It was Friday evening around 6:00, in Masjid Al- haram in Makkah. The Maghrib Azan (Islamic call to prayer) was about to be called. I was rushing to the bathroom to make ablution so I could make it to the congregation, which would start in about 20 minutes’ time. Something strange happened.
I left my husband and my 2 ½ years old daughter to make the ablution while they got a spot to pray, somewhere in the vicinity of Haram. And the worst part of it, I left my phone back home, around 400 kilometers away. We just had to find a meeting spot, where we agreed to meet after the prayers. As I was about to climb the overcrowded escalator that led to the ablution area, I noticed a lanky and visibly sick woman sitting next to it. She appeared so sick that I had to look again and then quickly lowered my gaze. It wasn’t in my habit to look at a stranger in that way. In that haze, I heard a voice, “please help me go to the shop nearby and buy me a blanket. I’m sick and very cold”. The voice said to me whisperingly. When I looked up, I saw the same woman stretching her hands with difficulties and handing over some money to me. Without a second thought, I lean down to collect the money even though I knew I could miss the congregational prayer since Azan was about to be called. Also, I knew I could hardly find a single shop still open, given that it’s not normal to find any shop open, especially near Haram, after the Azan in Saudi Arabia.
I immediately went searching for shops. I tried almost ten nearby shops, as fast as I could, all to no avail. I finally realized I could not get the blanket until after the prayers. I managed to buy a bottle of water for my ablution since it will be difficult to make it upstairs and immediately spread my prayers mat, which I also bought with the water, to catch the last rakaat. Alhamdulillah, I did not miss the congregation. After the prayers, I went back to my search, I headed to a nearby mall, which I was assured to get what I was looking for. Glory be to Allah I found it there.
On arriving back, I met the woman more devastated than I left her. I greeted her with a heavy heart and explained why I couldn’t come back on time as she would desperately be expecting me. She remained silent. She requested me to cover her with the blanket as she laid down on the floor. I did exactly that, trying to make her as comfortable as she would desire.
As I was trying to bid her farewell, she grabbed my hands so much so that I was jerked. “Please forgive me,” she said. I was speechless for some seconds, trying to imagine what could have happened or gone wrong. She repeated the same plea again, her entire body was shaking. “Now, I was confused. “I said some terrible things about you. I gossiped about you,” she confessed. “Would you find a place in your heart to forgive me?” In my confused state, I looked at her and almost didn’t know what to say then uttered, “I’ve forgiven you, old woman. May Allah forgive us all. May He also heal you and give you comfort.” She thanked and prayed for me again and again while I left all smile and dumbfounded.
Even though it still remains unclear to me the unexpected remorse attitude of that woman, my only guess was she thought I left with her money and possibly after giving up cursed me for insincerity. Could that be a work of prejudgment? A question that my husband and I continued to ponder upon while we drove back home.