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A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 17] Trust Fund And A Yellow Lamborghini

Amirah coerces her no-good brother into reading Surat Al-Anbiyaa, with his entire future on the line.

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truth smashes falsehood

This Ramadan, MuslimMatters reached out to our regular (and not-so-regular) crew of writers asking them to share their reflections on various ayahs/surahs of the Quran, ideally with a focus on a specific juz – those that may have impacted them in some specific way or have influenced how they approach both life and deen. While some contributors are well-versed in at least part of the Quranic Sciences, not all necessarily are, but reflect on their choices as a way of illustrating that our Holy Book is approachable from various human perspectives.

Introducing, A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series

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Trust Fund and a Yellow Lamborghini

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By Wael Abdelgawad

 

The Fools

Yellow Lamborghini

Amirah heard the car coming from a distance. It could not be mistaken for any other car, as her brother’s Lamborghini uttered a growl like a tiger with its hackles up. She walked through the spacious lobby, preceded by the refrigerator-sized bodyguard, Bryce. In spite of his bulk, he wore a fine suit and walked with grace. She was paying him by the day for this short-term gig, and he wasn’t cheap. Not that it mattered much. $500 per day was a drop in the sea, but still, why be wasteful?

The lobby was decorated with antique Arabic plates and hand-written copies of the Quran in glass cases. Bryce insisted on walking ahead of her at all times. The man was taking the job to extremes, and Amirah was getting annoyed.

The hulking bodyguard swung open the massive front door and stepped out to stand, cross-armed, in front of it. Amirah followed. Their large estate had a long, winding driveway that came up from the gate below, and here came the Lambo, hugging the curves, going too fast as always.

The sleek driving machine sped into the circular driveway in front of the house and hit the brakes too late. At the last second the car swerved, sliding sideways into the circular flower bed at the center of the driveway, crushing the flower bushes and throwing up gouts of soil.

Her brother Thabet – his friends called him “Bet” – stumbled out of the car, laughing, wine bottle in hand – as always these days – and was followed a moment later by his two friends, Ziggy and Croc, as they called themselves. Ziggy held a tall can of beer, and Croc’s face was surrounded by a cloud of smoke as he puffed on his vape. They bandied insults with each other until they caught sight of Amirah and Bryce.

“Yo, Bet,” Ziggy said. “Your sister has a new boyfriend. Looks like an NFL linebacker.”

“Your sister is getting down,” Croc added.

“Shut up!” Thabet snapped. “That’s my sister, have some respect.”

“So what?” Ziggy countered. “You run her down all the time.”

The three men began to walk toward the door.

“Stop,” Amirah said firmly. “Thabet only may enter. You other two will have to call an Uber.” Belying the firmness of her own words, she tugged on her ear nervously. She’d set this whole thing up, but did not feel confident about it.

Take the Lambo

“Don’t be stupid,” Thabet said. “It’s my house too.” The men were about to push their way in when Bryce stepped forward and shoved all three back with one arm. Thabet dropped the wine bottle, which shattered on the paving stones. Ziggy’s beer sloshed in his face. Croc began to cough smoke.

What followed was a variety of curses, insults, and indignant objections, all tempered by the look of steel that Bryce gave the three men. Finally, giving up the fight, Thabet tossed the car keys to Ziggy, who dropped them.

“Take the Lambo,” Thabet said with a generous wave. “But you bring that candy back without a scratch or I’ll break your neck.”

On cue, Amirah took a small electronic device from her pocket and pressed a button. The Lamborghini uttered a chirp, and the doors locked automatically.

“I don’t think so,” Amirah said. “I shut it down.”

“Wha?” Thabet was baffled. “How?”

“I pay for the South Star service, remember? I can use it to shut the car down in case of theft.”

“Your sister is trippin’, Bet,” Croc commented.

In the end, the two friends ordered an Uber and Thabet stormed into the house alone, shouting for Amapola, the maid, to make him something to eat.

Slamming the Refrigerator Door

Amirah followed, motioning for Bryce to remain behind. Her heart was beating fast. Thabet could be impulsive and even violent. She’d bailed him out of jail more than once for fighting in the street. He’d never been violent toward his own sister, but he wasn’t above breaking things, even expensive things. This was the main reason she’d hired Bryce. She needed backup for this confrontation.

She found Thabet in the kitchen, looking around.

“Where’s Amapola?” he demanded.

