Poem: I Fell On My Knees

Indonesian woman prays beside a rice paddy.

Written By Eya

I fell on my knees
with a humble heart
seeking forgiveness
and much mercy

For I need him so
for guidance
to begin anew
and remain on the path

In my life and living
I want to change
old habits for happiness
and the love

I seek now and the afterlife
for then it will truly be blissfull
I am an example
of God’s love.

The Good New Days

Beautiful path to the future

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

People often wish for a return to the good old days. First of all, when we look at them objectively, they weren’t really so good. Sure, I have funny and pleasant memories from my youth, but I also remember the confusion and loneliness.

I personally would not trade my life at this moment for my life at any time in the past. Among other things, I now have a beautiful daughter who I love more than life itself; my writing, which has evolved to allow me to express my deepest convictions; and many small blessings that add up to a pot of gold.

Secondly, the old days are called “old” for a reason. That’s the past. We can’t go back.

What we can do is focus on the journey forward.

“Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth, prepared for the righteous; – Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon people;- for Allah loves those who do good; – And those who, having done something to be ashamed of, or wronged their own souls, earnestly bring Allah to mind, and ask for forgiveness for their sins,- and who can forgive sins except Allah….” – Quran, Surat Aal Imran, 3:133-135

This is how we make a better future for ourselves and our families, Insha’Allah. Letting go of anger, forgiving, asking forgiveness, giving to the poor and needy, and racing to Allah. The Almighty has given us the formula. This is how, instead of yearning for the good old days, we create good new days! Our future can be as good as the past ever was; it can be better, brighter and happier.

Let’s build the good new days.

Letter From a Reader # 4

Dandelions blowing in the wind


I came across this wonderful site of yours in search of relief for my own problems, mainly on the subject of forgiving those who have hurt us. I have been reading it for the past hour. Mash’Allah, it has opened my eyes and my heart. May Allah bless you and your efforts to share and spread love.


Saima (fasting in this holy month of Ramadan) from London


Response from Wael:

You’re welcome, sister Saima, I am glad the website helped you. Letters like yours keep me motivated and remind me that what I am doing with this website is needed, Insha’Allah.

You may have seen these already, but here are some posts on the subject of forgiving others and yourself:
Ramadan Mubarak,

When You Forgive, You Live

Valley of forgiveness

In ancient Chinese thought, the state of broadmindedness and forgiveness is like a wide, deep valley.

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

Forgiveness is not for the weak. Being able to forgive those who have wronged you is a mark of spiritual strength and confidence. When you forgive, you grow, your heart begins to heal, your back straightens up, your eyes clear so that you can see the road ahead. Anger is a spiritual sickness; but when you forgive you live.

I know this isn’t easy. In an earlier article I mentioned my time in Fort Worth. There was one particular person there who treated me quite badly. It’s very difficult for me to hold an image of that person in my mind and say, “I forgive you.” It’s almost frightening in some strange way. But in doing it, I feel something in my chest let go, and I find tears in my eyes, and a smile on my face. SubhanAllah.

It doesn’t matter if the other person deserves forgiveness. Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself. If someone has hurt you, don’t worry about receiving an apology or explanation, or making them understand you. You’ll rarely get an explanation that makes sense. In fact, if you want to move on, the best way to do that is to forgive. Resentment is a chain that binds you to the other person, but forgiveness breaks the chain, so that you can release that person along your anger.

Not to mention, as the poet Oscar Wilde said, “Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.”

In ancient Chinese thought, the state of forgiveness is like a wide, deep valley. That’s because it opens your mind and allows your thoughts to flow freely, while anger constricts your mind and makes you blind.

“Hold to forgiveness, command what is right, and turn away from the ignorant.” (Qur’an, 7: 199)

In other words be constantly forgiving but don’t give up your principles (“command what is right”). If you’ve forgiven the ignorant and they persist in their hurtful ways, then move on and leave them behind. Separate yourself from those who are negative, and seek the company of people who are supportive and kind. Hold no rancor. When you lay your head on the pillow, sleep in peace, and you’ll wake with tranquility.

I admit that I’m working on this. It’s easy to say, “I forgive you.” The hard part is getting to a place where my heart is clear, where I have no resentment or fear. At times I hold conflicting emotions: I might love someone, but mistrust them. I think I should take a lesson from my daughter Salma. I make mistakes with her, but her love flows like a mountain stream. No one forgives with more grace than a child, and no one forgives more fully than God.

