Islamic Fiction Contest Winner - 2010
The Woman Who Biked to Hajj
By: Maryam Rahim
I was seven at the time.
In the wilderness of Africa, I had just woken by the voice of my mother waking me up for fajr prayer. I knew that if I prayed on time then we would hike up a mountain and watch the sunrise.
I reluctantly took of my sleeping bag and put a foot on the floor, I jumped because it was freezing, I was not used to the hard floors in the wildernesses cabins. I felt around for my glasses, found then and tried to find my slippers. They loved to play hide and seek. I found then in a bizarre place and walked to the bathroom. I was extremely groggy; I had slept late because I was so amazed at the starry night sky; something told me that it would take a while before I could count them all. When I grow up I want to find out why they disappear when I am at home. I walked into the bathroom and had to reach the light switch. Once it was on, I had to close my eyes until I got used to the light. Brr! The water was cold I dries myself and I was awake. That water totally woke me up! I felt so energized that I could climb a mountain. Oh wait! If I prayed on time I could hike a mountain.
I joined my family downstairs “good morning habibtee,” mama said “did you remember to say; your dua” oh yea Alhamdulillah ahyana wa ilahinnoshoor. My uncle arrived and we prayed fajr together. I loved my uncle, he has a job that allows him to travel the world and he always brings me cholcolate from every place he goes. He had only returned from Makkah yesterday, I was soo exited.
As we climbed up the mountain my mom held me close when we got to the top she wrapped her blanket around me and we watched the sun rise. It was too beautiful and just stared. Afterwards my family made a circle I asked to make a fire even though it was day time, my mom laughed and went to get some wood and I helped.
After we did my uncle spoke about hajj. I did not know what that meant he explained and said that there were 3 million people and everyone was wore the same type of clothes and are equal and that is good because in my city there are people that poor and are looked down upon. I was super exiting I was bursting of joy when mommy said that all Muslims had to go. We went back to the cabin and I reluctantly want to bed, I slowly took off my slippers and put my glasses on the side table and thought of hajj, I wanted to go and no one was going to stop me.
20 years later
Wake up mama school time!
Ok I’m up!
Aisha jumps out of bed and runs at full speed into the bathroom. She brushes her teeth while taking a shower. Then she grabs a hand full of grapes and tells her two daughters, Alaa and Sarah, to get into the car. She grabs her purse and stops at the door.
“Oops Aisha” she tells her self “you forgot to say the dua for waking up!” she quickly mumbles it to herself and starts the engine. She arrives at her daughter’s school drops them off and says with a smile “Have fun at school!”
Then she heads off to work, she works as a receptionist at a optometrist, she arrives and starts her day with fake smiles and greets people, “I’m fine thank you” she greets many people, many of whom are late for an appointment, she smiles brightly and assures them that it is fine. She looks at the clock, and sees that it is almost 2, which is when her shift is done. She breaks the speed limit so that she gets to pick up her kids on time and listens as they tell her what a good day they had. Then they get home and she tells them to eat lunch and then they start their homework. Then she starts getting ready for school, at six, her husband comes home and that is when she leaves to go to school.
Aisha is the type of person that knows how important an education is, she loves to learn and takes astronomy classes for fun. She plans on getting her BA degree to get a better job. She runs over the list of things she has to do.
As she gets to school, she walks in with only a minute to spare, and takes a seat and deep breath. Then she feels this sever pain in her chest, but it goes away and so by the end of class, she forget, but the pain does not go away permanently. Then one day while Aisha is driving her kids to school the pain becomes too much she burst out crying and soon she feels extremely faint, and she turns the wheel of the car so that she get to the side of the road…
Aisha’s conscious slips away with the sound of her kids screaming and the sight of the approaching pole, and then came the collision.
Aisha woke up in a hospital, immediately Alaa screams and hugs her, and Sarah joins. Then her husband and doctor come in and her husband joins the group hug. After the happy exchange, the doctor asks if he can talk to Aisha. Aisha agrees and goes with the doctor, the doctor asks her what is going on in her life and she tells him that she is extremely busy at the moment, as of a result she doesn’t eat enough nor does she sleep; then he asks her what happened and Aisha replies that she has been feeling this sever pain, the doctor looks shocked and he asks for how long, she says a few weeks and the doctor asks for her permission to take a x ray, Aisha reluctantly agrees.
Aisha is asked to stay overnight, in the morning; the doctor comes in with a troubled look. He finally tells her that she has cancer!!
She can’t believe it. The doctor says she has around a year, and then she says everything will be alright. The doctor looks concerned and tells her she is welcome to stay at the hospital for a while, she agrees and the nurses are nice and always offer food and plenty time to rest.
The next day Aisha’s parents and sibling came after hearing the news. They start with small talk but then her parents looked with a concerned face, and say “you mean the world to me, what do you want me to do. You’ve been s good daughter, what do you want. “” Aisha says nothing, and asks for some rest, but even after they leave, she thinks about what she wants, what is truly important to her.
By the next day Aisha starts to write a list of things that she wants to do, she starts with the obvious like her will and her inheritance. Then she writes many other things, but then at the end of her list she writes very small, I want to make my hajj. She frowns and puts her list aside, how am I going to make hajj. I have a job, children, and I go to school, how could I possibly afford something like that.
Aisha woke up and stretched, and then she caught a sight of her parents looking at her list of things to do! She jumped out of bed at the speed of light and snatched it from their hand. “Why were you reading that” she exclaimed! Her parents gave her a strange look and they said that they already read the list, and they were slightly proud that their daughter wanted to go for hajj, but then they started to exclaim that she could not do it! “How could you, you have children that need their mother and you can’t afford a plane ticket, It is a wonderful experience but you cannot do it!”
