I was standing at a bus stop in downtown Atlanta, waiting for the Marta bus to arrive. I never spent much time downtown, so I was looking around at the cars as they passed by, the roads shaded by the tall skyscrapers’ shadows. There were cracks in the sidewalk where I stood, and a presumably homeless man sat against the tiled wall next to the entrance of a hotel. Next to me stood a businessman, I guessed. He was talking on his cell phone, looking up through his Tom Cruise sunglasses. He was clean shaven and dressed in a suit and nice tie which was a muted shade of yellow. He was waiting for the bus, as well.
Then the sound came, loud like it was happening all over the earth at once. It got louder and the pitch changed in a way I couldn’t readily comprehend. Something was approaching. A bomb? A meteor? A whole entire planet? The Hand of God itself? I don’t think it mattered- the inevitable conclusion was fixed in my heart, that this was my last moment alive.
I looked at the business man, who had since removed his glasses in alarm. He looked back at me, then turned to the homeless man, who gazed back at both of us with eyes which had long ago become familiar with accepting the inevitable. We all realized, at that one final moment, that we were in the same boat together. The businessman, the homeless man, and everyone else now running, screaming their panic in the streets- we were all equal in this, our final destiny. None of us could help each other, none of us could save each other. We could do nothing except live what was to come, our end.
I awoke crying from that dream nearly 8 years ago. It was so real, so gripping. And yet, it’s what people in other parts of the world are living every day FOR REAL.
The other day I was making wudu in my bathroom. As the water flowed from the faucet and dripped down my arms, I looked at the sink counter. It was clean, a little cluttered, and cool. It wasn’t covered in dust from rubble, or streaked with blood…as other sink counters were at that very moment. I finished my wudu and looked out the bathroom window, where the trees were green and the sky was blue. I knew the sky in Gaza was grey with smoke, dust and ash, and the trees leafless outside most of the broken windows.
I prayed on my rug. A rug not tattered, in a room that was cool and comfortable. I thought about the Gazans, about the many praying on just bare cement- their prayer rugs long left behind in a hasty vacating of their homes. There is no electricity, no air conditioning, no barrier between them and peril where they are. How can I think that my life, as I know it, is guaranteed to always be this way? Theirs wasn’t, theirs wasn’t.
Every day the peace and ease I enjoy seems like an illusion. I can’t forget how easily it was snatched away from those in other lands, and how easily it could be snatched away from me, if Allah wills. I am not better than the Gazans, the Syrians, the others around the world living in conflict. I am just someone fortunate to have what I have, as long as I have it.
My heart is not in my vacuumed carpet. It’s not in my cupboards full of food, or the blankets on my bed. It’s not in the fan that spins to my right, or the keys that I press beneath my fingers. It’s not in the phone that charges under my left elbow, or these day old clothes I wear right now. Although I am very, very grateful for what I have- I want these things for my oppressed brothers and sisters and not myself. They’ve earned them, they’ve earned them, Subhanallah.
Ya Allah, every time I make dua for the Gazans, the Syrians, the endlest nations who are being treated in the worst of ways…when I think of all Your beloved creation being demeaned, tortured, killed, and all manner of unimaginable things befalling them, I am speechless. What words can there be for what’s going on? What words will save these horrible things from happening? What words can express what I and so many others want for these martyrs? All I can do is cry, and love, and feel. My words cannot carry what my soul wishes for them. Just, please, Ya Allah. Please. Make it right.