This was a story I wrote back in 2007 when I was staying in a beautiful cottage in Gloucestershire. I had amazing people around me and the countryside was amazing. Reading this story again brings back memories. It was written for ages 7 to 12.
Abdul Wakeel and the Great Race
Tomorrow was sports day. Abdul Wakeel’s stomach had been churning upside down all day. ‘I hate sports day!’ he cried. ‘I always come last!’
‘Now now son.’ his mother said tapping him gently on his head. ‘You must always try to be positive and always put your trust in Allah. It doesn’t matter what happened last year. Only Allah knows what is written for you tomorrow.’ Abdul Wakeel knew she was right but couldn’t stop himself from believing that he didn’t stand a chance. ‘I know you’re right mother and I will try to do my best to put all my trust in Allah.’ His mother smiled and rubbed his head the way she always did. ‘Well done my son. Now go and get ready for dinner. Your grandfather is coming to give you your lesson soon.’ Nothing had been the same since his father died, but at least he had his grandfather to help to teach him to be a good Muslim. He was a big help to his mother and to him.
Abdul Wakeel joined his mother in the kitchen serving dinner. It smelt great, but he didn’t feel hungry. ‘Mum, why does Mrs Watts keep entering me in the race when I always lose?’ he asked. ‘Because she believes in you son, just as I do. She believes that your day will soon come so believe in yourself ok?’
‘Yes mum.’ he replied and began helping her to bring the food into the dining room.
After dinner, Abdul Wakeel retired to the lounge where his grandfather was waiting for him. He respected his grandfather so much. He was a tall man with a long grey beard. He always wore fine clothes and always looked healthy. He was never without his walking cane as he had a limp. Apart from that, he looked as healthy as any man half his age. He was sitting on the floor in his usual place reading a Qur’an. Masha Allah, his recitation was always so soothing to the ears. Abdul Wakeel waited for his grandfather to stop. ‘As Salaamu alaikum wa Rahmatulah Grandfather.’
‘Wa Alaikum Salaam Wa Rahmatulahi wa barakatu young man. And how are you today? Come and sit down beside me.’ The lesson soon began and Abdul Wakeel finished learning Surah An Nas and went on to Surah Al Falaq. His grandfather taught him the importance of the two surahs and how they can protect you from all kinds of harm. Abdul Wakeel listened carefully at how the Prophet Muhammad (May the peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) used to recite them as a protection against all bad things.
Abdul Wakeel’s grandfather couldn’t help noticing that there seemed to be something troubling him. ‘Is there something you have on your mind son?’ He asked. Abdul Wakeel sighed and began telling him about sports day and the big race he had to compete in. ‘But Grandfather.’ he asked. ‘Why are you smiling?’ His Grandfather patted his head nodding and said, ‘My young grandson. I’m sure that by now your mother has told you to put your trust in Allah yes? Well there’s something more you should know.’ Abdul Wakeel raised his head paying attention to every word. ‘What is that Grandfather?’ he asked. His grandfather continued. ‘You have to remember Allah much and make dua to ask Him to help you in your time of need. And of course there is the special formula.’ Abdul Wakeel’s eyes became wide with excitement. ‘Special formula?’ he cried. ‘What is that Grandfather?’ His grandfather made himself more comfortable and started to explain. ‘The formula to success is found in remembering Allah at all times. It is also found in repeating those surahs of the Qur’an that you learnt today. When you pray, you must concentrate hard on what you are saying and do your best not to let your mind stray to worldly thoughts. You must pray as if you can see Allah but remember. Even though you cannot see Allah, you can be certain that Allah can see you. This is called Kushur and it is a very important formula to success. Finally when you go to bed you must make dua and recite the surahs again. After that my Grandson, you can be sure that there is nothing you can lose except by Allah’s will because if you please Allah, you will always find success.’
It was time to pray the Maghrib prayer and Abdul Wakeel was eager to try to find Kushur. His Grandfather led the prayer and Abdul Wakeel stood next to him. It was a good prayer but his mind wondered a few times and he knew that he could do better. Later at Eesha his mother gave him a rare treat. Although it was late and he had a busy day ahead, he was allowed to pray at the Masjid. As the Imam led the prayer, Abdul Wakeel could feel himself drifting deeper and deeper into the prayer. He could hear every word of the Imam as though he was speaking directly into his ear. He was at total peace. He found Kushur. When the prayer had ended he couldn’t wait to tell his mother who was very pleased to hear the news. ‘Well done son. When we get home you can have a nice glass of warm milk before bed.’
When he was safely tucked into his bed by his mother, he remembered the final part of the formula. He said his bedtime dua and then recited the last three surahs of the Qur’an: Qul Hu wa lahu ahad, Qul a’oothu birabil falaq and Qul a’oothu bi rabbin nas. When he was finished, his mother kissed him on the forehead and wished him a good night’s sleep. He was so tired. He could hear her footsteps as she tiptoed towards the door. He heard the light switch flick up before the room was shot into darkness. He began to drift into a deep sleep. His body was perfectly relaxed. It felt as though his bed was lifting upward through the ceiling and high into the sky. He could even feel the cool night breeze blowing on his face while the clouds stroked his cheeks. The bed felt as though it was lifting higher and higher. He could now hear many voices all speaking at the same time. They sounded like they were the voices of very nice people. He even thought he could hear his father’s calming voice, but he couldn’t open his eyes to see if it was him. Suddenly his bed began to surge forward bouncing up and down as though it were a boat floating on giant waves. The rocking motion seemed to rock him gently and blissfully into a wonderful sleep.
