Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem
Waseem: Taking the first step...
You can’t let the odds be against you. You can’t dive into the deep end, when you have no idea how to swim. It’s no use taking that leap, if your feet weren’t even planted firmly on the ground. It’s a recipe for disaster.
We’ve been told and we’ve heard it all, but sometimes we just have to try it out. To ride it all out, just so that we can be sure.
And that was me. That was the kind of person I was. I aimed for the sky and beyond, always believing that there was never a limit. Never a place that I could reach where I could not get further.
But damn, when Molvi Umar began to work on me, I slammed into a reality check.
“Step one,” he started, rattling off. “Change your life. Step Two: Repent. Don’t even go near the sin ever again. Number Three: Find yourself something steady. Get married, kill your urge for haraam.”
I felt like I should’ve been taking notes.
“I can’t even cool off at the usual spots?” I asked him, making sure I was hearing right.
Like, there was nothing I could do any more. He had basically advised me against going out for a simple meal with friends.
“Anything that gives you opportunity, bru,” he reinforced. “No-one said it’s gonna be easy.”
And for sure, it was anything but easy. But when he saw me that night after the new year, he knew that I had now fully understood why the sacrifice was so great.
The thing was, everyone goes through difficulties. A believer has burns and the Kaafir has burns. The believer gets disease and a Kaafir gets disease. The believer loses a brother and a Kaafir loses a brother. The believer loses his wife and the Kaafir will lose his wife. Everyone experiences the same types of difficulty.
Everyone experiences trials and tribulations, but because of what is contained within his heart, the Mu’min has patience and is pleased with the decree of Allah. Doing this, he is seeking a reward from Allah and seeing the wisdom of Allah through every difficulty, and then… Then he will then be raised to such a status that he is so, so beloved, that he becomes the recipient of great rewards.
The greater the sacrifice, the more perserverence… The more the reward. The more beloved you come in His eyes.
‘As recorded in Bukhari and Muslim: The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Whoever Allah wants good for him, he puts them to test. He puts them through difficulties. Like a diamond or some metal that has to be burnt, and then that which is bad from it is removed, so that you have that which is the pure diamond or the pure gold or whatever. Put them to tests, trials and difficulties.”
And since I had started making the sacrifices, I glimpsed the real gold. I had become more confident. I learnt to have some faith, and leave it in the hands of the Almighty.
And so, I took a step and went ahead with what had been on my mind since I glimpsed the girl I had first seen over a month ago. I knew I had to make a stop there, as per my Dad’s instructions, but my heart just couldn’t allow me to. The property that our house overlooked was a dilapidated piece of land with a single standing house. Mo and I both had no idea that Dad had even rented it out, until I saw the girl hanging washing in the yard. I had honestly thought that she and her family had maybe invaded the house, seeing it vacant, and took it as an opportunity to move in.
Yeah, I know it sounded far-fetched, but it’s happened before.
I pulled up outside the house gate with Ziyaad, mentally preparing myself. I had no idea how I was going to tell these people that the rent was going up in the new year, especially when the place looked as crappy as it did. Being here again refreshed my memory. It was even worse than I remembered.
“Coming?” I asked Ziyaad, noting his weird expression. He didn’t answer, but opened the door, following me to the gate. He started pulling it open, so I stopped him quickly.
“Hey boss,” I said, pulling him back. “The house doesn’t belong to you. You can’t just go in.”
“It’s my father’s,” he said, looking at me as if I was stupid.
“These people live here,” I said, gesturing to an old Toyota parked in the driveway. “They pay to stay here.”
“Oh,” Ziyaad said, shrugging. “Whatever.”
I rattled the gate a few times, and finally saw an elderly man in an off-white kurta coming towards us. He looked familiar. He was gesturing for us to come in, so I took it as an invitation to open the gate and go in, just to save him the trouble of having to open it himself.
The thing was heavy… It probably needed to be oiled as well.
“‘Salaam-alayakum bha,” the man said, smiling at us invitingly. “Come, come… We’r just sitting for supper, come have something?”
I looked at my watch, feeling bad about intruding on a meal time. Especially to talk about rent.
“A simple phone call will do the trick,” Muhammed had said.
