There was once a bum who lived at the edge of a town, where a very rich Mayor resided. The residents could care less about the bum and lived their happy life on themselves, never caring about each other. No wonder they could hardly know their neighbors, even in the house next door.

The poor man lived alone; his family was nowhere to be found. It was said that he was once a refugee, but no one really knew him. For a living, he had to forage the nearby bushes for wild fruits, sometimes got bitten by critters. It mattered not; he got used to it a long time ago. Although he knew the residents of the town always said bad things about him – as if he was a wizard of some sort – he could care less. They meant no harm upon him, so there’s no point making a ruckus over their bad mouths.

One day, the Mayor himself came over to the place where the bum erected his cardboard shack, shouting aloud angrily. The poor man, who was asleep, woke with a start. Never before had someone come to his place, calling him.

Seeing the Mayor made his heart jump. It was so sudden, and it was so rare. He thought lady luck had finally smiled upon him.

He was wrong.

The bum pranced about towards the Mayor, barefooted. You could see his yellowish teeth as he smiled merrily, as if a blessing had finally showered upon him. He was expecting a warm handshake when he suddenly felt a quick blow at his face. He fell instantaneously. Head-first.

The bum didn’t know it, but blood began to stream down his skinny nose. He was just so shocked to get such a ‘welcoming gift’. He didn’t appear to have realized the two men in black suit who seemed to have been standing by the Mayor’s side from the very beginning.

“Take that! Don’t you know that you have become a nuisance to this residential part of town?” barked the Mayor arrogantly.

Surprised, the bum didn’t get the words. Had he made the biggest sin upon mankind? He shook his head slowly, his head still spinning after the blow that the black-suited bodyguard dealt to him.

“Wh—what have I done?” he asked. Although his shirt and trousers were tattered, his hair untidy, his eyes were clear. Those were the eyes of someone with a pure heart, as pure as snow. He was obviously innocent.

“How could you ask such question?” roared the Mayor. “I’ve had enough with the reports of citizens that claimed their children got injured whenever they played near your – your hideous, unholy place!”

The Mayor’s words took the bum aback. He never did anything bad. Yes, he did try to look for a job in the residential area, but the citizens were just so afraid of him, they didn’t even want to hear a word coming from his mouth. But that was not a bad thing, wasn’t it? In fact, he had struggled to change his fate, which was good, but the people around him were just too selfish to accept a bum.

He didn’t have anywhere else to go. Besides, where he was at the moment was the best place he could think to go. He never forgot to pray everyday to the Almighty to give him the strength to change his own life. He never prayed for a jackpot to hit – only strength. It was his God who kept him alive until now. He was thankful that He gave him the might to continue his life.

“I—I swear, I swear to God! I never did anything bad to them!” stuttered the bum. “I – I just mind my own business, that’s all.”

The Mayor signaled the man in black, and there was another blow, now with a kick at the stomach. It was atrocious. A plump, muscular man, kicking a skinny, scrawny bum! He could do nothing but to yell in pain.

“Swear as many times as you want, but I’ve really had enough,” spluttered the Mayor. “You’re not permitted to be in this area anymore!”

The Mayor turned around, walking towards his black limo. The bum was struggling to his feet, wanting to beg for mercy of the Mayor, when he heard something in the background. As he turned around, he saw several men, tearing his cardboard shack apart. The bum ran towards them, pleading them to stop. But unlucky for him – as soon as he reached the point where his shelter used to stand, it was naught but torn pieces of cardboard. He was powerless to stop them.

Rain started to fall. It began with small droplets that trickled upon the bum who cast his face skyward. It soon got heavier, washing altogether the blood that still streamed endlessly from his nose. He didn’t sigh for what had befallen him just now. He threw his face upward as a sign to beg forgiveness from the Most High, and to plead for the strength, the might to face this hardship.

The men who ‘demolished’ his haven were nowhere to be seen by now. The atmosphere was gloomy, as gloomy as the heart of a frail and weak man. There were several citizens who saw the cruelty just now, but they paid no heed. It was none of their business. From the day onward, they never saw the bum again. He could not do a thing. No one would want to answer his plea. No one was there to care about his needs. No one would fancy doing anything to share his sorrow.

No one but Allah.

 

Two weeks later…

The citizens, who used to get shocked due to the news that the Mayor was involved in a horrible car crash, were calmed. It was said that the crash happened a few days after he ‘evicted’ a bum at the edge of town, but no one was sure about this rumor. The Mayor, however, had recovered a little from severe damage on his internal organs, but remained unconscious for two weeks, more or less.

The Mayor’s private doctor claimed that if he did not regain consciousness within a few days, there was no saying whether he could live to see another day or not. He had to undergo several treatments, but in order to do that, he had to be fully awake.

