Meanwhile, he kept being picked-on by his class mates. A group of seniors from his school were especially mean to him. They tortured him to no end. Ahmad was frustrated. Nobody could help him, his parents did not understand his feelings, and he did not have any friends. Eventually, he decided that he needed to get outside help. He heard that there was a counsellor who could help him, and after much contemplation, decided to talk to her. He made an appointment with her and went to meet her.
“So, tell me, why do you think you need help?”
“I get bullied by people due to my religion. I want it to stop.” said Ahmad.
“I see, have you considered changing your religion?”
“I cannot change my religion. Why should I? Isn’t it wrong?” said Ahmad fidgeting around in his seat uncomfartably.
“But if you cannot take the pressure of being different then you should probably change your religion. Be comfortable with the people around you.”
“But I don’t want to.”, thought Ahmad.
Ahmad considered his options. He wanted to talk to his parents but he knew that they would tell him to not change his religion and that would not help him at the moment.
The psychologist spoke to a few students, and told them that Ahmad might decide to change his religion and when he does that, he should be given ample help and support. This news spread like wildfire in the school. A group of seniors; James, Peter and Brad heard of this and decided to do something about it, they decided that they could have some fun at Ahmad’s expense. Ahmad was at a very critical juncture in his life. He needed someone who could help him get out of this disarray. James, who was the linchpin of his group of rebels, approached Ahmad. For the first time, Ahmad had friends. He had someone he could hang out with, although he did wonder about the reason for this sudden change. He did not even consider that the psychologist had anything to do with this. Ahmad was very naive and a very pure-hearted person, he never thought ill of anyone. The torture had finally stopped. Everyone was helpful and extremely courteous to him. He was enjoying all the sudden attention.
Ahmad started drifting away from his parents and he would think of new ways to impress his new friends. He wanted to fit-in with his new “cool” friends. James would often tell him that Muslims are terrorists. He would make up lies about Muslims; tell Ahmad that Islam is a very violent religion. But this tactic failed miserably. Ahmad enjoyed studying science, so James decided to prove to Ahmad that there is no Superior Being that controls the world. James would tell him about evolution, and he said that Allah is not fair in His judgment. At first, Ahmad would retort back but over time he started agreeing with them. He thought that Allah did not help him when he needed His help so maybe there is no God. He believed that everything could be explained by science. And little by little he wandered away from Islam, and started believing that there is no God, and nobody will be evaluated in the Hereafter based on their deeds. He decided to change his religion but he would have to keep it hidden from his parents. Ahmad made sure that everyone in his school knew about it though.
James and his group of friends were not very nice people; they were into all the things that are haram in Islam. Not just in Islam, but in most religions. Ahmad was a bright student, but not anymore. Ahmad got into all the things that were forbidden. He started drinking alcohol with his group of misfits. He would spend most nights out, with his friends. Khadeejah and Abdullah noticed this change; they thought that he had finally made friends. They did not warn him against them.
James took Ahmad out for a drink; it was Ahmad’s first. At first, Ahmad was reluctant to drink, but James and his friends forced him. Ahmad hated it. But there was no going back from there. Ahmad, who was once a devout Muslim, started losing himself in the wonders of this world. His father was too busy with his work to notice his son. Khadeejah noticed that something was wrong, but as mothers usually do, she concealed her son’s sins. Khadeejah and Abdullah did not realize how enormous the problem actually was.
Meanwhile, Ahmad got progressively worse; he had left all pretenses of being a Muslim. It was evident to his parents as well, but they did not know how to handle this. Khadeejah and Abdullah had a long discussion about Ahmad;
“Something seems to be terribly wrong with Ahmad. I don’t know what it is, but I intend to find out.” said Abdullah.
“Yes, I’ve noticed it as well. He has become very fussy and irritable. Just the other day I was talking to Maryam, and she told me that her son had seen Ahmad with some boys, and they were drinking beer.”
“Was he drinking as well?” inquired Abdullah.
“I don’t know, she didn’t say. But you know how she is; she tends to make a big deal out of nothing. Ahmad is our son, he was brought up well, she is probably lying.” said Khadeejah.
“But how can you be sure? It could be true, maybe we should ask Ahmad.”
