Of That Seat and The Emergency Exit


“Ahh~~ we’re here.” Joyah’s whisper slowly crept into the ears of her sleeping friend.
Still drowsy and tired from the journey, they lazily dragged their feet towards the plane exit. Her droopy eyes were rubbed vigorously to wake up her dormant brain. After a series of passport checking, taking off her jacket, belt, shoes and putting them back on, Joyah and her friend Timah started looking for the gate for their next flight, gate D71; since Amsterdam was just a transit.
As her eyes scanned the yellow boarding pass that she was holding, her eyeballs almost popped out from their sockets when they came across these numbers: Boarding, 7.20 am; Take-off, 8.00am.
“7.29 am...” mumbled the girl in the blue tudung unbelievingly to herself...One signboard after another, their steps went faster and faster until gradually, their legs were practically flying, hurrying themselves; squeezing their bodies between people and their large luggages. To their horror, the way to the gate was veeerrry veeerryy long and tortuous. When they thought that they were near, they would be disappointed by yet another signboard. Right, straight, left, straight, straight, straight......left and straight again...There’s this one signboard actually says that walking to the gate would take 15 minutes more of their time! Sprinting like crazy, while holding on to her trousers tightly (she didn’t get the chance to put on her belt back after the inspections), Joyah managed to get in the line just in time; with Timah right behind her; red-faced, panting loudly.
Finally the two companions went to their assigned seats.
“Yah, Yah...do you want to sit beside the window? I got to sit there on the previous flight.” offered Timah to her friend with blue tudung whose lips curled into a smile, “Yes, yes. That would be very nice indeed!”

Looking outside the box  plane
Joyah gaily stepped towards the window seat, totally unaware of the hidden significance of that very territory. Smiling from ear to ear, Joyah silently sat and took a peak outside the window. “Amsterdam is quite a beautiful place, it’s a shame we didn’t get to walk around more....” she monologued to herself, leaving a fog on the smooth window surface. Barely seated, a friendly-looking stewardess with dark hair paced towards them, and rested her right hand on the seat beside Timah’s.
“Hello!” the tall woman started.
“Hello..” they replied.
“Your seats are located at the emergency exit.” Shifting her look towards Joyah, she added, “In case of emergency, are you able and are you willing to open the emergency exit?”
Joyah nodded half-heartedly, imagining her small hands pulling and thrusting the red handle above her head, and then uttered, “I think so?” as if doubting herself. A rather similar memory played inside her mind, like it was just yesterday.
Joyah, who was then, a very young girl, went on a plane to travel somewhere she couldn’t quite remember with her family. She got a window seat. She was a very innocent girl, with a blurred expression; “lurus bendul” as people usually call it. A stewardess just like this one came up to her and said to her and her parents “I’m afraid, you cannot sit here. You see, this seat is right beside the emergency exit. You may not have the strength to open it when needed. Sorry miss, can you switch places with this gentleman instead?” Young Joyah obediently hopped off from the seat and sat at the place where the man sat, and the man took hers, right beside the window.
As Joyah’s childhood memories kept on replaying inside her mind, her face and eyes fixed, staring right through the stewardess. Those memories; as sudden as they started, suddenly came to a halt when the stewardess continued:
“In case of an emergency, you would have to slip your hands there and pull the handle down towards yourself and blablablabla.....,” still smiling, the stewardess explained with great detail on how to open the door and what Joyah would have to do if catastrophe strikes. She continued, “...but just don’t open the door if there’s a fire outside.”
“All is clear?”
Joyah, Timah, and the bearded guy sitting next to them nodded together, like curious schoolchildren in a class of three persons. The stewardess wished them a nice flight and went on to do her work. Right when Joyah thought that she knew what to do, another stewardess with a friendly smile came towards them.
“Miss, you cannot have your things here, they must be put UP there, and you cannot put them down here.”  The stewardess reminded her as if the tall women with a ponytail read Joyah’s thoughts directly from her mind like an open book.
She was actually thinking of putting her bag under the front seat like she always does in her previous flights, because it’d be easier for her to reach the things inside her bag; whenever she wanted to. Joyah scanned the emergency area bit by bit. Only then she realised that there was a sign just under the folded table, saying no bags allowed under the front seat; and the same sign glaring at her, right under the window pane. It is so, maybe, because bags can hinder people from running for their lives tripping them along the way to the rather petite rectangular-shaped emergency exit.

