Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

“A little more to the left.”

I tried to move my arm slightly, engaging and focussing once again, but it wasn’t as easy as I thought. These things took time and effort. I needed to concentrate.

“I think that’s right,” Junaid whispered, shifting slowly.

It looked right, from how I saw it…. And it felt right. But I wasn’t sure if I could deliver the final blow. The whole thing seemed a bit.. Terrible. Maybe I would get used to it… Or maybe the Zee was just becoming a softy.

“Dude, now,” he mouthed, tapping me and trying not to shift around too much as he placed the ear-muffs back on.

I had to get into the right zone, so it was a long few moments before I finally placed my finger on the trigger… Getting ready to pull it.

Five… Four… Three

The usually ear-splitting bang resonated through the air, and I looked up at Junaid with a hint of confusion.

The buck that we had focussed on just a few seconds ago was now on the floor already, completely lifeless. My heart was literally thumping in trepidation. Still.

Yohhhh! I was a Bo-ossss! I did it! I couldn’t believe that I did it… That I actually hunted an animal!

Despite my notions about being a bit of a useless guy, I had actually been able to accomplish something.

I looked up at Junaid with a look that said, “I’m the man”, but he just looked back at me blankly.

“What?!” I asked him, confused.

He was as emotionless as a dead duck… Or should I say… Dead buck?!

Haha. Okay, okay… Jokes aside… Didn’t I deserve some credit?

It was then only that I noticed the voices behind me, and we both turned around to see what seemed like an extended family of Muslim people coming from the top. A chic who was fully-covered and in hunting gear rushed ahead past us, in front of everyone else, toward the animal.

Junaid watched my confusion, finally taking enough pity on me to relate the truth.

“It was her,” he said blankly, shaking his head at me, feigning disappointment.

He moved forward now, grinning to himself while I followed, still in shock.

“That’s crazy shit. That chic?!” I said disbelievingly. “She hunted that thing?”

I was in shock. Like, in complete bewilderment. A girl could hunt?

I looked at the chic in question, clad in full black and army-print, and the only thing that came to my mind was: ISIS, anyone?

Waseem would probably pick my brains for stereotyping.

Despite that, I had to admit, I was impressed. Way impressed. It was way beyond my expectation to ever see a girl shoot like that.

“Who is she?” I asked, unable to control my curiosity.

“They come here often,” he said, trekking down the path and taking a detour. “Your sister-in-law’s connection.”

I was about to ask him which sister-in-law, but we were distracted by a few other people who were making their way through. These hunting grounds seemed quite popular, and they  weren’t even  that far a drive from home. I didn’t think that I would ever be in favour of the whole ‘killing animals as a sport’, but the whole thing was really civilised and controlled. Surprisingly.

And of course, I was all for conservation, but Junaid had made it clear that he only hunted certain animals that he could eat, as per Islamic law. Islam forbids any other type, and didn’t allow trophy hunting for what people call ‘conservation purposes’, because the animal was just basically a prize.

And though I was really sceptical about it, it was actually okay and also a great way to have some Halaal fun.

I had decided that I needed some time to cool off, since I had a free Sunday. From Waseem to my own stuff…. Then Dad’s plotting against us and my messed up life…

So much had happened during that time that I felt a driving force urging me to just take it easy. While I cooled off, I was actually blissfully unaware of anything else. It was a form of escaping a little bit of reality that I refused to think if just yet. As I sat there and watched the ISIS chic, I felt like I could just temporarily forget everything that I was trying so hard to.

“Stop staring, bru,” Junaid said softly, as we sat on a rocky surface nearly. He took out a bottle of water and offered it to me.

I looked away from the chic, shaking my head at myself.

“Boss, I dunno why you even waste your time on me,” I said guiltily. I didn’t even realise.

Any opportunity to indulge in sin always got me caught up. Moreso, after Dad had it out with me the previous week, I felt like I was on just scraping along. The attractive force to chics was like something that was just waiting to be released. I would think, after last week’s news, I would have learnt my lesson.

“I’m worse, bru,” Junaid said, trying to offer some comfort. “You have no idea.”

I doubted that. Junaid always seemed like he was so much in control. I wasn’t even sure how he had ever become someone who I could socialise with… Who I thought I could actually relate to.

I thought back to those dark days when I had first met him, wondering why he ever decided to hang out with us. I mean, he always seemed like he was decent… So why did he bother with me and my screwed-up crowd?

“When I first met you,” I asked, voicing my thoughts. “Why were you even there?”

“At the club?” He asked, and I knew that he remembered clearly

I glanced at him, nodding. He smirked.

“I was looking for a way in,” he said casually. “That’s what I do. I gotta assume their position. It doesn’t work to look down on anyone. So I make friends with the owes who may be slightly off-track, make effort on them, and see if Allah chooses to guide them.”

It seemed so simple… But it was the most selfless and awesome thing I’ve heard in ages.

I mean, obviously, it was through my Lord’s mercy that I was saved, but I could never underestimate the effort. It was what had brought me so far from where I was… It had dragged me out from the storm… Making me realise how off-base my whole life had previously been.

I had finally felt free, as I glimpsed what I had been missing all this time. Awareness of Deen was like seeing a light that had been blocked off all this while.

“So, you’ve done it before?” I asked, kind of enthralled. “How old are you?”

I had a feeling he was a few years older… And this had become something of a job.

“A few years now,” was all he said, and he got up again, closing the topic.

I wanted to ask him more because there was so much on my mind now that we had got talking about the past.

And although it was a reminder of the mercy that was literally showered on me, my heart sank because my reality was knocking me down… I was caught up in my own hassles until I realised that all it was, was a test.

And alhough I had been trying so hard to forget… The news that had been bringing me down came back to me at that very moment. It was like a kick in the back… Or a punch in the stomach…. Or both of those at once.

A reminder that after being as corrupt as I was, obviously, I could never escape unscathed.

“Allah is great,” he said, right on cue, as if reminding me, after we trudged along for a few minutes.”You’ve come a long way.”

It was ironic, because now, more than ever before, I no longer felt that way.

I wanted to tell him that he was wrong. I didn’t feel like I had come that far anymore. The truth was… I felt like I was going backwards, ever since the big episode with Dad. I felt like my life was a spectator sport, and the drama was just about unfolding.

As everything came down on me, I had lost my swag, and the energy that I always had. I felt isolated, not letting anyone in on what had been the worst news possible for me at that time. I was weak because I let it break me and I had forgotten the truth…

That obviously, nothing occurs in this Universe accidentally, without the will and power of the One who controls it all.

And whatever calamity befalls you, it is due to your own doings and Allah forgives many of your shortcomings.” (Holy Qur’an: 42:30.)

And because my sins were literally unending, I had forgotten that it could have been so much worse… That this one test was merely just a test… And that my life could have been completely ruined.

I had forgotten that there will be a way out, but focussed on the fact that I had brought this upon myself, and why it had happened. How often we get caught up in the why’s and how’s and if only’s..

I mentally back-tracked, once again re-living those moments when it all came crashing down. The night after Waseem’s function, when my mother’s tears shook me to such an extent that I knew that I had to face my father. There was no escape, like there would be none in the hereafter. I even pictured myself having to have to account for my every action as I walked up the stairs that day, imagining that I was going to be doomed both in this world and after.

I couldn’t imagine the final account, but for then, I faced the music, knowing that I would have to, either way. I knew that my father would be angry, but I had no idea how angry he was until I got there.

This time, it was all me.

Waseem’s mess-up had nothing on mine because it did nothing to directly affect his business… To sabotage his deals. What I had done was putting his exhorbitant incomes at risk. There was no escape from the hole I had dug in my past.

I knew I was becoming something of a depression case, but the news broke me, just like it had him. I had failed… I had messed up. I had caused so much of turbulence in his usually prosperous business world, because I was the reason that a wedding which was probably just another business deal, was becoming a spectacle that the whole town was speaking about.

I had caused the conflict, and initiated the doubt. And now, their whole administration had become a joke because ‘Cassim’s son’ (once again) couldn’t be man enough to step up to what he had done.

The ammunition my Dad had on me was too serious. I had to either be whatever he needed me to, or I knew I would have no-one else to sort me out and stand up for me.

And don’t get me wrong, I know it could have been worse. I deserved much more for all the sins I had comitted, but I couldn’t help thinking…

If only I knew then… If only I knew now… Everything might have been different.

Everything might have been easier… Everything could have gone the way I had planned.

If only I knew then… Maybe I could have made it okay, even in the eyes of my Lord. Maybe I could have taken responsibility, or even built on the opportunity…

Maybe… Just maybe, I could have actually done justice of myself to be worthy of what she wanted me to be… And maybe she might have taken a second look at me back then, and realised…

Instead of just being ‘the father’, maybe Zee could actually have been a Dad.


Tweet: @ajourneyjournal


Perfect Set Up

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Waseem: Crunch time...

I gazed at her, my mind boggled by the wisdom behind her words. She spoke way beyond her years, as if she had the knowledge of someone much older and world-wise.

But what beat me was… Why should she care? What did it matter to her if my family was messed up? We could just sweep it all under the rug.

But she wanted to make it right. She was adamant about it. And she was, of course, saying the right thing. Just the thing that I needed to hear.

“That’s your father,” she said to me, meeting my gaze. “No matter what, even if you don’t agree with him or his choices. Don’t give up on anyone. He must have something in him if he raised a son to be like you…”

I could easily say that her words just blew me away, but the truth was that what she said inspired a realisation that I had never come to before.

Its where I realised that this is where it begins. By compromising, the building of a life starts… The building of  character, the building of sabr, patience, perseverance, and sacrifice. The building of selflessness. The building of love.

And the building of a path back to Him, because that was precisely what she was trying to make of me. To make me aspire to please my Lord in whatever actions I do. To try and regain whatever I might have lost. To get in tune to the thoughts that kept me grounded… What had lead me to her…

Because when it came to family and kinship.. We sometimes underestimate how much of Barakah is removed from our selfish actions. We have no idea how deep in we get ourselves if we don’t make effort on each other. Even for the tiniest of issues, we think nothing of just acting as if that person never existed. We will take any opporttunity to break off ties for sometimes petty reasons.

The one who maintains a relationship with his relatives only because they maintain a relationship with him is not truly upholding the ties of kinship. The one who truly upholds those ties is the one who does so even if they break off the relationship.” (Reported by al-Bukhari).

And it was so true that it took no effort to do right to a person who you harboured no enmity towards… But when you had to be good to the one injured your ego, it took a real man… A real Muslim.

But for us, we use every excuse to continue to admonish people. We ignore them because of pride. We avoid them because we want to prove a point. Stupid quarrels and arguments over worldly things gets us all up in arms… But over what?

“You’re right,” I said finally, looking at her again.

It was time to actually do what I needed to. It was time to face me fear. I was never scared of confrontation, but something about what I knew lay ahead for me was  a bit daunting.

I sat down next to Zaynah, attempting to comfort her, but knowing that nothing I could say would ever make it all okay.

It was too much. It was all too much.

Her eyes said it, even though she offered me a small smile.

I spent some time with her that day, even though I had lots of things to sort out. Being married brought a lot of other responsibilities, and I knew that I had to prove my worth… That she hadn’t made a mistake with me… That she didn’t choose wrong.

And then I had to step up, and sort out the dilemma that lay before me. I planned it in my mind, the the entire thing, plotting the conversation and hoping that it would all go according to expectation. It was a long shot.

Either way, I had to do it, so later that week, I headed off to Dad’s town offices, somewhat wary and uneasy. I tried to shake off the feeling that I might be doing the most uncalculated thing ever. It was the first time I would see Dad since the fateful day of my Nikah, and I wasn’t really anticipating a warm reception. I sat in my car for a few seconds, building up the courage to step out. I checked on my phone, looking for a reason to procrastinate.

And because I could no longer find a reason to wait, I opened my door slowly, getting ready to take a chance. I had to.

I climbed the stairs slowly to the foyer entrance, but as I reached the top, I realised that I wouldn’t have to go any further. My father was heading out, Ziyaad in tow, and they were coming straight to towards me.

I immediately stiffened, knowing that this could be disastrous. I froze… Caught completely unaware. I was almost immobile as I stood there, just watching them walk toward me and stop just about a metre away.