Let Go of Grudges, for Your Own Sake

Sunrise over the prairie

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

“Pardon them and overlook – Allah loves those who do good.” (Qur’an 5:13)

If we hold grudges, our spirits get stuck like trapped birds. We can’t fly the way we’re supposed to, because our own resentments bind us and hold us down. When you hate someone, they don’t feel it. Only you do. It affects only your own heart, until your heart hardens and your vision narrows, and life loses its joy and zest.

We must forgive each other and forgive ourselves. Let go of resentments from the past. Do it for your own sake, because letting go and forgiving is the only way to be happy.

Whatever others have done against you, let it go. Consign it to Allah, then forgive. Whatever you have done against others, apologize and ask forgiveness, and ask Allah’s forgiveness as well.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was seated in a gathering with the sahabah (his companions) when he looked towards the entrance and said, “A man of Paradise is coming.” At that instance someone who seemed to be very ordinary entered the masjid where they were seated. One sahabi was curious as to why the Prophet had said such a thing about this man, so he followed the man to his house. The sahabi told the man of Paradise that he was a traveler, and was invited to stay as a guest. For three days the sahabi watched the man of Paradise, but he saw nothing unusual in the man’s character or worship. Finally he told the man what the Prophet had said and asked him what was so special about him. The man thought for a long time and said, “There might be one thing — before going to sleep every night I forgive everyone and sleep with a clean heart.”

Mr. Evatt

I went to high school in Saudi Arabia, and I had an American teacher who I really liked. He was my English teacher for two years and his name was Mr. Evatt. He was from Georgia and had long hair and a heavy Southern drawl. He lived in an old neighborhood of Riyadh that was situated on a dusty, rocky hilltop. Every morning our school bus would pick him up, and I always found it amusing when we’d pull up and he’d be standing in the dirt road, smoking a cigarette, his shirt already plastered with sweat at 7 am , and a herd of goats climbing on the rocks all around him. He used to call us students, “wallets”, which was his version of “walad“, which means boy in Arabic. He’d come into the classroom and shout, “Siddown, little wallets!” But was a good teacher and I respected him.

Sometime during the second year, I was passing by the teacher’s lounge and the door was open. I heard a few of the teachers talking about Arabs. I paused outside the door to listen, and I heard Mr. Evatt refer to his students as “sand-ni****s.” I was very hurt. I think it also fueled the beginning of a deep resentment and intolerance in me that lasted for many years. I returned to the USA for college, and for a long time, if I ever found out that one of my non-Muslim friends harbored the least bit of bigotry against Muslims or Arabs, I would cut that person off forever. I had no patience for it.

I also had an increasing sense that I did not belong in American society. I had always been proud of being an American, but while I loved America, America did not seem to love me back. I was turned down for a job because of my religion, openly mocked on a few occasions, visited at home by the FBI, stopped at the airport for questioning and invasive searches… I became restless and unsatisfied with life in America. None of that had anything to do with Mr. Evatt of course, but that insult that he cast on us students represented my first awareness of bigotry; it became, in my mind, a symbol of racism.

My most satisfying times were my trips abroad to Mexico or Costa Rica. Finally I left the USA and emigrated to Panama.

I was happy in Panama. It was a peaceful, beautiful place. The people there had no preconceptions about Arabs and Muslims. I think I was able to finally relax, and breathe easily. I came back to the USA in late 2008 for family reasons, but I’ve realized that somewhere along the road, I let go of the grudges I was holding. I’m more easy going with people now. I have a martial arts teacher who has some anti-Arab ideas, but I am patient with him. Who knows, maybe his interactions with me will help to dispel his stereotypical beliefs. People need to be educated, not condemned. It’s the only way forward. “Pardon them and overlook – Allah loves those who do good.”

It’s so much simpler to extend love to people, and show them the way, rather than react with anger. And it’s better for my own soul. I feel calm now, and balanced. Alhamdulillah. If I could see Mr. Evatt now, I would thank him for being a good teacher. He must have cared about us, or he would not have made the effort. And maybe I would ask him about the statement he made. But I wouldn’t blame him or get angry. I wish him well.

Forgive Yourself

This is important. Forgiveness needs to extend in all directions, even to yourself. Whatever you’ve done against yourself, forgive yourself. Don’t hold grudges against yourself. We humans all make mistakes. “Pardon them and overlook – Allah loves those who do good.”

Don’t call yourself names. You are not stupid, shameful, or useless. Just the opposite! You are bright, special and unique, with a special mission in this life. If you feel that you have been corrupted by sin, then the glory of Islam is that innocence can be yours again, with tawbah. We Muslims don’t believe in original sin. All human beings were created pure, on the fitrah. That is your birthright.

