How the Focus Shifted



The voice was slightly shrill… As if it had been calling for a while.

Yusuf’s big eyes widened as I glanced at him, immediately reaching for the remote to switch the channel.

The door swung open, and I braced myself, but instead of seeing the owner of the voice that had called me, instead, it was Umar who stood there, shaking his head.

“You two are at it, again, huh?” He said, raising his eyebrows. “You know how long she’s calling?”

Yusuf was about to open his mouth but I quickly interrupted him, not wanting him to incriminate me.

“It’s just a game, Umar,” I said, my hands on my hips.

Umar didn’t approve of me watching anything at all on the Television that my father had bought for me. And neither did his mother.

“Where’s Ummi Jaan?” I asked, waiting for her to enter and start about the ‘Shaytaan box’ again.

It was bound to happen. It was a daily occurrence. I honestly hoped that she’d just get over it and realise that I was never going to get rid of it. Maybe some day when I changed, I would. Some day, in my ignorance, that I was sure would come.

My father had sent it for me, and though I appreciated his gifts, I really wished that he’d rather just take them back and spend some actual time with me.

I mean, who could be so obsessed with their job that they couldn’t even bother to form a bond with their child?

“Aasiya, please come down and set the table for me.”

Ummi Jaan. Again. It was a Sunday, and we were all expected to help with something.

This time, though, she appeared in front of the doorway, just behind the smirking Umar.

He may have been bigger than me in size, but I knew that if I really tried, I could have somehow injured him. For now, though, I would just get back at him in other ways.

“Ummi,” I said, building myself up for an argument. “I think it’s time Umar had a chance to do kitchen work. I’m tired of the sexism that’s so rife in this household… It’s like we’re living in the 1940’s.”

Ummi Jaan looked at me, frowning.

“Erm,” she started saying carefully, acting as if I had sworn. “Sexism? Aasiya, Umar also helps me.”

“Lets swap… I’ll do it if you do the toilets!” Umar piped up, grinning again.

What?!” I shrieked, appalled. “Never!”

I pushed past him, heading down the stairs to do the dreaded task.

It was only later that evening that I realised that Umar was actually being serious… I didn’t realise that he actually had it in him to do any housework, leave alone clean toilets.

We ate supper that night, and I rushed back up to the room without helping them to clean up.

Let them do it, I thought selfishly.

In retrospect, I realised my error, but I was too caught up in myself to fix it.

I just needed to be alone. Away from the discussion… From the madness. All they ever spoke about was what we were going to do next year… And how Umar was so focussed on becoming an Aalim.

And because he was so focussed, all eyes immediately diverted to me, filled with unanswered questions.

What’s your plans, Aasiya? Don’t you want to try doing Hifdh? What about an Islamic course? You can even study something if you want… Of course… From home…?

Suffocating. It was the same annoying concern, every day. I was already studying enough this year, through home-schooling. I had no plans to head the same way Umar was going. I needed some time-out from this extremism.

Well, that’s what I felt like it was at that time… It was all just too much. Too overwhelming to waste my time on. I didn’t want to see the love and affection etched in it. I didn’t want to put it all down to them doting on me, because I was fixated on the notion that they were just all out to get me.

I logged on to the internet and put on the latest Lady Gaga song, blocking out everything else. The music calmed me… Gave me a sense of ‘peace’. It helped me to switch off and divert my thoughts.

It consumed me in such a way, that I was able to forget about everything, for that time.

I didn’t realise though, that a soon as that song faded, the audio pornography that filled my ears no longer had that effect. It just made me crave more. It made me crave more to an extent that there was no satisfaction. I didn’t realise was it was creating in my soul… The hypocrisy that it was feeding. I went with the ‘Scholars’ who said it was Halaal, doing what suited my Nafs.

 The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Among my ummah there will certainly be people who permit zinaa, silk, alcohol and musical instruments…” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari ta’leeqan, no. 5590; narrated as mawsool by al-Tabaraani and al-Bayhaqi. See al-Silsilah al-Saheehah by al-Albaani, 91).

But how mislead I was at the time. And I didn’t realise, that as I grew up, it would be this reason that I would grow to despise it so much, that I didn’t even tolerate my husband to listen to it, even when I wasn’t in the car. Because with music, there were so many other evils that connected to it, we couldn’t even begin to imagine the harm it could cause.

And one sin that it lead me to in my youth was using my time for things that had no good in them.

At that stage, social media was on it’s way to evolving, and though many had Facebook and Twitter, I would have never imagined how much it would end up taking over our lives in the near future. A random message from a friend caught my eye, but I ignored it and went to the one I didn’t recognise. A message from a person who’s profile just said Aayisha.

No profile picture or detailed info.

It was a weird way to spell the name that was so common. The second strange thing  was what this girl asked.

Is your father’s name Faizal?”

I quickly tapped out a reply in the affirmative, wondering where this was leading, just before I heard footsteps down the passage again.

I closed the browser before my door opened with no knock, and I spun around in my chair, already narrowing my eyes.

“Yusuf,” I said, immediately softening.

He was my favourite person in this house, and although he had just entered his teens, I was glad that he still found time to spend with me. He was different. I could just tell that my younger brother was definitely going to be a softie when he grew up.

In later years, I would often wonder about how he, especially, had grown up… And what kind of man he had become.

“Want some?” He asked, holding out a bag of Lay’s chips.

The green flavour. My favourite.

I nodded and we both sat on my bed while we ate. It was a timeless moment.

In fact, most of my moments in that house were timeless. Timeless, priceless, and invaluable.

I often wondered why I had always been so rebellious… Even when I was surrounded by so much of goodness. The family that Allah had chosen to entrust me with to was the best thing for me, but I didn’t realise it until it was too late.

I didn’t see that, when I finally grew up, they would be my doorway to allowing me into a realm where the money and status I knew for so long would mean nothing. I didn’t realise how much they had considered me their own, until I had glimpsed Umar’s true colours, years later.

I was the outcast, but not because they made me that… But because I chose that for me.

And when the message from the mystery girl appeared in my Inbox just minutes later, at that time, it would be my way out. This girl, who claimed to be my sister, would be the reason that I could break free.

Yusuf had eventually fell asleep on my bed whilst playing Mario on my old Game Boy, and I silently exited the room, to check where Umar was. His room was half lit, and I feared that he would still be awake and risk my escape that night. It wasn’t the first time that I had been through this whole routine.

I pushed opened his room door to check if he would react, but Umar was glued to his own computer, shaking his knee and concentrating on some project, with his Qur’an player speakers plugged in his ears.

We were just so different. Who would have thought that we were even related?

I sighed, slightly relieved. I knew there was probably no way that he would hear me, because he always had it on maximum volume.

I closed his door again, draping a scarf over my head and grabbing the keys from the hook on the landing. Thank goodness the alarm wasn’t on as yet, else I would have had to contend with Papa’s security team. The night was still as I stepped out, and I shut the door behind me, looking for the headlights of a car in the distance. It was easy to spot.

I rushed forward, almost as if someone was behind me. A hint of doubt slipped into my mind, wondering what I was setting myself up for.

It wasn’t something I had planned, and I wasn’t sure where this would all lead… But I had to convince myself that I was ready.

Finally, I was ready to find out the truth.



Bitter Sweet

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

I didn’t always expect things to be awesome. In fact, most of the time, I didn’t really expect much. With my sometimes erratic behaviour, the outcome of most things couldn’t be determined until the (often prolonged) execution had been carried out.

I often got the slack for sometimes throwing a spanner in the works, but since I had embarked on a mission to change my life, the urge to do things that were uncalculated was slowly diminishing.

In a nutshell, one would say that maybe The Zee was actually becoming something of a man, rather than a boy. If you really scrutinised my lifestyle, anyone who knew me would think that I was growing up, and finally showing something of my brother’s calculated nature. Basically, I was on the way to being what people call ‘mature’.

But sometimes, the harder you try, the kick-back received gets even more tough. You don’t realise it’s all a test until you realise that you might have failed.

And I definitely didn’t realise it the day when I accompanied my brother for his proposal, and bumped into one of the main features of my past who I assumed was the girl’s cousin.

It was Farah. In the mix. Again.

But this time, Farah was very different to every other time that I had seen her. Outwardly. With a scarf draped on her head, she looked completely different.

Maybe that was the reason I didn’t realise it at first.

And the thing with bumping into the past is that, even when you’ve changed, every time you see that person, it’s like you are re-living that time thay they feautured in, once again. Whether you want to or not. And you can’t just fast forward, because there’s nowhere to move on to.

And by then, either way, it was too late to do any kind of mending.

I realised on that day that this was the first time I felt something close to human emotions.

Regret. Remorse. Resolve.

I couldn’t help but feel bad about my past with her. After sincerely repenting, I knew that an apology was probably due, but there was no way that I could do it without getting myself involved.

I held fast to the notion that a woman could make a man do anything… And I was particularly at risk. I knew my weakness.

And so, as far as I was concerned, I didn’t anticipate any hiccups until the actual eating events. It was only then that I realised what the reason was behind Waseem’s whole ‘rule of segregation’, as I often called it. I mean, till then, I had often scoffed at his ‘extremism’, thinking it just so unnecessary.

But if only I realised the wisdom behind it sooner.

Among the many proofs of prohibition of the meeting and mixing of men and women in the Qur’aan and Sunnah are:

Verse No. 53 of Surat al-Ahzab; “…for anything ye want, ask them from before a screen: that makes for greater purity for your hearts and for theirs…”

Yoh. Purity. It was the purer thing for our often tainted hearts.

And of course, it was spot on.

The thing was, when the temptation was there, and all was exposed, doing sin just became that much more accessible. Staying away from what had previously dragged me down just became more of a task.

