Two Unexpected Great Blessings in One Night

Rain in date palms As-salam ‘alaykum wa rahmatullaah,

 And it is He Who sends the winds as heralds of glad tidings, going before His Mercy (rain). Till when they have carried a heavy-laden cloud, We drive it to a land that is dead, then We cause rain to descend thereon. Then We produce every kind of fruit therewith. Similarly, We shall raise up the dead, so that you may remember or take heed. (Al-A’raf 7:57) 

Being a French/Ojibway boy from Northern Ontario, Canada, I grew up with the rain. Sometimes it would rain for five days of a seven day week and sometimes it would rain so hard the drops would come down and actually sting a little, but not from hail or sleet, from the sheer force of the wind. Lightning would cackle and crack with deafening roars often louder than Grandpa’s shotgun or high-powered moose rifle.

I always loved the rain. As a kid, I once ran out of the house with a friend to play in such a rainstorm and was gone for two hours. We ran to a low area of the creek near our house and watched the creek’s waters bulge as we swam and splashed in the water. Hey, we had no pools then, and the creek coupled by the storm’s force gave us our own wave pool before we ever knew what a wave pool was. We imagined we were white water rafters as we frolicked about. My stepfather caught up to me though. My two hour white water adventure earned me a serious whooping by a man who liked to whoop on me. I got beat for about 30 minutes and had to kneel down, bare-kneed on the sharp squared ventilation vent until my knees bled and my legs shook. Eventually, I’d fall off of it from fatigue only to be whooped back into the kneeling position. You might hardly think it was worth it, but in a household with an abusive alcoholic stepfather who was going to beat on you anyway, you took measured chances. If I had to go back, I’d do it all over again, except maybe I’d pick a better hiding spot.

I was in Barrie, Ontario when the tornado hit on May 31st 1985. I was home alone babysitting my brother and sisters when I heard the wind getting sucked out of the windows in a howling Wooooooo sound. The phone rang and my mother was on the line,

“Hell of a storm, eh Mom?” I responded to her hello. (Yes, I am Canadian, but I don’t say ‘eh’ anymore.)

I was told to take my brothers and sisters in the basement and put them near a corner. I did what I was told, but then went outside to see how hard it was raining. The second I stepped out the door I was as wet as if I had jumped into a swimming pool. The raindrops seemed so massive that only two of them seemed to wet my whole head and I went back into the house feeling as if I’d been submerged in water. Too rambunctious to heed the storm I went upstairs and climbed out of my sister’s window onto the roof. I stayed low to make sure the lightning wouldn’t strike but I never thought I’d catch a glimpse of a real tornado, those were only on T.V.

Nevertheless, in the horizon, I strained my eyes to see a large funnel cloud storming down with such ferocity, I thought the world was coming to an end, and I prayed it didn’t get me and my brothers and sisters. I couldn’t see where the funnel had touched down but I could see the debris sailing high into the sky, I even think I saw a car get thrown like a child throws a toy.

I went back downstairs to the basement and told my sister there was a tornado and we cried and prayed. We worried until Mom came home. I was 12 years old, my sister was seven and my brother and other sister were even younger. The next day we drove through the city and surveyed the damage and the devastation we witnessed made me realize how fragile we really were. We later found out that eight people died in that storm and my sister and I both have nightmares about tornados until this day. Mom died shortly after that in an unrelated accident and while I still love the rain, I still don’t like tornados.

I found some pictures on the internet chronicling some pictures of the devastation caused by the storm of 1985.

http://www.ontariostorms.com/1985/barrie/barrie.html

I lived in Sault Ste. Marie, London Ontario, Toronto and Arlington Texas. It always seemed ironic to me that a brother who doesn’t like tornados would move to a place famous for twisters. As a matter of fact, my first day in Texas there was a huge storm and the sky was cut in half with a dark purple sky on one side and a clear blue sky on the other. Perfect tornado weather. Al-hamdulilaah, there was no tornado.

Since moving to Saudi Arabia, before today it rained twice. Shortly after last Ramadhaan it rained and the day after that it rained again. It had been over a year since the last time it rained and the King, the Imaams, and the Shuyookh have been asking people to make Salaatul-Istisqaa (the prayer for rain).