Something wasn’t right. Abdul Wakeel’s body was aching. He wasn’t fully awake yet but he could feel the baking hot sun pressing on his face. I’m sure ummi closed the curtain last night, he thought. There was something else. His quilt seemed a lot heavier than when he went to sleep and it smelt different too. ‘Wake up Abdul Wakeel, wake up!’ Someone was in his room. He rubbed his eyes so he could see more clearly. There was a strange looking boy in his room. He sat in bed silently looking at the boy, and then he looked at the room. ‘This is not my room!’ he declared surprisingly. ‘And who are you?’ he asked the strange looking boy. ‘It’s me silly! Wake up, it’s me Abdullah!’ The boy was behaving as though he had known Abdul Wakeel for a long time, but Abdul Wakeel was certain that he had neither seen the boy nor the room before in his life. I must be dreaming, he thought, but it all felt so real. It wasn’t like any dream he had had before. He got out of bed ignoring the boy and looked around the room. He ran his hand along the heavy stone walls and could feel the dust crumbling between his fingers. There were funny looking candles on all the walls. There was no light bulb or light switch. The ceiling seemed to be made of straw and leaves. He looked back to his bed. It was nothing more than a straw mat with a large fabric sheet to cover him. No wonder he was so uncomfortable, he had been sleeping on the floor. He went to the window. It was a simple square stone hole with small wooden doors that were open. ‘Where’s the glass?’ he asked himself. ‘G – Glass what’s that?’ Abdullah asked. Now Abdul Wakeel turned his attention to Abdullah. He looked to be around the same age as him. He was wearing a type of long woollen gown. It had brown and red stripes on it. Underneath that, he seemed to be wearing a cotton thobe and he wore a white turban that looked clean and fresh. ‘Your clothes are strange.’ he said pointing at Abdullah. Abdullah started laughing and pointing back at him. ‘What’s so funny?’ he asked, and when he looked down he was amazed that his clothes were the same as Abdullah’s. ‘Now I’m really confused!’ he said as Abdullah Fell on the floor with laughter.
While Abdul Wakeel struggled to understand what was happening, a woman walked in. Although he didn’t recognise the clothes, he knew who she was. ‘Ummi!’ he shouted running to her with his arms stretched out. ‘What are you doing here in my dream?’ he asked her. ‘Why I live here, and as far as I can tell, this is not a dream.’ she replied smiling. ‘Now hurry up and have your breakfast. Abdullah has come to help you prepare for the great race tomorrow.’
‘Great race?’ he asked now very excited. ‘Oh Abdul wakeel!’ they both shouted.
After breakfast Abdul Wakeel and Abdullah set off to prepare for the race. He still didn’t know what kind of race it was yet but decided not to ask any more questions. ‘I’ll just play along and see how things turn out.’ he said quietly to himself. As soon as he stepped outside the door he was hit by the heat. The sun was blazing so much, that it was difficult to see too far ahead. When he reached a shaded are he was able to get a better look at where he was. It was amazing. All around him were tall houses made from stone, just like his one. Some were smaller than his, and some were very large. They all had the same type off roof. They seemed to be made from large leaves. There were large mountains all around. The road was very sandy. It seemed like there was sand everywhere. This must be the desert. I must be in Arabia, he thought.
Abdullah led him through a market. There was a lot of excitement there. The people who were selling were shouting out their prices. There were people selling silk, food, baskets filled with spices, large colourful fabrics, wicker baskets, clothes, fruits of every kind and much much more. There were even entertainers performing for money. There was a large group of people gathered in one area. Abdul Wakeel couldn’t see what was going on. As they got near, he could hear that they were all talking about someone. It sounded as though they were talking about a man but he couldn’t hear who. ‘Come on hurry up!’ Abdullah said tugging on his clothes. They carried on until they got through the market.
After walking through some more sandy roads they came to an open area where a small group of children were gathered. When they saw him they all ran to him. ‘As Salaamu alaikum Abdul Wakeel!’ they shouted. Then something strange happened. As he returned the greeting, he suddenly realised that he knew everyone’s name. ‘Wa Alaikum Salaam Hafsa, Luqmaan, Sufiyan, Sarah, Ibrahim.’ How did he know their names? He realised that his dream was becoming real to him, and soon he would forget that he was dreaming altogether. There, in front of him were all of his special friends. There was Hafsah who was always very quiet but the most intelligent of all the children. She was eleven. Her father was a well known sheikh. Then there was Luqmaan. He was a brave and very serious boy aged ten. He was very good with the sword and shield. He was taught how to use them by his father who himself was a great warrior. He fought in many great battles. Next there was Sufiyan. He was the tallest of all the children and he was only nine. He was very slim despite the fact that he ate like a horse. It was a wonder how this boy never got fat. Sarah was eight. She was well known for her poetry. She often wrote about all of the children’s experiences together. Her father was the famous scholar who was an advisor to all the Muslims in the region. Finally there was Ibrahim who was also eight. He was the same height as Abdul Wakeel and very fat. He always wore short tee-shirts which revealed his round shiny belly. It seemed as if he always had something in his mouth. He was the funniest of Abdul Wakeel’s friends and was always telling jokes which made the other children laugh, except Luqmaan. Abdullah who you met earlier was abdul Wakeel’s closest friend. He was also ten and was the same height. He was very fit and strong. Both his mother and father were doctors.
