Bismil Laahir Rahmaanir Raheem
Sin as we all basically know it is disobeying the rules and regulations that the Creator has layed down for our day to day activities. We are all considered as sinners as we each have some area in our lives in which we may be disobeying our Creator. In as much as some of us try our very hardest to stay in line with the dos and don'ts of our God, we are still liable to sin as our souls could betray this desire to stay faithful to our God, any day.
So we realize that as much as Allah azza wa jal admonishes us from sin, he also emphasizes on His forgiveness as being available any day for any one of us who is conscious enough to realize his or her woes thereby seeking His forgiveness. Istigfaar, seeking forgiveness from Allah azza wa jal, is one of the key things you will find a believer in Allah azza wa jal always involved in whether they have intentionally or unintentionally sinned, whether they have made sure not to go against the rules of Allah azza wa jal throughout the day or not.
A story is told of six men who had come to see the scholar Hassan Al-Basri at separate times concerning some issue that was bothering them and he had given them the same solution which was seeking forgiveness from Allah azza wa jal. The story is as follows;
It is related in Tafsir al Qurtubi that Hasan al-Basri was once seated. A man came saying "O Master, I’m very sinful do tell me an act which I can do to be forgiven.” Hasan al-Basri replied, “Go and do istighfar.”
A second person came and said, "O Master, for many days rains have stopped and there is drought. Tell me an action through which Allah will send down rain to us.” Hasan al-Basri replied, “Go and do istighfar.”
A third person came and said, "I am under a lot of debt. I am working, but please make dua that Allah give me wealth so I can be saved from debts”. Hasan al-Basri replied, “Go and do istighfar to Allah.”
A fourth person came and said, “It is a wish of mine that Allah gives me an offspring. So please make dua that Allah gives me pious offspring”. Hasan al-Basri replied, “Go and do istighfar.”
A fifth person came and said, “I have an orchard please make dua that it gives more fruits, so that the return will be more.” Hasan al-Basri replied, ” Go and do istighfar.”
A sixth person came and said, “If I was to get water spring in my house, I will be so pleased”. Shaykh Hasan replied, “Go and do istighfar.”
Shaykh Hasan al-Basri’s student, Ibn Sabih who was sitting close, was very surprised thinking, “Why is it that Shaykh Hasan al-Basri is giving the same solution of istighfar to whoever comes to him”? So Ibn Sabih eventually asked “Why are you giving one response for all the problems”? On hearing this Shaykh Hasan al-Basri recited what Allah said in the Qur’an, Surat Nuh, Noah, Chapter 71 ayah 10-12:
‘Ask forgiveness from your Lord; for He is Oft-Forgiving; ‘He will send rain to you in abundance; “‘Give you increase in wealth and sons; and bestow on you gardens and bestow on you rivers (of flowing water).'
This shows the magnitude of seeking forgiveness from Allah azza wa jal at any given time. Now let us go to our subject of the day, a review of a book I recently read titled, Leave a Candle Burning.
A well-to-do hardworking middle aged woman had gone to search for someone to adopt and bring to be a part of her household. She had a son, a young man who helped her with her son and performed other duties and then her loyal cook and house help but she still wanted someone to fill another void in her household.
She went to an orphanage where she saw a beautiful little girl whom she suddenly became attracted to. Seeing the danger this little girl, who was beginning to enter adolescence, could be exposed to in the hands of unscrupulous men due to her rare beauty, she decided to take her to her home. Everyone in the household and those in the small town became attracted to this cute little girl and so their love for her was massive. This girl was called Scottie. The head of the orphanage had named her after her brother because she taught she was a girl but upon finding out that the baby that was born was a girl, she just made it feminine by adding ie. Scottie’s mother was from a wealthy background but her mother and her family had not wanted her so right after birth, they had come to dump her in the orphanage without leaving any linkage to themselves.
