Shaikh 'Abdullah 'Afeefi, an Egyptian scholar, mentioned the following amazing incident:
It was a hot summer's day of the year 1914 when I found myself standing amidst a group of travellers at the railway station of Tanta, waiting to board the train from Alexandria to Cairo. There was a general hustle and bustle at the station as travellers hastily spent the few minutes remaining preparing their luggage and bidding their loved one's goodbye. I was engaged in a rather interesting and fruitful conversation with a friend who was beside me when, out of the blue, we were startled by a sudden noise and uproar.
As we turned, craning our necks to see what all the commotion was, we caught sight of a young, seventeen year old girl who was being dragged to the platform by a merciless police officer and a burly, rough government official. Behind them all followed a feeble sixty year old man who was thin with grief and sorrow. The girl was trying to push away and resist the men on her either side but no avail.
The train suddenly arrived in the midst of all the drama, drawing up to the platform. The crowd, however, were so riveted by the spectacle before them that they had almost forgotten why they were there in the first place. As we continued to watch, we saw the girl being forced aboard the train by the two men beside her and I, together with my companion, hastened to occupy seats that were as close to this strange group as possible. The girl looked so grieved and heartbroken that I was unable to restrain myself and remain silent. I addressed the old man and asked him what the matter was.
He replied in a voice that was choked by tears and sorrow, "I am a Spaniard and this is my daughter. She has, since I cannot remember, been overcome by a strange condition. I awoke one morning and heard her performing the salaah of a Muslim woman! From that day, she has insisted on washing her own clothing and always wears a white scarf which she uses to cover her face and her chest. She spends all her time in salaah, fasting and worship. Her name was "Rose" but she refuses to be called anything but "Faatimah". It wasn't long before her younger sister had begun watching and imitating her to the extent that they were identical in their every movement and action. I was worried by the direction things were taking and so approached one of our head priests for assistance and guidance. He began visiting her to explain and preach Christianity to her but the more he tried, the more committed she became to Islam. Eventually frustrated over his dismal failure to revert her to Christianity, he wrote to an official of the Spanish government appointed to deal with apostate families. The Spanish official consulted the Egyptian government over this matter after which they decided to send her to him. Against her will and against the will of her family, he intends to imprison her in a convent where they hope to force her to renounce Islam and revert to Christianity."
I asked the father in horror, "How can you happily allow your innocent, sinless daughter to be dragged off like a criminal?"
The father heaved a deep sigh which echoed with heart-splitting sorrow and said, "I was deceived and taken by surprise. The Spanish and Egyptian governments have taken this matter into their own hands and left me powerless. What can I hope to do?"
Having heard the tragic tale of the old man, I now turned my attention to Faatimah. The burden of grief and sorrow she bore was so immense that even a mountain would have bowed beneath its weight. I asked her gently, "Faatimah! What is the matter?" She seemed less disturbed by my presence than the presence of those around us and so, in a voice which croaked with fatigue, she replied, "There is a Muslim family who live in our neighbourhood. In the course of frequenting their home, I would often hear and learn aspects of Islam.
One night, as I fell asleep, I was shown a dream in which I saw Nabi Muhammad (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) who was surrounded by noor and radiance. Such was the brilliance and intensity of the noor that it completely dazzled my eyes. Nabi (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) then said to me while motioning with his blessed hand, "O Faatimah! Draw closer to me."
When she took the name "Muhammad (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam)", her extreme love for him caused her entire body to tremble uncontrollably to the point where her tongue seized, the colour of her face changed and she collapsed onto her seat. A feeling of sorrow and despair had by now gripped all present in the compartment.
Just then, an elderly man happened to stroll past the entrance of our compartment. I approached him and requested him to call out the azaan in the girl's ear. He began to call out the azaan in her ear and as he reached, "Ash-hadu anna Muhammadar Rasulullah" she took a deep breath and regained consciousness after which she recommenced crying. When she was completely in her senses once again,
I asked her the reason for her fear and distress. She replied, "I know that I am being taken to a convent where I will be lashed until the whips are dyed in my blood. That, however, does not frighten me in the least. My greatest fear is that I will be unable to perform salaah and worship Allah Ta'ala!"
After hearing her out, I asked her, "O Faatimah! Should I not show you how to escape this?" Eager to escape the clutches of her captors, she replied in the affirmative.
I explained, "A person is a Muslim so long as there is imaan in his heart. There is no harm if you pretend to renounce Islam merely to placate and please these officials. Once you have escaped them, you may go where you wish and carry out the duties of Islam as you desire."
On hearing my suggestion, she glared at me in such fury and disgust that I immediately regretted the statement I had made and felt ashamed. She thereafter vehemently declared, "I would prefer that they behead me and tear my limbs apart! If I wanted to and tried to speak the words you suggest, my tongue would definitely betray me."
Before we knew it, the train had arrived at the Cairo station and it was time for us to part ways. Those were the last words we exchanged and that was the last I ever saw or heard of her. (Al Mar-atul 'Arabiyyah vol. 2, pg. 8)
May Allah give us Allah - aameen bi hurmathi nabiyyil ameen sallallahu alaihi wasallam