Burning

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Khawlah

“My beautiful Khawlah,” the voice was steady and boisterous, and as I looked up, I immediately found comfort in her glistening eyes and familiar expression. She was looking at me like I was a long lost child.

“How I’ve missed you!”

I blinked back my own tears, allowing Aunty Radiyyah to come closer and engulf me in her consuming embrace. She was one of those people who just made you feel like you were home. For me, as I breathed her in and let the childhood memories sweep through my mind… I was home. Finally.

“Are you well, my darling?” She asked as she stepped back, pulling me with her as she strolled through the garden. It was such a beautiful sight, and the dimensions of flowers that lay there was breathtaking. It was like an array of happiness that was presented before us, almost inviting us to marvel in its splendor.

“The garden has grown,” I said blandly, not wanting to give away how surprised I was. I didn’t want her to think that i expected everything to be shrivelled and half dead.

You have grown,” Aunty Radiyyah said, and she paused to look at me, her gaze proud and content. “And you look so different. Gorgeous. You kids are growing so fast. Too fast.”

I swallowed, wanting to ask her about Khalid but not wanting to step over the invisible line. She hadn’t mentioned him and I didn’t want to be the first.

“The garden, you were saying?” She asked, backtracking to our previous topic I remembered this habit she had. Starting something and then coming back to it later. It was truly her bubbly personality… basically all over the place. Big and fleeting. I loved it.

“I don’t remember it being so…”

I paused as I thought of a better word.

“Vivid.”

Aunty Radiyyah looked at me, her eyes shining with laughter. And then, she threw her head back and let out an enormous chuckle. It was an infectious laugh that made me want to giggle too. Khalid used to laugh like that too.

“Such big words, sweety!” she said, giving me a wink. “I can’t believe how big you have gone. How is your brother? I heard your father has been in some trouble, is he okay?”

I blinked in slight confusion, wondering what she had heard. We didn’t even know where my father was.

I spoke in soft words as I explained to Aunty Radiyyah what was going on. It was obvious that she had heard the wrong thing. She didn’t understand the severity of the situation.

Her eyes widened in shock as I let her in on the latest news, and I could see her eyes fill with tears.

Without any warning, her warm embrace engulfed me again, this time with a deeper understanding, and I could feel my shoulder bones sink into her fleshy arms with the ferocity. She didn’t say anything, but it was okay. Sometimes words were just words. Sometimes you just needed to know that someone is there for you.

I swallowed hard as she stepped back, opening the swing door of the back verandah, and the familiar kitchen that I had spent hours in as a little girl faced me once again.

“Cuppa?” She said, and she switched the kettle on and hummed to herself as she got the tea stuff out. Her kitchen had the kind of feel that just made you want to put your heart out.

We chatted about various things as we sat and sipped on weak cardamom tea and dipped in the custard cream biscuits that I remembered from back in the day.

What beautiful memories.

“I’m sure you miss your Mama,” Aunty Radiyyah said after a long pause, and I nodded a small nod, because I didn’t trust myself to say anything else.

Mama. She seemed so far away. If only I could still remember her voice. I had been trying… for a few months now, but the sweetness of her voice completely evaded me.

I held back my tears as I sipped the tea, listening to Aunty Radiyyah.

“She’ll be so proud of you, you know,” she was saying.

I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. Proud of me? For what?

I had done nothing great. I was just me.

“She always said,” she continued. “‘Radiyyah, my Khawlah, you have no idea. She’s fierce. Like a storm in summer.’”

I smiled through my stinging eyes, half wishing she would stop, and also hoping she wouldn’t. Hearing about Mama was a painful comfort. I could almost imagine her saying it.

“‘But I’m scared she’s not going to like what life is like out there.’”

I looked up at Aunty Radiyyah’s flushed face, surprised. She was nodding. Did Mama really say that?

“But look at you, my darling,” she said now, shaking her head at me in awe. “You have exceeded your Mama’s expectations. You’re brave. You’re beautiful. And best of all, angel, you have Allāh in your heart. When you have Him in your heart, my girl… you can never go wrong. Never.”

And then she told me the most beautiful and comforting narration .

