We live in a world where most of us don’t really consider the home a peaceful haven or a sanctuary.
To some, seeking refuge inside one’s home seems overrated, antisocial, and makes one seem reclusive and bereaved from the lively, rambunctious happenings of the outside world. Be it even somebody else’s home, at least it’s away from your own home.
For others, the same liveliness inside their houses leads them wandering outside the confines of their home to grasp a few seconds of sanity, warmth, and well-being. The next best thing for a person in this state is a clichéd sanctuary – probably something along the lines of Barnes and Noble, while sipping Starbucks coffee out of a recycled paper cup, and reading a magazine or a tasteful novel.
I found myself in a similar state of mind late one afternoon, after hurriedly finishing a test in one of my classes.
I walked outside the building to the parking lot, wondering where I’d parked my car when I looked up at the sky and figured that there was still some time before Maghrib. I pictured driving back home, walking inside the house, dodging a few harmless insults from my brother, ignoring my little sister’s pleas to play with her, or pretending to listen to my mother admonish me on my cluttered room.
Why return home this early?
I’d managed to locate my car and drove out of campus, aimlessly zooming around the streets, wondering where to go to unwind and just forget about my whole week. I needed to set aside my realities for just a second. I drove here and there for a while when the sun started to get in my eyes. I was wearing sunglasses, but the blazing fireball was dead straight wherever I turned. I managed to turn into the drive through for a nearby Starbucks and ordered a coffee. Now I needed a place to sit down and relax.
Again I began wandering here and there, looking for a place to sit or just a place where I could park and drink my coffee in the car.
There’s that sun again.
I turned to park three or four different places. All the empty parking spaces seemed to position my car in full view of the blinding, annoying sun. I almost ran into a curb once. I even tried pulling into an apartment complex parking lot without seeming like a trespasser. I couldn’t find a suitable spot there, either.
Turns out, my so-called relaxing drive made me even more irritated. I felt sweaty, my head was throbbing, and I just wanted to get out of the car.
I made a split-second decision and veered my car in the direction of my house. All of a sudden, I was able to see the clear sky, a nice teal. I spent a few seconds admiring the sky when I realized the absence of something.
The sun could no longer blind me. My eyes were no longer burning from the rays shining directly at me.
My eyes were cooled.
Immediately I remembered a du`a’ I learned recently about family – “Oh our Lord, grant us from our spouses and our offspring coolness of the eyes and make us leaders of the pious.”
Coolness of the eyes.
In the direction of my home.
That same coolness brought tears of joy, understanding, and regret at what I’d perceived my home as this whole day. It’s not the house itself; rather, Allah’s blessings lies in the fact that I call it home, for my family. Because of my family.
I hand out advice to my peers and students, seeming as if I’m above it all, but I’m really not. I’d recited this du`a’ to so many people after I’d learned it during Ramadan. But only now do I really understand what it means, because it hit me on a literal level. Subhan’Allah (exalted is He). Who would’ve known?
And as I was shedding those tears of mixed emotions, I made a right turn into my neighborhood. I turned towards my house and saw the sun in my rearview mirror.
It looked beautiful.