Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem
I almost jumped as I heard the voice, immediately zoning out of my shocked senses and back into reality.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to be, I was telling myself.
Wasn’t there some sort of future in the horizon? Even though at that point, my priorities might have been changing, I didn’t want to be thrown out the picture completely. I still wanted a chance, even if it was only 50-50.
I still couldn’t believe it. And she didnt even have the decency to tell me. It was just… Wrong. So wrong.
“What are you doing?” My father’s booming voice was slightly accusing, but I couldn’t care less at that moment.
“You going for this?” I said, tossing the card over to the table where he was sitting.
He picked up the card and squinted his eyes, and recalling what it was, he looked at me again.
“I’ll see,” he said, not really concerned. The invite was for 3 months away. Too early for my father to make commitments for so far ahead.
I nodded, still processing everything. I was just about heading out, when my father spoke again.
“Listen, do me a favour,” he said, not even looking up as he spoke. “Go drop this off with Muhammed. Tell him to sort it out.”
He tossed the envelope to me, still busy with his Mac computer with the other hand. He didn’t even notice my frown or ask me if there was anything wrong. For the first time in my life, a certain hostility surged through me, as my father’s true nature became apparent. It was undeniable.
Oh well. I supposed that was why I had two brothers who never had hit it off with my Dad. He had his good points, as I had always admired, but to tell the truth, he wasn’t a very easy person to get along with.
It was undeniable that his work and endless pursuits of business were clearly the most important things to him. It was a bit disappointing, because in his own pursuit, he had lost so much more than valuable time. For the first time in my life, I began to actually think that I didn’t want to actually end up like him.
I needed some clarity on the matter. On Dad. On Life. On priorities. On the chic that I had supposedly had my hopes up for.
I was never a committed kind of guy, but at that moment, maybe due to novelty, becoming a more serious version of myself was actually looking awesome. Maybe this change I was trying to make in my life couldn’t have come at a better time.
With lack of anything better to do, I decided to go to hand over the envelope to Muhammed, since I would have to at some point. Maybe he would have some insight for me, since I felt like I was in a more influential mood that night. Maybe it would be good for me to listen to someone else’s advices for once.
I drove slowly, for a change, window open, just to let the breeze in. It was one of those amazing nights, where the feeling in the air was a different kind. It was like I was so in synch with myself, I couldn’t believe how clearly I was seeing things. I was still coming to terms with every thing as it was, without being influenced by any kind of intoxicant, but for that moment it was great to just… Be.
I cruised into Muhammed’s neighborhood, and realised at that moment that I was passing Farah’s house. It was a sudden realization, and it hit me just then.
I actually didn’t miss those days. I just felt slightly disappointed at myself, because I knew now that I could have been so much more than I was.
I passed the house quickly, not wanting to dwell on it, turning into Muhammed’s road and then into his driveway.
Once again, I was faced head on with the ‘perks’ of this world. My eldest brothers house was just awesome. Like a castle, with obviously, a more modern finish. I always wanted to end up as well-off as Muhammed, but with all the mentoring from Waseem, I kind of realised that there was a bigger picture out there. Building golden castles in my mind would have to change it’s perspective from now on.
I pressed the buzzer, and though it was kind of late, I knew Muhammed wouldn’t really mind me coming. As expected, the gate opened with no hassles and I drove in, parking next to a decent, but unfamiliar car.
“Ziyaad!” Mo exclaimed, his iPhone in his other hand. “Lost your way?”
I grinned sheepishly, knowing that he was secretly glad to see me. Before I got a chance to reply, a familiar voice came from inside.
“Mo, what’s all that stuff on the table?”
Waseem. I was never so glad to hear him. Was he staying here?!
“What stuff?” Muhammed replied, looking confused and putting his phone back in his pocket. “I dunno.”
He walked back inside, following Waseem into the lounge. Of course, being the Zee, I had to follow to see what Waseem was going on about.
