On Friday, I was rescued when I didn’t want to be. It was parent-teacher interview time and some nice teachers had noticed through the almost all-glass walls of my classroom that I’d been with a parent for over an hour. He was standing, I was sitting and the student was sprawled on a chair half-asleep.

They motioned with their hands – querying are you ok? I flicked them a smile back. But 10 minutes later, an extra-nice teacher knocked on the door, opened it and informed me I was needed in the library. The parent left and I found out in the library I’d been rescued from what they thought was a hostile parent situation. No, I said, it was a faith-less parent situation.

He was standing because he could not sit. A portion of his spine had been damaged in a terrible car accident in mid-September. He was a hard-working man unused to spending his time waiting to hear what was to become of his ability to contribute to his family. The doctors were unsure. The insurance company was weighing things. His wife was working non-stop.

We spent over an hour going from his daughter’s achievements to her preoccupation with her father’s injury to his inability to hope. He had grown up with God he said and it had very much grown on his heart – the focus on being good, ethical, value-driven. But now, the happenings in the world (“why are the vulnerable getting the worst of it?” he asked), the accident and the unethical way he perceived he was being handled by insurance companies, doctors etc was taking a toll on his beliefs. Why, if I lived my life following all rules and then some (he got into the accident swerving to protect another car), did this happen to me? he wondered.

How do you persuade someone to continue faith? I wondered as I listened. I could hear, in his voice and from the way he spoke, that he desired to be convinced. I was a Muslim, he was not – what currency would I use to convey the importance of hope?

As we spoke, I realized how valuable faith was. By faith I mean a strong world-view centered on God. This man, though he had believed in God before, had become slowly disillusioned with his own religious tradition to the point that he used the deficiencies he saw in it to justify his current faith-lessness.

Our world-view as Muslims includes the belief that all good and bad comes from God. That our conduct through the extreme bad times is the truest test of our mettle. And that some get tested with worse times than others and those are they who are most beloved by God and the weight of these souls – should they continue with grace and faith and patience – was of more worth than of those who lived their lives with ease. To believe all this through the hardest of times is true faith.

I did my best to try to rescue and bolster this father’s faith. At the end of it, he shuffled out accepting my offer to pray for him, his daughter holding onto his hand to lead him into the hall.

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