As human beings living in this temporary world, it’s only natural that we will never understand the concept of ‘forever’. We don’t understand the reality because we see how night turns into day and day turns into night. We see flowers wilting and seasons changing. We see the people aging and lives ending…
Our concept of forever is limited… restricted… so temporary.
But the real ‘forever’.. the real forever is what comes after. It’s what we are promised. It’s the home of our desires and the basis of every dream. Sometimes it’s the only thing that really keeps us going. It’s only one day, when we walk in Jannah, when we will understand how forever really works. How truly limitless it is.
How every difficulty here in this temporary world will make eternal sense.
“I used to be the type of person who put everything materialistic above everything else. It was the only thing I ever cared about…”
I looked up at Aadam as he watched his nephews kicking the ball around. We had taken a little stroll to the park near the apartment, now sitting and enjoying the soothing sound of gushing water from the the little pond there that I never seemed to tire of.
He wiped off the tiny beads of perspiration from his forehead as he spoke. His breathing was still slightly heavy from chasing after the boys just a few minutes ago.
“I don’t believe that,” I said, shaking my head and reaching out for his hand. “You were never a selfish person.”
Rubeena had taken over now and we watched her as she kicked the ball back and fro to them. Zaydaan was chasing after the pigeons nearby, and Zia was trying to join in on the make-shift goal scoring with no success. She was probably one of the few women I knew that could actually kick a ball with direction. I supposed having four boys gave you different kind of skill too.
”Khawlah,” he said, turning his gaze back to me and moving closer on the bench. “You saw me, all those years ago. And maybe you didn’t know me but I’m sure I was nothing like the kind of guy you’d always pictured for yourself…”
He looked at me and I smiled at him, taking in his now modest frame and unkempt hair, covered with a prayer hat. I remembered those days when his styled hair and bulky frame was the most noticeable thing about him.
”You loved your nephews,” I said simply, resting my head on his shoulder. “You changed your life. You found Allah. It doesn’t matter beyond that…”
“You make me sound so noble,” he said, his one dimple flashing as he glanced at me. “But I was so far. The only thing that consumed me was how much further in this world I could make it. How much more I wanted to push. If this had happened to me back then, if I had gotten sick… all I would have wanted to was spend all my time making an even bigger name for myself before I lost the ability to. I would have wanted to do was make the most of being alive. I would have probably been on my way to Kilamanjaro now… abseiling or mountain climbing or sky-diving… doing all the things I had never done before, just so I could say I made the most of my life..”
”You can still do all of those things,” I said with a grin.
“I know I can, sweets,” he said simply, his dark eyes meeting mine as he smiled and slipped his arm around me. “But the point is, I don’t want to anymore. Sometimes I wonder what little deed I had done and overlooked and thought was all gone to waste. Sometimes I wonder which action it was of mine that made Allah look at me with such a gaze of mercy that it changed everything. But you see, love, I didn’t know it then, there’s a secret hidden in the sacrifices done for the sake of Allah…”
I looked at him as he breathed in deeply, gazing at the serene display of greenery ahead, almost as if he was trying to come to terms with it himself. Almost as if he was trying to digest the favors of Allah upon him, even in the state he was in…
“Sometimes the goodness doesn’t stem from the source we invest it in,” he murmured softly into my ear. “Sometimes it comes out of the blue, and it’s only now I can see how true Allah’s promise is when he says “Is there any other reward for good other than good?”
He granted me a goodness so far beyond my expectations. He gifted me with such a fulfilling marriage and solid belief through it. Lesson learnt… never ever regret any good put forward for the sake of Allah. With Him, nothing is ever lost…”
I looked at my husband as his eyes fixed onto mine, burning from deep inside as he spoke. He was so sincere and unwavering.
“I wanted to see my mother change,” he said softly. “And I can see it happening Khawlah. I know that my Duaa is already being answered. I want my sister to be happy again… I want to see her settle. I want to wake up at night and talk to my Lord. I want to feed people and do good. Real good. Most importantly, yeah… the one thing I want do right now is be with you and the boys and make the most of this…”
His voice broke as I looked at him, touched by his emotion. I had completely forgotten about that Du’aa he had made. His mother was truly becoming such a different person to me, and I couldn’t believe the change as I saw her every day. Amazing proof that Duaas work wonders…
”Aadam,” I said, swallowing hard, trying to lighten the atmosphere and at the same time, digesting the reality for like the millionth time since he was diagnosed. “You’re young. You’re only 22. Please don’t talk like you’re on your death bed…”
Aadam smiled cheekily as he squeezed my hand.
