Walk Away

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem


Every day is a new adventure. For my nearly-sixteen-year old self, that’s how I had come to see it. An adventure that sometimes takes us by surprise, and at times, never fails to allure, amuse, or even delight.

What we make of life is only how we see it. Although seeing the best and being the best is always a tough call, to conquer the evil that always lurks in the midst with goodness from within, was an unfathomable achievement. Good character, no matter what the situation, takes a strength greater than a 100 men… But it effects are far more worthy than we can ever imagine. It will simply blow you away.

I breathed in deeply as I reached the house that I had now come to know so well, reveling in the scent that lingered and taking in the the natural beauty of spring that was emerging in full force. It was that time of the year again, and as time went by, I knew that my time there too, was limited.

It had become a ritual of mine to take delight in the little buds that were forming on the bushes, and carefully track the constant rustling in the nests that were all being meticulously structured above. The unprecedented structure and beauty of nature never failed to amazed me.
And just like the sunlight brought hope for a new start, the little lights in my life always kept me going. It was like they knew I was there even before I even arrived. The door swung open just before I reached out to press the bell, and Dayyaan and Zia looked at me with wide smirks on their face.
“What are we doing today, Khawlah?” Dayyaan asked, his eyes wide with excitement.

“Dayyaan!” His mother shouted, and I could hear the scrunching of her sneakers as she made her way to the door. “Can you at least let Khawlah come in before you’ll bombard her?”

Rubeena emerged from the lounge area and as she entered my view, I noticed that she looked a little rough around the edges. Her hair was  a mess and her eyes were a bit puffy. If I wasn’t mistaken… it looked like she might have been crying.

”Is everything okay?” I asked, a little panicked now.

Rubeena had always seemed so… together. I was a little alarmed to see this sort of discomposure from her.


She opened her mouth, but I could literally see her almost choking on her words, as emotion overcame her again. I knew the feeling. The feeling when you so baldly wanted to speak… but you were scared that all that would come out was … more tears.

She hastily turned away as I watched her, and I quickly got the boys on the important task of setting up our favorite game to divert them, while leading her to the nearest chair in the adjacent kitchen.

“I’m sorry,” she finally spluttered, hastily rubbing away the tears at the corners of her eyes.” It’s just…”

She sighed, trailing off and swallowing as she looked at me, slightly embarrassed. Her cheeks were were flushed and her nose was as red a tomato.

“Everything’s a mess,” she blurted, shaking her head.

I swallowed hard, not knowing how to respond. It had been a few weeks since Zuleikha had spoken to me, and though I had promised her I would be careful and think about giving up my job… I wasn’t ready to leave them all behind as yet.

And yes, it had really got to me when I heard. I wished that I could tell someone what I was truly feeling. She thought I was ‘going out’ with Rubeena’s brother. The thought of what she suspected was even more loathsome to me than her. I was confused, overwhelmed and upset, all at the same time.

The worst part was that I couldn’t even talk to Nusaybah about it, because I was so worried that she too, would think something bad of me. How did I explain to them that I had done nothing wrong? There was just so much of opportunity for people to talk. It just looked so bad.

My heart thudded in my chest once again, whilst I deliberated my next words.

“I’m sorry, Ruby,” I said, genuinely apologetic.

I hated to see her like this. I hated all the conflict that was going on. I never spoke to Rubeena about what Zuleikha had told me but I knew some of the truth.

“The truth is, Khawlah,” she said, finally meeting my eye. “I’ve just had the hugest fight with Shabeer. My parents are angry with me. My brother doesn’t speak to me… I feel like I have nobody but these kids that make me crazy and I just don’t know what to do…”

She sniffed again, and I could see the beginning of another outburst. I could understand her feeling sorry for herself… But fueling that pity wasn’t going to do her any good. I wanted to tell her how lucky she was but I knew she wouldn’t see it that way, and it was at that precise moment that Danyaal chose to scamper in to the kitchen, grab an apple and dash out again, already ready to sink his teeth in.

I forgot that his mother was there, for a minute. It was just instinct from being with them for so long, and part of Foi Nani’s influence, that I had to shout out. Mama too, had always said that when Allah is in your heart, you remember him in everything that you do. Taking his name before eating or drinking was the least we could do, and I wanted these kids to take at least that with them if I had to leave them behind.

“Danyaal, say Bismillah!” I called out to remind him, thinking to myself how long it took for kids to learn it. It was so frustrating that no matter how many times I told them… they just never got it by themselves.

”I did!” he yelled back, already racing back to the playroom in hot pursuit.

For a second, I even forgot about Ruby who was sitting there, and as I looked back at her, instead of her tearful face, she was looking at me in a kind of daze. Almost as if she was dumbfounded.

“That’s what I mean!” she suddenly half-whispered, and it was like a light-bulb was coming on in her head. “That’s what I tried to explain to my parents! I mean, how are you so amazing, Khawlah? Never in a million years, will I be able to remember all these things. Sometimes I even forget to say it myself, because I’m so useless at being good. But you…”

She trailed off and shook her head.

“My brother saw something in you that I was missing all this time,” she said, almost in awe, and my throat suddenly went all dry. “And then he made the mistake of telling me.”

I swallowed hard as she continued,  half-dreading and half-anticipating the version of events that she was going to tell me, from her side of the story.

“He could see you weren’t the typical girl,” she said, a little sadly. ”So he asked me for advice. And who would blame him? You’re amazing, Khawlah. You’re stunning, inside and out. You have such impeccable manners… and the way you are with the kids… honestly, you’re my life saver.”

All I could do was nod and listen, like a robot. I was not sure what to say. It was the first time that Rubeena had ever said anything remotely pleasant about me. It seemed like her being emotional brought out a whole different side to her.

One thing Mama had always told me was that the greatest way to show what a Muslim was about, was through our character. The Prophet Muhammed SAW had a superb form of dawah, and superseding anything else, many didn’t realise that his greatest asset was gained through his impeccable characteristics. Not through war. Not through force of submission. Not through hatred. It was just beautiful character. To be the best type of person, even in the worst of situations was something of a miracle.

I tried… but I wasn’t sure if I really measured up to what Rubeena was saying. They say that whoever you meet, always understand that you should not leave them until you have learnt something invaluable that you yourself did not know. I’m sure that there were some things I could learn from her too. My greatest fault was that I never stopped to see it.

“My parents would kill him, Khawlah,” she said now, clenching her fists nervously. ”My family is so fixated on money and success… and when you came back again… they got angry at me because they blamed it all on me. They blamed me. They thought I had set you guys up… or something outrageous like that.”

She scoffed, shaking her head.

“They don’t know what you’re like,” she said, the shadow of a smile now visible on her face. ”Shabeer asked me once why you didn’t greet him when you saw him in the driveway. I didn’t understand that it was actually you being modest… until I actually googled it. You’ve actually taught me something. Not just one thing. So much.”

I was still stunned. My stomach was in all sorts of knots and twists as she continued, and slowly, as she let it all out and it sunk in, I was beginning to feel a little normal again. A little normal in a new upside down world.

It was a few days after Zuleikha had told me about everything that she had heard from Ahmed, and I had shrugged it off that day, not wanting to worry about something that might have been completely invented. I so badly wanted to meet Ahmed and ask him myself… but something within me was telling me to let it be for now.

He was fine. He was safe. He was in good hands. And if I met him… I wasn’t sure what kind of reception my older brother might give me. I sighed as I thought about it.

I took her advice that day and she left, feeling slightly relieved in the knowledge that soon I would be out of that environment completely.

It broke my heart but I knew that if what she had said was true… there was no way that I could continue to break that family up with my presence.

And as much as my heart could not be controlled, I knew that I had to start making preparations to leave. Slowly, and in a subtle way, I had to give these kids as much as I could before I had to leave them on their way. I was tormented by the thoughts of what would happen to them when I left, but I knew that I had to put my fears aside and let them go.

Life would never be the same, but maybe… I hoped… in the future, I would meet them in a better and easier time of frame.

I sighed to myself as I sat with the kids the following week, trying to muster the words that I knew I had to say.

Rubeena had poured her heart out to me that day, and the feelings that had surfaced were hard to put at bay. Although playing with the kids was the most fulfilling thing, whilst i heard them giggling and squealing in delight during our mini pillow fight, my conscience just wouldn’t let me rest. The nagging feeling was still there at the back of my mind, reminding me that there was always an end to every story. Maybe the end to our story was approaching. Maybe it was time to write the final chapter.

It was nearly time for me to leave for the day, and with just a few minutes left,  the children were bouncing around on the rubber horse that was their latest addition to the playroom.

I smiled as I watched them, whilst holding little Zaydaan in my arms. He was particularly exhausted that day, after our high-energy afternoon, and I felt my heart unexpectedly soaring as I savored the feeling of this little dumpling in my arms. I held him a little tighter as I took in his lavender-scented powder, breathing in the baby-ness as I tightened my arms around his tiny frame.

“I love you,” I murmured to him, overcome with emotion and feeling nostalgic already. He mumbled some intelligent statement of toddler language in reply, and I found myself instantly giggling to myself.

They were growing so fast, and I just could not fathom how these little people had snuck so deep into my heart.

“Do you love me too?”

It was Dayyaan who asked the question, and I looked up to see him watching me with his little brother. His statement was as straightforward as little boys’ ones come. There was no mincing his words.

I was so absorbed in Zaydaan that I didn’t even notice him watching us. I couldn’t help but break out into a grin as he watched me, oh-so-seriously.

“Of course,” I said to him, nodding vehemently. “I love you all. You’ll do know that, right? No matter what happens, remember that Khawlah thinks that you’ll are really, really amazing.”

No regrets. I had to tell them that. I had to let them know.  After the chat with Rubeena, I wasn’t sure where I stood. She had to leave in a bit of a rush after her meltdown, so I didn’t exactly get to tell her what I needed to.

Danyaal was looking at me now, with that dreamy look that he sometimes got. My heart contracted momentarily as I thought of leaving them behind… of some day, walking out the door and not seeing them again. I was already having panic attacks about that tormenting moment. I was not sure how I was going to deal. I just wasn’t prepared for it being so soon.

“So, since you love us so much,” he said, looking thoughtful but with a mischievous  grin on his face.

I frowned at him, wondering what he was about to say.

”Please can we have one more story today?”

I smiled, shaking my head.

“Mum will be here just now and my father will be waiting for me,” I explained.

”It’s my birthday,” he said, a little sadly. “Please.”

I didn’t know it was his birthday. Although we never celebrated birthdays as kids, I wasn’t sure how to explain it to Danyaal as yet. It was on the bucket list of things I needed to say. I wanted to teach them so much… but there was so little time.

Either way, his puppy dog look was doing the trick.

”Pleassse….” Dayyaan copied.

“Pweeeeeezee,” mimicked little Zia.

I chuckled to myself, looking at the three rascals and shaking my head. They were so unknowingly manipulative, but they still made me laugh.

“Just one,” Danyaal quickly said, sensing me crumbling under their scrutiny. “Here.”

He thrust a familiar book at me, and I momentarily remembered the first day I had brought it for them. There were so many memories I had shared with these kids.