And then, I looked at Dad. And he looked at me. Ziyaad just looked at both of us, from Dad to me, and back at Dad.

I already realised that I had to play this carefully. We were still looking at each other, until I couldn’t take it any longer. Stepping on egg shells was like a foreign territory for me. I had to get over this awkwardness.

“Dad,” I said, taking a tiny step forward, looking at the floor.

There was a few moments of silence before I finally had the guts to look up again, but when I did, instead of seeing the thunderous face that I knew so well, Dad looked at me with something just a little different to enmity in his eyes.

He walked down the path way, gesturing for me to join him as he walked.

I was quite confused, I won’t lie. But the relief that wasn’t going to catch the worst of it quite yet was like a miraculous turn of events. I was completely taken aback.

“Let’s take a drive,” he said, and I knew that it was his way of saying, “Let’s talk.”

Of course, I needed the opportunity.

I jumped in the car and both of them followed me, as Dad directed me to where he wanted to go. Ziyaad was strangely silent, and  I wasn’t really paying attention to where we were headed, because I was mostly focussed on what I was going to say. It was just that every time I tried to start a conversation, Dad either changed the topic, or got busy talking on his phone. And although Dad had lost a lot of my respect, the truth was… I didn’t hate him. I was still far from that. I still wanted him to accept me. I still craved his support.

And so I ignored the signs that we were heeded for somewhere deep beyond what I could handle. I ignored the candid remarks he made about making it big and letting everything else just slide under the rug. I even ignored it when he told me that I needed to just see this one house, and my whole outlook on life would change. And before anything else could digest, I realised we had pulled up outside a stainless steel gate that was the beginning of a huge driveway, and Dad was calling someone for access.

The gate was already opening as I made my way forward,

“This is the house I’m buying,” he said, glancing at me, and then looking out the window, forcing me to take in my surroundings.

Two huge spans of land were on either side, and as we reached a circular driveway with a fountain centrally situated, a massive house lay ahead.

Honestly, the place was awesome. It had the best of both. Contemporary living combined with a dose of natural scenery. A huge dose. It was also in one of the most sought-after suburbs. I just wasn’t sure why Dad was buying another house. He had just spent a ton of money on his current one.

The chase for the world would never end.

Nevertheless, I got off the car, slightly apprehensive because I didn’t want to get caught up in any of Dad’s deals again. The fact that he was just entertaining me with no questions, was already getting my guard up. I knew business and I knew how he operated. I knew he always had some plan for anything that he did, and right now, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to know what that plan entailed. Right now, I wasn’t even certain about where this would land up… But I was already into the crux of it.

Ziyaad seemed like he was back to his normal self as he took his own tour, raising his eyebrows where required.

“Boss,” he said quietly, looking impressed, as Dad walked ahead to another area. “This place is to-opsss!”

I shook my head at him, knowing he was getting carried away. That’s what Dad wanted for me. I knew that. But I couldn’t let myself feel it.

The guided tour that my father was putting us through seemed to never end, and although we all agreed that the place was awesome, I really just wanted to move on. I wanted it to get to the point where I could actually talk about what had become the big problem between us. What was this whole thing about anyway? And why was my father acting so strangely normal?

“And this is the entertainment area,” my father said finally, as the guy who was showing him around opened yet another door. It was the hugest room yet, with laminated flooring and and aluminium and glass finish all around, to give it that perfect indoor-outdoor look.

No matter how amazing it was, I was now tired. I needed to know what the point of this show was. I wasn’t part of Dad’s business any more.

I just needed to know where I stood. Fine, he was buying the place. But why show me?

“Dad, what did you bring me here for?” I asked candidly, stopping him in his tracks as he scrutinised the wallpaper.

He turned around, looking me in the eye.

“I’m doing a deal with the owner… A friend of mine you know,” he said, watching me carefully.

“And… I’m buying it for you.”

What? He looked like he was quite sure about what he was saying.

I frowned at him, shaking my head. Why on earth would Dad want to buy me a house? After threatening me, sabotaging my finances and literally cutting me off from my entire family, now he was being Father Christmas? It was just damn suspicious. Not to mention, over-generous. There had to be a catch. This wasn’t my father’s style.

I didn’t want to ask what the punch-line was, but as fate would have it, an older man who had to be my father’s friend walked in, and a girl’s slightly piercing voice from behind him caught all of our attention. Actually, there were two. Two girls… Well, ladies.

Uncle Cass!” One almost screeched, although she would have been perfectly audible had she just spoken normally.

The older man looked vaguely familiar, and it was a while before I realised who he was. He had emigrated a few years back, but it seemed like he was back in town.

Ziyaad, of course, was still gawking as I turned to see his expression, and curiosity got the better of me. I wanted to know who the voice belonged to.

She was walking slowly towards Dad, and he smiled at her as she embraced him with one arm, as if she knew him really well. My eyes lingered just a few seconds longer as I watched the other extremely souped-up hijaabi chic turn around to  look at Ziyaad and I.

“Are these the boys?” she asked, scrutinising us, and not in the least feeling awkward about it.

The boys? It was only then that I remembered to look down.


I berated myself because I had got carried away, but I had promised myself that it wouldn’t happen again. It was so unlike me. I shouldn’t be here… I didn’t know these people. Or did I? 

“Waseem and Ziyaad,” Dad replied, since both Ziyaad and I were looking around, just slightly out of place. What else, exactly, could we do?

My father had no idea that this was all wrong. How could he understand?

“He must have something in him if he raised a son to be like you…”

Zaynah’s words came back to me as I remembered her advice. To never give up. Could I ever make him see the light? 

“I’m sure you’ll remember Rubeena and Radiyya?” Dad was saying, and I knew he was talking to us.

Somehow, the memories etched somewhere in the back of mind seemed to resurface as I delved in… Trying to make sense of it all. These people. A lifetime that I’d shoved behind me, determined to move forward with my life, doing it the right way.

But it came to me, like an epiphany, whether I liked it or not…  It was what came with how we had lived. So normal, even today. Aimless evenings that went well past midnight, playing silly games and watching movies on DStv, as we grew up together. Our parents would expect us to entertain ourselves at social functions they had at home or evenings out.

It was no big deal. Really. We were kids, until we got just a little older, and we realised that we were growing up. You could say that we had really got to know each other then…

But now… We were entirely different people. They were strangers to me, and I had no inclination whatsoever to change that. It was no stress. Past was past.

I knew the plan now, but I also knew that this wasn’t fair to anyone. And not to Zaynah. I had to think fast, and change the idea my father had about this huge reunion.

And then… It hit me. Right now, was crunch time.

I could either go with the flow, and act like it was all cool…

Or I could do what I knew was right… And just get out of here.

Author’s Note: Dearest Muslimahs and readers. Assalaamu Alaikum.

This is just to inform everyone that I will not be posting during Ramadhaan. May Allah enable us to make the most of this month ahead. I also intend on starting Revive a Sunnah again, so Insha Allah, let’s make an effort to start with our first one, which is the Sunnah of Miswaak. It has multiple benefits that we can never imagine.

May Allah enable us to implement into our lives. JazakAllah to all for the tremendous support and comments.. Sometimes I have no idea why anyone even reads what I write, but may Allah enable it to be a guidance for us. Let us try and prepare ourselves to be the best Muslims for the sacred month ahead. Much love, Ma’asalaam!


Truthful Encounters

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Waseem: Reality Check

“Must I come with?”

The words sounded so familiar, and it made me think back to the first day she had said them.

It didn’t hit me then. I was still on cloud nine. I was still basking in the realisation that I’d found love to be so beautiful… That I’d found my reason to smile each day. I thought about the days when marriage was never an option for me, and how I’d always purposefully deprived myself of the blessing that Nikah had brought. Halaal love beat any kind of emotion I’d experienced in my previous life.

And now, as she spoke, the voice that had become so familiar to me during the past few days made me realise that I was no longer a single, lone soul in this delusional world. I was now completely connected to someone else, by the grace of the Almighty, whether I realised it or not. Whether I had anticipated it or not, I had to understand my responsibility.

I cracked a small smile, trying to kill the uneasiness.

“I know you want to come,” I said, knowing that she had a right to also be a part of my family life. “But right now might not be the best time.”

She looked slightly relieved, and I immediately felt spared of the guilt I had felt.

I wasn’t sure what the situation would be. And I definitely didn’t want it to get ugly between Dad and I. Not with Zaynah around.

“Tomorrow I’m all yours,” I promised her, making my way towards the door.

I glimpsed the shadow of her smile as she got up to let me out. I could feel her hesitation. She was holding back, and I didn’t like it.

Tomorrow, I promised myself. Tomorrow it would all be okay.

I rushed to my car with the thoughts in mind, feeling isolated whilst I drove to my parents’ place. I had no idea what to expect when I reached, and because I passed the through security check point of the gated community easily, I anticipated no issues when I got to the house. I couldn’t have been more off-base in my thinking.

I pressed my car-hooter down for the third time, waiting for the guard to give me access. I finally rolled down my window as he came to it, scrutinizing me.

I knew him, but I wasn’t sure if he recognised me.

“Sorry man,” he started. “Big boss says you can’t enter.”

“What?” I said, in shock. Anger was rising up inside of me.

Really? Was this how we were doing things these days? 

“You’re not allowed.”

I wasn’t sure if I was just really on edge that night or if I was just having an impulsive moment, but all I knew was that I needed to get in. I knew that I would have to be really forceful or he wouldn’t budge.

Although it wasn’t his fault, I had to show them that I wasn’t going to just let them take control. I got out of the car to try and make my own way in, by nook or by crook.

I was overcome with negative emotion as I made my way to the guards house, despite his protests, determined to find a way. I fought him off, ready to do just about anything until I heard a car behind me. Muhammed had pulled up, looking at me questioningly.

“Open the gate,” I commanded the guy, feeling like I was almost losing it.

He was now beginning to look scared, because he could see that I was ready to even draw out weapons if needed. With a revolver on hand, the old me was starting to resurface. The attitude and game that I had in the past was all part of who I was. It got me who I wanted, and sealed the deals that I needed. To tell the truth… Right now, it just scared me. It made me feel like I was becoming just like my father.

I stashed my fire-arm away quickly before Mo could see, feeling slightly ashamed. The gate swung open and we both drove through, pulling up in front of the entrance.

“What’s going on?” I asked Mo, getting off the car with a slight vengeance. I was still pumping with adrenalin.

Actually, I felt like I was slowly losing the plot. There was no need to get aggressive. For all the speeches I’d been giving ny brothers about getting on the right side of life, I felt like I was a pure hypocrite.

“Calm down, bru,” Mo said, eyeing me out. He sensed my mood, and he knew where I was going. I was just glad that he had pitched up.

All I could think about was how frustratin this whole thing was for me. The anger was slowly subsiding, but the chip on my shoulder seemed to be taking a knock a lot. From cutting off my finances, upsetting Zaynah and now restricting access to my family… My father was really testing me. It made me think about my past… About where I had resorted to every time I had a problem. Drugs, women and alcohol had nothing on my feelings now. What I felt now… Anger and pride… Those were probably the worst vices anyone could ever have.

“Sorry,” I said to Mo sheepishly, realising that the politics in this family really brought out the worst in me.

Sometimes I forgot the truth. I had to stop thinking I was better than everyone by trying to fix everyone else. In fact, it was me who was the one most in need of a severe reformation, and I had to remember the best advice that was ever given, because that was precisely the reason I had got caught up.

Abû Hurayrah (RA) rselates that a man said to the Prophet (SAW): “Counsel me.”

The Prophet (SAW) said: “Do not get angry.” The man repeated his request many times, but the Prophet (SAW) kept saying: “Do not get angry.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî ]

And I had to take it easy, because I now knew that with anger, came every other type of negative action. It was a powerful emotion. It rages through a person, creating that desire for revenge. It inspires action, and the action that it inspires is one of injury. The emotion invokes within a person the very opposition of mercy, compassion, self-restraint, and kindness.

But when we stop the anger in the initial stages, we forbid ourselves from acting according to the dictates of it.

I didn’t want it to control me. I sat down on the edge of my seat, thinking carefully about what my next move should be.

