"Dad, how long will it take us to get there?" shouted Abdul as he jumped into the backseat of the family Camry.
"Twenty three minutes, insha Allah," replied Tariq proudly holding up his new GPS. He continued fidgeting with a few more settings on the device and then ceremoniously attached it to cradle stuck on the windscreen while waiting for the rest the family to get into the car.
"I'm so excited to see the Islamic fair," said Zakiya, the youngest of the family, "I hear Zain Bhikha is going to be there. In person!"
"Dad, Zaks is not buckling up! And she wants to sit in the middle as usual!"
"Don't lie! I am buckling up. Just wanted to see the new GPS thingy dad bought," Zakiya shouted back.
"Ok, ok. Let's just read our dua for travelling and move on," said Tariq calmly, "We all want to get to the show with lots of time to see everything."
He inched the car out of the driveway and waited for the first set of instructions from the GPS.
"Proceed three hundred meters then turn right," came the swift instructions in a heavy British accented voice.
Tariq promptly complied with the instruction.
""I wish you would listen to me like that!" laughed his wifeTaheera, "You don't even know him and you obey him, but I have to ask a hundred times before something is done."
Tariq shot her a quick smile and they both laughed.
"Mum, I hear they're having a cooking show at 2. We should make it for that!" said Zakiya her eyes lighting up with the prospect of learning some new culinary skills.
"Turn right!" said the familiar British voice.
Tariq promptly turned left. Taheera quickly turned to see if he had made a mistake, but Tariq was calm as he continued on his chosen route.
"Recalculating! Drive 2 kilometres and then turn right" said the GPS.
Tariq continued along the route. A smug smile sealed his lips as he continued playing with his greying beard.
"Turn right!" commanded the GPS and Tariq promptly swung the car to the left.
Again the GPS cried "Recalculating!"
With a calm air he continued ignoring the instructions on the GPS for a while saying nothing until Abdul leaned forward in his seat and complained, "Dad, why aren't you following the instructions?" We have already been driving for thirty minutes."
"We gonna miss the cooking show," chorused Zakiya, "And we not going to have too much time to spend at the show."
Tariq continued silently until the GPS said for the umpteenth time, "Recalculating!" You could almost hear the irritation in the British accent as she said, "When possible please make a U-turn."
Taheera fidgeted with the beads on her kaftan for a while, all the time stealing glances at her husband searching for some clue to this strange behaviour. She pulled hard on a bead and it broke off and rolled to the floor.
"Tari," she said softly, trying very hard to hide her irritation, "If you don't trust the new machine then just ask at the garage(gas station) like we used to do!"
"Good idea," replied Tariq still fidgeting with his beard, "There's one just up ahead."
He sailed the car into the forecourt despite the GPS insisting he make a U-turn. The attendant slowly approached the car, a large dark stain covering the front of his T-shirt. Tariq rolled down the window and asked him for directions.
"Easy sir! Just go up the hill then turn right. Then you see de Shell garage you turn right. Right, neh! Then you drive about five kilos then you see de place in front of you." directed the attendant a broad smile filling his face, "Very easy boss, you can't get lost!"
Tariq continued to drive ignoring the instructions from the attendant and paying little attention to the GPS's call to make a U-turn.
Taheera broke off some more beads and then burst out, "Tari what are you up to? We have been driving for an hour and a half. You ignored the GPS directions all the time. You even ignored the attendant's directions. You keep on just driving and driving. Why?"
"Yep dad, we should have been there an hour ago. Why are we just driving?" echoed Abdul.
Tariq remained silent and played with his beard for a while, and then said, "I just wanted to see if I could get there without following the instructions."
"That's so dumb, Tari!" complained Taheera, "I mean just how are you going to get there if you ignore the GPS and other directions. We wasted our time and the kids are irritated. Zaks has even fallen asleep."
"I just wanted to prove something!"
"What could you prove by acting dumb? What could we learn by deliberately getting lost?"
Tariq fiddled with his topee(hat) before answering, "I just wanted to understand that by ignoring all the guidance and instructions we will never get to our destination."
"That's so obvious!" cried Taheera, "Anyone can tell you that! I mean how can we possibly get to where we going if you deliberately ignore the instructions. In fact, you did just the opposite of what you were told."
Taheera's words brought about an air of silence in the car. All were now attentive as Tariq cleared his throat.
"Well," began Tariq calmly, "If we ignore all the directions given to us by Allah and instructions by His Final Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) then how will we ever reach our destination, Jannah? Allah gave us clear guidelines of what is permissible and what is prohibited yet we do the opposite. He even sent His beloved Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) to show us practically what to do, but we choose to ignore his advice and still hope to reach Jannah?"
He paused waiting for his point to sink home, and then continued, "It can never happen. We will never reach our destination without following the correct directions. Yet it's so simple – turn right, go straight."!!!!
Allah, The Most Wise, has informed us:
"And Verily, it(The Qur'an) is a guide and a mercy to the believers" (Quran-an Naml 27:76-77)
"Verily in the Messenger of Allah you have the best example for him who looks unto Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much." [Quran-Al-Ahzab 33:21]
By Abdur Rahman Umar Abdurrahman@iafrica.com