“She’s on vacation. If you want something to eat, you can cook it yourself, after which I expect you to wash the dishes. If you don’t clean up properly, the fridge will be emptied and there won’t be any more food.”

Thabet rounded on her. “Have you lost your mind? Fine. I’ll go stay at the Ritz. At least those people know how to treat a man with respect.”

Amirah shook her head. “You’re no man. And I’ve terminated your credit cards and shut off access to the trust fund. You don’t have a penny to your name.”

Thabet turned red. “You can’t do that! Are you insane?”

“You don’t get control of your fund until you’re twenty-five. In the meantime, I have full discretion.”

Refrigerator“You can’t do this!” Thabet seized the refrigerator door, opened it, and slammed it shut, then again and again. A plastic box of grapes fell out and broke open, the grapes rolling like the heads of executed criminals. Thabet stomped on the grapes, which squirted juice across the floor and onto Amirah’s dress.

Amirah flinched. “Don’t make me call Bryce. I’ll have him put you out of this house. You can go live on Ziggy’s couch for all I care.”

“Is that the hulk you hired? You got something going with him?”

“You know better than that.”

What Do You Want?

For the first time since his drunken arrival, her brother paused and took a breath. He studied Amirah’s face. A look of surprised alarm crossed his features. “You’re serious about this,” he said. “Why? What do you want?”

Amirah sighed and tugged on her ear. “I want you to grow up. You’re intelligent. Your IQ tested at a genius level. But what have you done since high school? You didn’t go to university. All you do is hang out with those idiot friends, drink, and play video games. You are twenty-two years old, for heaven’s sake, and you’re throwing your life down the tubes. Think of all that you and I have survived. Was it for this? What meaning does your life have?”

Even as she said this, Amirah wondered what meaning her own life had. She was thirty years old. She had a degree in finance, and spent much of her time either cleaning up Thabet’s messes or managing the family wealth, all of which – along with this house – had been left to her and her brother by Ammu Rahman. She’d received a few marriage proposals, but when one had as much money as she did, it was difficult to trust the sincerity of a potential partner. Money, money, money. Everything always seemed to come back to money, and she hated it. She’d never dreamed of being rich. She wanted a happy family. Yet her life consisted of managing a ridiculous amount of wealth, and living in perpetual anxiety about what her loose cannon brother might do next.

Alhamdulillah that she had her deen. When the loneliness was too much to bear, she had the Quran, which was a mountain spring that revived her heart every day. She had dua’, without which she could not survive. She had Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), who she believed wanted good for her, in spite of all the hardships she’d faced. Of course, anyone else would find her pathetic, talking about hardships when she lived like a noble, she realized that. But everyone struggled in this life, in their own way.

A World of Horrors

As these thoughts passed through their mind, Thabet was staring at her, his face growing red. “What meaning does my life have?” he finally said quietly, intensely. “There is no meaning, dear sister. This is a world of horrors. It’s a slaughterhouse, and we humans are the cows being led to the abattoir. It’s all emptiness. Why should I waste my time with university? I’m already rich. All that’s left is to have fun before they pile the dirt on my face. I read Shakespeare in high school, remember? ‘Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more.’”

Amirah was shaking her head. “Don’t say these things. We were created by Allah for a purpose.”

Car accident“I’ve seen the purpose!” Thabet screamed. Amirah thought for a moment that he might start breaking things, but instead he collapsed into a chair at the big cherrywood kitchen table, his shoulders slumped. “I saw it all, remember? You were unconscious after the crash, but I sat there hanging upside down and crying, and I saw the blood pouring out of Baba’s neck as he tried to hold it in. Pouring out and spilling through the air. I saw Mama with her skull split nearly open but still conscious, trying to look at us, to see if we were okay. I was only five years old, but I remember. Where was the purpose in their deaths? Where was the meaning? And then Ammu Rahman ten years later, died of a heart attack on the floor of this very room. Like the universe is saying to us, you brats, I’m going to beat you down one way or another.”

Uncle Rahman

Amirah sat beside her brother and took his hand. “I can’t answer that, except to say that everyone dies. It’s only a matter of timing. Why did our parents die that day, while we lived? That knowledge belongs to Allah. But look at us. We were taken care of. Uncle Rahman loved us. Life goes on.”

“Rahman only did it because he had to. It was a family obligation. He didn’t give a crap about us.”

Astaghfirullah! He doted on you.”

Thabet pulled his hand away. “Family obligation,” he repeated stubbornly. “Not the same as love.”

“I love you.”

“No, you don’t. Look at you, taking away my trust fund. You think that’s love? It’s control. Amirah, there are billions of people in this world, all trying to control each other. Half of them starving, another 45% struggling, and 5% living like kings. It’s all random. We live in the throat of Hell, about to be swallowed down. This world is an abyss.”

Amirah was shocked. She’d never heard her brother speak like this. Where was he getting these ideas?

“If you don’t like the word love,” Amirah countered, “call it mercy. There is mercy in this world. People help people. They sacrifice themselves. The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) sacrificed more than you can imagine to bring truth into the world.”

“What you call mercy is self-interest. People donate money and write it off as a tax deduction.”

Amirah tugged on her ear. “I’m going to tell you something that I wasn’t supposed to. “Ammu Rahman was not our uncle.”

Thabet glanced at her sullenly. “What do you mean?”

“You saw him around a lot because he was Baba’s business partner, and his friend since childhood. He took us in out of love. He didn’t have to do it. And he left us everything, just as if we were his own kids. He wanted you to think he was our blood uncle, to make the transition easier.”

Amirah saw the surprise on Thabet’s face. He mulled over her words for a while, then said, “Self-interest. He got companionship. Plus he lied to me. That’s not love.”

The Seventeenth Night

She said the only thing she thought might wake him up: “Did you know this is Ramadan? Tonight is the seventeenth night.”

That caught Thabet off guard, she could see. He had always loved Ramadan as a kid, but he’d drifted totally away from the deen after Uncle Rahman’s death.

“I didn’t know that,” Thabet muttered. “Not that it really matters. Look sis, just tell me specifically what you want.”

Amirah had an answer ready. “I want you to spend three days reading the Quran.”

Thabet scowled. “Are you serious?” When Amirah only nodded, he said, “Like a marathon? Three days non-stop?”

She shook her head. “Say, four hours per day. Starting now. For now, tonight, I want you to read it to me.”

“If I agree? Then what?”

“You get everything back. All your toys.”

“No conditions?” His tone was incredulous.

“No conditions.”

Thabet laughed. “Okay, bring me the Quran. I’ll start right now.”

“Take a shower first. And drink a cup of coffee.”

Open It Anywhere

A little later, back in the kitchen, sitting at the big cherrywood table, Thabet held a copy of the Quran in his hands as Amirah sat beside him.

“Open it anywhere and begin,” Amirah said. “Read it out loud to me. Arabic, then English.”

“I don’t know how to read Arabic anymore.”

“I’m pretty sure you do.” When they were kids, Uncle Rahman had hired the best tutors to teach them Arabic, Quran, and Islamic studies.

Thabet opened the Quran randomly. “Surat Al-Anbiyaa. The Prophets.”

SubhanAllah, Amirah thought. Al-Anbiyaa. Juz 17 on the seventeenth night of Ramadan.

Thabet began to read the first ayah in Arabic, but Amirah halted him.

Aoothoo billahi –

“Oh right.” Thabet recited the refrain against Shaytan, and the Basmallah, then continued. His Arabic reading was nearly flawless. He followed with the English:

1. [The time of] their account has approached for the people, while they are in heedlessness turning away.

2. No mention [i.e., revelation] comes to them anew from their Lord except that they listen to it while they are at play.

“Take a moment and think about those ayahs please,” Amirah said. “Consider that you opened this page randomly.” She knew he would see the obvious: that Allah was talking about him. Talking to him.

Life Is Not In Vain

Amirah listened as Thabet continued. In the surah, Allah went on to talk about the prophets. That they were human beings who ate food. They were not immortals, or angels. And Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) himself was not a wizard or a poet. They were infallible in their speech regarding Allah, but fallible in worldly matters. Men who suffered, experienced loss, yet stayed on the path. Past nations were destroyed because they took their Prophets and revelations as jokes or they rejected the concept of truth, preferring instead to live lives of pleasure. Like her brother had said, All that’s left is to have fun before they pile the dirt on my face.

