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)



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