That’s why ‘A’isha reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as having said: “None of you should say: ‘My soul has become evil,’ but he should say: ‘My soul has become remorseless.'”

In other words, your soul has not turned into an evil thing. It is not totally lost. It is just at a point when it is not feeling remorse or sorrow for its actions. But that can be changed! The soul can be softened through prayer, dua’, dikhr (remembrance of Allah), fasting, reciting Quran, doing good to others, and other acts of worship, until your soul once again feels remorse, and can return to a state of purity. SubhanAllah!

Allah knew exactly what He was doing when He made you. If you don’t trust your own judgment, then trust Allah’s.

Tonight, let go of your grudges and sleep with a clean heart. Tomorrow the day is new, and life goes on. You have far to go and much to do. Look ahead, with a sunrise in your eyes.

Forgive Yourself

Yellow sunlight and clouds

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

First, ask Allah for forgiveness. Then, if you’ve harmed someone, ask their forgiveness as well. Do tawbah, then forgive yourself. Don’t carry guilt and shame around in your heart like a poisoned dagger. Constant regret for the past is a waste of spirit.

You are not an angel, nor am I, nor any human being on this earth. It’s part of Allah’s plan that you commit sins, and He forgives you. That’s why He has written that His mercy is greater than His wrath.

Don’t despise yourself. Forgive yourself. It’s okay to let go of the past. Self respect and dignity come from who you are right now. You have a good soul, or you would not be here, reading these words.

Tomorrow is a new day. Wake up and thank Allah, and do your best every day. Have faith in Allah’s love and mercy, and reflect that in your actions toward others. Be peaceful, and strive to be happy.

If you did not commit sins

Round hay bales on a farm

By Wael Abdelgawad for IslamicSunrays.com

The Messenger of Allah (sal-Allahu alayhi wa-sallam – peace be upon him) said, “If you did not commit sins, Allah would sweep you out of existence and replace you by another people who would commit sins, ask for Allah’s forgiveness and He would forgive them.” (reported by Muslim). This may sound odd at first – does Allah want us to sin? The answer is no, He does not want us to sin, but He knows that we will, and He wants us to ask forgiveness, to return to Him, and to know that He is always there ready to welcome us back.

That’s part of Allah’s plan for us. Allah created us with a certain nature, and the essence of that nature is free will, and a consequence of that is that we commit sins, and if we are believers then we repent and return to Allah. That is the part that Allah loves: the repentance, the voluntary return.

Allah did not create us to be angels. He already had uncounted angels to do His bidding. Creatures of light, they hear and obey, perfect in their compliance because they lack free will.

But Allah wanted to bring something different into the universe: a creature of free will, submitting to Allah out of choice. Worship and faith freely given are infinitely more valuable than that which is done without volition. The flip side is that a creature of free will can commit sins; he can be destructive and rebellious. The sweet and the bitter are two inseparable expressions of human nature. The hope is that righteousness and obedience will predominate.

Allah tells us in the Quran 2:30, of the time long ago when He informed the angels that He would create humanity:

“And [mention, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I will make upon the earth a khalifah (successive authority/agent/trustee).” They said, “Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?” Allah said, “Indeed, I know that which you do not know.”

The scholars have said, by the way, that the jinn had already been created on earth and had caused much mischief, and that’s why the angels thought to ask the question about corruption and bloodshed.

Notice that Allah did not answer the angels by saying, “No, the humans beings will not cause trouble.” He said, “I know that which you do not know.”

In other words, yes, this khalifah might indeed fail in his duty, he might cause corruption and shed blood, but there is something special about him that warrants his creation anyway; something that justifies his existence. There’s another aspect to him, something noble and even heroic.

When a person does a terrible thing, for example murders a child, some people say, “How could God allow this to happen?” This question expresses a misunderstanding of the relationship between Allah and humanity. Allah does not want us to sin. He gives us guidance and commands us not to do evil. But if He were to physically interfere and stop human beings from hurting each other, He would effectively abolish our free will, and we would no longer be human. We would be angels, or we’d be creatures of pure physicality like trees and stars, worshiping Allah through conformity to the natural laws of the universe. To take away our free will would be to strip us of our potential for true piety, bravery and even love. Would you really want to live in a universe without love? What a terrible loss that would be.