Nabi ‘Isa (‘alaihis salaam) was once proceeding to a certain place for some task when he passed by a grave. On looking at the grave, Allah Ta‘ala showed him that angels of punishment were torturing the inmate of the grave.

Sometime later, when Nabi ‘Isa (‘alaihis salaam) had completed his task and was returning, he again passed by the grave. However, Allah Ta‘ala now showed him that instead of angels of punishment, there were angels of mercy at the grave, bearing platters of divine radiance!

Nabi ‘Isa (‘alaihis salaam) was surprised at this sudden change in condition. He thus performed salaah and engaged in du‘aa, begging Allah Ta‘ala to reveal to him what had caused the punishment of the inmate to cease and be replaced with His special mercy.

Allah Ta‘ala sent revelation to Nabi ‘Isa (‘alaihis salaam) informing him thus:

O ‘Isa (‘alaihis salaam)! This servant led a life of disobedience and sin, and he has thus been engulfed in punishment from the time he passed away. However, when he passed away, he left a wife who was expecting a child. After the child was born, she raised him and saw to his upbringing until he grew into a young boy. She then made him over to the maktab (elementary madrasah) teachers. After entering the madrasah, the teacher made the child recite “Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem”. I thus felt ashamed to punish my servant with fire within the earth while his son is taking My name above the earth.

(At-Tafseerul Kabeer vol. 1, pg. 143)

SubhaanAllah. How amazing was it that just the recitation of Allah’s name after the death of his parent can be a salvation. Imagine any other act of worship?

One of the greatest investments for any parent is a pious child. Because parents are the means of the child entering the world, they have a share in all his good works and righteous deeds and are rewarded accordingly. I hoped that Aunty Radiyyah was right. I hoped that I was  the kind of child that would make Mama happy, even now.

I sighed as we talked about other things, like Zuleikha, but tried to stay away from topics like Abba. I didn’t ask about Khalid and she didn’t offer any information. As far as I could see, the door to Khalid was closed, and there was no intention of it being open. I left the familiar house through the back door, feeling like a heavy weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I felt as light as a feather as I walked back home,knowing and now fully believing that Allah is in charge of whatever was to happen. There was no need to be despondent… there was most definitely a plan in place.

Zuleikha looked at me as I walked in, and I could see the hesitancy in her expression. We had had a fight earlier on. I didn’t like what she was doing. I felt like had this burning desire to make everything okay. I wanted her to see that it wasn’t her duty. We weren’t seeing eye to eye.

And now, as she thought about earlier, she didn’t know how to approach me. She wasn’t sure what to say. I hated the uneasiness, so I went up to her, looked her in the eye, and let her know.

“Your choices are your choices. I love you, and I want you to do what’s best for you. If you truly know in your heart that this marriage will be good for you, then I will accept it, and support you.”

She looked at me, completely shocked. I sounded so grown up. I’m sure that she thought so too. I climbed up the stairs two at a time, leaving her waiting a little dumbfounded  at the bottom of the stairs.

The next few days were sort of a crazy rush. To me, Zuleikha was confused. She knew that she wanted to be simple ceremony and a quick Nikah. She knew what the right thing was. But she liked the attention too. She enjoyed being a bride and she didn’t want to feel robbed off her special moment. She just didn’t want to be selfish and make it about her, especially when Abba wasn’t here.

“Foi Nani!”

Zuleikha was shouting from my parent’s room where she was getting ready. She sounded like she was out of breath.

Foi Nani was still in her room. She hadn’t come out from the morning. She still wasn’t fully recovered but she had to help with Zuleikha’s preparations.

“I can’t find the scarf,” she was saying, emerging from the room in a rush. Her face was made up, by herself of course, and I was a little taken aback as I saw her in a lightly coloured beautiful silken skirt with a lacy top.

“Maybe it fell off the hanger,” Foi Nani was saying, sounding annoyed. She knew it was there because she had put it there herself.

“Oh, yes,” Zuleikha said as she dashed off, her skirt flowing as she spun around. She had subtle beading around the edges and I caught a glimpse of her pretty jelly pump that glittered from beneath.