Mo and I were standing outside like idiots, and we really had no idea what to do from here. We both had no keys to the house, and no matter how much or how hard we tried to enter, the security was too tight. Even screaming for Ziyaad was worthless. We had no idea what had gone down, but all we knew that my father had it out with Ziyaad for some reason and he messaged Mo for help.

And so we stood there, a little idiotically, pacing the yard. And I realised that I had been a bit impulsive. Maybe we should cool off, and come back tomorrow.

But just as we were losing hope in ever seeing Zee, the sound of the garage-door motor raised our hopes.

Ziyaad emerged, hands in his pocket as he stepped out, slightly shivering in the cold night air.

I scrutinised him.

He looked pretty normal. He even had a small smile on his face, but it was as if it was pasted there. He gave me and Mo a fist bump, and then shoved his hands back in his pockets.

I couldn’t stand the suspense.

“Zee, what the hell?” Mo finally said, looking perplexed. I was just as confused.

He grinned, but there was something not right with his smile. There was something missing… Something about his energy was lacking.

“I didn’t know you’ll were here. Don’t stress. Everything’s okay,” he said, nodding at us and rubbing his eyes. “I need to dos… I’ll catch you guys tomorrow.”

He turned to go back, but I held him by the shoulder, turning him around to face me again.

“I don’t believe you,” I said, looking him in the eye. “Where’s Mummy?”

“She’s asleep,” he said, as if it was so obvious.

“You’re talking crap,” Mo said, narrowing his eyes, and trying to shove past Ziyaad to the house. Ziyaad stopped him, shaking his head. Were they hiding something?

“Not a good idea, boss,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.

We both hadn’t been inside the house for a few months. There was no reason to, and Dad didn’t seem to want us there. I wondered how long this stupid pride would continue. Would Dad ever step down from his mighty throne and come back down to earth?

“You said you’re in trouble,” Mo said, pressing on. I had got the call from Mo, so I had no idea exactly what was going on.

“Just listen and go,” Ziyaad said, getting forceful. “I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”

“This is messed up,” I said, turning to go back to my car. I didn’t want to waste any more time here. I knew we were going nowhere.

Seeing Ziyaad was a small relief, but I knew I would have to wait till tomorrow to find out the real story. The concern about my mother was on my mind, but with Ziyaad there, it was an assurance.

Ziyaad stood in front of the garage door like a guard, watching us go. I shook my head as I left, already making my mind up as to what I needed to do.

Knowing that it was too late to go back to Zaynah, I tried to get some sleep at my place, even though it felt so strange to be alone. I tossed and turned, my mind in overdrive about what I needed to do. I knew that things couldn’t go on the way that it was with my family. I had to either sort it all out, or find a way to remove myself from everything that was playing on my mind. These issues were probably never going to end.

I sat up from the early hours of the morning, till the day starting to break in, knowing that there was no-one else I could turn to and ask for help. My only refuge was with the Almighty, who had rescued me from where I had come from. After dragging me out from the wreck I was in, I had no doubt that He would bring me to a place where I knew exactly where to go from there.

And as morning broke, and I drove around after Fajr Salaah, my mind was already made up. I felt like I was divinely inspired. I wanted to change my life for the better, which meant that I didn’t want anything from my past to come back to haunt me. And I had a plan that could make sure of it.

I pulled up outside Zaynah’s house, eager to see my wife again. Of course I had missed her, but more than anything, I wanted to tell her about my decisions… About where we were headed… How we were going to move forward from now onwards.

The house was already alive because my favourite guy, little Hassan, was still around from yesterday. I knelt down to tickle him playfully, and since everything was just looking a little brighter this morning, his giggles were sounding like the best thing on earth. I grinned back as I watched him, and then looked up to see my wife watching me as she leaned against the doorway, smiling at us both.

Seeing her just made everything okay again, even if it was for that brief moment. The sun shone a little brighter already, and I glimpsed a light ahead in the dark tunnel I had been finding myself in all this while.

I got up and greeted her, knowing that I had a huge task ahead of me. I lead her to the privacy of her room, sitting us both down, finally preparing myself for telling her everything that she needed to know.

I told her about my past and my family, knowing that I might be risking a lot, but also knowing that my conscience would never be clear if I didn’t. I told her about my father and how world-driven he was, not even sparing her the details of how completely appalled he was at my choice of lifestyle and marriage. She nodded, and though it killed me to see her eyes filled with tears that she hastily wiped away, I continued, right till what happened yesterday when I received the phonecall about Ziyaad.

“And now,” I said finally, stuffing my hand in my pocket, relieved that it was all out. “Seems like he’s probably blackmailing Ziyaad with something. My family is messed up, Zay. It’s hectic. But I don’t want us to have to worry about it. That’s why I’ve been thinking about it… About us. About how I need to let go of all the ugliness. About how I want to just get out of here.”

She looked at me, seeming startled by my last statement. Maybe she didn’t think I would want to take it so far. Maybe she didn’t want me to think that way.

I continued, going for the kill.

“Will you come with me?” I asked, hopeful.

I met her gaze, and she looked back at me, her teary eyes, once again, bright.

And then she shook her head, biting her lip slightly, as if she was thinking carefully about her next words. And it was precisely those words that made me understand the wisdom behind choosing a wife who had Deen. It was precisely what she said that brought me back down to reality, because I knew she was worried about where this would put us in the eyes of Allah.

In this day and age, where people were generally so selfish, it was rare to find someone who truly did care about you. It was the perfect opportunity for her to agree, and let us go on with our life as a couple and family, without worrying about my family and leaving the whole world behind. But a wife who swept her own desires aside to make sure that she did what was best for you and your Aakhirah was priceless.

“It doesn’t work that way,” she said softly, shaking her head. “You… We… We can’t just run away. We have to make it right, Waseem.”

I looked at her, confused. It didn’t hit me. I didn’t know why she didn’t want what I wanted. And how did I make it right?

Like she knew what was on my mind, she answered my question before I could even ask.

“You have to speak to your father.”

Beyond Barriers: Zaynah

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

It’s true what they say… Certain people come into your life for a reason. Once in a while, people enter your life that you love—not for what they give you—but for what they are to you.

But when that person leaves… For some reason… It’s either that their role has been fulfilled, or you are no longer in need of what they can offer you.

And when we lost Mummy, I anticipated always feeling that hole that seemed to be etched within my heart. I didnt think that the pain would ease, until time took it’s course.

And sometimes, the key to making progress is to recognize how to take that very first step. Then you start your journey to healing. To open your heart again. You have faith, hope for the best and stick with it, day in and day out. Even if you’re tired, even if you want to give up. You don’t.

You keep on trying, because you want that result. But too often, the thing you want most, is the one thing you can’t have. Desire sometimes leaves us heartbroken. Desire is what can slowly kill us inside.

And right now, I had kind of reached that point. The point of no return. The point where I honestly could not take any more.

I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I unzipped the teal and cream heavily beaded outfit that my new sister-in-law had arranged for me. It honestly was beautiful, but at least now I could sit without worrying about the stitches ripping.

Last minute adjustments were done as I got in yesterday, and it had fitted like it was made for me. The only thing was, I just couldn’t wait to get out of it.

Waseem’s voice cut through my hazardous thoughts.

“Will you be okay, angel?”

He was watching me carefully, but I avoided eye contact. Looking at him would be like him seeing right through me. I knew that if he had to respond to my insecurities, I would probably just break down.

I had been quiet on the way home, but I hadn’t given him an idea of what was on my mind. I mean… What was the point? Would he even have any answers for me?

“I’ll see you tomorrow?” I asked, sitting on the bed and ignoring his question.

I had decided to come home for the meantime, until Waseem was more settled. Settled in more than one way. Firstly… He needed to sort out where we would be staying , thinking it be best that he looked for another place.

Secondly… I think he definitely had issues to sort out within his family.

I mean, I sometimes thought that if I knew that things would be so evasive when it came to his parents, I wouldn’t have agreed.

I knew that he would never do anything that would hurt me. It was just that I was finding being around people too much. It was humiliating.

After the Walimah, although Aasiya and many people were really nice, my patience and nerves were at wits end. The absence of my new mother-in-law was a huge question mark for many guests. I could tell from the hushed tones that they were trying so hard to conceal. I could tell that they thought I wasn’t good enough for Waseem. Not modern enough. Not rich enough.

We had stayed late at his brother’s house, and right now, I just wanted to pray my Esha and get into bed. I sighed, slowly removing the bronze sandals and flexing my feet.

At least now that I was feeling more comfortable, I might feel more at peace with everything that had happened. It didn’t feel so frustrating.

I lay back on my continental pillow for a few moments, moving my hair to the side so the hair pins wouldn’t annoy me, ignoring Waseem’s penetrating gaze. I knew he wanted to make it okay. But what could he say?

I opened my bedside drawer, looking for my stash. Stocks were low. I scowled.

Nabeela!” I shouted, annoyed, forgetting for a second that Waseem was there. He didn’t flinch.

It could only be Nabeela. Tomorrow I would have to take a trip to the supermarket.

Thank goodness most of the people at our home had left to go to back, or else I would have had no privacy here whatsoever.

“Must I get you some?” Waseem asked, already knowing what I was looking for.

Honestly, he was amazing. I instantly felt guilty for being off-ish with him, looking up at him apologetically. I nodded.

It wasn’t fair. This wasn’t his fault. Waseem was a good guy. A good husband.

“I think I have some in the car, actually,” he remembered, leaving the room to go and fetch it. I smiled, and Nabeela appeared in the doorway.

What?” She asked, narrowing her eyes at me. “Stop screaming like a banshee. The guy’s going to think you’re completely off your rockers.”

“You ate my stash!” I accused her.

She looked at me and rolled her eyes. It annoyed me even more.

“You better replace it!” I warned her.

“I thought you would have come back in a better frame of mind,” she said, coming inside the room to sit on the edge of the bed.

“I’m fine,” I retorted, wondering why Waseem was taking so long. Maybe he had to go and buy some. I instantly felt worse.

I looked at Nabeela, and then put my head in my hands.

“I don’t know what to doooo!” I confessed finally, on the verge of tears.

It was just all so overwhelming for me. Nabeela looked panicked.

“Must I call Zakiyya?”

It was her way of saying she couldn’t deal with my dramas. I fanned my face with a nearby book, trying to supress the tears. I needed sugar. Where was Waseem?

I took a few deep breaths.

“So, how was everything?” She asked carefully, as I calmed down slightly. “Besides all the dramatic parts?”

“It was good,” I replied, remembering the first few days of our marriage. Before the reality of everything had settled in.

It was actually amazing, but telling Nabeela that would definitely lead to more questioning. She was at that annoying age where guys and everything that came with the opposite gender was oh-so-exciting. It made me want to strangle all my teenage cousins.

“Did you say it?” She asked, pressing on. “I love you? I don’t ever want to live without you… Again.”

I just smiled, remembering Waseem and his words. I knew she just wanted to hear about all the mushy stuff. And he was just so damn sweet.

To tell the truth, even my heart kind of melted, but with the tough-girl idea that I was trying to portray, it didn’t make sense for me to expose my heartfelt feelings.

Not as yet. I needed it to be my secret. Just for a little while longer.

“Or was it just awkward?” She asked now, making her voice sinister and leaning forward as if I was a spectacle of some sort. “Did you make it past base two?”

I wanted to giggle at her ridiculous terms. Base two? This child needed to stop watching junk.

It was my turn to roll my eyes at her now, because I knew where it was leading, and I definitely didn’t want to go down that road. In fact, going down that road would just be wrong. On so many levels.

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) turned to the men and said, “Is there any man among you who, when he comes to his wife, he locks the door, throws his blanket over himself and conceals himself with the cover of Allaah?” They said, “Yes.” He said, “And does he sit after that and say, ‘I did such and such, and I did such and such?’” They remained silent. Then he turned to the women and said, “Is there anyone among you who speaks (of private marital matters)?” They remained silent.

Then a buxom young girl sat up tall so that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) would see her and hear her words, and said, “O Messenger of Allaah, (the men) speak and (the women) speak.”

He said, “Do you know what the likeness of that is? The likeness of that is that of a female devil who meets a male devil in the street and he fulfils his desire with her when the people are looking on.” Narrated by Abu Dawud

I looked at Nabeela strangely.