And so, when the dude asked if we want to eat, And being The Zee, I quickly took up the offer, despite Waseem’s warning looks, I was merely looking for something to divert my attention. Something to kill the urge to address the girl who had once again re-appeared in my life.

Wrong move number one: I literally stuffed my face while Waseem went off. I indulged till I could eat no more, and then got up to search for the bathroom while Waseem and the other men spoke.

I then understood that eating too much also might lead you to indulge more… In sin.

Wrong move number two: Since I couldn’t find  the much-needed bathroom and was slightly lost I eventually had to call for help, getting no response at first.

And then, out of nowhere, she appeared, all covered up, giving me a bit of a shock. And of course, my instinct was to look down, and just go where I needed to.

No smooth lines or funny stories, I agrued with my nafs, as much as I wanted to show her the old me. As much as I wanted to go back to where ‘we’ had been, I knew I couldn’t.

“You need something, Zee?” She asked, looking kind of displaced.

Why her? Why did it  have to be her?

“Bathroom,” I said, briefly, just wanting some directions. I really didn’t have much time to waste.

“Ziyaad, I’ve been tryin’a get hold of you,” she said, taking a step closer.

Uh oh. The alarm bells were going off.

This is wrong, bru, I could hear my conscience saying.

But it’s just her and you alone, another voice was arguing. Go for it, boss.

I shook my head at myself, forcing my legs backward.

Nonetheless, she continued.

“I just thought we could talk…”

The words I was dreading. Because talking is never just talking. Even just a simple conversation can lead to something more…. Something serious. I had learnt that from experience.

A simple gesture or furtive glance is all it takes to send the wrong signal. And though Western people will argue that interaction with the opposite gender doesn’t always have to have that underlying connotation, in truth, that is precisely what leads regular people and married couples to ruin.

Under the pretext of ‘simple conversation’, man often falls into an open trap, only to be devoured by the unknown predator. Lust just waits for it’s chance to take over.

Because Allah Ta’ala doesn’t just say; “Stay away from Zinaa”, but rather, He advises us what is purer… What cannot even lead to the ultimate acts.

We are advised to not even come near to Zinaa.

And do not come near to adultery, it is a shameful deed and an evil, and opening the road to other evils. (17:32)

And so, I did what I thought was wise. I just continued walking forward, trying to go into a room that I thought was probably the bathroom. Assumption.

And that was probably the third wrong move, literally.

The minute I avoided the situation, I could immediately sense her hostility. I didn’t blame her, but the truth was, with my history, what else could I do? Staying away from temptation was a tough thing, but it had to be done.

Her next words were practically spat out. In the time that I had known her, I never saw this side of her. It was just a teeny bit scary.

“After everything,” she started, her voice raised now and completely different. “Now you can’t even speak to me?! Honestly Ziyaad, you think that you’re too good now??”

Sheesh. Now she was on a roll. I closed my eyes, waiting for the worst. I knew she was on her way to cutting me down to size.

“All I want is to get closure!”

Closure? She was getting hitched. Haibo.

The onslaught was still in procession.

“But now you think that you can just continue to treat me the way you always had?! Guys like you mess around with girls… And then you’ll expect to get a good girl when you decide you ready! You’ll see, Ziyaad. Just wait! That thing on your face means nothing… To me you’ll still just be that drunk guy at the club!”

And with that, she stormed up behind me, slammed the door, leaving me in oblivioun.

The words burnt my ears, but I stood my ground. She was wrong. She was so wrong.

The thing was, though the outward attire might be the thing that was visible, even when I had no idea of my spiritual progress, I was taught by my brother that that no matter what, if you exhibited it on the outside, Allah will make it such that it comes inside. So whenever anyone gave me their two-cent ‘don’t judge me’ comments, I always stood firm. When a simple Sunnah is  not shown on the outside, there’s little chance that it can ever exist beneath.

I knew I still had a lot to achieve, but I was trying. Maybe not that much, but I had started making some effort.

But I couldn’t tell her that, because the door behind me was already slammed and locked. The only way out  of this intermediate room was the door on the otherside that I discovered was leading outside.

I opened it, at first relieved that I wasn’t locked inside, but also a bit panicked as I realised that I was now locked out. Like completely.

I frantically and unsuccessfully looked for an exit, finally realising that there was no way out.

And so, that was the long-story-short of how I interrupted Waseem’s conversation, but as he said later that day in the car, it was probably for the best.

Rescued and safely in the car, Mo, Waseem and I drove out of the driveway, all a bit contemplative, to say the least.

“Why’s everyone so quiet?” Muhammed asked, frowning as he glanced back at me in the rear view mirror.

Waseem shrugged, and I shook my head, wondering what exactly was owing to my silence.

The words were still ringing in my ears.

You’ll still just be that drunk guy at the club!

“Women problems,” I finally said, resting my eyes and leaning back on the head rest.

“And I thought I had problems,” Mo said, chuckling in what seemed like ages.

It really was no fun to be in this position. I completely understood how Farah probably felt about me just going AWOL on her, but in all fairness, she had broken free. She decided to move on. So why keep digging up dust from the past?

I wasn’t sure how I was going to move forward fron here, but I knew that I would probably have to do some thinking… Maybe talk to Waseem. Whatever I decided, I knew it would have to be the right way. No uncalculated business. I would have to wait it out.

We finally reached Mo’s house, and we were all in for a bit of a surprise as Mo opened his garage door to see an SUV parked in there already.

Just what I needed. The bitterness of the confrontation was quickly overcome by what I knew awaited. I knew I would be rewarded for trying to be better in some way, and some more good food to drown my troubles was the perfect antidote.

I think there was no-one that could have been happier than me at that point. Even Mo’s elated face was no match for mine. It was just an awesome moment.

Aasiya was back.

Awkward Moments

Bismillar Rahmaanir Raheem

Waseem: Middle of nowhere...

Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere… And sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself.

A motto of my past was heading back to provoke me. I knew how the game went.

Win, lose or draw. Whatever the outcome, the game is in progress, whether we want it to be or not. So I went ahead, argued with the refs and broke the rules… Cheated a little and took a break to mend some wounds.

But the crux of it for me was this: Play. Play hard. Play fast. Play free. Play as if there’s no tomorrow.

The thing was, I realised, as I went along, life wasn’t meant to be this penned out plan that we all follow blindly. Sometimes, when things don’t go the way you planned them to, you just have to do what your instinct tells you to. You pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start again.

Nothing can wait for us, because what’s meant to be, will be, whether we liked it or not. And there is goodness in it.

That was life… Compliments of the Greatest Planner. That was how it all went down at the end of the day. There was no way around it.

“Yo, Zee,” I said, catching my brother unawares as I stood in the doorway before we left, watching him take a selfie.

He took a step back, turning to look at me with a frown.


“That stuff’s not on, bru,” I said, pointing at his phone and frowning back.

“You can’t sport a beard and then become obsessed with your new look. It’s against Shariah.”

Photography was getting me in a way that it never had before, as I witnessed it’s effects all around me. There was a talk on it at the Madrassa the other day, and now that I was seeing the obsession with ourselves live in action, I was close to seeing red. The whole Muslims with cameras thing just looked awkward.

Ziyaad looked at me, shaking his head. He stroked his new beard complacently.

“It’s called a Halaal shot, bru,” he said seriously. “See, it’s digital.”

He thrust his phone at me, showing me various pictures of himself, some even with his  full Friday garb on. I shook my head, not even entertaining it.

“Not allowed,” I said, not falling for the ‘digital’ story. It’s clearly stated. The Hadith didn’t say painted pictures or explicit photography. It, Taswir, referred to all images, and the crux of it invoked a certain fear in me.

The ruling is that it is forbidden on the basis of a number of reports, such as the following:

Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Those who will be most severely punished by Allaah on the Day of Resurrection will be the image-makers.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, see al-Fath, 10/382).

I trashed all the pictures I could before Ziyaad grabbed his phone back.

“Those are memories, bru,” he said placidly, narrowing his eyes at me.

“Well, how are you ever gonna enjoy the moment if you keep on wanting to capture it?” I asked him pointedly. “Kill the urge.”

“It’s history in the making, boss,” he was trying to convince me, switching off the light to leave.

“Who knows? It might be the last time you’re a single man.”

I ignored the comment, walking straight out of Muhammed’s house.

Another attempt at getting hitched. It was becoming a bit monotonous… Already.

I loved kids. Like, a lot. But I didn’t count on it becoming so heated when the little Hassan wouldn’t leave me.

And after the awkward moments and the second disaster with the first girl who had the honour of giving me a sleepless night, I had taken up Mo’s advice of there being plenty in the ocean, and decided to do some fishing myself.

The first attempt wasn’t awesome, so a contact of Mo had set another girl up for me to ‘see’.

I waited anxiously for my brothers, ready to leave and just get it over with. I wasn’t sure if that was how I was meant to feel about these things… But hey, I couldn’t shake it.

Mo jumped in, looking more like himself than I had seen in days after Aasiya had left. He had said that she had called saying she needed to ‘think’, and when he tried to trace her call, she had already left.

The whole ‘Aasiya hunt’ was sounding anything but fun for my poor brother, but he continued nonetheless, hoping that she would somehow surface of her own accord.

“Let’s go,” Ziyaad said, jumping in. He smelled like he was going for a proposal, with the amount of Oud he had loaded on.

I silently sat, hoping for the best. The thing was, though other guys had found this search entertaining… For me, it was becoming a long drawn quest in order to attain the final prize. I wasn’t interested in the process… In seeing what was on the market. I had knew what I wanted, and since I couldn’t get it, everything else paled in comparison to my original goals. I just couldn’t help myself from still wanting what I had originally set my sights on.

