospital in a helicopter, but by the time he got there, he too died. Naveeda couldn’t be removed out of the car; the car had to be cut apart to remove her body. In a matter of few minutes, Naveeda, her son and her unborn daughter had completed the journey of their lives, and departed for the hereafter!

As news started to spread, friends and families started gathering at her apartment—the same apartment that Naveeda was busy cleaning a little while ago for her guests; little did she know that she was cleaning her own house for her mourning guests.

Naveeda had left her house in a rush for what she thought were just a few minutes. Did she know that she was leaving for the last time? Did she know that she was driving off towards her own death? She was preparing the dinner for that night, some food cooked, some half-cooked on the stove; the vegetables on the cutting board were still wet, as if someone had just washed them. The same food she was going to serve to her guests, was now being served to those who had gathered to mourn over her!

The very day she was going to purchase her third apartment, the very day she was going to fulfill her dreams, the very day she was going to reap the fruits of her nonstop efforts of 5 years—that very day she lost everything… All that she had worked for was now there for others to enjoy! So what did she depart with?

“The mutual rivalry for piling up of worldly things diverts you,


Until you visit the graves (i.e. till you die).” (102:1-2)

Her aunt told me this story some month after it had happened; she showed me Naveeda’s pictures, the newspaper cuttings of her accident and pictures of her totaled car. Even though I had never met her, I cried and grieved for her family for days.

Naveeda died at the height of her youth, age 22. She dreamed a big dream, and put her whole life and energy into fulfilling it. But alas, she was would never reap the fruits of her efforts. She would never see the Clifton apartments, let alone step into them; rather she left them for others to enjoy!

How often do we forget the reality of this world and the limited time we are here for? Don’t we all wish that Naveeda had worked towards a house in Jannah with all this dedication and perseverance that she expended on her houses in Karachi?

“But seek, with that (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on you, the home of the Hereafter, and forget not your portion of legal enjoyment in this world…” (28:77)

May Allah azzawajal have Mercy on her soul, forgive her mistakes and allow her to enter Jannah.

*Name changed to preserve true identity

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Saba Syed (aka Umm Reem) is the author of International award winning novel, "An Acquaintance." Saba has a BA degree in Islamic Studies. She studied Arabic Language & Literature at Qatar University and at Cairo Institute in Egypt. She also received her Ijaazah in Quranic Hafs recitation in Egypt from Shaikh Muhammad al-Hamazawi. She had been actively involved with Islamic community since 1995 through her MSA, and then as a founding member of TDC, and other community organizations. in 2002, she organized and hosted the very first "Musim Women's Conference" in Houston, TX. Since then, she's been passionately working towards empowering Muslim women through the correct and untainted teachings of Islam. She is a pastoral counselor for marriage & family, women and youth issues. She has hosted several Islamic lectures and weekly halaqas in different communities all over U.S and overseas, also hosted special workshops regarding parenting, Islamic sex-ed, female sexuality, and marital intimacy.

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. talwar

    September 1, 2008 at 12:28 AM

    SubhanAllah, touching piece. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon..

  2. Ibn Masood

    September 1, 2008 at 12:35 AM

    SubhanAllah… I was just in a car accident while driving to Taraweeh…

    I would like to ask a special favor of all the brothers and sisters who visit this blog, from sister Umm Reem, Sheikh Yase/i/r(s), and everyone, if they could please make dua’a to Allah swt for Him to guide my mother to the straight path, to make her firm on her salat, to fill her heart with Eman and Taqwa, and make her amongst the Muttaqun, and to forgive her sins, and make this Ramadan a means of guidance for her.

    JazakAllahu khair. Ramadan Kareem to everyone :).

  3. Amad

    September 1, 2008 at 1:09 AM

    Hope you are ok Ibn Masood… may Allah keep everyone safe this Ramadan, and guide your mother to sirat al-Mustaqeem.

    On a different note, welcome Umm Reem to MM officially!

  4. OldKashmiri

    September 1, 2008 at 5:47 AM

    Salam alaikum brothers and sisters!

    This story bought a tear to my eye. I work hard day and night to get a better life.
    This story (and the related Qur’an verses) has made me slow down and get
    and really think.