“It’s not your business,” I said to her, not caring that I was being slightly rude.

As a teenager, I had also been obsessed with the romantic and sometimes ‘erotic’ stuff… So much so, that I would actually read pointless books on it, since Abbi never allowed us to watch TV.

It’s a different story of we want to inform ourselves about the Islamic rulings on how to please one’s spouse, but we don’t even realise that reading about intimate relations that occur is completely forbidden, whether the fictional couple is married or not. Bedroom matters had to remain in the bedroom, even if it was just lighter intimacy.

And besides the fact that it wasn’t right Islamically, it just wasn’t ethical to be talking about it.

Rude or not, I knew that if I didn’t stop it, she would have continued to venture down that avenue.


Waseems voice filled the passage, and Nabeela immediately jumped up as he appeared in the doorway.

I knew that Nabeela was still very shy of him. I mean, Nabeela was shy of everyone who was male. Besides, he was looking a little intimidating in his Kurtah with the most intricate details. I loved it, though. The colour actually suited him really well.

She smiled meekly at him, exiting as he stepped back let her pass. I just hoped that he heard nothing of what we were discussing. That would just be so embarrassing.

He came in, eyes sparkling and grinning slightly with his crooked smile. I already knew that he had heard some of Nabeela’s conversation with me.

I flushed, embarrassed.

“I’m sorry,” I said, covering my eyes and peeping at him through the gaps.

“It’s okay,” he chuckled, placing a Select packet on the bed. I was ready to lunge at it, but I controlled myself.

“I’m glad you get along so well with your family,” he said, passing me a bag of sweets from the packet. “I mean… You’ll find it easy to say what you’ll need to.”

I sensed that he had more to say but I didn’t press the issue.

We sat in silence for a few seconds as we munched, amd it felt like the first night we had met. Only this time, we weren’t so nervous. I pulled my knees up to my chest, making more space for him to sit.

“Zaynah,” he said, and I looked up at him now, meeting his gaze.

He was watching me carefully and I shifted under his scrutiny.

His eyes looked different today and I noticed that they sometimes changed with his mood. Tonight he seemed to be in an extremely subdued mood, and I wondered if what was on his mind was also my concern.

“I haven’t been completely open with you, Zaynah,”  he said, coming forward to sit just where my knees ended.

I nodded, trying to swallow what was in my mouth. For some reason, with his proximity to me, I couldn’t seem to say much back. My mouth was stuffed, either way.

“I’m sorry. But I can’t go forward into this… With us… Without telling you… I just hope you  won’t be upset.”

Upset? I honestly couldn’t remain upset with him over anything. I kept feeling guilty because he was being so nice. And sweet. Too sweet.

Either way, that was what marriage was about, right? I knew whatever it was, we would deal with it and make it through it together. Nothing could be too great a burden or too much to handle.

I was ready to hear him out. I knew whatever he had to say might not be easy, but it would be okay. It was time to break that barrier that was keeping us strangers to each other’s emotions.

“I wanted to tell you at-”

His sentence was cut off with the ringing of the phone. He usually never answered his calls around me, but as he glanced at the ID, he looked up at me apologetically.

“Sorry, sweets… I gotta take this.”

I delved into the gummy bag again, patiently watching him speaking. If it wasn’t for his sudden change of tone, I probably wouldn’t have paid attention, but the moment he cut the call, his expression said it all.

“I’ll be back,” he said, looking stressed and coming forward to peck me on the forehead.

“I have to go. Ziyaad’s in trouble.”


Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

“Let’s talk numbers,” I said, putting on a poker face and my best mafia voice.

“Show me the money and I’m all yours.”

Well, I supposed I deserved it when Waseem swatted me at the back of my head. I rubbed it, over-exaggerating the pain, and followed him out of the building.

“I’m in a fix,” he finally said, rubbing his temples, and just looking slightly stressed.

“Dad’s seized all my accounts,” he explained. “Except the one he doesn’t know about.”

Sheesh. I didn’t have to ask why. It was his way of showing Waseem who was boss. Dad had contacts. He could do anything when it concerned money. Unfortunately, this was just kind of low… Even for him.

Waseem went on to ask me if I’d help find out about that property that my Dad seemed to be going crazy over. He was worried that Dad would take the opportunity to probably turn the house over, since he seemed to be so peeved about his marriage.

I nodded, realising that this was a bit serious. I had a big responsibility and I wasn’t sure if I was about to pull it off. I mean, I knew I had been pulling off some big stunts with my new ‘mature’ outlook on life, but stepping up to interfere in my father’s affairs was a tough call.

I nodded while Waseem hurriedly went forward for the second Jamaat since he was a bit late. He greeted and left again quickly, just pausing to greet a few people briefly. He looked straight ahead and seemed like he had a lot on his mind, and I really did feel bad for him.

And so, after greeting Junaid and making plans to meet up with him the following week, I set off to actually do some of the work that I was supposed to. I organised an awesome wedding car for Waseem, even though I knew he wouldn’t care, and set up a mic system for Mo to use tomorrow. I was going to take it a step further and organise a ‘Halaal Mp3’ for the function, but I wasn’t sure if my brother would approve.

We had strict instructions to simplify every bit of Aasiya’s attempts to ‘fancify’ the whole occasion, and as I looked at the set up at Mo’s place, I realised we had a huge job on our hands.

From  shiny cutlery, draped lacey thingums and matching fabric serviettes (napkins?)… My eyes were overwhelmed with the decorations. I mean, do people really care about all those things? Do they even notice?

The whole ‘garden set-up’ was awesome, but I just hated to think what would happen if it rained. It would definitely ‘dampen’ the spirit and make it a day to remember.

I went home after Esha Salaah that night, and thankfully, Dad wasn’t home to draw me in to any more of his conquests. Mum seemed to be in a strange mood, but she didn’t say much as I went up to my room to get an early-ish night in preparation for the next morning.

Well, I supposed that it was just as well that as I woke up the next morning, the sky was quite clear. As sunrise came in, and I watched the view from my balcony with my early-morning cigarette in hand, the sun was making it’s presence very felt.

I’m sure Aasiya was very glad… She probably had the whole thing planned out from A-Z and I’m know that Muhammed wouldn’t have been as cool as he was if it all didn’t go according to plan.

I got there early to see him very busy trying to tone down the whole scene as he walked through the table settings, undoing bits and frills of the men’s section as he caught Aasiya looking elsewhere. It was kind of funny, but I felt a bit sorry for Mo, stuck between making Aasiya happy and fulfilling Waseem’s requests of simplicity. I thought I had heard him say he just wanted a simple Sunnah style supper of about 50 people, so I was kind of anticipating him getting a shock when he saw the lay-out that was prepared for him.

As for me… I was psyched.  It was like my previous day’s dream was becoming a reality.

First things first… Of course, I had made sure that I was dressed, in full fancy ‘Kurtah-style’ wedding attire with pants above my ankles, knowing that I was ready to be Waseem’s right hand man. Mo was also looking cool, but what really amazed me was the evidence of a beard making it’s presence felt. I could see that my eldest brother was definitely exploring the better side of life.

Secondly, when I realised that the dream had become something of a reality, I honestly felt like I was on Cloud 55. Platters of the most awesome munchies were already being set, and of course, there were girls of all types coming in to set them up.

I took it upon myself to play the supervisory role again, thinking that I was doing good. I just wanted to help out. I didn’t exactly go ‘into’ the ladies section, even though it was empty, so what was the issue if I just helped them out a bit. Just for now.

And of course, I never intended to fall into the trap of Shaytaan. The thing was, there can be no good where there is an element of bad. Even if you do something with the intention of helping someone, if it involves displeasing Allah, there can never be any goodness in it. It’s what we often fail to understand.  There’s no obedience to a creation if that obedience equals disobedience to the Creator. That’s not possible.

It’s like phoning a chic to wake her up for Fajr. It didn’t make sense. Or even like, when people have mixed functions to please certain family members or the more ‘elite’ class of people who don’t have knowledge of Deen… There can be no blessing in their function, because it is against Allah’s command. And then people wonder what happend to the marriage, when the very inception of it was completely against Allah’s command. And it goes on to other dealings as well… Like even when a business is operated against the laws of Allah… There can never be any goodness in what comes out.

And in all honesty, in my efforts to be ‘helpful’, if the hot girl with the really tight cloak, (and it was really tight, I kid you not), and bumped up scarf with the fringe sticking out, (is that a stupid fashion or what?) hadn’t asked me in her extremely unnerving voice about the cool drinks, I would have been fine. In fact I would have been awesome.

But as she spoke, something kind of flickered in me… Like a fused light bulb suddenly being rebooted. I looked at her, full on, taking her in. I could read her body language. I could see that she liked me. And she definitely wasn’t one of those girls who were just teasing. I knew the type.

It was how I used to operate when I didn’t really have emotional attachments… Or any conscience. A small dose of physical services would always do the trick, and even if I never saw the girl again, it wouldn’t make a difference. That was how those things went. No strings attached.. No pressure.

Honestly, I would never admit it to anyone else, but I was seriously thinking of taking advantage… The thought crossed my mind… More than once.

You’ve been so good all this time, something was telling me. You deserve this. Be free. 

That’s how the thoughts came at you. It wasn’t an outright commandment. The thought is just planted… And it was just a matter of pulling a few Zee moves and getting the goods. I’m not saying that I was going to go through with it, but the opportunity was definitely presenting itself to me.

But as we turned the corner around the back of the house, once again, like the previous day, something was on my side again.

Aasiya, who was supposed to be in the front, facilitating the caterers, popped out of nowhere, studying us both in a very suspicious light.

Yeah, I could see what she was thinking. But being the Zee, of course, I was as smooth as ever. Ice cream had nothing on me that night.

I asked her if she needed help with anything, ignoring her scrutinising looks. The chic, on the other hand, just went a light shade of red. Well, a little redder than the layer of blush plastered on. She muffled some excuse to Aasiya, and quickly turned to go back. I shrugged my shoulders, looking indifferent.

Aasiya knew me better than that. She raised her eyebrows and made sure I didn’t find my way near any other girls that night.

Of course, I quickly realised that I had gone completely off-track. I mean, I had nearly lost the entire plot in those moments.

Watch yourself, Zee, I warned my Nafs.  You’re getting caught up.

I actually couldn’t believe that I was thinking the way that I was. It was like I had no control over myself… Like when I used to just let myself go… When I thought that I was just a free soul in this messed-up world.

But what really got me was that although I was evidently so messed up, like all the other times, Allah still saw something to salvage in me. This time, He sent Aasiya at that particular moment to kill the whole thing. I couldn’t believe it. I could not fathom how lucky I had been, despite my ridiculous desires that made me go off.

The thing was, no matter what level anyone may reach, we cannot ever assume that we are free from the effects of evil. In fact, that’s when Shaytaan seizes the opportunity, because he works on our weaknesses. That’s when he tries harder, to get us to go off-track again. It’s always well planned out. He will whisper into the heart, and suggest his plan… And then, we either act on it or not.

But it’s not as obvious as we think… That owe’s definitely got strategy.

Because if you’re praying, he’s not going to come right at you and tell you to just stop praying. Slowly, by giving in to him and your Nafs, he will make you delay, or doubt your intentions. You might even stop, if you’ve given in to him completely. That how he works. Or he does it by making everything seem much peachier than it really is… So if something is completely forbidden, and you’ve been restraining yourself for a while, he will present it to you in such a way that you cannot resist. That’s how awesome he makes it seem.

But at the end of the day, I had to remember:

“Every human is a slave. You either a slave of your desires or a slave of Allah. You either live your life by your own rules or by the rule of Allah.”

I checked myself. Was I living in obedience to Allah or to my own Nafs? I immediately asked for forgiveness, seeking refuge from Shaytaan, who seemed to have taken advantage of my spirit today. It was amazing how brilliant he was at seizing an opportunity, and I just relented so easily. But even though he had all those sly tactics, I had to remember that Allah was obviously The Greatest. Allah was above it all. With all the wedding excitement and the ‘lurv’ in the air, I had just got carried away.

“You okay?” Mo asked as I got to the front of the men’s section, probably noticing my slightly forlorn look.