“I’m just baring my soul to the girl who stole my heart…“ he said simply. “This time without any weird stunts that will land me in hospital.”
”Well I should hope not,” I grinned at him. “I’m not sure if my heart could handle more right now. The only thing that’s keeping me going is knowing that you’re going to sail through this test and be okay…”
The sun was filtering through the tree above, it’s streaky light settling on the ground in front of me in various patterns. It was strangely soothing.
“Do you know that Nabi SAW never made Du’aa for a long life?” He said, after a few moments of silence.
”I didn’t know that,” I said quietly. “But… you can choose to ask for whatever you wish…
”I know,” he said, pecking my cheek. “So let’s make a deal, yeah.. you ask for what you wish, and I won’t stop you… and I’ll ask for mine…”
The ball rolled up to our feet at that point, and Aadam stood up to join the boys again, while I forgot for a moment what it was we were really talking about. I forgot to ask him what he really meant…
And some things kind of slip beyond your view, dwelling there while you bury yourself in oblivion because it just makes the most sense to you right then…
And as they continued with their little game, so too did time move on… and life as we knew it continued. The days turned into weeks and time revealed to us many things we didn’t anticipate. Aadam got stronger, then weaker. He battled. He fought. He hurt. He healed. His emotions fluctuated with each new day.
Every day was different. Challenging in their own ways. Amazing too. Some mornings Aadam seemed so energetic. Alive. Some nights he seemed to be completely broken. Frustrated. I concentrated on the good, knowing that there were many who were worse off than him. I tried to be strong, supportive, and withstand the tests with conviction…
”Is your heart okay?”
My friend was looking at me with concern in her eyes, as she cleared a spot on my bed to collapse into. I glanced at her, not sure how to answer. Was my heart okay?
”It’s a little shattered,” I murmured truthfully. “But it will hold up.”
”That’s the spirit,” Nusaybah said encouragingly. “And what about him?”
I thought of Aadam, picturing him in my mind.
He was so fiercely independent that some days I couldn’t tell if he was really okay, or just about pulling through…
”He’s coping,” I replied, knowing that he wanted me to think he was perfectly okay. I saw the signs every day, but his mind was on a completely different wavelength to his body.
She offered a tiny smile, and turned to face me.
“Emotionally, he’s perfect,” I said confidently. “Most days. I really can’t believe that he’s pulling through with so much of conviction…”
“I knew it,” she said simply, munching on her packet of chips in true Nusaybah style. “Because he had all the tools to bring it together, but he just needed you to help him to see it. You’re so strong, Khawlah. It must be taking a helluva lot from you. Can I do anything for you at all, honey? He’s going to be okay, you know. Just keep on giving Sadaqah…”
I shook my head, and then nodded and swallowed, remembering the Hadith that if wards off any bad and prevents calamities too.
Umm Salamah (RadhiAllahu ‘anha) reported,
The Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said:
“Good works protect from evil fates. Charity in secret extinguishes the wrath of the Lord, maintaining family ties increases life span, and every good deed is charity.
The people of good in the world are the people of good in the Hereafter, and the people of evil in the world are the people of evil in the Hereafter. And the first to enter Paradise are the people of good.”
[ al-Mu’jam al-Awsaṭ 6252 – Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Albani ]
Aadam hesitated not even a moment in doing anything he could. His generosity was on another level completely…
I was so glad that my friend had such an amazingly positive outlook on life. It was so refreshing and different to the gloom that we faced from other people day in and day out.
This is what I loved to hear. Positivity. Hope. Ambition. There was so much to be grateful for.
”You’re the best, Nus,” I said, looking at her with a wider smile. “I’m fine. Can you pass over that packet of Doritos that you’re hogging now?”
“This flavor is amazing,” she said, tossing me the packet. “It didn’t help that there was an exotic-looking muscle man in the kitchen that made my heart nearly cease in my chest. Who is he and where have you been hiding him all along?”
”You talking about Faheem?” I asked, knowing that Ahmed and my cousin were busy planning a road trip for the next day.
Ever since Ahmed had put an indefinite delay on his wedding date, everything’s become a little upside down. Since it was their holiday season, my uncle and his family were down from the UK and having no wedding to plan for was leaving this at a little bit of anti-climax. The pros were that I was getting a chance to bond with my cousins. The cons was that Ahmed’s erratic decisions were unsettling everyone’s plans.
“Is that his name?” Nusaybah asked, her eyes glazed over. “Please tell me he’s not married or out of bounds.”
