Mansoor Mirza, Peace Village, Canada
Growing up in an extremely devout Ahmadi family, we simply adopted our parents’ beliefs without question. It’s not that our parents didn’t encourage us to be curious, but being an Ahmadi Muslim just made sense. We accepted the teachings as they came. If we had questions, our elders had answers.
I personally don’t recall having many questions though. Whatever was taught to me, I simply accepted – perhaps in a form of obedience. However, as I got into my early teenage years, and unbeknownst to myself, I gradually stopped walking that same footpath of spirituality that I once would have travelled blindfolded.
Praying was simply a mere set of motions. Attending Jamaat functions was no different. What better would a young teenager, who hasn’t understood their faith, know?
By the age of 16, I felt a void inside myself, a black hole. Eventually, my thoughts led me to question the existence of God. I expressed this to my parents shortly thereafter, but instead of admonishing me, they told me to pray to Allah the Almighty. Not at any time, though, but to pray specifically in sajdah (prostration) and ask for guidance. I did this daily for some days or weeks during the witr prayer. I repeatedly would ask God that “God, if You exist, please show me a sign.”
In the beginning, I received no answer or feeling, but my persistence would not allow me to give up so easily, so I continued my routine.
I used to take a ride on the public transit home with my elder brother during my high school years and there was never a day where the bus was not packed to maximum capacity. On one of those days, I was able to find a seat with my brother. A few stops later, a well-dressed elderly gentleman got on the bus. As there were no vacant seats, he stood in a small crowd directly across from where I sat. He began to speak to the other passengers, but they all ignored him as if he was not mentally fit.
Some time later, he looked directly at me while I had my headphones on and asked me my name. My heart told me that I should not ignore him like the others did as it would not sit well with my moral compass.
I told him my name. He responded by saying it was a beautiful name.
“Where are you from?” I asked. Then he asked me if I was a Muslim and I confirmed. He asked me about my studies and interests and then finally he hit me with a haymaker that would change my life forever.
He said, “God exists. You may not believe it, but He exists. And I’m here to tell you that He exists […]”.
I do not recall the remainder of the conversation, but I was shaken to my core! I did not know this man, but in my heart of hearts, I knew that this could only be the means of the Almighty delivering His answer to my prayers.
There is no stronger feeling I could have felt than that of God hearing and answering His supplicant’s prayer that day. To this day, I have not experienced greater satisfaction or peace of mind. Reflecting on this situation years later helped lead me back to a path of repentance.
God had infinite ways to answer such a bold prayer from such a weak individual but due to His sheer grace and mercy, I am forever indebted to my Lord.