I smiled a sad smile as I saw my sister rush to the room, knowing that this would probably be the last day she would dress at home. A certain loneliness entered my heart, and the familiarity of it almost stifled me. I wanted to push it away, but it tugged at my heart strings, making me weepy all over again.

And then, as the house filled with joy and quiet anticipation for the event that lay ahead, the somberness faded and excitement overtook. Even Ahmed and Yunus seemed elated and eager, and I held my heartache back as I watched my three siblings.

What sweet memories… they were fleeing so fast too. I felt like I wanted to hold onto them a little longer… but time wouldn’t wait. Time wanted to run along. Wanted everyone to grow up too fast.

I didn’t want these moments to end. I didn’t want our childhood to be taken away. We had been through so much… seen too much. In life and death. In our childish shrieks, and our heartfelt cries. In the soft strokes of the old passage clock, the time had gone so fast. We had gained some, we had lost some. People had come into our lives, and just as suddenly, they had left. The only thing we knew all this time was each other… .

My heart almost seized in my chest as a rapping on the door caught us off guard. We weren’t expecting anyone now. It was already the eleventh hour.

Ahmed and I exchanged looks as we pulled open the door and caught sight of the visitor.

Outside, was a blast from the past that we never expected, and although she wore a helpless hope and a sorry smile…. the four little people that she had once knew were not so little anymore. Some things were not easy to forget. Some things haunted you, even when you were asleep.

It was in the heat of the battle when there was a knight who swiftly broke through the Roman ranks as an arrow. Khalid (RA) and the others followed him and joined the battle, while the leader wondered in awe about the identity of the unknown knight.

It was reported that Rafe’ Bin Omeirah Al Taei was one of the fighters. He described how that knight scattered the enemy ranks, disappeared in their midst, and then finally re-emerges after a while with blood dripping from his spear. He swerved again and repeated the deed fearlessly, several times. The watched with bated breath. All the Muslim army was worried about him and prayed for his safety. Rafe’ and others thought that he was Khalid (RA), who had won great fame for his bravery and genius military plans. But, to their great surprise and confusion, suddenly Khalid (RA) appeared from elsewhere with a number of knights. It is reported that Rafe’ asked the leader: “Who is that knight? By Allah, he has no regard for his safety!”

It was a great mystery for all. The Knight was not yet ready to be revealed. He fought on valiantly. The identity of the great and skilled warrior was to be kept a secret.

But not for long… for such ferocity could not remain unnoticed. 

As ‘he’ was asked, the master of the battle fields lowered his head, and replied in a feminine voice: “My prince, I did not answer because I am shy. You are a great leader, and I am just a woman who has a burning heart.”

Burning. Burning.

We were all still burning. There was no other way to comprehend the feeling.

She had lit the fire once before… but this time, the warrior within us would shine through…

And as for the flame within… it’s light would continue.

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “Burning

  1. Assalaamu ‘alaykum.
    Sister, I just love your writing! SubhaanAllah!!! It’s always so touching and inspirational! May Allah allow you to continue conveying His Deen so beautifully! I love how it’s not just a story to amuse and entertain, rather a story that makes you eager to learn more about and practice our Deen.
    Jazakillah khoyr.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. ماشاء الله

    As expected , your story is absolutely captivating !!
    May الله continue to use you for the service of Deen with Ikhlaas and Qubooliat …

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Beautiful may اللَّهُ tke u 4rm strength to strength… pls tel us the name of the book u quoting from… so amazn and captivate… is it the sword of اللَّهُ?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aameen, shukran sister… ❣️
      I’ve just been using info from the write ups on the net and penning my own paragraphs. I really am looking for some good books on companions like Khalwah bing Al Azwar RA… I will keep readers in the loop if I happen to find some good and trustworthy resources. 👌

      Like

  4. Assalamu alaykum hope you are well miss author..im a silent reader and don’t comment much!….love your writing Masha Allah…plzzzz don’t let too many bad things happen ,I get really hooked to blogs and abit emotional🙈🙈
    Continue with the lovely posts!!!
    Patiently awaiting the next post!!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s