The pictures in the book were a sure winner, and over the almost two years I had been here, it had grown to be a favorite.

“The first one,” he said, knowing exactly which story he wanted. The story of Aadam AS was right of the front.

I sighed, shaking my head. It was the most popular one for the kids, but frankly, I was sick of reading it. I almost knew it by heart.

“Choose another,” I said flatly.

“Okay, let’s read the Lion King,” Dayyaan piped up.

“No!” squealed Danyaal, annoyed.

“Story of Aadam,” he insisted, and as if he suddenly spurred into action, Dayyaan climbed on the colorful ottoman at the center of the room, pumped his first in the air, and started screaming at the top of his voice.

“Lion King, Lion King, LION KING!”

“Aadam, Aadam, AADAM!!” Shouted Danyaal back, just as loud.

How did these kids even learn things like this? It was horrific.

They looked like a pair of those terribly behaved children who would just create spectacles to get their way. I widened my eyes at them and opened my mouth to scream.

My mouth was left hanging as we were all silenced by the abrupt voice at the door.

What is going on here?!” it shouted, obviously disturbed by the outrageous behavior.

I mean, if I heard that from the other side of the house, I too would have been shocked.

I whipped my head around, blinking as I glimpsed the figure who stood at the door. For a few seconds I was actually dumb-founded as I processed who it was.

Although I barely recognized him, there was no mistaking it. I could literally feel my face changing all shades of colors as he too, looked at me in shock. He obviously did not expect me to be here, and his next words were very evident of it.

“You?!” He said, looking strangely disturbed by my presence.”Sorry, I thought… Nevermind.”

He seemed genuinely shocked that I was there.

Oh goodness. This was a bit awkward.

The boys were looking from me to him, stunned by the reprimand and slightly shocked at their uncle’s presence. It was also obvious that he thought that I didn’t come here anymore, and hence, didn’t expect to bump into me today. This was a bit of an uncomfortable mess.

“Hey Uncle Adam,” called Dayyaan.  “You look like Mufassa.”

Now I wanted to slap my hand to my forehead, like Danyaal often did what Dayyaan asked a unexpected question. I knew that he was obsessed with the Lion King, but how could he call his uncle Mufassa?

Trust Dayyaan’s quirky sense of humor to break the ice. I wanted to giggle but I didn’t dare crack a smile. The tension in the room was still palpable.

His uncle smiled and dropped the box that he was holding down onto the floor as I hastily grabbed my bag to let myself out of the room. From the looks of it, I could escape without much notice from the boys, because Adam was already ignoring me and watching the boys obsess about the electric cars he had bought for them all. I was so glad it didn’t escalate. I always knew that kids were the best ice breaker.

I wondered why he had come. Maybe being Danyaal’s special day, he needed an excuse to visit his nephews. Maybe he knew Rubeena wouldn’t be home tonight, or she had actually stayed late on purpose.

I silently closed the door behind me, letting out a huge sigh of relief as I walked down the passage to the door.

My heart felt strangely at peace as I made my way to my leave. So many plans I had… so much I still wanted to say.

But the defining question was… Right here and right now, on this journey that I had decided to embark on… would it ever end? Would it ever be enough?

Maybe it was time. Maybe it was time for me to let go now. Maybe it was time for me to leave, and just let it be.

Maybe my time here was up. I had said what I needed to… conveyed what I could while I was here. I had been that little window that they so badly to get a glimpse into. How much longer was I going to hold on to them for?

My heart soared and sank almost simultaneously as I heard the joyful giggles from the other side of the house. Hearing those shrieks of laughter and bursts of excitement now were enough to send my escalating emotions into overdrive. I may had been their window to get a glimpse of the other side that they so badly needed to see… but maybe these kids needed more.

I was just a stranger, after all. They needed their family. They needed their uncle too. Maybe there was another window waiting to open for them, revealing a world that would hold so much more than I could ever imagine giving them.

The truth is that we all have this desire. This innate need, put in us by our Creator. The unshakable yearning to help others in need is like a reflex, whether for family, friends, or a stranger on the street. There is nothing evil about our nature, until we make it so.

I was just someone who had stumbled upon their path for a season of their life, and now it was time for me to move on. Things had gotten a little out of control, and it was getting difficult to distinguish between right and wrong.

I opened the front door, forcefully holding back the tears that were threatening to escape. I wasn’t going to cry. I wasn’t going to lose myself on this path that I had so carefully trod. This was all Duniyaa, after all. This was all a part of the beautiful  journey to my Lord, that lay ahead.

Today, I needed to be strong. Today, I needed to do the bravest thing. It was no walk in the park, to a destination that would most certainly offer you the sweetest ease. This was hurt. The bittersweet pang that rips your heart apart as you walk away, has nothing on convincing yourself that you need to stay. Only, you don’t.

I halted, swallowing as I deliberated what could be the of the entire game change, or just another weak moment. It was just as I convinced myself and stepped out, a familiar voice called out, as if it was designed to target the vulnerability of my heart strings once again.

The words taunted me, even as I took that one more step I needed to break away.

“Khawlah, wait.”


P.S. Wonder if Khawlah should leave or wait..?

Dearest Readers,

In preparation for Ramadhaan, last week we were working on Reviving the Sunnah of Miswaak. This week, Insha Allah, let’s try and bring in a little about the Sunnah of eating, as touched on in the post. I will try to keep it short, simple and effective🌸

It is mentioned that when eating, if you recite Bismillah before eating and Alhumdulilah when done, your sins are forgiven.


How easy to practise!





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Twitter @ajourneyjournal








No Coincidence

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem


We shall take this route; let not your resolve be weakened. Know that the help of Allah comes according to your desire. Let not the Muslims fear anything so long as they have the help of Allah.” -Khalid Bin Waleed

I breathed in as I gazed up at the screen, letting the words that had once inspired me, do their magic once again.

It was written on a key holder that was attached to my backpack, and whenever I found myself even a little uninspired, I would check myself again and let it sink in.

It was Khawlah who had given it to me three years ago, and thinking about my sister made me feel a little more hopeful than I was. She always saw the good side of things. Somehow, there was always a positive within the gloom… always a light at the end of the darkest tunnel. Maybe I really did have some things I could learn, like she always told me.

Where to from here? Where do I go from here?

I was at a loss at I stared at the screen listing flights boarding and taking off. Dubai. Namibia. Toronto… Was I ready to leave everything here behind and start afresh? It was tough. A rough choice. With the help of Allah, I knew that I was no coward… But this was a call for the warriors.

I leaned back slightly against the balustrade behind me, letting the heavy load on my back take some support, whilst thinking about my best option.

Streams of people whizzed past as I watched them, and for a few minutes I felt like I was the loneliest person in the world. What lead me to the airport was merely a strong drive to escape. I knew that it had gone a little too far with Jameel, but I felt like a coward now for leaving it behind. I wanted to expose him and save my sister all at once, but I didn’t anticipate that maybe I might have just made it worse.

“Why’re you looking so glum, brother?”

I frowned momentarily as I heard the voice with a distinct Gauteng accent, almost right next to me. I wasn’t in the mood for conversation, so without even looking up, I shrugged indifferently, just trying to mentally work my way out of the rut I was in.

“You staring at that chic, right?” The voice said again, whilst I stared straight ahead.

I didn’t see any chic. And even if I did, I doubt it would even faze me. It wasn’t that I didn’t care about girls. I was a normal teenager. But with my frame of mind….

“And wondering how to make a move,” he continued.

I frowned, getting annoyed, and instinctively, turned around to come face-to-face with a guy of medium height and hard-set jawline.

“I knew that would get you,” He said, a smile planted on his face.

”I used to have a problem with looking at chics,” he said, smirking, and I knew he was having a go at me. “Now I just have to turn and walk away. Sometimes my life depends on it.”

He looked pleasant enough. Good-looking I supposed, in that rich and spoilt-boy kind of way. He probably knew nothing about what life was really about. He was probably born into luxury and stayed there his whole life.

What bugged me was that he was looking at me like he knew exactly what I was all about. What made me tick. Life was probably a game for him.

I was failing to see any humor.

“Do I know you?” I said, raising my eyebrows at him and not really bothering to be polite.

He wasn’t affected by my stand-offish attitude. He stuck out his hand and looked me in the eye, winking as he chewed on his gum.

“I’m Zee,” he said, gripping my hand firmly and shaking it with purpose. “I saw you standing here and you looked a bit lost. My brothers warned me to behave, so I figured talking to you would probably help keep me out of trouble. I have a knack of wandering off and doing unseemly things. Youngest-child syndrome.”

I cracked a small smile. It was all I could muster at that point.

His theory reminded me of Yunus. My youngest sibling would have probably been worse off if he didn’t have Khawlah to check on him through his growing up.

“So where’re you off to?” He asked, taking   a seat on a recently freed metal chair.

He patted the one next to him, gesturing me to sit next to him. I shook my head. I didn’t know where I was headed to, and I wasn’t prepared to get comfortable yet. Besides, what if the guy was going to give me whole life story or some kind of weird philosophy that I didn’t really care about. I wasn’t in the mood for small talk.

“I’m not sure yet,” I said, answering his question. “I’m still figuring out my plan…”

I trailed off, not wanting to risk giving away too much of information either.

“That’s my brother, Mo,” Zee said, shrugging my vagueness off and pointing to a tall guy who stood next to three other men who were talking animatedly. “He’s the eldest. His bro-in-law is a heavy Molvi… and so we kind of fell in with the holy crowd by default.”

I cracked another smile. The guy was actually a bit amusing.

“Where are you guys off to?” I said, warming up a little. It would be good to focus on someone else besides myself for the first time in days.

“Well, Molvi is into this whole anti-ISIS thing,” he said, with raised eyebrows, his voice suddenly becoming serious. I wasn’t sure that this guy was actually capable of being serious. “I mean, I know if you look at him you may get a bit skrik, but he’s not that bad. He does these awareness campaigns all over. He’s found some places where the movements are becoming really hectic. He’s been visiting them and trying to spread the good word… He’s just back from Netherlands.”

He went on to tell me about how people are getting tricked into leaving their homes and fleeing to places like Iraq and Syria with the notion of being IS heroes. The only thing is, when they get there, it’s far from heroic. They lose their citizenship of their own safer countries, and worse still, bring kids into these camps that have terrible conditions. Many of these kids don’t survive.

The worst part is that they think that they are the only true Muslims for being in the situation they in, even though they see that the ideologies of IS camps are far from ideal or even Islamic. It was heavy stuff… scary, even for me.

I remember reading about this stuff a while back, but I didn’t know many details about it. What I did know about ISIS was that they are thirsty for genocide, and their state rejects peace as a matter of principle. There is nothing more UnIslamic about it. The breaking factor is that once you join, there is little you can do to come out.

The truth was, although many people, including Muslims, have this perception that Muslims are commanded to fight and oppose anyone who is not Muslim, this is far from the truth. And even if we just look into Islamic History, in the Battle of Badr, which was the first war of Islam, there were various signs given to non-believers before they persisted in their fight. Many of the disbelieving chiefs even had dreams, warning them of the onslaught they would face if they had to go through with their mission of attack, but they still went forward.

