“I saw a broken man struggling to stand up whole as his soul was seeking to shackle him down to the shame of his sins; his lips began to part parting proofs precisely word by word telling me with his eyes closed shut, seeking out the Divine within every gem that dripped from his lips that ‘Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem, Qul huwal laahu ahad, Allah hus-samad, Lam yalid wa lam yoolad, Wa lam yakul-lahu kufuwan ahad’ was indeed the sound proof. And I began to ponder, crack up my heart and told him to keep firm for what he just said was all he ever needed. His eyes dropped bombs internally, dripping, bleeding, eyes overflowing with tears, a man in his twenties fighting, dancing upon egg shells, trying to stand upright as his sins kept him withdrawing from al-siratul mustaqeem. He exposed a heart in mourning for his tomorrows, struggling to mend his yesterdays and todays for a life of tomorrow that will lend his whole spirit to the Most Divine. His voice quaked and the streets began to talk to me. His eyes met mines shooting me countless times with truth. I jumped into his eyes, raced within his insides and found myself looking out to see myself looking back in. We were standing on the same side of the counter, trying to seek His mercy for we were sinners just trying to get right. Hoping to have our book of deeds handed to us in our right-hands. Our hands were left empty of nothing but our lives to give. Our hearts to offer up as sacrifice for this was all he had…this was all I had. This was all we had. I never thought this stranger that stood in front of me would unfold and write out my eulogy for I was dying. For I was dying a death that would shed my former-self. I wondered how it would be on that Day because at that moment he was standing bare in front of me. Unraveling/unveiling the secrets that lies within our lives. We are sometimes running/walking/racing/passing our lives away finding ourselves carrying countless things weighing us down to find ourselves being POW’s, prisoners of war because we’ve been caputred too many times by ourselves seeking guidance in wrong things and people. I saw him beating/knocking/setting flame to the door of His Lord, for he was seeking nothing, no one but the Divine. He was an unfolding book outlining the ruthlessness of the meaningless world that weaves its way in our lives, seeking to only search and destroy our hearts. Every word that flowed from his lips became like scripture, making my soul rush to forgiveness, for he and I both knew that this battle between life and death was real. And we sat upon the edge of our souls and jumped to our annihilation in order to seek He above the heavens for our hearts were yearning for better tomorrows. I closed my eyes to see with clear vision that this stranger was a messenger from the Most Divine for he had just searched the deep-depths of my soul and ripped out the disease that lied deep within, placing upon it its black shroud to deliver it back to it’s hell for I was done. I was witnessing Divine intervention at play and this strange man was showing me hidden treasures. Ripping me apart word-by-word, telling me ‘Bismi Allahi alrrahmanialrraheemi, Inna aAAtaynaka alkawthara, Fasalli lirabbika wainhar, Inna shani-aka huwa al-abtaru” and that the battle to survive is very much real. And that our lives are only for He that gives and take life. And that this life is our sacrifice. For this world will try to snatch away our hearts/this deen for that which is devilish and hellish…” -Excerpt from “The Subway Man Recited Scriptures from His Sinful Lips”
This morning I found myself hungry for a sandwich from Subway, so I went to get one. One of the local Subways that I sometimes visit is really interesting. Many of the employees enjoy asking me questions about Islam or telling me how they are amazed at the traffic-jam that surrounds a local-mosque on Fridays. However, one of the employees is Muslim and would always recite to me Qur’anic texts. He always tell me that he has another surah(chapter) of the Qur’an to recite to me in Arabic, so I would listen as he would make my sandwich. As he recited, I would always follow him in the chapters he recited…if I knew them. However, today was different. He recited his surahs and he gave me real-talk about life. It’s always times like this that makes me think and reflect about humanity. We are all trying to make sense out of the world around us. And as Muslims, we are always trying to evaluate ourselves spiritually. In listening to the words that he had told me this morning, I found inspiration to just get together a collection of poetry that deals with the issues that we were talking about. There’s always this fight against our souls and to fight to gain the pleasure of the Divine. It was really ironic because he was telling me about his struggle to stay afloat in Islam while trying to deal with the struggles of worldly life. In talking about his struggles, he was indeed helping me with my own personal struggles. So, I wanted to write about that experience by the passage that I quoted above.
The truth is that you’ll never know what you’ll find in the world and when you find yourself stumbling upon truth then never let it go. Also, it’s important to never restrict yourself in where you think truth should or could come from. You can find truth in the most unexpected places. This strange man that I would see once or twice a month came as a form of Divine intervention. That may sound strange to some people, but it’s the truth. We can truly reflect each other and when this happens…it’s scary but sometimes necessary.
And at the end of the day, we should not be caught up in trying to quickly judge someone off of appearances because appearances can be deceiving. Just simply listen to someone’s words and let it penetrate, if possible. You’ll never know where you’ll get a wake-up call, but when you get it…wake up.