Thursday, 17 September 2015

Culled from Enjoy your Life

I once went on a trip to a country to deliver some lectures. The country was well known for having a huge mental hospital, or as the people would refer to it, “the mad people’s hospital.” I delivered two lectures one morning and there remained an hour until Dhuhr.With me was ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, one of the most prominent preachers in that country.As we sat in the car, I turned to him and said, “Abd al-‘Aziz, there is a place I wish to visit, as we have some time.” He said, “Where would you like to go? Your friend, Shaykh ‘Abdullah, has travelled and as for Doctor Ahmad, I phoned him but he didn’t respond. Would you like to go to the heritage museum, or…?” “No. In fact, I would like to visit the mental hospital,” I said. “The mad people?” he asked in surprise. “Yes, the mad people”, I said in response. He laughed and said jokingly, “Why? Perhaps you want to be reassured of your own sanity?” I said, “No. Only to benefit, take lessons and realize Allah’s Abd al-‘Aziz remained silent, thinking about their condition. I realized that he was a little upset, because he was quite an emotional person. He took me to the hospital in his car. We arrived at a site that looked like a cave. It was surrounded by trees from all sides. It was noticeably a very depressing environment. We met one of the doctors who welcomed us and took us for a tour of the hospital. The doctor then began to relate to us the suffering of the patients and said, “Hearing about something is not the same as witnessing it yourself.” We went passed a passageway where I heard voices coming from different directions. The patient wards were on either sides of the lobby. We went past a room to the right. I looked therein to notice more than ten empty beds, and one on which there was a man lying down, shaking his hands and feet. I turned to the doctor and said, “What is this?” He said, “He is crazy. He gets epilepsy attacks every five to six hours.” I said, ‘There is no power nor might except with Allah! How long has he been like this for?” He said, “For more than ten years.” I took it as a lesson for myself and walked on silently. After walking a few steps further, we passed by another room with the door closed. The door had an opening through which a man inside was looking out and making signs to us which we couldn’t understand. I attempted to have a glance inside the room only to find that the walls and the floor were all brown. I asked the doctor, “What is this?” The doctor replied, “A crazy person!” 48 I felt that he was not taking me seriously, so I said to him, “I know he is crazy, for if he was sane he wouldn’t be here. I want to know what his story is.” He replied, “If this man sees a wall, his limbs spring into action and he begins to hit the wall with his hands, or his feet and sometimes his head. One day his fingers are broken, another day his legs and yet another day he cracks his skull, etc.” The doctor then lowered his head in sorrow and said, “We weren’t able to treat him, so we’ve locked him up in a room as you can see. The walls and the floor are covered with sponge, so he can beat himself however he wishes.” The doctor was then silent and walked on ahead of us. As for my friend and I, we simply stood there saying, “Praise be to Allah who has saved us from what He has afflicted them with.” We then went ahead passing by many rooms on either side of us, until we passed by a room with no beds. There were more than thirty men inside, each on his own. One person was giving Adhan, another was singing, another was turning round and round, while another was dancing. There were three men amongst them who were made to sit on chairs with their hands and feet tied. They were looking around and trying to turn around but could not. I became shocked and asked the doctor, “What is wrong with these people? Why did you tie them up and not the others?” He replied, “The problem with these three is that when they see something in front of them, they strike it. They break the windows, air conditioners, doors, etc. We therefore tied them up like this from morning till evening.” I said, “Since when have they been like this?” 48 He replied, “This one for about ten years, that one for about seven and the other one is relatively new here; he has only been here for five years!” I left their room contemplating their state, and praising Allah who had saved me from what he had afflicted them with. I asked him, “Where is the hospital exit?” He said, “There is still one room left to see. Perhaps there is an additional lesson to be learnt from it. Come with me.” He took me by my hand to a large room. He opened the door, took my hand and entered the room. The scene in the room was similar to what I had seen in the previous room: a group of patients, every one of them alone, one dancing, another sleeping, etc. And to my surprise, what did I see? A man who was beyond fifty years of age,his hair grey,was squatting on the floor. He was squashed down low, staring at us and was visibly terrified. All of this was bearable, but the strangest thing that frightened me and nearly made me jump, was the fact that the man was completely naked and did not even have a piece of cloth to cover his private parts! My facial complexion changed and I immediately turned to the doctor. When he saw the redness in my eyes, he said, “Cool your anger. I will explain to you his condition. This man, whenever we make him wear a garment, he bites it with his teeth, tears it apart and tries to swallow it. In one day, we may give him more than ten sets of clothes to wear, and they will all be torn apart. The man is unable to bear any piece of clothing on his skin, thus we leave him like this come summer or winter. All those around him are mentally ill, unable to comprehend his condition.” I left the room and was unable to bear any more. I said to the doctor, “Please take me to the exit.” I said, “Actually, some sections are still left to visit.” He said, “I think, what we have seen so far is sufficient.” The doctor walked on and I walked beside him. He was walking past many wards while we remained silent. Suddenly, he turned to me as if he had just remembered something and said, “Dear Shaykh, there is a person here who was a prominent businessman. He is a millionaire. He became mentally ill, so his children brought him here and left him two years ago. There is another person here who was an engineer. Another person here was…”The doctor began informing me of those who were degraded after being honourable, and others who became poor after being rich, and so on. I was walking through the patient rooms thinking, “Glory be to the One who apportioned provision amongst the slaves. He gives to whomever He wills and withholds from whomever He wills.” Allah may provide someone with wealth, noble lineage and status, yet deprive him of sanity. You will find him the wealthiest and the strongest of all, yet he is imprisoned in a mental hospital. Allah may give another person a noble lineage, abundant wealth and great intellect, yet deprive him of health.You will find him lying on his bed for twenty or thirty years.