Islamic Studies

It's Never too Late!

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
Wa salatu wa salama ‘ala Rasulilah

I had finally reached the elevator of my apartment building after a long walk from the markaz in the hot Egyptian sun. I was thirsty, I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and after five hours of Arabic class, my head was spinning and I just wanted to get home. The elevator came and I entered, thoughts more about my state of hunger and headache, the walk back from the markaz, and the eight story elevator ride in my head more than anything else. Finally the elevator reached the eighth floor- almost. The elevators here are made so that between floors there are concrete walls. It’s basically: door to level, concrete wall, door to level, concrete wall. It stopped where I could see mostly door, but still concrete wall. Alhamdullilah, no problem, I thought. I’ll just push the door open and take a big step and I’ll make it in inshaAllah. But the door did not open. And it would not open. It was completely shut. I pushed, pushed, pushed until I was faced with the horrifying realization that I was stuck in an elevator in a building with absolutely no type of fire code and no type of emergency plan. I started pounding on the elevator door.

Making dua, I called my roommate. She ran out and tried to pull the door open. Stuck. She tried to comfort me, and I started really feeling the panic. The same air I was breathing a moment ago began to fade away, and I felt complete terror internally as she told me to press the button to another floor. ALLAH Musta’aan, how could I press the button to another floor? With a malfunctioning elevator, I could easily end up facing a concrete wall and find myself completely cut off from human help! I cannot explain how terrified I was internally. The only words I can continually repeat to explain this experience was terror and horror, and a siege of panic. The telephone in the elevator did not work, the emergency button did not light up despite desperately pounding it. I could barely hear my roommate as she called out for me not to worry, and I realized how close I was to death.

It’s as if you’re in the grave- just like you’re in the grave. You can see everything, you can feel everything, except you can’t do anything to help yourself physically. No matter how hard you bang, you can’t get out, no matter how much you scream, no one can help you. You’re just stuck, faced with the shock of your end: a square big enough to fit your body, and your surroundings becoming smaller and smaller, caving in on you as you realize you have not done enough good, you did not repent early enough, you were distracted the last salah of your life, and you still have a mountain of sins to stop doing and ajr to start working on, and a world full of people who you have not yet told you appreciate and need to ask for forgiveness from. Internal, pure terror is the best word I can think of to describe the reality of pushing, pounding, throwing yourself on the only way to exit, and realizing that no matter how much you try to escape, and how much others try to help you out, in the end, it’s just you and Al Haaaqqah.

I was fervently making duaa and Alhamdullilah my roommate said the bawab, or the apartment keeper, was coming. Suddenly the elevator started moving, still to my terror, but by Allah’s great Mercy Alhamdullilah it stopped on the floor below and the people in the nearby apartment helped me out. I went home dazed, still in a daze, and made sujood ash shukr for my life. Alhamdullilah I had cell phone minutes, Alhamdulilah my roommate was home, Alhamdullilah the bawab was there to help me, Alhamdullilah, Alhamdullilah, Alhamdullilah that Allah ‘Azza wa Jal is The Answerer of duaa, and that I was still alive to have that duaa be answered.

My sisters and brothers- I can’t imagine what it’s like to be in a car, blasting crazy music one moment and finding yourself on the road in the next. Or realizing the time for salah is in, and putting it off until the end of the time for salah to perform, or chillin’ with non-mahrams like you’re married, or screaming at your mom when she bore you for nine months and changed you and fed you and wane you and gave her life for you for so long, or despairing in Allah ‘Azza wa Jal [auothobillah] when you know He is Ar Rahman, and in that moment- the sa’a hits, and you don’t have time to repent, your soul is taken in that action, and you feel yyaaa hhhasssraaaaa that this wasn’t a one time slip up, but a lifestyle that only one individual was responsible for, and then facing the reality that that one individual was you. But it’s too late, you’re stuck, you scream and all but the people and jinn hear you, and the Rabul’alameen, the RahmanurRaheem, Al ‘Afu, Al Ghaffar, Al Ghafoor, gave you ten, twenty, thirty, fifty, seventy, one hundred years to just turn to Him and sincerely say, “Ya Rabbi, forgive me.” But you didn’t

