Imagine witnessing a murder, and there's nothing you can do about it.
Reading the Washington Post, I came across a first page article that really struck me; it was basically about an Amtrak engineer who had watched a dozen suicides happen in front of his eyes over the course of twenty years. People would be sitting in the middle of train tracks just waiting to be hit, and the train engineers would not be able to deter the person with their frantic horn blasts and their attempts to brake the 75-mph train. As I read through the article, I was wonderstruck at how similar it was to our situation as Muslims living, walking, and interacting with people from all walks of life.
The article mentions:
“When I looked in the mirror, he was tumbling in the air, just flying,” Evans said. “I can see it as clearly as if it was happening in front of me right now.”
Colorfast mental snapshots of horror, a sense of overwhelming helplessness, sympathy and sometimes anger — these are the aftershocks that engineers and subway train operators report from their special perch as unwilling agents of sudden death.”
Imagine yourself, witnessing a murder happening right in front of you – maybe even due to you – and there’s nothing that you can do about it. Now think of those you see everyday, careening down the tracks towards a hellish destination – maybe even due to you – and you just don’t know what to do anymore. Do you also feel helpless, sympathetic, and angry…that they just don’t get it? That they just don’t want to change?
“Metro’s wide windshields are designed to maximize the engineer’s view. Unfortunately, that means train operators see tragedy unfold with widescreen clarity, a high-def horror they never forget.”
What better view do we have other than our own eyes, through which we get a full panorama of everything happening around us? Even with this maximized, high-def view, we have become desensitized. We see murder scenes on televisions, hear reports of dead victims in an earthquake, read tallying scores of war casualties on Twitter, but yet, our feelings of sadness have ebbed away. Why do we no longer feel the ‘high-def’ horror of seeing someone paving their life and way towards Hell?
“…The flip side of not being responsible is the devastating feeling of not be able to do anything in the moments before impact. The driver of a car might at least have the option of swerving out of the way or slamming on the brakes. The driver of a train doesn’t steer, and it can take a half-mile or more to stop. Evans has conditioned himself not to hit the emergency brake, a futile gesture more likely to injure passengers or derail the train than protect the person out front.”
Have we had prior experiences that no matter how much we tried, our attempts were futile? And ever since then, we just stopped hitting ‘the emergency brake’ and stopped calling people to Islam, worried that they’d now be accountable to follow the truth?
“The operator’s sense of helplessness can be worse when the person on the tracks doesn’t actually want to die.”
We sometimes come across those that really don’t believe in their religion and are looking for a way out. However, due to family or a fear of change, they may feel unable to make that transformation. This was the case for Abu Talib, who knew Islam to be the truth, but couldn’t follow it due to the pressure of abiding by ancestral traditions.
However, like the Prophet, we got to do as much as we can in hard times like those.
We’re not as hopeless as these train engineers that can’t do anything when a murder’s about to happen. Alhamdulillah, Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) gave us much more freedom to do something. We have a full view of the way people are living their lives and may sometimes feel a sense of hopelessness. But get over it. The Prophet did, and ended up making the whole of Arabia Muslim and the 1.5 billion Muslims now. Go help a Da’wah initiative. Be a true ambassador of Islam. You have potential to make somebody Muslim, so live up to that potential.
May Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) guide us, guide all those around us, and bring us together in Jannatul Firdaus. Ameen…