The Greatest Plan

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem 


There are moments in this temporary world where we get completely lost. We lose ourselves to desires.

Our hearts are swayed, and not only do we form an attachment… but we come to love things as we should only love Him. We make them ours. We take those ‘things’ and inject them into our hearts, until they take over.

It’s not long before we feel that we cannot live without them. Every waking moment is spent in contemplation of them, in submission and worship to them. Every moment we yearn for them.. pine for them… and basically feel lost without them… is proof that we have been duped.

“The mind and the heart that was created by Allah, for Allah, becomes the property of someone or something else. And then the fear comes. The fear of loss begins to cripple us. The gift—that should have remained in our hands—takes over our heart, so the fear of losing it consumes us. Soon, what was once a gift becomes a weapon of torture and a prison of our own making. How can we be freed of this? At times, in His infinite mercy, Allah frees us…by taking it away.
As a result of it being taken, we turn to Allah wholeheartedly. In that desperation and need, we ask, we beg, we pray. Through the loss, we reach a level of sincerity and humility and dependence on Him which we wou
ld otherwise not reach—had it not been taken from us. Through the loss, our hearts turn entirely to face Him.”

Through loss… sometimes we gain so much more.

I packed my last bag as I sat on my bed, knowing that I would miss this room and it’s airy indifference. It had held a special place with me, just as this house did, and I never wanted to lose the memories that I had in it. Mama’s voice calling me softly as the Fajr Adhaan would go still played on my mind. I could never forget the soft embrace I would feel as I slept, and she would whisper a sweet Du’aa in my ear.

Well, those days are over now, a voice inside me said stubbornly, and I breathed in slowly, savouring the crisp Spring air fill my lungs.

I kind of missed Foi Nani’s nagging today. She had come down with a virus, and her voice was almost non-existent. I told her it would be best if she rested. Packing wasn’t difficult for me.

Everything had gone so fast. I never imagined it would be like this, but circumstances were such that it had to be. The arrangements were done in record time and the  Nikah was going to be quick and simple. There was to be no huge reception or merry functions. I didn’t want to make this a big deal right now. Without Abba here, how could I ever  think of celebrating like that? This was all so we could have him back with us.

I tried not to think of my siblings as I pulled my suitcase down the stairs. Although their stares haunted me, it was Khawlah’s words that had pierced my already tainted soul. She had a way of making me feel even worse than I ever had.

“I can’t believe you!” She had shouted at me, her dark eyes flashing angrily. Her curls were bouncing around as she spoke, as if they had a life of their own. I had never seen my sister so angry.

“For money! It’s like you are selling yourself,” she spat, blinking furiously at my silence.

I couldn’t believe my twelve-year-old sister actually knew things like that. I widened my eyes at her.

“Shut up!” I said to her, blinking back the tears that were on the verge of escaping.

She had crossed the line. She had gone too far and she knew it.

“You don’t know what it’s like,” I said, wanting to shake her up.

Didn’t she understand? Abba needed our help. Being the eldest made me feel responsible for the entire household.

She looked like she was a bit calmer now. I could practically see the fury draining from her face. She was looking a little more like Khawlah now.

“Everything will fall into place,” she said now. “Abba will come home.”

I looked at her, slightly startled.

“How do you know?”

Khawlah’s fierce eyes met mine, and she nodded.

“Allah will take care of it, Zulz,” she said with so much of confidence in her own words that I was blown away. “He alone is on charge of the entire world. If only we knew… We just need to put all our faith in Him.”

As she said it, I could feel the hope in her voice shining through. She had so much of conviction in her words that I felt like I was completely lost.

How? I wasn’t sure how my sister had gotten this kind of faith… but just her mere disposition was a wake up call for me and made me reflect.

Maybe she was right… but what if she wasn’t?

In my own mind, I couldn’t stop the nagging feeling of ‘what if’. What if it just doesn’t happen? What if I just didn’t have enough faith or patience to get through it on my own. I wasn’t strong like Khawlah.

“He’s changed,” was all I could say, because at this point, I couldn’t go back. I couldn’t even admit to her that I had been weak. How did I explain to my sister that everything I had repeated of Mama’s sentiments… I myself was not able to withstand.

He had changed, I convinced myself. When he phoned for the proposal a few weeks back, he sounded so different. So mature. Not like the spontaneous and irresponsible guy I had known back then. And no, he wasn’t perfect. He never would be. But I was willing to give it a chance.

Bedsides, he was willing to do whatever it takes to get Abba back. I knew what it looked like. It sounded horrible too, but I was relying on him tremendously.

Khawlah just shook her head at me, and I could see the sheer disappointment in her eyes. She didn’t want to talk about it anymore. The topic was closed. All I saw  was her back as she made her way up to her room, probably to drown her sorrows in her books again.

