Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My 7 month anniversary (written 12-23-09)

I had written this article for muslimcontributor.com on 12-23-09:

My 7 month anniversary

Ah-ha! I got you with the title, didn't I? No, unfortunately for me I am not married. I cannot relate to Boonaa Mohammed and I have not experienced the male version of Spinsterood. However, I write this because it is the seventh month anniversary of my second life.

You see, exactly seven months ago, I was involved in an automobile accident that left me completely paralyzed from chest down. After an almost-dead heart rate, a traumatic brain injury, an array of broken bones, severe nerve damage, a coma, a bout with pneumonia, and several months in the hospital, I thankfully sit here now and am able to reflect. Because quite frankly, I do not have much else to do. Bouncing back from the accident has given me what I refer to as this second life.

Most of my time now is spent in the guest room on the main level of my home. I think to myself, “What did I do with my first life?” I want to believe that I lived fully and without regrets. Who doesn't want to believe that about themselves? I had great friends, I was having fun, I was doing the occasional humanitarian service here and there, I was a part of several clubs, I was tutoring my friends in science classes, I had my dream future all laid out in front of me, etc. In reality, I believe that I should have done more.

Now when I speak to and observe the actions of the people around me, I want to
grab them by their shoulders, shake them, and ask them what they are doing. Well, I can't usually reach their shoulders to shake them unless they are sitting down or they are six years old, but that is an irrelevant point.

Before, when I had the ability to walk freely and go wherever I wanted to go, what did I do with it? Nothing extraordinary. I was not thankful for the ability to freely move around and I took it for granted. Looking back, I was selfish and self-centered in this regard. If I could go back in time like Marty McFly with the knowledge and experiences I have now, I would try to use my efforts in things that would actually benefit others.

I have realized that this body in this life is simply temporarily loaned to us. If someone let me borrow his car, I wouldn't drag race in it. So if I was loaned an able body, why wouldn't I take care of it and pay back the Loaner by doing good things? Thinking back, there were many things I could have done in my college town of Athens, Georgia. I just started listing the things I could have done, but I deleted it. I'm sure we can all think of some things that we can do right now, no matter what condition we are in. Studying is not an excuse to be self-involved and avoid furthering the well-being of others, although I apparently thought it was; working is not an excuse; even being handicapped is not an excuse. We have been given things, no matter how trivial they may seem, and we must use them. We cannot be selfish. We cannot think that we are not being selfish, either. “Get busy living or get busy dying.”


  1. nice post hammad saab..keep it up, im learning from ya :)

  2. In certain contexts, studying or trying to make a future for yourself can be very selfish acts. But to be fair to students, one of the primary reasons for such mind set is pressure from parents(especially muslim households). But, its not their fault either. You see, the fault lies in the capitalistic ideology of selfishness that breeds in western societies. Its the idea of social darwinism(survival of the fittest).

    Now, going back to faulty parents idea. Most of our parents' grew up in motherlands, which was once part of a colonized western society. Its during that time period, the dummy muslim decided to give into the thrills of a transient life. Later, as western economies developed in our motherlands there was an increase of the native dumb arses who gave into the idea of an individual. From there on, survival of the fittest mentality has been passed down generations to our parents. Who, unknowingly have passed it down to us.

    The reason why I bring this up is because our ummah needs to recognize the shift of ideologies that took place when west ruled our regions. A shift was made from a society that was communal based(principles of social equality) to a society of selfishness/individuals(capitalism, laissez faire etc etc).

    Coming back to your blog post now :)
    its very admirable that you are questioning your past life and encouraging yourself to use your skills and experience to help others in your second life. thats what our ummah needs, individuals reversing the shift from selfishness to community. Today, you make this switch, imagine tomorrow you may inspire three of your friends, who themselves make the switch. Over years, an entire nation may shun the idea of only looking out for themselves and start caring and working towards social equality. If not in your lifetime, maybe in your children's lifetime your simple switch of attitude helped change the world. :)

  3. I think it's just part of human nature to start to take things for granted (to an extent), even if we try our hardest to appreciate things and be grateful. Until we lose ppl or lose things, we don't realize the importance of them. So don't be so hard on yourself about what you did with your past life; just live your life the way you think you should now. Plus you know how they say...hindsight is always 20/20. :)

  4. "Studying is not an excuse to be self-involved and avoid furthering the well-being of others,"

    I need to learn that.

  5. Reading this post has shown me that you have indeed changed a lot with your way of thinking. I don't think you ever seem to be going downhill, and even if you are, you get right back up, like proving that doctor wrong when you put on that stand-up wheelchair. Thanks for being a living example and not let things like fear or pain hold us back from our goals (as you mentioned in another post).
    Anyways, the fact that you wanted to shake someone's shoulders to ask them what they are doing and your last paragraph reminded me of a hadith, a hadith that should be drilled in our brains so that we are constantly reminded of how short our life is (I most certainly need the reminder myself.) Ibn Umar said, "The messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, took me by the shoulders and said, 'Be in this world as though you were a stranger/wayfarer.'" And Ibn Umar said, "When evening comes, do not expect to live til morning, and when morning comes, do not expect to live til evening. Take from your health a preparation for your illness, and from your life for your death." Subhanallah, you may have heard these quotes already, but they never fail to hit me hard. It's just a temporary life in our temporary bodies Hammad. I'm glad that you know how to make the most of this life and one day we'll all make it out of here sooner than we think, in eternal bliss, inshaAllah.