As the adhans throughout Cairo are calling the people to Allah in this moment, I urge myself and you not to forget the ease of repentance, how much Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala LOVES for His slave to return to Him subhanahu wa ta’ala, how easy it is to ask for Allah’s Help to get us through the sins we continually commit and keep asking for forgiveness when we slip up again, and to realize that EVERY SINGLE minute IS a new minute where, inshaAllah, we can seriously and sincerely just LEAVE what happened a minute ago, say astaghforillah, make some dhikr to wipe out the bad deed, turn the other direction, and come back to Allah ‘Azza wa Jal.

Not all of us can make an immediate 360 degree turn, but all of us can turn a little bit and keep turning until we’re there inshaAllah. And Allah has made it sooooo easy for us to just say, “subhanAllah”, and find on the day of judgment, insha’Allah ta’ala, that one word of dhikr a means of wiping out the bad that we have done and insha’Allah adding to our good. So let us keep our tongues wet in the remembrance of Allah in these hot days where good deeds are to our akhira as water is to our bodies, and make the intention to make dhikr with every step we take.

About the author

Maryam Amirebrahimi

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

Add Comment

  • SubhanAllah. May Allah (swt) reward and bless you for your words…please make dua for me and all the other Muslims struggling with their deen everyday.

  • man , what a terrible experience.. sorry bro. I would take the stairs from now on and its good exercise too. I had a similar experience; I went to visit my cousins grave last year. He died in a car crash in 97 at 21 years of age. As i left his grave after making dua for him, I noticed that there was an empty grave near by probably being prepped for a next day burial. So I thought i would try and lay down in it to experience what it would be like. However, it was not totally open and was partly covered with the cement block that is lowered during the time of burial. So i tried to slip through that cement block but due to my ever growing 30s belly, i got stuck between the cement block and my back against the openning of the grave dirt part. Man my feet were dangling and i realized i am only 5 ‘8 and that the grave was six feet deep so i new i couldnt get back out ; i kept slipping further down into the grave and it was hellish and scary as if the angels were pulling me down there, i suddenly had a burst of energy and pulled myself out. Alhamdullliah . This sounds very funny but man it was hellish. very scary, but one day, we wont have a choice but to be lowered in.

  • This was really beautiful. It is like sometimes these things happen to force you to remember the reality of this life, and your need for Allah. When I was studying in London, I was living with a friend, but whenever we’d go home for the holidays, we would return at different times. Before we had left for the Christmas holidays, we locked all the windows, and near to the end of the holidays, I returned before her, so I was alone in the apartment for a whole week. I decided not to unlock the windows, as locking them again was hard and I didn’t want to risk it as I was alone.

    One day, I had come home at night from university, and decided i would go straight to bed. I realized that for some reason I could hear the traffic in my room. To my horror, someone had opened my bedroom window. I was shocked because the window had been locked tight. The first thing I thought was “Hasby Allah wa ni’m Al-Wakeel!” and put my trust in Allah, and prayed for Him to protect me. Was there someone in the apartment? I was completely alone with no one- if something were to happen, no one would know. I tried to call some friends but no one would answer. I couldn’t call my parents because they were a million miles away and I didn’t want to worry them. Finally one of my friends called back, who lived almost an hour away but she stayed on the phone with me until I got all my stuff and I went to her house to stay. The next day, we both returned to the apartment to check if anything was missing, and alhamdillah nothing was.

    A couple of weeks later, the building porter informed us that there was a homeless man sleeping on the scaffolding right outside our floor. SubhanAllah; indeed Allah is the Protector. These things just make you realize and give thanks.

Leave a Comment