I remember watching The Postman Always Rings Twice a while back with Lana Turner as Cora, and I can’t remember the name of the guy who played the drifter. It’s an interesting movie, very ‘sizzling’ if you know what I mean, but there’s one scene in particular I remember and that’s where the husband has decided to sell the roadside restaurant and move back home because his sister has suffered a stroke and Cora, being a woman, would have to nurse her.

The expectation is until she dies, and Cora is horrified. And sitting there watching I wondered why! Why would that be so bad? Yeah, sure it would be hard, but just think of the reward you’d get for doing something like that for someone else!

We really believe that God never gives you a burden greater than you can carry. And maybe there’s a darn good reason that so far in my life, I’ve never had to nurse someone who is that bedridden. Maybe it would prove to be too much for me. I hope not, but God only knows.

When I was going for Hajj in 2010, I asked all those closest to me what they would like me to pray for them on the day of Arafat and I compiled a list. My mom asked that I pray that she doesn’t linger. That when her time comes, she just drops dead like that. And I was startled, and yes, for a moment I thought of that scene in The Postman Always Rings Twice.

But then I wondered if she wasn’t very wise in her request and I wondered if it came to it, if I’d like to burden my children in that way.

Nope. I’d rather not linger.

Such prolonged care can take away the dignity of the patient.

When I was in South Africa I went to visit Ahmad Deedat, a renowned and rather controversial Islamic scholar who was most famous for rebutting evangelical preachers with his astounding familiarity with the Bible.

He was a real hero for many Muslims! And an excellent debater! He could think so well on his feet, pulling Bible verses to support his arguments, out of thin air!

One of his best debates ever was with Jimmy Swaggert (before he fell from grace).

I remember going to one of Ahmad Deedat’s debates and at first getting caught up in the spirit of it. Not feeling like a beaten down Muslim for once, feeling like here was a combative champion for goodness sakes! Saying things that utterly confounded the Christians in our midst, but later I realized that Muslims aren’t supposed to be ‘combative’. We don’t need to put other scriptures down, especially the Bible, because actually we ‘believe’ in it too.

And some of the things he said definitely crossed into the realm of disrespecting other faiths, in particular Christianity, and Islamically there was a problem with that.

Guess what happened to him?

He got a stroke.

It paralysed him so he could NO LONGER SPEAK.

Interesting isn’t it?

The one thing the man lived for, was taken away from him.

For the last seven years of his life he was bedridden and could only communicate with his eyes. His son and himself devised a method of dictation that involved a lot of eye signals, and in this way he was able to ‘speak’ to his visitors.

I visited him in South Africa, where he was bedridden, and I had the honour of reading one of my stories to him. I chose Samosas, from Muslim Child. It’s my favourite story in the collection but the problem with it is it makes me cry.

I was blubbering like an idiot, as I read him the story, and when I was done reading it to him, I gave him a signed copy, as a gift and he signaled that he wanted to say something to me.

His message: “Why don’t you write stories about the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions and other religious figures?”

Basically he told me I should abandon writing modern stories and stick to the religious stuff. There are already plenty of people doing that and I figured maybe he didn’t like the story. Oh well.

But there was an interesting exchange I noticed. While his son was explaining the elaborate method of communication they’d devised, Ahmad Deedat looked completely bored.  Not surprising I guess, he must have heard the spiel a hundred times.

He died soon after that.

Thing is as a Muslim, any suffering you bear with patience, can be an expiation of your sins. And it’s interesting that his suffering consisted of going silent.


My parents are still going strong. My mom suffers from arthritis and that affects her mobility and right now she’s laid up with a horrendous cold but she’s a real trooper.

I’ve developed a HUGE appreciation of all the suffering and sacrifices my father went through in order to bring us, his children, to this land of opportunity!

I really wouldn’t be where I am without him.

So my mom’s sick and I decided to earn some hereafter points by making some chicken noodle soup and other food and taking it down for her.

And in the back of my mind I’m thinking of a sick granny and Red Riding Hood, and in the back of that I’m thinking of Lana Turner/Cora not wanting to take care of her bedridden sister in law, and I’m kind of thinking alhamdu lillah, I’m doing something good.

Is it a sin to be pleased with that?

I hope not.

Even as I’m a little proud of myself, part of me is thinking, “Hey, tone it down! You’re just doing what you’re supposed to be doing!”

And part of me is wondering if such thoughts will take away from the reward I’m hoping to receive. And even part of me is wondering if hoping to be rewarded for this deed takes away from the goodness of the deed in the first place.

And because Toronto and their area had been walloped with a snowstorm, 15 cm for goodness sakes, and I’m thinking I’m a bit nervous driving down in it, but then I thought, “Hey, I’ll get more reward if the driving is harder won’t I?”

But then part of me is thinking, “Yeah, but risking your life is crazy.”

So last night I actually called up my father and told him I’d bring down the food on Saturday.

But then I thought, ooh, it’ll be stale by then!

All these conflicting ideas, looping around and around in my head till I thought, “Enough! Just go and do it already!”

So when I woke up this mornined I decided on it. I’d go down. And I made a prayer that God would keep me safe, that it wouldn’t be too hard, and alhamdu lillah, it was just fine!

And just to be safe I called my mom and she told me the roads would be cleared by then.

The tiny little road they lived on was snow-covered but all the other routes were clear!

After I was finished there, I headed home, and the dreary grey skies opened up bright blue and the sun shone sideways at me all the way up the highway to the 401.

And this song just happened to play on the radio and I thought, O my goodness, what an omen!

I turned it up real loud and sang along and it felt SO  good!

My parents weren’t and aren’t perfect. They made their share of mistakes and so have I. But alhamdu lillah I’ve gotten to a point where I can appreciate them.

And I’m so glad it’s happened in the living years…

So I urge anyone reading this to make peace with your parents…

while you still can.