I nodded. I was fine. In fact, I was more than fine. I was saved from sin, once again. I was given another chance to prove myself, despite me being hopeless.

He was greeting the people coming in, and I joined him, greeting some of the people I vaguely recognised. It was only then that I realised how many people they had actually invited.

I wasn’t sure what Waseem’s reaction would be, but as I glanced outside, I realised that I wouldn’t have to wait long to see. He was already here, by the entrance we had kept open for him, letting his wife off the car, and immediately, as he held guided her into the ladies area, I noticed that Waseem wasn’t in the least bothered about anything else. All the concerns and weight of the world that he had carried yesterday seemed to have disappeared. He seemed completely free of any burdens… Because his worries seemed to lifted, just for the moment with his wife by his side.

Well, it was a bit clichèd, but it was definitely what the ladies would call ‘sweet’.

Yeah, my brother was that type. The sweet type, who used all these corny phrases. It always used to perturb me when I heard him calling chics weird names before, but now that he’d channelled his ‘sweetness’ into what it was meant for, it definitely had the desired effect. He always made everyone seem extra special, and it was precisely that reason why he showed her to the ladies section, and then came to join us, greeting guests, even though we told him that he should be sitting. I knew he found the whole ‘do’ to be a bit much and a tad bit extravagant, but with consideration for Mo, he didn’t say a thing.

The Du’aa of one of Waseem’s friends from Madrassa started off the function, and all that we expected of the function was more than we had anticipated. Everything went off awesomely, and I honestly felt like there wasn’t a Walimah that I had gone to that touched it. And it wasn’t because the lighting created the rustic look, and presented the perfect ‘intimate style’ wedding. It wasn’t because of the ‘soft’ colour theme and all the decor that complimented the ‘earthly’ colours, flavours and scents for ‘seasonal styling’. And to tell the truth, it wasn’t even about the awesome and delicious 5 course meal that just went down the right alley.

The thing was, it wasn’t any of that that made it the ‘it’ function for me. It was amazing because it was pure, and it was pure because there was really no Haraam within it at all. People may have thought it was boring, or devoid of something, but in simplicity was where the Barakah lay. Don’t get me wrong. Aasiya had made sure everything looked great, but nothing was overdone, and nothing was breaking the command of Allah.

For this part of Pretoria, it was extremely strange, but that’s what it made it good. That’s what made it real. That’s what made it stand out like a rare diamond in the darkness.

And after a long evening, after even killing the urge to be lazy and helping them right to the end, all I wanted to do was get into bed and knock myself out. I was already thinking about my soft bed and block out curtains that would allow me to sleep till noon, as I entered the front gate. The door wasn’t latched, and though I found it strange, I turned the handle, already making my way up to my room.

And it was just as well that the rest of the house was quiet, or I wouldn’t have heard the soft muffles coming from the couch on the landing. As I got up the stairs, I caught a sight of a figure in the semi-darkness where the noise was coming from, and I was immediately on guard. Something was just not right.

“Ma,” I said, my voice sounding slightly foreign. It was shaking. “What’s wrong?”

She looked up at me from where she sat, and I could see that her hair and face was fully done, as if she was ready to go out. I could also see that her eye make-up was smudged and her face was streaked with tears. I expected some kind of explanation, but all she did was stand up and say, in a barely audible voice:

“Your father wants to see you.”

Ultimate Sacrifice

Note: Sorry about the delayed post…. Been a bit crazy recently.

Please don’t forget to recite abundant Durood on Nabi (SAW) this Jumuah.

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

The sound of the automatic blinds lifting in my room immediately awoke me, interrupting one of the most awesome dreams that I could remember.

I couldn’t remember exactly where I was, but I did remember that there was lots of food… And where there was food, there were women.

Well, it wasn’t rocket science. Those were the two main draw cards for me at any event.

I was just completely bummed that I didn’t get to the end of it.

“I need you check on the two Mayview tenants,” my father’s voice boomed from somewhere in my room. “And collect that payment from Uncle O, and tell him the other two need to be here… Yesterday! He’s taking advantage now, and if I speak to him, I’ll give him a piece of my mind. Also, the other-”

“Daaaad!” I moaned, putting my head under the memory foam pillow that I slept on.

Couldn’t I just sleep in peace?

Damn, I missed those carefree days when I had nothing to do other than kill time. Why the hell did I have to get myself involved in this crap?

“It’s nearly 9 o clock!” My father shouted, unfazed by my unenthusiasm.

9 o’clock? Was he kidding? I remembered the days when I only went to bed at 9.

“Get a move on. We’ve got things to do today!”

We do? We do. Wait. Why was I feeling like today was an important day?

I literally jumped out of bed, realising that I really did have tons of things to do today.

“Dad, I cant,” I said to my father, pulling on my vest and rushing to the dressing room.

“What do you mean, ‘you can’t’?” My father asked, sounding angry. “I’m not giving you an option. I’ll be downstairs waiting.”

I had told Mo that I would sort out the car and the sound system for tomorrow. I had to go.

“Dad, tomorrow is Waseem’s function,” I started saying, coming out with my clothes on.

I looked around at the empty room, realising that he’d already left.

I grabbed my car keys and flew down the stairs, bumping into my mother as I went down the passage.

“Don’t mention the function to him,” my mother hissed, looking worried. “He’s already in a bad mood.”

“Tell him I’m gone,” I said, not wanting to confront him.

The whole week had been spent trying to avoid him, but somehow, I still got caught up in my father’s conquests. It looked like he was trying to replace Waseem in a way, by giving me all the tasks that he used to do. The weird part was the that he never once even mentioned Waseem. With Waseem gone, it was like he had just removed him from the equation altogether. Like the blue-eyed boy had never existed.

My mother, on the other hand, seemed to be emotionless. I guess I took after her. She sometimes had moments of hopelessness, but if I noticed them, I would say something stupid and she would smile. I was good at that.

“Can I be your new favourite?” I had asked her earlier that week while munching on my Milo cereal, determined to kill the sense of uneasiness in the house.

Mum just smiled and shook her head at me.

The fridges were empty again, and so I was only left with boxed options for breakfast.

Hey, I wasn’t complaining.

I supposed no-one felt like cooking. Not even the cook that my mother usually used in the kitchens. Maybe she had given them some time off. Maybe she thought we were too spoilt, and we needed to starve a bit.

The week, even though lonely without Waseem, was not completely lost. Being the kind of person I was, I was terrified of falling into boredom again. In attempting to avoid Dad at all costs, I had decided to take a stand.

Instead of mixing with the wrong kind of people who kept on phoning me to ask if I wanted to meet up, I knew that before I gave into temptation, I had to find someone who would have my back. Mo was busy, and of course, obsessed with his wife, so I couldn’t always hang out with him.

Now that Waseem had also tied the knot, I knew that there was a possibility that the Zee would probably resort to his old ways again. It was what scared me the most, and so, I had to come up with plan to keep straight. And it must have been divine intervention, but meeting with Junaid that morning before Dhuhr at the Masjid, was just what was required.

“How’s your bru?” He said, as we stood outside the Mosque watching passers by. There was still a few minutes till Adhaan, and I pulled out a cigarrette, lighting it and inhaling slowly, taking it all in.

I know, I was trying to quit, but the task was proving to be easier said than done.

Waseem had smsed me a few one word answes during the course of the week, but from his brief responses, I could tell that he was probably having an awesome time. I mean, in his situation, who wouldn’t be having an awesome time?

“Mus’ab,” I said, remembering the name that Junaid had used for him.

“Do you want to be like him?” Junaid asked, assuming I was referring to Waseem again.

I shook my head, frowning.

“Why ‘Mus’ab’?” I asked, wanting to know more.

He looked at me, taking a pull from the cigarette I offered him.

“Because Waseem’s found Deen with the world at his feet,” he replied simply, giving me back my cigarrette.

“Even though I just moved here recently… I had already caught up with the type of guy he had always been. His spirit is like that… Mus’ab bin Umair (RA) displayed the height of sacrifice for no other reason but Nabi (SAW) and Islam.”

And then he told me the story, and I was completely blown away. In my entire youthful existence, I had never read about any of the Sahaba, and now I had come to know that there were so many, all with their own conquests and battles to face.

Mus’ab bin Umair (RA) was a definite favourite.

Most charming of the Makkans, and the most handsome and youthful. He was the flower of the Quraish, born and brought up in wealth, and grown up with its abundant luxuries. He was pampered by his parents and the talk of the ladies of Makkah. He was the  jewel of it’s clubs and assemblies.

But when Makkah slept and woke, there was no other talk but the Prophet (SAW) and his religion, and this spoiled boy was one of the most attentive listeners.

The recitation of Qur’an prompted him into submission… It’s pleasure almost flung him from his seat, as he was filled with a wild ecstasy. With the Prophet’s (SAW) intervention, in the twinkling of an eye, the youth who had just become Muslim adapted a stance that would change his course forever.

Several years later, Mus’ab came upon a gathering of Muslims sitting around the Prophet (SAW). They bowed their heads and lowered their gaze when they saw Mus’ab, and some were even moved to tears. This was because his clothing was old and in tatters and they were immediately taken back to the days before his acceptance of Islam when he was a model of elegance.

The Prophet (SAW) looked at Mus’ab, smiled gracefully and said:

“I saw Mus’ab here, and there was no youth in Makkah more petted by his parents than he. Then he abandoned all that for the love of Allah and His Prophet!”

The Prophet (SAW) then went on to say:

“There will come a time when God will grant you victory over Persia and Byzantium. You would have one dress in the morning and another in the evening and you would eat out of one dish in the morning and another in the evening.”

In other words, the Prophet (SAW) prophesied that the Muslims would become rich and powerful and that they would have material goods in plenty. The companions sitting around asked the Prophet (SAW).

“O Messenger of Allah (SAW), are we in a better situation in these times or would we be better off then?”

He replied: “You are rather better off now than you would be then. If you knew of the world what I know you would certainly not be so much concerned with it.”

And that’s what the Sahaba had understood. They knew that this world was worth nothing.

It was amazing how far that this  youth had come. Before Islam, he would adorn the best of clothes… A new set every day. It was said that his perfume could be smelt for miles, and with this signal, women would line up to try and win him over. Such was his stature in society… And when Islam came, it’s message still prompted him to sacrifice everything.

And by everything, we come to realise what ‘everything’ meant when Mus’ab (RA) met his end. After existing in the laps of luxury, with the finest of clothing and the world at his feet… In death, Mus’ab bin Umair (RA) had nothing but a cloth in possession when his death came.

It was over the body of Mus’ab that the Prophet (SAW) stood with great emotion. He remembered Mus’ab (RA) as he first saw him in Makkah, stylish and elegant, and then looked at the short burdah which was now the only garment he possessed. Just a piece of fabric.

When they covered his head with it, his legs showed; when his legs were covered, his head was exposed. The Prophet (SAW) then instructed the Sahabah:

“Place the garment over his head and cover his feet and legs with the leaves of the idhkhir (rue) plant.”

His journey was that. From where he knew only the world to where the world for him was just a piece of cloth… That was his sacrifice. And I never understood real sacrifice until I heard that.

The Zee’s somewhat rigid heart was actually softening as I stood there. Was I becoming a softy?

“I know his bru-in-law,” Junaid was saying. He had moved on to talk about Waseem again. “Top owe. Good family.”

It was like he was obsessed with my brother. I was used to it though.

I nodded. I was still thinking about Mus’ab (RA). And how Nabi (SAW) had promised them Jannah because of all they had endured… A small price to pay for eternal bliss.

I knew that Waseem had got the gold. I knew that he understood exactly what sacrifice meant. I mean, he had just uprooted himself from his awesome life, and left it all behind. How far was I willing to go to get it?

I rushed to the front of the Masjid as Salaah started, trying to focus on building that connection with my Lord. My zeal to acquire that concentration was always wavering… I had to start getting right by actually making my Salaah worth something. I had to start improving my efforts… I couldn’t risk going back the way that I had come.

These days, the thought of Farah and my old friends crossed my mind more than often. I took the opportunity to look for just a few seconds extra when I passed a girl, allowing my Nafs to take over. I realised that I was slowly losing track, when I didn’t try hard enough to be on time for Jamaat Salaah.