At first, Scottie thought she was just going to be with this woman and her family for a while, totally unaware of how much they all had fallen in love with her but soon she relaxed knowing she was not only wanted but she was needed as well. Many years later, the woman who had adopted her had become ill and Scottie and the other members of the household had taken good care of her until she died. After her death, Scottie had found for herself a new place and she was looking for a job so she could fend for herself but she was stopped by the woman’s only son, Eli, who proposed marriage to her. Though he had always been in love with her, he made her believe that he was just doing the marriage in order to protect her like his mother did when she was alive. He also wanted her to inherit their estate after he also died. She contemplated on it and seeing that she was safer with him than in the community as a single young woman who had no other family members, she agreed and they got married.
The small community had a doctor who took care of all their health needs. He had become a part of them such that they could not do without him but he was old and needed to retire. He therefore brought his young nephew, Dannan, who was also a doctor into the town to stay with him for a while in order to integrate him with the people and then he left. Dr Dannan was left on his own to take care of the health needs of the small town.
One day, Dr Dannan met Scottie, who had mistakenly gotten the doctor injured. The doctor was uneasy about Scottie right away so he found a way of leaving the scene in peace. Scottie on the other hand had not met the town’s doctor whom everyone spoke about yet. She went home and just as she always does, told her husband how worried she was about the mistake she had done by inflicting that injury on an unknown man. Her husband, wanting to calm his wife, called upon his right hand man, Finn, to take care of finding who the man is so they could make his wife feel better.
Finn was the other man apart from Eli in the household Scottie was brought to. He was a man who did not believe in worshipping God and all that. He held the belief that everyone was not perfect, including God because if God was perfect, the world would have been a better place to live. He had seen how much Eli, who has been like a son to him, has suffered since from childhood up until now and so he held it in his heart that a God who was perfect would never do that to anyone.
Iris was an elderly woman who had always worked for the woman who had brought Scottie in her household. Now that Scottie was married to Eli, she was the mistress of the house and Iris her house help but Scottie had a humble personality where she treated Iris like a mother instead of her employee. She allowed Iris to have control over her to a respectable extent and Iris loved Scottie and Eli as though they were her children even though she never married nor did she have any children.
Conner and his wife, Reese, were a very beautiful couple. Reese was pregnant and Conner was afraid that he might lose her during childbirth. He secretly carried this fear in his heart until he spoke to his elderly business partner, Troy, about his fear. Troy made him understand that when it came to physical, emotional and spiritual strength, Reese had all it could take to give birth successfully but whatever be the case, he should relax about it and take away that fear because it was unnecessary as it was what God wanted that will definitely happen. He advised him to put his trust in God and Conner was relieved.
Reese on the other hand was feeling highly emotional such that she was losing a grip on herself. She felt like crying almost all the time and her husband saw the change in his wife. He assured her that she should feel free to cry anytime she wanted if that was going to make her feel better. They also decided that she spoke with Maddie, a new mother, about it. When she told Maddie about how she felt like crying all the time, Maddie only laughed her heart out. She made her understand that she was not going through any serious problem but rather it was the pregnancy that was causing her to feel that way. Reese was very much relieved to know that.
Cathy was married to a religious man, Doyle, but she did not believe that God was as everybody made Him seem to be. She thought that if we were permitted to praise God so much for all of the good things He does for us, we should also be allowed to blame him for the pain He causes us. She never understood why most of the people in the community including her husband thought it weird on her part to blame God for the death of the parents of her niece, Maddie. Her husband on the other hand wanted her to see it as God’s way of giving them someone to take care of as they did not have their own children but she still thought the whole thing unfair.
One day, Eli had a breathing problem and Finn had rushed for the doctor who came hurriedly. When they arrived, Eli was feeling better but Dr Dannan checked him to see what caused the problem. When he ascertained that everything was all right with the bedridden Eli, Scottie came in to see her husband. His heart began to feel uneasy when he saw her and his situation became even worse when she was introduced to him as Eli’s wife. He never thought she was married. Scottie told her husband that he was the man whom she hurt the other time and apologies were given. Dannan just wanted to get out of the room so he could breathe but Eli will not have it. Interestingly, Eli liked Dannan right away to the point that he decided to lend him a book out of the uncountable number of books in his room. The condition for giving anyone a book had always been that after the person read the book, he or she had to come so that they will discuss the book. Dr Dannan was happy to do that and he left in peace. Everyone was surprised that Eli will lend anyone a book right after he had met him. He never does that.
