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. Azhar says:

    Beautiful Post! Made tears in my eyes especially when you prayed at Riyadh Al Jannah.
    And secondly, when you looked back at Prophet’s resting place and said the words.”You have, indeed, conveyed the greatest message, O Messenger of God! I will see you at the Wellspring.” I visited back in 2003 I wish I had said that too.

    Me and my family’s prayers are with you.
    May Allah, give cure to your son.

    - Azhar (Dallas)

  2. Seeker says:

    May Allah cure your son, and increase him in knowledge and wisdom.

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