Bringing a Secret to the Prophet’s Garden


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I had been in Medina for 3 days and the crowds were like I had never seen in this city before, not even during Ḥajj. Would I leave without visiting the Prophet ﷺ? Anyone who has been there knows that such a thing is unthinkable. We had to give it one last shot. My sons and I walked into the Prophet’s Mosque and its hallowed halls—framed with columns and arches adorned in gold and walls gilded with calligraphic benedictions—looked eerily different today. To my astonishment the Mosque appeared largely empty, with only scattered people throughout, most of them sleeping. My eldest son Abdullah, 11 years old, began to quicken his gait. His younger brother Ibrahim, 10 years old, followed him. I quickly caught up with them.

“This is our chance!”

What we hoped for was to reach the blessed Rawah, an especially sacred area of the Mosque. As we got closer, we heard the din and hum of voices like bees getting louder. The Mosque wasn’t empty. Everyone was trying to get to the Rawah just as we were. Nonetheless, we hadn’t reached this far yet, so we were hopeful. We politely zigzagged our way through the crowd and neared the blessed pulpit of the Prophet ﷺ to our right. I explained to my sons the saying of the Prophet ﷺ,

“.مَا بَيْنَ بَيْتِي وَمِنْبَرِي رَوْضَةٌ مِنْ رِيَاضِ الْجَنَّةِ وَمِنْبَرِي عَلَى حَوْضِي”

“Between my house and my pulpit is a Garden from the Gardens of Paradise, and my pulpit rests upon my wellspring.”1

Imams al-Nawawi and Ibn Ḥajar give two possible interpretations to the statement “Garden from the Gardens of Paradise.” The first being that it is literally a Garden of Paradise in a quantum trans-dimensional sense and the very area itself will be seen, as it is, in Paradise. The second interpretation being that worship therein leads to Paradise.2 Ibn Ḥajar adds a third to these two, saying that the Divine Love and Mercy one feels in there is as if one were in Paradise.3

In regards to the closing statement of the narration, “my pulpit rests upon my wellspring,” the renowned Maliki Jurisprudent and martyr, al-Qaḍi `Iyyad, said, “Most of the scholars have said this refers to his pulpit itself, as it was in the world.”4 It will rise upon the Wellspring of al-Kawthar where we will meet our beloved Prophet ﷺ. He will not be a King seated upon a throne but a humble friend feeding us water, quenching our thirst from the toils of Judgment Day, water he will feed us from his very own hands.

The Prophet ﷺ often told his Companions, “Be patient until you meet me at the Wellspring.”5 Anas bin Malik radi allahu `anhu (may God be pleased with him) once asked the Prophet ﷺ, “Will you intercede for me with God?” He replied, “I am the one to do that.” Then Anas (ra) asked, “Where should I look for you?” The Prophet replied, “Seek me at the irat.”6 Anas then asked, “And what if I don’t find you there?” The Prophet replied, “Seek me at the scale.”7 Anas asked again, “And what if I don’t find you there?” Finally, the Prophet replied, “You will find me at the Wellspring.”8

Telling my sons about this made them even more eager to reach the Rawah, but how would we get there beyond such a large crowd? We didn’t push. We didn’t shove. We stepped aside so that others could pass. We trusted in God.

Finally, after so much difficulty, my sons and I found ourselves within the enclosure of the Rawah. Yet everyone was shoulder to shoulder and we couldn’t find any room to pray. The people who were praying had others waiting behind them for their turn to pray. All the while, police were maintaining order by ushering people out who had finished praying so new people could pray, or asking people who were taking too long to hurry up. I had already resolved that I would focus upon making space for my boys to pray before I worried about myself. An Indonesian man, who apparently didn’t speak English well, gestured to Ibrahim saying, “Baby boy! Baby boy!” and motioning that Ibrahim should take his spot in line. I hugged him and thanked him in earnest. I will always pray for him. Just then, as Ibrahim took his spot, two spots opened in front of us so that all three of us could pray together. As I fell down and pressed my face to the ground I began to hyperventilate as tears poured from my eyes. It was as if I was no longer in control. Everything came rushing to me at once as if God was extracting all my pain out of me like poison from a wound. As I rose from prostration and completed my prayer, I raised my hands to the sky and cried,

“اللهم رب الناس أذهب الباس إشف إبني عبد الله وأنت الشافي ولا شافي إلّا أنت ولا شفاء إلّا شفاؤك شفاء لا يغادر سقما!”