Mo finally pulled into a driveway, and I could immediately tell what kind of girl this was. Obviously, I knew the high maintenance type. I had seen and even been with many in my past. I knew what it entailed and what it all came down to. I wasn’t exactly wanting to go down that road again, but I knew that there was no pulling out now.

So I hopped out of the car, greeting the male family members that I knew vaguely.

As we sat and spoke, of course, business kind of talk, the man wanted to know where my father was. I couldn’t exactly tell him that we weren’t on talking terms, so Mo, being super-cool, evaded the question, moving on to more interesting topics.

The difference was, the last two girls I had gone to see, there was no chit-chat about these mundane things. I honestly didn’t feel like talking about money or anything that didn’t concern me. My prerogative here was to see the girl, decide if we were compatible, and then carry on from there.

“Anyway,” said the brother, probably noticing my expression. “Come have a meal with us and then we can… Err… See how it goes.”

“I’m not really-” I started, not really feeling like eating.

“Sharp,” Ziyaad interrupted me, already half way to the table.

I honestly wanted to klap him at that point, but I gritted my teeth and kept cool.

He was already whacking it, Zee-style. I wasn’t sure if he wanted to be there because of a particular female in the vicinity that kept coming to set new dishes on the table, or whether he genuinely was hungry.

I gave him the benefit of the doubt and I put it down to him being hungry. Since Aasiya had left we all felt the effect on our stomachs.

I bore it out patiently, and finally, I was guided to a room where the girl was waiting.

I greeted as I entered, announcing my arrival.

You know how they say that first impressions are lasting impressions… Well, it was so true.

I was quite ‘taken back’ by this girl, just based on the fact that she seemed extremely ‘hospitable’. And looked good.

She wasn’t awkward and shy, like the last girl that I had seen, and I forgot my guard for a minute as we greeted, and I watched her faff with her bumped up scarf. It was a priceless moment. Unfortunately, it caused the streak of male chauvinist in me to take the rein, until I was brought back down to earth.

“Did you eat?” She asked, sounding super-sweet.

She sounded slightly in awe of me as she spoke, and I wondered if she knew who I really was. The thought made me a bit uncomfortable.

Now most people seem to think that the only thing that we look for in a girl is looks. It’s kind of a no-brainer… Make or break, some would say. And yeah, I cared about them, but I really did look past the obvious. There is always more to what meets the eye.

It was narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah may Allah be pleased with him that the Prophet, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allah exalt his mention ) said: “A woman is married for four (reasons): her wealth, noble ancestry, beauty and religion. Choose the religious woman lest your hand is stuck to dust (because of destitution).” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

The thing was, within the first few minutes, a guy knows if this is her. If she is the one that he can decide on or not. He knows what criteria need to be fulfilled in order to tick all the appropriate boxes that can influence his decision, and one of those things for a Muslim was Taqwa.

Along with getting blown away, I had forgotten what I had been searching for all this time. Modesty had always been a deciding factor.

I had gotten hints of what I would be heading for as the conversation actually evolved into a proper one, where we could actually get an idea of what we needed to. A good conversation lasted at least 10 minutes, else, it was probably not even worth going for. And when a girl kept asking about your past, it was definitely a hint that she probably knew more than she was letting on.

I ignored her venturing within my life, focussing on the most valid points she made. I knew she was probably a ‘good’ girl, but at the same time, being too intent on my life was getting me to think again.

Besides that, I realised that this girl was not going to be prepared to change her current lifestyle that her father had provided for.

Out of my parents home, I wasn’t sure what my status would be until I established myself… So I would either have to step up, or step down. I had to let her know where I stood, either way.

I cleared my throat, aiming for the execution of the ultimate question.

“The thing is, Rabia,” I started, addressing her and looking down as I always had. “I plan to start off on my own… Away from my parents. I will eventually go into business, but my focus is a bit different right now. In that case, will you stand by me?”

There was a long silence,  so much so that I could hear tit-bits of the conversation happening in the lounge.

I had a feeling that she was just about to give me an answer, but as luck would have it, with my ever-entertaining family, a knock at the window leading outside got us both diverted.

I immediately got up and looked out, only to realise that my poor sod of a younger brother was somehow now trapped outside, looking panicked in true Zee-style.

I shook my head, embarrassingly putting my head in my hands and sitting down again. Awkward.

Why did this guy always cause it everywhere we go?

On Over the Orange Horizon: Zaynah

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Abbi’s expression changed, but my own thoughts were too consumed by my insecurities to even wonder what he’s furrowed brow actually meant.

“Zaynah,” he started, guiding me back down the passage. “Maybe we should talk about this?”

“Talk about what, exactly, Abbi?” I retorted. “They can’t just pitch up here and expect us to give in to every command. Abbi, I’m tired of this! I don’t like this place! Let’s just go back home. Maybe then these people will be happy and they can have their house back!”

My father frowned, looking from Zakiyya to me, and then at Nabeela. He shook his head.

“Zaynah,” my father said, looking confused. “What are you talking about?”

I looked back at him obviously. I just wanted to be as far away as I could. I hated feeling like we owed people things. I just couldn’t stand this uncertainty.

“I’m coming now,” Abbi said, hurrying off as he heard voices in the lounge again.

“We’ll talk,” he called over his shoulder.

I scowled and sat on the ottoman outside the room, ready to complain about them once again to Nabeela and Zakiyya. I was all ready to speak my mind, but the expression on their faces was one of unexpected amusement.

I glared at them, not for the first time that day, getting annoyed once again. They may have found it amusing, but they weren’t there the day when that man had phoned to speak to Abbi. He was so upset afterwards that he didn’t want to even eat. It was anything but funny.

“Zaynah,” Zakiyya said, looking at me squarely. “I think that you probably got the wrong end of the stick…”

Much to my dismay, Nabeela burst out laughing at that point, trying to cover her mouth to conceal it.

“What d’you mean?” I asked Zakiyya, ignoring Nabeela completely.

These two were really driving me mad. I wasn’t sure how much more patience I would have to exercise before I actually snapped.

“Zaynah, darling,” Zakiyya started, sounding like I was the slow one here. “They didn’t come here about the rent…”

I looked at her, confused. They didn’t? So what was all this about?

Before I could even ask her, the high pitched wail of Hassan’s crying caught us all off-guard, and of course, all three of us literally tripped over each other trying to see what exactly had happened.

Zakiyya halted at the door, realising that our visitors were still there and she wasn’t dressed appropriately. Nabeela pulled back shyly, and ao it was left to me to sort out. Consumed by wory, I stood in the doorway before I entered, calling out to Hassan to come over to me.

My gaze shifted to lower down, searching for him.

The poor child was looking like he was in physical pain as he clung onto someone’s white kurtah for dear life. I immediately pitied this person, because I knew how difficult it would be to pry this child off of him. I mean, I understood it completely, because it was the very reason that Hassan was actually with us here. He had clung to us relentlessly when we had gone to fetch Nabeela, and refused to release his grip until he was securely in the car. I predicted a similar outcome here.

“Hassan!” I scolded, hesitating to go forward to take him. My father looked completely defeated as he stood there, because he obviously didn’t know how to handle this child.

I mean… I didn’t blame him. He was well past his child-rearing years, so it was completely expected. I quickly realised that I would have to take a firmer stand, or Hassan was probably never going to leave this person.

I looked up at the Hassan’s victim, immediately and completely inadvertently meeting eyes with one of the people.

The one with the piercing eyes.

It was like a moment stood completely stagnant as I recognised this person, realising that he was the person who had come to see us about the house a while back.

The nice one, according to Nabeela.

Something about him had just made me feel so… Different. My palms dampened before I realised it… Were these people actually making me nervous?

I looked down quickly, embarrassed firstly about looking, and moreso, about Hassan’s behaviour. It was such a strange thing that was happening, because Hassan, the usual introvert, had never even seen this person before. I found it so weird that in the short time that he was here, Hassan had already formed a serious attachment to this mister who we all had no idea about as yet.

As for the mister… His expression, among other things, as I remembered in the one stolen glance, was maybe just  a little desperate.

I supposed he didn’t know how to handle the child not wanting to leave him. I didn’t want to be intrusive with these people, especially with only men around, but Abbi was looking at me pleadingly.

“Hassan, please come here,” I said softly, tried to convince  my four-year-old cousin… But his look was as stubborn as they come.

I wondered if this person was bribing the child or something… This was so embarrassing.

Then he spoke.

“Why don’t I take him for a drive or-”

“No!” I shouted, practically diving forward and seizing Hassan.

I had to literally tear his fingers off the guys clothing, since he was clinging on so fiercely. I ignored his screaming amidst other arguments within the room, hurriedly taking him back through the passage and handing him to Nabeela.

I could hear my father saying something about speaking to his daughter as I left, but till then, I didn’t understand what exactly was going on. I just knew that I had to get out of there. The whole interaction, though embarrassing, was strangely thought-provoking.

My voice was shaky when I opened it to speak to Nabeela, and I almost gave myself a shock.

“I-I don’t know what’s wrong with him,” I said to Nabeela, talking about Hassan.

My heart was still pounding… Probably from the adrenalin rush my body had experienced when I rushed out of there. I was not really such a frantic kind of person… It was all highly taxing on me.

Nabeela started back at me, her dark eyes seeming even larger for some reason. Hassan whimpered in her arms.

“I think it’s a sign,” she finally said, almost to herself.

“A sign?” I repeated, dazed.

“Yes,” she repeated, looking into space. “That he is the one. Your knight in shining armour. Your hope for a new tomorrow. Your love story conclusion.”

I stared at her, my mind boggled. How did she even come up with these things?