The first time it rained while I was in Jeddah, I woke to a thunderclap and rushed outside to see what the people would do in the rain to find my eight-year-old neighbor standing in the street, smiling, and hands raised in du’aa. It would have made a nice picture so I took one in my mind, as to take pictures of people or animals is clearly forbidden in Islaam.

The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhee wa salam) said, “Two kinds of du’aa are not rejected: du’aa at the time of the call to prayer, and du’aa during rain.” [Shaykh al-Albaanee declared it Hasan in his checking of al-Targheeb 1/116 and in Silsilaatul-Ahadeeth as-Saheehah no. 1469]

The boy then smiled at me, sent me salutations and tore off up the street. I know a good time when I see one, so I took my sandals off and tore off after him. We splashed for a bit and when I became tired I came back to the house and my wife and I sat on the stoop for a bit and enjoyed the rain together.

I was asleep after ‘Asr (it is permissible) when I heard what sounded like rain on my air conditioner. I assumed the noise was from a leaky air conditioner above my own as I live on a ground floor apartment. I looked at my phone and saw that I had been sent two text messages, both informing me that Shaykh Muhammad ibn Haadee al-Madkhalee’s lessons were resuming tonight. Allaahu Akbar! I hadn’t seen the Shaykh since before Ramadhaan when the classes were stopped. I feared the classes stopped altogether. I even sent messages through one of the brothers I know in Madeenah to ask the Shaykh why he doesn’t love the brothers in Jeddah anymore? Before I am accused of ‘backbiting’ or ‘disrespecting’ a Shaykh, I’ll have you know that it was done in a playful manner and the Shaykh sent back the salutations, thus assuring us that he still loved the brothers in Jeddah.

I rushed out to buy some batteries for my MP3 recorder to see that the streets were drenched in water. The Haaris (that’s the brother who takes out the garbage, washes the cars, gets water, takes up groceries, etc, for a particular building. I bring in my own groceries and carry out my own garbage although he dislikes it; it’s how I was raised.) was outside saying to me, “Matr katheer,” (lots of rain).

I nodded. Subhanallaah, I missed it. I so wanted it to rain so I could go play in it with my daughter who is now old enough to splash in the puddles. I bought my batteries and came home, and called everyone I knew who might not know that the classes had resumed. I get mad when brothers don’t tell me about such things, so I don’t want to be guilty of not telling them.

My neighbor and I share a car, but my day is not until tomorrow, thus a taxi becomes necessary. Taxis generally increase prices to anyone they think is a westerner, but because people often think I am from Egypt, I play the role at the beginning if it’ll get me to Hayyu-Jami’ah for 10 riyaals less. Of-course he gassed me! I told him 30 was too much and he told me the traffic was bad because it rained! They do the same thing in Ramadhaan, Hajj season, the weekend, whatever they think they can get over you with, they’ll use it. When mistaken for a Moroccan or Egyptian I can sometimes get there for 20 riyaals but I did not want to be late.

A smaller crowd than usual was in attendance. The Shaykh gave his usual classes and was on a roll but I’ll mention that in a different post where I got a question sent up to Shaykh Muhammad. After I transcribe it, I’ll make it available for everyone on the blog, insha’Allaah.

After the lessons, I picked up some falafels from the nearby shop that continuously grosses out my wife due to their unhygienic food handling processes and the driver in the taxi who stopped for us told us the usual price is 40-50 riyaals! I laughed; I can get to Makkah for 50 riyaals! I haggled him down to 25 riyaals and we were on our way.

We got home, ate, and relaxed and my wife told me. “It’s raining!”

“Yay! Allaahu Akbar!” I said and we got our daughter dressed.

For the next half hour while it rained, she and I splashed our sandals in the deep puddles until the rain subsided and the mosquitoes came out. We had a great time and there wasn’t a tornado in sight!

Stay tuned for an update on the Shaykh Muhammad al-Madkhalee dars!

As salam ‘alaykum,

Aboo Muaadh  

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