NOTHING can be put under the front seat...
Joyah’s brown bag was opened and roughly shaken, as she rummaged her fingers inside the small compartment to reach for her passport and visa. Into the pocket of her black palto they went. The coins inside her pockets rattled loudly when she took off her palto to make herself more comfortable. She placed the old palto on her lap, and fastened the seatbelt above it.
As usual, a stewardess demonstrated to the passengers how to use the life jacket, to blow into the tubes if they are not inflated, and told the whole plain that the tiny lights on the jacket would turn on if they come into contact with water. But the thing that grabbed Joyah attention was when the announcer said:
“You must not take your belongings with you when you leave the plane through the emergency exit...”
Somehow, that was the first time she heard that part of the emergency drill. Looking up at the place where her bag was kept, her mind couldn’t help thinking about the precious things inside that bag; including a small laptop borrowed from a friend. If the bag can be put under the front seat, it would be very easy for her to snatch it and run in emergencies. (even though the announcer said that she can’t do that) “Owwhh...” sighed Joyah..the things she had to do, the sacrifices she had to make to fulfil the requirements of being the person in that seat.
After some time, again, to her surprise, the stewardess with dark hair came back, and asked her whether she wanted to wear the palto which was resting on her lap or not.
“Nope”, she answered.
“In that case, you have to put the palto UP there.”

Emergency exit row~
Joyah felt a little bit insecure as all her belongings seemed to be stripped off and had to be put away, very far from her. Even her passport wasn’t excluded. Sitting silently in her seat with nothing but the clothes on her back, she started to realize more things about the emergency area: her leg space was rather big, enabling her to stretch her legs, move them around whenever and however she liked. Her feelings were elated, seeing her legs stretched, totally rested and comfy. She couldn’t stop her lips from jerking into a big smile when her dark brown eyes caught a look of the fascinating scenery from the other side of the small window. Totally excited, and pumped up, her hands itched to pull the handle and hop off through the exit just to let herself out, and stroll along paths of the picturesque; enchanting Espana.
As her mimetic muscles cramped up as a consequence of smiling continuously, gazing and appreciating the scene outside; the series of cool scenes and events happened that morning made her muscles cramp up more when she realised the ibrah, the analogies which stringed and attached to them.
When they first arrived at Amsterdam, Joyah and Minah were oblivious of the situation and walked slowly, but when they realized that the boarding time would be in a matter minutes; they naturally started to run and continued running like the wind till they reached the gate; though sometimes the tortuous and the never ending signboards may have weakened their spirits because they knew that if they slack off, took some rest; the plane would soar into the sky with 2 passengers less, leaving them behind; crying their eyes out.
When Joyah was young, she was ignorant and lived in a happy world that she surrounded herself with. Unaware of her true responsibilities, she was absorbed in her own world of games and time- wasting. But gradually as she grew up and mature, she started to gain more knowledge about the truth of her life, which alarmed her self of the heaviness of responsibilities, which she had neglected for a long time. She knew that she had to run, sprint right now; just to catch up with the responsibilities of a muslimah, a humble slave of Allah, so that she wouldn’t fall behind; while the train of chances merrily moved along the tracks right in front of her.” Choo, choo!”
Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the truth? And let them not be like those who were given the Scripture before, and a long period passed over them, so their hearts hardened; and many of them are defiantly disobedient.” Al-Hadid:16
When Joyah and Timah’s spirits were weakened by the long and tortuous road, they kept on running because they knew that there was no other way for them to reach gate D71. Joyah was reminded of the longer, rockier and more tortuous road that we have to go through to reach the unimaginably coolest place ever- JANNAh~! Reaching gate D71, she knew that the road she chose to take, the path to Jannah insyaAllah, would be the longest road ever, and this was the only road she could take to gain mardhatillah, to have a place in jannah.
And certainly were messengers denied before you, but they were patient over [the effects of] denial, and they were harmed until Our victory came to them. And none can alter the words of Allah . And there has certainly come to you some information about the [previous] messengers.” -Al-An’am:34
 “Do the people think that they will be left to say, "We believe" and they will not be tried? -Al-Ankabut:2
When she got the sit beside the emergency exit, the long lost memories of her childhood flowed, gushing through her mind. She knew now, when she was just a little girl, her strength and effort wasn’t as powerful as an adult’s, partly because of her muscle size; and partly because her comprehension towards her responsibilities of sitting beside the emergency exit was low. As little kids, there were lots of things we didn’t know or simply couldn’t be fathomed by our growing minds.
But now, Joyah is a young  adult- with strength and rigour at their full potential. Her understanding towards the danger, the responsibilities of taking that normal-looking seat with a hidden meaning excited her, much more than it scared her. Yes, she was a little bit concerned at first; remembering her past, since the stewardess didn’t have the courage and didn’t believe that she could carry the responsibilities which came with the seat; her seat.

