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.