So here we are, creatures of choice. Earnest but obstinate. We mess up. We betray ourselves and others, we do terrible things, we feel sadness, shame and regret.

What is Allah’s attitude toward this? He condemns the sins we commit, but He waits for us to repent, and when we do He welcomes us. If we go to Him crawling, He comes to us walking, and if we go to Him walking, He comes to us running, as the Prophet (pbuh) reported in a famous Hadith Qudsi:

“Allah says, ‘I am just as My servant thinks I am, and I am with him if he remembers Me. If he remembers Me in himself, I too, remember him in Myself; and if he remembers Me in a group of people, I remember him in a group that is better than them; and if he comes one span nearer to Me, I go one cubit nearer to him; and if he comes one cubit nearer to Me, I go a distance of two outstretched arms nearer to him; and if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running.’ “ [Sahih Al-Bukhâri, 9/7405 (O.P.502)].

People write to me (personally or through IslamicAnswers.com) and they say, “I have done terrible things, Allah will never forgive me, I am doomed to Hell, I feel like committing suicide.”

This way of thinking is completely wrong. Allah will forgive you. He loves to forgive. That’s why the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) used to ask Allah’s forgiveness seventy times every day even without committing any sin (SubhanAllah!). You are not doomed. You must not take your own life, for that is the ultimate irrevocable sin.

Who do you imagine Allah is speaking to when He says,

“O my servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah. Verily, Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Quran 39:53).

He is speaking to you, and to me, and to every one of us.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, One who sincerely repents of his sin is as if he had never committed it. When Allah loves one of His servants, his sins do not harm him. Then he (the Prophet pbuh) recited the verse: ‘Assuredly, Allah loves the oft-repentant and those who always seek to purify themselves.”“

Don’t kill yourself over your past mistakes. I mean this literally and figuratively. Never think that Allah will not forgive. Allah knows that we are creatures prone to sin. He knew it even before He created Adam and Hawaa, but He had His own plan for us, and part of that plan is forgiveness.

Remembering a Friend Who Died Badly, and Moving Beyond Blame

South San Francisco the Industrial City

By Wael Abdelgawad for IslamicSunrays.com

I had a good friend who died badly. I would like to remember him fondly, to remember the good times we had together, but I cannot think of him without hating myself for not trying to save him. Let me tell you about him, so that you can know what a good man he was, and how he helped me.

I arrived in San Francisco on an afternoon flight from DFW on July 27, 1992. I was twenty seven years old, and I’d been away for many years.

Coming up Highway 101 in the back of a Yellow Cab, I saw the fog flowing down the face of Mt. San Bruno. I saw the big sign etched on the jutting mountain: “South San Francisco: The Industrial City.” Home, I was home after so long. The joy in my heart was like a shout and I couldn’t contain it. I laughed out loud, right there in the back seat of the cab. I saw the driver looking at me in the rear view mirror like I was a crazy man. I just looked out the window and smiled.

I hadn’t walked San Francisco’s boulevards in a long time. There seemed to be more trash than I remembered, and many more homeless people and panhandlers. I no longer had friends in the Bay Area, so after a short stretch at a halfway house I went to the YMCA on Golden Gate, in the heart of the Tenderloin, and rented a room for $100 a week. It was a tiny space, so small I could stretch my arms out and almost touch both walls.

I wasn’t sure what kind of work I would do, maybe something with computers, as I had picked up assorted computer skills over the years. I really wanted to work with homeless and runaway youth, and I made the rounds of all the shelters and special schools in the city. I’d bought a new bicycle so I could get around, and I rode to youth shelters in every part of town, from the Richmond to Bayview. But Reagan’s “trickle-down”, steal-from-the-poor-and-give-to-the-rich idiocy had done its dirty work. No one was hiring, no one had any funds, and in fact many of them were cutting staff.

My friend Joe

My friend Joe "Zippy" Strauss - San Francisco. Born April 16, 1964, died November 4, 1996 of a heroin overdose. Joe worked for Crosstown (a messenger company) and previously worked at ProMess, Pete's, and Shotgun. Survived by parents, his wife Tara, and his son Shane.

I had met a young man by the name of Joe, a thin but handsome fellow with happy eyes and a burst of (dyed) blond hair. We had become good friends. He was in a halfway house on Taylor Street, in the sleaziest part of the Tenderloin, where he’d been sentenced for a few months for drunk driving. He was a gentle man, quiet, with a good heart and a good mind, but he had a problem with booze. His driver’s license had been suspended, but he got around pretty well on a big yellow mountain bike. The halfway house staff would Breathalyze him every day, so he wasn’t drinking.

