The Path We Choose

As I was driving to work this week, I noticed that cars further up the road were swerving to avoid something. As the car in front of me swerved I finally got to see what the obstacle was. There had been a pretty big rainstorm the night before and it had bent a branch of one of the trees by the road. And the branch which had lots of leaves and was still attached to its tree was blocking traffic. Pretty soon it was my turn to swerve and I remember thinking as I passed it, I hope the Road Safety crew gets here quickly and removes the branch before it causes an accident. I also wondered if there was a Road Safety number I could call to notify them.

I then thought to myself, why am I passing the buck? Why am I expecting and even ready to demand that someone else fix this problem? While I was having all these thoughts I reached a speed bump and had to slow down to let the car in front of me cross it. I then looked back through my rear view mirror and could see the branch right after the curve in the road. Removing that branch would have been Sadaqat, Allah would have been pleased with me I said to myself. Then I had a vision of the man who gave water to a dog and gained paradise. I also remembered the man who removed a thorn from a path and gained paradise.

 It’s in that moment that I realized, those people had made a choice. When the thirsty traveler climbed out of the well and saw the thirsty dog, he could have said to himself, “Crap! If only I had known he was here I would have brought some water up with me for him” and then gone about his day. Or the traveler who had removed the thorn from the road could have said to himself, “If I can see it and avoid it, surely other travelers can see it and avoid it also.” They had brief moments in time where they had a choice. They could have gone on with their days and with their lives without having made an effort and it wouldn’t have been their fault. But instead they chose to do the right thing even though it inconvenienced them.

I can’t imagine climbing down a well once let alone twice and for an animal no less! But then we all say that we want paradise. We say it all the time, in jest, and in earnestness. We say oh Allah please grant us Al-Jannah. We joke amongst ourselves saying Insha’Allah when we are in paradise etc., but how do we think we’ll attain it? We attain paradise through the choices we make.

Those tiny seemingly random choices that we come across are the keys to paradise. They are the difference between gaining Allah’s pleasure and just going through life doing the bare minimum. All these thoughts went through my mind before I went over the bump. I looked back again, I wondered if it would be too dangerous to reverse. There were no cars coming. It was now or never.

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