“O God! Lord of humankind! Remove this ill and please heal my son Abdullah! For you are the Healer and there is no Healer other than You! Neither is there any healing other than Your healing. Let it be a healing that leaves no ailment behind!”

My boys and I were able to pray to our heart’s content. It was spiritually liberating in a way that made me realize how enslaving pain and sadness can be. For the past few months, as I watched my Abdullah lose every golden hair from his head and then eventually his entire body, I had wished that his affliction would leave him and afflict me instead. How helpless I’ve felt as a father unable to rescue my son. So I laid it all out before God.

There was, and is, nowhere else to go.

As we left the Rawah, a police officer grabbed my hand and asked me, “Were you able to pray as much as you needed?” I replied in the affirmative. Seeing my tear scarred face he asked, “What troubles you?” I put my hand on Abdullah’s shoulder and told him, my voice cracking, “My son has an auto-immune condition and we came here all the way from America specifically to pray for his healing.” The officer then began to pray for Abdullah and told me to have faith and trust in God who is One. The One who afflicts is the very One who cures. In every hardship is a lesson to be learned and, thereafter, is relief. But you must trust in God alone and no one else. Along with this advice, he repeatedly looked me straight in the eye and exhorted me, “Do not despair! Do not get weak!” He asked me to translate for Abdullah, so I did.

Then, immediately after the Rawah, we approached the resting place of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. The Prophet ﷺ is buried in the house he shared with his wife `Aisha, in the very spot of their resting quarters. On each side of him rests his two companions and successors, Abu Bakr and `Umar (ra).

One of the religious administrators put his arm around my shoulder and told me, “Here is where Abu Bakr rests, and there is where `Umar rests, and in the middle is the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him.” My sons and I greeted them, “Peace be upon you, O beloved Messenger of God! Peace be upon you, O Abu Bakr! Peace be upon you, O `Umar!” Then, in the same way we entered the Rawah, we followed the waves of people, as comforting as the waves of the ocean, towards the exit gates of the Mosque. As we walked out I turned back and gazed upon the Prophet’s resting place one last time.

“You have, indeed, conveyed the greatest message, O Messenger of God! I will see you at the Wellspring.”

I placed my arms around my sons and squeezed them as we walked out, telling them that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ felt helpless and lost as he desperately hid in a cold cave for days asking God to reveal Himself. Then God answered him, guided him, and raised him up to the point that, today, “Muhammad” is recorded as the most given male name on the planet. I gestured to the magnificent forest of pillars and minarets spiraling out from the smooth marble floors.

“This all started in a dark cave, on a cold night, in a mountain of light.”

I eased my grip on my sons. As they get older, I notice that at times I’m smothering them. They’re not babies anymore as much as I wish that they were. They are now men. Yet, as I eased my grip I noticed theirs tightening. All praise and thanks are due to God. My purpose for visiting Medina was fulfilled.

I came home and recorded all my experiences and thoughts into what you are reading now. I figured my son wouldn’t want the world knowing what he’s going through so I left out all our names and made it anonymous. We haven’t told anyone other than immediate family and very few close friends. Even though I wrote this anonymously, I felt that Abdullah still had to read it first. If he objected even in the slightest, I would have discarded it and never spoken of it again. He had an emotionless expression on his face as he read it. He handed it back to me and smiled.

“So what did you think?”

“I loved it, Daddy. But I want you to change one thing.”

“What’s that, Abdullah?”

“Put our names in it.”

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  1. Jami` al-Sai li-l Bukhari, Imam al-Bukhari’s Authenticated Collection []
  2. Sharḥ al-Nawawi `ala Muslim, Imam al-Nawawi’s Commentary on Imam Muslim’s Authenticated Collection. []
  3. Fatḥ al-Bari, Imam Ibn Ḥajar’s commentary on Imam Bukhari’s Authenticated Collection. []
  4. Sharḥ al-Nawawi `ala Muslim, Imam al-Nawawi’s Commentary on Imam Muslim’s Authenticated Collection. []
  5. Jami` al-Saḥiḥ li-l Bukhari, Imam al-Bukhari’s Authenticated Collection []
  6. Ṣirat: The bridge all mankind will have to cross on the Day of Judgment. []
  7. The scale, called al-Mizan in Arabic, upon which the good and evil of everyone will be weighed. []
  8. Musnad al-Imam Amad, Imam Aḥmad’s Collection; Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Imam al-Tirmidhi’s Collection []

56 Comments

  1. Aly Balagamwala (@discomaulvi) says:

    AssalamuAlaikum:
    That really moved me to tears. May Allah (SWT) accept the prayers you made in the Rawdah and may He give strength to you in this trial. And may He protect all of us from going through the anguish of seeing our children in pain like you have had to bear.

    -Aly

  2. Dreamlife says:

    Masha-Allah. Beautiful post.

    Are you publishing more from your trip?

  3. ti says:

    This was so incredibly moving. It was just what I needed to read. Abdullah, thank you for letting your father share this! You and your family will be in my duaas inshaAllah.

  4. RIaz says:

    INSHA’ALLAH ! All your troubles will fade away. Loved the way you expressed this article. I had tears in my eyes. INSHA’ALLAH !! Brother.. Your son will be perfectly in good condition By Allah’s Grace.. AMEEN !!

  5. Yusuf Nigeria says:

    Good article from you Al hamdulilah. 4 d great lesson

  6. Taimur says:

    Absolutely beatiful and I ask Allah (SWT) to bless you and your sons with good health and may all of us meet our beloved Prophet (PBUH) at the haud

  7. Lifestudent says:

    Subhanallah.

    May Allah ease our burdens for us.

  8. HS says:

    Thank you for sharing such a personal story and may Allah (swt) keep you strong and bless your family in this life and the next.

  9. Adnan says:

    Jazakumullah for the beautiful reflection. Our prayers are with you, your son, and your family always. May Allah bring you all ease!

  10. Yasmin says:

    Mashallah, words cannot describe how beautifully written and inspiring this post is! May Allah (s.w.t) grant your son good health, Inshallah!

  11. Maryam Amirebrahimi says:

    My tears joined those of anyone else who read this intimate reflection. May Allah bless you, your wife, Abdallah and each of your children. May Allah cure Abdallah with speed and completely and allow him to be stronger than ever. May Allah bless him and you for honoring us with being a part of your lives through such a personal piece.

  12. Umme Asya says:

    May Allah SWT bless you for sharing your experience! I could not stop the tears from rolling down. My duas are with you.

  13. parveenahmed says:

    Lovely post.May Allah lift up the burdens and make it easy 4 all of you.Ameen. Love the relationship between dad & sons.We all feel so many emotions visiting Rawdah & Medina.I can’t imagine how we all feel when we all actually meet our beloved prophet[peace be upon him]!!

  14. Noor Syed says:

    Subhan’Allah, jazakAllahu Khayran for sharing bro. May Allah accept your prayers and shower your family with his blessings,

  15. Siraaj says:

    May Allah accept your du’aas and and cure your son. Jazakallah khayr for sharing this story with us, your family is in my du’aas.

    Siraaj

  16. Mona says:

    AssalamuAlaikum:
    That really moved me to tears. May Allah (SWT) accept the prayers you made in the Rawdah and may He give strength to you in this trial.I have been in anguish since the day we found out about Abdullah’s condition. Mashallah it has been beautifully written.May Allah give Abdullah good health. Ameen.I was able to visit the holy place because of your intention with all of my kids. It was a wonderful experience that we had of a lifetime was made possible by your help and this was made possible due to Abdullah’s condition.Reading your script made me cry more.I pray for him day and night.May Allah bless your family. Ameen.

  17. carolHamm says:

    I am sending focussed loving energy toward your son, and your entire family. My heart goes out to all of you.