Aisha did not say anything, she knew they were right, she could not get a plane ticket they were too expensive, but there had to be a way. Allah (SWT) has given her the strength but how would she get there, she could not fly.
Aisha spends the next few days thinking about how she could get to Hajj. She tried asking sponsors, but they did not agree. Aisha felt discouraged but did not give up. While praying fajr, Aisha prayed with complete concentration, as her forehead touched the cool ground she remembered that day she was with her uncle, and she prayed with all her might that she could go to hajj, if that was what is best.
Once everyone woke up, Aisha decides to go to her house. Once she got there she hugged everyone and went to the kitchen. And then while praying Dhuhar Aisha again makes dua and soon she was confident that everything was in Allah’s will. Since it was the weekend, it was time that Aisha took her kids to the park, there Sarah just learned to ride a bike and she wanted her mom to help her. Aisha of course knew how to ride a bike, but she hadn’t for a long time. They went to Shoreline Park where Aisha took her bike along with the kids, they played with a beach ball, but then Sarah kept insisting on riding a bike that Aisha could not postpone it any longer; and so she agreed. Alaa volunteered to be the referee for the race, Aisha vs. Sarah. Aisha laughed, because she was not even sure she remembered how to ride a bike. Alaa screamed goo! And the race was on, the second she started to pedal, she felt like she was 15 years younger and she forgot all about her worries, but she let Sarah win, she spun with her kids until they were too dizzy and they lied down in the grass. Then Alaa said “Mama, I bet that you could ride your bike to Mecca” And that is when it hit her that her 9 year old daughter was totally right.
Aisha got home and put her kids to sleep and then she called her parents, husband and brother to a meeting. She said, “Alhamdullillah. Allah (SWT) has given me so many blessings, I am perfectly physical fit, and in fact… in fact this year I am going to hajj no matter what” she paused then continued “I always learned about the lives of the prophets, the sahabah, and the people after then. For example the story of Abu Hurairah in which he traveled for 2 months to get a single hadith, the point is, it is a religious obligation for me to go to hajj, Allah (SWT) gave me health, and there is nothing stopping me from going except that I cannot go in a comfortable plane, that is why I AM going to HAJJ this year, by bike.” Her family stared, her parents were speechless and their mouths were wide open. Her brother was extremely shocked at his baby sister, but he was always the one that liked an adventure and gave her a little smile.
Her parents tried to stop her, but they knew that Aisha always had a dominate personality. They liked that she wanted to make hajj and could not think of any good excuse except that they could get lost, but Aisha would not hear of it, she said “mama you said that you would help me do anything that I wanted, now please this is the one thing I want.” Grudgingly they agreed.
Aisha and her brother, Qasim both air pumps, plenty of food and water, and a 1st aid kit. On May 3, Aisha’s birthday, they set off, by sunset they reached the top of a mountain and looked at the city that they grew up in. Two days later, they were ready to cross the border, from Morocco, the place she always lived in, to Algeria. Qasim and Aisha had a great time they talked about many things that they did as they biked along. They also passes Libya, once they got to Egypt, they stopped in Cairo and pasted the pyramids. On one side of the pyramids was complete desert not a single soul in sight. While on the other side, there was complete chaos. There was a huge street called Shari haram, it mainly was a cross section that had four different paths, there were no street lights, and cars came at random, and people were screaming in a language Aisha could not even understand. Even though she lived in a city, it was not as crowded and people followed the streetlights. She had already past Algeria and Libya, but this was chaotic and crazy!
Aisha thought that she should get some groceries since she was so close to the market. With her brother’s hand firmly in her own, she looks right and then left and slowly starts to cross the street, it was totally fine there were not that many cars at this time. In the middle of this vast road, an ottoman painting catches her eye, she gets utterly confused, why does someone have an ottoman painting in Egypt. She stares for just a second and starts to take then next step and then BAM!! Suddenly she is consumed with pain as a car hits her, all she can feel is pain and she falls to the floor and loses consciousness.
She wakes up at Hospital Mustashfa Salam. Aisha slowly opens her eyes, and tries to move her fingers and then feels the pain and takes a sharp breath in. She opens her eyes and looks around the room, there is a machine making beeping sounds as it measures vital signs such as heart rate. Another machine starts to buzz and immediately, a nurse walks and says “oh I see that you are awake” the nurse presses some buttons and the doctor enters. The doctor looks extremely busy and immediately started talking to Aisha as he enters the room. “Hello Aisha, I’ve got something to tell you! You do not have any major breaks on your hands and legs; however you have a torn ligament and need to stay at the hospital for at least two weeks”. Aisha was speechless but after a few seconds says. “No” She exclaims “I can’t stay, I have to go for hajj.” Then she continues. “Look, I have traveled on bike from Morocco to here and I might never have the chance to make hajj again, I have terminal cancer and I don’t have long to live. If I don’t make my hajj now I will never get the chance again” Aisha continued. The doctor looks skeptic but then his face brightens as he bursts with excitement and says “I admire your courage and I will do whatever I can to make sure you go for hajj.”
The doctor contacts his relatives in the newspaper and they begin to spread her story. As soon as people begin to hear her story they begin to donate money for a plane ticket so that she can heal and make hajj before she dies. Before long the generous people of Cairo had donated enough money for her to reach Mecca. Aisha had a memorable hajj with her brother. She was able to complete hajj on her own two feet thanks to the help of the helpful doctor who took such great care of her.
Next year when she died, she passed with tranquility in her heart since she was able to fulfill her lifelong dream of seeing the kabah and the obligation of hajj against all odds.