The Quraish were thirsting for battle. Nonetheless, there were a few tender hearts who shuddered at the idea of blood-shed. Nabi SAW too, was one of them, and when the battle of Badr commenced, being averse to seeing his hands stained with blood, the Companions raised a shed of stones at one end of the fields for him to stay in. Sa’d Ibn Mu’adh RA stood at the entrance with a naked sword that none might dare to enter it.

And of course, we know the rest of the story, about the angels who came down, taking the form of men and fighting with divine assistance from above. It was said that the men who were slain by the angels could be recognized by the specific burns on their faces.

Western historians, who can think only in terms of material causes and affects, are left wondering how a body of three hundred footmen could vanquish one thousand adversaries reinforced with a hundred horse. But Divine help has many a time worked wonders like that. Nevertheless, the miracle of Badr was just that. A miracle that Allah had allowed to occur, so the Muslims could prove their truth and finally, rid themselves of the taunts of the Quraish.

Stories of war always inspired me, and although I might have been a little ambitious in my thinking… Every day was a new day and hearing Abba’s voice in my head, and the constant striving to fight my Nafs, I was growing up.

And yes, I was growing up. The childish fight for notoriety and striving to make a name for myself was dying. I mean, who was I proving myself to?

Being rough and tough was all well and good, but it wasn’t what life was about. It was also about respect, and when I looked at the men who were in front of me, I could just see how well-known and revered they were in the community. Every second Muslim person was stopping to greet them. Even Zee, who looked like he wasn’t impressed by much, seemed like he had great admiration for those scholars.

Respect. It wasn’t bought or sold. It was purely what Allāh Ta’ala raised people with, and His raising your status was greater than any other kind of recognition.

Even if I said so myself, the whole process of introspection for me was a little too late.

”Anyway,” Zee said suddenly, breaking my thoughts with his bubbly voice. “Maybe I’ll see you again. My bru’s calling me. Like literally, he’s calling me… on my phone. You’d think the guy would at least look for me first before assuming the worst!”

He shook his head, pretending to be disturbed by their lack of faith in him. I didn’t say anything.

He did look like the kind of guy who got into trouble at times. I wondered if he was married or had kids. He didn’t mention it but I didn’t ask him much either. His life looked so carefree… like he had no worries in the world. I didn’t realize that once I got to know him, I would understand that his life had been just the opposite, and truly, it’s only what you make of a situation that brings you to where you were.

“Hey, wait,” he suddenly said, putting his iPhone back in his pocket and looking at me with narrowed eyes. “You said you weren’t really headed anywhere. Why don’t you join us..? We heading to a mosque first. Molvi has another talk.”

I was about to say no. I mean, the old and confident Ahmed would have never even thought about it. I supposed it was my pride that had stuck with me before. The infamous Ahmed wouldn’t have even been caught speaking to a swanky guy like Zee. With his smooth lines and designer Gucci sneakers… those kind of guys usually rode on my nerves. Now that I was down and out, I found myself in an entirely different frame of mind. A little less… rigid.

I toyed with the idea for a few seconds, wondering if it could really do any harm. Surprisingly, the guy actually looked like good company, and since I wasn’t really sure of where I was headed, buying some time before making a rash decision might be a good thing.

I found myself nodding, without even realizing what I was committing myself to.

I mean, I could always leave if I wanted to, right? I just didn’t realize that these people had a way on working themselves under your skin, even when you least expected it.

I trudged along with my heavy backpack, following Zee as he worked his way through the crowd. He was speaking on his phone to someone about where the car would be waiting. The other guys had already gone to fetch the car, so Ziyaad (which I learnt was his full name) was heading to another guy’s car who was heading the same way.

”We going with Molvis student,” he said, raising his eyebrows. “Not like I care about all this stuff anymore, but for some background info, this guy is like the Don in web developing. Like he’s super young and he’s made it to like the top web developers in the country… he’s like so… wanted. Now, apparently, Molvi says he’s giving it all up to change his life. I mean, it’s a bit hectic if you ask me. But it’s what Molvi admires about these owkes. He like waits for them so he can get them to take the plunge. To show them it’s never too late to change their lives. Like my bru.”

I nodded, scratching my stubble and wondering for the first time of it was a good idea to go with the guy. Was I going to be some test tube case for them? Or was I going to look odd, with my shaven face and jeans? I didn’t want to be an eyesore.

“Don’t look so worried, boet,” Zee said, smirking slightly, almost sensing my second thoughts. “We’re a cool crowd. We’re not gonna go all pious on you and make you our next project.”

He paused momentarily.

”Unless you want…”

He chuckled to himself almost knowingly, and it made me wonder about him.

I nodded, swallowing as I exited the automated doors, still a bit weary about what to expect. It was like this guy was just sent to me in my darkest hour, and I couldn’t ignore the signs. Never in a million years would I have whist blindly followed a guy that I barely knew, in the past. Now, what he had to offer me was basically all I had.

We approached a black BMW, and I held back, waiting for Zee to tell me to get in. I was still a little hesitant as he opened the door, and I slid in after him, moving my backpack to my lap. The dude who was driving replied to our greeting, and then shifted the car into gear before we literally sped away.

It was the first time I had been in a car so fast, and for a materialistic guy, it was quite impressive. I didn’t even notice the driver. I was just enjoying the ride. It was only after a few minutes that Zee and the guy were speaking for, about things the details of the car that were less appealing to me, that Zee nudged me and gestured to the him.

“Sorry, bru,” He said, looking from me to the driver dude apologetically. “We’re getting all carried away with Duniya and I didn’t even introduce you guys.”

It was at that precise moment that the guy turned around to see me, and as he glimpsed my face, I could tell that his thoughts were exactly along the same lines as me.

Although he looked like a different version of himself, with his Sunnah beard and simplified hair style, I knew exactly who he was. Our eyes met and the very feelings that had surfaced the first time I had laid eyes on him were coming up again. I blinked, hoping it would sway my hostility. This was no coincidence.

And, of course, I knew exactly what it was that had inspired his whole journey to change.

”Ahmed,”  Zee said, patting me on the back as I tried to compose my next words.

“Meet Adam.”

Dearest Readers,

In preparation for Ramadhaan, this week we are working on Reviving the Sunnah of Miswaak. I will try to keep it short, sweet and effective. 🌸

Some advice from personal experience: try keeping more than one Miswaak, so it may be easy to use wherever you are.


  • Fights Tooth Decay and Cavities. …
  • Potent Antibacterial Properties. …
  • Protects Against Plaque Buildup. …
  • Removes Bad Breath. …
  • Strengthens Gum Tissue to Prevent Gingivitis. …
  • Natural Anticarcinogenic. …
  • Reduces Gum Pain. …
  • Pleasant Aftertaste.



Follow us On ig @thejourneyingmuslimah

Twitter @ajourneyjournal

When Love Backfires

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem


Love. In this temporary world, it’s that four letter word that confuses, overwhelms and unites, sometimes all at once.

Love does not come with conditions, stipulations, addenda, or codes. Like the sun, love radiates independently of our fears and desires.

Love is inherently free. It cannot be bought, sold, or traded. You cannot make someone love you, nor can you prevent it. Love cannot be imprisoned, nor can it be legislated.

And before you find that true and overpowering emotion that you have possible never felt ever in your life… Love is somewhat of a mystery. A mystery that everyone wants to solve.

And everyone wants it. Chases it. Is inspired by it. But the intensity of wanting, somehow, does not make anyone entitled to having it.

Such is love. Because once one eventually acquires it, it cannot be traded. It cannot simply be forfeited. It works its way under your skin, and somehow, that love, that we chase and struggle to find, becomes the focus of everything in our day to day lives.

And when I thought about the Sahabah and their intense passion for martyrdom… all that came to mind, was love. Love for Allah. Love for Jannah.

And for Khawlah Bint Al-Azwar, it was love too, that had ignited her intense desire for martytrdom. She dearly loved her brother too. When Dirrar was captured in the battle of Ajnadin, Khawla RA became hysterical and uncontrollable. She did not know whether her brother was alive or not, but on the hope and tawakkul in Allah that he was alive, she donned armor, jumped up a horse and galloped with the sole aim of saving her brother.

This was no Bollywood movie, with a male protagonist and superhero. Imagine as she fled to the place of his supposed capture, a  heroine (under an armor, so no one knows she’s a female yet), taking on dozens of highly capable Roman soldiers at a time, to save her brother. The soldiers who saw her take on the enemy misjudged her to be Khalid ibn Waleed RA, the sword of Allah, who was leading the army at the time. SubhanAllah.

The simple reason is because, love is not just for the now. Love is based on love for the Almighty. Love is deep. Pure. Strong. And it holds such a  power over purity and beauty even exists in beautiful Paradise. In jannah.

Such is love.

But its not that simple, because sometimes, even that beautiful love can alter its form. Love of worldly things for the wrong reasons, can actually give you quite the opposite and lead to ruin.. And that was what I was afraid of.

I swallowed the saliva that had gathered in my mouth as Rubeena looked at me, and I could already tell where things were headed from here.

But I had already made up my mind. I wasn’t going to give in easily. I didn’t care what the risk.

“I’m sorry, Ruby,” I said to her, knowing that I could risk my job again but not really caring about that.

The money wasn’t important to me. I was just worried about the kids. I didn’t want them to feel the effect of such inconsistency on my part. I wanted to be there for them. I wanted them to feel that at least someone was looking out for them. It was the intense love that I had for them that made me feel indebted to them, and it scared me.

She sighed, and I could tell that she wasn’t happy. She wanted me to come with them on a weekend away, and I had obviously refused. Abba would never allow it, and I wouldn’t have even thought of asking.

“I suppose I will have to ask Hannah,” she said, sounding even more unhappy.

Danyaal was hovering around with a ball that he was tossing around, but he suddenly stopped in his tracks as he looked at his mother.

“Mummy, I don’t want her,” he said sharply, looking from me to his mother and then at me again. “Can’t you just stay?”

The guilt was plaguing me as he looked at me with those puppy dog eyes, and I was already feeling my resolvee weaken.

And then I thought to myself, why should I feel guilty? These weren’t my kids. She didn’t have to have a babysitter even when she went on holiday. Shouldn’t she just take a break from her silly routine and see to her own kids for once in her life?

I like Hannah,” Dayyaan said, looking at Danyaal with his brows furrowed. “She looks like Hannah Montana and lets us watch whatever we want. Even when Dad comes home, she let’s us watch Peppa Pig.”

Danyaal rolled his eyes an shook his head. He was visibly unimpressed. Personally, I didnt think much of Peppa Pig. And I wasn’t even sure how a five-year-old knew about Hannah Montana. It definitely wasn’t age appropriate.

Besides, the fact that a pig could possible be a role model for a Muslim child, or any child for that matter, was a little too messed up for my liking. I mean, what exactly does the child learn about it, just by watching a pig ‘teaching’ it. As much as Rubeena tried to justify it, I knew I would never warm up to the idea. And it didn’t look like it swayed Danyaal that much either.