He came to ayahs 16 and 17:

16. And We did not create the heaven and earth and that is between them in play.

17. Had We intended to take a diversion, We could have taken it from [what is] with Us – if [indeed] We were to do so.

“Do you get it?” Amirah broke in. “This life is not a joke, it’s not in vain. Allah didn’t create you to amuse Himself. He, the Creator of all things, designed this world with meaning and intent. It has to be one way or the other, you see? There’s no in-between.” She held out her hands, moving them up and down like scales on a balance. “Either Allah speaks the truth, in which case everything in this world has meaning, including the deaths of our parents and Ammu Rahman – or Allah is lying, and nothing has meaning, just as you said. It’s all a horror show without purpose. But I don’t believe you really believe those words. So tell me, do you think Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala is lying?”

“Well – no,” Thabet stammered. “I never said anything like that.”

Amirah stood up and jabbed him in the chest. “Then you have to acknowledge that everything Allah says is true. This world was not created in vain. Allah’s mercy fills this world, and goodness is real. Sacrifice is real, love is real.”

“I – I don’t know about all that.”

Truth Destroys Falsehood

“Read the next ayah. Read it!”

18. Rather, We dash the truth upon falsehood, and it destroys it, and thereupon it departs. And for you is destruction from that which you describe.

“Thabet,” Amirah said, “I love you. But all these false things you say, Allah will smash them with truth. And those falsehoods will betray you. I don’t know where you got those twisted ideas, but you need to heal your mind and heart, or the truth will destroy you.”

Thabet continued to ayah 24:

24. Or have they taken gods besides Him? Say, “Produce your proof. This [Qur’ān] is the message for those with me and the message of those before me.” But most of them do not know the truth, so they are turning away.

“I’m going to stop you one last time,” Amirah said. “With a question. Have you taken your Lambo, and trust fund, and wine bottles, as gods besides Allah? And if so, do you think they will save you when truth comes and smashes them?”

An Agreement of Trust

She stood. “Our agreement is an agreement of trust. I won’t monitor you. Three days of Quran.” Amirah turned and left. Before she went upstairs to her bedroom she dismissed Bryce and gave him his pay, informing him that his services were no longer needed.

Thabet read the Quran for three days, almost always at the kitchen table. He didn’t whine or make requests, and didn’t make any phone calls that Amirah saw, though she had not turned off his phone. Amirah backed off her threat to make him feed himself, as she cooked for the two of them, and let him wash the dishes. They ate together, mostly silently, though Thabet occasionally commented on something he’d read in the Quran. At the end of the three days, Thabet said, “Now what?”

“I already turned your Lambo and credit cards back on,” Amirah replied. “Actually I did it that first night, when you read Surat Al-Anbiyaa.”

“Huh.”

Amirah never saw Ziggy and Croc again. She wasn’t going to claim that Thabet changed overnight, or that a miracle took place that first night when he read Surat Al-Anbiyaa. But she did claim – to herself anyway – that truth had smashed into falsehood and destroyed it.

Thabet still lost his temper and raised his voice now and then, but he never broke anything, and never drank alcohol again, that Amirah saw. Gradually he transitioned into a thoughtful, inquisitive, and slightly introverted young man. It was as if Amirah was getting to know her brother for the first time, as an adult. The man he was capable of being.

Six months later he sold the yellow Lambo and donated the funds for Gaza relief aid. A year after that, Amirah got married, and five years after that, two children ran about the house. Thabet did not move out. The kids loved Ammu Thabet, and knew that in the evenings he could be found at the kitchen table, reading the Quran as Amapola worked around him to prepare supper.

THE END

***

Reader comments and constructive criticism are important to me, so please comment!

See the Story Index for Wael Abdelgawad’s fiction stories on this website.

Wael Abdelgawad’s novels – including Pieces of a Dream, The Repeaters and Zaid Karim Private Investigator – are available in ebook and print form on his author page at Amazon.com.

 

Related:

A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 3] What Is True, And What Matters

A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 1] Reflections On The Opening Chapter

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Wael Abdelgawad's novels can be purchased at his author page at Amazon.com: Wael is an Egyptian-American living in California. He is the founder of several Islamic websites, including, Zawaj.com, IslamicAnswers.com and IslamicSunrays.com. He teaches martial arts, and loves Islamic books, science fiction, and ice cream. Learn more about him at WaelAbdelgawad.com. For a guide to all of Wael's online stories in chronological order, check out this handy Story Index.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Umm Zaynab

    March 29, 2024 at 7:13 PM

    Beautiful MashaAllah! Jazakallah khair

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