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The Play Dough


She stared at the play dough in her hands. The different colours reminded her of the rainbow that her father had shown her just the day before. She was only four years old and doctors had given up hope of her motor-skills ever returning to her since that ghastly accident two years ago. Pushing the curls away from her eyes, she miraculously began pulling at it: twisting, rolling and shaping it into the house ... the house that she would always tell her father about whilst sitting on his lap and swinging in their sun-filled veranda. He would always twirl her baby-soft hair around his fingers and say:

“Darling, the happiest day of my life will be when you build me a house with your play dough.”

That evening, a plastic toy box lid lay on the doorway holding a house whose blue roof was ready to cave in, whose red walls were set in a shape other than a square, whose green door leaning on the wall appeared more like a warrior’s shield than a door. She waited in the guest room hiding behind the curtain until she heard the car pull into the driveway. The door banged, the alarm clicked and the sounds of footsteps crunching the gravel pounded her ears as he jingled his keys in his pocket to open the door.

Ah! It was a sight sweeter than the sweetest honey, more fragrant than the richest perfume, the dawning of a new era in the future of his baby, a sight that pieced together his shattered hopes, a sign that her neuro-motor-skills were slowly returning to her.

He shouted out for her. She stood behind the curtain grinning from ear to ear unable to contain her laughter, her pink shoes with their white bows peeping out from beneath. She let out a small giggle, then a bigger one until she burst out laughing. He rushed into the room and cried ‘I caught you!’ She ran out from the curtain into his strong arms which lofted her to the ceiling, spinning her around. He hugged her and tears of joy streamed down his cheeks and soaked his beard.

What joy and excitement! What happiness and elation! What delight!

All because of the SOFT dough!!!

Had the dough not been soft and pliable the house would never have been built and the return of her skills never proven. If the dough was hard and tough, her father may have never seen this joyous day. The pleasures of life lie in being soft and submissive, in being meek and obedient.

A cake can only be baked if the egg eventually cracks, the egg white allows itself to be whipped, the sugar granules slowly dissolve, the flour allows itself to mix and the chocolate eventually melts ... A car can only be built if the steel eventually softens and becomes a panel, the rubber allows itself to be moulded into a tyre, the petrol eventually burns to provide energy and the parts allow themselves to be restricted and bolted to one place ... and the list goes on and on.

Analyse the list of words in these examples: soft, pliable, crack, whipped, dissolve, melt, soften, mould, burn, restricted and bolted. Every single one of them indicates toward the meek nature and submissive character of the dough, the cake and the car. The pleasures and enjoyment of this world are the same. They could have only come about when someone or something was submissive.

Attaining the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala is the very same. It requires total commitment, loyalty and submission to the commands of Allah Ta’ala and the Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam). It calls upon us to be soft and pliable, to be cracked and whipped, to dissolve, melt and soften, to burn, to be moulded, to be restricted and to be bolted. It demands that we be totally meek and submissive to his laws without any hesitation or reluctance.

This was the hallmark in the life of Sayyidah Haajar (alaihas salaam). When Nabi Ibrahim (alaihis salaam) brought Sayyidah Haajar (alaihas salaam) to the barren land of Makkah Mukarramah, she was, bluntly speaking, staring at her destruction. Such a land stretched out before her eyes, where there was no soul to be seen or even heard, where nothing edible grew ... a land that outwardly promised no future. She was, however, fully aware of the fact that this was the command of Allah Ta’ala brought to her by the Nabi of Allah Ta’ala. The command of Allah Ta’ala and the way of His messenger as a rule is never beyond a person’s ability. All it requires is a bit of courage in the beginning. Then the road opens up. 

The response of Sayyidah Haajar (alaihas salaam) to this command of Allah Ta’ala is worthy of being written in gold and etched onto the heart of every Believer. Her words echoed the very mindset that made her a celebrated member of a family chosen by Allah Ta’ala. She said:

“How will Allah Ta’ala ever destroy us when we submit wholeheartedly to His decree? I am happy with the command of Allah Ta’ala.”

“It does not befit a believing man or woman when a matter has been decided by Allah Ta’ala and His Rasul (alaihis salaam), to have any option about their decision.” (Surah Ahzaab v 36)

Put the Horse Before the Cart

Submission entails that a person follows deen objectively. At every moment one should be maintaining the purity of the sharee’ah, without looking for any short-cuts or guise. Rephrasing the words, re-interpreting the meaning and altering the context of deen to suit our convenience would be equal and akin to putting the cart before the horse. 

The journey of Islam would never start in that event.