”Who cares?” Danyaal muttered. “There’s more to life than Peppa Pig.”

His tone was dry, and I could tell that he was obviously annoyed at us all. He hastily turned his back and stalked to his room, leaving me in silence and his mother with a frown on her face. I had to give him that much though. For his age… the boy sometimes spoke way beyond.

I wasn’t sure what exactly seemed to push his buttons, but Danyaal’s moods seemed to be getting more unpredictable as the days went by. He was only seven, but his frame of mind was like he was seventeen.

I felt this overwhelming need to run after him, purely because of that overwhelming feeling that had overcome my heart. Somehow, he   especially, had sneaked his way into a corner of my heart. I wanted to let him know that he didn’t have to always be so angry at the world. I wanted to remind him about our little chat that we had a few weeks ago, whilst we had taken a stroll in the garden.

It had been getting chilly lately, and our gardening sprees were becoming a litle scarce. Danyaal seemed pre-occupied as I held his hand and guided him through the prickly path, whilst we both admired the beauty of the roses that were now in full bloom. Rubeena’s roses had just made my day. With their eccentric colours and candy striped variations… they were absolutely breathtaking.

We chatted as we walked along, and although Danyaal had always been my main accomplice in gardening, that day, he seemed like a little lost boy.

As we spoke about things on his mind that were bothering him, I had seemed to convince him that everything would be okay. He had so many worries for such a small boy. He had confided that he missed his Nona and his Uncle, who were far away. He hadn’t seen them in so long.

“Khawlah,” he said thoughtfully, looking at me as he walked alongside me. The other kids were busy in the sandpit, and I gave him all my attention, because I knew that was what he needed most.

“Hmmm,” I said, sniffing and taking in the scent of the roses that were so amazingly pungent.

“Howcome mum doesn’t know all the stuff like you?” He asked, genuinely curious, and I wondered what he meant.

“Like,” he continued, sensing my confusion. “Why doesn’t she know all those stories that you tell us… like the one about Adam… and Nuh… and Musa and the magicians…”

I smiled, and then quickly turned serious again. After Adam AS, which was clearly favorite because it matched their uncles name, Nuh AS was a clear winner. The next favorite story was about the Magicians at the time of Musa AS. I was surprised, actually, that these stories genuinely delighted them. I supposed it was also the way they were explained in the book I had brought to show them, and they loved the little illustrations that made it that much more exciting.

I was honestly at a loss for words. What did I tell him? Giving your kids a good education and good grounding was important, but the most important thing in this day and age was the passing on of Deeni knowledge. For kids, there was nothing that they would benefit from more.

Kids are undoubtedly a responsibility as much as they are a gift. It is our job to make sure they become hard-working, productive and most importantly, individuals who have Taqwa and will be an asset to the Ummah. The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)said,

“When a man dies, his action discontinues from him except three things, namely, perpetual sadaqah (charity), or the knowledge by which benefit is acquired, or a pious child who prays for him.” [Sunan Abi Dawud]

Somehow, even though I had no idea how to respond, the perfect answer popped into my mind. I didn’t want to lie to him, and neither did I want to make his mum look bad.

“Mum is older,” I convinced him, “so she forgets easier.”

And I left it at that as he changed the topic, and then I regretted it because the questions got even more complicated. I wasn’t sure how his little mind even knew these things. He even went on to  ask me what was divorce and why big people fought so much. I wondered why parents would fight in front of their kids. They put so much of pressure of them when they put them in the middle of any issues that seemed to be going on.

I let out a huge sigh of relief when he finally scampered off to play with his siblings, and made a mental note to speak to Rubeena, because I did notice that she looked a bit more stressed than usual. And many times, I had almost got the guts to… and then, something would stop me.  I just didn’t want to pry.

The truth was, I couldn’t exactly tell. I wasn’t sure what was getting to her because she was looking great. Her fitness routine seemed to be paying off and she had lost almost all of her pregnancy weight. I didn’t realize that they may be some other issue in her marriage that was triggering it.

I tried to ignore it by convincing myself that it wasn’t my problem, but try as I might, I couldn’t shake that feeling that I had to do more. I couldn’t dispel the emotions that were plaguing me since I left that day.

Although I didn’t like the fact that Hannah was the one who had been called in to replace me, at this stage, I kind of needed her to come through.

I was trying to be kind. I didn’t want to think badly of Hannah. It was just that every time I saw her, memories of her crazy shrieking and conniving ways would get to me. I tried to tell myself that she had changed. I tried to believe that she had become better. It was just that I didn’t get much of a chance to speak to her because Nusaybah and Hannah’s attachment, Veronica, seemed to be at loggerheads with each other. Hannah and I weren’t great company to each other either, so I greeted her from afar and got on with my own life.

I sighed as I walked home that day, inwardly relieved that I didn’t have to face an awkward situation with any of Rubeena’s family members. Although her brother had stopped popping in from out of the blue, I still didn’t feel comfortable being there till odd hours.

I pushed open the gate as I reached my house, noting Abba’s car not in the driveway.

Glad I was home before him, I hastily changed out of my uniform before going to greet Foi Nani. I knew she would be waiting for me in the kitchen, and as I entered, I was more than ecstatic about the surprise that met my eyes.

A huge smile immediately planted itself on my face as I saw the little car seat that was on the counter top. It could only mean that little Muhammed was here, and that alone was enough to make my heart soar.

I hadn’t seen them in a few weeks, and as I knelt forward to plant a huge kiss on his cheek, his mother appeared on the right, and I almost gasped as I saw her.

I was stunned.

My sister was looking lovely. Peaceful. So much more ‘together’ than she had been in weeks. She had a black hijab draped around her slim face and her amber eyes were even more stark now that she had lost all that extra weight she had gained in pregnancy. She smiled at me and I couldn’t help but pull her to me in a tight embrace, so glad that my older sister was almost back to her old self.

I was just overjoyed at the transformation. I didn’t ask her when or what or why… I just found myself reveling in the knowledge that my sister was getting back in track… or getting there. That somehow, she had been inspired to seek her Lord once again. And though Aunty Radiyyah’s words had been true to a certain extent, I had a feeling that right now, there may be a turning point for us all. And I was ecstatic.

To tell the truth, all I could do was swallow the saliva in my mouth while i was rendered speechless.

“Zulz, I’m so glad you’re here,” I finally breathed, a little choked up that she was actually here and at this big change that I didn’t expect. It was just so… extraordinary. After everything that had happened and how worried I had been about my sister, this was the cherry on the top.

Zuleikha’s own eyes were shining brightly as she told me a little about her inspiraton.  I thought of Mama as she told me about Taaleem she had started attending and how she’s been so busy with just trying to stay focused on improving herself. It wasn’t the easiest of things, but since she had met this lovely girl who was such a motivation for her, and Jameel had actually seemed to turn a new leaf, her inspiration had just soared.

I loved it. I was in awe of it all, and simply… I was just inspired by her. Her strength, her resolve… and her sheer commitment to change, that she actually just put everything aside and took the plunge. It was amazing.

I breathed out again, wondering what it was that just made people transform. What it took for them to eventually take that step that would lead them to their Creator. I was sure that it wasn’t easy to just put everything aside and submit. But the rewards thereafter… One could never even imagine.

I was brought back down to earth Zuleikha was now speaking to Foi Nani about something that had happened last month at one of the neighbors houses, and Foi Nani was looking at her with that blank look that I also seemed to be getting so often.

Uhoh, I thought to myself. Here we go again.

I wasn’t sure what was going on with her, but Foi Nani just seemed to be remembering less and less as the weeks went by. Last week she had started shrieking incessantly in the middle of the day, insisting that there was a stray cat in the house. When Yunus had gone downstairs to check, it was our cat that had found its way to the kitchen door, wanting to go out. Foi Nani had insisted that she had never seen it before in her life.

I shook my head knowingly at Zuleikha, trying to make eye contact and convince her to drop the topic. Foi Nani tended to get a bit panicky when she realized that she was forgetting and I didn’t want to her to start right now. I had enough drama for the day, and  I was afraid to delve into the topic.

The truth was, I didn’t want to accept that Foi Nani could actually be getting a bit senile. I didn’t want to lose the Foi Nani we had known all along.

I gestured to Zuleikha to join me outside the kitchen where Foi Nani continued with her roti dough that she usually made as a routine. She was honestly the only person I knew that still made Roti, and although Zuleikha had told her countless times that it’s so much easier to buy, Foi Nani would year none of it.

“What’s  happening with her?” Zuleikha asked, looking worried as she glanced back at Foi Nani.

I shrugged, not wanting to say what the reality was. Zuleikha shook her head, and then her expression suddenly changed. I looked at her questioningly, wondering what could be on her mind.

“All okay?” I asked her now, hoping that there wasn’t anything to be worried about.

She didn’t say anything. She just bit her lip slightly, and then looked at me again, almost as if she wasn’t sure how to say what she needed to. I was getting a bit worried about her behavior until she finally cleared her throat and opened her mouth.

“Khawlah, I needed to speak to you,” she said, and her voice sounded a bit distant.

I nodded, hoping that it wasn’t any bad news to relate. We had just gotten over the worst parts in our family, and I was hoping we wouldn’t go back there. Now it was my turn to look at her questioningly. She didn’t meet my eye.

“I’ve spoken to Ahmed,” she said, still not looking at me, and my heart thudded slightly in my chest as I thought of my older brother. The relief flooded through me as I remembered Ahmed all those months ago, just before he disappeared. Abba was right when he said that Ahmed could look after himself. I missed him, but just hearing that he was alive was enough for me.

“He told me about your job,” Zuleikha said, a little hesitantly.

I looked at her and nodded, not knowing what to make of her statement. I wanted to ask more about Ahmed but I could tell there was something else on her mind.  Was she condemning it?

The thing was, it was no longer a job. It was a passion that I had looked forward to every day. Those kids had become a part of my life.

Zuleikha blinked as she pursed her lips, slightly unsure of what to say next. I wasn’t sure of what she expected of me.

“Zuleikha, I’m not doing anything wrong,” I said adamantly and feeling somewhat defensive. “I just see to the kids. That guy that Ahmed had seen the last time… he doesn’t even come there… If that’s what you’ll are worried about.”

Zuleikha bit her lip, and then shook her head.

”You know I love you, Khawlah, and I only want the best for you,” she said, her hazel eyes not meeting mine. “That’s why… the best thing I can tell you right now, is to leave. It’s causing too many problems.”

“For who?” I asked innocently, genuinely confused.

“The entire family is being torn apart,” she said, her voice slightly raised, and her tone serious.

I blinked in surprise.

It was exactly what I was afraid of. It was precisely the reason why I had always wanted to keep a distance, but it was already too late. Things were about to get a little more complicated than I had expected.

Sometimes love didn’t always reveal a beautiful mystery. Sometimes in unveils the darker side behind it, that catches you completely off guard.

She finally met my gaze.

“And from what I hear Khawlah,” she continued, somewhat concerned. “It’s about you.”