Dr Dannan found himself in an unfortunate situation of loving the wife of another man whom he respected very much. He tried his best to kill that passion but as much as he tried, the love grew. He inclined himself to God a lot more and prayed for His protection from the temptation he found himself in. Dr Dannan’s uncle had taught him to always pray for all his patients and he did just that. He prayed for Eli whose intelligence and strong resolve upon his unfortunate situation he greatly admired.
The people of the town had a tradition where they invited one another over day in day out for dinner and others. Dr Dannan always ate at Reese’s place since he was single. He became very close to Conner’s family such that he thought of confiding in Conner about the unfortunate situation he had found himself in but he held on. Dr Dannan always told the people whom he was very close to in the community about his cousin and his wife with their daughter. They lived in a time where exchange of letters was their medium of communication. Dr Dannan had grown up with his cousin, Grant, who later married Annie and they had a little girl whom they named Corina. Dannan’s parents had moved to a far away town and so Dannan was left with Grant, and his family but he also moved away from Grant to the small community he was in now. They therefore wrote one another letters often. Grant and his wife had promised to come and visit him in the town and everyone was anticipating their arrival.
One day, Dannan’s father had written to him that he and his uncle had come to Grant’s house and that Grant and his wife had died from an outbreak of a disease, leaving their daughter. Dannan was totally broken such that he could not do anything for himself. The folks in the community had come together to help him go to Grant’s house which was very far from the town he was now. Eli had released his carriage and driver to send Dannan since he could not get a train to go there at that time. The community members saw him off.
Dr Dannan was told by his father and uncle that he was the best person to take care of Corina as she was already accustomed to him so he took her along with him when he was going back to his town. He had written to tell the town’s folk that he was bringing the little girl. Eli who was his landlord and secret admirer decided to help him out with a few things. He suggested to his wife that he wanted to give furniture and other help to Dannan so the girl’s bedroom could be ready before he came. Scottie however thought that they should not go into Dannan’s house in his absence even though they owned the house. She thought that will be invading his privacy which was not a good thing. In the end, she suggested to her husband that he holds on with his help for the doctor so that she could go and talk to Reese about it because he was closer to them. Reese assured her that it was a good thing they were planning and she believed Dannan will appreciate it rather than be angry. They therefore went ahead with their plan. Iris and Scottie cleaned up Dannan’s house and set up a cute bedroom for Corina. Scottie made a doll for her.
When Dannan had arrived with the three-year old Corina, Conner had gone to meet them at the train station. He told Dannan that he will send his luggage home for him. He also informed him about what Eli had done and that Eli did not mean to invade his privacy. Dannan was happy to know he had been helped even though he didn't know the exact changes that had been made. He assured Conner that he was ok with it and that he will go and see Eli when he is settled. Conner sent a message to Eli about the fact that Dannan was not angry and that he would come and see him. Scottie and others were relieved. Dannan was amazed at how clean his house now was and when he saw Corina's room with the right size of bed, wardrobe, painting and others, he felt totally grateful and indebted to Eli and his family. He wondered what he would have done if they had not given him this help. His workroom was however untouched, obviously because they didn't want to mess up his medications and others.
Dannan's uncle had suggested that he put Corina in Iris' care as she was the best for the job so he went to speak to her about it. Interestingly, his uncle had already written to Iris about it. She was glad to be Corina's nanny. Eli had released his childhood toys for Corina's play when he found out she was going to be in Iris' care mostly in his house. The people in the community helped Dannan through his grief. Dannan on the other hand took his new job as a father seriously. He tried to bring Corina up with the best of manners in loving ways. Because of her, he frequented Eli's house but he always tried as hard as he could to avoid him. Eli however was in the know about everything that went on in his house from dawn to dusk. Eli had become close to Corina with time after Dannan had introduced her to him.