    We always think we’re going to last forever. All of us will one day die -but think of this:
    has the dunya and your hard work made you happy?

    If not, clean your humble abode and spend more time with family and read books
    and help people but most of all, pray to Allah the Lovely Great One God.

    Peace and welcome aboard Umm Reem

  5. srtuba

    September 1, 2008 at 10:53 AM

    Subhan’Allah. I’m lost for words.

  6. Abu Ibrahim

    September 1, 2008 at 11:19 AM

    That story is so bewildering it’s hard to believe it’s true.

    But people do strange things…even live in a gas station for months just to save a few pennies.

    I wonder about the husband though. I’m sure he loved his wife, but why wasn’t he more firm when he saw how irrational she was acting? Moving to the U.S. for a better job (whatever…) is one thing, but living in a gas station is something totally different.

    May Allah have mercy on them all. I guess I find myself chasing the dollar all day long also…though I can safely say I was never as obsessed as Naveeda. I hope to spend more time this year learning about Islam and life of Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) Inshallah.

    Ramadan Mubarak to all.

  7. AnonyMouse

    September 1, 2008 at 2:42 PM

    First and foremost, welcome to MM! May Allah make your stay here a rewarding and beneficial one for us all, ameen :)

    SubhanAllah, this is quite a scary story… for myself at least, I find it strange that someone could be so obsessed with the dunya… on the other hand, perhaps those of us who think we could never fall into that trap are simply deluding ourselves – unless Allah has mercy on us, we are all vulnerable to the tricks of the shaytaan and weaknesses of the nafs.

  8. IbnAbbas

    September 1, 2008 at 3:52 PM

    a wake-up call for us!! Jazakallah khair for sharing another top article.

  9. Broken Mystic

    September 1, 2008 at 6:34 PM

    Salaam,

    It’s a sad reality that many of us are so caught up in our busy and demanding lives that we don’t have time to focus on the Unseen Beauties. As the author has pointed out in the beginning of this post, we cannot judge and only Allah can see within us, so may we all say a prayer for this sister. Sometimes, we are so caught up in this transient reality that it’s no fault of our own. We need Guidance, Compassion, and Love, which is why the great scholars and mystics of Islam teach us to stay within the company of the mindful believers. We must remember Allah is forgiving, and insha’Allah, our prayers will be heard.

    Abu Ibraham — With all due respect, I found your comments on another blog to be extremely disrespectful and insulting. To wish punishment upon other Muslims just because they don’t agree with your beliefs and views does NOT give you the right to be judgmental and hurtful. Apologizing for one’s mistakes is a sign of maturity, and that is one of the many traits of our beloved Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

    Salaam/Peace

  10. Naveed Ahmad

    September 2, 2008 at 5:06 PM

    I beg to have a different opinion about this. You have heard the story from Naveeda’s aunt. You haven’t heard the story from Naveeda. I think that the husband was an idiot putting his wife and child through all of this. He was a doctor. He should have passed the exams and residency requirement and get a respectable job in the medical field instead of pumping gas in the cars at the gas station and making his family live in such a poor condition. I think Naveeda has done a wonderful job; working very hard besides her husband and filling in the shortcomings of her husband, and saving for a better future for her child, which is a dream of every parent. I am happy that she passed away at a happy moment of her life, having completed her part of the job. It is said that if you die happy, you rise happy 

    Don’t you see her good character in the following sentences:
    “On her return, she would clean and cook. The poor lady wanted to reciprocate her aunt’s kindness, and instead of resting and spending some time with her son after a 10 hour day-shift at the gas station, she felt “obliged” to help her aunt around, although her aunt never asked for it”

    And instead of complaining and taunting her husband:
    “She washed her clothes, her husband’s clothes and her son’s clothes with her own hands!”

    And you cannot judge her heart and her relation with God based on the fact that she didn’t come to Masjid gatherings. Once the companions were in a gathering with the Prophet, pbuh, and a healthy young man passed by, and the companions expressed sorrow for a youth going waste for not spending time in worships. The prophet, pbuh, corrected them that if the youth is spent in working and earning for living, it is not wasted, it is better off.

