This past week was an amazing one for me. It was a week where I felt cradled by the divine love of Allah; where I felt Him reaching out to me when I felt helpless and unsure of what would happen.
It all started Sunday night. I was taking my husband and our son back to his motel room where he lives away from us through the week. En route, the battery and brake lights came on. This was the first time it had ever happened in the 6 years I’ve owned the car, and neither my husband nor I knew what it meant. The car was driving normally and we didn’t smell anything funny, nor was it overheating. We continued to his motel.
After dropping them off I started back home. On the way, the battery and brake lights stopped illuminating. I thought maybe it was just a fluke, as the drive back home was uneventful.
However, on the way to work Monday morning, the battery and brake lights came back on. I figured it was something I needed to look into, since it had now happened twice. While I was at work researching this, I discovered that in my type of car a failing alternator will cause those two indicators to light up. I knew what a failed alternator meant, and I knew that since I was running strictly on battery power the car would probably not run more than for another day or two. I figured I would stop by the grocery store on the way home to get food, since there was a good chance we wouldn’t have a way to make it to the store later in the week.
So I swung by the house and picked up my friend whose been staying with me. We continued on to the store, and did our shopping. When we came back out, we loaded our bags into the car and got in. I turned the key…but it didn’t start. Great! The battery was dead already, even though I figured I still had a good 24 hours of drive time left in it since the problem had just started the night before.
My friend asked a pair of African men who had just come out of the store to help me jump the car so we could get home (thank Allah I carry jumper cables!). They were kind enough to help us out and bring the car back to life. I disconnected the cables and jumped back in the car, as the Africans were pulling out of the parking lot. I put the car in reverse to leave….and it stalled.
Unbelievable! Now what? We would have to find someone else to help jump the car…again. Fortunately the lady who was actually parked right in front of me came out of the store and offered to help. I explained to her what was going on, and that the car would probably need several minutes of charging once it starts in order to make the drive home. She said that would be fine.
So again, the cables are connected, duas are made, and the car starts. We ladies made small talk for about 10 minutes while we waited for the battery to charge up a little. I figured enough time had passed, so I disconnected the cables and went around to my door to get in and drive home. By the time I got that far, I realized the car was silent. It stalled again as soon as the cables were taken off.
I realized now that even with a jump, the charge was not going to hold at all and we would not be able to use the car to get home. I explained this to my friend who had come with me. The lady who tried to help us jump the car asked if there was anything she could do to help. I asked her if she could ride us and our groceries back home, since we only lived a mile down the road. Alhamdullilah, she was nice enough to do so. I made sure I took everything of value out of the car and locked it before leaving it there in the Kroger parking lot.
I was exhausted mentally by the time I got home and unpacked our food. My two oldest boys, who were already at home, had already eaten. I was glad for that because it was one less thing to worry about. As it was, I had to figure out how I would be getting to work the rest of the week, how I was going to get the car out of the Kroger parking lot, and how I was going to afford to repair it. Not only that, but I had in my possession the check for my husband’s weekly motel fees sent by my mother in law, and I needed to figure out a way to put it in the bank so he could pay for the room. The payment was already due, so if he couldn’t pay it right away he would be kicked out…and that would leave him and our 6 year old together out on the street.
My friend suggested we try asking a neighbor to take me to a train station to get a bus card, so I could take the bus to work. I didn’t really have any money for a bus card as it was, but my friend was nice enough to offer to help with that detail. So she and I set out going door to door, floor to floor, trying to find someone who would be kind enough to help me. We literally knocked on every door in my building, and either no one was home or they couldn’t help us.
My friend and I stood in the parking lot, realizing that now it is going on 10 PM. We needed a plan, or I would not be able to work tomorrow. A neighbor then came out to the parking lot, and having some familiarity with who she was I asked if she could help, and she agreed. She drove my friend and I to the closest MARTA train station and I got a bus card to cover the next four days. She was also nice enough to drive me by the Bank of America ATM machine so I could deposit my husband’s check. He was able to pay for his room with no problem after that, Masha’Allah. We got home at about 11 PM.
By this time, I was exhausted by all the events that had taken place. I couldn’t have more of a reaction than amusement of all that had transpired, so I posted a tongue-in-cheek blurp about it on Facebook before settling to bed. I guess everything that had happened affected me on a subconscious level, because that night I had some very tumultuous dreams. Subhanallah, those dreams were very telling and encouraging, despite how emotional they were.
I dreamt that I had made arrangements with my manager to work from home the rest of the week, since I would not have transportation to the office. In the dream, however, I didn’t seem to be getting any work done even in light of that. My manager and his boss came over to my house to see what was going on, at which point I explained to them what had happened with my car. I told them that I was fearful that the Kroger would have the car towed and impounded, which would only make matters worse. The men had compassion on me, and offered to take me up there to check on the car and make arrangements to have it taken to a repair shop.
As the dream continued and we arrived at the Kroger, we discovered my car was gone. I feared that we were too late and it had been towed. I went in to ask the store manager where it might’ve been taken, and he informed me that they never had the car removed. He added that there had been a rash of vehicle break-ins overnight, and my car was presumably stolen.
