Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem
“You have to be kidding me,” I said, widening my eyes at Zaynah as she told me, in her slightly random way, about a the neighbor who visited her yesterday. Apparently this lady had seen me a few weeks ago and thought I was hunting for a guy. There was nothing further than the truth. I mean, c’mon. I was still a teenager.
“Nope,” she said blandly in true Zaynah style, raising her eyebrows at me. “I’m absolutely serious.”
Zakiyya was smiling as she bounced baby Safeeyah up and down on her lap, attempting to keep her quieter amidst our chatter. She was the cutest little thing at this age, and I honestly wanted to bite her cheeks every time I saw her. Just right now, the conversation was starting to get interesting.
“But marriage?! I don’t look that old,” I argued, glancing at myself in the mirror as I spoke, wondering if maybe I was wrong about my own appearance.
As my adolescence withered away, so did the baby-ness of my face, and I definitely noticed a difference in my previously child-like features. I just didn’t think I looked like the age that was ready to be married yet. With farm people, I supposed, it didn’t matter.
“She has two sons,” Zaynah said, trying to keep a straight face but not doing it very well. “You can take your pick. The one is becoming an Aalim…”
I knew Zaynah would love that to happen.
I raised my eyebrows at her, wondering if the medication was getting to her. Firstly, I wasn’t ready to be married… and secondly, the likes of an Aalim didn’t suit me. I wasn’t even remotely pious.
“Please,” I said, retying my scarf as I sat down and faced her. “Don’t marry me off as yet. I still want to enjoy my freedom.”
“She means her laziness,” a voice piped up, and I turned to see Raees and my mother coming in through the door.
Zaynah quickly pulled on her Niqab, kind of disoriented by his appearance.
I didn’t blame her. The guy had no etiquette. He shouldn’t just barge in where he wasn’t welcome.
I rolled my eyes at Raees while he set down some things on the table for my mother, apologizing to Zaynah for intruding. He didn’t look at me or Zakiyya. I swear my brother was probably obsessed with my cousin. Thank goodness he left quickly.
“I brought some of your things that were at the house,” Mummy said, looking at Zaynah sympathetically. “Let me know if you want us to help you go through them.”
Even though I couldn’t see Zaynah’s expression, I could practically feel her flinching, as if she had been physically hurt. Any mention of her past or dealing with it made her snap into a different and erratic form of herself that few of us were familiar with. Zakiyya was eyeing her out to watch for giveaways, as Zaynah purses her lips and said nothing.
“Where is he?” She asked, almost as if she was afraid of the answer.
I honestly wanted to roll my eyes at my cousin and tell her to stop being so difficult, but I knew that she would probably get offended. She had been so sensitive and grumpy, that I think even Zakiyya was afraid to tell her what she needed to hear.
“He’s not here, Zaynah,” Zakiyya said, a little sternly. “But if he was, what is the big deal? You are married to him. You guys were crazy about each other. Why can’t you just let it go and accept what happened?”
“I’m not who I used to be,” Zaynah argued, and I could see her bottom lip trembling.
She was right about that. Besides being highly sensitive, she was also the prone to her usual outbursts.
Now, I was about to reach for the stash under the bed that Waseem kept bringing for his wife, but I could tell that Zakiyya needed to finish what she wanted to say.
“I know you weren’t well, but it’s time to accept it!” She exclaimed, shaking her head. “It’s been a few months now, and I can’t deal with not having my sister the way she used to be. I know you aren’t yourself… but life happens, Zay. Mummy was sick. Abbi left us too. You got married. I had a baby. These things happen. It’s all part of life.”
I widened my eyes slightly, a little shocked at Zakiyya’s bluntness.
Okay, maybe I was just too used to Zakiyya being the more reserved one, and Zaynah having frantic outbursts, that I hadn’t realized that I actually missed the part where it all changed. She was right in a way. Zaynah needed to accept reality and start living life again. Memories of the fun times we shared at the Pretoria house replayed in my mind as I remembered Zaynah giggling at something funny I had done, or how worked up she would get when I used to spy on the rich neighbors. I really missed those days.
I was so engrossed in my nostalgic thoughts that I barely noticed that Zaynah had actually gotten out of bed, and was rummaging in the bottom drawer next to her. It had been a long recovery for her but she was finally now mobile and getting back to her former shape and energy. Obviously, her beauty had never left her completely, but now that her cheeks were filling up a little, she was back to being my awesomely gorgeous cousin. I just wasn’t sure what she was up to right now.
I looked at Zakiyya strangely, trying to figure out what was happening. Zakiyya shrugged, looking just as confused as I was.
“Zaynah,” she said carefully, maybe feeling a bit bad about her previous outburst and thinking it had caused some brain defaults. “What are you doing?”
Zaynah finally turned to look at us, obvious panic in her eyes.
“I’m looking for that letter!” She exclaimed, biting her lip nervously and turning back to the drawer.
“What letter?” I asked, really curious.
“The one I wrote to Waseem,” she said, as if we were supposed to know these things. She contined in a smaller voice. “Mamoo had come to talk to me about my marriage and it made me think. I wasn’t sure what else I wrote, but I do remember that I was convinced that we wouldn’t work out…”
She trailed off and continued searching, as Zakiyya looked at me and frowned, obviously upset about what Zaynah had said. I thought she would get over it and shrug it off as she placed sleeping baby Safeeyah on the bed, but as she looked up again, I could see her clenching her jaw hazardly, almost as if it was locked.
