A Belated Ragha'ib PrayerI just read an article about the importance of the first Friday night of the Islamic month of Rajab. I read about how it is the Night of Wishes. I never knew this to be the case. I feel like I have missed out on God’s treasure.
I have numerous wishes in my life. Most have come true. I am back practising law. I am dabbling in writing and expect to have my first article published in a non-Australian newspaper (the NZ Herald) in the near future.
But I have one wish remaining. I wish she would ring me.
She came into my life in the same manner as a thief might appear in my living room. Totally unexpectedly.
I went to her to seek advice about someone else. She was my mentor, my teacher, my adviser. She quickly became my friend. We learnt about each other, and I became her adviser. She yearned for a heritage she felt had been lost. I yearned for someone to listen to me and someone to laugh and be silly with.
I went to her to learn about another. When my life declared that other emotionally redundant, I still wanted to be friends with my new friend.
Then I started to fall for her. It was awkward for both of us. What made things for better and for worse was that she was falling for me. She felt the time just wasn’t right. She was sorting out her Rumi syndrome. She was hibernating from life and sleeping in a cave of depression and memories. She was hiding away in Christ’s tomb and the stone had been rolled to cover the opening.
Ahmed Deedat once asked the question: “Who moved the stone?” In the case of her self-imposed purgatory, our love was slowly chiselling away at the stone.
So we made an agreement. I would go away and hang out with every female on the planet. I would date everyone I met. I would see if I could forget about her. She would try and sort things out in her life. We would adjourn the hearing in cupid’s court for a few months.
But this was no cupid situation. This was a case of Rumi and Shums. But in this case, Shums-i-Tabrizi became Shums-i-Kiwi. And the Aussie Rumi was missing and yearning for Shums-i-Kiwi badly.
I would think about her. I created a private blog (if there was ever such a thing) and imagined writing to her. I prayed for her. I yearned for her. And every female I met during this time could tell that I was treating them like the wrong answers in a multiple-choice examination. By a process of elimination, I was reaching her.
She was indeed the right answer.
But I couldn’t reach her! All I had was her mobile number, a few details about her siblings, her first name and some history of her studies. After hours of consulting with Shaykh Mevlana Google, I managed to track down a sibling. I took a risk. I put fingers to keyboard and wrote to her.
It was a clumsy letter. I made some excuse about how I reckoned she had lost her phone again. I incorporated a few silly jokes about definitions of Muslim impotent men (the ones who have only one wife!). Only God knows what her sibling thought of my crazy fax.
I expected she would want to kill me for barging into her life unexpectedly. I thought the police would be around to arrest me for stalking. I asked friends, and they told me I should leave town. I did.
I went down to Canberra for budget night. The biggest night in the national capital. I was there with the rich and powerful, with government ministers and their gorgeous female advisers. Alcohol flowed freely, and the music was loud. Journalists were everywhere. I was in the thick of things (or as she would say it, “the thuck of thungs”!).
The next day, I returned to Sydney. By 2pm, I was watching and waiting for a police car to arrive and for handcuffs to disable me. The phone rang.
“Hi. It’s me.”, Ms Shums-i-Kiwi said.
“Hi. How are you? I am sooooooo sorry. I should never have done this”, said Imbecilic Irfan.
“Hey, it’s ok. I kind-of expected you would do this. I am up here with my siblings. I was trying to contact you but I left everything in Sydney. I’m so glad you did this. So sweet of you!”, Ms Shums-i-Kiwi continued.
We spoke for another half an hour. She kept depositing coin after coin into the public phone she was calling from.
The next day. Same time. Same station. Another 45 minutes. Then the next day. Same thing.
By now I was ready to whirl like a dervish.
She returned to Sydney. We met up on a number of occasions. But I was getting nervous and pushy. It was all too slow. The disciple was yearning for fana’ with his murshid.
“I would just like to know where I stand?”
Shums-i-Kiwi was circumspect. At the time, I thought she was as subtle as a sledgehammer.
“I can’t be your girlfriend. When I remove myself from my current state, I will leave everything behind. I would like to take you with me. But I have no idea in what capacity.”
Then last week, she called me after I repeated the same trick of faxing her sibling. I still did not have her details, and I wanted to contact her desperately.
“Please don’t invade my life like this. I cannot even help myself. How can I commit to you? I can’t tell them about you. Each time you do this, I get interrogated.”
Aussie Rumi had made Kiwi Shums cry. Rumi felt somewhere between Abu Jahl and Shaythaan. He still does.
I hope and pray God gives me the strength to carry on with this. I spend so much time writing and thinking and praying. And I ask you all, dear readers, to join with me in this belated Ragha’ib dua (supplication).
God, You chose to separate Rumi from Shums-i-Tabrizi. I am no Rumi. But she is my Shums. I don’t have the strength of Rumi to be separated from Shums any longer.
God, I am weak in a way. I get scared she will throw me out of her life. If that happens, I get scared I will break again.
I have everything from You, God. But without her, I feel I have nothing.
She is the light that you created and that I bless everyday. Do not take my last last chance of happiness. Let her grant me one more indulgence. But don’t let me turn her into an enemy if she just wants to be my friend.
I have lost the power to pretend that there could ever be a happy ending. She is the light that I blessed. I feel she is my last chance of happiness.
God, give me strength. Give me Shums-i-Kiwi. I beg you, Lord, for the sake and honour of your Noble Messenger and his Noble Household, her ancestors.
(I wrote this article whilst listening to Elvis Costello’s “God Give Me Strength”.)
© Irfan Yusuf 2005