Abdul Wakeel could now remember when he and his friends became a team. It was in an adventure when a very precious relic belonging to all of the tribes went missing. A relic is a very old thing which has survived for a very long time. This relic was a beautiful bowl made of quartz, a special stone. It was decorated with gold and was covered with the finest exotic and very precious jewels. The quartz stone was so brightly polished, that it shone much brighter than the gold and jewels together. It was kept in a large stone case where it was chained down for all to see. It was worth more than all of the money in the whole region. One morning the whole town was awakened by the cries of the guardian of the relic. He had discovered to his horror that it had been stolen. He had only been gone for ten minutes. The thief was still nearby. At first the tribes were blaming each other and there were threats of declaring war. Then Hafsah noticed something. She noticed that the stone case that housed the relic had been smashed. Now everyone knew that there was a special way to unlock the chain. This meant that whoever stole the relic could not have come from any of the tribes. She declared that it had to be a stranger. Her quick thinking prevented any chances of anyone getting hurt in a nasty war. Now that it was clear that the thief was not from the locals, everyone turned their attention to the strangers who were passing through the town. There were several new people there, but Abdul Wakeel noticed a man who was acting strangely. He seemed in such a hurry to pack his things and leave town, right at the very same time the relic had been stolen. Abdul Wakeel thought about telling his father, but he was afraid that he wouldn’t believe him. He had to think quickly. There was only one way in and out of the town. It was along a very narrow track surrounded by deep trenches, which had been dug during one of the earlier battles. This was where he and his friends were going to make a difference. The children jumped on their horses and rode to the trenches. Ibrahim stayed back to tell the adults when the time was right. They arrived at a patch of ground which was exactly what Abdul Wakeel was looking for. Hafsah knew exactly what he was thinking. She jumped off her horse and began collecting pieces of wood that had been lying around. Abdul Wakeel told Sufiyan and Sarah to start collecting sand. The plan was to build a trap using one of the deep trenches. They used the pieces of brittle wood to cover it, then carefully scattered the sand on top to disguise it. When that was done, they quickly dug a hole next to the trap to make it look like part of the trench. When that was done, all that was left to do was to wait. They hid in one of the shallow holes and made dua. They didn’t have to wait long before they could see a horse galloping towards them at speed. Sure enough it was the suspicious man trying to escape with the relic. When he reached the narrow path, he steered his horse away from the hole the children dug and rode straight for the trap. The plan was working. With a loud crash, the man fell through the fragile pieces of wood and into the deep hole. He was trapped with no way out. Abdul Wakeel and friends ran to the hole to see their prisoner. He was unhurt but afraid of what was going to happen to him. He screamed at them to let him out, but they told him that he would have to pay the price for stealing the prized relic.
The people of the town eventually came racing to where the children guarded over their prisoner. They could not believe what they were seeing. They were very impressed with the children. The thief was lifted out of the hole and the relic was recovered. Later they found out that the man had stolen the relic not for greed, but because his family was very poor and his poor mother was dying of hunger. The wise leaders of the tribes gave the man food and told him that he and his family were welcome to come and live in their town. The man was so happy that he said he wanted to become a Muslim. Everyone was happy and Abdul Wakeel and his friends were heroes. The children led him to an area where he could see many horses. They were beautiful and they all looked very powerful and fast. The horses separated and from the middle of them, a beautiful black Arabian stallion came charging towards Abdul Wakeel. He was terrified at first and was about to turn and run, but there was something about this horse. He felt as if he knew it. Yes he thought I know this horse. ‘Burharn!’ he shouted, and as the horse drew close to him, he did something quite amazing. Burharn went behind Abdul Wakeel and lowered his head. Abdul Wakeel ran as fast as he could and jumped as high in the air as a boy his age could. As soon as Burharn got under him, he raised his head high and Abdul Wakeel slid smoothly onto his back and they galloped off into the distance. All the children jumped up and down cheering. ‘We love it when he does that!’ they all shouted. The sand flew high in the air as Burharn kicked his powerful legs. Now Abdul Wakeel remembered the big race. Every year children from the 7 tribes competed in this fantastic event. This was to be his first time and everyone felt that he stood a good chance of winning. The prize was 100 camels and enough gold to make the winner rich.
