“I Wish I’d Been There”
This is a story I have been telling my children, nieces and nephews for the past several years.
It is the story of Prophet Muhammad (sas). When he first received his calling from Allah via Angel Gabriel in the cave of Mount Hira, he came home shaking and was comforted by his beloved wife Khadija, who validated his experience, and sought out her cousin Waraka, who believed in one God. Now, with Khadija’s support, the Prophet of Islam had to convey Allah’s message to the people of Mecca. He invited the important men of Mecca, including those of his prominent Quraish tribe. The guests came and ate the meal and were expecting an announcement, as was customary. None came from al-Amin, so they duly departed for their homes.
The Holy Prophet’s nerves, knowing the revolutionary nature of the idea about to be unleashed upon Meccan society, had at the last minute failed him. Next day, at the urging and support of his wife, Prophet Muhammad again invited the same men over for another feast. After the meal, the men waited expectantly again. This time The Prophet did speak. He spoke of his vision, the message and the mission he wanted to convey to the people: that of one God. He then he asked:
“And who among you will champion my cause and work by my side?”
None answered. People put their heads down and avoided eye contact.
Prophet Muhammad asked again, “Who is willing to help shoulder my burden and to work by my side and to be my champ?”
Foreseeing the magnitude of such an undertaking, none answered. Then, from the midst of the crowd, an 11 year old boy jumped up. He was Hazrat Ali (as), the Prophet’s young cousin and future son-in-law. “I will champion your cause, O Muhamnmed! I shall work by your side,” spoke up Ali.
At this there was a wave of derisive laughter from the crowd of wealthy and influential Meccans as they contemplated the outcome and struggles of this ‘visionary’ with his little sidekick. But Prophet Muhammad’s face broke into a smile as he opened his arms and hugged the boy, his brother, really, for had they not both been raised by the same Abu Talib and Fatima binti Asad?
This expression of endearment and confidence in Hazrat Ali is one incident I Wish I’d Been There to witness.
I link this story to Mowlana Hazar Imam’s 1992 visit to Vancouver, when he addressed the jamat and, smiling from ear to ear, he gestured with his hand and said, “I think of you as working by my side.” He was asking us to champion him in his cause against poverty in this troubled world. His vision is to include us, his lashkar of men and women, in this endeavor.
About the writer: Born in colonial Uganda, Pervis Rawji (née Patni) went to Aga Khan Nursery and Primary schools before immigrating to Canada with her parents and siblings in 1969. Graduating from New Westminster Secondary School, she went for a BA and Teacher Training(PDP) at Simon Fraser University.
Pervis taught elementary school in greater Vancouver, got married, had two children. During this time she got a Montessori diploma as well as an MSc in International Policy from the University of Bristol, UK. Pervis also teaches ESL and yoga. Pervis Rawji has taught English to Ismailis in Iran, India and Syria, and has worked one autumn at the Roshan Clinic in Kabul. Her hobbies are skiing, logic puzzles, badminton and gardening.
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