With everything and everyone around me to tempt me, it was so easy to fall back into the trap of Shaytaan… I raised my hands, humbling myself completely, hoping that someday I could reach the likes of firstly Waseem, and the the closer friends of Allah. It was a tall order, but yeah, I had to have aspirations.

Without striving, I would just remain stagnant.

I got up slowly, feeling renewed. Like the first day I had left this Masjid, knowing that I wouldn’t go back to that dark place that I had come from. Turning my body slightly as I fetched my iPhone from behind me, from the corner of my eye, a tall figure caught my eye.

I looked again, realising that I wasn’t imagining things. It was Waseem, and he was back earlier than predicted. He was only due tomorrow, so him being here wasn’t an expected thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I was psyched to see my brother, but as he got closer, the look on his face just got me slightly frantic.

“What’s going on?” I asked, not even bothering to ask him anything else.

This wasn’t good. I mean, the guy was on honeymoon the whole week… He was supposed to be looking (and feeling) like a million bucks or more. I wasn’t completely foreign to the concept.

He stopped to greet, biting his lip slightly, as if he wasn’t sure what next to say. Or maybe he just didn’t know how to say it.

“Zee, you know I love you,” he started, and I already knew this was something big.

I cocked my head to the side and narrowed my eyes, although still prepared to hear him out.

“I need your help…”

Blissful Awakenings

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Waseem: And so it begins...

Amidst a place filled with a countless array of blessings, resided the first man, when he was created…

Natural beauty and greenery are among Paradise’s wonderful blessings. Mansions built in gardens, right next to springs, are another beauty. Paradise, has such a pleasant climate, that no one is made uncomfortable, as it contains no exhausting sweaty heat or freezing cold. Amongst it’s splendour are rivers of water, milk and wine, the taste and smell of which are never changed.

It’s where beauty is spread out at your feet – the life of Paradise – where anything that you want is just a thought away.

And when Adam (AS) resided in beautiful Jannah, at times he talked to the angels, but they were mostly preoccupied with worshipping Almighty Allah. And so, he did yearn for something. Even in Jannah.

And Almighty Allah knew his desires… Of course. So, one day, after sleeping, he awoke to find near his head a woman gazing at his face with beautiful tender eyes.

It is reported that Ibn Abbas (RA) said, “Adam’s (AS) creation was on Friday in the afternoon.

Allah then created for him Eve, his wife, from one of his left ribs while he was asleep.

When he woke up and saw her, he felt at ease with her, and he stretched his hand out to her.

The angels said, ‘Stop, Adam.’

He said, ‘Why, didn’t Allah create her for me?’

They said, ‘Not until you pay her dowry.’

He asked, ‘What is her dowry?’

They answered, ‘To recite praises on Muhammad (SAW) three times.’” [and in another narration, twenty times].

Ibn Abbas and a group of companions of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam narrated that he asked her:

Who are you?”

She replied, “A woman”

He asked: “Why have you been created?”

She said :”So that you could find tranquility in me.”

And tranquillity it was, because Jannah wasn’t at it’s peak until Adam (AS) had Hawa (AS).

It became complete, like the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle replaced. Allah favoured him by giving him someone to share his life with, as He (SWT) says:

It is He Who has created you from a single person (Adam), and (then) He created from him his wife (Eve), in order that he might enjoy the pleasure of living with her. [Holy Qur’an: Surah 7: 189]

And it’s possible that sometimes, on the rare occasion, our humble expectations tend to sell us short. The expected, which keeps us grounded, often pales in comparison to the reality.

And I never expected Zaynah to accept me into her life, with no reservations. I was seriously still waiting for the phone call to say that she had changed her mind, right till the very end. It was one deal that I knew my business skills could never salvage for me. It was the one matter where smooth lines or a bunch of flowers wouldn’t do the trick.

I was internally on edge, even right until I said the words to seal the final deal, because I just expected it to all fall flat.

My mother had come to meet Zaynah after Salaah that night, and my mind was a little at ease. I wasn’t sure how they would hit it off, because our families were on different wavelengths, but Allah had already put the affection for each other in their hearts, despite my worry.

And so, basking in the glory of having the perfect wife was a sure reality… And of course, anyone could understand just why I couldn’t stop smiling on the day I met her, with a supply of Jelly Babies on my side.

And as an ice-breaker, I had nicknamed her Jelly Baby at the time, just because the whole incident made her beam so much that we both forgot to be nervous. I couldn’t be sure why I had brought the gummies with me when I met her, but it definitely wasn’t a coincidence…

I smiled again to myself as I remembered it… Hoping I would never forget the pureness that came with the Nikah. There was no tip-toeing around people’s emotions. It was different to any other encounter I had experienced, because Halaal love had nothing on the artificial type that I had always wasted my time chasing. Anything before that union that made everything pure and such a beauty, was definitely futile.

Being with my wife brought in an other element that I had never understood before. I was in awe of the fact that this woman, who had already caused such a change in my life, was to be my reason to leave this temporary world behind.

I already knew that whatever we would go through on our path to the Hereafter… Wherever the path would lead us… When it came to pleasing her, I would make sure that it would be through my Creator first, because it was He Who had made it possible for me to actually have her. It was only the Almighty that had given me so many bounties.

And I looked around now, admiring yet more of His infinite bounties as I gazed at the spectacular view beyond the mountainous exhibition below me. With my soft recitation of Qur’an to keep me company, I breathed in the crisp morning air, careful not to wake my sleeping wife.

I wouldn’t have expected less from Muhammed. The place that Mo had booked for us as a wedding gift to us was the most awesome place, and as I sat on the wooden balcony overlooking the scene of overlapping troughs and peaks among natural greenery, I was in awe of the beauty.

And yet, another picture of perfection appeared without an announcement as I sat, and I watched her sit down at the end of the daybed that I reclined on. At that moment, I honestly felt like life probably couldn’t get much better than this.

I mean, the feeling was so unbelievable that it made me check myself.

Like really, boss, I told myself.  Just imagine Jannah.

And then she smiled, looking just slightly displaced. She really didn’t look like she had just woken up. A few stray curls framed her gorgeous face, and I watched her self-consciously put them behind her ears.

I leant forward to stop her, holding her hand in my own and moving it away. I didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable with me.

“I like it,” I said, and immediately I saw her cheeks flush. To me, she was a picture of perfection.

She looked away. I knew that she would be feeling awkward. I didn’t want her to, but I loved her apprehensive smile.

Honestly, I was already crazy about her.

“Angel,” I said, lowering my voice and reaching for her fingers.

It was adorable how she just couldn’t meet my eye this morning, but I knew that I had to stop teasing her if I wanted a response.

“What about some breakfast?” I said finally, standing up.

The flush on her face slowly faded as she looked up and nodded, and I then realised that we would have to leave the room to look for some food.

The day before was spent surviving on what Aasiya and Zaynah’s sister had packed for us, but now we had to try and source some fresh food. I had a strong feeling that it might be something of a mission in the depths of Magaliesburg. Halaal food wasn’t always easy to come by, and I knew that we had to be fussy.

“Must I come?” she asked sweetly, but didn’t get up.

We hadn’t been apart for nearly 36 hours, and from her body language, I decided that maybe she might need a break from me. I instantly felt guilty for not allowing her even a chance to call her family or have some private time. I handed her my phone in case she wanted to call someone, realising that I’d have to get her one when we get back home.

“You stay,” I said, pulling on my Kurtah. “I’ll go see if they have a store.”

Zaynah didn’t protest, so I left, determined to return quickly with success. Although that had been my life prior to marriage, it was feeling odd to be alone again.

Food on business trips had always been easy for me, because room service at the hotels I stayed at was just a phone call away. At this place, I was dealing with a ball game that I had never yet explored as I stepped out into the wilderness, looking for the path that lead to the reception.

It was early the previous morning that we had reached here, and things looked completely different in daylight. I eventually found myself at some place that looked like a breakfast kitchen where a few people were already eating. I spoke to the lady briefly and returned to the room, determined to go back with my wife. I treaded the path quickly till I reached the unlatched door.

I couldn’t see her, so I stayed by the entrance.

“Where are you, gorgeous?” I called. “We’ll have to go to reception… There’s a breakfast buffet…”

Their kitchen was ‘Halaal friendly’. I wasn’t sure what that meant, exactly, but it still sounded dodgy. I wasn’t sure how much we would be able to eat.

I looked around the room to see Zaynah emerge from the bathroom, her hair wet.

At least she didn’t spend hours getting  dressed, like other chics. I could see she was almost ready, but she had a frown on her face as she looked at me, her mouth moving slightly.

“You already eating?” I asked, trying to conceal my disappointment.

She swallowed quickly, looking guilty and shaking her head.

Ah. The jelly babies. I smiled.

She was still frowning.

“We can’t eat there,” she said, licking her lips and looking upset.

I looked at her strangely.


“They’re not Halaal. I didn’t see any Muslim people,” she said, matter-of-fact.

“They said they’re Halaal friendly,” I admitted, knowing it sounded dumb. “We can eat the vegetarian?”

She nodded, then shook her head, sitting down and cocking her head. I could see she was thinking very hard. I took the bait and sat down next to her, watching her. It was a bit amusing.

“Let’s not,” she said finally, getting up to go to the tiny kitchenette in the corner of the room.

She opened a few cupboards and took out some dishes, starting to wash them. She placed a pan on the stove, put her hands on her hips and looked at me.

“I’m going to tell them to send us some eggs, bread, butter… And stuff,” she said. “I’m cooking breakfast.”

She was going to cook? Now? 

She went to the phone and spoke to someone who agreed to her request.

I must admit, I was impressed at her insistence, even when they offered to bring the cooked food to the room. Having got what she wanted finally, she gave me a satisfied smile and then started to prepare.

I watched her, offering to help, but she shooed me away.

“I’m not just a spoilt rich guy,” I said, pretending to be offended. ” I can work.”

She smiled, looking at me sideways.

“Really?” She replies, sounding like she didn’t believe me.

I grinned, and she gestured for me to sit. I obeyed orders and she placed three dishes on a cloth on the floor, sitting next to me as I started to dish.

To be honest, the meal was probably the best that I’d had in ages, and it wasn’t only because the food was really good. The company and atmosphere in the room was just amazing. And the fact that I knew the exact source of the food was the best food.

“You didn’t have to cook,” I said, feeling bad that I had made my wife cook on ‘honeymoon’. My mother would have been disgusted at me.

She looked up at me, her dark eyes serious.

“And risk you eating doubtful food?” She asked candidly.

I knew the reason. I just had to ask. And of course I understood, better than I ever had before.

Before, I just never cared. A stamp or even the owners word that the meat was okay for me. But what got me now was, how can one expect them to worry about our Imaan when they don’t even have any? It meant nothing to people who had no idea about Islam. It served no importance at all.

I never realised the consequences earlier… A person who falls into doubtful over and over is sure to fall into Haraam. And when that Haraam food enters one’s body, it exposes the heart to moral disease.

When a Muslim avoids what is unlawful, abstains from doubtful matters, and busies himself with what is clearly permissible and wholesome, his heart becomes strong. By contrast, if he engages in activities in doubtful, his heart grows weak and he becomes more likely to fall into sin.

More importantly, his Ibaadat is not accepted, and it serves as a barrier between him and His Lord. Consumption of Haraam food was the main reason that the Muslim world was in such turmoil and our repentance and Du’aas were not being answered. It was a really serious thing.

On the authority of Abi Ab’dillahi al-Nu’man ibn Basheer (RA) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (SAW) say: “That which is lawful is clear and that which is unlawful is clear and between the two of them are doubtful [or ambiguous] matters about which not many people are knowledgeable. Thus, he who avoids these doubtful matters certainly clears himself in regard to his religion and his honor. But he who falls into the doubtful matters falls into that which is unlawful like the shepherd who pastures around a sanctuary, all but grazing therein. Verily every king has a sanctuary and Allah’s sanctuary is His prohibition. In the body there is a morsel of flesh which, if it be sound, all the body is sound and which, if it be diseased, all the body is diseased. This part of the body is the heart”.

