I left for work that day like I did any other day, tired and inattentive as I went through my morning salat (prayer) before leaving home and starting my car.
I was in surprisingly light traffic as my car climbed a small overpass that connected me to what passes for a highway in Karachi. My speed could not have been more than 25-35 miles per hour. When I saw a man walking in the street ahead of me, I assumed that he would notice my car. It was not a pedestrian crossing and I was going too fast to slow down in time to avoid him.
But the man did not speed up his walk nor did he stop or back up. Instead he continued unaware and it became clear in that slow moving split second that I was going to hit him. I
had attempted to slow down but it was too late and a body rolled onto my hood and shattered my windshield with some pieces of glass coming into the passenger seat.
You must remember I am in Karachi, a city of absolute chaos and a corrupt and bankrupt police system. The ambulances are all operated by non governmental agencies. There is
no 911 to call. I had no choice but to put the now unconscious man into the backseat of my car and drive myself to my brothers’ house about 10 minutes away. All along the ride I prayed out loud, “Yah Allah, please have mercy on me, please have mercy on this man,
please do not let him die, please keep him safe.” My hands shook, my body was trembling and tears were clouding my view. I was scared and yet my faith secured me a means, no matter how tenuous, to safely make it through the busy traffic.
My brothers swooped in and took care of this man and me. We arrived at a hospital and he received an MRI, but it looked dire. My friend took me to her house and I called my Shaykh (spiritual guide). I told him what happened, and he said words that have over and over again come to my rescue: “Have a good opinion of Allah.” Confused and terrified, waiting to hear from the hospital with news, I thought in that moment. What good is in this? What
good could Allah have intended for this man and for me?
For a novice on the spiritual path this was an immensely challenging task. To be in the center of the storm and not surrender in despair or ‘why me’ but surrender instead into trust. Trust which is not based on getting the outcome I want but believing in a higher power that is always, no matter what the outward conditions, working in my favor. Holding a paradox in my heart, on one hand asking and praying for the life of this man to be restored and at the same time walking the darkness in faith if he did not.
A few hours later, my story did have a happy ending. The man woke up and walked away with just scratches and bruises and I was spared the weight of taking a life. In hindsight I was given a lifelong lesson to deeply acknowledge and appreciate when my mundane
plans for the day go as expected, having experienced my powerlessness and lack of control over something as simple as going to work.
Most of us are lost in the fog of thoughts and unconscious beliefs that veil us from seeing things as they are. It took the jolt of that accident to allow me to appreciate the offerings of every single day, not knowing how much is given and how much is generously withheld. Having a ‘good opinion’ when events are judged as bad turns things around and builds a trust and awe without needing anything to be different.