Zakiyya sighed, looking at my exrpression hopelessly.

“He’s the same one,” said softly, maybe not wanting to shock me more. “He came for you.”

My eyes widened in surprise. For me? But… I thought… How could it be? How can I ever accept that… Knowing the history here?

“I decided a long time ago, Zaks,” I said, breathing unsteadily. “I can’t… Those kind of people are not like us…”

Now it was Zakiyya’s turn to get annoyed. My father had just come into the room, but he stood silently and watched, probably thinking about his words carefully.

“Zaynah,” he started, nodding at me. “I know I shouldn’t but thats’s what I worry about too… How would you handle being in that family..?”

Zakiyya shook her head and turned to face me, making sure I had her full attention.

“What do you’ll mean?” Zakiyya said, raising her voice. “How can you say that, Zay?! Sometimes it’s not as it seems. Don’t look at what you knew… Look at who brought him.”

I let her words take it’s effect, just for a few moments.

Look at who brought him…”

Zakiyya was spot on with her judgement. Always. She had a tendency to always say the right things at the moments when it was most needed. Her statement that Autumn morning, just as the Asr Adhaan sounded, was one I would have never thought of. It reminded me so aptly of the beautiful story of when my Nabi (SAW) sent a man with a proposal with his reference.

And in this case, as the story is reported,  though this Sahabi was what people would call a complete ‘nobody’, its outcome of events portrayed a deeper moral for me.

And although this Sahabi, Julaybib (RA), was said to be short in height, deformed in appearance and his lineage was not known, the lesson of the story was what had it’s greatest effect on me. No one knew who his parents had been and with no clan to protect him ot no tribe willing to accept him as their own, he cut a lonely figure.

And of course, with the coming Nabi (SAW), he was elevated in status, and the fortunes of Julaybib (RA) changed. He would go and sit in the company of the Prophet (SAW) and listen intently, rarely speaking. He would, out of shyness, keep his gaze lowered. He now had the best of friends in the Prophet of Allah (SAW) and those days of loneliness and despair were over, for the Best of creation (SAW) had arrived. Julaybib (RA) was now part of community of believers.

And so, one day, as he was sitting in the Company of the Prophet, The Messenger Of Allah (SAW) asked him: “O Julaybib, ask for something, is there anything you desire.”

He raised his head slowly and said in a shy voice, “O Messenger of Allah, Allah has blessed me with your companionship. I get to sit at your blessed feet and hear your blessed words, what more could I desire?”

The Prophet of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) asked: “How would you like to get married, my dear Julaybib?”.

He smiled shyly wondering who would want to marry him. “Yes, oh messenger Of Allah, I would like that.”

The Prophet Of Allah (SAW) went to the house of a prominent and Noble Sahabi from amongst the Ansar.

He said “I have come to ask for your daughters hand in marriage”. The Sahabi was overjoyed he said: “O Messenger of Allah what could be a greater blessing than this.”

The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “I do not ask of her for myself, It is for Julaybib that I am asking.”

The Sahabi was left stunned: “For Julaybib?” he asked in bewilderment.

“Yes, for Julaybib,” replied The Messenger of Allah (SAW).

He said: “Let me consult with my wife.” He went and told her. “The Prophet of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) has asked for your daughters hand in marriage, for Julaybib.”

She started crying and wailing, refusing.

Upon hearing the commotion, the daughter arrived.

It is said that she was so beautiful that there was none among the women of the Ansaar who could compete with her looks. She was so shy and modest that perhaps the sky itself had never seen her head uncovered. She had so much taqwa that she would spend her days and nights in worship.

The daughter asked what was happening; she was told that the Prophet of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) wants your hand in marriage for Julaybib.

As the Mother continued her crying and Wailing, the daughter spoke she said: “O my Mother, fear Allah, think of what you are saying, are you turning away the prophet of Allah (SAW)? O my Mother, it does not suit a believer to make their own decision once Allah and his Messenger (SAW) have decided on a matter. Do you think that the Prophet of Allah (SAW) will disgrace us? How blessed is the status of Julaybib, that Allah and his Messenger are asking for your daughters hand on his behalf. Don’t you know that the angels themselves envy the dust on the feet of one who is a beloved of Allah and his Prophet(SAW)? Ask the Prophet to send me Julaybib, for there is no greater privilege than for me to be blessed by such a husband. Prophet of Allah (SAW) has arrived with such a wonderful gift, yet my Mother,you cry and wail.”

SubhaanAllah. It was such an amazing story, with an even more heart-wrenching conclusion that made me weep profusely when I read further on, but the piety and lesson of this young Muslimah just got me every time.

And I knew all this, but it had to be pointed out to me.

When a reputable person refers someone… It’s not to be taken lightly. It means that somehow, there is something within the recommendation that has goodness in it. There must be something that was seen in him that made Maulana Umar actually bring him here to us.

“Do you see?” Zakiyya asked finally, realising that maybe I might have had a change of heart.

I wasn’t certain… But maybe… Just maybe… It was time to take a chance.

To look beyond the orange horizon. To gaze somewhere beyond where I had been putting my focus all this time. To delve into the unknown.

I nodded slowly, looking at Abbi’s worried expression.

I didn’t know what this would all bring… Or what he would have to say about it. And I supposed I would never know until I took the plunge.

I nodded my head, preparing to meet her halfway.

However, I didn’t know that I would have to eat the words that I had erroneously uttered just a little while before.

“Abbi,” I said, turning to face my father. “You think we can ask them to come back?”

The Wrong End of the Hedge: Zaynah

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

“‘And so there are some who spend their whole lives seeking. Sometimes giving, sometimes taking. Sometimes chasing. But often, just waiting. They believe that love is a place that you get to: a destination at the end of a long road. And they can’t wait for that road to end at their destination. They are those hearts moved by the movement of hearts. Those hopeless romantics, the sucker for a love story, or any sincere expression of true devotion. For them, the search is almost a lifelong obsession of sorts. But, this tragic ‘quest’ can have its costs—and its’ gifts.
The path of expectations and the ‘falling in love with love’ is a painful one, but it can bring it’s own lessons. Lessons about the nature of love, this world, people, and one’s own heart, can pave this often painful path. Most of all, this path can bring its own lessons about the Creator of love.’

“Beautiful,” I murmured, thinking it so apt that love itself even has a Creator. Of course.

Who could forget the that He, the One who was in control of every man’s heart, created one of the most beautiful things… Indeed, Allah is beautiful and loves beauty.

Zakiyya put her phone which she was reading from down, and looked at me openly. It was a snippet from a book of her favourite female authors, I could tell.

“So?” She said, scrutinising my expression. “You think you fall into that category? Searching… Believing that it’s a long quest… A hopeless romantic?!”

She emphasised the word romantic, almost taunting me.

“Pssht,” I scoffed, denying her allegations. “What nonsense. Me? Puh-lease.”

She grinned at Nabeela, and I ignored them both, getting up to fetch a glass of water. I was starting to feel a bit flustered. I just hoped that Winter’s coming was going to speed up, because the Summer heat was at it’s peak, even though it was already March.

The sound of the new buzzer gladly got the attention off of me, and I could hear Abbi opening the door to see who it was. Hassan, my younger cousin, raced out to look out the gate.

“Who is it, Abbi?” I called, grabbing my scarf to throw on if I needed. I peeped through the wooden blind to see if I could recognise the car, but I had no idea who it belonged to. It was a nice car, that much I could tell… But it didn’t look familiar. We didn’t get many visitors, so it left me even more curious.

Nabeela’s younger brother was with us till the weekend and was craving something other than the company of three girls, so he followed Abbi out to investigate.

“I’m coming now,” Abbi called. “I think they’re from the Masjid.”

“Gasht now?” Zakiyya said, looking confused. It was the middle of the day.

I shrugged my shoulders, concentrating on my nails. I needed to trim them. I hated them to look so overgrown. Long nails always irritated me, and I got more paranoid about Whudhu being valid when I forgot to cut them. If a single piece of dirt or food was stuck there, I knew it would be questionable.

I dug in my middle drawer, looking for a nail file, just as I heard Nabeela let out a horrific squeal.

I jumped in my seat, just moving my eyes to give her a look. More like a glare.

She looked back at me from the window, all wide eyed, like her mouth was literaly stuck.

What?!” I snapped, clearly irritated by her behaviour.

Now, I always have been an impatient, intolerant kind of person. I tried to improve, but at the worst of times, the less admirable side of me always came out. Zakiyya, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. Always cool.

She walked calmly to where Nabeela was, looking out, and then quickly hurried back.

She murmured something that I didn’t hear, and I looked at her just as impatiently as I had with Nabeela.

“What exactly is going on?” I snapped, looking at both of them alternatively. “Are you’ll going to tell me or not?!”

I got up at that point, determined to find out for myself.

“Zaynah!” Zakiyya exclaimed, coming forward and pushing me back down on my seat. “Just relax, ‘kay? Don’t panic, but it’s those people.”

Those people? I was confused for a good few seconds.

Who was she talking about..?

Ah. Lightbulb. That person she spoke about the last time. The father had phoned Abbi. The one who came to ask about…

“The same one?” I asked, almost starved of oxygen. I wasn’t breathing very well.

The thing was, besides being an impatient, intolerant kind of person… I was also a very neurotic and disturbed kind of individual. Right then, I was sure that a few versions of my chill pills would have gone down really well. Both Zakiyyah and Nabeela knew it well.

“Emergency drawer!” Nabeela shouted, taking note of my expression, diving on the bed and getting out a packet from my bedside pedestal. She tossed it Zakiyya who promptly opened it.

“Open your mouth!” She demanded.

I did as she said, letting the sugar do its thing as I let the extra soft gums melt in my mouth. It always did the trick.