“This!” Waseem said, pointing to the dining room table.
It was cluttered with expensive looking dishes, serviettes and some other decorative stuff I knew my Mum also kept in her dining drawers. Aasiya, being Aasiya, just loved to make everything a fancy ordeal. It was typical. But what exactly was the occasion?
“What the heck is going on here?” I asked, thinking I was missing out on some major event. Was Waseem having his wedding event here or something? When did all of this stuff take place?
“That’s exactly what I’m wondering!” Waseem said, putting my fears to rest and looking accusingly at Mo.
Muhammed put up his hands in self defense, but Waseem wasn’t paying attention. I knew I had to say something, just to stop Waseem from rattling off about extravagance or spmething. I could already see that bayaan kind of look in his eyes.
“I agree!” I piped up, out of nowhere.
Both brothers looked at me weirdly, but I kept my composure, knowing that now was the chance to put in a bit of useful input. Maybe I could actually say something that sounded like I really knew what I was talking about.
“You agree with what, bru?” Mo asked, still looking at me strangely.
“With Waseem,” I said, in an obvious kind of way. “His… Err…”
I couldn’t find the right words to say what I needed to. I wanted to show them that this time, I was proving my self worth. That I was really changing. I needed my brothers to believe it. I needed them believe in me.
“Ziyaad is saying what I was thinking,” Waseem started, looking from me to Mo.
He stroked his full beard, watching me carefully through cynical eyes. I could tell that he was reading part of what I was trying to convey. He sensed my desperation.
Just his assuring look made me feel that much more comforted. Beside giving me the solace I needed, it made me think of what he had told me earlier that day, before I had gone home.
I had needed that reminder, because there always comes a time, every once in a while, where we forget the important parts. Where we forget what our aim should be. We aim for the peak, but we forget to get our essentials in check. We aim too high, and sometimes lose focus on the basics.
Because when it came to getting Deen right, it wasn’t about reaching the milestones that people show or boast about. It doesn’t mean you have to constantly talk about Allah, and be doing Dawah at all times. It wasn’t only about extra actions of Ibaadat or the quantity you do, with regard to even the simplest worship.
What was most important was two things… Two fundamentals.
To be in obedience to our Lord’s command, and to stay away from sin.
Two major, seemingly simple things, that are yet so difficult to obtain. When you are constantly aware of Him, then automatically, you adopt this need to always please, and never disobey Him.
Because when I heard about this only recently, having no knowledge of it previously, I was in awe. Just a few youth, maybe six or seven, who made a difference to the world, so long ago.
Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Surely they were young men who believed in their Lord, and We increased them in guidance.” (18:13).
A story that was amazing, captured most beautifully in Surah Kahf. When the trials and sins were too much for those few youth who were mentioned, they didn’t resort to something beyond any of us today. What was obvious here was that the youth who had escaped to the cave, and thereafter were protected by Allah, were not sitting in worship for those 300 or so years. All they had done was evaded the wrong-doing in their society by going away. They simply went to seek refuge in a cave, and fell off to sleep.
And He protected them because Allah allowed them to sleep for 309 years, by muting their hearing.
Allah says, “Then We struck upon their ears for a (great) number of years in the cave,” (TMQ, 18:11)
And He kept their bodies alive, as He says:
“And We turned them about towards the right and towards the left,” (18:18).
One of the very miraculous signs in this story was just that. Allah changed the characters of sleep to accommodate 7 sixteen year olds because they trusted in Him.
And that’s what our Lord loves. They were raised to such a rank because they simply stayed away from sin. They removed themselves from the ugliness of society, and kept themselves pure.
So Allah covered them with His shade, and raised them in status because they protected themselves from the effect of evil. Because even if it means doing the most basic acts of worship, staying away from any type of sin was a miracle in itself.