  18. Motie Omari says:

    Asalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahe wa barakatuh

    Jazakamu Allahu khairan for sharing this beautiful essay.

    For those that were blessed to visit The Prophet’s Masjid salla Allahu alaihe wa salam and spend time in the rawadah – indeed as Ibn Hajar mentioned one does feel as if they’re in Paradise.

    May we all be blessed with the Mercy of Allah in this life and the next.

    Lastly; we pray for full shifa’-healing for your son Abdullah and all those that are tested to be healed and rewarded fil dunya wa alakhirah.

    I am truly grateful that I got to read this today and thank you very much – shukran jazeelan.

  19. Majid says:

    Shibli. Very profound writing and experience with Abdullah. I pray what ever afflicts him will give him the courage and strength to fight and your family galvanized through this spiritual experience.

  20. Harris says:

    Truly when Allah says in the Quran “No Soul Shall face a burden more than it can bear” never hit harder to me than now. Allah Subhanna wata’aala knows you can deal with this and our duas and support is there for you. May Allah give Abdullah shifa, ease the burdens on his parents, and unite them all together in Jannatual firdous. Ameen.

    I want to thank you for sharing this with us as it has given me insight and help realize me on how weak I am myself and truly would be too painful for me to deal with this.

  21. Sr Red says:

    Wonderful post. After difficulty comes ease. Hold on, in sha Allah.. My du’as with you brothers :)

  22. Nyssa says:

    Bismillah.

    Assalam Brother Shibli.

    Your story is so beautiful. I pray to Allah that The Most Loving, The Most Kind ease your pain and heal Abdullah. Aamiin.

    Praise be to Allah. Peace be upon our beloved Prophet. May we all have the chance to drink from al-kawthar..

  23. Q says:

    That was wonderful masha’Allah. The inability to hold back tears at the Rawdah is relatable .

  24. Peace says:

    May ALlah bless you and your family with the best of the dunya and akhirah. May ALlah heal your son with a healing that leaves no illness behind. May Allah entire you and your family into the companionship of His righteous sincere slaves. And May Allah all of us to be of His slaves who are truly grateful of His numerous favors. ameen
    JazakumAllahu khayran for sharing this beautiful yet ver personal story.

  25. Najma Islam says:

    Salaam what a beautiful story. May Allah swt heal your son inshaAllah!
    Please contact me I have good news about auto immune diseases. InshaAllah!

  26. Shibli Zaman says:

    Me, Abdullah and our family were extremely touched by these comments. Reading them made chills run up and down my spine and I was pleasantly surprised at how wonderful people can be. In a time when there is so much ugliness, reading all of your comments really choked me up and I love you all for it. You have no idea how strong he is, but I don’t want him to have to be. Please keep praying for my beloved son Abdullah. I will always pray for all of you.

    • Motie Omari says:

      Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala tests those he loves and this is a difficult test Br. Shibli that you will all pass in sha Allah and will see Abdullah healed soon in sha Allah; we’re all making dua’- Allahuma eshfeehe, Allahuma aafeehe – Oh Allah heal him, Oh Allah grant him well being.

      The Messenger of Allaah -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam-said:
      Who ever visits a sick person who has not reached his appointed time, then says for him seven times: -
      أَسْأَلُ اللَّهَ الْعَظِيمَ رَبَّ الْعَرْشِ الْعَظِيمِ أَنْ يَشْفِيَكَ
      I ask Allaah The ‘Atheem (The Supreme), Lord of the magnificent ‘Arsh to cure you -Except that Allaah cures him.
      As’alul-laha ‘al-atheema, rabbal ‘arshil átheemi an yashfiyaka
      At-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud. See also Al-Albaani, Sahih At-Tirmidhi 2/210 and Sahihul-Jaami As-Saghir 5/180

      (My dear mother always reminds me to make this dua’ for all the ill continually until they’re healed; may all our ill be healed; ameen.)