As he galloped towards the desert, he could hear the distant hooves of another horse. He looked over his shoulder and could see a rider racing towards him. The rider rode so fast, that he seemed to have caught up in the blink of an eye. It was Khalid. Khalid was much older than him and thought himself to be the best rider of all the tribes. He didn’t like Abdul Wakeel at all because he was such a good rider. He saw him as a threat. Soon Khalid caught up and brought his horse alongside him. As he got nearer, he raised his elbow and it came crashing down on him sending him flying off Burharn. ‘Sorry, didn’t see you.’ Khalid lied. Abdul Wakeel picked himself up and rubbed his shoulder. Alhamdulilah he wasn’t hurt too badly. ‘That wasn’t very nice Khalid.’ he said. ‘You could have hurt me.’ Khalid was a bully. Abdul Wakeel made his way back to Burharn but before he could even get close, Khalid used his horse to block his path. His horse rose up on its hind legs and began kicking its front legs just barely missing Abdul Wakeel’s face. ‘Why don’t you run home and cry to your ummy,’ he said in a horrible tone. Abdul Wakeel didn’t want to show it but he was scared. Khalid continued, ‘You will never win the race. Your father works for my father and you are poor.’ Now Abdul Wakeel was upset but he kept calm. ‘Oh Allah please help me to be patient,’ he prayed. Now he felt much stronger and he looked sternly into Khalid’s eyes. Khalid did not feel comfortable with the strong look he was getting from him. He didn’t know what to do next. The other children had seen all what had happened from where they were. They called some adults who were now on their way. ‘You’re lucky this time boy!’ Khalid shouted and then he galloped off into the distance. What a horrible boy!
Later back at home, Abdul Wakeel was very quiet. His mother was seated around a delicious spread of food but he wasn’t hungry. He couldn’t eat a thing. Just then, the door opened and a man walked in. Abdul Wakeel jumped up in surprise. ‘Father!’ he shouted running to him and holding on tightly. It was as if he hadn’t seen him for a lifetime. They soon sat around the food and Abdul Wakeel started to think about his experience with Khalid. His father was worried. ‘What’s wrong my son, not hungry?’ he asked. ‘No Abby,’ he answered. ‘Abby?’
‘How is it that you work for Khalid’s father and we are still poor?’
‘Is that what’s troubling you?’ his father asked. ‘Well son, It is not that we are poor, rather that we are not as rich as Khalid’s father. I earn an honest living. There are many people from our tribe who earn their money by doing things that Allah would not be pleased with. Yes it’s true they have beautiful homes, the best horses and many camels, but those things will not help them when they one day meet Allah. When it is time for the Jummah Prayer, some of them refuse to close their business to worship Allah. One of the most honest men to work for is Abdul Rashid. He is a just and fair man. His wages are not as good as the others but the work is honest.’
Abdul Wakeel was surprised. ‘But Abby if he is such a good man, how can Khalid be so bad?’
‘That is because Abdul Rashid had to go away for a long time leaving his wife Hafsah and Khalid. In that time, Khalid got himself mixed up with some bad boys and did not tell his mother. Make dua for him Insha Allah.’
‘I will Abby.’ Abdul Wakeel said. ‘I will.’
The talk made him feel much better and he felt hungry again. He ate so much that his parents were afraid he was going to burst. After dinner he and his father went to the Masjid to pray the Eesha prayer and when they got home he was exhausted. He gave Salaam and kissed both his parents and jumped in his bed. As he began to doze off he remembered that he was dreaming. ‘Where will I wake up?’ he wondered.
It was the dead of night and all was still and calm. Everyone was fast asleep. Suddenly the stillness was interrupted by an enormous bang. Abdul Wakeel was startled out of his sleep. He sat up. ‘What was that?’ he asked rubbing his eyes. Somewhere in the distance was a large disturbance and no one knew what it was. His father came running into his room. ‘Stay calm and don’t leave the house!’ he commanded and swiftly ran outside to meet a group of men that had gathered outside. Abdul Wakeel could hear them outside his window. Although they were all strong brave men, he could hear that they were worried. This made him feel afraid. ‘Oh Allah please protect us.’ he whispered repeatedly. The men outside became excited. ‘Look, a horse in the distance!’ One of them shouted. ‘It’s moving like the wind!’ said another. Abdul Wakeel jumped out of bed and ran to his window. All he could see was a cloud of dust moving faster than he had ever seen anything move. The men grabbed their swords ready for the mysterious rider. ‘Wait!’ one of them shouted. ‘We know who it is!’ They all shouted with joy. ‘Allahu Akbur! Allahu Akbur! Allahu Akbur!’ Everyone felt so relieved, including Abdul Wakeel who was straining to see who the rider was. ‘How could he have reached that sound so quickly?’ the men wondered. ‘We barely had time to get out of our beds and yet we find that he had already reached the scene.’ Who? Abdul Wakeel wondered. Who were they talking about? He went back to bed and waited for his father to return but he was so tired. ‘I’ll ask him in the morning.’ He said yawning and fell back into a deep sleep.
The following morning he was woken up by the hot sun beating on his face. He quickly opened his eyes and could see that he was still in his dream. How strange it was to go to sleep and wake up the next day, all in the same dream. He sat up in bed and said the dua for waking up, then jumped out of bed realising that his father hadn’t woken him up for the fajr prayer. When he finished his prayer he ran to greet his parents. His father looked very tired. He was out quite late and didn’t get home until after fajr. They didn’t get to talk about the night before because his father was late for work. He put on his large turban and gown and headed for the door. ‘As salaamu Alaikum.’ He said ‘Son I’m sorry I can’t be at the start of the race, but Insha Allah I will be there as soon as I can. Don’t forget what I told you,’ he continued. ‘Don’t push yourself too hard because that will lead you to become hasty and hastiness is not a good thing. Put all of your trust in Allah and ask only Him to help you to victory. Race for Allah’s pleasure and you will never lose, that I promise.’ His father knew that if he won the race, all of their money problems would be over. There was a prize of 100 camels as much gold dinars as they could carry, but it was more important that his son raced to please Allah. Abdul Wakeel thought about his father’s words. Race for Allah’s pleasure, he thought. ‘Insha Allah I will father, and I’ll bring the prize home with the help of Allah so we can live a better life.’ His father smiled and left for work. After a delicious breakfast of honey, dates and fresh bread, washed down with a large cup of camel’s milk, Abdul Wakeel kissed his mother on the cheek and left for the big race. Before he walked through the door, he stopped and struggled to remember the dua for leaving the house. ‘Bismillahi tawakaltu alallah, la hawla wa quwata illa billah.’ Which means: In the name of Allah I put my trust in Allah. There is no force or power except Allah. Then he ran out to meet his friends.