I constantly prayed for Allah to never let me come close to Haraam, and I knew my Du’aas were being answered. The answer to my Du’aa was going to be through her.

I looked at my wife, knowing that she even when I was weak, she would make us stronger. Two people together were always stronger. When it came to food, I was definitely easily influenced. A man needed his food.

“I’m lucky to have you,” I said, meaning it in entirety.

She smiled, pausing slightly before speaking again.

“It’s our duty to each other, Waseem,” she said, shrugging off the praise.

“But as much as we would persevere and go to such lengths to be with each other in this life… Shouldn’t we be just as determined to go to extremes to ensure each other’s Jannah? And wouldn’t you do the same for me?”

I was taken aback by the question.

I nodded slowly, watching her serious expression, and I suddenly felt like I was levitating somewhere above the floor, just because I was completely swept off my feet.

That was something else. This woman, with her passion and determination, had completely and irrevocably stolen my heart.

And it wasn’t the single incident that had driven me to that conclusion. It wasn’t the first time she had shown me her true zeal for pleasing her Rabb. Even when she thought I had no idea… I knew every detail of these 36 hours.

The silhouette of her prostration in the depths of the night was like that single star that lights up the whole sky.

The perfume of her constant state of Whudhu was like a breeze of Paradise.

She took any opportunity to adorn the fashion of Sunnah, and that just never ceased to amaze me.

And I knew that she would always have my loyalties in mind. I trusted her to be by my side in good and bad times.

I knew that when the world exhausts me, tires me, and leaves me weary, the knowledge that she is in it with me is sufficient for me.

She had, so quickly, become a part of me, that I not only felt like she was my other half… In essence… She was, I felt, like my other entirety.

And I had to tell her.

“That’s why I love you,” I said, knowing that I had really delved deep in this time.

It was the first time that those words had ever escaped my mouth, and though I hated to think of my past relationships, I was glad that my wife was the only woman who was granted the honour.

Those three words that were so recklessly thrown around, at least that, I had always been careful with.

Never say it unless you mean it. Only mean it when you know it’s true.

And truthfully, much to my amazement… I was falling hopelessly.

And it gave me the greatest of spiritual highs because I knew that this love was only for the pleasure of the One Who created it.

Not for my Nafs. Everything was through Him and for Him. It was only from the Purest source of Love. Not for my Nafs.

She looked up at me in the eye, smiling slightly. She didn’t have to say it back. I wasn’t going anywhere.

Just as I thought that my spirits couldn’t soar any higher, her next words were to send them plummeting down.

“There’s something I wanted from you when we get home.”

I looked back at her, prepared to accede to whatever her request was. Anything was possible, right?

“I’d like to….”

I looked at her, and she didn’t meet my eye. She hesitated, then spoke again, a little quieter.

“Can we meet your father?”

Beyond the Broken Barriers: Zaynah

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Everyone around you will make you think that your path ends right here. That at this point, having found your ‘soul-mate’, you have come to the end of the road… And there is no further place to reach.

The thing is, the type of idealistic love that most people seek is not real… It is nothing but an illusion. And as I’ve heard before, the one who chases after a mirage, will keep on running. Sweat, cry, tear or bleed… It doesn’t matter…

You will be prepared to sacrifice whatever it takes to get there, only to find that you always just falling short of whatever you desire.

Because that type of mirage does not exist in this life. It does not come close to the perfection that we seek.

That type of love, that the heart yearns for deeply… It can only exist with the one Who created it. It can only exist with Allah.

And so it comes down to this: We can, by all means, continue chasing that illusion that we can never capture completely, and foolishly believe that we will find it in a lover, spouse or lifetime partner… Or we can seek the real thing, by seeking comfort in the knowledge that no matter what, the love that is real and eternal only resides in that special place that is reserved for the One who knows you inside and out.

When that reality hits you, you realise that perfection camnot be found anywhere else, and only then do you find that that you can then love for no other reason but because of Him.

It’s easy to love someone who seems perfect. But when you have to put imperfection aside, then only do you realise what it truly encompasses… What the deal is really all about.

“You have that ‘look’ on your face again,” Zakiyya said, pulling open the curtains in my room and studying me.

I stared blankly back at her.

“Okay,” she said finally. “Out with it. What’s going on?”

It was Saturday morning and it was time to give my answer. My mind was racing. Too much was happening too fast.

“What if he’s not perfect?” I blurted out. “What if he’s got this shady past that he doesn’t want me to know about? What if there’s a deep dark secret somewhere?”

Zakiyya looked at me, narrowing her eyes.

“What exactly are you worried about?”

“You know what,” I said, looking away. “I don’t know how much I’m willing to overlook.”

Zakiyya studied me, and I could see she was pensive.

“Let it be,” she said, sounding so wise. “Don’t bring up his past and don’t make it uncomfortable for him. If he has sincerely repented then why must you worry? It’s between him and Allah.”

“But does it seem fair?” I pressed, still unsure. “What if it was me and not him? Wouldn’t he want to know if I’ve actually preserved myself or if I’ve been unchaste? What about all the emotional attachments that go with the actual ‘deed’?”

Zakiyya sighed, clearly not buying my motivation. It was, in all fairness, a little off-track.

The sound of the bathroom door unlocking silenced us both.

Nabeela. I had forgotten about her. I honestly thought that she was still asleep in the next room. I hadn’t thought she would already be awake at this hour when only Zakiyya and the birds are usually out and about.

She walked in with a sheepish look on her face, eyeing us both out.

“Did I hear right?”

We both looked her, still silent.

“Didn’t you ask him?” She said, looking appalled. “Why didn’t you just ask him?! What happened to all your ‘good girl, good boy’ ideologies?”

“Of course that’s true!” I said convincingly. “Allah says that the pure are for the pure. Good is for good. But who are we to judge?”

As soon as I had said the words, I realised that I had just being answered myself with my own words. In my attempt at defending Waseem to Nabeela, I’d actually been a bit of a half-wit.

“But what if he’s not?” She said, asking the question that had been bugging me for a while.

“Then let that be between him and His Lord,” Zakiyya piped up, oh-so-wisely. She turned to me. “Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. Maybe by you overlooking his faults, he may do you the same justice to you when you need it. If you know he’s had a past, why can’t you accept that it’s behind him and start over?”

Start over? Was Zakiyya suggesting that I let bygones be bygones, and move forward with no reservations? Was she expecting me to not even find out?

“On the other hand,” she said, now dropping her tone. “Remember that Islam does not differentiate on grounds of gender. The punishment is the same for male or female. If you can’t accept that he ‘might’ have been with someone before marriage… Maybe you should just call the whole thing off and forget about him.”

Forget about him?

I sucked in my breath, slightly disorientated. Can I just forget? I mean, of course I could… If I wanted to. But did I want to?

Zakiyya was right. I knew what she was saying. I couldn’t dwell on his past. If it was something serious then I knew that it wouldn’t have gone so far… Something would have come up in asking for references.. Unless he had hid just his past really well.

The second time we had met to talk was to discuss a few other things that had been on my mind. It was in something that came up that made me wonder about his past. He confessed to having a shady past but didn’t elaborate.

What was important at that time was now seeming irrelevant now. We had decided to make the Nikah quickly once I gave my final answer, even if it meant we wouldn’t be staying together straight  away. I remembered that he was adamant about it, and of course, it was assuring to know that he was on the same page as me when it came to doing what was right.

Our thoughts were just so much in synch that I wasn’t sure that I could find a better match in terms of compatibility. The thought of looking for ‘the right guy’ once again made me feel slightly on edge and frankly, a bit panicked.

The familiar rising of anxiety was starting again. I reached for my drawer to pull out my stash.

I knew it was a bit insane at this hour, but even Zakiyya’s reproachful looks couldn’t stop me. I needed the stuff.

I chewed slowly, taking everything in.

Was he really the right one, if he’s status was still questionable?

“Someone having double standards?” Zakiyya said, watching my expression carefully and speaking again. “Yes… The Qur’an is clear, and I know you’ve studied Tafseer… But think about this, Zay. You’re quick to remember what is said about purity and the Zani and Zani’a (fornicators), but you forget about how often Allah Ta’ala reminds us about His forgiveness. That even if we come to Him with an ocean full of sins, He will forgive us. That whatever the sin is, if we repent sincerely, Allah won’t even let the recording angels remember that sin, not because they won’t, but simply because they cannot… Should He wish. That is the magic of Taubah. And yet, my dear sister, you still have the audacity to question his ‘purity’.”

I stared at her, realising that she was only speaking sense. He shouldn’t have to be questioned about his sins by me. If he ever had to tell me of his free will, it would be different, but if Allah means to conceal it from the whole world, no matter what, He would never expose it.

Anas (RA) reported that he heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) saying, “Allah, the Exalted, has said: ‘O son of Adam! I shall go on forgiving you so long as you pray to Me and aspire for My forgiveness whatever may be your sins. O son of Adam! I do not care even if your sins should pile up to the sky and should you beg pardon of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam! If you come to Me with an earthful of sins and meet Me, not associating anything with Me in worship, I will certainly grant you as much pardon as will fill the earth.”‘ [At-Tirmidhi].

At the end of the day, every person is a sinner, but among the best are the ones who repent. And to come to where he is now, having come so far, I was sure he had to be among the best of them. I had no doubt about it.

It was just a personal choice that one had to take in order to deal with the matter at hand… To ask or not to ask was still the question, but I soon realised that no matter what answer it was… I would be able to look past it. I would still be happy with him. As the moments passed, I realised that it could still work.

I had done my Isthikhaarah, and of course, I trusted that Allah would guide me. And, to put it lightly, I had never felt so sure of anything than I did that day.

And so, I sent my answer the same day with Abbi, and it had just so happened that a meeting at the Masjid was where Abbi gave my answer. I couldn’t believe that it was already in the planning process, but since his Maulana was in town till the next day only, the request for the making Nikah came for that Sunday evening.

To put it lightly, the butterflies in my tummy seemed to morph into dragons. I literally felt like puking, as the afternoon drew to a close.

A few family members had flown in for the Nikah, and the house was pretty much overflowing. I honestly didn’t know how everything was happening so fast, but having people around really helped. They were insisting on serving something for when guests come to meet me, and so the kitchen was buzzing with preparations like never before. I locked myself in my room, getting Nabeela to chase away anyone who was going to pester me. She and Zakiyya packed an overnight bag just in case, because since the Nikah was so quick, we had no idea exactly what was going to happen tonight.

I found it difficult to breathe every time I thought about it. I just hoped, while I literally cried on my Musallla that afternoon, that I was not going to make a complete fool of myself. I hoped that he wouldn’t find out what a nut-job I really was. It would be enough to send any man half-way across the country.

“Oh my word, Zaynah!” Nabeela screamed, holding the door. “They’re coming! Hordes of people! I can’t stop them!”

I watched her and Zakiyya turn their backs to the door while the pounding continued. It was too bad that the damn door didn’t lock.

I looked at the time. It was that time that I was  trying not to think of. The Nikah was over.

The two of them could no longer stop the incessant pushing, and I signalled to them to make way, taking a final look in the mirror and  then looking away. At least I looked normal. If only I could pull off acting like it.

“Zaynah! Mubarak!” Aunty Hawa, Abbi’s sister almost screeched. “You’re looking beauuutiful, my darling! But don’t you think your dress-”

“She’s perfect just the way she is,” Mummy’s sister, Bilquis, cut in. I smiled at her gratefully.

I didn’t want anything to be overdone. It was my cousin’s dress that I had borrowed, and she herself came in, admiring me.

Yaseerah smirked at me knowingly.

“Are you ready?” She almost whispered, as soft as she could speak above the noise.

I nodded, swallowing the saliva that seemed to flood my mouth.

“The dress is easy to slip off, don’t worry,” she said, winking.

Oh goodness. I wanted to cry. These people were all getting too much for me.

“Your Mummy would have been so happy,” Bilquis Masie said, coming to kiss me, with tears in her eyes.

I hugged her tight and withdrew quickly, careful not to cry and sabotage the eye pencil. I offered a half smile to everyone else, greeting them all quickly before my Biquis Masie started shouting for everyone to leave the room.

“He’s here!” Someone said, and they all started scurrying out.

I sat down, exhausted already, my fingers in my mouth.

