Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem
A simple sacrifice can be all it takes to make someone happy. Sometimes the smallest actions hold the most weight, and sometimes the easiest things leave the most impact.
But sometimes… Sometimes, it takes something big to make a dent. Something huge to see the rewards. Most things in life are not all perfectly placed for us to just pick and present.
Sometimes, we have to see for ourselves. We have to make our own mistakes. We have to learn our own lessons.
It’s all a journey, that we have to endure.
Lessons about the nature of love, this world, people, and one’s own heart, can pave this often painful path. But most of all, this path can bring lessons that take us back to our Creator.
And while everyone was busy with their own pathways, learning their own lessons, we sometimes forget the struggles of the people around us.
As I was dealing with my own battles that I would have to face, I didn’t notice Aasiya’s sullen expression as she would dash in and out of the hospital for updates on my father-in-law, and neither did I notice that she would always come alone. I barely even put Muhammed’s abruptness down to the fact that maybe everything in their household wasn’t as peachy as I had always thought. I even didn’t know that he was going through a rough patch as he dealt with Aasiya’s infertility revelation that she had kept from him all this time.
And when it came to my youngest brother-in-law, I didn’t acknowledge how disconnected him and his wife were, all this time, even though they were still literally on honeymoon.
And though she had confided in me to tell me about the dreaded rumours that had potentially ended her marriage on the first night, I didn’t respond. I mean, even I partly believed that she was lying to Ziyaad about how far pregnant along she was, to trick him into thinking that he was the father. It turned out that another ‘ex-girlfriend’ of Ziyaad’s was trying to cause some serious rifting between the two, as a means of getting back at him. It honestly made me sick to think that people could actually go to such extreme measures, and stoop so low.
And of course, there was no way that I could have guessed that beyond the obvious problems, there were some control issues that could potentially affect our entire family.
I couldn’t see it, because, of course, I had my own concerns to keep me focussed.
My mother-in-law had been discharged, and in the process of trying to make sure she was okay and adjust to the new move that Waseem wanted to make, I was somewhat occupied. Sometimes when your life is too busy, you can’t help but be just a little bit selfish.
“You don’t have to, if you’re not ready,” Waseem was now saying to me, as we stood outside the ICU ward door, his eyes mercilessly scrutinising my expression.
I didn’t look at him.
I was trying to be cool. I was trying to be strong. But if only Waseem know how much I was dreading this, I knew he probably whip out his standby packet of Jelly Tots and keep it in hand.
But I knew it had to done, and I couldn’t be standing there and chewing the extra sugary sweets the first time I meet my father-in-law. It had to be over with, so that I could move past all these insecurities that brewed inside me, constantly reminding me that I wasn’t good enough. I had to meet Waseem’s father, and conquer whatever it was that had poisoned my mind into thinking I could never be worth his son.
I just wished that the circumstances were different. That he wasn’t in such a vulnerable position, where he would feel compelled to just… Accept me.
I wanted him to actually like me, so I knew that I would be able to live in the same house as the man who never even gave me a chance.
Waseem turned to me, reaching for my hand. He clasped it tightly in both of his, looking at me seriously. It was like he knew exactly what I was thinking.
“You don’t have to do anything if you’re not happy, love,” he said softly. “I will do what I need to. You don’t have to compromise.”
He looked down at me carefully, and I shifted under his scrutiny, looking away.
I shook my head at him. He knew what I was like.
I wasn’t that kind of wife that would give up at the slightest of bumps that we faced. I would try. I would try really hard to make everyone happy, because I knew Waseem would do the same for me.
“I’m all in,” I said, looking up at him now, squeezing his hand back. “Not halfway. You know I’ll do whatever it takes.”
I never thought that I, of all people, would ever say that and be prepared to sacrifice everything to make this work, but if making my husband happy meant compromising a little bit of my privacy and giving a little bit of time for my in-laws, why not?
He had assured me that the move didn’t have to be permanent if I was uncomfortable, and I trusted that he would do what it takes to keep me happy. He just wanted to make sure that his parents were okay with the new adjustment his father had to make, and Waseem needed to be there to ensure it.
He smiled his amazing smile, and I immedietly felt all warm and fuzzy inside. It had the same effect as my favourite sugar doses. I mean, who needed jelly babies when Waseem was around? I think I was on my way to finding a cure.
“That’s why I love you,” he said quietly, moving forward, and pulling me behind him.
He pushed the door open and I followed him towards one of the beds, my heart literally thudding in my chest. Waseem squeezed my hand one last time and let go before the person in question came into view.
I could still hear my heart palpitating, amidst the noisy room. I wanted to see his father, but the only problem was, I couldn’t set my eyes on him, because my eyes were still fixated on the grey hospital tiles.
“Zaynah,” Waseem whispered, and I could feel his hand gripped around my arm.
I looked up at him, and then glanced at the bed, almost scared to look at his father’s face.
And then, of course, I had to, because he spoke.
“Waseem,” he said, sounding a bit groggy and disorientated. His father’s brain activity was okay, according to the doctors. It was just that there were no guarantees because of the gunshot wound that extended to part of his spine.
I looked at him carefully. Since I was seeing him for first time ever, I was kind of shocked that this man was the one who had been the main obstacle in my marriage.