‘Come here you horrible horse. Come and have this nice apple.’ At the back of a field where all the horses soon to race were gathered, Khalid lay hidden. He was trying to feed Abdul Wakeel’s horse Burharn a rotten apple. That would surely make him sick and unable to race. Burharn could sense that something was not right and became agitated. ‘Come here stupid horse!’ he commanded. Burharn bolted backwards disturbing the other horses. Khalid who was by this time very angry, threw the rotten apple in Burharn’s face. It shattered leaving small fragments in the horse’s eyes. Burharn cried out in distress and bolted up onto his hind legs. The other horses began to panic and there was such a large commotion. Everyone ran over to see what was happening. By this time Khalid had slipped away and crept back round to the others. ‘What on earth is going on?’ he asked pretending that he didn’t know. ‘Something is wrong with the horses.’ Someone answered. ‘But look!’ Khalid said. ‘It’s Abdul Wakeel’s horse. That’s the one that is causing the trouble. He should be disqualified from the race.’ Some of the crowd agreed with him but fortunately the leaders of the tribes were not unjust and wanted to learn the cause of the disturbance before any decisions were made. There was a problem. No one could calm the horses. The people tried desperately to settle them, but they were bolting around the field. It seemed as if nothing could stop them. Soon, someone would get hurt.
Abdul Wakeel and friends had just reached the market. They were all excited about the race. He was a little bit nervous but looking forward to it. He would be the youngest rider ever to compete in this prestigious race. It was a special day for his family and his tribe. The children noticed there was a commotion in the market. A crowd had gathered and were talking about the horses. The children ran over to hear what they were saying. They could hear someone talking about one of the horses going mad and how the bad jinn had got inside it. ‘That evil horse has put a spell on the others.’ the person continued. ‘The tribe leaders have declared that if no one can put a stop to it, they will have to shoot an arrow into it.’ The children were shocked to hear this, but when the man described the horse, they screamed. ‘Burharn!’ Abdul Wakeel was almost in tears. He ran as fast as he could to the field where the horses were kept. When he got there he could see the horses running around the field out of control. He could not believe his eyes. There was Burharn ahead of the others. He looked totally mad. ‘Subhanallah!’ he cried. ‘This is not my horse.’ None of the owners of the other horses dared approach them. They were afraid of being trampled to death. Abdul Wakeel was worried about Burharn. He was afraid that something bad might happen to him. Against the advice of everyone gathered, he jumped over the fence into the field. ‘Get out boy!’ they shouted. ‘Be careful, you will be hurt!’ He ignored them and ran to his horse. At first it seemed as though Burharn didn’t recognise his master. Abdul Wakeel began to speak softly. No one could hear what he was saying. He slowly got closer and closer to the horse until finally he was able to stroke him. He continued speaking gently until Burharn had calmed right down. The crowd were amazed. ‘What’s he saying?’ they asked. ‘I don’t know.’ they said shrugging their shoulders. As soon as Burharn calmed down, the other horses followed and Abdul Wakeel led them all to the people. Within moments, all was once again calm. Everyone cheered. His courage and quick thinking prevented any horses from getting hurt or dying. He was summoned by the leaders of the tribes. When he got there they were arguing with one another. Some were praising him for his bravery, while the others were blaming Burharn for the whole incident. They were demanding that he be disqualified. ‘My horse is not a troublemaker!’ he shouted. ‘Then why were the others following him?’ they asked. He wasn’t actually sure why the other horses were following Burharn. He took a closer look at his horse. ‘Look!’ he shouted. They all gathered round. Burharn’s eyes were streaming with tears. ‘Horses don’t cry,’ declared one of the leaders. Then one of them noticed small pieces of rotten apple in his eyes and on his face. ‘This apple was thrown at the horse,’ the man said. ‘This is sabotage, this is sabotage!’ they shouted. ‘But who would do such an evil thing?’ they asked. Abdul Wakeel looked accusingly at Khalid who was now slowly backing away into the crowd. He was so angry. He wanted to run to Khalid and scream and lash out at him, but he was gone. I’ll leave Allah to deal with him he thought. Burharn was alright. That’s all that mattered. As Abdul Wakeel led him away, one of the leaders called him. ‘By the way child, what did you say to the horse to calm it so quickly?’
‘Didn’t you know?’ Abdul Wakeel answered. ‘All animals love to hear Qur’an.