“Stop that!” Zakiyya whacked me and gave me a look. “Guys don’t like bitten fingers.”

Nail-biting sometimes went to another level in extreme situations. My fingers would often take the brunt, and the amazing thing was, I didn’t even realise the pain until the whole crisis was over.

I sat put, putting my hands stiffly under my dress.

I could hear the aunties quietening down, which meant that there were males in the vicinity. I waited patiently, fretting out of anxiety. I couldn’t believe that I was actually married.

I was alone now, and I knew what was coming next.

The meeting. The meeting wherein there are no more barriers, or restrictions. A meeting of two souls, already predetermined from before their inception.

I felt like I couldn’t move, as I heard the door handle turning. I literally froze, as the door opened, and he stepped inside after greeting, softly closing the door behind him.

It was all heard, not seen.

My eyes couldn’t look anywhere but at a spot on the floor, even as he came closer, greeting once again. I couldn’t reply, because once again, much to my dismay, the anxiety was burning up in my chest again, silencing me.

I honestly could not even utter a single word, for fear that I would overreact.

I wanted the ground to swallow me at that point, because I was so embarrassed. There was only one thing I could do, to salvage the whole situation. I knew it would risk everything, but I had to say something, before he thought I had gone completely loony.

Well, I was just about to fling myself on the carpet and crawl to my bedside drawer, but as the thought crossed my mind, the sound of a packet opening halted me, and a bag of Maynards Jelly Babies immediately appeared under my nose.

I was gob-smacked, to say the least. Like, did the guy have kashf or what?!

I gazed up at him in a daze, meeting his eye and absent-mindedly putting my hand into the packet to take a gum. He grinned back at me, and I could see him already chewing something as he took a seat on the bed, taking the packet back for seconds. Our fingers touched momentarily, and I immediately withdrew my hand, feeling uneasy.

“It’s okay,” he said, still smiling.

His smile was… Well… It was amazing. And disconcerting.

He was right. It was okay. I breathed out.

He wasn’t a stranger. I wasn’t engaged in Haraam.

The sugar dissolved on my taste-buds, and immediately, my mind was once again soothed. I continued to stare at him, almost like I was in a trance. He looked back at me, still smiling, and I eventually grinned back. We sat in silence, just grinning, because there was nothing really that we needed to say.

I actually had no words. For once, I was left speechless, now for other reasons.

So… This was how it happens. I supposed, that was how people just ‘get’ you. They move you, in a way that you’ve never experienced before. They stir up emotions, from deep down, bringing a whole new understanding to life that you had never yet realised.

When Allah wants it to work, nothing in the universe can change that. Every reservation, excuse or negative notion that you may have had before that makes no difference.

It really doesn’t matter, because love wasn’t only based on emotion. It wasn’t only based on the ‘feelings’ that go with it. It wasn’t to do with weak knees and churning in the stomach. It wasn’t even about their flaws being perfect, when love is true.

Because love was purest only when it is for the pleasure of the One Who created it.

It means that you love what He loves, and do not love what He does not. It means that you will no longer chase ‘love’, but you will reach the highest of places because of Him… Because you seek Him.

And when you reach that place… When you attain that realisation… When you find Allah… Then He will suffice you with the richest of love. He will liberate you from all your reservations.

That will inspire your elation. That will be your emancipation. That, my friends, will be love.

Cutting the Cord

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Everyone who knows me as ‘The Zee’ knows pretty well the kind of guy that I am. With me, what you see is what you get. That’s it. No hidden agenda.

Waseem, on the other hand, always had this mysterious and ‘deep’ side to him. Amongst other more obvious things, I supposed it was the whole evasive quality that he possessed that made him so appealing…

Yeah, I know… He was something of an enigma.

Purposefully thoughtful, even in public… Always creating the impression that he knew more than he was letting on.

I wouldn’t lie. I got it. It added an edge… I could tell that it just made him seem kind of… Exciting.

And because of that, sometimes, I honestly didn’t even get what my brother was saying. He was never just straight forward. I’ve heard of people beating around the bush, but my brother took it to another level. He ‘spoke around the bush’.

And so, when he had said, “See you after Asr?”, I had to rethink about ten times to remember if there was a mysterious or unassuming edge to his words he had said. Given our morning drama, I took it at face value and I just assumed that he meant he would ‘see’ me after Asr. Not that he would see me from about 200 metres away from the front of the Masjid where he was about to make NIKAH and get someone to drag me over to him. I was appalled, to say the least. And I’m sure you believe me when I say that I was not a dramatic kind of guy.

In all honesty, the whole reality was just damn unnecessary. Couldn’t he just have told me, in simple terms, that he was doing the whole hook-up that very evening?

I walked to the front as Waseem requested, trying to step up my appearance as I had no idea I’d be in the spotlight. The Zee was going to be ‘the brother’ in the whole scenario.

When Mo had got married I was too young to take advantage, but now I was determined to make the most of the opportunity. I tried to ease into a slightly more presentable version of Sunday Zee as I joined Mo at the front with two of my uncles, and watched as the Maulana Dude started the proceedings.

He was speaking on the great Sunnah of Nikah, and stressing on simplicity.

Molvi Umar was back in town, and Waseem had seized the opportunity to make his Nikah at the same time. Wise move, I had to admit.

I looked at my brother, the man of the hour. Waseem was looking super-cool in the whitest of Kurtahs, and he didn’t look nervous in the least. I putposefully tried to sway his stance by giving him a few unnerving glances that were meant to stir him, but his gaze remained fixed ahead. He was super contained… Like he knew exactly what he was doing. This whole marriage thing didn’t cause any discomposure whatsoever. And in all honestly, I was sure that nothing anyone could tell him would faze him.

I momentarily thought back to my father’s words earlier that day. Waseem had left and I had gone back inside to ease the situation. My father was still screaming his head off, talking to my mother about what a failure her sons were.

“Tell him I’m taking him off my will!” he was saying to her, raging. “Go and tell him! I’m seizing all his accounts! And tell him never to come here for anything ever again!”

I stared back at my father, shaking my head. Really? More ugliness? More worldly focus? He still didn’t get it.

Waseem didn’t care about any of it. He just wanted acceptance and my father wouldn’t relent. All he knew was that he had a different ambition for Waseem, and Waseem had let him down. Waseem chose a different path to world pursuit. He didn’t want to follow in Dad’s footsteps.

And I supposed that was what my father couldn’t understand. Why would anyone not want what he had. His life was awesome…. In his eyes. But, what he failed to see was that it was only temporarily awesome…

My thoughts were interrupted by a sudden break in the ceremonial proceedings. I was forced to focus.

“Do you accept?”

The voice sounded like it was directed at me, but being seated next to Waseem was misleading.

I watched my brother nodding and getting up to say the words that would finalise the contract. I had missed most of the beginning, but I assumed that Bombshell girls’ father had already acceded to the request and now it was time for my brother to give his word.

To make his mark. To show his zeal. To step up to the platform where he could take his Deen to another level.

And of course, nothing would stop him.

Qabiltun Nikahaha.’

And… Like the commentary in my mind had come to a close… With that, the deal was sealed. Contract accepted.

The simple two words attested to the completion of half one’s Deen.

The simplicity of the whole ceremony just got me, at that point. There were no frills or fancies required. No-one had to spend thousands of rands to soup up this affair, because in essence, this was not a function of social benefits. It was a religious fuction that meant so much more than met the eye. What lay ahead, in terms of unity and improving religion was so much more than what any give credit for.

I was taken aback by it for a few seconds, knowing that my brother had actually taken this step. He had said the words, and I could see that he meant them in entirety. He had said the words and changed his life. He had chosen to not just settle, and follow his heart.

I drank it all in. I knew it wasn’t my imagination. The horizon was a little brighter already.

BarakAllah, wa lakuma wa Barakah, wah Jama’a bayna kumaa fee Khair.”

(May Allah bless you two, surround you both with blessings, and bring you both together in whatever is good and prosperous.)

Maulana closed the Nikah off with those words, and left us with a beautiful Du’aa to ponder about. And I wasn’t generally the pondering type.

I mean, I had attended dozens of Nikahs but this one just brought a whole other dimension to the whole union. Not just because it was my brother’s. I was just seeing things so much more differently. It’s beautiful simplicity and basis made it that much more awesome.

It just made me wonder… Why did people complicate life? Why did they have to accessorise it with so much of extravagance when the very ritual was just so intimate and simple, just as it was. In fact, being ignorant, everything I had thought was ‘backwards’ before I had the knowledge of Deen now seemed completely rational and sensible. It was like a whole new doorway opened up for me, shedding light on the obscurities and helping me to see the deeper meaning behind everything in our religion. There was so much of wisdom in it’s teachings, that I couldn’t believe that it didn’t amaze me before.

The thing was, when everything is meant to be simple, why do we complicate matters and make it difficult for ourselves? Even when it came to basic things… Why not just look into Islam and do it the righg way?

Like… Why unnecessarily go to the painful trouble to shave your beard every day when it’s Sunnah to keep it? And why worry about gelling and doing your hair, by adding highlights or all those weird shenanigans, when you know you should cover it up or put on a hat? Why spend hours killing time in front of a mirror deciding on Guess or Armani, when the best brand is the Sunnah one?

And when I looked at my own life and how I wanted that one girl just for me… Why fight for the girl that you’re afraid you’re going to lose, when you know Islam will secure her for you by Nikah? Why make our weddings such a big hoo-haa when our Prophet (SAW) made it known that simplest is best?

It was just so simple… Fundamental. If Islam was taken seriously, there would be little corruption in the Muslim society. It was just sad that so few were favoured with the knowledge to realise it. I wish I had been enlightened sooner, but truly, it was only those whom Allah wished to favour who were given that ability to see this beauty. Because that’s what it was. Pure beauty.

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “When Allah wishes good for someone, He bestows upon him the understanding of Deen.”

And so, I knew it wasn’t just anyone who was able to see this beauty. Allah had guided me in such a way that I was no longer blind to the purity that existed here. My eyes and mind had been awakened to the splendour that had always existed, and now had been given the priviledge to see, first hand.

“I see your bru’s tied the knot,” a voice said from behind. “Modern day Mus’ab’s getting a happy ending.”

I turned around and saw a familiar face approaching. Junaid. I remembered him well now and actually cracked a smile at him, nodding.

Mus’ab? I would have to find out more about that nickname.

And of course, Waseem had had come a long way from when he had first met him. He hadn’t wasted himself completely. That much I knew.

I engaged myself in light conversation with the guy, still pensive. All of it was happening too fast. Waseem, who had been like my right-hand-man for the past few weeks had gotten hitched. Emotions were getting me carried away… And I almost started to laugh at myself.

The Zee was actually starting to tear up!

And it was amazing, because as I watched my bright-eyed brother who looked even more awesome than usual, constantly smiling at everyone who came forward to greet him, a few months ago, I would have never imagined that he would end up up here. That he would come so far, and rise above his past. That he would cut the cord that linked him to his thoughtless sins, unveiling his bright future. I would’ve have never thought that he would make it so far, and prove that he was worthy of a straight life. And there was no doubt about the effect it had…

It gave me hope… Made me hope. For everyone I knew and for myself too. Maybe it wasn’t too late. Maybe everything wasn’t always as clear cut as it seemed. Maybe there was that little pot at the end of the rainbow, even for me. Maybe I too, would find the gold.

Dates were being served and I grabbed one as I lead the way out, waiting for my brothers near the car. I greeted Waseem as they approached, letting him know in the one gesture that everything was probably going to be okay. It had to be.

We jumped into the car, and I saw Mo hand him an envelope, which was probably something of a wedding gift, and the car started. My own heart was racing for my brother, realising the enormity of what he had done.

Happily ever after or not… No-one knew… But I realised that there is an end. In fact, there’s an end to every storm. Once all the trees have been uprooted… Once all the houses have been broken apart.

The wind will hold up. We’ll find some cover.

The clouds will seize. The rain will stop. The sky will eventually clear, and only then, do we learn how strong we were, because we survived it. We rose above the damages, and made it through.

And as the cars all started moving and the day started to close in, we had no choice but to keep on moving forward together. To Waseem’s wife and future.

Right now, there was no going back.