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You are now entering the world of my thoughts.

This blog is my diary of works in progress. The only way a writer can improve upon her skill is to practice, practice and practice some more. Here, in this place of quiet peace, I pen to paper my thoughts and creativity. Welcome to my world.

Copyright © 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 SN Taylor, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Allah Knows

Allah Knows

Jamaal and his father stood side by side in the last row of the prayer line.

"As Salaamu Alaikum Wa rahmatullahi wabaraktu," they said after the Imaam. After prayer, they greeted the other men and boys at the mosque, put on their shoes and started the journey home.

“Grumble, grumble.” Jamaal felt his stomach. “I’m really hungry,” he said to his dad.

“Didn’t you eat before we left for salaat,” his dad asked.

Jamaal looked down at his feet.

“No,” he said, “I forgot.”

In fact, he had been so busy playing his video games, he did not hear when his mother called him down for lunch or when his dad called him to get ready for salaat. His dad sighed and searched his pockets. He felt some coins and a few dollar bills in his pocket.

“Maybe we can stop at the vending machine just outside the community center around the corner,” he said winking his eye at Jamaal and rubbing his head. “But next time I want you to be a little more mindful of your duties,” he said.

“Okay, I will,” Jamaal, promised as he took off around the corner. “Last one there is a rotten…” Jamaal stopped in his tracks. By the time his dad caught up with him, he was still standing in his spot, wide-eyed and his mouth open.

“Subhan Allah!” his dad gasped, “what happened here?” Jamaal turned to his dad and shook his head.

“It was already like this when I got here,” he stammered. His dad grinned, “Jamaal, I know you didn’t do it.” They both looked at the vending machine outside the community center. The metal grating was gone and the glass casing was smashed. There was glass all over the ground.

“Looks like someone vandalized the vending machine,” his dad said.

“But they didn’t take all the snacks,” Jamaal said shaking his head. Why would someone go through all the trouble of busting it open and then leave everything behind, he thought to himself. His dad fumbled through his pocket to find his phone.

“Hello, police? I would like to report a vandalized vending machine at the Odan Community Center on 3rd and Wilshire Road. Yes, sir, I can stay until you get here.” His dad hung up the phone. He reached in his pocket again and pulled out some money. “Well, what would you like?” he asked Jamaal. Jamaal eyed the snacks greedily. He picked out a handful of items.

“Whoa,” his dad said, “put some of that back, I don’t have enough money for all that, besides, we are going straight home and you can have a proper lunch.”

“But, dad,” Jamaal said, “this stuff is free. We should take whatever we want before someone else comes and get it.”

“Jamaal, this stuff is not free just because someone broke it open. We still have to pay for it, or, we will be stealing,” his dad said.

“Even though no one is here? It is not like WE broke it open, so it is not really stealing. No one will know,” Jamaal tried to reason with his dad.

“Allah knows and sees, Jamaal. These items belong to someone, taking them without paying for them is stealing, and then, you would be no better than the person who vandalized the machine,” his dad said sternly, “Now, do you want something or not? Pick one thing, then pay for it, “ his father said handing him a dollar and seventy-five cents. Jamaal chose a bag of chips and put the rest back. He inserted the money just as two officers walked up.

“We appreciate you calling this in. Since the center has been closed for the week, we have had quite a few break in’s around here.” The officers roped the place off, removed the food items, then left. Jamaal and his father continued home.

Jamaal leaned back against his bed as he played his video game. Really, how bad would it have been if they took a few extra snacks, it’s not like the company was broke or anything. They would not have missed a couple of snacks worth four bucks! Then he remembered his dad’s words,

“Allah knows and sees.”

“Well, it was a good thing you didn’t take any extras,” his little brother, Hakeem, said, “because the cops would have grabbed you, handcuffed you and taken you to jail!”

Jamaal rolled his eyes; he could not believe his dad told everyone he wanted to take a few extra snacks. His mom raised her eyebrows at him, but didn’t say anything. Jamaal and his brother played video games until the living room Adhan clock went off.

“Allahu Akbar Allaaaaahu Akbar!”

“Get ready boys, we are going to the masjid in 5 minutes,” their dad said poking his head into the room. Hakeem jumped up and ran into his father’s bathroom to make wudu. Jamaal slowly put his things away.

