09:46 – I wasn’t getting any closer to my destination. I was still on the bus, stuck in traffic. I had left extra early to be on time but the lecture starts in less than 15 minutes. I started panicking, wondering whether I’d be able to make it on time.
As I waited in distress, it eventually dawned on me that I was worrying over something that was neither under my influence or control. I had jumped on the bus with a ticket of my own doing. Someone else had the wheel.
“That is Allah, your Lord. There is no god but Him, the Creator of everything. So worship Him. He is responsible for everything.” [6:102]
Outside free will, there are some things that we have no control over that have been planned by Allah to come onto our paths, whether it is situations, circumstances or even people we meet.
09:49 – I glanced at my watch again, realizing I had only moved a few metres. The line of cars ahead of me stretched further than I could see.
I was on the highway of highways, bound in an intricate connection of split-second decisions and shouldering strangers, each in their own cars and on their own ways. Arriving on time depended on how many people decided to take that same route at that time, how quickly the traffic lights changed, whether there were any hurdles such as road works and how promptly my lecturer would start.
Although it was this network of decisions made by people that would affect the outcome of my journey, this scenario was a part of my destiny that had been planned and put into action by my Lord.
Knowing this fact allows us to not worry about what will happen if it is no longer in our hands; everything is left to Allah, the Greatest Planner, so why start panicking?
I rapped my feet against the solid black floor, waiting.
09:53 –I was anxious. At the rate I was travelling, I would reach my destination 20 minutes late.
I pressed my forehead against the cold window and stared into my reflection. My breath fogged up the glass.
They say Allah is not only the best of planners but also wishes the best for the believer at all times, putting our hearts at ease. Allah loves us more than our own parents, sends down blessings and even tests us, for which we will be greatly rewarded if we persevere with patience and dedication. And although turning up to a lecture late and risk getting told off may not seem like the best for me, maybe there was something more. Something like this ayah – “it may be that you hate a thing which is good for you, and it may be that you love a thing which his bad for you. Allah knows and you know not” [2:216].
Having this level of faith – one in which we fully trust and are thankful for everything that happens because it is for our best – is not necessarily an easy task but nevertheless it is an undeniable fact.
“Say: ‘Nothing can happen to us except what Allah has ordained for us. He is Our Master. It is in Allah that the believers should put their trust'” [9:51].
The knowledge that not only is Allah in control but that there is no one who loves us more than Him fuels us. We are able to accept these situations and become happier as a result.
So, I sat in the bus, waiting patiently. Somewhere in the red backlights, I knew that Allah intended for me to reach my destination when He thought best. A green light would bloom.
09:57 – I had accepted I would be late. Time told me.
Still, I thought about my options: I could either remain on the bus or get off and run the distance. It was a sizeable distance by foot but I estimated that it would probably be faster, although very tiresome.
I asked the driver what he thought I should do. He suggested I get off the bus as the traffic was not moving at all.
At this point I realised that there are some situations where we do have some control. The Prophet (saw) has taught us, in these times to tie our camel and then put our trust in Allah. So even though I knew I would be late, perhaps there was an opportunity to do some damage control?
The traffic had tied my transportation option. So I ran.
09:58 –I ran as fast as I possibly could and I took a different, shorter route. The bus driver held the wheel before – I held my own.
10:09 – I could see my destination a hundred metres away. I was nearly there.
As I harnessed whatever was left of my energy for the final push, I saw the very bus I was sitting on only 10 minutes ago, drive past me. As I chuckled to myself, I saw the driver wave and smile as he went past. We both knew my efforts were in vain and that I could have reached my destination at the same time without all the sweating and breathlessness if I had stayed on the bus.
However, running the distance was neither the wrong choice at the time nor not putting my trust in Allah for I did have a choice, I was not entirely dependent on others. But it did make me appreciate that Allah is in control of all matters.
As the Quran says, “No misfortune can happen on earth or in your souls but is recorded in a decree before we bring it into existence: that is truly easy for Allah: in order that ye may not despair over matters that pass you by” [57:22-23].”
Time passed. Cars passed by. I had zoomed forward on my feet. The bus had stalled in a sea of red lights. We both made it.