“Calmer?” She asked softly, looking at me sceptically.

I nodded, letting everything, include the high sugar intake, digest.

“At least he’s got a nice car,” Nabeela commented, looking back inside.

At least? I glared at Nabeela questioningly.

Like I cared. It was irrelevant. Nice car or whatever… I couldn’t care less.

Instead of being impressed, by any degree, this whole visit just made me more angry. After their father phoned and took off with Abbi, I really didn’t have any time for stories. I mean, after the things he said to Abbi, when Abbi always paid his rent on time… I couldn’t believe that they actually had the audacity to still come here and ask for it. Just because we weren’t from here… From  their side of the neighbourhood. And on the pretext on Gasht, to top it off. It was sick.

And maybe I was being judgemental, but from what I had seen… What was the point in having the best of everything when you couldn’t even show gratitude to the One who had blessed you with it? How can you savour this world, which was the basis for admittance into Jannah, and have no concern for the hereafter?

People didn’t understand. If even in Jannah we see the rewards… When we express our gratitude to Allah for His blessings and for entering us into Jannah, Insha Allah, even then Allah will bestow more bounties.

Abul-Abbaas al-Qurtubi said: “. . . gratitude for blessings – even if they are few – is a means of attaining the pleasure of Allah, may He be exalted, which is the noblest situation of the people of Paradise.

When the people of Paradise say, “You (Allah) have given to us what You have not given to anyone among Your creation,”

Allah will say to them: “Shall I not give you something better than that?”

They will say, “What is it? Have You not brightened our faces, and admitted us to Paradise and saved us from Hell?”

Allah will say, “I bestow My pleasure upon you, and I will never be angry with you after that.” [Al-Mufhim lima ashkala min Talkhees Kitaab]


And I knew well that when we’re asked about this world, when we are questioned as to how long we have spent here… In retrospect it only appears to be a very trivial amount of time. A few days, the first group will say. A day, others will say. Less or part of a day, others yet will correct.

And though it there will be this controversy… I couldn’t help but think to myself: If this span of time is so short in relativity to the hereafter… If this life was so meagre… Could we not spend even this tiny space of time in Allah’s obedience? In gratitude to Him.

It was a question that hung above me… Constantly. Obey Him. That’s all He asks.

Instead, we spend this time in this world looking for every excuse not to.

I sighed, looking out the window if I could see these ‘people’ that Zakiyya was speaking about. My palms began to get sticky as I realised the implication of this whole thing. Were they going to kick us out of our home? Had people really sunk so low in this day and age?

I halted my thoughts. Wait a minute.

I mean, I didn’t even know what this was all about. I mean, I knew that they owned the house, but we were paying to live here. Abbi always kept to his word. Why were they coming here to harass us?

And though I had no real basis, here I was, allowing myself to hyperventilate for no apparent reason.

“Oh my word, they’re sitting there,” Nabeela hissed, moving away from the door.

Oh goodness. I think, more than anything, Nabeela and Zakiyya were getting me more stressed out about this whole visit.

What did these people really want? Couldn’t they just phone first before they came like normal people?

It was a long wait, and though Nabeela was trying to eavesdrop on the whole thing, I didn’t trust her feedback ability. I moved down the passage with my niqaab on, trying to peep into our sitting room. I moved Nabeela aside and paused at the doorway in a position where no-one could see me, scanning the room from behind them.

Our sitting room wasn’t very well-lit, even during the day, so as my eyes adjusted, I wondered to myself if I was seeing right.

Hassan, who was usually a reserved and quiet child, was propped on someone’s lap, like he knew these people for years. In fact he had made himself so comfortable, that I couldn’t believe that he hadn’t met this person that he was getting so acquainted with before.

Traitor, I thought to myself, thinking about how I would punish him later. Maybe I would restrict access to my sweet drawer. He had to learn.

I started straining my eyes to check if we actually did know these people, when someone got up suddenly.

“Maulana Umar, I’ll be back now,” Abbi said, walking briskly towards the doorway.

It was just as well that Abbi got up at that point, because I’m sure I would have exposed myself if it was anyone else.

Wait. Did he just say Maulana Umar? He was a good guy… Well-known and admired. Abbi had known him before we had moved here, and I couldn’t help but think to myself why he had come to see us with the neighbour guy. I mean, had people stooped so low to bring Maulanas with them when they came to kick tenants out?

I started getting angrier by the second. This was all just too much. Such a huge inconvenience.

With the torrent of emotions mounting, the tears were on the verge of ecsaping. My eyes were brimming with emotion, and I looked away quickly to wipe them.

I stepped back until Abbi came toward me, looking at him questioningly. I hoped to myself that he would tell me what exactly was going on.

“Zaynah,” he addressed me quietly. “Get something, please.”

I put my hand to my mouth, completely shocked at Abbi.

I mean, really? How can he even offer them stuff when they had come with that intention?

I found myself wanting to knock some sense into my poor father. He was always so obliging… So accommodating. This time, I had to stop it.

“Abbi,” I started, speaking a little louder than usual. I wanted them to hear what I had to say, and I really didn’t want Abbi to try and smooth the whole thing over. If Abbi didn’t say it, I knew I had to.

“I think…” I started again, even louder this time. My voice sounded extra strange, because I barely ever spoke so loud. The niggly feeling in the back of my mind was approaching my conscience, but I ignored it. Completely avoided it.

I had to say it. I cleared my throat.

“Abbi,” I said, finally, speaking as clear as I could. “Please tell them to leave.”


Bismillahir Rahmaanir Rahmaan

Waseem: Another shot...

I felt sorry for Mo.

He staggered backward, at first shocked, and then looking angered, before he finally walked towards us and took a seat on the empty recliner.

“Why?” He asked, to no-one in particular.

I didn’t know what to say. I mean, I didn’t even know what he was asking, so there was no way I could answer his question. Why what?

“I only did what she wanted,” he was almost complaining. “This is what she asked for, until today. She never wanted to be contacted by her family, and I never asked. How was I to know this would happen?”

He looked at Molvi, but there was no response.

“Now she says I took her away from them,” he continued, looking exhausted.

He was shaking his head blindly, and I could see Maulana Umar starting to look uncomfortable from the corner of my eye.

It was time for us to leave, but I felt terrible to leave my brother here, looking like a lost puppy. Without his wife around, I wasn’t sure if Muhammed knew what to do with himself. He doted on her relentlessly.

“I’ll be back just now,” I started saying, watching Mo’s reaction. “I’m just gonna drop-”

“Was, please,” Mo cut me off, sounding withdrawn. “I don’t need a babysitter, boss. I’ll be fine.”

Well, I supposed he had a point. I nodded, understmding where he was coming from, and then we left through the garage where I had parked my car. At first Maulana Umar said nothing, and I didn’t ask because I knew it wasn’t my business.

“You know, Mus’ab,” he finally said, sounding serious. “This kind of makes us family.”

I glanced at him, seeing the shadow of a smile on his face. I nodded, smiling back.

“I suppose it does, Molvi,” I replied, hoping that I might see more of him now.

I still hadn’t gotten a chance to speak to him about what I needed to, and I was already plotting ways to do so.

“She may have chosen something different,” he said, out of the blue, referring my sister-in-law again. “But I’m glad she was happy.”

It was a bit of a strange thing to say.

Although I admired Maulana Umar, I wondered about this guy and his own past… I didn’t know that much. His family life was obviously his business, but it got me wondering. Did she choose a different path? Did he mean she went against whatever his family had wanted? Was it because she married Mo? Did she make the stupidest move by getting carried away with Muhammed’s lifestyle over what her family wanted for her?

All sorts of things were going through my head now, but he didn’t give anymore information. I honestly wondered how everyone had thought she was dead. I clearly remembered Maulana Umar once saying his sister had passed away, so it was so strange when this whole episode was revealed.

Muhammed and Aasiya. They’ve been together so long, I never even thought about how it all happened. From what I knew Maulana Umar was from a place quite far from here, so I obiously wondered how they had met. Mo was quite a bit older than me, which meant that I was still in my early teena when he had got hitched. He was no fool, and he knew what he was doing when he got himself involved… But why did the pieces just not fit together?

I sighed. Women, huh. I had always believed that a woman could make a man do anything. Not to me, of course, because I had never taken one seriously until now…

“Allah knows best,” Molvi said, kind of closing off the previous topic before I stopped at the Masjid. “So what’s happening with you, Mus’ab? Before this drama, you needed to talk to me?”

Ah. And I thought he probably wouldn’t remember. What a guy. He was never too consumed with anything in his own life to forget others. That spoke volumes of his own values. I saluted that.

At the end of the day, it all boiled down to one thing. It all boiled down to how you would like others to treat you. You can’t be so selfish, but expect people to give up everything for you.

You had to open your heart to others, and give them what you yourself would want to receive. It was a major part of brotherhood in Islam.

Our Nabi (SAW) said in a narration, known to perhaps every devout Muslim:

None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)

And of course, the Sabahah were the prime examples, and surely it was because pf their constant selfless act that it was revealed:

“…And they give others preference over themselves even though they were themselves in need….” (Quran 59:9)

I mean, they were even prepared to divorce their own wives so to see that the Muhaajireen were comforatble. It was unthinkable that anybody in today’s day and age could think that way, especially when they themslevs had their own needs. Our minds were always so one-track, we barely thought of others when we were in comfort, leave alone when we had deficiencies in our own lives.

I had a lot to still learn.

“You okay?” Molvi said, noting my silence and breaking into my thoughts.

I didn’t realise quite how long I was thinking for, and I quickly nodded, trying to think of the best way to say what I needed to.

I mentioned it briefly, explaining to him that I thought I was ready to take the next step. The next step.

