Shepherds: A Christmas Story by a Muslim Woman (a true story)

Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Allah did not send any Prophet but that he cared for sheep” The companion asked, “And you as well?” “Yes, I was a shepherd with a modest wage on behalf of the people of Mecca.” Sahih al-Bukhari 2143

She sat in the cold car with seven blankets shivering to stay warm. It was a cold, starry night, and as usual she fell asleep gazing at the stars with tears falling down her face. Alone, but making dua to ask Allah for help in providing what she needed to survive the winter.

The shepherds looked up at the night sky and observed a star they had never seen before. The message of the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy filled their hearts with the quiet whisper of Allah to follow the sound of a babe’s cries. Those humble shepherds keeping watch over their sheep at night, alone, but always watching and listening.

Homeless cast away, car battery dead, almost out of food, and needing warm clothes. Hungry. A Muslim convert rejected by her family for converting to Islam.

Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: ‘When Allah desires good for someone, He tries him with hardship.” Sahih al-Bukhari

It is the night watchers in the silent darkness that can hear and see suffering, and not the arrogant daytime shufflers too busy to respond to those in need.

Startled awake by a loud rapping on the car window, she pushes the blanket away from her face and observes two women. After she rolls down the window they ask her what they can do to help. They were cleaning a third floor office at 3:00 am and saw her sleeping in her car two nights before Christmas. She explains her situation, and they decide, a mother and daughter, that they will use their Christmas bonus to get her car started, fill the tank with gas, and purchase clothing and food at a 24 hour Walmart. She imagines all the wonderful things they were going to purchase for themselves with their bonus, and wonder how they could sacrifice a blessing like that for someone else. She asks them if they are Christians. They respond they are non-believers.

She thinks about the Muslim sisters she has had conversations with walking past her at the library, ignoring her during Ramadan when they found out she was homeless. Carelessness.

“And certainly, We shall test you with fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but then will give great spiritual blessings to the steadfast.” Qur’an 2:155

Who else is Allah testing?

No home, no family, no community. But the watchers of the night — it was those that Allah sent, purchasing every single item she asked Allah for during her dua — alhamdullilah! It is in the silence when He speaks to us, when our hearts are filled with peace, when we are aware of His Movement with the voice that speaks but that which is not heard.

It is suffering that shoots streams of creativity out of my heart, and the brokenness of life that explodes my heart into its soul.