I was waiting behind a car at a red traffic light when I suddenly noticed a white, furry little puppy staring at the main street from the sidewalk. I held my breath as I found my initial interest quickly turn into distress as it heaved itself through my lane and onto the other side of the road. I sat stiffly, hoping it would jump onto the sidewalk before the light turned green for oncoming traffic. I was afraid it would be stuck, frozen from fear and confusion, unable to move out of the path of fast-moving cars. But there it stopped, in the middle of the lane, staring frightfully at the now oncoming traffic.
I started praying. I didn’t know what to do. If I put my emergency lights on, got out of the car and tried to grab the puppy, I was putting my own life and the lives of other drivers in danger. I sat, helpless, debating, watching the oncoming traffic in trepidation. Suddenly, as if God sent an angel to buffer the puppy from its inevitable end, the first cars approaching the puppy began to slow and almost came to a stop. In that split moment, the driver in the car in front of me jumped out of his vehicle and ran across to the other lane and I jumped out at his heels. Together, we chased the incredibly fearful puppy to the opposite side of the road and into its original neighborhood, out of immediate harm’s way. The oncoming traffic continued on, the driver in front of me gave a little wave and drove off and I jumped back into my car, aiming to pick the puppy up and figure out where he belonged. While chasing the puppy, I had seen a tag on his neck. I now knew this was someone’s beloved pet that likely ran off and I wanted to see if I could get him home.
As I parked, the puppy stared at me. I got out of my car and went to gently scoop it up and it allowed me to hold it, seeking refuge in my embrace. It was clearly shaken. I saw another woman walking her dog and asked if she knew to whom this puppy belonged. She pointed to a house a little further down the street. I started in that direction, knowing I should first call the number on the little doggy tag, but unable to do so out of concern for him running away if I put him down. As I neared the home, I saw a truck in the driveway and realized a man was just walking out. I approached, greeted and asked if it was his puppy.
It wasn’t his; this wasn’t the right home. But he helped me settle the puppy onto the ground so we could read the number on his collar and give the owner a call. I called; no answer. I left a message and then started talking to the gentleman, trying to figure out an action plan.
“I can just keep him here with me,” he offered. He was working on remodeling this home; it was not his, but he would be there the entire day. He had a dog at home and he knew how to take care of them. “Just call the number back and leave a message with my cell phone. When they get home, tell them to call me and I can drop the puppy off.”
I was grateful for his offer; I had been on my way to work and by this time, I really needed to leave in order to get there on time. I thanked him, said good-bye to Peanuts, headed to my car and started driving to work. My mind kept replaying the events which had just unfolded; I was in awe of the decree of Allah subhanhau wa ta’ala (glorified is He).
I never leave for work at that time in the morning. I usually leave almost two hours later, but for the only day of that entire year, I was expected to come in at an earlier time. I had planned to leave the house twenty minutes later than I actually did, but that morning, my husband realized he had parked my car on the side where there would be street cleaning that specific morning, which meant that I would have to move my car twenty minutes prior to the time I had originally planned to leave. I always get on the nearest freeway to get to work. But that morning, as I got into my car, I realized I needed gas. I contemplated getting gas at the station closest to the freeway entrance, but if I did, I would face extra traffic surrounding that specific gas station. Thus, I thought it wiser to simply go straight and take an alternative route which was near another gas station and close to another freeway entrance.
If any of those things had been different, if I had no reason to be at work early, if my husband remembered to park my car on the opposite side of the street, if I had enough gas… I would not have been in the place of seeing that puppy, at that specific period of time. I kept considering the power of the decree of Allah ‘azza wa jall and the way in which He uses many types of His creation in order for His will to be accomplished.
If the cars in oncoming traffic had not slowed down, the driver in front of me would have been in the same trepid predicament I had been; if the driver in front of me hadn’t gotten out of his car, I would not have been able to jump out alone because there would have been no buffer between my car and those in front or behind me. If we had not chased the puppy to safety together, the puppy could have run into another lane and faced his ultimate end. If the woman had not pointed me to the direction of that particular home—the wrong home—I would have never met the man who worked there who just happened to already have a dog and know how to take care of them, who was willing to invest his day taking care of this puppy in order to ensure it would eventually be delivered home in safety.
Small changes in my original plan for the day caused what I understood as minor inconveniences. However, in Allah’s greater plan, the “inconveniences” were perfect pieces of a greater plan to ensure a puppy’s life would be spared and to ensure that the owner of the puppy would receive this beloved member of its home back that day.
There are two major lessons I took from this short experience:
- Good deeds can only fully be appreciated by Allah (swt), even when no one else knows the names or the faces of those working.
- At the end of the day, the man who delivered the puppy was the hero. He brought the puppy to its home, he was the one thanked by the owner, he was the face and name who will be remembered by the owner who recognized and appreciated his effort. However, there were a number of others who played a small part in ensuring the puppy would be brought to safety; the cars who slowed, the man who jumped out of his vehicle, the woman who pointed to the direction of the house—each person had a small part without which the bigger pieces would not have come together.
- Just as there were many people who took part in the successful return of the puppy, there have been countless unknown names and faces which have played major roles in ensuring the successes of incredible missions in the past and present. While we celebrate names like Salahuddin (may God’s mercy be upon him), there were countless heroes who stood behind, in front, and with him in his efforts. We may not know who they are, but without them, Salahuddin may have never come into existence. Likewise, we may simply be the Maryams and the Omars who no one really knows or will remember once we’re gone, but our deeds, however small or large, will always be recorded and remembered with Al Hafidh (The Recorder) and we will reap the benefits in both this life and the next.
- The All-Powerful has the ability to change the course of events in each one of our lives in order to save or bring incredible benefit or joy to the life of another.
- The changes in my day had been divinely decreed for the sake of taking part in rescuing a puppy and brining joy back to its concerned owner. Allah (swt) changed my day to help a small creature of His creation. What about the way He subjugates everything in the heavens and earth to rescue His worshippers, His adamant slaves? How many times has He saved us from our own selves? How many more times will His incredible power manifest itself in our lives again?
Allah (swt) asks us to think critically, reminding us, “Have you not seen that Allah has subjugated for you what is in the heavens and what is on the earth, and has perfected His blessings on you, both outward and inward?” (Qur’an 31:20). Allah (swt) has the ability to change the life-paths of others to bring incredible benefit or joy to our own lives. If He wills it, nothing will stop it and everything can be subjugated to make it happen.
Allah (swt) tells us, “And if Allah should touch you with adversity, there is no remover of it except Him; and if He intends for you good, then there is no repeller of His bounty. He causes it to reach whom He wills of His servants. And He is the Forgiving, the Merciful,” (Qur’an 10:107).
Allah (swt) changed the course of my day to help a puppy, a creature amongst His endless creation. Would He then not, The Most Merciful, The Loving, The Generous, The Forbearing, not subjugate everything in the heavens and earth to bring endless blessings to yours?
“So flee to Allah…” (Quran 51:50)