There he sat, the legs that once leapt so high you thought he would never come back down to earth as us mortal do. His legs were folded Indian style. His long muscular arms resting in his lap, his still chiseled chest heaving with humbleness. He sat there, a majestic being in an extreme contrast with the normality of men sitting around him. He sat…just listening intently to the khutba. Occaisionally, he would nod his head in acknowledgment of sentiments shared by the khatib. He was there on Jummah with concentration (Khushu as the sheihks say), deliberately present in every moment. There was no nodding off, or playing with his phone or tracing his finger on the amazingly distracting carpet he sat on. His humbleness permeated in the presence of his creator who had blessed him with tremendous talent. He sat there just 1 row ahead of me…the first saf; envy of the late comers who missed the chance to procure a spot where Allah’s mercy shines brighter.
Someone so great at what he did in his profession that they wanted to make a statue of his likeness. He refused. The likeness of a true slave of Allah cannot be imprisoned by clay, stone, and mud. He has a much greater purpose than his contemporaries who have their statues shamelessly soliciting praise for themselves. His purpose for being there in the first row was to put his head to the floor, rub his nose against the clay, stone, and mud. As he knelt, bowed, and stood with folded arms, you could tell his purpose was to worship the Lord who blessed him with so much. His strength was in his submission to his Lord. His thirst was to obtain praise from his Lord; not by those the Lord had created. He sought after the acknowledgement from his lord. To have his Lord mention his name in the gathering of the angels; that is why he shuns the praise from the world. He seeks a greater reward from his Lord than being in the Hall of Fame of the NBA. He is the NBA all-time leader in rebounds, one of the fiercest centers to ever play the game of Basketball. He was there sitting 1 row ahead of me. Yes, I was star struck by his presence but more so with his humbleness in front of his Lord. My hero was and is Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon.