س: The Nine-Year-Old Football-Loving, Sarcastic, Authority-Questioning Poet. And Tahajjud: The Arrow that Never, Ever Misses.

.بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

The last third of the night, just before Fajr: this is when Allah is sure to answer your Du’as.

Whatever you ask for: be it clarity, or answers, or a thing, or success in something… at this fine time, Allah accepts requests. [And you might find miracles unravel, within your life, as a response. Sometimes on the very same day! And sometimes… whenever the time is right.]

So, if you find yourself awake at that time (or, you can set yourself an alarm) know that you are likely being invited to this ‘banquet’. Ask, and you shall certainly receive from your Lord, the One who created you.

[You can either face in the Qiblah direction, and just make Du’a… Put your hands together, and pray in any language.

Or, you can pray in two-Raka’at intervals; even just two Raka’at is fine. And then make your Du’as afterwards.]

Generally, it’s accepted that in response to your Du’a: it either gets accepted and answered as is. Or, it is accepted but delayed slightly (for good). Or, the third option: you receive something better than what you ask for.

Ask, even, for the seemingly ‘impossible’!

Recently, my little brother, the one and only Saif ‘Salah Junior’ Ahmed, had written a poem at school. A professional ‘poetry mentor’ called Zohab had been working with Saif’s class. And my brother’s poem, along with a handful of others in his class, had been selected to enter into an inter-school competition, and to be performed on stage.

A pen with my brother’s name on it, from when he went to Makkah/Medina recently. His name means ‘sword’, and the pen really can be a sword…

I really love the poem he wrote. I think it conveys a sense of him: his energy, his individual ways of thinking, his love for his cat…

And, these things, perhaps especially when it comes to kids, are not about ‘winning’, per se. As trite as it may sound: the value, there, is not about ‘winning’, ultimately, but about… taking part, enjoying oneself, learning about oneself (e.g. Saif likes poetry now. He’s said that it’s been his favourite part of Literacy, at school). He got to perform alongside some of his friends, and so on.

Okay, but I also sort of, hopefully without putting unhelpful pressure on him, wanted for him to win. To come away with a tangible sense of accomplishment, and so on, a boost to his literary confidence, and a reason to feel very happy after the event.

Early that morning (i.e. ‘just before Fajr’,) I had managed to wake up for Tahajjud. I think I’d prayed for something else, and then I had also prayed for this: for my little brother to win the poetry competition.

[Saif is currently doing a ‘Law’-themed wordsearch, using a purple (his favourite colour) pen. I point out that he calls me a ‘nerd’ (projection, much?), but he’s doing a wordsearch

He runs away.

Now I kind of want to cry, because I can’t help but love this human so much, Allah hummabārik. I find that he’s labelled, at the bottom of the pages, in his wordsearch book, whom to do his wordsearches with. So: some say, in his adorable old handwriting, ‘With Mum’. Some say, ‘With Dad’. Some say, ‘With Sister‘ [me!], and some of them say, ‘By myself’. Sometimes I worry that he hates me, but I also know he doesn’t.

The ‘love languages’: quality time. Touch. Words. Acts of service. And, gifts. And the sixth, apparently, according to one of my students, is ‘death threats’. I, personally, would have to disagree with that ‘sixth’ one…

I really think baby brother dearest, ‘too cool for me’, almost-perpetual-gangsta-mode, loves, among other things, people spending ‘quality time‘ with him.]

Saif did not end up coming first in that inter-school poetry competition. A girl from his class had written a (really nice, Maa Shaa Allah) poem including things like: comparing London’s red buses to ladybirds on leaves, and riverboats to dolphins, and she had won.

In moments like this, when one is left questioning why a Du’a might not have come true… What to do? You might feel inclined to start questioning things like… whether you are ‘good enough‘ to have your prayers answered. Or, maybe… Allah had been protecting him from something (like… developing unhealthy pride or something) by seemingly ‘not accepting’ that Du’a that I had made.

But, actually:

I think it had been the very next day that I had received an email. I receive these emails from this big children’s poetry organisation as a result of my time, last academic year, as an English teacher [long story, but Qadr, Alhamduli Llah].

The company had been sharing out information for an upcoming competition. The theme of this competition (for seven-to-eleven-year-olds) had been connected with the theme of my brother’s poem! A sign from Allah? Why, of course, of course, of course.

So I, being the try-hard I sometimes am, decided to submit his poem for this competition. And this is the poetry competition that Allah had chosen for my brother to win in! Tahajjud prayer come true:

Out of roughly 10,000 entries, apparently, Saif ‘Salah Junior’ Ahmed’s poem is among one of those that has been selected… to appear in a published poetry anthology soon, In Shaa Allah.

Maa Shaa Allah, Allah hummabārik.

Interview with a poet, then:

Saif needed help with opening up a plastic water bottle. He refused to answer my first question: “Open it first.” We (I mean I) approve of individuals who do not blindly accept authority. Even if it’s to my own disadvantage at times.

“Ah, you broke it.”

“Sorry.”

“I’m not telling you. HA!”

“And, how did it feel to perform it?”

“Err… scary.

“Really?!”

“Yeah.”

“But did you enjoy it?”

“Yeah.”

“Can I write that?”

“Yeah.”

“And how do you feel about being a published [poet]?”

Good.”

Fin.

So, Tahajjud, then: the arrow that never misses. And, my baby brother: a key occupant of my heart, and a gift from way up above: the nine-year-old (to-be-published, In Shaa Allah) poet. He is my baby child, and I: am in undying love.

[And, if it feels like your hands are being left empty, like something is being ‘held back’ from you… Know that your Lord is going to return you with better. Though: you might just have to wait a little while…]

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