“Jamaal,” his dad shouted from downstairs, “Let’s go!”

“Coming!” Jamaal said putting on his jacket. He was still wet from splashing water around as he made wudu quickly.

It was time for Maghrib, so they were driving to the masjid instead of walking. Jamaal sat in the front seat, looking out of the window.

“Allah Knows and Sees.”

“Huh?” he said turning to face his dad.

“It’s cold, roll down your sleeves,” his dad said.

“Oh.” Jamaal’s arms were dry now, so he rolled his sleeves down. He turned back to stare out the window. They arrived just in time to get the last free spot in the masjid parking lot. They jumped out and grabbed their prayer rugs. Their masjid was a small prayer house. Usually, men and boys had to pray in the yard because there were too many people to fit inside. For some reason, they were always late for Maghrib and had to pray in the yard.

“Allah Knows and Sees.”

“Huh?’ Jamaal said turning to Hakeem.

“I touched your nose, now you’re a bee,” he giggled touching Jamaal’s nose and running off to catch up with his dad.

“Argh, seriously Hakeem? That was funny when you were two, grow up!” he said grabbing his prayer rug and closing the trunk. Jamaal trudged along towards the masjid. He passed the last car in the lot, then something caught his eyes. It lay on the ground flapping around in the cool breezy evening. Jamaal bent down to get a closer look. It was a dollar bill! His heart skipped a beat. But when he picked it up, he got an even bigger surprise. It was a hundred dollar bill! He quickly looked around, but no one was in sight. His dad and Hakeem had already entered the masjid.

“Does this belong to anyone?” he asked looking around. He remembered in class, “if a person finds something, he must ask if it belongs to anyone before taking it.” I asked he said smiling to himself, then stuffed the bill in his pocked. He rushed into the masjid just as the Imam said the first takbir. It was hard to concentrate during salaat. He fidgeted quite a bit as he thought of all the things he could buy.

“Allah Knows and Sees.”

Jamaal stiffened. Who could that be? No one should be talking during salaat except the Imam. He listened again

“Allahu Akbar,” the Imam said.

Everyone went to ruku. Maybe I was just imagining it, he thought to himself.

“Allah Knows and Sees.”

Jamaal almost jumped out of his skin. He tried to look around without moving too much, but he still could not see anyone speaking.

“Allahu Akbar,” the Imam said.

Everyone went to sajdah. This was getting to be too much for him. After salaat, he met up with his dad and Hakeem.

“You okay Jamaal,” his dad asked, “you were doing a lot of fidgeting in salaat”

“I don’t know, I don’t feel to well,” he said holding his stomach. Halfway back to the car, he heard it again.

“Allah Knows and Sees.”

Jamaal stopped in his tracks. He felt the bill in his pocket and decided what he had to do. He turned around and ran back to the masjid.

“Jamaal?” his dad called after him.

Jamaal ran up to the Imam as he was talking to another man who looked extremely worried. He tugged on the Imam’s thobe.

“Excuse me? As Salaamu Alaikum Imam,” he said softly. The Imam looked down.

“Wa Alaikum As Salaam. What can I do for you Jamaal,” he asked.

“Imam, I found this money outside in the parking lot, I think someone may have dropped it coming in,” Jamaal said, handing the bill to the Imam. The Imam took the money then smiled at him.

“Masha Allah,” he said. “May Allah (swt) reward you for your honesty.” The Imam turned to the man he was speaking with, it was one of the officers Jamaal and his dad saw at the Odan Community Center.

“Your duas were answered Brother Dawuud, your money has been returned to you. This young man found it and brought it just now.”

The Imam handed him the hundred-dollar bill. Jamaal’s dad walked up just in time to see Brother Dawuud and the Imam shake Jamaal’s hand.

“Jamaal?’ his dad said.

“Your son just returned my money he found on the ground,” Officer Dawuud said, “Masha Allah, you have taught your son well. I pray Allah rewards you both for his honesty. I’m afraid any other kid would have probably put it in his pocket and ran off with it.”

“That is because it would have been considered stealing to take the money without trying to find its owner. Besides, Allah Knows and Sees everything,” Jamaal said with a smile as he picked up his jacket and prayer rug.

Member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators