CTRL + ALT + DELETE(ing) To Forgiveness by: Issa Abbasi


If you’re reading this, you know your way, at least decently, around a computer.  Ever since I was introduced to computers at a young age, I knew a secret formula to solve my problems with my computer.  Whenever a computer game I was playing froze or a document stopped responding, I found my way out of a jam via pressing CTRL + ALT + DELETE.  This simple function allowed me to restart whatever I was doing and life would be grand again.  I would venture to guess that almost everyone by now knows this command and therefore, this secret formula is no longer a secret.  In any event, I recently backed up everything on my computer so I could have Yousef, my younger brother, format my computer.  I wanted to give Windows 7 a test drive and so I needed to back up every word document, every excel spreadsheet I ran my life around, pictures, MP3s and video I had from circa 1999 to our home network.  From middle school through high school, undergraduate and graduate work, every paper I virtually ever wrote and labored on for hours, every spreadsheet I kept track of the details in my life, was on my hard drive.

On the night of Tuesday the 25th, Yousef set my computer to format overnight since everything was now backed up.  The next morning after suhoor, I decided to move my data back onto my hard drive from the network.  I was groggy and my mind was a little sluggish, but I wanted a return to normalcy and I knew what I was doing, or so I thought, when I was moving my data back.  I selected my user file and public file and copied it over from the network to my hard drive.  The process took seconds.  I was puzzled at first.  How could 45 gigabytes worth of data be copied in 4.5 seconds?  I ignored my concern at first and was now ready to continue my work on my fresh hard drive.  So I began getting to work and I realized quickly I was disabled from doing anything with my computer.  When I double clicked my user name folder, almost nothing was in it.  My fears were quickly becoming a reality.  “How could this be?!  What happened?!”  These were my first thoughts.  Panic set in.  I grabbed my cell phone and called my brother downstairs, “YOUSEF!  I can’t find my documents!” I frantically told him.   I don’t remember what Yousef told me, but he came upstairs to check out my problem before we prayed Fajr.  He asked me to recall what happened.  I told him I wasn’t sure, I did what I always do when moving around data; I copied over my files and clicked the first option to copy and replace the new user and public folder.  My dad called us to pray Fajr, the problem would have to wait. Epic Fail

After Fajr, I began reading my section of the Quran I set aside for the day while Yousef labored on my computer.  He told me he might be able to recover my data but also told me “not to get my hopes up.”  Yousef, in the knowledge Allah (swt) blessed him with about computers, ran a program and began finding my files.  I had to get ready and leave for work by now and he still wasn’t done finding all my files.  I told him to call me if he had any questions for me.  As I stepped out of the front door to leave for work, my routine felt so disrupted by what occurred that morning.  I couldn’t think straight for most of the day.  What if I did lose everything I worked on for 10 years in that split second and double click?

I kept texting Yousef throughout the day to see what updates, if any, he had for me on my situation.  By mid morning, he texted me saying he recovered 80,000 files.  “Alhamdullilah and Baraka Allahu Feek” I texted him back.  Problem solved, right?  Not quite.  My Word documents were tripled if not quadrupled and I would have to sort through them and delete the copies.  “No big deal” I thought, I’ll do it over the weekends after suhoor instead of sleeping.  My MP3s were all there, but their titles needed to be re-written, another program Yousef informed me could do that.  “Alhamdullilah, what can’t software do these days?!” I thought. Scream

When I got home from work, Yousef had some bad news.  My Word documents, albeit almost all found, were corrupted.  In my eighteen months working for the student computer labs on campus, I knew this was the nightmare diagnosis I had to tell any student who came in with a Word document that wouldn’t open and thus gave them a prompt on their screen of what language to convert their computer code that was once an essay into.

I asked Yousef to prove to me my documents were corrupted and he did.  Okay, so I lost my Word documents, life goes on, it’s not a big deal.  As I was about to arrive for taraweeh, I remembered my Excel spreadsheets with everything from how much Quran I memorized to my vital signs recorded when I donate blood, recorded on them.  Yousef said he would have to look for them in the morning and see if they could be recovered.  At the time of publication, Yousef is still working on recovering my spreadsheets, but I am prepared to accept the worst case scenario; more lost data.