      For the cure of any illness
      Ayesha (R.A.) stated that when anyone among them had an illness, Prophet Mohammad (SAW.) used to rub the area of the pain reciting the following dua:
      أَذْهِبِ الْبَأْسَ رَبَّ النَّاسِ وَاشْفِ أَنْتَ الشَّافِي لَا شِفَاءَ إِلَّا شِفَاؤُكَ شِفَاءٌ لَا يُغَادِرُ سَقَمَاً
      “O Lord of the people, remove this pain and cure it, You are the one who cures and there is no one besides You who can cure, grant such a cure that no illness remains”.
      “Ayesha (R.A.) stated that when Prophet Mohammad (SAW.) was ill, he used to recite the four Quls, blow on his hands and pass them over on the back and front. He also recited these surahs, blew on his hands and passed them over his body during his fatal illness”.

      (Bukhari, Muslim)

      In sha Allah in San Francisco and around the world this Friday we’ll reflect on this story and stop to make dua’ for Abdullah and all those tested with their health for full shifa’.

      Thank you again, and thank you to Imam Suhaib Webb’s team for allowing us all to reflect and learn from this story; baraka Allahu feekum wa jazakamu Allahu khairan katheeran fil daryan – May you be rewarded by God with a lot of goodness in the two abodes; as one of my teachers would always say.

    • Malik says:

      Assalamualiakum wr wb .There is one sister who is very dear to me who had an auto immune disease and prognosis was not that good . This was about 10 years ago. Alhamdulilah she is now well and it’s purely drinking zamzam water with the intention of cure .

      May Allah swt grant your son a complete cure thrugh his grace and mercy and help you and your family to pass this test successfully through patience and perseverence.

  27. Yusra says:

    Your story has touched so many of us, bringing us to tears. I say Ameen to all of the prayers and add my own: May Allah make you and your family among His special, beloved servants. May He swt cure Abdullah leaving no sickness behind. May He swt accept your umrah and all of your deeds and unite you and your family with the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam at al-Kawthar. Ameen.

  28. Dalia says:

    Although we’ve never met, and although you don’t know me, I have been making lots of doaa for your family and for your son. May Allah bless you all and cure Abdullah. I too could not help my tears as they found their way down my cheeks. I knew the story, I knew the pain, I have my own, and I have been privy to many similar pains, yet those pains are what bring us back to Allah. Our tears become the magnifying glass by which we see the path to the Most Merciful. May Allah guide us, cure us, forgive us, and give us knowledge by which we seek His pleasure.

  29. Surya Dharma says:

    Brother Shibli, jazakAllahu khayr for sharing your family’s secret and relaying the precious prophetic encouragement: “Be patient until you meet me at the Wellspring.” May Allah grace all of us with patience, and grant us the blessed meeting. And may Allah grant ease & healing to your son Abdullah. Love & hugs to him. And big thank you for his generosity.

  30. Rizana Imthiaz says:

    O Curer,cure Abdullah.I say this prayer while my tears negotiate to roll down my cheeks.This article personifies the love of parenthood.May Allah guide us all in our difficult times, for He promised after every difficulty comes ease ..InshaAllah may Allah keep our hearts at peace until we meet our beloved prophet at the Wellspring,for indeed, he conveyed the greatest message.

  31. Zeeshan Fatima Syed says:

    Thank you for an exceptionally moving recount of your experience in Medina . So far from it physically , you made us feel right next to the rawdha ; your prostration at the sacred spot helped us also to extinguish many a sorrows , may Allah bless you for it, and may He swt grant you and your son relief from all kinds of illness and anguish and restore his health completely ameen

  32. Amatullah says:

    Truly, our hardships and pain are a form of ascension when they bring us closer to Allah (swt). Abdullah and Br. Shibli, thank you for sharing at your time of need and instilling hope in families who are battling with illness of a loved one. May Allah protect, cure and guide you and yours. Allahuma Ameen to all of the beautiful prayers above.

  33. shannon says:

    Jazak Allahu khair for this very personal account. I pray that your son is relieved as only our Healer can relieve us. May Allah bless your whole family.

  34. Venus says:

    May Allah give your son Abdullah a full and speedy shif’aa. May He give your family sabr at this time and accept all your du’aas.

    Ameen!

  35. Shazia says:

    Subhan’Allah, this has brought me to tears yet I can’t help reading it over and over again. May Allah bless your son with shifa’a and give him a beautiful life ahead, and may He reward your family for your patience and steadfastness.