But I was glad I didn’t, because I really would have no idea about what this place really looked like. Although now, it was even harder.
“No, no,” I quickly refused the meal offer. “We ate.”
We followed him through the badly painted front porch, and I noted him taking off his shoes. I quickly did the same, expecting Ziyaad to oblige, but the idiot didn’t bother. He was gawking at something on the wall.
“Zakiyya.. Err… Zaynah… beti,” the man was saying. “Get some…”
I wasn’t sure who he was talking to because the house wasn’t that brightly lit. He turned to me, speaking softer.
“What will you’ll have bha? Tea? Cold drink? I think we got some Pepsi…”
There was a spluttering next to me, and I nudged Ziyaad hard, hoping he would behave himself. He sat on a chair outside and I hoped he would stay there until I was done.
That was the thing with people like that. They were so pure. Like, you could practically see right through them. He just brought us into his home, practically offering us the best he could. The best among people, I now realised, was truly the ones with kindest hearts. Most giving souls. Best of character.
That was what our Nabi (SAW) said. Over 1400 years ago. It blew me away for a bit, and I almost forgot my purpose of coming here.
We entered what looked like the lounge area, and I looked around for a Television. I quickly remembered that people like this calibre probably didn’t even own one. I sat on the couch. It was soft. Too soft.
“Your brother is okay?” the man was saying.
I quickly sifted my memory to figure out which brother.
Ah. He was the guy at the accident scene, helping us out. Now I remembered. Wow.
“Yes, he’s here,” I replied, gesturing outside.
He seemed surprised.
“Alhumdulillah. And your father okay?” he asked,
“Er.. Jhee,” I replied, trying to be extra civilised. “He just wanted me to stop and check if you’ll alright with the place….”
“Jhee, jhee,” he said, a bit too eagerly. “Everything is fine. Don’t worry, there were a few leaks, but we sorted it out last week.”
I felt bad that this man had to do his own maintenance. I pulled out my business card to give him.
“Next time, just phone me,” I assured him, handing it over.
He clasped the card, looking at it from afar. Bad eyesight, I realised.
“Waseem,” he said, reading the card eventually. “Okay, JazakAllah. I’ll phone.”
I got ready for the kill. I had to tell him about the rent.
“Maaf,” I started. “Dad just wanted me to stop and-”
A scream and torrential rapid exchange silenced me immediately. It sounded like girls’ voices toward the back of the house. I stood up quickly, not knowing what to do.
The man also looked extremely startled.
“Nabeela? Za-Zaynah?” he called out, going toward the door.
Honestly, I didn’t know what to do, so the only thought that came to my mind was to go and check up on Ziyaad.
And lo and behold, as I stepped onto the porch, my idiot younger brother was nowhere is sight. I audibly sighed, getting extremely irritated. Even as a child, Ziyaad always had the irritating habit of wondering off. I just hoped that…
I froze, fearing the worst.
Crap. It was too late to hope. My fears were confirmed. Ziyaad emerged from somewhere within the lounge, with a sheepish look on his face.
“Oh hell,” I muttered to myself, feeling my cheeks burning up. Now, I usually never get embarrassed, but this situation was definitely a cause for some sort of blushing and reddening ears.
More than ever, I knew that now, I definitely couldn’t say what I needed to. I’ll have to somehow tell my father to just forget about his petty rent increase. This place wasn’t even worth the money they were paying for it anyway.
I grabbed Ziyaad roughly, apologising and making my way out. I didn’t think he really understood that there were people actually living there. I wanted to literally smash his face in.
I contained myself until we got to the car, just in case anyone was watching us leaving. Anger was bubbling up inside, and I unlocked the car, pursing my lips tightly.
I was trying to control my tongue, but Ziyaad was making life a bit difficult for me at that moment. Me losing it was a sure thing, until Ziyaad couldn’t hold his own mouth any longer.
What he said was both insanely stupid, but at the same time, unimaginably accurate.
“Was, did you see her?” he breathed, jumping into the passengers seat. I was completely confused, not knowing what on earth he was on about.
I gave him a death stare, still consumed by fury. Ziyaad never ceased to amaze me with his inappropriate banter. I wanted to smash him.
Then he said it. Just like that.
“Was, now I know what you were talking about! I think I finally found it!”