Now I know you’re probably thinking “what’s the big deal man, it’s only stuff for school you lost?”  My response to you is as follows:

Imagine you had something you worked on really hard or had saved a lot of memories in.  Let’s say you had a collection of photo albums of all your wedding, your children, family vacations, an internship, etc.  If you’re not a picture person, let’s say you worked really hard at your job and had everything saved on your work computer for years and all of a sudden it vanished.  How would it hit you if you lost it all in a matter of seconds in a fire or some random accident?  It’s not a pretty picture now that you can imagine the context of my situation. hard-drive-flames

Anyway, back to the action.  The importance of this series of events to me was found on Tuesday and Wednesday the 25th and 26th.  On those two nights, I heard two amazing khatiras about pride of the self and arrogance.  Going home Tuesday night, I thought to myself “alhamdullilah I don’t have self pride,” and left what I had learned from the khatira at that.  After Wednesday night, I was really happy I also didn’t find myself to be arrogant based on the khatira’s content.  It was not until Thursday morning as I was preparing to go to work and again on my commute that I began to re-think my positions on those two statements I made.

I thought, maybe the loss of my data was really for a specific reasons and not because I was careless that fateful morning.  I reflected upon the data I had and the lectures I heard in between taraweeh again.  Was I tested with the loss of my data because I was too arrogant about my blessing to give blood so many times in only a few years?  Did I have too much pride two weeks ago when I was giving blood and thought “Why are these high school kids here in front of me waiting to donate blood? They must be for the free movie tickets and not for the sake of giving blood.”  Was I too proud of myself and thus looked down on someone else and examined their intentions?  Was I too proud of all my work in school and forgot to thank Allah (swt) for blessing me with knowledge?  Did I not take time to say “bismillah wa alhamdullilah” for my health that I so meticulously kept track of in Excel spreadsheets?  Did I have the right intention every time I went to donate blood that this was only for the sake of Allah (swt) and not because of anything else?  Was I ever being boastful about how many times I gave blood?  The speaker did say that if you are arrogant, Allah (swt) will take whatever rizq He had given you from you, so then, was this a slight nudge from the Almighty that I was headed down that path? A Pinch of Humility

The records I kept now didn’t really matter.  This was true especially after I reflected upon the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (sws) I heard in the past and especially on Wednesday night; “He who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of pride shall not enter Paradise.”  The Prophet (sws) also narrated, Verily, Allah is Graceful and He loves Grace. Pride is disdaining the truth (out of self-conceit) and contempt for the people.” Allah (swt) also mentioned in Surat Al Araf (7:146-147):

Those who behave arrogantly on the earth in defiance of right – them will I turn away from My signs: Even if they see all the signs, they will not believe in them; and if they see the way of right conduct, they will not adopt it as the way; but if they see the way of error, that is the way they will adopt. For they have rejected our signs, and failed to take warning from them.

Those who reject Our signs and the meeting in the Hereafter,-vain are their deeds: Can they expect to be rewarded except as they have wrought?

I came to terms with what happened and knew this CTRL + ALT + DELETE of my documented work from Allah (swt) was my way to remember how weak I am without Him, how ignorant I am without Him, how my health and wellbeing comes only from Him and how I must constantly praise Him for everything and anything I have.  I must remember that Allah (swt) never forgets what we do, good or bad and move on always remembering this for on the Day of the Hour, we shall all see every atom’s worth of weight we have done, good and bad.

If you want to really see how amazing this experience was to me, here’s some food for thought.  Almost all of the wordly knowledge I accumulated and wrote as papers for classes was corrupted from my computer.  Yet subhanAllah, all of my items that dealt with Islam, from all my different recitations of Quran by different imams were safe.  Even more, on Friday morning before I left for work, I checked to make sure I had my daily contents of my pockets.  Cellphone, check.  Wallet, check.  Pen, check.  Chapstick, check.  Uh oh.  Where is my lanyard with my flash drives?  I checked around my computer and the ports in my computer; nothing.  Then I thought to check the pants I wore yesterday that were about to go to the dry cleaners.  Bingo.  SubhanAllah, after reflecting on my experience earlier this week and asking for forgiveness, I found my lanyard with my two flashdrives.  On those two flashdrives are more of my documents that I was able to have saved.  Maybe if I didn’t learn from my mistakes, Allah swt would’ve furthered reminded me of my arrogance by making me forget my lanyard, having it to go the cleaners and thus getting damaged or even lost in the dry cleaning process.

To conclude, the time is never too late to ask for forgiveness, let us all take time to repent and ask Allah (swt) to forgive us for any time we were ever arrogant or had self pride, inshaAllah.

I say this and ask all of us to be forgiven from our arrogance and pride.  Remember, in Surat Al Araf (7: 153), Allah (swt) says: But those who do wrong but repent thereafter and (truly) believe, verily thy Lord is thereafter Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.


~ by Yousaf on August 28, 2009.

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