In the evenings I’d meet Joe for dinner, and we’d talk. I’d tell him about my years as a wanderer, and about my current job search. He would listen attentively, occasionally making a comment or sympathetic remark. He was genuinely interested in everything I had to say.

Finding a friend who truly listens and cares is, I think, like finding a 24-carat gold nugget on the sidewalk.

Joe suggested that I take a job as a bike messenger until I found something better. I didn’t know anything about it, but Joe was a dispatcher for a messenger company, so he knew the business inside and out. It sounded like fun. Joe told me exactly where to go to get hired, and before a week was out I was grunting and sweating as I hauled packages up every hill in San Francisco. The wages were paltry, and I kept getting hurt, but Joe gave me a lot of valuable tips, and I persevered, and eventually I came to love it more than any job I’d ever done.

In those first several months in the City I experienced a lot of ups and downs, and I’m not only talking about the hills of San Francisco. Joe was a wonderful friend. He comforted me through the bad times, and shared the pleasure of my successes. Until one day when he failed his Breathalyzer test and was put in jail and extradited to Baltimore, his home town, as a parole violator.

Joe would often call me collect from the Baltimore jail, and I was always happy to talk to him. I realize, writing this, that he probably sounds like a terrible guy, a real loser, but that wasn’t how I saw him at all. He had a kind soul.

Joe’s Return and New Family

He was released a year later, and it was a great day for me. We’d both changed. I had developed from a struggling rookie to one of the best messengers in San Francisco, and then to a dispatcher, and I helped Joe get a job at the company I worked for, Professional Messenger. The irony wasn’t lost on me.

I had rented a small studio apartment on Market Street, and was trying to save money to start my own business. Twice a week I volunteered with a local center for homeless youth, doing outreach to the street kids, trying to get them into the center and back with their families when appropriate.

Joe had gained a little weight, and when I mentioned it he told me it was a result of quitting heroin. I was shocked. I had no idea. How naive I was. Joe told me that heroin had been his lifelong nemesis. He said that the bliss that he had experienced from heroin dwarfed every other pleasure in his life, and that it would always haunt him. He still thought about it every day and always would, like a lover he could never forget. But he’d been clean for a while, and like a fool I trusted that he had “beat” it. Or maybe I didn’t know how to talk to him about it.

As a Muslim, I was doing my salat (my prayers), but I was at a weak point. I had few Muslim friends in S.F. The masjid was far from my house, a 40 minute bike ride uphill to the Outer Mission. It was difficult being on my own in that way. I’d work hard all day long, blazing up and down the city streets, covering tens of miles in one day, and I’d do my salat on my breaks, on any sidewalk or parking lot where I happened to be. Then I’d go home to my tiny studio apartment and write, write, write. I’d pour out my heart in short stories and poetry.

Joe and his son, a few days before Joe died

Joe and his son at the Pumpkin Festival, a few days before Joe died

Joe settled in. He had a girlfriend who loved him, and before long they had a baby boy. They rented a nice loft South of Market. They were making a life for themselves.

Drug use is common in the messenger subculture, and I’d occasionally see Joe hanging in front of Harvey’s Liquors with a bad crowd. I worried, but I’ve never been one to pry. If a friend wants to share, great, but if not then I mind my own business.

And I tended to see Joe in an artificially smooth light, I think. He’d always been so compassionate and wise with me, that it was hard for me to switch our roles and be his advisor. Now I look back and I think that I was such a rotten friend. He gave me so much, and when it counted I gave him nothing in return.

Maybe I should have shared the deen (the Islamic way of life) with Joe. I should have reached out to him. Isn’t that the true meaning of friendship, to care not only for a person’s physical well being, but for his wounded, immortal soul?

But I needed help myself. Although I was prospering in my work, I was in a lot of pain internally, struggling to come to terms with traumatic experiences from my past. I needed someone to reach an arm to me, and in my state I didn’t perceive Joe’s inner needs.

The Last Time I Saw Him

In 1996 I ran into Joe at the Pumpkin Festival on Polk Street. His girlfriend and son were there, and I took pictures of all three. His little boy was just beautiful, a very happy and handsome kid with blue eyes and willowy blonde hair.

Joe’s mother, who I had never met before, was there too, and I told her how much I respected and admired Joe, and how good he’d always been to me. I bought an Australian cowboy hat, and Joe told me it looked very hip. He insisted that I should come see their new apartment on Folsom Street, that it was very cool.