To me, this was even worse. It was bad enough I had a repair that I couldn’t afford, but now I would need to find a way to replace the entire car. I broke down and became very emotional, even though my manager and his boss were still standing by. I felt so helpless and overwhelmed, and the boss took pity on me. He told me that he was getting some extra money on his paycheck for this Friday (6/22), and offered to give it to me to help replace my car instead of using it for his own hobbies. He told me that he was giving me $5,000. At this point, I became totally humbled at his generosity and graciousness. I felt silly for getting worked up. I began crying in the dream, so thankful that he had offered a solution to what I thought was an unsolvable problem. At that point, the three of us were leaving to go get dinner somewhere, and I awoke.
I didn’t think much of this dream when I woke up Tuesday morning. I knew there were a lot of details that needed attention, and I was going to have to maintain my energy levels to take public transportation going forward. As I was getting ready for work, I located an auto shop right across the street from the Kroger my car was stuck at. I called them and asked if they had a tow truck to come get the car, but they did not. They offered me some tow truck company referrals, and I told them the car was only across the street from them. They said if I could get the car keys to them, they would take a fresh battery over to the car and simply drive it back to the shop. So I got on the bus and headed to them, and on the way I called Kroger to make sure they knew my car was there and make sure they wouldn’t have it towed anywhere.
Once I knew my car was going to be in good hands, and that I would be still able to get to work, I started to relax a little more as I caught the bus toward my job. I knew I still had to solve the problem of the cost of the repair, but since I didn’t yet know what that was I wasn’t sure what I would need to do about it. So, I let my mind wander as the bus carried me to work.
Out of the blue, a sister (who I wouldn’t have known as such by appearances, as she was uncovered) came and sat next to me and gave me salaams. I greeted her back, and she spontaneously asked me, “have you read this book?” as she was pulling a small paperback out of her purse entitled Tears and Tributes. I told her I was unfamiliar with it, and she went on to explain that it was about Imam Hussein and the battle ofKarbala. As she was telling me about it, I immediately recognized that it was probably published by shi’ites. I continued to listen to her as she told me, “every time I go through a hard time, I pull out this book and read it. I’ve probably read it about twenty times by now! I just started reading it again because I was going through something hard in the past few days, and I just find the stories to be so encouraging and uplifting to my faith….especially the accounts of sister (can’t remember the name), who kept praying all her prayers no matter how bad the battle got”. I was fascinated with this, not because I thought I would agree with the shia viewpoint the book had been written from, but because I felt like Allah was saying to me that there are still things out here to encourage me no matter what I go through, and it has been so for all Muslims through all time.
I was especially touched by what she said about the sister making all her prayers, because for the first time in my Muslim life, I made all my prayers for the month of Rajab. I never before made all my salats for any month of my Islamic life. I felt very happy that I accomplished this, even making up the ones I might’ve missed while I worked on this goal. So to me, it was like Allah was saying He knows the effort I put into that and it was not lost or forgotten. It made me want to continue making all my prayers on time, and making up any missed ones right away.
As I began to contemplate all that the sister had shared with me while she stepped off the bus, I felt my phone buzz. I looked at it and saw that someone had sent me a message on Facebook. I checked to see what it was, and I saw that a very, very dear friend was asking me if I had a paypal account. I dreaded to think of the reason why he was asking, but I knew it was because he had seen my post from the night before about my car. I questioned him about it as I arrived at work, hoping he would change his mind about anything he was devising.
Later on in the day, I got a call from the repair shop that the cost would be about $365. My jaw had dropped. I was due to get paid on Friday 6/22, but since it was my last check of the month I would be using the majority of it for rent. After my necessary bills, only about $100 would remain. I knew that the repair wouldn’t be that low, but I was hoping it would at least be less than $200 so I could possibly scrape up or borrow what I didn’t have to cover it. I figured the best I would be able to do is forgo paying my rent, and use my rent money to cover the car. Then, once it was back in working order, I would take it to the local title pawn place and get a loan to pay my rent…and pay back the loan over time. I didn’t see any other choice, since there was not even a slim chance that my ex would come through on any of the $2000 in child support he owes me.
I resigned myself to this course of action as I continued to work the rest of Tuesday, all of Wednesday, and most of Thursday. Thursday afternoon, not long before I was going to be leaving to go home, everything started to change. I started getting emails notifying me of payments made to me via paypal. My friend, the one who had pestered me on Tuesday, had invited some other friends to help me out with him. As their gifts continued to come through the evening, my eyes bugged out! The gifts were adding up to almost the total cost of the car repair! This morning another one came through, which ended up completing the full balance (except for 61 negligible cents!) MASHA’ALLAH!!!! Allah made it so I didn’t have to pay for any part of the repair, except for what amounted to spare change.
This morning I woke early and took the bus to the repair shop and picked up my car. Once the paypal funds are transferred into my bank account, I will pay my rent. I won’t need to pawn the car title, Alhamdullilah.
It’s things like these that make tests worth going through. It’s seeing Allah move like this that makes me want to see Him even more clearly as often as I can. It’s moments like these that make me cry tears of appreciation for the friends who surround me, friends who are closer to me and kinder to me than some of my own family. They are indeed the best Muslims I have ever met, and I will be thanking Allah for them and asking Allah to also show them the mercy and grace He’s shown me, for the rest of their lives. It’s gems like these that make me bow in sajdah to Allah, humbled beyond what I can express, and grateful beyond what I can repay Him.