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Overcoming Hardships Reflections With the Divine

The Puppy

Originally Published in October 2009

We had just finished dinner. A group of us American girls who were studying in Egypt had decided we would eat at a local restaurant and when we finished, we had twenty Egyptian pounds leftover from the pool of cash we had put together. Figuring out what to do with the money, one of the sisters suggested, “There’s that boy who sleeps outside that one grocery store! You know, he’s got that puppy! And whenever he’s with that puppy, he’s like the happiest kid in the world.”

I realized whom she was talking about. There was a teenage boy who slept on the grass across the street from the grocery store. There was no trace of family, money, or anything—just a boy and a stray puppy who kept him company. “Let’s give the money to him!” the sister exclaimed. With purpose, our group began to head over.

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From the restaurant, it took us about twenty minutes to get to the location of the boy. But he was nowhere to be seen. His puppy, however, was there…and he was thirsty. The puppy had in his paws a closed water bottle that he unsuccessfully attempted to open. Imagine the torment of feeling intensely thirsty, staring at water in paw’s length, and not being able to access it despite immense struggles and efforts. Realizing his dilemma, we quickly opened the bottle of water we had and began to pour it out for the puppy. The puppy came immediately, drinking the water in huge gulps, and not stopping for some time. Finally, relieved, the puppy eventually ran off to play.

We did not find the boy that night. As we walked back to our apartments I began contemplating the situation. We had walked about twenty minutes in search of a specific boy. We could not find him, and instead we found a puppy in extreme thirst, making great efforts to access water. Allah, The All Wise, had written for us to have extra money, helped us remember the boy in that moment, given us the strength, ability and time to take the twenty minute walk to find the boy, and instead, guided us to a puppy who needed our help to drink water. Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) had written for us, a group of foreigners from across the world, to have been in that place, in that moment of time, simply to help a puppy quench its thirst.

What about you, dear worshiper of God, who is struggling to please Him, stumbling upon blocks of heedlessness and difficulties? What about you who are trying to keep it together, find a job, get married, do well in school, deal with domestic issues at home or societal pressures all around? Dear believer who struggles to make your prayers, complete your fasts, lower your gaze and preserve your chastity—if that is the mercy that Allah, The Ever Merciful, has written for a small puppy, that He would subjugate human beings to simply help quench the thirst of a creature amongst His Creation…then what about the Mercy of Allah `azza wa jall on you, His struggling worshipper?

 “Therefore flee unto Allah…” (Qur’an 51:50)

About the author

Maryam Amirebrahimi

Maryam Amirebrahimi received her master’s in Education from UCLA, where her research focused on the effects of mentorship rooted in Critical Race Theory for urban high school students of color. She holds a bachelor’s in Child and Adolescent Development from San Jose State University, where she served as the President of the Muslim Student Association for two consecutive years. Currently, she is pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in Islamic Studies through Al Azhar University’s distance learning program. Maryam spent a year studying the Arabic language and Qur’an in Cairo, Egypt, and has memorized the Qur’an. She has been presented the Student of the Year award by former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and holds a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Maryam frequently travels to work with different communities to address a variety of social issues and writes about topics related to social realities, women’s studies and spiritual connections on www.virtualmosque.com.

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