She found herself in a place that looked like a party. The stench of alcohol, cigarette smoke and vulgar speeches tainted the air. In every corner was a couple engaged in open zina (adultery and fornication). A Muslim should not have been in this place.
If only she felt perturbed and greatly distressed. She, however, relished every view with a mixed feeling. Her shoulders drooped with a chip of inferiority complex; her prettified hair and skimpy clothing did her little notice, you see. Her eyes kept returning to the most captivating guy in the room, hoping he would notice her. And he finally did, fleetingly, when she issued a carefully calculated retort to a degrading remark he made. Somehow, his attention soon returned to more interesting girls.
Feeling below down, she made to leave but noticed that the earth beneath her feet was moving; she was sinking into water. The guy from before winked knowingly then stepped forward and helped her until she was safely on the ground. This was when she realized that the building was afloat on the sea. Why hadn’t she noticed that before?
Seizing the opportunity, she stepped out through the stairs that led to the bank of the sea, hoping he would follow. Now on land, she walked to a filthy spot and sat, vaguely noticing the stench of excreta that coated the air.
The fact that in broad daylight everywhere was deserted only momentarily crossed her mind – she had a more occupying thought; ‘Where was he?’ A minute slowly turned to three and then to five before it finally dawned on her, ‘I am waiting for someone who isn’t coming…’ She scoffed, then stood and went back towards the sea house.
As she raised her right leg at the foot of the first stair, she blinked and stepped back as though wrenched out of a trance! ‘What are you doing here?’ her nafs-al-lawwama (the reproaching soul) chided. At that moment, she receded by a step. Again, she receded by another. Further and further she receded, shaking her head all the while.
No! This was not supposed to happen! She had promised… She knew that every time she fell into error, she felt hollow and hopeless, so she had promised Allah (SWT) the last time it happened, that she would fight her inner evil. Yet there she was, wallowing in self-pity for not being noticed by someone who shouldn’t even notice her! Through a sea of conflicting emotions, she cried out; “I have strayed again, my Allah! I have strayed again!” With despair and tear-filled eyes, she looked shyly skyward.
And that was when she saw…
The sky was in a raging storm; black, smoky, furious storm accompanied with angry, hissing sounds… she staggered back and fell on her knees. Before her, a plant blossomed and coiled continuously skyward until it was looming over the earth. Terror gripped her as her mind raced: ‘This is the azaab – the punishment of Allah!’
She made to get to her feet but again she stumbled. She could taste the bile of her regret as she prayed: “Ya Allah! I was wrong! I have wronged my soul again! I admit that I do not deserve Your Mercy but if You leave me then I will, indeed, be hopeless. Save me, Ya Allah! Help me! Forgive me! Don’t punish me, Ya Allah! Don’t punish me Ya Allah! Don’t punish me, Ya Allah!”
And her cry could not have been heard by any but Allah (SWT), over the roaring howl of the wind that vehemently destroyed everything on its path! She looked around. Somebody… Anybody…
Her desperate eyes found a man at a distance reclining on a rail. He looked unruffled by everything happening around him, almost as though he was in a different place. He beckoned to her and she was instantly there, closer to him. He was pointing to his right, at a door in the middle of nowhere, supported by nothing. “If you go through there you will not be among those destroyed”. She looked from the door to his hand where a key dangled; trepidation assailed her. But what choice did she have?
“Once you open that door, you must dive in before the next barricade appears,” he warned over the storm.
Dazed and incapable of processing his words, she took the keys with shaky fingers and unlocked the door. She was confronted by a rainbow of laser barricades moving concurrently at a dizzying speed. It looked like it would mar anyone who got close. Before she could swallow, He hauled her through…
She found herself on the other side of a wall. “Thank You, Ya Allah! Thank You, Ya Allah!” she chanted continuously in tears. Slowly she regained composure, noticing that she had landed in what looked like a house of worship. It was excessively long, unbelievably wide, and the ceilings were unimaginably high. It was an entirely different world from the one she had left. The people went about their activities, oblivious to the chaos unfolding on the other side of the wall. In this place, there was laughter, oneness, happiness and a soothing serenity…
But for such a wide space, why are there only a few inhabitants? She wondered silently, as she slowly made her way through the long corridor. They stared at her strangely. She knew what they saw and it added to her regret. If only she had been better! When she got to the end of the corridor where a lady sat breastfeeding her infant child, she begged for a cover, and one was offered to her with the most beautiful of smiles. She draped it hurriedly and tightly around her body, as though it could take away her shame. She proceeded outside.
Suddenly, she was back at the previous scene. As though with distant eyes, she could see the earth blazing in an expanse of red and orange coals and emitting scourging molten magma. The sea and the floating house in which the party had been taking place were as if they had never been! Screams of torment pierced the air. Before her, fleshes of humans were ripped apart, leaving mere carcasses in the storm’s wake. She could hardly breathe. I could have been there… she shivered.
Again she found herself standing in front of the previous door and the same keeper was handing her the keys, but he said, “This time you must go in yourself”. She tried to force down an expanding feeling of apprehension but it assailed and overwhelmed her. “Do not be afraid. Just believe and jump through the barricades,” he encouraged gently. But as she dallied, he became angry: “I said jump! Do you wish to perish? Do you not believe in…” and she hauled herself through the laser barricades, cutting off his angry statement.
A sigh of relief escaped her; she was back at the holy house. The laser barricades through which she had gained sanctuary was a mere stream of colourful lines behind which was the building’s wall. “Lailaaha illallah. Lailaaha illallah.” There is none worthy of being worshipped but Allah, she chanted.
Her tear-stained lashes quivered to wakefulness. She was sweating profusely and a salty taste still lingered upon her chanting tongue. Yes, it had all been a dream and the vividness of it would forever be carved in her heart even as a nagging question sometimes kept her awake; was it a reminder or a warning?
Medinat Musa I. is a creative entrepreneur, a script and novel writer and a fashion designer in Abuja, Nigeria.