The race was soon to begin and there was much excitement in the town. The riders were all lined up at the start line. The large crowd of spectators pushed and shoved one another for a better position to see the start of the race. It was the hottest day of the year and the haze from the searing heat made it difficult to see farther than a few hundred yards. The beautiful blue sky was filled with birds that soared overhead as if waiting to see the race. The air was filled with the sweet smell of many varieties of delicious food. The town was a hive of activity. The riders were tightly packed together. Abdul Wakeel could see Khalid at the other end of the group. He was watching him and giving him such a horrible look. He couldn’t understand how he could be so bad. They both stopped looking at each other when the man who starts the race walked out in front of the riders raising his flag up high. Abdul Wakeel didn’t notice Khalid making his way towards him. ‘Riders ready!’ the man shouted, then – as if in slow motion, he lowered the flag indicating the start of the great race. Abdul Wakeel’s heart seemed to miss a beat. He kicked his heels firmly into Burharn’s sides and his powerful horse sprang into action. Before they could get into full stride, he felt a heavy elbow barging into his right shoulder and ooff! He was sent flying off his horse. He was nearly trampled by the other horses, but alhamdulilah none touched him. He was badly shaken by the fall but was more upset when he saw Khalid racing into the distance laughing. What a horrible boy! He knew he had to get back into the race before the other riders got too far ahead of him. The crowd wanted to see him win. ‘Get up! – Get up!’ they shouted. Then he heard a familiar voice. It said, ‘Only to please Allah!’ It was his father. He could hear his voice through the voices of hundreds of people. Even Burharn seemed keen to get back into the race. He nudged Abdul Wakeel with his nose, pushing him onto his feet. The noise of the crowd and his father’s words got him excited. He didn’t want to disappoint anyone now. He fixed his clothes and began running in the direction of the riders. ‘What is he doing?’ the people asked. They were all confused, including his father. Burharn followed him kicking his back legs with excitement. Abdul Wakeel ran to a part where the ground was higher and when he got to the top, he leapt high in the air. Burharn was underneath him in a flash and when he landed safely on his back they shot into the distance with amazing speed. The crowd jumped up and down cheering even louder. They were entertained by Abdul Wakeel’s daring stunt. His father was very proud. It didn’t matter if he won or lost that race now. He was a hero.
Burharn ran like no other horse. His great speed surprised even his master now. At times he was going so fast, that Abdul Wakeel found it difficult to hold on. The wind was pushing him backwards and he feared that he might soon fall off. He eventually managed to tuck his body into the wind and cut through it like the great stallion that carried him. Before long they caught up with the riders at the back of the group. They flew past them at blinding speed. The riders were startled by the force at which they passed. One by one they pushed past the other racers. He could now feel the adrenalin rushing through his veins. He egged Burharn to go even faster. They soon passed all the slower riders and far in the distance he could see the leading group.
Now he was encouraged even more. ‘Subhanallah Wa Bi Hamdi, Subhanallah Al Atheem!’ he cried over and over again which means: All the glory is for Allah and praise, all the glory is for Allah the great. Burharn shook his head up and down and let out a loud neigh as though he was repeating the words. Abdul wakeel could see a large trench in the distance. It was the one that slowed everyone down during practise because it was right in the middle of the track. Because it was so wide, the only way to pass it was to go around it. It cost all the riders valuable seconds. He could see the riders in front making their way around and when he got there he pulled on the right rein to lead Burharn to the fastest way around. Then something very frightening happened. Instead of turning right as he was supposed to do, Burharn carried on racing forward. ‘What are you doing?’ Abdul Wakeel cried out in distress. ‘This jump is far too big, we will never make it!’ He was terrified. He felt for the first time in his life that he would be hurt very badly. He yanked desperately at both reins to pull his disobedient horse to a stop but Burharn ignored him. When they reached the trench, Abdul Wakeel could feel the ground slowly moving away from him as Burharn climbed high into the air. ‘Allahu akbar! Allahu akbar! Allahu Akbar!’ he cried feeling both excited and scared at the same time. It felt as though they were soaring through the clouds. He felt light headed and when they finally began to come back to earth, he felt his stomach rising as though it was going to come out of his mouth. With a thundering crash of scattered dust, Burharn hit the ground with such force that Abdul Wakeel was thrown over his head. He thought that he was going to be thrown in front of Burharn and be trampled to death. Just when he thought all was lost, Burharn flipped his head and Abdul Wakeel flew safely back onto his saddle. He couldn’t believe they made it. No horse had ever jumped that far. They rode off leaving the other riders who were still riding around the trench far behind.
Far in the distance Abdul Wakeel could see 3 more riders. He could see that Khalid was in the lead. Burharn pushed faster and faster until at last they reached the first 2 riders. As they passed them he could feel the force of the wind like that of a train going into a tunnel at speed. This caused a kind of typhoon effect and sadly the riders were blown off their horses. Abdul Wakeel pulled hard on the reins and this time Burharn stopped immediately. It was as if he knew the difference between right and wrong. ‘Are you alright?’ he shouted and started to get off his horse. They were both unhurt. ‘We’re ok!’ they answered. ‘Don’t stop for us!’ one of them demanded. ‘Beat Khalid, and may Allah be with you.’ Those were such encouraging words. Abdul Wakeel kicked his legs together once again and they rode like the wind to catch up with Khalid.
