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Short Story Contest ’08 Runner Up #2 – A Word in Passing by Bint AbdelHamid

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ETA:  There was a mix-up in the original post regarding the story and author… please forgive us for the sleep-deprivation-induced confusion on our part! And now, we continue with our regular program…

The suspense for finding out who won this competiton continues! Here’s our 2nd runner-up story.

As the second runner-up (consolation prize winner), sr.  Bint AbdelHamid of Qabeelat Ittihad will be recieving one free adult’s registration to this year’s Texas Da’wah Convention!

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Congratulations!

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A Word in PassingBint AbdelHamidwhisper.jpg

I recall them still. They were moments of excitement and transformation during days of innumerable blessings.

Sixteen, my friend and I, and our phone conversations were altered from what they had been just before the start of the month: short now, and to the point, announcing a lecture on television (“it’s on, now, don’t miss it!”), sharing a hadith, recommending a good deed waiting to be done.

We were school girls, racing with ourselves and each other, not content to run alone. Instead, we met on the path, poised, ready to exchange pieces of wisdom and inspiration that might propel us forward. We ran, we paused, we passed them on – like batons in a race – and knew, wherever the batons went, whatever people they reached or work they inspired, good deeds would come.

It’s the first Ramadan I truly remember. And I insist, despite everything good that I recall from that year, that I remember this Ramadan because it’s the first Ramadan I truly began to pray qiyaam.

When I say “pray qiyaam,” I’m not talking about taraweeh in the masjid behind an imam as a child, reveling at being out so late at night, or sitting down with glee after the first four rak’ahs, or even standing up the whole time for a deed I knew was rewarding, but didn’t entirely understand.

I’m talking about qiyaam at home, after the time of taraweeh, alone before Allah, praying despite exhaustion and school the next day, discovering what is meant by the beauty of seclusion and worship and humility before Allah. It was something I could not possibly get enough of, an experience that put life and death and ‘ibaadah into perspective: this is what I was created to do.

Qiyaam, too, was a piece of advice snatched at the end of a telephone conversation, something my friend told me, but almost didn’t –

“Ok, I have to go now,” I said at the end of a call, in a rush to move on.

“Me too —”

“Alright then —”

“Hey, just don’t forget to pray qiyaam. You do pray qiyaam, don’t you?”

“Umm… not really…I’m not sure I know how,” I replied.

In reality, I was already reading Qur’an at a pace I’d never attempted before, spending ten, twenty minutes before sleep engrossed in du’aa, and putting in an effort to make thikr regularly. I wasn’t sure I’d have time for anything extra.

“Please, you have to, it’s really easy. It’s just two rak’ahs. Two short rak’ahs. In the first one, you recite Surat al-A’laa, in the second, Surat al-Kafiroon. Ok? Did you get that?”

“Yeah… I think so…”

“Are you going to do it?”

“Umm… maybe… I’ll try…”

“No, listen. You have to do it tonight, it doesn’t even take five minutes, it’s two short rak’ahs, that’s it. But the reward for it is amazing. You have to, please, please, please.”

That night, or the next – I didn’t know what I was passing up at the time – with the sound of my friend’s pleading voice still encouraging me, I realized I had five minutes to spare. And so I stood up and prayed with the surahs she recommended.

But I realized during the first rak’ah that I hadn’t made du’aa yet that night, and why not take advantage of sujood, with my forehead on the ground and my heart closer to Allah than it could ever be in any other position? I made du’aa in that salah again and again, rising from sujood only to come back down to it in eagerness, making du’aa past the point where I could think of anything to ask for, repeating my pleas, searching for anything that could keep me in that position longer. Long and low, I held my body, pleading with my Lord, not wanting to rise from the sajdah.

I found my only-five-minutes-two-short-rak’has-salah extended. I found that I had more than five minutes to spare. And I found that I was not sparing them, but desperately in need of using them in prayer.

And the next night when I came to pray, I recalled the sweetness of sujood, the sweetness of du’aa and literally waking up hours later to find my prayers answered, the sweetness of standing before Allah… and I intended this time for a longer salah.

I decided to extend my rukoo’ and the other positions of prayer with the thikr of Allah, concentrating on the words instead of just repeating them, emulating the guidance of the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wassalam in doing this, if only with a portion of the time and sincerity that he spent, salla Allahu alayhi wassalam. I stood up to read the longest surah I knew, a surah memorized for a school contest. On that night, after years of participation in them, I suddenly knew what Qur’an contests and Qur’an memorization were all about – they were about this, reciting by heart in the darkness of the night, competing in terms of prayer and salah, our silah and connection with Allah.

Years have now passed since that Ramadan. Still, I think back to those first few days of qiyaam with longing… except that I know, the way to long is not backwards towards those days, but forwards, downwards to the ground that still extends itself as a place of worship, and upwards towards Allah, the Ever-Living.

So in turn, here they are, my words to you in passing:

Pray qiyaam, it’s really easy. It’s just two rak’ahs. Two short rak’ahs. You have to do it tonight, it doesn’t even take five minutes, it’s two short rak’ahs, that’s it. But the reward for it is amazing.