I hadn’t known that he was already thinking ahead as I told him about my encounter with the girl’s father, because he didn’t say much, and I had assumed that he was just listening, and probably going to write it off. I didn’t realise that his lack of response was the evidence of his mind working.

Well, I quickly realised how wrong I was the next day when I had fetch him for the airport.

It was just as well that I had got a bit delayed whilst talking to Ziyaad, else I would have never known about the plan that he had that day.

Talking to Ziyaad was like a re-visit down the road I had come from, and although I sensed his hopelessness… Hell, I was just so damn proud of my brother. I had always assumed that Muhammed would be the more easily influenced one, with his wife already imposing half of my thoughts into his life, but Ziyaad’s revolutionary change had just come from nowhere.

It was true proof that no-one but Allah could change hearts. Maybe there was one awesome act that Allah had loved so much, that He gifted him with Hidaayat. And what Hidaayat, I was amazed.

“Sorry, bru,” I said apologetically to Ziyaad, after telling him about what happened with Aasiya. I was feeling bad that I had to leave him. “I’ll catch you later?”

“Sure,” he nodded, following me out. I started my car, watching him go in the opposite direction to where I was headed. I stopped outside the Muslim B&B, seeing Molvi already waiting outside. I immediately felt bad that I was delayed, but Molvi didn’t ask anything, just directed me quickly on a detour that he needed to take.

“There’s someone that I needed to meet,” he said mysteriously, giving me quick directions.

I already knew something was up.  It sounded like a place I knew but he didn’t give me the address, so until I pulled up next to the house, then only did I know exactly what he was up to.

It was her house.

The girl that I’d seen, just that one time, but her image had planted sprouting hopes within my mind. The girl who, until now, had seemed so out of my each, because I knew that there was no way I could single-handedly win her or her family over.

“But Maulana,” I argued, watching him, all calm and collected, getting off the car. “Isn’t the flight soon?”

I followed him, feeling all nervous and paranoid about this whole sudden change in plans.

“Relax, boss,” he grinned, waiting for me to catch up with him.

I was still in shock, not knowing how I was going to deal. I had never felt so nervous about seeing a girl, and I just hoped I could keep my cool this time.

Molvi pressed the new buzzer that was on the outside wall, waiting for a response.

“Bismillah,” he said confidently, gesturing to the house as he glimpsed her father coming out to unlock the gate.

He glanced at me, noting my panicked expression.

An encouraging look was all I needed to feel a bit more confident. With Molvi next to me, I finally felt a little bit worthy.

“Let’s do this.”


No Attachments

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Waseem: Flames to Dust...

The more you sacrifice, the greater the rewards.

The bigger your investment, the bigger your return.

But you have to be willing to take that chance. You have to understand that you might lose it all. But if you take that chance, and if you take that plunge, the final pay-off just might be worth it all.

I could have never, for the life of me, ever imagined the feeling of isolation and displacement I had felt the first few days after I had left home.

It was only then that I truly realised how little I really had, in terms of everything.  It was a pure test of faith, forcing me to make decisions that would open up doorways of opportunity and understanding.

Because, the truth was, that the minute I left home, was the moment I left my past behind, to start another era of my life. It was me breaking free, allowing myself the opportunity to really make something of myself. It was the window to the world, in a whole new perspective.

It was the early parts of the morning, and after spending most of the night just tiring my brain of thinking about where I was headed… I was finally done. I thought I was being clever when I left home.

No more, I said to myself. No more stupid moves.

Now that I had left home, it didn’t seem like such a great idea any more. I really had nowhere I could go. In a nutshell, I was completely lost.

“Some change, brother?” The shabbily dressed balded guy asked, holding out his parched hand.

I honestly didn’t keep any change on me, so instead, I offered him the garage-bought coffee and muffin that I had just bought and looked up at him, scrutinising his attire.


Here I was, feeling sorry for myself, when this guy truly had nothing. I was busy contemplating what my next move was, when this guy didn’t even know where his next meal was coming from. The amazing part was that, I was sure that if this guy just could sustain himself from day to day, without worrying about it, I’m sure that he would be content. He would just carry on.

It would be no burden for him, because just so he could survive, he would desire no more.

But mankind, as I always saw it, was faulty. The more you get, the more you want. Never satisfied. The greed that people had for money and materialistic wealth just disturbed me.

“And know that your possessions and children are but a trial and that surely with Allaah is a mighty reward.” [al-Anfaal 8:28]

My thoughts immediately went back to my father and his words to me, just the previous night. Once again, I felt angry and disappointed, not understanding it at all. I mean, he had so much, why the greed and ugliness?

It was this constant rebelliousness, despite the favours they have been given. When you are constantly in places that remind you of the world, and only mingle with people who have the same obsession, it’s only expected that you too become inclined to that. People who have no knowledge about Deen get carried away with this world, and their hearts harden. Their aspirations are only for Duniyaa.

And although being poor, or not having anything in this world was indeed a difficulty, we failed to realise the greater hardship for us here… The greater test.

Even when we are gifted with the best of everything, every favour or possession that we have in this world is also a great trial for us. What we choose to do, or how we behave because of it, is the great test. Whether it diverts us from Allah, or makes us arrogant… That’s what defines what we are.

Nabi (SAW) is reported to have said: “Every nation has its fitnah (trial or temptation), and the fitnah of my ummah is wealth.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi).

I walked back to my car now, thinking about everything that had happened the previous night. I couldn’t understand why it had all played out this way, but I knew that there was definitely a greater wisdom behind me being here right now.

It’s gonna be okay, I told myself.

I knew that I would somehow rise above, despite the feelings of inadequacy brewing again. I kept thinking back to her, the girl that I had set my hopes on, wondering if it was too far out of my reach. I kept wondering how much more restlessness I would have to endure before it all gets sorted out.

I was starting to panic. I might as well just go back home. Get my life back.

Was this just the beginning?

I pulled out a cigarette from the box I kept for ’emergency’ situations, hoping to relieve some of the tension that I felt.

I really couldn’t think of where to go. Muhammed’s house was no option because his wife was around, and it wasn’t in me to burden anyone else with my morbid stories. I always had plenty of friends and girlfriends, and tons of places to go, but I wasn’t willing to tread that path once again.

No, I wouldn’t get tempted.

I was always an independent kind of guy, and I intended to keep it that way. At this poing in time, I had no attachments. I had to emerge from this with at least my dignity in tact.

The amount of time I had on my hands now was unbelievable, with no other diversions distracting me. All I was really doing was sitting in my car and cooling off. I could have done anything with the time that I had wasted.

What are you doing? Something inside me was asking. Why waste time?

This was the opportunity. It was the perfect place for me to do what I had been aspiring for during the past few weeks.

Since Maulana Umar had become such an influence in  my life, I always promised myself that I would somehow and in some way join him in his pursuit of Deen. I always wanted to see the side of life that I had never been exposed to, and never thought important. I always wanted to be part of something big. Something huge. And this was the time.

And from the moment I made that choice, I knew that I wasn’t going to go back to what I came from. The threat was lingering above me seemed to dissipate into thin air, as I made up my mind. I had a number for Molvi Umar that I SMSed to seek advice, and made my way to the Madrassah , where I knew some of the guys stayed.

Most of them were younger than me, but that was the thing when it came to Deen. As old as you were, everyone was always learning. Everybody here was in the same boat.

I roughed it out at Madrassa for a few days before I managed to find myself a place to stay. It was a simple apartment close to the Masjid, but it was mine. Mo kept on trying to convince me to stay with him, but I didn’t want to intrude on his home life.

His place was huge and dynamic, no doubt, but staying there would still mean risking it, and I didn’t want to get too comfortable. I was going for Gasht with some of the guys, and I knew that I would get lazy if I was too far away.

And then was the first call for Jamaat at the nearby Masjid, to go out for three days.

Why not? I asked myself, taking the plunge. I knew that I was waiting for this opportunity for so long. No commitments, nothing holding me back. I mean, in essence, at any time in my life I could have done this, but I’ve always had my stories. Excuses was the only thing that stopped anyone, when in fact, it was really just that. Excuses.

Beacuse the reality was this: If Allah, in His infinite mercy, can sustain the person who does not even acknowledge Him or believe in Him, and provide him with the best of what he desires… How is it possible that the same Allah cannot provide for the one who is out in His path?

Our Lord was the only one who could provide… As He did for me when I was down and out. When I had nowhere else to go, it was only Him.

Never forget it Who remained, I reminded myself. He always remains. 

Of course, doing this was only a minor way to show my gratitude to the One Who had my back through it all.

So from three day, I went to forty days, with Molvi’s guidance, engaging and interacting with some of the most inspiring and committed people who were in the work of Deen. And it was mind-blowing how focussed they were. No luxury or comfort came before Da’wah. They accepted no recognition for doing what they did, because it was only in Allah’s name that they did it. Sincerity was the test always, but the only thing that could keep us focussed.

And so, involved in something worthwhile for a change, it was only when I got back did I meet Maulana Umar properly. It was only then that I actually got the guts to ask him what had been occupying my mind for those past two months. The urge that I had felt to be settled and sort out my life had only been temporarily extracted with my new lifestyle, but as I hit my homebase again, I realised that I was never going to forget about it completely.

And that’s when I decided to invite him over, to chat with him about the direction I was heading. I needed some guidance and needed to know if he could help me out by putting in a good word. Feeling like my place was less than presentable with the mere necessities, Mo, being Mo, opened his home to me, saying that it was perfectly okay to invite the Molvi Dude over.

