Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem
Ever heard the saying, news spreads like wild fire?
I honestly think that the saying should have been amended. News, by default, is anything that is considered to be fresh and exciting. To the common human being though, news is anything that is considered juicy, accusing or even just plain down… gossip.
Because there is a certain nature of people in this world that take the crown when it comes to being haters. They wish you harm. They question your achievements. They await your downfall. They silently resent your happiness.
No matter how you may try in your pursuit of reaching your Lord, it’s these little tests that come to maintain your sincerity. It’s these trials that play a role in the utmost test of true integrity.
And as Ramadhaan had come to pass that year, amidst the sullen atmosphere that had taken over the household, there was a little light that was finding its way through. That little light had been put on pause as I had asked my family to quit with the pressure and just let me be, while I tried to heal my heart and soul.
Dada’s voice echoed through the house now as we got ready for school after our very short Eid break. It was strange how things worked out. We missed Foi Nani a lot. It was like a hole that we needed to fill, but we knew we would never be able to. My uncle and cousins had left quickly for home, and the house was soon empty again.
Contrary to our expectation and much to our delight, Mamajee had promised to be back later in the year, and thinking about my cousins coming back made me so excited. During that short time, we had formed an indescribable bond. But despite the palpable feeling of loss, there was another amazing plan in store for us that we didn’t anticipate. It happened so suddenly, that there was no time to even think about it’s execution… until it all just materialized.
After Foi Nani’s passing, Abba felt an immense longing to bring Dada back home. The presence of an elder person in the home was really amazing, and of course, how could we object? Dada, surprisingly, was still as fit as he had been ten years ago when he was staying with us. At the time when Aunty Nas had finally left, Abba had finally come to his senses and pleaded with Dada to come back. He had refused. I didn’t blame him.
He was hurt about the treatment he had gotten from Aunty Nas but he was also happy that he had found so many new friends at the home. It just so happened that one of his good friends had recently passed on, and Dada had now realized that he had enough of living with older people and needed a change. He was in his mid seventies but he didn’t look a day older than sixty.
“You can’t get married,” Dada said to me suddenly one day as we sat and ate Weet Bix together. “You’re still my little girl.”
I smiled. Dada still thought I was ten.
“Dada, I’ll still be here,” I said to him assuringly, knowing that even if I had to get married, or make Nikah, I wouldn’t leave home until after I finished school. There were still so many decisions to make.
Dada’s expression suddenly changed. His brow furrowed and his frown deepened.
“Dada, what’s wrong?” I asked him, touched by his attachment to me, even after all these years.
Him and Abba looked very much alike, but Dada’s eyes were much darker. Abba, Ahmed and Zuleikha had inherited my late Dadi’s amber eyes, but of course, Dada’s infectious smile.
The only problem was that now, I could see no trace of that amazing smile and it pained my heart.
“It’s just unfair,” Dada said somberly. “I just came back and now you want to leave. First your mother… and now you. You know I still think of my daughter every day. Allah just doesn’t want me to be happy.”
“Dada!” I scolded and I sucked in my breath. I shook my head at him to reprimand him. How can he say that? How can he?
“Allah always wants the best for us, Dada,” I explained calmly, hoping for him to see sense. “He gives us tests so we can find Him and get closer to Him. If we always have the best of everything and everyone around us, how will we ever seek His comfort?”
Dada looked at me with a new-found admiration, almost as if he was suddenly seeing me in a new light. His smile returned, and this time there were no reservations behind it.
“When did you get so clever?” He said, with a smirk. “Just like your mother. Beautiful like her too. I know it definitely couldn’t be your father. It must have been that boy… that fellow you used to play with outside. What was his name again?”
I ignored the ‘go’ at my father. I knew Abba often tried, but Dada and him didn’t always hit it off. He always said my mother was his daughter. He never referred to my father as his son.
I swallowed as he waited for my answer. He was talking about Khalid and remembering my childhood friend brought the most nostalgic memories to surface…
”His name was Khalid, Dada,” I said softly, not elaborating.
“Oh yes!” Dada boomed. “Khalid the brave… what a boy, Khawlah. He was so young and he spoke like a grown up. Fought like one too. Whatever happened to him? Now him, Khawlah…Him… I really liked!”
I smiled sadly. If only he knew. If only he saw Khalid now. I kept silent because I didn’t want to kill his idealistic perceptions.
“You’ll like Aadam too,” I said, in a non-committed way. I said Adam’s name in the traditional way, even though no-one else did. I didn’t want to give myself away but I also wanted Dada to warm up to the idea if I had to make a decision.