Scottie at the beginning avoided Corina as much as possible because she reminded her of her painful days in the orphanage. Soon however, she became a favourite of Corina. She read books to little Corina anytime she could make time. One day, Dr Dannan went to see Eli for the book discussion. Scottie was with her husband then. Dannan worked hard in order not to mess up because of how uneasy Scottie's presence made him. Instead of the book discussion, Eli only asked questions about the doctor's personal life. Scottie was surprised because her husband had never shown that kind of interest in anyone before. Finn, who was always in Eli's room to see to his needs noticed that Eli was playing a game. He said to Eli when they were left alone;
'Sick but still plotting and planning.'
Eli laughed and acknowledged Finn's thoughts.
Conner told his wife about his feeling that Dr Dannan seemed to be attracted to Scottie. Reese was not surprised because she knew how Scottie even when she was little had gone straight into everyone's heart when Eli's mother had brought her to the town. She told her husband to try to talk to Dannan about it in order to verify his feelings.
The people in Dr Dannan's community were so conscious of one another's needs and troubles. One key thing about them was that they prayed for one another very often. They were empathetic about the woes of one another. Reese and Conner even before verifying Dr Dannan's love for Scottie decided to pray for him so that God will not cause him to fall into temptation. One day when Corina had cried out for her mother due to fear of being harmed by an insect at a gathering of the people, almost all of them had shared tears at the loss of this little girl and her uncle, Dannan. They had all decided to pray for Dr Dannan so that God will help him bring up the girl in the best way.
Eli wanted Dr Dannan with him a lot more than he was getting so he decided to invite him for dinner. After some days, Dannan was able to make time to have dinner with Eli and his family in Eli's room. Eli was fascinated by the doctor's personality. Dannan fought his feeling with every strength he had. He prayed to God to help him and he felt guilty that he could be having romantic thoughts about the wife of a man who clearly seemed to be overwhelmed by him. Eli told Dannan that he could be having dinner with him everyday if he wanted and Dannan was glad. Finn was fully aware of all of Eli's scheming to catch the doctor in his net and he had no objection to that. All he wanted was to cater for Eli, something he has grown to love doing.
The religious leader of the town was a wonderful man. He and his wife were like the parents of the people in the community. Anyone at all was free to come and talk to them about anything that bothered them. Everyone was welcomed to dine with them also. Dr Dannan was special to this man such that he made it a point to pray for him and also find out how he was doing with his new life as a father very often. Cathy's husband suggested that they go and talk with their religious leader about her feelings towards God. She agreed and though he couldn't convince her about not blaming God, she felt so much at ease. One day she found herself praying to God to help her believe in Him just like everyone did. Her husband and Maddie were elated when they found out that at least she was thinking about God.
Eli had another attack one day. He could not breath much and Dr Dannan rushed to him as soon as he was informed. As he worked on stabilizing Eli's situation, Eli held his hand tightly and told him that he knew very well he did not have much time to live so Dannan should marry Scottie when he dies. Dannan was stunned as that was the last thing he expected to hear. He told Eli to keep calm and he and Finn put him in the right position to enable him breath properly.
Through their discussions, Dr Dannan had found out that Eli had been bedridden since he was ten years due to a spinal problem he had from childhood. His mother had however tried her utmost best to make him have the best of life such that his illness had not made him feel less of a human. He had been educated adequately and he had an uncountable number of books in his room. He had also been integrated with the people in the community such that he knew everybody even though he was stuck in his bed. His mother had contracted someone to make a model of the whole community with details for Eli when he was a child so he knew the nature of the community very well. His marriage with Scottie had been one of convenience. At least, that was what he made Scottie believe. Unknown to Scottie, Eli loved her very much as a man will love a woman but he could not be a husband in its full sense because of his condition. Due to his love for her and the need to protect Scottie after his mother's death, he decided to make her his wife. Scottie's world was Eli. Her life revolved around him. She was fully content as his wife and she never wished to have any other man. He was the one person she could tell anything to. She tells him everything that goes on in her day and in her mind and he was always ready and glad to listen to her. To her, he was the best husband anyone could ever have.
