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.”