Dearest Readers, 

Extra long post. Apologies for delay. Please take note of our simple Sunnah revival which we will be starting with Reviving the Sunnah of Miswaak. I will try to keep it short, sweet and effective. 🌸

Some advice from personal experience: try keeping more than one Miswaak, so it may be easy to use wherever you are. Miswaak is excellent for toothaches and any other mouth ailment. It’s also excellent for freshening the breath. 

Hudhayfah ibn al-Yamaan (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) got up during the night, he would clean his mouth thoroughly with the siwaak. (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 1/98 and Muslim, 1/220)



About the New Zealand attacks..


Al-Nu’man ibn Basheer reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The Muslims are like a single man. If the eye is afflicted, then the whole body is afflicted. If the head is afflicted, then the whole body is afflicted.Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2586

I’m sorry. I was really supposed to get a post together this weekend, but for a reason known to many, I could just not find the heart to do so.

So many words are going through my mind, but yet I cannot seem to find the inspiration to pen them down. If this post does not seem to meet expectation, please excuse the writer behind its shortfalls, who is clearly at a loss for words.

Let me be honest. I don’t read the news. I don’t look at the papers. I don’t even have a news application on my phone. I prefer not to know about the news, because it’s seldom that there’s anything good to hear on it. When I first heard about the attack in New Zealand, I wasn’t deeply affected.

One of those mosque attacks that happen now and then,” was all I thought.

And I shrugged the thought away and continued with my Jumuah Prayers, and normal routine.

It was only that very evening, when a friend gave me a detailed account of what had actually occurred, that my heart almost sunk to my toes.

The fact that the perpetrator used social media and it followers as an attempted popularity attempt, is sickening. With a helmet camera, full armour, and countless machine guns that he fired at innocent civilians who had just wanted to pray… I wasn’t sure that there was much else in the world that was more brazen than this merciless killing. As I read various accounts on social media, of the killing and even of him shooting a women who was still alive twice in the head and driving over her… I am deeply affected. More so than ever before, and I don’t fully understand my emotions. I think this has been on of the worst mass killings I had read of, and his utter brutality and complete lack of remorse is what disturbs me most.

The thing is, this is not the first attack of this type, and unfortunately, it won’t be the last. We have to feel for our fellow Muslims, and we have to share in the grief of fellow humans. Innocent lives of children as young as 3 years old were lost. Kids that had their lives ahead of them were killed. Refugees who had been living in New Zealand with the hope of a better life… were shot down.

And of course, I couldn’t help the questions. What kind of world are we living in? What kind of sick world are my kids going to grow up in? How do we explain the ugliness and brutality that is becoming more and more rife, as the years go by?

Someone wrote something yesterday that kind of stuck with me. Everyone is talking about this. Everyone wants to know the face behind this terror. Everyone needs a name to place blame on.

But let’s take a minute and think. This is what he wanted. He wanted fame. He wanted recognition. He wanted to be known for the terrorist attacks that he committed, inspired by Donald trump and white supremacy. This sick man, wanted people to talk about him.

So let’s not. Let’s make a pact with ourselves, and let’s not even make an effort to know his name. If you do know it, try to forget it. Kill his notoriety because he’s not even worthy of that. Instead, let’s be the light in the darkened world that’s been switched off.

Let’s speak about the good. Speak about the heroes, who had lost their lives. Speak about the heroes around the world, who are making a small effort in trying to exert a big change. It’s not only about the #Christchurch attacks… it’s about the attack on pure humanity. On goodness. The constant rivalry that makes the haters always win. 

So in a world where hate triumphs, let’s choose love. Be simple. Be kind. Smile at people. Share food. Spread Love. 

Because the hate is all over. The hate is what everyone focuses on. Hate is, after all, what sells.

So in a world where hate stands out, be that little light that can make a difference. Be the love that can spread goodness, even if it’s just in one corner of this ruthless world. 

Only with love, will we eventually see some beauty in this ugly world. Even in slums, and in fear, and even in the face of terror… With love, maybe some day .. one day… we will see that love.

Choose love. Because love CAN conquer it all.

Much Love, 

Amatullah 🌸


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Destined Encounters


Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem


The ties that bind us are impossible to explain. Some ties, were just meant to be. They defy time, space or logic. There’s no explaining it, until you understand the deeper meaning of  faith.

Because amidst a world that was parallel to ours… there were some souls that were chosen. Chosen to be special. Chosen to exert change. Chosen to just stand out.

It wasn’t a foreign notion, neither was it unheard of.

Sometimes, a person happens to meet someone whom he or she immediately loves and spontaneously develops some sort of affinity with. 

Basically, this means that Allah created souls and gave them their qualities. Those of similar qualities will easily be friends when they meet in this life, while those who have different natures are likely to be in conflict. This, in fact, accounts for endless cases of people getting along together when their apparent circumstances should have kept them well apart.

I smiled, thinking about my new friend as I switched the kettle on to make another bottle to feed my ever-hungry child.

”You’re looking better today,” Jameels voice said as he came into the kitchen, eyeing me out, just a little cynically. 

I blinked, slightly surprised at his perception. 

I didn’t think that Jameel was so tuned in to my feelings. Most of the time he seemed to focus on himself, and that’s what I had become accustomed to. I wasn’t used to him being all… considerate. 

I merely nodded. 

“You know I love you, right?”

Jameels voice was softer than usual as he sidled up to me. The sleeves of his shirt were folded up to his elbow and his hair was looking a little ruffled. I knew he had probably had a long day. 

I nodded again, swallowing hard. 

As one could imagine, things between us had become a little strained. I didn’t want to focus on it too much, and neither did I have the energy to. I kept my gaze on the markings on the bottle, making sure I was filling it right. 

“Leikha?” He said, and I could tell that he wasn’t going to rest it until he got a response. 

I turned slowly to face him, looking at my husband with an openness that I hadn’t attempted in months. 

“Where’s my brother, Jameel?” I said blatantly, not wanting to beat around the bush, and knowing that I had to ask.

It was the one huge thing that stood between us, and I hadn’t stopped thinking of it since the day Ahmed had disappeared. I knew that Ahmed knew more than he was supposed to, and that, for Jameel was a major threat. 

Jameel shifted uncomfortably, and then he frowned. 

“I swear, Leikha” he said openly, shaking his head. “I don’t know! I don’t know where he went to.”

”So you haven’t seen him?!” I challenged, my voice rising. “You haven’t even tried to track him down since that day?!” 

That day. That fateful day when everything just sort of crumbled. 

Jameels expression hardened as he narrowed his eyes. 

“The guy shot me,” he said, still sounding bitter. “He shot me, point blank. Of course I looked for him. I tried to track him down hundreds of times. I came so close, but he seems to be one up on me.”

Now it was my turn to narrow my eyes. 

I wasn’t sure if I believed him. 

“You don’t believe me?!” Jameel asked, raising his eyebrows. “Look here, let me show you.”

He was determined to get me on his side and I knew that he would go to great lengths to. He hastily opened the top button of his shirt, and subsequently, unbuttoned the next three. I wasn’t sure what it was about at that point, but as he slowly moved the shirt aside to reveal multiple red scalds right from his collar bone down to the bottom of his chest, I gasped. It looked pretty rough. 

“That was him,” he said heatedly, his eyes flashing. “He’s an animal. Can you imagine? A hot iron rod. Crazy!”

I knew Ahmed. Of course I did. I never did approve of his constant fight for power in our old neighbourhood. He had somehow earned a reputation for himself, and it seemed like he actually really could fend for himself. Despite thinking that Jameel had maybe found him and sorted him out by now, I was now a bit worried about my husband.

Ahmed was definitely tougher than I had thought. 

“Now do you believe me?!” He asked bluntly, watching me as I watched him. 

I blinked up and looked at his face, whilst he buttoned his shirt up again. It explained the high collars and button down shirts. Loose so they wouldn’t rub against the wounds. I didn’t ask him when or why. I didn’t want to delve into in more. I know it was a little selfish, but I was just glad that Ahmed was okay. 

“Are you still going to look for him?” I asked now, wanting to understand his reason for trying to find Ahmed. I wasn’t sure if it was for his own ego or not. Jameel didn’t often let people get away with things. He played hard. 

Jameel shook his head. 

“I wanted to find him,” he said, and he met my eye as he spoke. “I wanted to finish him. He got me down when I was at a low. But Leikha… you have to believe me. I don’t care anymore. I just care about you and my son. Really. I just want to make it all okay. I’m so sorry…”

His voice broke at that point, and I could feel myself losing my resolve. I didn’t want to stay angry. I didn’t want our marriage to have this huge rift that was becoming impossible to fill. I wanted to at least make it work. I wanted to try… and I wanted Jameel to try too. I wanted our lives to be different. 

My thoughts instantly went back to earlier that day, remembering the new friend I had found. It was no coincidence. I mean, it isn’t often that you meet random people at random places and you just hit it off.

She had given me a brief run down on her past and then tut-tutted for boring me with her medical history, as she took out her tasbeeh. I wanted to giggle. I could have said the same thing. I felt like spilling out my entire history to her too. She was actually such a lovely personality. So real… and slightly comical too.

And goodness. Why did I get them feeling that I’d met her before when I knew I haven’t?

“It was so lovely to meet you,” she had said, and I could practically see the sincerity in her expression. People like that, I knew, I didn’t meet often on this side of the world. She obviously was not from here.

I was outside the practice, waiting for my car to arrive, and she was leaving too. There was a single car waiting in the parking lot and I’m sure it must have been hers. 

I could see someone come up the steps, but they held back as she spoke to me. It was a simple case of pardah, that I knew he would never come forward. 

She paused, and I smiled back at her. I couldn’t express to her how grateful I was that I met her too. I was just sad that she had to go so soon.

The person who had been waiting for her slowly came up as she moved along, taking her bags. He was dressed in Sunnah attire, and it was so long that I had seen that kind of dress, that it actually felt strange. I assumed it was her husband. They had a small exchange as he gently took the baby, and I turned my gaze away, not wanting to pry. 

“Is everything okay?” I asked her, a bit concerned as I saw her hearing back my way. 

“I’m fine,” she insisted. “I just…”

She trailed off as she looked at me with that openness that I had felt when I had just arrived. Like she knew me too.

“My husband keeps on saying that I shouldn’t do this,” she said, rolling her eyes, and I could see her smiling again. She shook her head, almost at herself.  “And I know he’s right. I promise I don’t do this to everyone, but I would love to see you again and this is the perfect opportunity…”

I was curious. She continued.

“I know this is so random and it’s not everyone’s thing,” she started, somewhat hesitantly. “But since you do stay in this area… will you be open to attending the Taaleem?”

The last part she said in a crazy rush, and although she wanted me to, she didn’t really think I’d agree.

Taaleem. A gathering of peace where I knew I would probably benefit. It was foreign to me at this stage of my life. I wasn’t sure if I even remembered what it entailed.

I hadn’t been in years. Last was with Foi Nani, way before I got married. Mama used to go almost every week before she got sick. It was part of the reason her and Aunty Radiyyah were such good friends. That was where they first met.