Khalid was so far ahead now that Abdul Wakeel felt as though he would never be able to catch him. 2 thirds of the race had already been completed and there wasn’t much time or distance left. He started to recite Qur’an to help pass the time and give some ease to Burharn’s tired limbs. This really helped. Before he knew it, he had caught up with Khalid. The path ahead was getting narrow. He could see that the only way to pass would be to get really close to Khalid. When he saw that Abdul Wakeel had caught up with him, Khalid was very angry. He moved his horse to the middle of the path trying to block Abdul Wakeel’s way through. The 2 horses were now side by side and Abdul Wakeel could see Khalid’s face clearly now. It was ugly with hatred. Khalid raised his elbow up high but before he could knock Abdul Wakeel off his horse, he tugged on burharn’s right rein. The horse jerked to the right just enough to cause Khalid to miss his target. This time Khalid was sent flying off his horse and crashed to the ground with terrifying force. Abdul Wakeel looked back and could see him rolling over and over on the dangerous uneven ground. He drew Burharn’s reins to come to a stop and ran back to check on the boy who had tried to hurt him so many times before.
Abdul Wakeel could see that Khalid was hurt. ‘Are you alright?’ he asked.
‘What do you care Khalid scoffed painfully. ‘Why did you stop? I tried to knock you off your horse again.’ Abdul Wakeel explained to Khalid that a good Muslim should want for his brother what he wants for himself. It would have been terribly wrong to have left him there stranded and injured. He told Khalid that charity was like a precious jewel in Islam and even a smile was considered as charity. Abdul Wakeel remembered what his father had told him before about Khalid being bad because his father had to go away for a long time when he was younger. He looked into Khalid’s eyes and said, ‘Even when you think you are alone, you should know that Allah’s knowledge and love is always with you. With the right intentions and the right company, you can easily succeed both in this life and especially in the next. Just put your trust in Allah my brother.’
Abdul Wakeel saw something that he had never seen before. Although Khalid had tears in his eyes, he was smiling. ‘Thank you friend.’ he said. Abdul Wakeel offered out his hand to help Khalid up. He got up and dusted himself off. Abdul Wakeel had made a new special friend.
Burharn and Khalid’s horse were grazing on the grass just ahead of the boys. ‘Let’s race to please Allah.’ Abdul Wakeel suggested. ‘Yes let’s.’ Khalid replied happily and they both set off to be reunited with their horses. When they arrived at their horses, Khalid turned to Abdul Wakeel. ‘May Allah protect you my friend, and may He forgive me for all the bad things I did to you.’
‘Ameen.’ Abdul Wakeel replied.
In the distance they could see the other riders catching up. Khalid was the first to mount his horse and Abdul Wakeel thought that he was going to ride off and leave him. To his surprise Khalid waited and even helped him up onto Burharn’s back. Together they raced towards the winning post where everyone was waiting.
The end of the race was drawing closer and the boys could see the crowds that had gathered by the finishing line. As they raced onward, Burharn being the faster horse began to leave Khalid behind. Abdul Wakeel could hear him egging his horse to go faster but there was no competition. The gap between them got bigger and bigger and Khalid could do nothing to catch his new friend. For the first time in his life, he didn’t mind the fact that he was not going to be the first. The sound of the cheering crowds was getting louder. Victory surely belonged to Abdul Wakeel. He remembered his father’s words clearly. Race for Allah’s pleasure. He also remembered what he told Khalid not too long before. You must want for your Muslim brother what you want for yourself. Now those words were the loudest thing his mind, much louder than the noise of the crowd. How can I take this victory for myself when my brother deserves it as much as I do? He thought. The finishing line was now just yards away and Abdul Wakeel could feel a heavy weight on his shoulders. He didn’t feel comfortable winning. He pulled slightly on his reins. Burharn lifted his powerful head and slowed a little. Before long, Khalid caught up again. ‘Abdul Wakeel what are you doing?’ he shouted. ‘I’m not sure. It just doesn’t feel right.’ he replied. ‘Well let’s do it together.’ Khalid suggested. Those were wonderful words and they put a big smile on Abdul Wakeel’s face. He stretched out his hand to Khalid.
‘What are they doing?’ the crowd asked one another in surprise. They couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Abdul Wakeel and Khalid were riding side by side holding hands. They crossed the finish line together. It was a draw. The crowd knew what had happened and they were very proud of the 2 boys. It was the best race they had ever seen. They cheered in triumph and threw the boys up and down in celebration. Abdul Wakeel’s father went up to him. He had tears in his eyes. ‘I’m so proud of you son. Today you have proved yourself. You are no longer a boy – you are a man!’
Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!’ they all cried. Khalid was happy too. His father was holding him more closely than he had done for a very long time. ‘You seem different son.’ he said. ‘Father I’m so sorry.’ he replied.
‘No son, it is I who am sorry, for everything. I am sorry for leaving you at a time when you needed me.’ They both cried.
Of course the judges decided to split the prize, but Khalid and his family had no need for the camels and gold dinars as they were already rich. They declared that it should all go to Abdul Wakeel and that they should each get a special winners trophy. Abdul Wakeel and Khalid could see that their father’s were talking quietly to each other. They were both smiling. Then, his father began to smile happily. ‘What is it father?’ he asked. ‘I have some good news my son.’ his father replied. ‘Abdul Rashid has just asked me to be a partner in his business. Our troubles are over thanks to almighty Allah the most Merciful.’ They both jumped up and down with joy. They were no longer poor.