    May God bless her soul and give her rewards for all her hard work, and take good care of her child, and her husband too ;-) Why did I include her husband in the prayer? Because she also cared about her husband (remember: working hard for her husband’s clinic)

    Best regards and hugs
    Naveed

  11. Mohammed Emran

    September 2, 2008 at 7:19 PM

    Br.Naveed Ahmed
    pls see the lines “The couple though earned very low wages, because they didn’t have their work permits.”

    Also, FYI, to pass the exam and get a job as doctor takes 3/4 years. It also requires the proper visa status first of all. Lets not jump into conclusion in all tangents. Allah knows best

  12. Olivia

    September 4, 2008 at 12:34 AM

    SubhanAllah, what a great reminder. Some how we fool ourselves into thinking that Allah will keep us alive the length that we want Him to but Allah is the One who Decrees. Thats why I think that if you want to live a long, blessed life, make your dreams ones that are beneficial to the religion of Allah and to yourself, with the hope that Allah will prolong your life. So sad about her kids too. SubhanAllah.

  13. amm

    September 5, 2008 at 4:49 AM

    this is a lesson for all of us..!! n very irrational of her.. i wonder how dey lived like dis for so long.. n a dr. in a gas station.. GOD give us all da brains 2 be sensible..!!

  14. UmmOsman

    September 5, 2008 at 9:44 AM

    Assalamo elikuim
    Although it’s a great reminder that we should not be obsessed by worldly goods but I kind of agree with Br. Naveed Ahmad. Its very easy for us to say that she should have gone to masjid classes when we have all of our basic (more than basics) needs taken care of. Try to put your self in her shoes – what happened to 70 excuses?
    There is nothing wrong in dreaming and working to achieve material benefits of this world for our children/us through halal ways (As she did). We are not in position to judge her taqwa level, how do we know that once she gotten her houses she would not have devoted her time for her and her kids education (Islamic and other) with out any worries? Or that she wanted those houses so that she and her family can have their income from it and be free to pursue deen ?

    Wasalam
    Ps: If my post has hurt someone, please forgive me – it was not my intention.

  15. ayesha

    September 8, 2008 at 12:37 PM

    Assalamualikum…
    The purpose of the article was indeed a “reminder”…..and alhamdulillah i bet many of us have benfittedfrom it….but i din like the idea of talking bad about some one who has left the duniya….and Allah knows best!!!
    jazakallahukhairan

  16. OldKashmiri

    September 9, 2008 at 7:03 AM

    Yes, Ayesha is absolutely right. The Prophet Muhammad pbuh advised us never to speak ill of the dead.
    Yes, let us see this tragedy as a reminder.

    May Allah give the young lady who died and her kids some relief in Heaven. ameen

  17. nafsee

    September 10, 2008 at 12:47 AM

    This is definitely a reminder for us all. It’s easy for the dunya (i.e. worldly matters) to take over our lives. This just reminds me to be content with what I have. And I remind myself to ‘slow down’. Just ‘slow down’. May Allah grant his mercy on this family and guide us all to the straight path. Ameen.

  18. Aisha

    December 5, 2008 at 9:25 PM

    To him we belong and to him we will return…it’s sad that we’ve forgotten this and get so wrapped up in our daily activities that we often lose sight of what is truly important…indeed this is truly a reminder for all of us, to stop and ask ourselves…are we really in touch with our religion, and with the One who created us?…are we truly grateful for all that we have? Subhanallah this story is truly a wake up call…and at the end of the day, there’s nothing wrong with having aspirations… I think the most successful person is the one who keeps a balance between this worldly life and our life in the hereafter…for truly, that is our destination. We are merely travellers in this world and must see ourselves as such…our goal is to reach jannah inshallah. May Allah guide us all on the path of Sirat-al-Mustaqeem. Ameen.

  19. Islamist

    December 5, 2008 at 11:36 PM

    MashaAllah, great article.. It reminds us how neglectful we are, we just keep thinking of the dunya, our aims in life,etc. We leave the eternal for the perishable. We barely take some time to think about akhirat and death; we are sooo engaged in the dunya.. May Allah increase our taqwah and grant us jannat-ul-firdous and forgive the sistr naveeda for her mistakes.. Aameen

  20. Anisa

    March 27, 2009 at 11:31 PM

    SubhanAllah, great reminder

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