I knew this was hard for her. It wasn’t easy for me. But what other option did I have? We tried everything, and Abba was still not back home. We couldn’t give them what they wanted to get him back. What if they killed him? I didn’t want to even think about that.

I sunk into the orange couch on the entrance hall, sighing deeply as I reflected over the events of the week. Too much had happened. I felt as if I needed time to just slow down a little bit so I could breathe normally again.

The shrill ring of the phone caught me off-guard and I picked it up, without even giving it any thought. My voice sounded tired and my nerves were shattered.

“Hello,” I said, sounding as dull as the dreary weather outside. I could see the grey clouds creeping through the window and the sky was beginning to darken as I watched. It looked like rain was due at any time,

“Hey babe.”

I paused momentarily as I processed. I immediately sat up in the couch, alert and fully conscious now. It was Jameel. I wasn’t sure why but he insisted on calling me that. Some girls liked those kind of names, but it kind of irked me.

“Jameel, why are you phoning here?” I asked, moving the phone away from my ear to make sure that I was speaking on the house phone.

“Because you wouldn’t answer if I called on your cell,” he replied, matter-of-fact.

He was right. I wouldn’t have. I didn’t want to speak to him before the Nikah. It was just a few days now anyway.

“You know why,” I said, holding the phone between my shoulder and ear so I could hear better. ”You’ll get tired of me before we even get married! We have enough time…”

”I won’t ever get tired of you,” he said sweetly.

My tummy did a small flip, but I ignored the warning. I mean, who didn’t like to hear nice things about themselves? Who didn’t like a guy to throw them up?

“Really?” I prompted him, taking the receiver and moving into the lounge where I wasn’t so audible.

“You’re amazing,” he continued in his smooth voice. “Not to mention… so gorgeous…”

”Hmmm,” I said, enjoying every bit of it.

I knew I was being self-centered. I knew I was being stupid. I also knew it was wrong.

I just needed that convincing. After Khawlah’s little session, I wanted to prove to her that he was good. And of course, to me, he was proving himself very well. I didn’t realize that my younger sister had a better version of good than I did.

“Okay, I have to go now,” I suddenly said to him, cutting him short after getting what I needed out of him and not wanting to listen to his small talk.

Also, I spotted Khawlah enter the lounge from the corner of my eye, and I didn’t want her to overhear my conversation. I could see from her questioning gaze that it was probably too late.

“Who was that?”

Her voice was neutral and I could see that she had calmed down from earlier.

“No-one,” I lied, not wanting to hear more outbursts from my sister.

“You know boys and girls aren’t supposed to be friends,” she said, raising her eyebrows at me.

I narrowed my eyes slightly, wondering where this goodie-two-shoes sister of mine had come from.

It was easier for her to talk. She was only twelve. Marriage was a notion so far off for her. All she had to worry about was school.

“Says who?” I challenged her.

Since when was she allowed to lecture me? 

I didn’t want to admit it, but a little bit of arrogance had crept in. All that I knew in my demented opinion was that I was marrying the guy.  What was the harm?

I didn’t know that the mere thought that I was still doing something okay was itself a danger. The thing was, when anyone engages in sin, at first there’s a flicker of doubt that appears on your mind… and this flicker is a warning. It serves to inform you, trying to alert you that something is not right. When you persist, with no regard for it, the reminder eventually goes away. The part of me inclining to do good was dwindling away, and at that moment I had no conscience whatsoever.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, when the servant commits a sin a black spot appears upon his heart. If he abandons the sin, seeks forgiveness, and repents, then his heart will be polished. If he returns to the sin, the blackness will be increased until it overcomes his heart. It is the covering that Allah has mentioned: No, but on their hearts is a covering because of what they have earned.” (83:14)

Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 

Khawlah just looked at me, and I couldn’t tell if she was more disappointed or more annoyed. I shrugged at her, putting on a indifferent face, and climbed back up the stairs to finish zip up my bags.

She didn’t have to be so uptight about everything. She didn’t have to make me feel so guilty.

Things were going to get better. There was a lot to look forward to… she would see.

The way I saw it, it was going to be amazing. I would get married. Jameel would help us with the money we needed for Abba. Foi Nani will get well again and get back to normal.

What I didn’t know was that there was a greater plan in place. In my childish ignorance, I didn’t know that our plan was not always the final plan.

To Khawlah, it seemed like she had lost everything. To me, everything had been found.

For us all, we didn’t know it yet, but there was a master plan in place… a plan that we would watch unfold, piece by piece… a plan that was carefully designed by none other than…

The Greatest Planner of all.

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