A MONTH AGO, I was honored to be in Madinah. As we sadly said goodbye to the blessed city and headed toward the airport, I turned my phone on ‘airplane mode’ since we were about to get on a flight and I didn’t have data anyway. As the Mountain of Uhud came into view, I began videotaping it, imaging the time when the beloved Prophet ﷺ was standing upon it. And then I laid my phone next to me on the seat and prepared myself to get out of the taxi.
We arrived, got our bags from the trunk, thanked the driver and headed inside the airport. And within less than one minute I stopped short and realized: I forgot my phone in the taxi.
I had just been gifted a brand-new phone about a week before. I have always bought old, used phones and this was a generous gift. I had so many new notes, so many cherished pictures, so much personal information. And because of a mistake I made, because of my own carelessness, it was all lost.
I rushed back outside in hopes that the taxi driver would still be there. He was not. I started making some intense, serious duʿâ’. I begged Allah, pleading that He open the doors for me.
I begged with certainty, recalling the instruction of the Prophet ﷺ,
Have certainty that Allah subḥanahu wa taʿala will answer your duʿâ’.
The Prophet ﷺ said,
Ask Allah with certainty that He will answer your prayers. (Tirmidhi)
My heart was emotionally present, aware that,
Allah does not answer a duʿâ’ from a distracted heart. (Tirmidhi)
I had no doubt that Allah answers because He commands us,
And your Lord says, Call on Me; I will answer your [prayer]. [Sûrat Ghâfir, 40:60]
And He promises us,
I respond and accept the duʿâ’ of the one who supplicates unto me. [Sûrat Al-Baqarah, 2:186]
I begged Him, with my hands open, arms raised in distress, calling upon His Generosity, knowing,
Verily, Allah is modest and noble. He feels ashamed that a servant lifts up his hand in supplication and he is returned empty handed. (Abû Dâwûd).
I tried not to be impatient because the Prophet ﷺ said,
The supplication of a slave continues to be granted as long as he does not supplicate for a sinful thing or for something that would cut off the ties of kinship and he does not grow impatient.” It was said: “O Messenger of Allah! What does growing impatient mean?” He ﷺ said, “It is one’s saying: `I supplicated again and again but I do not think that my prayer will be answered.’ Then he becomes frustrated (in such circumstances) and gives up supplication altogether.’ (Muslim)
But I felt a sense of urgency because time was passing and the flight was drawing nearer. And as I stood staring at the street, the taxi never came back. The phone was on airplane mode so even when we tried to call it, nothing would go through. And eventually, we had to leave to catch our flight. I was dejected. I knew there was wisdom in Him not causing the taxi to return, but I felt horrible and so irresponsible that I had lost my phone in the first place.
And finally, with my husband’s kind words of acceptance of losing the item, with my mother-in-law’s gentle reminder that thank God it was just property and not any harm to us or our loved ones, I moved on.
I knew the duʿâ’ that I had made was not at a loss; I knew He would answer me in a different way even if the taxi did not come back, even if my phone was not in my hands. I reflected on the hadith,
There is no Muslim who calls upon Allah with words in which there is no sin or the severing of family ties but Allah will give him one of three things: either He will answer his prayer soon, or He will store it up for him in the Hereafter, or He will remove something bad from him that is equivalent to what he is asking for.” They said, “Then we should make a great amount of duʿâ’.” He said, “Allah is greater” (Tirmidhi).
Was Allah protecting me from something else by my phone not being returned? Was there wisdom in my not being attached to this item I myself had irresponsibly lost?
When we arrived to Dubai, my husband handed me my old cell phone which he had brought so we could put a Dubai sim in it. He had bought the sim for my old phone and although he wasn’t originally planning on doing so, a family member encouraged him to get one anyway.
As he set up our phones, he intended to text my Dubai number with his Dubai number so we could keep in touch. But he accidentally texted my US number, the one on my now ‘old’ phone which had been lost in the taxi in Madinah.
“Whoops,” he said. “I texted your U.S. number by mistake.”
But later, his phone started ringing, and it was a Saudi number. I answered and a woman said, “I found a phone in a taxi in Madinah.”
Allâhu Akbar. Allâhu Akbar! Allâhu Akbar!
I was in complete dismay. You know what happened? First, she was incredibly honest, may God bless her with every good of both worlds. Second, she knew how to turn the phone off airplane mode. Third, if my husband had texted me from his own U.S. phone number, it would have shown up as, “Omar.” Because my phone was locked, she wouldn’t have been able to text back or call back. She also couldn’t see his number because it was saved as his name and the only way she could see the number was by unlocking the phone- which she couldn’t do because she obviously didn’t have my pass-code.
But because of the “mistake” of texting my U.S. number through an unsaved Dubai number, the text came up as a string of numbers on the lock screen. She was able to view the numbers and because of this, she was able to dial that phone number and reach us.
I was just completely blown away at Allah’s incredible power and generosity. But I was then in Dubai- how could I get it back?
Alḥamdulillâh, through a friend’s friend I got the contact information for an incredibly kind couple currently studying in Madinah. May Allah bless them with every good of both worlds. They contacted the sister and got the phone from her.
The week after, another friend of mine went from the States to perform ʿUmrah. She met the couple in Makkah and got the phone from them. May Allah bless them all!
I was scheduled to speak at a conference only 20 minutes away from the home of the ʿUmrah friend, in fact, the very next day after she was scheduled to return from Makkah. Now, my friend lives 6 hours away from me.
So I’m sitting at the conference, and my friend’s sister comes up to me and hands me the very same phone that I had lost in Madinah almost a month before! Allâhu Akbar!
Since then, every time I look at that phone, I recall the moment I was making duʿâ’ with fervor.
Yes, it’s just a ‘thing.’ But look at all the links in the process which Allah –the Powerful, the Generous– put in motion so that I could get my phone back. He opened the hearts of the kindest people, He made it possible for all of them to link up in such perfectly orchestrated ways and He returned my lost item with such perfection that I was speechless.
If He made all of this possible for me to get my cell phone back, then what about you? What about you who cry to Him when your child has ignored your calls over and over and over again? What about you who begged Him to help you while you thought about cutting yourself off yet again? What about you who shoulder the financial burdens of your family and struggle day after day with the fear and worry of your family’s security? What about you who are lonely, afraid, and who see no options ahead? What about you who are sick and who are crying out to Him in the depths of darkness and need?
Maybe the answer won’t come quite the way you might expect, but there is no way He will not answer your duʿâ’. Just ask, and keep asking.
The Prophet ﷺ said,
Verily your Lord is Generous and Shy. If His servant raises his hands to Him [in supplication], He becomes shy to return them empty. (Aḥmad)