When Eli had mentioned about his wife to Dannan, he thought that Eli was probably having mental issues due to his ill health but he was in for a surprise. When Eli was finally composed, he mentioned it again. He told Dr Dannan that he has been praying for years for God to send someone like him to the community to take care of Scottie after he was gone. He told Dannan that he was fully aware of how much he has been struggling to take Scottie off his mind and that showed that he was a noble man. Dr Dannan explained that when he had first met Scottie, he didn't think she was married so his mind wondered but he was in full control so Eli shouldn't worry. Eli, since he saw Dr Dannan, had been trying to rather make the love Dr Dannan had for Scottie grow. He had tried to make Scottie also notice Dannan but she was completely naive. Finn made Dannan know he was with Eli in the plan.
Dannan was confused. He did not know things were going to turn out that way. Whenever he saw Corina with Scottie, he felt she will be the perfect mother for the little girl but he always brushed the idea off and he tried hard not to keep her in his mind but now that Eli had said that to him, he did not know what to do. He decided to talk to Conner about it. Conner confirmed from Dannan that even before Eli had made that suggestion to him, he was already attracted to Scottie. He told him that they should all pray about it. Conner informed Reese about the new development and she was extremely happy. She thought that Dannan and Scottie will be a perfect couple. She also decided to continue praying.
The religious leader made sure to visit Eli once a week to keep him company. Eli told him just about everything; how much Scottie meant to him and how much he wanted her protected even after he was gone. One day, he had a much severe attack and Dr Dannan was there as usual to help stabilize him. Unfortunately, the doctor sensed danger this time as Eli's breathing was difficult and not so good. Eli had reiterated his wish to Dannan again through the difficulty of breathing. He had added that Dr Dannan should know that when he starts approaching Scottie, she may not understand him because she was naive about the man-woman romantic relationship. He slept after he was stable.
That day, Eli died in his sleep. Scottie, Finn and Iris had been crushed but they helped one another through their grieve. Each one of them cried their eyes out when they thought the others were not watching. Scottie did not have anyone to talk to as she used to do with Eli. She was left on her own on Sundays as that was Iris' day off and Finn had moved to his house after Eli's death. She could not sleep at night so she mostly fell asleep with Corina in the afternoons when she read her a book. Dr Dannan, Iris and Finn noticed that Scottie was having a hard time coping.
Dr Dannan began his move by trying to be a chatting friend. She found that it was easy for her to talk with Dr Dannan and she felt at ease to tell him anything. One day, Dannan unintentionally blurted out about Eli's wish to see her married to him. She was furious that Eli could discuss her with someone without telling her. She was mad at Eli for thinking she could not protect herself. She was mad because she thought Eli was begging to have someone watch her. However much Dannan tried to explain, Scottie could not understand.
After some deep thinking however, she realized that Eli wanted the best for her even though she still believed he was wrong to have done what he did. She tried to talk to Finn but Finn made her know that he knew about it. He encouraged her to talk to Dannan so that if she had any questions she could ask him directly. Dr Dannan made her understand that he was attracted to her from the first day he had met her and Eli was aware of that. He believed Eli made that proposal because he knew he was already in love with her. Just as Eli had mentioned, Scottie did not understand the love language.
Scottie kept getting the more confused after every discussion with Dannan. She had many questions without answers. She had never been in any romantic relationship with anyone before. It had just been hand holding with Eli. In the orphanage, they made them overwork themselves but no one ever sexually harassed them so she was completely unaware of what was going on. She decided to talk to Reese about how she felt, hoping that she could make her understand. Reese was glad to be of help to Scottie. She tried her best to make Scottie understand the situation she was in. Everyone in the community knew that Scottie has never been exposed to any romantic life so Reese understood her perfectly. Scottie had another fear that Dr Dannan might be wanting the kind of relationship she had with Eli. Reese made her understand that with the kind of man Dannan was, there was no way he would want that kind of relationship. He would want more because he was a strong man. She however advised Scottie to talk to Dannan about all that so she could understand him better.