Dada didn’t comment but he seemed appeased with my words and went to rise his mouth after eating, like he always did. Dada was different to Abba in many ways, but he had an amazing habit of observing many of the Sunnah that I admired and sometimes even forgot about. He then went off for his morning nap, leaving me alone with my own thoughts.
The truth was, after everything that had happened, I still felt a restlessness within me that was throwing me off-track. It clouded my judgement and made me question my decisions. With that in mind… and amidst the pending proposal that I knew was on its way, but I couldn’t yet accept, Ramadhaan had been a good excuse to put on halt.
And man. It was only when I got stuck into my own course of reformation did I really get the purpose of the beautiful month. As each day passed, it was as if I could feel my heart being cleansed and ridden of the rust that it had accumulated over the entire year. I felt clean. Purer. I felt almost as if I was brand new, polished and perfected; like a new born finding its way into this warped world, as Ramadhaan came to an end … I wanted to cling to it’s tail-end and never let it go.
But of course, just as you feel you want to get stuck into that cocoon and never come out, something happens to ruffle it all up again. Going back to school after Eid made me realize that it only took a moment for Shaytaan to start up again.
“Have you heard?” I heard them whisper as I walked passed two of the senior girls in the hallway. I could feel their eyes on me as they watched me, and I shrugged off the feeling, lifting my head a bit higher and trying to be strong. Where was Nusaybah when I needed her?
Another girl I had vaguely known from the Laboratory looked at me a bit strangely as I walked by, and I could see a flicker of interest in her eye as she watched me. All this unwanted attention after the short break I had taken after Eid was throwing me off track.
I put my head down as I continued to walk, my heart thudding in my chest. What was going on?
Caught up in my own space for those few weeks got me abhorring the reality of the shallow world we truly live in. People who usually spoke to me were acting strange. Girls were whispering behind my back, and the worst part was that Nusaybah couldn’t be spotted anywhere.
All I could do to stop myself from crumbling under the cynical gazes was to think of the end of the day when I would see my favorite boys again after nearly a month. It had taken me that long to make a commitment with Rubeena, because with school, assessments and everything in between, I didn’t want to let distractions throw me off focus.
But today… Today… was the day.
I smiled to myself as I thought of them, already anticipating the change I knew I would see in them after these weeks. They definitely would be gone bigger. Little Zia and Zaydaan would probably have some additions their vocabulary as well.
I had spoken to Rubeena on the phone a few times, but we had always kept it really short. She had explained to me that Quran was taking up a lot of time, and I felt so inspired by her determination. She admitted that her tajweed wasn’t awesome, but she showed such amazing commitment that I told her that when I got a chance I would definitely try and help her out. The kids missed me, she said, and of course, my heart was aching to see them too. I couldn’t wait to hear about the adventures… about school and their outings… and of course…
My thoughts halted as Nusaybah came up to me, and I couldn’t help but feel a wave of guilt as she fiercely embraced me with all her might.
Nusaybah. Amidst the guilt was an immense relief, because I was so glad that at least my friend wasn’t acting strangely towards me too. The stares had begun about two weeks ago, and I had just assumed that the news of my grandmother passing was still finding its way around, and in my innocence, I didn’t realize the severity of the situation.
Nusaybah smiled her usual smile. She was so sincerely open. Warm and full of compassion. She smiled at me as I swallowed, because as the days went by, it seemed like I didn’t know what to say to her. We would still talk passionately about our lives, loves and fears, but the one thing that was causing an obstacle in my conversations, I knew Nusaybah had no idea of.
“So today’s the day right?” She said, smiling again.
My heart thudded as she said it, wondering if she had finally figured it out. Did I mention I was going to Rubeena? Maybe someone had said something. Maybe she knew more than she was letting on all this time.
I nodded silently, feeling uneasy.
“You really need to find out about what’s going on with that girl,” she said, her tone changing and her face turning serious. “I’ve been hearing things that you would probably die if you had to know. She is causing more problems that I thought. I have to speak to her.”
I visibly exhaled as it hit me, relieved. Although I should have at the time, I didn’t ask her what she had heard. What I didn’t know was that in order to protect me, my friend too was hiding what she knew. She had revealed a very little of the antics that had gone down in a very diplomatic way, but it still disturbed me even after all this while.
She was talking about Hannah.
I smiled and shook my head, although I knew that it would be a long shot. I had forgotten. We had discussed that after Eid we were going to see Hannah, and find out what was going on with her. Found out what she had said about me, too, because there was definitely something she had forgotten to mention that day when she had come to see me.
