Dr. Husnain Shahid

(1/2) “My dad takes people to Saudi Arabia for religious trips. In my fourth year of dental school, during November Break, I brought some friends. Some of my family came too. One mountain, Mount Hira, has this cave where our Prophet Muhammad would go up to meditate. A lot of people beg there that are sometimes forced to have disabilities—like getting their arms cut off—so they can make more money. I say this because it’s important to the story. Five minutes into our journey, we meet the first beggar. He tells me not to go up. “It’s going to rain today,” he says, “and with rain comes a big chance of thunder.” I’m thinking there’s no way I’m turning 20+ people around. We all get up there great. But as soon as I get to the cave, it starts raining lightly. Then it starts to heavily pour. I eventually make my way to a metal shed, where there are probably about 50 people. I only knew 10; the rest of our party are already making their way down the mountain. We realize we need to get going. But the minute we get out of that shed, it starts hailing the size of softballs. We decide to wait it out. After five minutes, it starts thundering. My brother is stabilizing himself on a pole attached to the shed before one of the thunderstrikes hits the roof. All 50 of us drop to the ground. I look to my brother, and he’s having a seizure. There’s blood all over his arms and head. He’s screaming: “My arm is burning alive!” I realize we have no choice but to make our way down. We pick him up and begin—in knee-high water—while thunder keeps striking. My friend holds him by his left while I hold him by his right. Suddenly, I hear something from behind. Three big boulders are rolling toward us. The first boulder bounces over the father of a family journeying with us—missing by 3 inches. Then, it misses my little sister and hits my cousin in his thighs before landing on his wife’s foot. My cousin gets up and, with some adrenaline rush, picks the boulder up off his wife’s foot. The second boulder hits my brother and my friend from behind, who both go flying 10 feet. I’m thinking they’ve died, falling off the side of the mountain. The third boulder comes and rolls over my legs. I hit face-front into the floor of the mountain as that knee-deep water current starts carrying me down. I’m just praying and trying to think if there’s anything I can do at this point.”