My application for unpaid leave were repeatedly ignored by my immediate boss who was an atheist. Instead I began to feel the heat of retaliation from him. Long before the general public were brainwashed and indoctrinated with the term "fundamentalist Muslims", I had been branded as such by him. Once in a while, he used to pass menacing remarks suggesting I look more fundamentalist each day. Perhaps he meant the white skull cap that I put on my head whenever I headed for dzuhur and asar solah. Perhaps he took special notice of every nanometer of the beard that was growing on my face. During those intimidating period, he even distressingly questioned me whether I had anything to do with his secretary suddenly wearing a hijab. I remember that he yelled out loud, "Oh! This is becoming contagious!"
Meanwhile, I did not give up hope in going out for one chilla (40 days khuruuj) in the path of Allah. Until this time, I had never experienced going out in jamaat for one chilla. For over two years I only had been in three days jamaat constantly with my neighbourhood brothers. The urge in expanding my learning of Deen in practical way for a longer period was too much for me to ignore. I needed to strive to become a better Muslim. I needed to learn the way of life of Rasulullaah sallaalaahu alayhi wasallam and the Sahabah radiyalaahu anhum. Oh! How I wish the sweet urge would stay forever with me every seconds of my lifetime.
It was with the urge and courage I decided to ask the approval of the very top management hierarchy directly, harboring hope that the Chief Executive Officer who was also the Managing Director was indeed a pious Muslim as stated by the atheist. True enough he granted me approval as long as another legal advisor within the corporate group would cover for my workload. The condition was easily fulfilled as my colleague at the corporate legal was more than glad to carry out the tasks.
When I relayed the good news to the atheist, he immediately turned hysterical and chased me out from his room, babbling remarks that I had tried to bypass his authority. The uproar had turned the section of the floor into turmoil and upheavel. Very soon a woman who headed the Human Resource Department stormed in my room and sprayed me with bullets of harsh words and slammed the door on her way out. Ironically, prior to the event she was quite close to me. She used to come to my room and have long conversation on numerous occasions though most of the time I just acted as a good listener to the chatter-box woman. Anyway, at the end of the day I had been served a three weeks suspension notice for unknown reason. The thought came to my mind that the atheist boss might charge me with insubordination at the worst. Though shocked with all the sudden uproar, I was determined to face all challenges ahead.
At the time of the suspension period, the worst thoughts imaginable had crossed my mind. What if I got fired from work? What would happen to my little children? What if this and what if that...the kind of thoughts that were able to take your breath away. On the other hand, it was for the first time in my entire life that I had been able to spend almost the entire month of Ramadhan in ibadaat and worshiping Allah Most High. My grievances and distress were taken to the house of Allah with me. I was able to spend the days and nights in prayers, dzikir, du'a and seclusion as well as timely attending ghast and ta'leem. The men of wisdom had spoken the truth when they said that you could only get rid of the all the grievances and distress of this world by instilling the worries and concern of the aakhirah.
I had been slapped with ridiculous made-up charges as if I had not been performing my duties at all even when I had been given pay rise before based on high performance appraisals. No mentioned about insubordination though. I had been called to face a one-man panel of inquiry. It astonished me how a predominantly Muslims management could be lured into these bouhaha by the atheist over my application for leave. Though I was determined to defend my case, the man on the panel whom I knew and respect called me in person and informed me that the Chief Executive Officer wished to meet me. He advised me to find a solution with the CEO.
After a lenghty discussion with the CEO, we both concluded that it was to my detriment if I were to continue working under the atheist man. He offered me a one year pay for my resignation and dropped all the charges as if nothing happened. He even offered to write me a testimonial letter of recomendation for my benefit. Though I initially hoped he would stood up for me but it would be foolish not to expect him to prefer the atheist who was the integral part of the management. Thus, I acknowledged the offer of separation.
Truly Allah Ta'ala is the Doer of everything. Allah Ta'ala decides however He wants. Alhamdulillaah, I had asked for a forty days unpaid leave but I was given a year salary. It follows that what was initially meant to be a forty days journey in the path of Allah turned out to be the most enlightening journey of 4 months in the path of Allah to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.