Of course, the rest of it was now history, as all of us got over the shock of Aasiya and Molvi Umar being related. Being there and witnessing the gasp of shock that Aasiya let escape, brought another whole mystery to the whole event. I never thought I’d see a Maulana run after a woman the way he did that day, and to say the least, it was just slightly amusing.

And yeah, of course I wanted to know what the deal was, but I wasn’t the type to interfere or pry into anyone else’s business. That was the difference between Ziyaad and I. He said I didn’t care, but he cared a bit too much. I, on the other hand, just sat on the couch a few minutes after Ziyaad had left, letting it all sink in.

I heard the footsteps before I saw who it was, and finally, I glanced Molvi’s welcomed face. Yeah, he looked a bit down, but he still had it in him to give a small smirk.

“How’s it goin’, Mus’ab?” he greeted again, taking a seat opposite me.

I grinned. That nickname got me every time, and I wondered what he actually saw in me to actually befriend a guy like me.

As much as I wanted to be selfish and talk about my own problems and what was really bothering me, I realised that he probably needed someone to hear him out. Maybe he needed to talk.

“All okay?” I asked, anticipating the worst.

He nodded slowly, as if he was still thinking.

“You know what’s the best part here, bru?” he asked suddenly, looking up at me.

I shook my head, not knowing where this was going.

“The best thing here, is that my wife would have loved to meet her,” he said, looking suddenly at a loss.

Wife? Ah, yes. Molvi was married. Now, by that time I had spent a lot of time with Molvi Umar, but he hadn’t ever mentioned his wife to me explicitly. Of course I knew that there was one, but I had a feeling that there was a reason he didn’t mention her very often.

Whatever it was, I sensed there was a deep attachment. And I found that drawing me even more to my own motives for calling him here.

Besides that, now that he had mentioned his wife, I knew that it was my opportunity to mention what I needed to.

And just when I was about to, as luck would have it, at that very moment, Aasiya and Muhammed came through the lounge door. Aasiya had two bags with her, and Muhammed was on her tail, trying to clearly reason with a woman on a mission. No attachments or sweet nothings were holding her back.

“Aasiya, just listen,” Muhammed was pleading, following her relentlesssly. “Just stay. We’ll sort this out. There’s no need to leave.”

Aasiya glanced at us, and Molvi, realising the tension immediately got up, looking for an exit.

“Siya, please,” Muhammed was literally begging now, holding her back. “Can’t we just all talk this through?”

In a moment, she spun around, now face-to face with my brother, almost staring him down.

I couldn’t hear the first few words that she said to him under her breath, but the last four were pretty loud and clear.

“This is all your fault!” she hissed, her voice sounding shaky.

They rung through my brain as if they were directed at me, but I knew there was a deeper meaning and story behind the whole thing.

With that, she grabbed her keys from Muhammed’s now limp hand, turned around, and left calmly through the front door.



Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

I shuffled on my feet, obviously feeling awkward to say the least. I mean. It wasn’t only her that was watching me… It was the four or five people in the queue behind me too that were practically ogling me. I stepped back, trying to give a cool and collected kind of smirk, only slightly missing the desired effect.

Look down, Zee, I reminded myself. Just keep cool.

Now, the old Zee would have loved all this, and would have probably even played up the whole scene, basking in undeserved glory… But tonight, there was just something different in me. Something was telling me: Do this one thing, and you’ll see how it all gets sorted out.

And so I did it. I looked down, hand in pocket, nodded a greeting, and turned to walk out. I didn’t even look at her gorgeous face again, as much as I wanted to, because something inside of me was telling me to just restrain myself for once. Just this one time, do things differently.

“The furtive glance is one of the poisoned arrows of Shaytan, on him be God’s curse. Whoever forsakes it for the fear of Allah, will receive from Him (Great and Gracious is He) a faith, the sweetness of which he will find within his heart.” (al-Haakim.)

The sweetness of Imaan.

And really, honestly speaking, it costed me nothing. I was actually feeling better about myself as I opened my car door. But as fate would have it, when you try to stay away from what drags you down, somehow, it finds it’s way back to you.

“Ziyaad,” the voice said, halting me in my tracks.

I knew whose it was. By far, this night was one of the most eventful one after a long time, and I could feel myself taking the toll. I felt even more worn out than I did after a night of hardcore partying. Ironic.

“Yes?” I said, barely turning around.

“Why did you ignore me?” Farah asked, sounding hurt.

Women. They had this way of making everything seem like it was your own fault. I wasn’t even sure what I did here. I was just trying to avoid problems. I didn’t even want to dwell on why she was here and what she was asking. I just needed to leave.

I went crouched slightly to get into my car, but just as fast, I felt a hand on my shoulder.

I literally shrugged her off, feeling so awkward.  I turned my face now to look back at her accusingly.

Like, why did she touch me?

Jasses, Ziyaad, I though. You’re getting worse than Waseem.

After a few months, I couldn’t even stand a girl touching my shoulder. Now that was ‘hectic’.

I tried to calm myself down, but everything about Zinaa and my past kept coming back into my racing mind. What was going on?

“Zee, what’s wrong?” She started, evidently bringing on the water-works.

Now, I knew that she was looking for pity, but at that moment, it was the last thing I was feeling. I was angry. Confused.

She was getting married.

Basically, I was wondering: What.The.Hell?

But, fortunately for me, I didn’t have to say any of it, because as soon as she stepped back to let me enter my car, someone came to tell her the boss is back, and she rushed off. I was secretly glad, but couldn’t help wondering what she was doing there. It only hit me afterwards that ‘the boss’ was probably the guy that she was marrying.

I hit my hand in steering, not believing how dumb I was being. Idiot.

I was just so glad I didn’t play up to anything that Farah was trying to communicate. Something was definitely on my side tonight when I made the choice to keep cool. I knew I was definitely inspired by something bigger than my own desires. If her fiance had seen any of it, I knew I would have probably been in trouble.

And although I knew that I did the better thing, the nagging feeling in my mind was consuming me, like so many other thoughts that night. With little else to do, I went home and forced myself to sleep, just to keep cravings and other negative feelings at bay.

I woke for Fajr and then went back to sleep, just drowning out all my thoughts with slumber. I woke just before Zohr, feeling slightly rejuvenated and decided to pay my brother a visit after Salaah.

With all my contradicting feelings and reservations, I needed to talk it out with someone.

If I had done everything in my power to do ‘the right thing’, why were my thoughts still turning back to the past? Was it just a weapon being used to get me back into the lifestyle I never wanted to resort back to?

I pulled up outside Muhammed’s house, only to realise that Waseem wasn’t there. I had honestly thought that Waseem was staying there, but as Muhammed came out, still in his boxers and T-shirt, looking completely confused by my presence, I realised that he had probably being stating somewhere else all this time.

“Where’s Waseem? ” I asked, ignoring the pre-occupied look that he had on his face.

I didn’t ask him what was going on, and he didn’t ask me.

We both had our own concerns on our mind. It made me realise how selfish we had become… When it came to things that concerned us, we only had one-track minds.

“Huh?” he replied, still rubbing his eyes. “Mosque.”

Mosque? I didn’t get a chance to ask him any more, because he was already turning to go back inside. Instead, I drove back to my neighbourhood, and to the building that Waseem had taken me, just a few months ago.

I climbed up the stairs, immediately surprised by how many people were there even though there was still time for the next Salaah. I scanned the room and noticed Waseem with a crowd of other guys, and watched him from afar.

He was reading Qur’an, but I could tell from  how he was concentrating that he was probably getting tested, and it opened my mind immediately to the miracle of the Qur’an. What a great thing.

I mean, like I never even thought it possible to memorise one page of literature properly, but people all over the world are able to memorise this book, word-for-word, that was hundreds of pages long. How profoundly amazing.

I watched them in awe, feeling out of place. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to approach him, because Waseem spotted me, and came over.

“Salaam,” I said, greeting him.

He looked concerned that I was there, asking me what was up. At first, I didn’t know how to explain myself, but as I started talking, the words found their way out, voicing my greatest fears.

How was I going to move past everything I had done? Why did I still feel the urge to sin when I knew the consequences? The most important question was… With the brewing emotions I still felt within me, was that a sign that I should try to somehow make everything with Farah right?

“What d’you mean?” Waseem asked, looking confused. “Make it right? Bru, the only way you can make it right is by turning to Allah. Not by getting carried away by this chic under all the wrong circumstances. I mean, If it’s meant for you, it has to come in the right way.”

He made sense. I knew he did. He wasn’t writing it off… He was just explaining the sense behind it.

But I couldn’t understand myself… Why did I still even want it? Just when I had thought that I had found the gold yesterday, something was still steering me in the other direction. Was it all just attachment and emotions?

“When you change you life, Zee, your whole perspective changes. What you love, becomes what He loves. You don’t meet Allah only half-way… You go the entire distance. In this case, you have to get carried away. For the one who sustains your every breath, you go all out.”

Wow. That was deep. I mean, I never thought about it that way.

Then he told me something I never though existed. The truth about real love. How it starts, and where it all makes a difference. The love that we give our whole lives to find, is not really a love at all. In every western story or book, the ending is where the union occurs. It all ends at the point where the love is found, and where the joining of two souls take place.

But, ironically, the path is not meant to end there, at the place where you meet your soul mate or your other half— It is only found when you find your Lord. That is the only place that you can find any bliss in this temporary life. Because you won’t only begin to love Him, you’ll start to love BECAUSE of Him. He will become you reason for loving… The reason to do it the right way. For Him.

Ah, it was all just so… Sweet. So real.

“Not for your Nafs,” he reminded me. “For Him.”

Nafs. A new concept that I was just getting the hang of. Beginning to recognise as I battled with them on a daily basis now. I had to step up in terms of myself.

