An Occurrence at Austin Crossing

I am in Canada again. I entered at the Pembina portal of North Dakota/Manitoba yesterday afternoon. It’s 2:35 am and I sip again a Timmy’s dark roast, black and paired with a yummy nutella croissant... I’m a night owl; I see light in the dark. Earlier today (technically yesterday by the common era calendar but today Islamically as our day in our calendar, like our kin the Jews, begins at sunset), I had an interesting encounter. Of course, wishing someone an interesting life is an ancient Chinese curse... It all depends who is cursed...

One of the beauties of Islam is that it is easy; once a believer chooses to submit, Allah makes it easy. For instance, though we pray five times a day, special dispensation is given to the traveler. The longer four rakat (cycle) prayers are halved, and prayer times may be combined, effectively turning five times a day into three. As I traversed the terrain working my way west, I had already combined my two afternoon prayers. Now, as the sun bore down and set of sun soon to come, I prepared to combine my evening prayers. I pulled off the TransCanada Highway 1 to the neighborhood of a small hamlet called Austin, Austin, Manitoba. Scanning for a place to pray, I located a field near a train crossing, and there I parked. I set my prayer rug down in the field, in the proper direction, and then I wait. Of course, as the time for prayer rolled in, so too did a speeding locomotive.

There is no coincidence.

I went to my trunk to grab my noise protecters, I have sensitive ears, but before I could find them among my things, the iron dragon moved on. I began the first prayer, the maghrib prayer, the sunset prayer. Maghrib is already a shorter three rakat prayer, so it is not shortened. As I pray, and though I was some distance away, I’d say about 15 yards from the road, cars did pass by and I imagine I was visible to them. Actually, I don’t imagine at all. After completing my offering of salah (prayer) to God, I began doing dhikr, repeating words of praise for Allah multiple times and keeping count with my right hand, fingertips and creases. I think Catholics do something similar with rosary beads. As I did so, I became aware of a vehicle pulled up and idling near mine.

"Excuse me? What are you doing?"

I ignored the man's voice.

"Hey! What are you doing? Excuse me! HEY! YOU! EXCUSE ME!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"

I did not turn to look behind. I continued my dhikr.

As I finished, the voice from the car shouted, "ALLAH DOESN'T HEAR YOU!"

I finished and still kneeling, looked left behind and saw the man in his leering, and answered, "He hears you!" He started to say something about Allah not being real and Jesus (pbuh) being Lord and Savior as I angrily stood up to this rude man who disturbed me, nay, attempted disturbance of my remembrance, and answered, "Allah says in the Qur’an that whatever differences we have will be sorted out when we meet Him." He kept up his braying. I kept control my temper, but make no mistake, the Kiani stare was in my eye; I am not the blood of cowards. Mine eyes were fixed on him. I strode straight to his window and pointed to my face... "These tears (they fell before he arrived) are sincere!" I stare at a man bigger than me, with a puffy, somewhat pocky, pudgy Slavic face, and I’m sorry and honest to say he was ugly... There was a passenger with him, though I cannot say for sure whether it was a man or woman. As he answered, I don’t remember what he said, I realized I was being provocative and challenging, potentially escalating the circumstance by standing so near, in his face, at his window... Again I remembered what Allah said, and I said, "You know, Allah also tells us that when someone wants to argue, to say salam alaikum, peace be upon you, and walk away. Salam alaikum." I walked away, turned my back and went back to pray, to offer my two rakat isha salat.

I heard him still baying behind me, and as I stood to announce my prayer and put the world at my back, I looked one last time his way and said, "You know, there is no coincidence." I did not wait for him to answer, though the fool did, as I began my "ALLAHU AKBAR!" and entered my song, my chant of salah in the loudest, manliest, most manfully heartfelt voice, manful and trembling with anger and emotion and pride of place. The earshot of my shout drowned out his drivel and I surged in my stand, my testifying in sonorous, sonic sounding Arabic echo to the heavens... I drove him off.

I trust that Allah heard me... Allah drove him off.

I am sorry, or am I? to say that I also invoked the du’a for Allah to protect me and deal with him, take care of the man. However He wish... I am not sorry... A punishment in this life is a mercy if it spares one the one to come in the next. He, the man, doesn’t know who he is messing with. I am not referring to me. A little awe stun for the one who accosted me in Austin, Austin crossing, is a mercy, a mercy indeed.

Allah’s mercy.

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