A week later a friend approached me as I was sitting on the Wall downtown, where all the messengers stand by between runs. He told me that Joe had overdosed on heroin, and was dead.

You know how people say, “If you could do it over again, what would you differently?” I’ve made some awful mistakes in my life, and if I could turn the clock back I could save myself a lot of hardship.

But I don’t care about that. There’s only one thing I want to change. I want to wind the clock back to October 1996, to a sunny autumn day at a street fair on Polk Street, where my friend Joe is still alive and is watching his son ride the little train in the kiddy carnival. I want to say, “Hey, Joe, what’s going on with you? You know I love you. If there’s anything wrong in your life I want you to tell me about it. You’ve been so good to me, and now I want to give a little back. Look around you, Joe. You’ve got so much to live for.”

I’m not naive enough to think that I could have solved Joe’s problem when his own beautiful family couldn’t. But maybe if I could go back just long enough to say those words, then I could live with what came after, and I could stop hating myself for failing my friend in the worst way, and I could take my Australian cowboy hat out of the closet, put it on my head, and remember the good times I had with Joe.

Wael Abdelgawad, February 1999
Oakland, California

Postscript: Moving Beyond Blame

I wrote the piece above over ten years ago. It has taken me almost these entire ten years to learn to forgive myself. I still sometimes see someone on the street who looks like Joe, and I have a moment of excitement, then I remember that he is gone. But I don’t blame myself anymore. I made a mistake, but I’m not responsible for Joe putting a needle in his arm. With everything he had to live for, he had no excuse. If having a family, friends and freedom wasn’t enough of a joy for him, then it’s unlikely that anything I said would have made a difference.

I don’t want to blame Joe either. He lost the battle against his internal demons, and that’s enough for me to say. I still love him. I guess I’ve gotten beyond blame, to a place of understanding or acceptance. I’m able to think of Joe with gratitude, and with no bitterness or regret to color it. I originally titled this piece, “Trying to Remember the Good Times”, but if I had written it today I might call it, “Remembering a Kind Soul.”

That’s the miracle and glory of the human heart. That is one of the countless blessings of Allah. He gives us hearts that heal, and spirits that forgive, and Time, our dear friend, who carries away all wounds in the gentle sweep of its current.

“Allah said: ‘Sons of Adam inveigh against [the vicissitudes of] Time, but I am Time, in My hand is the night and the day.’” (hadith qudsi, agreed upon)

If Allah is Time, and Allah is Ar-Rahman ir-Raheem (The Merciful and Mercy-Giving), then time is  a mercy and a blessing. The passage of time is a balm and a cure.

I try to do better now in reaching out to anyone I care about who might be in pain. I try to express something about the deen to the non-Muslims in my life. I don’t preach, but I share my enthusiasm for Islam in small ways, and I offer a perspective that includes Allah.

If I could go back, what would I do differently? I have come to realize that the question serves no purpose. The Polk Street festival is a memory, a day in history, an image on a fading photo. Agonizing over it does not help.

A better question is, what will I do differently today? What will I do differently tomorrow, when the California sun comes up blazing, and the world is new again, and I am blessed beyond belief with another opportunity to redeem my soul, and to love my family and friends, and to prostrate to Allah, and to change the world? What will I do differently then?

That’s all that matters.

“And put your trust in Him Who lives and dies not; and celebrate His praise; and enough is He to be acquainted with the faults of His servants.” – Quran, 25:58

Wael Abdelgawad, June 15, 2010
Fresno, California

Door of Mercy is Open at Dawn

Early dawn, Venus in the sky

Early dawn and Venus in the sky

On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said:

Our Lord (glorified and exalted be He) descends each night to the earth’s sky when there remains the final third of the night, and He says: Who is saying a prayer to Me that I may answer it? Who is asking something of Me that I may give it him? Who is asking forgiveness of Me that I may forgive him?

It was related by al-Bukhari (also by Muslim, Malik, at-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud).

In a version by Muslim the Hadith ends with the words:

And thus He continues till [the light of] dawn shines.


A poet wrote about this with the following couplet:

At every early dawn I hear this call:

the door of mercy is open, come one, come all.

Ask forgiveness and find relief

Clouds over Lake Ponchartrain Louisiana

The Messenger of Allah (peace bu upon him) said, “If anyone continually asks forgiveness, Allah will appoint for him a way out of every distress, relief from anxiety, and will provide for him from where he never realized. – Abu Dawood, Hadith 599

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Pieces of a Dream