The doubts were plaguing my mind.

I’m not that nearly that calibre. I wasn’t the Taaleem type. I’ve sinned so much. I can’t do that as yet. Maybe when my baby was a bit bigger…

Excuses. More and more excuses. I could think of so many. I was inspired with every type of motivation to not attend.

But there was something about the way she was looking at me, with so much of expectation. It was like she saw something in me that I didn’t.

And of course, I didn’t really think I was ready to take that step and start attending Taaleem. I mean, who does?

I didn’t know what  I was even waiting for.  I had a feeling that Zaynah probably had the amazing ability to make people agree to things that wouldn’t have dared to… in their wildest dreams. Some people were just from another dimension, that they planted themselves within your inner being and just became a part of your conscience. 

And maybe she had a point. She didn’t know it, but maybe I just needed some weekly reminders to get my mind focused again. I wasn’t sure how she knew or what inspired her, but this was no coincidence.

I found myself nodding without even knowing it, and she hastily gave me an address that was her uncle’s house and said she would leave her contact number with Yusrah if I needed it. Yusrah, who worked at the practice. 

The name sounded familiar but I didn’t dwell on it as turned my attention back to Zaynah as she clasped my hands in her one free one, saying again how glad she was that she had met me, and then, just as suddenly as I had seen her, she was gone. Like a refreshing summer breeze, it felt so stagnant without her. Some people just had that inherent ability to change everything around them. 

I wanted that. I remembered her smile as she looked out and saw her husband waiting for her. She spoke with pure emotion. There were no reservations. No hidden feelings. Nothing that she kept bottled up, waiting to erupt. 

I wanted to make it right, as I looked at Jameel.  This new light that was shining from somewhere beyond the horizon was so bright that it illuminated my entire world. 

And sometimes it just takes a smile. Sometimes, it just takes a little forgiveness. Sometimes, you have to just put your own selfish feelings aside and take that little step to mend it. 

Everyone goes through tough times. Every marriage has its trials. Sometimes you feel like you are just going through the daily motions as a means to an end. Sometimes you are just waiting for your partner to pull the trigger and call it quits on the sacred bond.

But sometimes, you have to put your own issues and feelings aside and make it work. 

So I took the first step to break those barriers that had so methodically found a way into our lives. I looked at him with sincerity, hoping my smile would do its magic and give us another chance. And of course, when he returned it, I just knew that there was still a little light that was battling to stay on, somewhere within the troughs of our strained relationship. I knew that there was still a little hope. 

And of course, that wasn’t the end of the mission I had embarked on to change my li and work on my marriage. I wanted to do some introspection. To find myself. To seek Allah.

So I figured I’d attend the Taaleem, and that it would be okay to take the baby with.  After convincing Jameel a few days later that its part of a recommendation I got at therapy (which wasn’t exactly a lie), my possessive husband agreed.

The drive to the place Zaynah had given me the address for was closer than I expected, and I gingerly got off the car with baby in hand, feeling strangely nervous.

I wasn’t sure why. Maybe it was meeting strange people. Maybe it was going back to the places where Mama’s presence always lingered. Maybe it was just hesitation.

I couldn’t place the feeling but I knew that there was no going back now. I didn’t want to feel awkward, so I adorned a plain black abaya set that I hadn’t worn in years, and I was glad I did. Simplicity was always the key.

I was glad that I wasn’t late, glad to have the chance to settle into a corner where Muhammed wouldn’t disturb anyone. I prayed silently that he wouldn’t have any outbursts from him, half-wishing that I had left him at home. I had just sat down in an invisible corner, when I felt a light hand on my shoulder, prompting me to turn around.

Of course, since I didn’t know anyone else here, the sweet little boy with his wide eyes was a dead give-away. His cute little gurgles today made me smile.

”You came,” Zaynah mouthed, because the first part of the Taaleem was already about to commence.

Zaynah was, in actual fact, lovelier than I had thought. I was seeing her for the first time, and I noted that she looked young. Maybe my age or just slightly older. She had beautiful features and a distinctive aura surrounded her. Peace. Peaceful peace. 

Honestly, although I always felt weird around them with their air of aesthetic arrogance, I wasn’t sure if any of Jameel’s family members could even compare to her.

And of course, I realised the triumphing factor here. It wasn’t just about looks or how physically beautiful someone was. There was a certain depth that shone from within, and that was where the root of true beauty lay. The beauty that came with a clean heart and deep knowledge of Deen was unique. That’s precisely what I had never understood before. It was just… light. Beautiful and awesome light.

I listened in silence as she spoke, so relieved when Muhammed nodded off. I relaxed a bit and actually listened. I took the time to dissect every word that was said, because it felt like they were aimed exactly at me.

I honestly didn’t know that Zaynah was so knowledgeable. I had no idea that she spoke so beautifully. That was the thing about coming here when you had reached rock bottom, and I was so glad. The advices were golden and the Ahadith that were read were so apt. And it was like the other lady said. We didn’t understand the life of our Nabi SAW. We didn’t understand just how special his life was. We didn’t understand the sacrifice that the Sahabah made to bring Deen to us.

Because although they left their homes, families and everything they had know their entire lives to spread the Deen, they had made the ultimate sacrifice. I never thought of it this way until the lady mentioned it, so beautifully and with so much of love.

Imagine, after meeting and spending time with the last Prophet SAW, realizing his awesome worth and being in his glorious company, they then had to make the ultimate sacrifice. They than had to make a life-changing decision. To leave their life as they knew it and spread the one true Deen, or to be selfish and keep it to themselves. To stay in the Prophet SAW and enjoy his Mubarak company for as long as they could. As long as he was alive. They not only made the choice and left everything they knew, including their property and families… but they had to leave him. They had to leave Nabi SAW.

With heavy hearts,  they had to walk away, with the sole ambition  of spreading Islam, and bringing it to unworthy people like us. People like me.

I couldn’t imagine that. I couldn’t stomach that sacrifice. I made intention. I was going to try. What better way to recognize and pay tribute to Nabi SAW than to revive his Sunnah? I had to make an effort, even if its just on one. 

I let out the breath I had been holding as the last part of the Taaleem concluded, and the hustle and bustle started. I took a few moments to collect my thoughts, trying to understand how this gathering should impact on my life , and reflect on what I can change. It was simple. I just needed to take small steps. I just needed to show Allāh that I really wanted to change.

And then there was the beautiful part which Zaynah took on to speak , and honestly, it just hit home for me. It was so simple, but honestly, I felt like it was meant just for me. I wanted to ask her … how did she know?

I mean, I knew all of it. I knew the beauty that Allah promised. I knew what Allāh was. I knew what HE offered. He owns the entire universe…. The heavens and the earth. Everything between the heavens and the earth. Everything beneath the heavens and the earth. Every cell in our body.

Everything belongs to Allah. Everything, Allāh brought into existence. It is existing, solely on His orders. Once it is in existence, it cannot be more than what HE wills. When it is still, it cannot move. When it is moving, it cannot be still.

And we know everything is in the hands of Allah… But do we recognise it? Allah guide whom He wills, and Allah deviates whom He wills. Everything is in His power… despite intelligence, despite affluence…. Despite wealth and despite power.  There’s just One Controller.

The thoughts were bewildering to my own mind. I was inundated with the amazement of it all.

Allah guides whom He wills. Allah guides who HE wills. Guidance has no other condition. No preference to wealth. No priority to status. No other controller, besides Him.

One Controller. One Maker. One Breaker. One Power. And He brought me here, right now. Right now, He chose me to be here, and He brought me to this gathering of nobility so I may find Him.

I could not swallow it. I could not even fathom it. The feeling was so euphoric that I could feel my palms getting clammy and my heart beating like never before.

Zaynah was busy offering kajoor (dates) to the ladies who had come, before they left, and I too got up as Muhammed starting wiggling, trying to control my own emotions as I moved away from the crowd.

I hastily started making my way to the door, hoping not to catch Zaynah’s eye as I left. I wanted to leave unnoticed. I wanted to just take it all in. To let it settle, and get it further under my skin. How did I explain to her what kind of life I was coming from? How was I going to make it right?

And just like that, when I felt that inclination to change my life and set everything right again, I knew that my Duaas would already come true. I knew that my wishes would be answered.

Because as I moved away from the crowd of ladies to gather my things and take a breath before I moved on, I didn’t expect what awaited me. I knew that I had to first take the step to change,and everything else would follow suit.

I just didn’t expect it all to start so soon.. I just didn’t expect the surprise that was waiting for me as I literally stepped out the door.

Right there, as I finally lifted my gaze to search for the car that was going to take me home, stood the person who I had been aching to see for the past few months. The guilt had been torturing me since he had gone. The emptiness in that corner of my bruised heart was still palpable.

I sucked in my breath, as my gaze steadily settled on my this soldier who I never thought I’d see again. Although he looked like a different man, and his entire appearance had changed, drastically, I would have recognized him from miles away….

After all this time… there were so many questions that needed to be asked, and so many answers we needed to know.

The pieces of the puzzle were coming together, and although we still had a long way to go, somehow…

I had a feeling that it might actually all turn out okay. 

Authors note: 

Dear readers, 

A little bit of a reminder for us all, especially myself. Whilst writing this post, I couldn’t help but remember the Sunnah revival Mission that was part of the past blogs. It definitely impacted my life, and I had an idea that it may not be completely futile to start it off again. With Ramadhaan around the corner, may be beneficial as a reminder. Any thoughts?!

Always appreciate the feedback. 

Much love, 

A 🌸

The Mystery Girl

Authors Note: 

Dear Readers, 

Apologies for the delay in posting. Life got a bit hectic this week with extra work and assignments, but InshaAllah I will have more time to post regularly for the next few weeks. 🌸 

A slight switch in perspective. May we benefit from the lessons InshaAllah.

Between 10 and 30 percent of all new mothers  suffer from postnatal depression. A woman is vulnerable when she has recently given birth coupled with the combination of too many stress factors. Just something I thought I’d bring to light since I had been hearing a lot of it recently and these women need to know that there’s nothing odd or shameful about it. 

Request Du’aas,

Much Love, 


Follow is on Twitter @ajourneyjournal or Instagram @ajourneyinstajournal


Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem


Everyone is life is looking for their own fairy tale. There’s a certain lesson that been taught since the time we were little. Everything we know has always driven that same force. Every story, every song, every movie, every book that I’ve ever read all tells the same tale— until you find your path that leads to the happily ever after, you aren’t complete otherwise.

And that lesson that’s taught is that the story ends at the wedding, and then that’s when your Jannah begins. That’s when you’ll be saved and completed and everything that was once broken will be fixed.

But that’s not where it all ends. In fact, it’s jut where it begins. Your first love. Your first fight. Your first child. Every ‘first’ holds a deep and true message that holds life-changing lessons.

And along the way, your Imaan is always changing. Always fluctuating. Up and down, as it grows and moves with your experiences. The heart is the forte of faith, and the channels that lead to it are constantly changing too.