From thinking Waseem was getting too hectic, now I was in awe of my brother, who made it so far, just because he knew he wanted his life to be different. All this, I knew, was inspired by a Greater Power, who most definitely chose who He wanted to guide, and through what means.

“Anyway, I offered to take Molvi to the airport at three,” he said, getting up to go.

Maulana Dude. I had forgotten about him. And Aasiya. I wondered what had happened after I had left last night.

I didn’t have to ask though, because Waseem was already a step ahead of me.

“You heard, right?” He asked, his brows slightly furrowed.

“What?” I asked, getting anxious. Like, really, no-one in my family ever told me anything. How was I supposed to hear whatever the news was?

“Aasiya,” he replied, sounding like it was so obvious. “She’s gone.”

All Exposed

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

It was one of the awkwardest and longest few seconds, as we sat on the white leather three-seater, contemplating what to do next.

Sit here indefinitely? Leave? Or find out exactly was going on?

I weighed the choices in my mind, deciding on the most Zee-type of thing to do. Obviously, if I had to leave now, I wouldn’t know the juicy story behind this whole meeting. I would have no idea how this dramatically impressive Maulana Dude knew my brother’s wife. Was there a deep, dark secret somewhere in the works?

I got up, ignoring Waseem’s obvious ‘don’t you dare’ stare, and followed the other three down the passage.

What else could I do? I couldn’t help myself. I had an inquiring mind.

I could hear voices, and made my way to them, knowing that I was probably going to get a lot of my unanswered questions answered. Well, I hoped.

I stood back before the half-open doorway, able to see both my brother and that ‘Umar’ dude outside the bathroom door of the guest room.

“Aasiya, please come out,” Muhammed was begging, looking completely stressed.  Maulana Dude was sitting back on the bed, chin in his hand, looking like he was probably going to be stuck there for a while.

I stifled laughter, finding the whole scene hilarious.

Muhammed turned around after a few unsuccessful attempts, looking almost accusingly at Maulana Dude.

“Listen,” Maulana Dude started, getting up slowly. “I didn’t mean to-”

Muhammed didn’t give him a chance. I could see his ears changing colour. Kind of like what happens to my father when a deal goes wrong.

“What?!” Muhammed snapped. “You didn’t mean to what? What is going on here, bru? How do you even know my wife?”

Maulana Dude looked down, and I could see him thinking about his next words.

“I’m sorry.”

The statement was flat compared to Muhammed’s. He sounded defeated, and started looking toward the open doorway. I slunk back, not wanting them to see me.

In all fairness, though, Maulana Dude didn’t even do anything. Aasiya was the one who caused the drama, and now he was getting the slack. The most amazing part was that he didn’t even refute Muhammed’s words. It was like he just accepted that he was wrong. No argument.

And it wasn’t because he didn’t want to cause a fight. I doubt that it was because he was worried about Muhammed’s reaction to him if he had to say anything back. It definitely wasn’t that, because I was sure that this guy wasn’t afraid of much.

That day was a day that I learnt one of the biggest lessons of my existence. Humility. It never fails. It always raises you.

The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, has said: “He who is humble for the sake of Allah by a degree, Allah will elevate him one degree, until he reaches the highest degrees and he who is arrogant toward Allah, Allah will lower him one degree until he reaches the lowest of low degrees” (Bukhari).

And it was amazing how it held so true. How it all worked out. For the pious people, I was sure, everything just seemed to come together that much quicker for them. There was no mistaking that Muhammed was immediately regretful, as he spoke again.

“How do you know her?” He said, gesturing for Umar to sit, sounding much calmer than before.

Maulana Dude rubbed his temples, still standing, staying silent for a at least a minute.

“She’s my sister,” he said, almost like he couldn’t believe it himself.

I couldn’t help myself. Just when I thought that life was settling into something less bumpy, another curve-ball gets thrown in. And now, I found myself wondering… Did Aasiya have any other sisters?

Idiot!” The voice said into my ear as I jumped, immediately pulling me back further into the hallway.

Waseem. Yoh. He gave me a fright.

“What?!” I said, spinning around in clear irritation.

Waseem was still pulling me backwards as I protested, determined to get me out of hearing range. It was super annoying, because I really wanted to see Muhammed’s reaction to that revelation.

It was like mind-boggling. Made me think that we honestly had no idea where on earth Aasiya came from. I mean, she could have even been like an axe murderer or a serial killer or something. We would have never known.

The questions were filling my head as Waseem continued to drag me with him, back into the lounge. I broke my hand free, rubbing it in the spot Waseem had gripped.

What a revelation. Who was she? Where was the rest of her family? Why did no-one know what happened to her? Like… Did they think she had just disappeared into thin air? The whole thing was so… So strange.

“He’s her brother,” I said, almost to myself.


I knew Waseem had heard me. He just needed clarification. I gave him a look, just so he knew that I wasn’t going to repeat myself.

Now was Waseem’s turn to go into shock. He sat down, leaning forward on the recliner. He was pulling at his beard.

It was proper Sunnah style. This was no designer knock-off. I wish I realised earlier how important it was to actually keep the real thing.

“What..? But… But that’s not even possible…” Waseem was saying.

Poor Waseem. He looked completely confused. I shook my head at him. I mean, it wasn’t rocket science.

He looked up at me, weirdly, speaking again.

“His sister is supposed to be dead.”

Say what?!

Dead? Well, after what I’d heard, I wasn’t quite sure about that.

Now I was just as baffled as he was. This whole drama was like a soapie. And the last thing I needed was more drama in my upside-down life.

“They’re related?” He said again, completely disbelieving. “But…”

I got up at that point, leaving him to dwell on it. As for me, I didn’t have time to stick around and make more assumptions. I was sure the truth would come out at some point, and all would be revealed. Maybe tomorrow, when everyone could think properly, the truth behind everything would be all exposed.

Besides that, I had plenty of other stuff on my mind. I needed to sift and sort through the batch of consuming information that was occupying a substantial part of my thoughts.

The new discovery about Farah was really a shocker, but I could always use diversions to stop myself thinking about it. As I drove though, probably with the influence of my inner self and Shaytaan, my mind kept going back to ‘us’. To the parts that were somehow so clear in my mind. To the time we spent together. To every detail, including the smell of her perfume that was just so damn intense.

I sighed, pulling into a service station for cigarettes, since that was the only vice I had allowed myself to have.

Though my mind was boggled with all the new information, my senses were alerted as soon as I parked off, glimpsing a familiar face that I couldn’t immediately place. It was a pretty girl wearing a scarf, jumping off a tatty Toyota next to me. Another girl who was completely covered up jumped off next, followed by a kid, and as I caught a view of the driver of the car, I immediately realised who it was.

The ‘bombshell girls’ was the first name that came to my mind, and I crouched down slightly in my seat, hoping that they wouldn’t see me. I wasn’t sure if they would recognise me with the additions on my face, but I was taling no chances about it either way. I watched them, not yet thinking that I shouldn’t be, as they walked in and out quickly to buy bread, and found myself thinking one of the most unexpected things.

I suddenly reached an understanding that I never thought I would.

That, I realised, was what I had wanted in the girl that I had so thoughtlessly put all my hopes into. I remembered it as clear as day. That was exactly what I had wanted when I had looked at her that ‘morning after’, realising the true nature of everything that had come crashing down.

I had wanted a girl who would be only belonging to me… For no-one else to see. A girl who I could actually say was completely mine, without any fear of broken promises or half-hearted words. The type of relationship that wasn’t based on a lie, and wouldn’t just give me the type of satisfaction that was ‘just so temporary’.

It was truly a light-bulb moment.

That was it, I said to myself, suddenly awakening within myself. That was the gold.

And it was awesome how amazingly my religion had encompassed every one of these aspects so  effortlessly. That was exactly what Islam brought altogether. The beauty of Deen was never only half-way there. It brought together everything that had goodness in it so perfectly.

Honestly, now I fully understood when people spoke so passionately about this. I agreed completely now with people when I had them say: If the entire world lived by Islamic law, most definitely, this world would be a perfect place to live in.

It was like a door that had been closed all along was suddenly ajar, allowing me to glimpse into the flowing stream of sunshine that I was being shaded from all along. I understood the thirst that came with learning, and with wanting to know more. I now understood the fervour to embrace it, like I was a completely new person.

My mind was still racing as I went into the shop, consumed by these new realisations.

But Shaytaan is always one step ahead in his dealings, because in just a few minutes, I would be tested in a way that I had previously failed.

I grabbed a cold drink, making my way to the till to get my cigarrettes and pay. iPhone in hand, I browsed through Instagram, maybe engaging in a little bit of futile activity. I closed the application quickly and slid my phone into my pocket, reaching for my wallet as I reached the front of the queue.

“And a box of Dunhill Menthol,” I said, still checking for my card somewhere in my wallet.

Placing my stuff on the counter, it was only then that I looked up at the cashier, only to see a very familiar face practically staring back at me.

It was like re-living some of the worst days of my life, as I gazed back at her, completely unaware of myself.

Farah was standing next to the lady behind the counter, scrutinising me in a way that made me feel completely uncomfortable. Her penetrating gaze was unexpected, and I could just imagine the thoughts that occupied her mind. The attention she was giving me was less appreciated than before. I really felt all exposed, as I stood there.

The nagging question here, though, was: How was I going to handle this ordeal?

The easiest thing would have been to walk away, and just leave my stuff on the counter, but I was stunted. I didn’t expect her to say anything, but the words were out of her mouth quicker than I expected.

This was all wrong, I was telling myself. So wrong. 

I could practically hear my heart thudding away.

“Zee,” she said, in that oh-so-familiar tone.

I looked up again, momentarily.

“Gosh,” she said, sounding a little different now. “Is that really you?!”