New Life To Begin

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Narrated by A'isha (may Allah be pleased with her): While I was on a journey with the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), I had a footrace with him and I won. Later, when I had gained weight, I had another race with him and he won, then he said, "This is for that (first race)!" (Abu Dawud 2578)

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LONDON

In the days following their wedding, Ahmad and Ahlaam enjoyed their time together privately. On the last day before their flight to America, though, Ahmad decided to take Ahlaam back to her favorite park one last time for a romantic picnic. The two shared a light meal and pleasant conversations, but Ahlaam needed to create one final memory at the park she'd loved since childhood.

"I want to have a race," she said, almost as though she were asking permission. Ahmad turned to her in question and she repeated it more firmly.

"Here?" he asked. "Now?"

"Yeah, don't you think it'll be fun?" With her arms wrapped around her her knees, she looked around the park. It was a mildly chilly day, with only a few patches of blue sky visible behind the the light gray clouds. Not many other people had come out; for the most part, their company was simply just the various trees growing about.

Ahmad also looked around, but all that was necessary to convince him was the look in his wife's eyes. When her gaze returned to him, he smiled with approval and got to his feet. "Well, come on now slowpoke," he teased.

Ahlaam raised her eyebrow, and he reached his hand out to help her up. With Ahlaam on her feet, the two looked to determine a track. Ahlaam suggested a single lap around one of the small ponds in the garden area, but Ahmad shook his head. Instead, he pointed to a row of trees that lined the walking path.

Their finish line would be the last tree at the end. It was a straight sprint for perhaps a minute or less of running, something he felt they could both manage despite his flowing, white thobe and her baggy, black abaya. Ahlaam accepted the challenge with a playful boast that she had always been the fastest runner amongst her friends and classmates, a straight dash would be an easy win.

Ahmad said nothing, and the two took their places at the start. Ahlaam smiled confidently as she envisioned herself crossing the finish line just before her husband, and the countdown began. Ahlaam took a deep inhale of the brisk air around. Then, when Ahmad called out, "GO," she took off with a burst of energy.

The sound of her hijab fluttering in the wind filled her ears as her tiny feet slapped against the pavement. The trees were like a blur as she passed by one after another. Far behind, Ahmad could only blink in amazement at her unexpected speed. He would have to put some actual effort into winning, it seemed.

She took one peek back and her laughter bubbled over. He was coming in fast, but she was already near the halfway point. With all her might, she pressed on ahead. Step by step she beat the path. Her arms were swinging. Her feet barely touched the ground before flying for the next step.

But, she heard laughter.

It was getting louder. Between the pulse of her heart and the pounding of her feet, she could hear his breathing. Closer. And Closer. And...

"And he makes an astonishing comeback, the crowd goes wild," Ahmad announced as he ran up at her side.

"Quiet you," Ahlaam laughed, trying to push him aside as she kept running ahead.

Ahmad stumbled for a second but he was right back at her side in no time. With a teasing grin, he dodged another playful shove. "Would you like to have a drink with this dust you're about to eat, Ms. Fastest-runner?"

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