by Zeeshawn M. Chughtai
Heavy thoughts weighed on my mind as I drove to Friday prayer in the afternoon. But if they didn’t, I wouldn’t be much of a thinker. From family matters, to distant friends, to career challenges, and to an uncertain future, they’re not just fleeting thoughts that are undeserving. They’re the gateways to understanding my own humanity. Each serves as its own unique start to a conversation I have with the Unseen. So as I sat within the congregation to listen to the sermon, I allowed the history and tradition of my faith to renew the silver lining to my experiences. I was reminded by Imam Zia that even when investing in family, friends, career, and future, never forget to invest in yourself by investing in the service of what’s good. Maybe that’s why God says, “Is there any reward for good other than good?” (Qur’an 55:60).
When prayer ended, I continued to offer my own careful whispers to Him for further guidance and clarity. As I lifted my eyelids, a brother whom I never met approached me with a giving smile. You could almost feel the light that emanated from his sincerity. He wanted to thank me and said I was a valuable part of the community. As gracious as I was taken aback, I asked what I did to deserve such kindness. He said the words I shared with the MakeSpace community during Ramadan about the strength in vulnerability still resonated with him, from the story of embracing my father without words as he prayed in weeping remembrance of his own father that passed away to the story of my grandmother renewing my courage in the present as she faced her own decaying future. The brother assured me he wanted to share this sentiment sooner, but I told him he couldn’t have shared it at a better time. Maybe that’s why God says, “Is there any reward for good other than good?” (Qur’an 55:60).