“No, don’t ask him. He will feel bad if it isn’t true. And I know it cannot be true.”
“But still… I think we should ask him”, said Abdullah.
“Okay, if you must. But I don’t want to be involved.”
“Okay. I will talk to him alone.”
Abdullah decided to talk to his son, but he never got a chance. Abdullah was working all the time. He had to provide the best of everything for his family. Ahmad deserved the best, or so he thought. Eventually, Abdullah forgot about it.
In the interim, as if alcohol was not enough, James and his friends got Ahmad into drugs. At first, Ahmad was reluctant but his friends convinced him that it was best for him.
“Why are you backing out now?” asked James.
“I’m not backing out; I am just concerned about my health.”
“He’s scared. He’s a chicken” jeered Brad.
“No, I’m not. Maybe you are a chicken because I haven’t seen you smoking weed yet.” said Ahmad.
“Look at me! I’m rolling a joint.” said James.
“Chicken! Chicken! Chicken!” jeered everyone.
“Okay okay. Make me one.” said Ahmad flexing his muscles and cracking his knuckles.
James, Brad and Peter shared a smile and made him one. Ahmad took a drag and almost choked to death. It was very strong and bitter. But nevertheless, Ahmad continued. He felt lightheaded and nauseated, but at the same time he felt liberated. He loved the feeling. As it usually is, it started with medical marijuana and progressed into more serious drugs like heroin. It got so bad, that Ahmad was unable to function without his drugs. His father was unaware of this, but his mother knew about the alcohol and even the drugs. Khadeejah was cleaning his room and she discovered empty bottles of whiskey and used needles. She was afraid; she knew that if Abdullah was ever to learn about this, he would kill Ahmad. Moreover, Ahmad made his mother swear that she would never tell his father. This was the biggest mistake she could have done. But a mother always thinks from her heart, she could not bear the thought of anything happening to Ahmad.
Everything was kept buried from Abdullah. Until one day, while returning home from work he saw a couple of guys hanging around in a dark alley. He saw someone familiar. He called out and asked, “Who’s there?” Nobody replied, but he thought he saw Ahmad. He asked, “Ahmad, is that you?” He still did not get any reply. He went towards the group, and he saw Ahmad. He could not believe his eyes.
“Astaghfirullah son, how could you? And who are these people?” he said.
“These are my friends; they were there for me when you or your Allah weren’t. Go away!” replied Ahmad.
“Come home with me now.”
“No, I will not. That is not my home. It’s yours.” retorted Ahmad.
“If you don’t come with me now, the doors of that house are forever closed for you. You can never return.”, shouted Abdullah
“Okay, if that is what you want. I don’t want to live there anyway. I hate you!”
Abdullah felt dejected. He could not even comprehend how it got so bad. He told his wife what happened and was appalled to know that she was already aware of this. He felt betrayed, by his son and also his wife. If Khadeejah just informed him of their son’s activities, maybe Abdullah could have helped their son. He just wanted to think, and be alone. He could not think of a solution and he fell into prostration to Allah and begged Him to have mercy on his son and to give his son Hidayah. The next few days passed in a blur, until finally his wife said, “Please, do something. I cannot stomach the thought of him lying drunk somewhere. He is our son. It is our duty to bring him back to the Right Path.”
“I cannot bear the sight of him in my house. He is a disappointment to me.”, replied Abdullah angrily.
“But it doesn’t change the fact that he is our son, please go and search for him. Please!”, cried Khadeejah.
Abdullah could not see his wife crying. He finally said, “Okay, if it means so much to you then I will go.”
Abdullah searched high and low for his son. He was beginning to get worried; he thought his son had died of an overdose somewhere. He was unable to locate his friends. He went to his school and he was made aware of the fact that Ahmad was expelled due to his bad behavior. Abdullah did not know where else to search. He decided to search the hospitals and morgues. Yet, he was unable to find him. This took a huge toll on his wife and he loved his wife very much. He was doing all this for his wife’s peace of mind. He needed Ahmad to take care of his mother; Khadeejah was terribly sick and was admitted in the hospital. She just wanted to see her son and hold his hand. She wanted to keep him safe and help him heal. She was getting worse and kept calling out to Ahmad. But her son was nowhere to be found.
To be continued next Friday, Stay tuned………