The Journey-Part 2

Despite his success, Hariri knew that the overlying weakness he chose to ignore was going to bog him down, eventually. He was born a perfectionist, and could not accept that he was still lagging behind in Islamic knowledge. Though he did try his best to suppress his feelings of inadequacy, the guilt would not go away. Handling guilt, was never one of his strong points.

To a certain retrospect, his religious teachers had a profound effect on his way of thinking. Islamic studies held a special place in Hariri’s heart, simply because his heart was literally in tune with whatever was being taught in class. In this case, not having a religious background probably helped. While his other more ‘educated’ classmates paid less attention, Hariri was very much in awe at the sheer beauty of Islam. He silently squealed in delight at the thought of heaven and its angels; His knees went weak hearing of the fate of those pummelled into the fiery depths of hell; Hariri’s lack of knowledge was what actually attracted him to the religion itself.

In one of the many lessons, their discussion focused upon the punishment waiting in hell, for those who refused to perform their prayers. Eighty long years was the sentence for those who missed one prayer. One day in the afterlife was equal to a thousand on earth. Hariri was more than capable of running the numbers. In an instant his brilliant mind was furiously calculating to what extent he’d have to suffer for his sins. And for the first time in his whole life, Hariri drew a blank. Infinity was the end product. He was in deep trouble.

The ‘reward’ he would get for all his so called success in life, was an eternity in hell. He was shattered. He knew that he had to change. But how?

That day marked an important milestone in Hariri’s life. It was simple concept he had failed to grasp despite hearing it numerous times in his short life. He knew about hell. He knew of the punishment that waited people who disobeyed. The speed at which it hit Hariri was tremendous. The impact was huge.

Just how far would he go? Hariri was questioning himself over and over again. He genuinely wanted to be a better person. At the same time, he also knew that any sort of change would bring about huge implications in all aspects of his life. For one, his parents would be far-fetched to accept such an abrupt change in their son. Their son whom seldom prayed.; their son whom they’ve known for all their lives; Could they accept him for what he was to become?

Hairri was in rough state; caught in two minds. On one hand, he knew of the importance of performing the solah, yet on the other; he had to face up to his somewhat secular parents, whom themselves regularly skip their prayers. He wasn’t yet able to bravely face up to the truth. Even though he knew that no parent could be mad at their son for turning into a better person, Hariri still found it in him to make up pathetic excuses, to quell his guilt.

At the same time his interest in Islam was budding, his workload was also starting to put a strain his daily life. Hariri was, at this moment, in a standstill, as his efforts to change had been overshadowed by sheer magnitude of responsibilities he had to endure.

To many, he was the idol they craved for, successful in every sort of way. He enjoyed the limelight, to a certain extent. Deep down inside he knew it was all worthless, that some day, it would count for nothing. But he continued on, masking this worry amidst the huge amount of attention he received each and every day. But alone at nights, he would sit and ponder his fate, desperately worried of his lack of relationship with the Creator.

He wanted to change. But the time wasn’t right. He would wait until things settled down first. He even contemplated running away from home, to a new environment where he could be who he wanted to be, to rid of the web of hypocrisy he was living in. But alas, Hariri wasn’t that strong…yet.

Hariri’s classes were in the afternoon. Every day he would ride a school bus, in a half an hour journey through the congested main road leading to his high school. While he was accustomed to this daily routine, there was an imminent flaw; and it fell on Fridays. He couldn’t possibly find time to go for Friday prayers. If he chose to go to the mosque, he would miss the bus thus would have to walk to school, risking disciplinary action for being late to class. No way was Hariri going to spoil his clean record. His reputation as the school’s most prominent figure was at stake. Also, since both his parents worked a nine-to-five job, there was no one who could offer assistance in sending him to school on Fridays. It is also worth mentioning again that Hariri never had any close friends; he was alone in this.

Hariri wept at the thought of being subjected to such calamity, being forced to endure what others regarded as merely trivial matters. How he wished he was born into a different family, one that would cater his hunger to be educated spiritually.

At this point, Hariri was sensitive to his sins, but still could not find the strength to stand up and fight. He couldn’t risk being ostracised by his family; he had too much to lose. Every Friday, he would spend long hours contemplating, reflecting on the situation he was in. He knew that hell-fire awaited those who did not perform the solat, what more Friday prayers. Even though he didn’t really pray five times a day, he did what he could, and when he could. Hariri still did not want his parents to know that he had started praying, albeit only 2-3 times a day.

Friday prayers, however meant more to him, especially since his absence from the mosque had been noted and had spread to most of his friends. He was now subject to abuse by his peers, who all gloated to the fact that he would end up in the bottommost part of fiery hell. He was devastated. The numerous times he cried alone, wondering what the best solution was, served only to fuel anger toward his parents.

At this point in time, Hariri made a decision that would change his life forever. Enough was enough. He would defy his parents, for the sake of Allah s.w.t. He couldn’t live in this lie forever. He knew it was time. But he had to do it quietly, as he wasn’t ready to risk the wrath of his parents. He ran over the plan in his mind over and over again. He was all set to do what he thought was the right thing. And until this day, he never regretted it.


Hariri arrived for Friday prayers late, sweaty, and tired. A peculiar thing happened when the time for solat came. As he jostled for places with the others, Hariri finally settled in a position somewhere in the middle of the saf.

“Allahuakbar”, he whispered as he gave takbiratulihram. At that point, Hariri felt a breeze so calming, so relaxing, that it blew away his tiredness, as though a new dawn had risen. He felt free, and a certain sense of tranquillity filled his body. He was at peace.

This was the first turning point in his life. Hariri prayed as he never prayed before, with tears flowing freely, as he started to reflect upon the struggles he had to endure, all for the sake of Allah. It was worth it...

After that incident, Hariri went on to perform his five daily prayers each and every day without fail. He was slowly beginning to embrace the faith he left behind so long ago. He craved the moments where he could prostrate himself and be close to his Lord. His heart ached every time he thought of how foolish he was in his earlier years. But it all changed since that day. The day he defied his parents. The day he made the choice...The day he was reborn...

That event marked an important landmark in his life. To achieve that sweetness of faith, he had to endure extreme bitterness. That would be an important lesson in his coming years. Sacrifice is required in order to have the pleasure of faith. He felt strangely fulfilled to a certain extent. He knew that he had a long way to go before he could even begin to regard himself as a truly good muslim. The journey, had only began...



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