Conner, Reese and all those who were aware of Dannan and Scottie's situation tried to make things clearer to Scottie in their little way. Dannan, as hurriedly as he wanted Scottie to accept him, still took it easy on her and allowed her to try to understand issues at her pace. Scottie began to think that may be Dannan wanted her because he needed a mother for Corina and she made him understand that if that were the case he might be disappointed because she might not be able to give the little girl all her time. Dannan made her understand that it wasn't for Corina he wanted her but for himself. Dr Dannan had a tough time making her understand that his motives were clean. In the long run, she fell in love with him and they got married.
Years later, Dr Dannan and Corina were blessed with five more children. Maddie and her husband also had a lot of children. Reese and Conner however could not have any more children. That fact was making Reese lose faith in God but her husband made her understand that whatever God does was perfect and that she should also know that they were not too old for God to bless them with another child. She was grateful to him as always for being there for her. One of the son's of the religious leader and Corina fell in love. They were engaged to be married. Finn tried his best to connect with God like everyone did but he couldn't find his feet so he just went on with his life. Scottie assured him of her prayers. The religious leader and his wife celebrated their thirty five (35) years of marriage and in his speech he gave the credit of the success of their marriage to his wife who had been a solid rock beside him.
The lessons in the lives of these people are profound. Among them are;
1. They were conscious of God and they tried their best to worship Him.
2. They believed in the power of prayer and they prayed. They prayed about everything. They prayed for one another with all sincerity, in good times and bad times.
3. They were aware of how susceptible they were to sin so they fought that edge to sin at all times. Dr Dannan was tested with passion for a woman he knew was forbidden for him. Even when he found out that Scottie and Eli's marriage was not a romantic one, he still didn't allow himself to stoop as low as even flirting with her because he knew God hated it.
4. They loved one another truly and they shared in the joys and sorrows of one another from their heart.
5. The men loved their wives in a beautiful way. They tried to egg them towards good and help them through difficult times. The wives respected their husbands and gave their best to their homes.
6. They took child upbringing seriously. Corina was taught correct manners on a daily basis by Dannan. When she did something wrong, he made her know it was wrong. She was introduced to a lot of books, etc.
7. They were not envious of one another but rather felt happy for one another's progress.
8. They shared. They cared a great deal about hospitality. They shared their food everyday and gave out their wealth whenever there was the need to do so.
9. They listened to one another's worries and helped them through it as much as they were able.
10. They were raw about their emotions and didn't find the need to fake how they felt just to make someone feel good. They lived real lives with one another and they understood their feelings towards one another. They appreciated it when a person told them how bad they felt about something they had done and they endeavoured to correct that.
From Eli we learn a great lesson of a rare and beautiful kind of giving. He prayed to have someone to make the life of his wife complete even after he was gone. When he had found that person, he took particular interest in him and tried to study him as best he could so as to ensure that he is not making a mistake. He went right ahead to offer the proposal to him and told him that it was going to be difficult but he shouldn't give up. That was a mind blowing kind of good-heartedness. Smiles! How many of us could do this now?
Eli teaches us another lesson of not dwelling on our inabilities but to live our lives fully, disable or not. Eli was a religious person who was fully content with his life. He ran his business from his bed and even taught his wife the business too. He was the family man who took care of the needs of his family from his bed. He had a connection with the people in the community from his bed. He was smart and intelligent, something that people acknowledged and admired. He was aware of his limitations when it came to providing for all of his wife's needs and he worked at solving that. Above all, he was grateful for the services his family rendered him.
I hope and pray that you have learnt something from this story and that if you are not a reader, you will try to develop the habit of reading. Do share with me whatever you read in shaa Allah. Stay positive and be a beautiful soul always. Thank you for your time.
Rubaba Mmahajia Rahma Sabtiu
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