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?”

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