It was one of the few signs that Zakiyya was angry, and since it didn’t happen often, I knew it when I saw it. Zakiyya was undeniably, frightening, when she became like this.
“How could you?!” she suddenly spat, not only startling me, but also the searching Zaynah as she literally turned over her drawers in the room.
Zaynah looked back at her sister, wide-eyed, as if unsure of what to say. Well, I would have been too.
“Don’t you know what a sacred union Nikah is?!” She asked, obviously appalled. “Don’t you know that your husband would do anything for you? That he sat there every single day while you were unconscious, just waiting for some sign that you will be okay? Don’t you think you’re just being selfish?!”
“I…” Zaynah started saying, but Zakiyya was already at it. Her voice was getting louder, and I worried that she would wake up the baby.
“Do you think that you really should be the one to initiate of the most disliked things to Allah Ta’ala?” She asked now, looking slightly calmer, but a little defeated. “How can you take it so lightly?”
She shook her head now and sat down, looking tired after her outburst. She was right, of course. The poor guy doted on his wife relentlessly, and she just wanted to throw him away. Besides the fact that I thought she was crazy for wanting to let him go, I knew that he would probably be completely broken if he knew. The question was, did he? And what on earth happened to the evasive ‘letter’?
Goodness. This was such a mess.
The guy may not have been what Zaynah had always pictured for herself, but he had really turned out to be one of the most amazing husbands I had heard of. The way that Zaynah would talk about him reminded me so much of the Sunnah, and I couldn’t believe that she was talking about the same person who had come from such a rich and spoilt background. He went out of his way to do whatever he could for her, and never forgot that extra touch in even the simplest of gestures.
The thing with us is that we consider Romeo to be romantic but not our beloved Nabi (SAW). Honestly, when Zaynah had told me, I really found that he was the most romantic person to walk this Earth. I mean, taking a sip from the exact same spot as his beloved wife… that is one of the most loving acts that I had heard of.
And I knew Nikah was special. And the simple gestures from just opening a door or silly compliments between spouses was something that made me wait for it. And of course, what made me realize how beautiful Sunnah was, was the day when I almost barged in at the hospital when I glanced Waseem actually combing Zaynah’s hair while she lay in a coma, completely unaware of how much of care he took in looking after her.
Honestly, it was something that caught me completely off-guard as it so aptly reminded me of the Hadith in which the beloved wife of Nabi SAW would wash and comb his hair. And I’m sure that Waseem did much more than what I saw for Zaynah, but I quickly turned back as I walked out again, not wanting to intrude.
“I just wanted to let it all out,” Zaynah finally cut through my thoughts, her voice small as she slumped on the chair and removed her head gear. “It wasn’t meant for him to see. Mamoo said Raees had told him some stuff about Waseem and his past, and I couldn’t-”
“Raees?” Zakiyya said, looking angry again. “You believe him?! Riyaad says he is looking to make trouble. You do know that he probably thinks that with Waseem out of the picture, he’ll get his chance once again?”
It took me a bit while to process the words, until the meaning eventually hit me.
“What?!” I couldn’t help but interrupt the conversation at this huge revelation. I mean, Raees always had a hidden agenda, but this was something new.
What on earth was Zakiyya talking about?
My brother? Raees?!
“Oh gosh!” Zakiyya muttered, looking at me and covering her mouth as if she had let out the hugest secret ever.
I mean, it definitely was huge. I just didn’t know how huge till now. Raees and his secrecy. Always wanting to be here. Sending weird things for Zaynah. A lot of things now seemed to fall into place.
I felt a bit sick. I mean… I knew cousins could marry, but the way he was doing this was just so wrong. Zaynah was married. She and Waseem had to somehow be together again.
I shook my head, now slightly speechless. The silence in the room was slightly unnerving, and just as I had the courage to open my mouth, a knock on the room door got us all in a slight panic as we wondered who it was.
“Zaynah,” called my mother as she peeped in, looking like she was uncertain about something. “Are you’ll busy?”
Zaynah looked up and shook her head, while I straightened out my abaya as I got up, realizing there might be someone here.
“You have some visitors,” she said, looking a little worried, but trying to seem positive. “Would you like to come to the lounge? Your in-laws are here.”
Don’t forget our Super Sunnahs!
Eating a piece of food that falls on the floor. If a piece of food falls on the floor, then the person eating should remove any dirt that gets onto it and eat it; because he does not know where the blessing is in his food. It may be in the piece that fell, and leaving it makes a person miss out on the blessing of the food.
Anas ibn Maalik narrated that when Nabi (SAW) ate, he would lick his three fingers. Anas said: “And he said, ‘If any one of you drops a piece of food, let him remove any dirt from it and eat it, and not leave it for the Shaytaan.’ And he commanded us to clean the plate, and said, ‘For you do not know where in your food the blessing is.’” (Narrated by Muslim, 2034).
There are many bodily benefits to all Sunnah as well. Let’s try and practise regularly!
We will be doing more eating and drinking Sunnahs Insha Allah.