The whole town celebrated for the entire night. The great race was always a special occasion, but this was the best ever. It was almost like Eid. Abdul Wakeel sat with all his friends including his new best friend Khalid. They pledged that they would always be friends as long as it pleased Allah and that they would always do their best to remind each other to do things only for Allah’s pleasure.
Later back at home, Abdul Wakeel and his father explained the great news to his mother. She was so happy that she fell to her knees and praised Allah. They all sat together and planned their future. Abdul Wakeel hadn’t realised how tired he was and had fallen asleep resting on his father’s shoulder. ‘Off to bed with you now young tiger.’ his father said lifting him gently in his arms. Abdul Wakeel was the new hero of his tribe and more importantly, he was his mother and father’s hero. His mother followed as his father carried him to bed. They both kissed him gently on his forehead. ‘Goodnight son.’ they said. He began drifting into a deep sleep. He reached out to his father. ‘Father please, don’t go.’ he cried. ‘Why, I’m not going anywhere son.’ His father replied and soon Abdul Wakeel was fast asleep.
It was Fajr and the sound of the athan rang through the air. The cool early morning breeze rested gently on Abdul Wakeel’s face. The beautiful songs of the early morning birds echoed in harmony with the athan. He was still thinking about the great race and almost forgot to say the dua for waking up. Then something happened that wasn’t quite right, in fact it made his heart almost jump out of his mouth. A large deafening sound swallowed up every other noise he could hear. It crashed against his eardrums. It was an awful sound. ‘RRRRRINGGGGGGG!’ it went, on and on and on. Soon he realised what it was. ‘That’s my alarm clock!’ he shouted quickly opening his eyes. The dream had ended. He was back at home. He jumped out of his bed and ran to his window. He could see houses, parked cars, motorbikes, street lights and shops. Yes this is home he thought. He ran to wash for prayer so that he could pray fajr. He couldn’t wait to see his mother.
When he got downstairs, his mother was waiting. ‘Hurry son, we’re going to miss the prayer.’ She said. Abdul Wakeel gave her a big hug. ‘What’s that for?’ she asked. ‘I love you Ummi.’ he answered. ‘I love you too son.’ she replied looking puzzled. When the prayer had ended, he sat by the window in his bedroom and watched the sun rise. It’s good to be home he thought, but he was missing his friends and his father already. He felt a little sad knowing that he would never see them again. ‘Never mind.’ he told himself as he picked up his Qur’an. ‘Allah will make it easy Insha Allah.
Later at breakfast he was still quiet. ‘Eat up son. You’ll need all your energy for the race today.’ his mother said. He had forgotten about the race. Last night he had raced in the most exciting race of his life, and today he had the school’s sports day race and guess what? He wasn’t worried about it anymore. ‘Are you still worried about the race?’ his mother asked. ‘No mother. I’m fine now.’ he answered. ‘I guess I had a really good sleep.’ he said smiling. Then she said something that made the hair on the back of his neck tingle: ‘Don’t push yourself too hard because that will lead you to become hasty and hastiness is not a good thing. Put all of your trust in Allah and ask only Him to help you to victory. Race for Allah’s pleasure and you will never lose, that I promise.’ He remembered that those were exactly the same words his father had said to him in his dream. He couldn’t wait to get to school to do the best he could with Allah’s help.
It was time for the race but Abdul Wakeel didn’t feel right. ‘What’s wrong Abdul?’ Mrs Watts asked. ‘It’s one thirty miss and I haven’t done my Zuhr prayer yet. I can’t start the race without praying.’ The park was really busy. There were hundreds of children running around practising for their races. It was so noisy. ‘Where on earth are you going to pray?’ Mrs Watts asked. There was a patch of grass next to the canteen where the other teachers were sitting. ‘Over there will be fine miss.’ He ran over to the spot and concentrated for a moment. ‘I must try to find Kushur.’ He told himself. Suddenly the noise of the screaming children all around him began to get quieter and quieter. He raised his hands and said Allahu Akbar and it was as though everything around him disappeared. He did his prayer and felt a warm feeling inside. Now he was ready to race.
‘Hurry up Abdul Wakeel!’ Mrs Watts was worried that he would miss the race. He got to the start line just in time. There was just one more thing to do before he could start the race. ‘Bismillahi Rahman Nir Raheem. Oh Allah I race only to please you and I pray that you will give me the victory.’ The whistle blew and the children darted off the start line leaving him far behind. As he race to catch up, he remembered his dream and the words he used to help him. ‘Subhanallah Wa Bihamdi, Subhanallah al Atheem.’ He said over and over. The children were cheering loudly now. Abdul Wakeel thought how easy the race would have been if he were riding on Burharn. He thought he could hear the distant galloping of a powerful horse. He smiled and shouted Allahu akbar. He was catching up with the others. Soon by the grace of Allah, he began to pass the other runners one by one until he could see the leaders. ‘Oh that’s wonderful!’ Mrs Watts shouted. Abdul Wakeel could see the finishing line now and there were just 2 boys in front of him. He took a deep breath and lowered his head as Burharn would have done. He ran past the first boy who could not believe his eyes and then to the surprise of everyone watching, he passed the leader like the wind. Everyone cheered as he ran through the finishing tape. Abdul Wakeel won the race. He could not believe it. ‘Thank you so much Allah he said.’ He was so happy that he won, but do you know what? He was much happier that he had found Kushur. Alhamdulilah.