    The one line that keeps resonating with me is how enslaving pain and sadness can be. That struck a chord, because indeed it is enslaving how it takes over. May Allah give everyone the opportunity to be relieved of their burdens of sadness as you have Insha’Allah. Thank you for sharing your experience, may Allah bless you and your family infinitely.

  36. Farah says:

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your life like this. Allah alone knows the strength it must have required on your part to describe your family’s anguish. May He swt grant Abdullah complete recovery, and may your family stay together on the path to meeting our Rabb, and together in Jannat-al-Firdaws. Ameen.

  37. Ayesha Akhtar says:

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful journey dear brother. Could not hold my tears back while reading your story. May Allah heal your beloved son, Ameen.

  38. sister says:

    salam to your family brother, May Allah bless your children with health and prosperity

  39. AishahMN says:

    May Allah answer your prayers and heal your son, brother.

  40. Salami says:

    what a touching story, may Allah heal us all from all our inequity and accept our Ibadah. Ameen

  41. msb says:

    First thing first, may Allah bless Abdullah a long, healthy growing life, he enjoys praying with/for his parents, family.

    Hope you finally, found at least one arab ( in the form of the religious guide) who did something good to humankind (read you and your sons) by treating with empathy.

  42. Rukayyat says:

    May Allah heal your son, Abdullah and bless your family with patience. Ameen.

  43. Nn says:

    Brother I beg of you to recite surah baqarah on y our son daily for as long as it takes. I wish I could detail out here everything I have seen and learned..but please don’t leave taking the Quran as a cure.

  44. musa says:

    Masha Allah nice post I was moved by ur story. May Almighty protect us frm shaytan, nd isha Allah U̶̲̥̅̊r purpsoe uf going to th RAWDAH be fulfilled may he guide nd protect U̶̲̥̅̊r family nd the entire muslim ummah Ameen

  45. Khadija says:

    Subahanallah Such a beautiful account, just like so many others- couldn’t hold back tears, may Allah cure your son and give yourl the reward in both worlds for the complete trust and reliance you have upon Him alone.. Ameen
    THANKyou brother for your beautifully written account.

  46. Nida says:

    Beautifully written, jazakallah khayr for sharing your experiences. Let’s pray that every Muslim is able to visit Mecca and Madinah inshallah and also experience the humbleness and perspective it brings to a person.

  47. Ahmed Megahed says:

    MashaAllah Shibli, excellent read. May Allah always protect you and your family and provide shifaa2 to Abdallah inshaAllah.

  48. Irshad Osman says:

    Subhanallah! the timing of this article couldn’t have been better. I say this because Insha Allah I am planning to go to Umrah next year from Canada for the purpose of asking Dua for my second son, who has been diagnosed with Autism.

    I made an intention to go to the house of Allah when the diagnosis came two years ago. But it didn’t materialize. When we noticed a language delay in our third daughter, 16 months old, I saw a dream…I was asking Dua in front of Ka’bah while carrying her in my arms.

    I realized my mistake of not fulfilling my pledge. Allah knows best. Alhamdulillah now the travel arrangements have been made Insha Allah to leave in June.

    I envisioned myself, in your story Br Shibly. May Allah cure Abdullah and reward each member in your family for your patience, care and support!

    I humbly request all of you to ask Allah to cure my son, bless my daughter to come out of this language delay, and to pray for our forgiveness. Also please ask the Rahman to make my journey to the land of Prophet smooth and rewarding.

    Jazakallahu Khairan

  49. Anees says:

    Subhan’Allah, this one made me tear up – and full on crying within, though my cheeks were dry. Inspiring and moving piece to say the least…I pray that Abdullah is Healed and that we all get the chance to pray within the Rawdah and give greetings of peace upon the 3 beloved souls that rest adjacent to it. Ameen!

  50. Aijaz says:

    Loved it till the end. And as a reader it felt amazing when you hugged the Indonesian man amidst all the crowd. I have yet to visit Mecca and Medina and after reading this article I am more eager to go there. May Allah cure your son Abdullah soon.

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