Take these words and run with them to the depths of sujood and nearness to Allah. Take these words and pray qiyaam tonight, this night, and every other night of your life. Take them, and don’t forget – as a racer towards good in this dunya and the akhira – the baton is now in your hand.

Pass it on.

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22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. ibnabeeomar

    October 14, 2008 at 12:49 PM

    i liked this one a lot.. sets the bar high for the 1st place winner :)

  2. Umm Reem

    October 14, 2008 at 12:55 PM

    mashaAllah ‘alaiha…very moving!

  3. Hamdi

    October 14, 2008 at 12:55 PM

    “except that I know, the way to long is not backwards towards those days, but forwards, downwards to the ground that still extends itself as a place of worship, and upwards towards Allah, the Ever-Living.”
    Absolutely beautiful. Masha’Allah

  4. Gohar

    October 14, 2008 at 1:04 PM

    I agree, this really is very good. Poignantly written and something that many can relate to in some way or another.

  5. AmatulWadood

    October 14, 2008 at 1:10 PM

    mashaAllah that was very beautiful. Jazakum Allahu khayran.

  6. Amad

    October 14, 2008 at 1:21 PM

    May Allah take this story as a word in passing for many others inshallah… congrats!

  7. AnonyMouse

    October 14, 2008 at 2:03 PM

    HUGE apologies to sisters Amira and Bint AbdelHamid (the real author of A Word in Passing) for the mix-up! :S

  8. Hamdi

    October 14, 2008 at 2:18 PM

    How does the schedule look for this week, how many stories will be presented including the top 3?

  9. Amad

    October 14, 2008 at 2:24 PM

    Six stories inshallah… and we’ll highlight others in the coming weeks.

  10. AbuAbdAllah, the Houstonian

    October 14, 2008 at 2:44 PM

    bismillah. for future competitions, may i suggest that there could be two rounds? a round in which the panel of judges cuts the field down to a group of 15 or so articles stories, all posted at the same time. and a second round in which people would vote for their favorites after registering to do so (to limit voting irregularities).

    because we all want to read all the stories — now :) and since we have no idea what criteria the judges used, i’m sure a lot of people (including me) would like to add their two cents. hey! you could charge people for their votes — make it a fundraising for MM, and let them vote as many times as they can afford…

  11. simplynusaiba

    October 14, 2008 at 3:33 PM

    SubhanaAllah.. Well done Bint AbdelHamid.. I hope to meet you and your in Jannah AlFirdaws.

  12. ilmsummitee

    October 14, 2008 at 4:22 PM

    Mashallah, as the others have said.

    Well written in a beautifully simplistic way that still manages to pass on some gems towards the end.

    May Allah reward you and your friend, and make us all among those qa’emoon.Ameen.

  13. simplynusaiba

    October 14, 2008 at 9:59 PM

    To all those who read it PLEASE do it pass it on.. I sent to the people on my list and so far two people replied, asking when the best time to pray would be, whether it’s only prayed in ramadan, etc.. Alhamdulillah..

  14. jawahir

    October 15, 2008 at 12:46 AM

    Masha’allah…great reminder.

  15. ayesha

    October 15, 2008 at 12:57 AM

    assalamualikum…barakallahufeeha…….i can imagine the rewards the sister will be earning (bi-ithnillah) for all those who pray tahajjud after reading her inspiring story…..taqabalallahuminha

  16. usman

    October 15, 2008 at 12:35 PM

    it makes me think how deprived i am of qiyaam

  17. sister_in_islaam

    October 16, 2008 at 12:27 AM

    mashallah

  18. Pingback: Readers Poll: Your Favourite Ramadan Short Story - $100 Top Prize! | MuslimMatters.org

  19. Pingback: LAST Day to Vote Today for Favorite Ramadan Story Contest | MuslimMatters.org

  20. Nihal Khan

    October 25, 2008 at 10:41 AM

    MashaAllah to all the brothers and sisters that took part in this competition. I voted for “A Word of Passing” by Bint AbdelHamid because her story actually made me pray 2 raka’ahs before going to sleep. Through her story she got me to get out of my chair and do something which will count toward the akhirah. She got me to actually get up and make a difference in my life.

    Her story was something one can have fun reading, enjoy, shed a tear and break out a smile. While at the same time, her story didn’t just sit in my head and have me say to myself, “That was a nice story.” Instead, it got me to actually act upon what I read, Alhamdulillah!

    Just my 2 cents :D

  21. Pingback: A Word in Passing « Scattered Pearls

  22. Mabrouka

    August 29, 2010 at 6:23 PM

    Assalamualakum.

    MashAllah sister in Islam. May Allah almighty reward you in this life and the next life. Your story is a true motivation – mashAllah. Your story reminds me of my best friend and I. It is not only purifying to the soul to pray two rakahs but elevates you closer to Allah subhan wa ta’ala. In addition not only this, however, see how righteous friends can have such an effect on each other. It’s critically important to have a friend in the name of Allah, to guide you, support you and just to motivate you. Secondly, a small advice you might think it wont do good but small words can move mountains.

    May Allah almighty bless our minds, hearts, souls, and words with nour and righteous wisdom – ameeen!
    May Allah almighty guide everyone towards the righteous path, ameen!

    Assalamualakum.

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