But when the stewardess explained what she had to do in great detail, her worries vanished into thin air. The instructions inscribed above the emergency exit, and another, on the back side folded table, glaring at all times, right in front of her eyes; assured her. The question which came from the mouth of the stewardess touched and shook her heart, more than the vibrations it caused to her eardrum.
“Are you willing....?”
Those words struck her beating heart like lightning, as the ayahs from the Al-Ma’thurat peaked into her mind.
“Tidak ada paksaan dalam (menganut) agama (Islam),...” -Al-Baqarah:256
Because the previous question asked by the stewardess, “Are you able ..?” was already answered by her muscle strength and her brain which could more than understand the responsibilities of sitting there.
Relating to her life in this dunya, no longer a child; she is neither weak nor she couldn’t understand the meaning of her life. Her abilities to carry out the duty as an obedient slave of Allah and a khalifah are unquestionable!  Guidelines and instructions from Allah in the form of al-quran and hadeeth should calm her, enabling her to fulfil her duties the right way, the way it supposed to. No excuses, right? :]
Dan persiapkanlah dengan segala kemampuan untuk mengahadapi mereka dengan kekuatan yang kamu miliki....” -Al-Anfal:60
Aku tinggalkan kepada kamu dua perkara iaitu Al-Quran dan As Sunnah, maka berpegang teguhlah kepadanya, kamu tidak akan sesat selama-lamanya.
When Joyah wanted to put her belongings and valuables under the front seat, she just couldn’t do it because it was prohibited. It was one of the sacrifices she had to make, as a part of the responsibility coming with her seat. The path to Allah requires the same sacrifices! Even more than that, since the responsibility and cause are humongous giants if compared with the midget responsibility of sitting near the emergency exit! Our belongings, our gold, our precious laptops, iphones and ipads, most importantly our lives; should be given away, fully utilized to fulfil this great responsibility of ours.
Yes, it is rather hard to do because our minds and hearts love to hold on to these worldly things. It’s only natural for us to cherish and keep all these things for our own use; but just remember; all these things that we call as ours, they really are-NOT ours. Even our minds, our bodies, our hearts are not. All of them belong to Allah. Who are we, to claim them as our property, denying to use them in the path of Allah, when they are rightly His? Aren’t we His slaves? Don’t we, and all that we have belong to him?
(Iaitu) kamu beriman kepada Allah dan Rasul-Nya dan berjihad di jalan Allah dengan harta dan jiwamu. Itulah yang lebih baik jika kamu mengetahui,” Ash-Shaff:11
....Apakah kamu lebih menyenangi kehidupan di dunia daripada kehidupan di akhirat?....” -At-Taubah:38
When the announcer announced that they could not take their belongings with them if the unexpected occurs, Joyah really felt restless and worried. But when she thought about it, the facts of life and death calmed her. When we leave the dunya, and enter the world of barzakh, our belongings, cannot be brought along in luggages or lorries down into our graves.
Furthermore, they are of no use for us anymore. Do you remember the three things that stay with us and help us to go through barzakh with flying colours? Our belongings, which we love so much and selfishly kept to ourselves wouldn’t pose any significance whatsoever, other than pulling us into a downwards spiral of tortures by the angels.
Dari Abu Hurairah r.a. bahawa Nabi Muhammad s.a.w. bersabda: "Apabila seorang manusia mati, putuslah (tulisan pahala) amalan (setakat itu) Kecuali tiga perkara (yang akan berlanjutan tulisan pahalanya) iaitu sedekah jariah atau ilmu memberi kepada yang faedah orang lain atau anak yang soleh yang berdoa untuknya."  Hadith Sahih - Riwayat Imam Ahmad
Dan adapun orang yang kikir dan merasa dirinya cukup (tidak perlu pertolongan Allah), serta mendustakan (pahala) yang terbaik, maka akan Kami Mudahkan baginya jalan menuju kesukaran (kesengsaraan).Dan hartanya tidak bermanfaat baginya apabila dia telah binasa.” -Al-Lail:8-11
Feeling the burden of sitting near the emergency exit, Joyah’s emotions suddenly elated and rose up to the skywhen she realised that the room for her legs was very big. She could stretch them and even moving them in a cycling motion without any restrictions. Very comfortable. Gradually, happiness, joy and excitement filled her heart when she saw the view outside the window- the scenery of her destination, Spain.
The road of callers to Allah is quite similar to what Joyah was experiencing; the sacrifices it takes-time, money, and soul. But, like Joyah, Allah has given us lots of things to relieve ourselves, to help us to cope with the burden on our shoulders.
Ataukah kamu mengira bahawa kamu akan masuk syurga, padahal belum datang kepadamu (cubaan) seperti (yang dialami) orang-orang terdahulu sebelum kamu. Mereka ditimpa kemelaratan, penderitaan dan digoncang (dengan berbagai cubaan), sehingga Rasul dan orang-orang beriman bersamanya berkata, “Kapankah datang pertolongan Allah?” Ingatlah, sesungguhnya pertolongan Allah itu dekat.” -Al-Baqarah:214
And remember,
Maka sesungguhnya bersama kesulitan ada kemudahan, sesungguhnya bersama kesulitan ada kemudahan” -Al-Insyirah:5-6
Just too excited to see her destination outside the window, she even had the urge to open the emergency exit because she didn’t want to wait anymore; to walk along pathway with the marvellous view. This excitement; can’t we feel it when we read the ayahs about akhirah and jannah?  Let’s run, run towards our final destination. ^v^
Dan bersegeralah kamu mencari ampunan dari Tuhan-mu  dan mendapatkan syurga yang luasnya seluas langit dan bumi yang disediakan bagi orang-orang yang bertakwa,” -Ali Imran:133

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