It’s possible that sometimes, by some divine intervention, something that you may happen to hear, see or even feel just in passing, may just hit home for you. It may be unexpected. Completely random. Like a passing comment you weren’t really meant to hear, or a random person who you haven’t met for years, yet… it just stirs something within. It just strikes a chord that gets you to think back, and realise exactly where everything went wrong. Exactly where it all spun out of control.

For me, I always had my own idea of what set it off. The minute Aunty Nas intruded on the proposal that was supposed to change my life for the better, was the moment all my hopes went out the window.

I would have never admitted it to anyone, but that day, if everything had gone okay, was supposed to be my game changer. In my opinion, I was going to break free, with a new torch lighting up a new path. When Aunty Nas and her ugly words echoed through the house,  I just knew, without that light that was meant to magically fix my life, I was doomed.

Getting married to Jameel, however, was just part of the plan that was already penned out for me. I was iscared. I didn’t realise that there was no-one else who could change my path besides myself. I didn’t think that that I was worthy of anything else. I had given up on myself, letting the demons in my mind overcome me, and kill any hope I had for something better.

The tears had overcome me now as I sat in my bed one Monday morning, baby sprawled on the bed in a fit of discontentment. I was still wondering where it had gotten to this point. Post-natal depression had overcome me on an entirely different level, and my hopes had reached the ultimate minimum. There was no parallel to this feeling. As I looked at the baby in front of me, I couldn’t help but feel… nothing.

His face was almost red from the continuous outburst that was now going on for close to ten minutes. I stared at him in dismay, wondering what to do with this child who I just couldn’t seem to please. If it wasn’t my milk that didn’t seem to be enough for his insatiable appetite, he was bawling his eyes out because i couldn’t keep him close to me for every second of the day. No-one had warned me that babies were this much of work, and at that point, I swore to myself that I probably would never have another child.

I took a deep breath in as the door opened, hoping to gain the strength I needed to overcome my anxiety. the depression had become close to unbearable, and because I tried to stay away from any medication, I could feel myslef caving. I was slowly losing it completely.

“What the hell, Zuleikha? Can’t you hear the baby crying?! Are you gone crazy?”

Jameel looked at me with a disbelieving expression, probably thinking the same thing as me. I had lost it. I had lost my marbles. I was neglecting my child. I was an unfit mother. I desperately needed help.

He wore a navy and white geometrically printed shirt that was buttoned to the top, and his pants were formal today. He looked, of course, close to perfect. That was my husband. Always flying high, in every sense of the word. His bandage had been removed for a few days now and he was back to his old self. He never failed to come through or impress. It was just what Jameel was good at. Today was probably one of his big meetings that he never discussed. I had learnt long ago not to ask about the details. I really didn’t want to know.

Although Jameel had promised me that he was clean for weeks, I still had my doubts. I wasn’t sure if I was going to have to deal with this for the rest of my life.

I breathed in again, trying to dispel the negativity that had become trapped within me. I needed to let it go. Let it go.

“Are you taking him or not?” he snapped, moving hastily to the bed.

He reached for Muhammed, grasping him effortlessly with his hands and placed him on his shoulder. I looked at him, unaffected.

Why did I feel so empty? I felt like I had lost myself, and my connection with my Creator too. With my recovery after birth and the period in which I couldn’t truly do my Ibadat at it’s peak, I felt a huge void within me.

Jameel was gently tapping Muhammed’s back with the one hand that he held him, and his other was typing away on his phone. I sighed, getting up because I knew I couldn’t go on with this indifference.

“When’s your next appointment?” Jameel asked, a little bit gentler now, glancing at me as he spoke. He didn’t want to make eye contact too long, in case I asked him anything about his day ahead. I knew he was diverting my attention away from himself, but I didn’t care.

“Today,” I replied. The psychologist. After being diagnosed with post-natal depression, Jameel had been exceptionally kind and understanding in that regard. I hated to be ungrateful, but right now I just wanted him to leave.

He nodded. His dark brows furrowed as he narrowed his eyes at me.

“Is it helping?” he asked, and I knew why. I didn’t seem to be doing much better. In fact, I felt even worse than I had a week ago. I wasn’t sure if it was normal for depression to actually progress.

I nodded, swallowing hard as he watched me, with the baby settling onto his shoulder.

“I think he’s asleep,” he said softly, gently placing Muhammed down in the little cot that stood net to my bed. I watched in awe.

How did he do that? I heard that fussy babies smell their mothers milk when they are cradled by them, and thats what makes them more fussy. I just didnt witness it until now.

“Mum said she’ll keep him,” Jameel said, looking pointedly at Muhammed, and I immediately changed my expression.

I didn’t want my horrible mother-in-law to bond with my child, but she seemed to handle him better than me. Surprisingly, she actually took to him really well after we had come home, and would find any silly excuse to come into my territory of the house and see him. I hated that she constantly invaded, but since she had stopped picking on me so much, I kind of made a compromise. She seemed to genuinely love her grandson, and though the idea of her being anything but cold and ugly was foreign to me, to have a break from his torrential anger fits was a blessing.

I nodded and with that he leaned forward to lightly peck me on my cheek, telling me he’d see me later. His perfume was overwhelmingly intoxicating as he bent down, and I couldn’t help but spot a new small red mark adjacent to his collar bone, that could only be seen from close up.

I did a double take as he straightened up again and smoothed down his clothing, and though my expression changed, he didn’t notice. He grabbed his phone and retreated, leaving me feeling confused and strangely insecure.

What was that? Was it an injury? A burn? A love mark?

Goodness. I didn’t want to think of that. I knew my husband was far from perfect but would he really be having an affair right now?

I sucked in my breath and sought refuge from evil thoughts. He had never been blatantly unfaithful. Besides the incident with his cousin which he outright denied, there was no other single woman in question that I had suspected. I was torn between phoning him and questioning him, or just letting it go for now.

My worries consumed me as I got ready for the day, instructing the helper to bath Muhammed so I could rest my busy mind and just let it go. The appointment was in one hour, so I knew that I had to make an effort to look presentable, or I would never make it. Part of my therapy was making myslef feel good and worthy. dressing up for my husband, and even for myself, she had said, was always a reason. Sometimes it was just in the mind. It may have been a western theory, but it worked for me. When you made yourself look good, automatically, you felt good too.

I dressed smartly and draped one of my best hijabs, making an effort to look a little more normal than I felt. I had started making a small effort to dress like a better Muslim. It was part of my journey to bettering myself. I was definitely taking small steps, but the effort was there.

When I had just given birth, the psychologist would come home, but now that I was able to go out, they had suggested that I make the trip to the practise as part of my therapy. Meeting other people and socialising would also help me to recover, and hopefully, give me a sense of appreciation as well. After a long time, as I applied my berry-coloured lipstick, my thoughts ventured to Mama. It had been ages since I had thought of her, and her voice sounded so clear in my head that I couldn’t believe that it had been nearly ten years since her passing.

Abu Hurairah (May allah be pleased with him) reported:

Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Look at those who are inferior to you and do not look at those who are superior to you, for this will keep you from belittling Allah’s Favour to you.”

[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

It was something that I remembered Mama saying so often that I memorized it. Whenever I had felt like something wasn’t good enough or things weren’t as I imagined… she would always remind me. And what an apt reminder it was for me now as well with everything I was going through. Sometimes we think that our life is going really terribly, but it just takes a little reflection to see how many blessing we have, that others may never even know about.

My eyes immediately  settled on the sleeping baby in the corner of my room. He was truly a miracle in my messed up life. I may not feel the extent of his blessing and how special he was, purely because of my own issues, but I knew that I was lucky to have him. Even though I didn’t feel it all the time, he was a treasure that I knew I couldn’t ever trade.

He was squirming, and though he had got the longest sleep in what’s seemed like days after Jameel had put him down, I wished he would give me a few minutes to pack the things I needed for Muhammed whilst I wasn’t there. I ignored his tiny whimpers and quickly got his bottle sorted out while I grabbed my own bag to take with.

My mother in law was actually waiting outside for my son, and I waved at her a little too enthusiastically as I got into the car that Jameel had sent to fetch me. Sometimes distance was better. We seemed to be getting along better nowadays. She put her hand up in response while the helper took the baby up to her and they disappeared into the house.

I was lost in thought as the car moved along.

How amazing was it that these little people come into our lives, and just change everything? I knew things were not ideal, but the rift between my mother-in-law and I had slightly lifted, and an entirely different side of her had come out when she held my son. I never thought she would be the affectionate type, but kids can sometimes change a toxic environment into something a little more bearable.

The car suddenly halted, and I didn’t even realize that we had reached the practice. I slowly opened the door, thanked the driver who had brought me, and made my way up the stairs that led up to the rooms.

It was quiet and somewhat soothing. The soft colours that met my eye immediately put my mind at ease as I gave my name to the receptionist, who already knew me by now. There were a few empty seats, and I raised my gaze to look around for a good spot when I spotted a girl sitting in the far corner of the room. She was looking at ease in her surroundings as she jotted something down, and I wondered if she had been here before.

I wasn’t sure why, and it was so out of character for me at that stage of my life, but something about her was just drawing me there. It wasn’t about beauty, although behind her veil, I’m sure she had quite a presence. It wasn’t about her dress, because although I didn’t often see fully covered women, when I did, it didn’t feel anything like this. It wasn’t even about the baby that was sitting on her lap, who had the most gorgeously piercing blue eyes that I had ever seen.

This was just… unexplainable. Like a magnet, I found myself drawn to her, and I coyly took a seat beside this mystery person who I couldn’t fathom. She had been jotting in a notebook, struggling to keep it out of the baby’s grasp as she wrote, but as I sat beside her, she immediately looked up at me and through her veil, I could see her wide smile. Her eyes were dark, not like her son’s, but her openness was like a breath of fresh air for me. I felt like I could probably tell her anything, and yet, I didnt know her from a bar of soap.

”Assalaamu-Alaykum,” was all she said, as her eyes crinkled a little more at the corners, signaling to me an even wider smile that I didn’t even think was possible.

I smiled back and returned her greeting, somewhat hesitantly. I didn’t know what to expect, and even though she had already made such an impact on me, I really didn’t understand the enormity of the influence she would have on my future.  I didn’t understand how this one meeting could just make it… I didn’t understand how this could just happen.

But there are some things that I did understand.

Because once in a while, life surprises you…. Once in a while, you do get exactly what you ask for.

And once in a while, people enter your life that you love—not for what they give you—but for what they are. The beauty you see in them is a reflection of the Creator, so you can’t help but fall in love with that very beauty. And suddenly, your world is rocked and everything changes. It isn’t about what you’re getting anymore, but rather what you can give. This is unselfish love. It’s a love that sometimes doesn’t make sense to you, or may not be profitable in the eyes of a simpleton, but what’s behind the obvious is often the most valuable. And it was exactly what I needed.

I wondered what she was doing here… why she was here with this sweet little child. I wondered about her life and what she had maybe gone through in her life that brought her here. I was quite in awe of this mysterious girl who had taken me somewhat by surprise, and I took a chance as I introduced myself, because she was just that kind of person that made you feel completely at ease.

