Have you heard the Story of the Bus number 35?
This story was told to me by Sheikh Fakhriy al Qaisi:
Sheikh Fakhriy al Qaisi’s Tale
Once, he heard about a man in Iraq, who was in hospital and who had broken both his arms and legs. Rumour spread about this man. And the Islamic culture favours visiting the sick. And so the Sheikh found himself visiting the man with the broken arms and legs. The Sheikh saw many people, paying their respects to him, and they made dua’at for him. When eventually the Sheikh made his way to him, the man said, jokingly, that the Sheikh was probably jealous because of the attention (and dua’at) he was gaining from the people rather than the sheikh. Or perhaps this was a sarcastic remark at his own condition. Regardless, the Sheikh asked the man what happened to him – how did he get himself into such a condition?
The Hospitalised Man’s Tale
The man said:
One day, recently, I was at home and wanted to take a nap. So I took my couch and lay out on the balcony, whose railings were quite low [or perhaps because of the couch, the railings were lower]. Regardless, I dozed off and had a dream.
In the dream I found myself lost and amdist a busy highstreet. I sought the correct way to my destination, which was to jannah. So I asked around. And I was told to take the bus number 35. And the people insisted I ensure – just – the bus nuber 35… to be vigilant. So I was reassured when I got to the bus stop and became relaxed, happy, day dreaming about the future and I waited.
Eventualy the bus came and I got on. And as the bus drove off. I was overjoyed that I’d got on and I knew that in a short while I would be finally able to rest in peace in paradise. The bus drove on. And I noticed the signs outside that we passed stating:
- Jannah 500 km
- Jahannum 1,000 km
And later, as the bus continued, glancing out the window, I saw again:
- Jannah 100 km
- Jahannum 600 km
I began imagining all the delights and wonders that will be in store for me when I arrive. And I couldn’t contain myself! Time seemed to go so slowly. I just wanted to get there! I looked out again:
- Jahannum 300 km…
“What!” I exclaimed in shock.
Why have we passed Jannah? Why hadn’t the bus stopped? I jumped up from my seat.
“Where are you going?” I yelled frantically, as I ran to the driver at the front of the bus. “You’ve passed my destination! Stop the bus! The bus number 35 is supposed to go to Jannah. But you’ve passed it! What the hell are you doing?!”
“I don’t think you were paying attention, my friend!” replied the driver, with a sneer and a bony grin. “This isn’t bus number 35. It’s bus number 53 – and we’re all bound for Jahannum here!”
Out of the window:
- Jahannum 100 km!
I pulled my hair! My heart at my mouth! I stared at the driver in disbelief and beheld Shaytan sat there – driving the bus! Laughing and wailing in delight! My eyes widened in terror!
“Get me out! Get me out! I’m on the wrong bus!” I screamed and ran for the door! I did not wait. I pulled the emergency exit lever and flung myself out with a flying yell…
I had finally woken from my dream. Alhamdulillah! But not before discovering in my panic I had inadvertanly flung myself off the couch on the balcony, and was in mid-flight in the air with the windrush at my face, to end up splatterred on the ground below!
Thus endeth the tale of the hospitalised man with the broken arms and legs.
Sheikh Fakhriy al Qaisi concludes his tale
Not only did we all laugh so heartily at the story – yes, we had tears – but on reflection, I realised this story matches the Qur’anic narrative: Many of us are so busy with the duniya and we are so self-assure that we are undoubtedly bound for Jannah that – without our awareness (due to our heedlessness) – we don’t recognise what we are striving for in our day-to-day life is taking us in the wrong direction! Indeed, we may even be going in the opposite direction to Jannah! Our assumption that we’re doing the right thing, our lack of introspection and self criticism and checking against the clear criteria of Qur’an and Sunnah, instead of relying on our own opinions and judgement about what is a good Muslim – will lead us to misjudge, to not clearly see the bus number 35 from the bus number 53. This dream, in fact, is the full story of most Muslims nowadays.
Dear reader, do we even know what bus we’re on?