And to bring that into my life, I knew what it entailed. When we ask for Allah’s help and forgiveness, sincerely, Allah will make it such that your soul is cleansed. Your heart purified. Your sins erased. So the angels won’t be any sort of witness to your sins, not because they won’t agree to, but simply because they will have no ability to. That was how merciful Allah Almighty was. Despite our indifference, He still sorts us out at the end of the day.
I turned to my brothers now, knowing that whatever I had to say would be good enough. I didn’t have to prove myself to anyone. I just needed to stay away from what had always dragged me down.
“I was just saying that we need to cool off,” I said, just wanting to take it easy. I wasn’t about to run away to a cave, but I needed to keep myself away from sins at least. Baby steps.
Waseem nodded. He got me.
“I also reckon we need to cool off a bit with the laa-di-daa stuff,” Waseem expanded, using my statement as an opening. “You know the type of guy Molvi is, right? He won’t even sit at this table. Put a sheet on the floor, Mo… We can hit it Sunnah style.”
Aah. Now I got it. Waseem had invited Maulana Dude here for some reason, (I didn’t know what it was), and Aasiya made it all hectic.
I grinned to myself, thinking how my plain and ordinary brother ended up with her. It was strange, but indeed, a greater plan that we were about to witness soon was unfolding at that moment when Muhammed had first met Aasiya, all those years ago.
As the intercom buzzed, and Mo called for her to remove the ‘big deal’ stuff, and make it simple, I watched them fuss around. Waseem went out to fetch Maulana Dude, and I just loitered around, taking a ‘supervisor’ role. I sampled a bit of the Strawberry twist juice that Aasiya had made, instantly loving the kick. It was potent, but just what I needed.
Well, for me, supervising was a required task.
I could hear voices coming, and Muhammed started frantically gesturing to Aasiya to go out.
It was an unpredictable moment, because they unexpectedly entered through the garage door, and for some reason, Aasiya was using that door to go out from. My sister-in-law was taken aback for a few seconds as she realised that she would have to back-track, and involuntarily froze, just as they came into the entrance hall, talking animatedly. Both men, looking down, continued with their talking while they patiently waited for Aasiya to leave the room.
But the funniest part at that moment was that it looked like Aasiya was going nowhere. She just stood, as if she was stuck, rooted to the spot.
I wanted to laugh, but I knew no-one would be impressed. The whole thing was just a bit hilarious, because the awkwardness intensified, and for the first time in his life, Muhammed’s face actually turned color. I think he was probably wondering what was wrong with his wife, but didn’t realise that she was probably just completely shocked out of her senses.
There was a good minute of unending silence, until she finally broke the silence.
“Umar?!” She said, almost disbelievingly.
It took me a good few seconds to realise that she was talking to Maulana Dude. He finally actually looked at her, after what seemed like forever. As she addressed him, something of his own expression seemed to alter.
All awkwardness and discomfort disappeared, and a tiny crack of a smile, despite his obvious shock, appeared. He seemed like he was at a loss for words, and we all just watched silently, as he edged toward her. He shook his head, then looked at her again, in complete bewilderment.
“Aasiya?” He asked, moving closer.
She nodded, and I even though I couldn’t see her face, I could tell that the water-works were on, from her loud sniffles. Typical woman.
I would have laughed at her if that moment wasn’t so action packed. All this stuff was just so intense. How did they know each other?
The questions were soon to be answered, but there would be a lot more to be unveiled before we ever did find out. Muhammed was already moving forward to comfort his wife, and Maulana Dude looked like he was going to do the same, but Aasiya, being who she was, was having none of it.
She promptly turned, as if in a sudden rush, finally exiting the room through the revolving door. Both men were just as quick to follow, leaving both Waseem and I in utter confusion. We looked at each other, not sure whether to laugh or not. This was all just so weird.
In total discomposure, we both took seats on the couch, not knowing what to say. Not like we needed it, but everything just seemed to get that much complicated at that very moment.
What exactly was going on?