She held out her gloved hand and touched mine, before speaking again, with an openness that spoke a million words. Some people just have that inherent quality to make you feel at home.

“I’m Zaynah,” she said easily, her eyes twinkling. “And it’s lovely to meet you.”


Not Without a Fight

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem


“No ways!” Nusaybah squealed with wide eyes, as I filled her in on the past week’s events. “She kept that patch of garden for you?! All those years? How did she even know you were coming back?”

Did she know? Maybe she didn’t. Maybe she just hoped… and it was fulfilled.

I smiled as we walked along, taking in the scenic views of the houses that we passed. It wasn’t the most elite part of the neighborhood but there were some gorgeous gardens. My passion for gardening had once again returned, and everywhere my eyes settled, seemed to be a new opportunity. It was like I had a newly found gardening addiction.

“She’s a really nice lady,” I said, as I gazed around. “And she was really close to my Mama.”

“You think that’s the only reason why?” Nusaybah asked, raising her eyebrows cynically as she kicked a stone with her school shoe. It hastily rolled away into a nearby bush.

I frowned, wondering what she meant.

“Don’t act stupid, missy,” she said, ogling me. “Obviously, she likes you … probably loves you. She also thinks that you are probably going to marry her son. Duh.”

The last part was added on as an afterthought, but I couldn’t help but frown as she said it.

Oh goodness.

I was only fifteen. Marriage was eons away, and I really was not even thinking about anything like that. Trust Nusaybah to think out of the box.

I had to burst out laughing.

“Nusaybah, please,” I said, shaking my head.

She held her hands up in defense.

”I’m just voicing my thoughts. I don’t want you getting your hopes up on some Justin Bieber, and then he lets you down because he’s not all you imagined. Just… lower your expectations, okay? Guys are bad news.”

My mouth was hanging open. Justin Bieber? I wasn’t even sure I knew what the guy looked like, but Nusaybah was pretty clued up on that scene. Knowing about that type of stuff for me was so futile and just … rudiculous.

Nusaybah was going on about getting hopes up about people changing and how she didn’t want me to be disappointed because everything is not always how we think it’s going to turn out.

She was telling that to the wrong person. I had already seen that too many times in my life. Unfortunately, I was someone who always had high expectations… and things hadn’t always turned out to be as peachy as I had hoped.

“You mean like how you have hopes on someone else?” I asked, feigning innocence.

Nusaybah frowned.

“I don’t have hopes on anyone,” she said stubbornly. “I just like to you to keep your  options open. You’re so lucky, you know, growing up with no mum, and some crazy stepmother stuff too… and magically, still being so… stable. Did anyone ever tell you how strong you are?!”

I wanted to laugh.

“All the time,” I said blandly.

That was probably part of my problem. The strength that I was always told I had… the determination that I had always portrayed, from a tender age. It created a great expectation for my future.

“But do you know how great that is, Khawlah?” She said, her eyes now widening, as if she was onto something big. I didn’t know what she was talking about.

”I’m nothing great, Nusaybah,” I argued, feeling awkward that  she was throwing me up. “I’m just me.”

“‘I’m just me’. Hah,” she said, with a feigned chuckled. “Nonsense. You are like a knight in shining armor that stands out in the dark. Like a heroine from one of those story books I used to read. Ruby doesn’t know what she let go of. You were so good for the kids because you gave them that. You’re so solid.”

I wasn’t sure what she was on about. Rubeena was too demanding anyway. Nusaybah looked at me with her wide eyes and realized I needed more convincing. I could literally see her mind at it again… concocting the words to get me to believe it.

“You’re amazing, girl,” she continued, and I could see she was revved up. “You want to know why? Do you know that you’re the only girl in the school who wears long sleeves under your uniform jus’ because you know it’s part of your awrah? You’re probably also the only girl who hasn’t spoken to a boy on the phone… or in person. Whatever. Because you know it’s a sin. You’re like a one in a million, Khawlah. Goodness. You even use your break for Salaah. In this day and age, it’s so hard to get it right. We all want to strike a ‘balance’. We want to have it all. We don’t want to submit and just be what Allah wants us to be.”

Woah. It was a helluva load of food for thought, but there was some truth to what she said. I wasn’t as great as she thought I was, but I did I know that she was right. Having Deen was no coincidence. It was a gift that was give to only those whom Allah chose. It was a great bounty that Allah blessed with those whom He favored.

Mu’awiyah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

The Messenger of Allah said, “When Allah wishes good for someone, He bestows upon him the understanding of Deen.”

[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].



We had reached Nusaybah’s house now, and she paused as she gave me a quick hug.

We quickly greeted and then we parted ways leaving me with so much to think of. I never realized that she saw me that way.  I never realized that maybe other people saw me as some kind of inspiration. It seemed so peculiar, but although we may not think of something we do as great, someone somewhere may see it as something completely mind-blowing. A small change can make a big difference.  It may be a means for someone’s  change… or an opportunity for them to see the greener pastures on the other side of life.

What if I was their window, and now it was shut off?

Foi Nani!” I shouted as I entered the house, wondering howcome she didn’t come to the door like she usually did to greet when she heard me make a big salaam that she insisted we all make when we enter. She said it chases the Shayaateen away.

It was the first time she didn’t acknowledge my arrival. Unless she wasn’t home

I searched the house in case she didn’t hear me, finally finding her in the lounge, sitting in a chair and looking at the ceiling.

“Foi Nani, are you okay?” I asked her, a little concerned about her behavior.

She nodded, and then looked at me. She blinked a few times, and then widened her eyes.

“Khawlah?” She said, almost like she was confused.

I frowned.

“Is that you? You’re looking so tall, bachi.”

My frown deepened. Foi Nani hadn’t called me ‘bachi’ in years. It was like she was transported back in time.

“Are you okay, Foi Nani?” I repeated, getting worried.

She nodded.

“I’m just wondering,” she said, pointing to the ceiling. “When you’ll changed the color of the ceiling. It looks different.”

The ceiling? Really?

“Foi Nani, we always had that colour on the ceilings,” I said obviously. “Since we moved, its been that grey.”

“Since we moved?” She repeated. Now it was her turn to frown. “When did we move?”

I shook my head, smiling at her. She didn’t seem to be joking, but I wasn’t sure if she was dead serious.

Foi Nani had an weird sense of humor. I knew she was getting old, but she couldn’t be losing her memory? Right?

She settled back in her seat and seemed to be busy again as she picked up a book next to her that she was writing in. I left her to it, and went up to my room to start my school work. I ignored the feeling that maybe Foi Nani’s behavior was not just a slip of the mind.

As much as I tried to focus, Nusaybah’s conversation with me was still on my mind and I couldn’t help the nagging feeling, telling me that I had to see the kids again. I thought asking Nusaybah to join me might be a good idea, but I didn’t want to drag her into my little shenanigans again. I could go see them, right? Just to visit and see the kids. To check if they were okay.

It took me a few days to make up my mind, and through Foi Nani’s weird behavior and the imminent absence of Ahmed, I figured I needed a good diversion.

Finally growing the guts, I took a small detour after school on the last day of term, knowing that I would have extra time. It would still be early and I knew Rubeena would probably be home. I wondered how she’d act when she saw me. I wasn’t looking forward to meeting her after the way she had spoken to me the last time, but my heart had an inclination that I couldn’t control. I had to see the kids again. I didn’t want them to think I what just left them.

After Danyaal’s last words…. after I just left with no explanation… I hoped that he  didn’t feel like there was no more hope for grown ups at all.

I took a deep breath as I reached the house, preparing myself for the worst. With summer coming to a close, I could see the leaves starting to show traces of upcoming autumn. It was beautiful in its goldish glimmer and so soothing to me as I walked along, even though I wasn’t sure what to expect of the visit. I wasn’t even sure if they would be home. I just tried to steady my breathing as I took the stairs to the front door, literally holding my breath as I reached for the doorbell.

Please be home, I silently commanded them, hoping I didn’t come all this way for nothing.

My neck was feeling damp from the perspiration of the effort that it had take. to get there. A stray lock had crept out of my hijab and I hastily pushed it back in as I waited, hoping I looked normal. I blinked in anticipation, hearing shuffling at the door and small voices somewhere beyond it.

The door finally swung open, and there stood Rubeena in slight discomposure, looking slightly out of breath. I wondered if her training schedule had been taking a knock since I had gone. I pasted a gleaming smile on my face, ready to kill any hostility with forced pleasantry. She gasped at me for a few seconds, with her mouth open.

Khawlah?!” She breathed, almost as if she couldn’t believe it was me. “Is that really you?”

She seemed to be stunned at my presence, but I eagerly nodded as I replied in the affirmative, rushing through the explanation I had planned in my head.

I wasn’t sure if she even heard a word

“Do you know how many times I tried calling you?!” She exclaimed, shaking her head. “Your granny said she’d tell you… but I never got a call back… I thought you had disappeared!”

Wow. Was Rubeena actually admitting that she had made a mistake? She didn’t mention anything about her last exchange with me though. Conveniently. The news about Foi Nani answering her calls was also extremely strange… because I didn’t receive any messages from her. Unless…

Unless Foi Nani had forgot.

Rubeena was still talking about how the kids really missed me, and I was dying for her to get over with the rambling because I just wanted to finally see them… but there was a surprise lurking in the the far corners of the charming house that I didn’t expect.

As Rubeena explained that she was on her way out, and finally turned to call the kids, it was only then that I realized that there was probably someone else in the house with them… who had been watching me all this time.

I didn’t judge her, but I knew well enough by now that a person like Rubeena wouldn’t survive without extra help. I was positive she would probably crumble under the pressure.

As the kids  ran forward and I outstretched my hands, I sought refuge in their broken but adorable little sentences and familiar voices.

They remembered me! I was so glad that I hugged them tightly, telling them that I missed all the fun we used to have. Even the baby seemed excited to see me, as he stood on twos now and tried to reach for my head.

Only Danyaal slunk back, and I looked at him apologetically. My heart sank. I knew I owed him a proper explanation. I had hope that I could explain to him properly how everything in life sometimes goes. I couldn’t help it… it was out of my control. I wanted to tell him all of that and more.. but as I opened my mouth to try and coax him nearer, the words died on my lips just as fast, as I gaped at the person in front of me.

I didn’t know if I was seeing right, but I found myself pointedly staring at the profile before me, almost in disbelief.


The infamous imposter. My sworn adversary. The memorable nemisis. 

What a way for us to clash again. This was going to make things very challenging indeed.

She had been my replacement. By some twist of fate, she had to be the one.

She stood before me with that oh-so-familiar look on her face, and I just knew this was going to be a tough one. It was the same look she wore, the day I grabbed the naartjie from her hand. It was the same hostility she had, that didn’t change.

After all these years, it was still as clear as day.

Without a fight…. there was no way she was going to back down.


Authors Note:

Dear readers,

Next post may be a little delayed. Apologies in advance. If you enjoyed ajourneyinajournal and you have Instagram, please follow us on Instagram @ajourneyinstajournal. 

InshaAllah, hope to make it as inspirations through little pieces from my first blog and other sources. 

Much love,

A 🌸