The Mayor’s siblings, who gathered about his ill fate, called upon renowned, professional physicians around the globe to bring him into consciousness. Lots of money were spent for this, but it was still unlucky for him. No one knew how, after all the medical techniques were applied to the Mayor. It was strange, though, for they said, “Normally, he should have awakened by now. But he doesn’t show any signs of coming into consciousness.”

Some of his brothers connected this bizarre occurrence with the bum, who was said to be a wizard of some sort. They thought he could have casted a spell or two to make their brother in such condition, for a revenge. They happened to know what their brother, the Mayor, had done to the bum for the sake of his own townspeople. In their desperate act to rescue their brother from certain doom, they called the local police to search for the bum.

In the final day, as the doctor said, the brothers got a phone call from the local police, who claimed to have found the exact man whom they were looking for. The bum was said to take shelter under a bridge, just near the edge of town.

As soon as the siblings reached the site, they found the bum bowing down over several pieces of old newspaper. He was performing the Maghrib prayer, but the brothers, who had thought it was some kind of wizardry ritual, rushed for the poor man, even after being advised by the local police not to disturb his prayer.

While the bum was still in a bow, they came kicking his thin, skinny body, non-stop. It could not be told whether the bum was surprised or not by this sudden show of aggression, but it was said that not a word left his mouth – not even a slow yell of pain. They were quick, and even though the police managed to hastily halt the brothers’ act of violence, the bum was already bathed in his own blood.

“What have you done to our brother, you unholy worm?” roared one of them. The bum looked stunned, as if he never heard of what had recently happened.

Almost out of breath, he spoke slowly, “What has happened? Who – who are you guys?”

Thinking that the bum was acting in his own comfort, as if enjoying a show, one of the Mayor’s brothers tried to get loose from the police’s grip, but he failed. Resenting, he snarled, “You son of a –”

The police calmed the situation. One of them explained briefly to the bum of what had happened, and what the brothers had thought of him. It was good to know that the law enforcers sided with none but justice.

Soon, the bum agreed to see the Mayor, only after he finished performing his Maghrib prayer. He didn’t wash his bloodstained clothes. It could be his time, he thought. This might be his final prayer.

Then, he was there, in front of the Mayor he once knew to have ‘evicted’ him from his worthless ‘property’. He looked at everyone in the room – they seemed to be afraid of him. Then, he turned slowly to the Mayor, who was lying motionless on his bed. His eyes were stern, yet unlikely to blink.

It was silent save the grumbling thunder that cracked outside. As in the weather cast, storm was coming that night. The bum closed his eyes. He raised his hands, which were shaking due to lost of blood. His words were slow, but every single soul in that room could clearly hear his plea. Tears started to leak from his eyes.

“O Allah, God of heavens and earth, creator of life and death, I seek Thine forgiveness for my past mistakes. Indeed, I have no grudge against this man, and I have long since forgiven his sins against me. Please, I beg Thine mercy, O Lord, for Thou art the One who grants wishes. This be my last wish: heal this man from his illness, and let him be one of Thine faithful servants. Only Thee do we worship, and only Thine aid we seek.”

The bum finished his prayer, wiping his tears to his face. It was still silent, save the approaching thunder. All of the audiences in the room looked as if petrified. They could only see the bum, limping away slowly from the room, along the long corridor, and to the outside of the mansion. The bum vanished in the heavy rain that gradually fell, as if crying together in his wake.

The people in the room turned to the Mayor, who seemed to have undergone no changes at all. His doom was certain. Even the bum’s prayer could not save him, they thought. The Mayor was flat-lining. He was dead.

They were right. The bum’s prayer could not save the Mayor. The only one who could do so was the One who hears pleas and grants them. Moments after the bum vanished from sight, the Mayor’s eyelids began to flicker. His life-preserving device began to beep and rise from a flat-line. It was a fateful event that set unshakable faith into the soul of those who observed the will of Allah.

The Mayor was brought back to life after being dead for a while. It was a shocking news to the citizens. Yet, they knew nothing of the bum, of where he went after that fateful night. It was said that in his coma, the Mayor dreamed of a man, clad in white. He walked together with the Mayor, on an endless, white path, sharing many stories and knowledge. He realized, in his dream, of what kind of sins he had done to his town and vowed to the man to change the town into righteousness and virtue.

Just a moment before he gained consciousness, it dawned on him that the man was the bum, whom he had humiliated and exiled from his town. He cried aloud and bowed down to the bum’s feet to ask forgiveness from him.

The bum smiled and replied: “Indeed, I have no grudge against you, and I have long since forgiven your sins against me. Please don’t bow down to me. We only bow to Allah, for, only Allah do we worship, and only His aid do we seek.”

Strange enough, the bum’s replies were so similar to those in his prayer. But in His power, nothing is strange. Nothing is impossible.

This is a story, long since forgotten. But forget not, that he who does evil deed will be punished upon what he has done. And the prayer of the weak shall be heard and granted, without one single hindrance (hijab).

 

11:19 PM

Madinat Nasr, Cairo.

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