I had found out from Nusaybah that Hannah was now involved with Rubeena’s husband, and I could not even stomach it. How someone could break up a home and a marriage like that was beyond me… and after hearing about it, I had solemnly asked Nusaybah to never tell me anything else about her again. I didn’t want to harbor more ill feelings. I didn’t want to dirty my heart with the ideas of her warped character.
“Ramadan is not here to change our schedules, it is here to change our hearts.”
That was precisely what I was trying to embrace as I digested the facts. I wanted my heart to remain free of everything that tarnished it in the past.
We hadn’t seen Aunty Nas since before before Foi Nani’s funeral and Hannah hadn’t been to school either. I could only assume that she had left for good, and it was now a new stage of her life that I was sure she would find quite challenging. I still made Du’aa for her, and hoped for her forgiveness and ease, despite everything that had happened.
I sighed as Nusaybah and I walked out of school that day, as she assured me not to worry about the whispers that were coming my way. It seemed that everyone knew about Hannah. People knew that Aunty Nas was married to my father at one stage, and they used any reason to involve you in a scandal.
The problem was, the extent of this scandal was still foreign to me until I walked out of school that day. Sometimes it just took a while for the real damage to be done. Sometimes it takes a while to know the truth of what people were really made of.
I didn’t want to face Hannah, but Nusaybah was insistent that we get to the bottom of this story that was doing its rounds not only at school. She didn’t tell me why, but as we walked along the neighbourhood with purpose, I could feel an uneasiness between us that wasn’t there before. It was stifling and it was so strange, that I knew I couldn’t overlook it. Just as I was about to ask her, a smart car pulled up next to us, and without missing a beat, Nusaybah gestured for me to get in, and slid in behind me too.
I didn’t even recognize her, but as my eyes adjusted to the light, I immediately recognized Rubeena in the drivers seat, with a serious expression on her face. She smiled at me as I caught her gaze, but her and Nusaybah remained mostly silent as we drove on, in the opposite direction to where we had been headed all along.
“Where are the kids?” I said, breaking the silence and feeling their absence. I also wanted to know what was going on.
“With my mum,” Rubeena said. “We’ll fetch them later… after we do what we need to do.”
I frowned slightly and I could feel Nusaybah shift in her seat.
“Please can we tell her?”
I swallowed nervously as I realized that Nusaybah wasn’t talking to me.
She was talking about me.
Rubeena nodded and I looked at them both questionably, shocked that in my naivety, this had gone so far.
Yes, I had suspected that something was amiss. I had an inkling, but I didn’t know for sure. That was the precise moment when I knew for sure that something was majorly wrong.
I couldn’t believe that I didn’t realize it before, but this was something that I didn’t anticipate.
The scandal wasn’t about Hannah.
It was about me.
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A reminder about the evils of gossip and how a small thing can be blown so much out of proportion. As Ramadaans effects leave, May we hang onto the good habits we’ve always wanted to acquire. Let’s try to avoid gossip of any form, and that includes even listening to it. Although it may be hard at times, the easiest thing to do will be to change the topic or to simply walk away.
May Allah make us of those believers who earn Paradise and its beautiful pleasures. May He make us of the steadfast, and assist us in attaining the most out of this blessed month has passed.
Todays Sunnah as mentioned in the post. Rinsing the mouth after eating.
It is mustahabb to rinse the mouth after eating, because Basheer ibn Yassaar narrated that Suwayd ibn al-Nu’maan told him that they were with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) in al-Sahba’ – which is some distance from Khaybar – and the time for prayer came. He called for food, but he did not find anything but some saweeq (barley mush). So he ate some and we all ate with him. Then he called for water and rinsed out his mouth, and then he prayed, and we prayed, and he did not do wudoo’.
(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5390).
How easy to practise!
It’s so good to have you back Alhumdulillah!
Hope you had a wonderful Ramadaan 💕
Oh no ! I hope everything works out for Khawlah 🤞🏻
Jazakallah for the post
Can’t wait for the next one 😀
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AW shukran sister.. JazakAllah Khair for the feedback, really appreciated!
Welcome back. I got so happy when I checked and saw a post!!! 🤗
Missed khawlah and the beautiful lessons 🌺
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Shukran sister.. I missed writing too!
MashAllah so happy to have you back!!! Oh poor Khawlah. I just hope everything will get sorted out now. JazaakAllah khair for the wonderful post.
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Missed hearing from you all too, sis!
I hope so too…
Aameen, sis. Shukran!