Maybe it was the days in hospital that he had been knocked out, but he barely looked like the dominating type that I had imagined him to be. He looked like he was tall, just like Waseem, and the resemblance between them was uncanny. I could see Waseem’s resilience in his expression. My father-in-law’s face, however, was much harder and serious, and I could only assume that it must have happened over all the years that he had spent in business. His eyes were half closed. I wondered if he had said Waseem’s name in his sleep.
And then, Waseem stepped forward, greeting softly to rouse him properly and offer the anticipated introduction.
“This is my wife, Dad,” he said boldly, stepping back again and gesturing to me as his father opened his eyes and looked around.
I sucked in my breath, overwhelmed by fear, not even able to offer a greeting. The words seemed to be stuck somewhere between my oesophagus and throat, not even daring to make their way out.
Awkward. This was by far, the most awkward and uncomfortable few moments ever. I was still standing timidly behind Waseem, not sure what to say. His father’s gaze shifted, and he focussed on me for a few seconds.
It was like a staring competition I would often play with Zakiyya when we were kids. Only much more formal.
He looked at me, and I looked back at him. I wanted to say something… To sympathise… To comfort… But I couldn’t seem to gain the courage. And just when I thought I could, my heart plummeted in my chest as he shook his head at me, and then, finally, he looked away.
I was shocked to the core. Every hope that I had, just fell flat on it’s face.
I blinked back the tears furiously.
I was angry. Upset. I expected him to say something… Anything… But all he did was turn his face away.
I honestly wanted to scream with frustration at this obvious insult, but I clenched my jaw, tightening my fingers around my wrist, keeping every turbulent emotion within.
Be strong, I said to myself. You have to be strong.
All this while I had fought it, remembering everything that Abbi had said, what Waseem had confided in me, and how unworthy this man had made us feel. And now… Instead of at least offering some recompense for it all, all that was left was more bitterness. More ugliness. More contempt.
I knew that I was visibly distraught, but I couldn’t even hide it for the sake of Waseem.
The tears were already escaping my eyes as I turned to leave, but Waseem’s firm hands held me tightly around my shoulders, until I was forced to look at him. He held my face in his hands, brushing away the tears with his fingers.
“Look, sweets,” he said, swallowing hard. I could see he was thinking of a way to get me to stay, but I wasn’t sure how he was going to do it.
I knew I just needed to get out of here, before I broke down completely.
And just as I was about to head out, a murmur from behind us forced us both to turn and look.
I sucked in my breath at what I saw, realising instantly that it wasn’t what I had thought all along. Sometimes, jumping to the worst conclusion isn’t always the best option. Sometimes, we had to look a little beyond the expected, to see what was buried beneath.
I had got it completely wrong.
Waseem’s father had turned away, but this time, it wasn’t what I thought. It wasn’t arrogance, in the humbling state that I was seeing him in. It wasn’t his displeasure that made him upset.
The two streaks on his face glistened in the fluorescent light, and I was immediately overwhelmed by the sheer emotion that he was obviously displaying. He looked at Waseem, reaching out his hand, still unable to talk, as fresh tears rolled down his face.
He shook his head and swallowed, opening his mouth. He needed to say something, but at this crucial time, he couldn’t seem to get the words out.
Regret. Remorse. Resolve.
Finally, I realised what it was, without him even saying it. I didn’t expect it, but the very knowledge of what was happening completely blew me away.
I remembered the words I had told Waseem so clearly, that the reality shook my world.
“… Don’t give up on anyone. He must have something in him if he raised a son to be like you.”
And it was exactly what I expected. It was the building of the path, back to his Creator. With the building of Sabr, building of character and, of course, the building of forgiveness, Allah was using this as a means. It was going to be the ultimate sign that would prove how a change in one heart can affect every single heart around him.
Every experience that had made him hard and turn away, was now being turned around for him to be brought back to Allah.
“How wonderful is the case of a Believer! There is good for him in whatever happens to him -and none, apart from him, enjoys this blessing. If he receives some bounty, he is grateful to Allah and this bounty brings good to him. And if some adversity befalls him, he is patient, and this affliction, too, brings good to him” (Hadith: Muslim).
And that’s exactly how Allah calls us back, by first meeting our desires, by appealing to us and calling, expecting our willing response. And if that fails, the next stage is the disciplinary punishment, and the perfect response should be to repent. To return to Him, through our repentance.
Because through every test and tribulation, and over every obstacle and hurdle, He alters and transforms us, to become something better than what we are. Just like coal is exposed mercilessly to pressure and heat until it transforms into that beautiful and sparkly diamond, we too, are subjected to something more severe to mature us into our best possible form. We too, in the same way, are put through adversity, to emerge as something that is eventually worthy of the Jannah that we all want. To exceed the expectation that we had all this time, and help us to reach the true home for the purified…
The Paradise where we truly belong.
For our next Super Sunnah, I’ve chose one that affects us all, especially in this day and age of technology. We often find ourselves in situations where we sit and talk about things that do not concern us. We waste precious minutes, even hours, just by talking about matters that will not increase us in knowledge, character or anything for that matter.
The Prophet said:
“He who believes in Allah and the Hereafter, if he witnesses any matter he should talk in good terms about it or keep quiet.” [Muslim]