“I think he’s pretty much available…” I said, a little hesitant about where Nusaybah’s mind was going.
“Can you picture it?” she asked, her eyes still looking scarily dreamy as I watched her. “You and I… on a picnic mat under the glorious pine trees… while Mr Muscle and Mr Perfect are busy knocking around with a soccer ball while we sit and laugh about the ‘back in the day’ when we used to eat Doritos and talk about our futures…. Fast forward two years, Khawlah, and bam!! Two little munchkins are in the picture… a little girl that Adam always says he wants, and a little boy who looks just like Mr Muscle down there … already destined for each other since inception because their parents are best of friends…”
My goodness. She was officially gone bonkers.
”Err Nusaybah,” I said, shaking my head at her in disbelief. “The guy doesnt even know your name and you’re planning to have a family with him. That’s just creepy.”
”But he’s beautiful,” she breathed, looking sincerely disappointed.
”Nusaybah, I think you’ve officially lost your marbles,” I sighed, as I looked at my friend. “The love affair with your mathematics books has to end. Do you know that they said Einstein had lost his mind? It was all those limitless numbers and ridiculous formulas-“
”Formulaeeeee,” she said in a monotone, emphasizing the last part.
”Whatever,” I said, waving my hand at her. “You’ve officially gone crazy. What about lowering your gaze, huh? It’s not like you to be guy-obsessing…”
”Khawlah, I can’t deal!” she suddenly wailed, throwing up her hands in the air as she hid her head in the pillow. ”I can’t even open a single book for the past two days! Every time I try it’s like there’s an overwhelming force that’s come to devour me!”
I wanted to laugh, but I knew it was wisest not to make fun of my friend. She was shaking her head, almost in a deep depression.
“Khawlah, do you think my mind is rebelling against me at the worst of times?!” She moaned. “There are only two months to finals!”
Two months? That was a lifetime.
”Hmmm,” I said, not wanting to tell her that maybe she had burned out her brain cells. It would probably finish her. “You think maybe some motivation can help..?”
I was thinking along the lines of a professional tutor or alternate study partner. I didn’t know that my best friend had other ideas in mind…
”My word, Khawlah, yes!” She exclaimed, her wide eyes lighting up. “You’re a genius! A study partner and mentor. Can we start this weekend? I’ll set it all up, with a mini smoothie fridge, gluten-free snacks and the study works.. we’ll be on our way to multiple distinction passes in no time at all…”
”Not this weekend,” I said quickly, remembering Adam’s request that morning, ecstatic that I had an excuse.
”Why not?” She asked suspiciously. “Listen, you better tell Mr Perfect to go and fight the werewolves or something for the next few weeks. We can’t be having any interruptions.”
”This is kind of a big deal,” I said quietly, glancing at my friend as she frowned at me. Her eyes suddenly lit up as realization dawned…
”Oh my socks…” she murmured, widening her big eyes even more. “Has he finally proposed for the big move? This is like an event of it’s own…”
”Not exactly,,” I said softly, not wanting to admit that it had crossed my mind a few times after we spoke. It did sound like Aadam was thinking about it. “But it’s probable…”
The truth was, even though I didn’t know what was really going to happen… I couldn’t help but feel that amidst my studies and his sickness, and everything else in between… time was running out on us, and Aadam felt the exact same way.
”Oh cadoodles…” Nusaybah breathed. “Please pinch me. Tell me I’m not dreaming. Please tell me that you’re actually thinking along the same lines as me, and not like the crazy old lady in young person’s body that you used to be…”
I stuck out my hand and pinched her arm in jest.
”It’s like one of those romantic novellas,” she whispered, rubbing it dramatically. “When the injured knight in shining kurta comes back from a fierce Jihaad, seeking the halaalest love of his life and just wanting to spend every remaining waking moment with his hijaabi warrior-princess before he has to head out again in the noble path…”
I closed my eyes and shook my head, fighting the urge to giggle.
Nusaybah was nuts, but so easy to laugh with. She made everything seem so simple, even though there were so many other things going on.
Ahmed’s uncertainty about his own future was still a concern, and with us just finishing the last lot of trial examinations, it was about time that I took a moment to breathe.
The truth was, with so much going on and Aadam just finishing off his treatment, he was so exhausted that we couldn’t even think further. Now that he had made it clear that there was no way he was continuing to put himself through anything so taxing again and feel even worse than the cancer made him, we were thinking a little more clearly. If was time for him to take a break, do his tests and then leave it in Allah’s hands.
Leaving home to live with Aadam was a big step right now, and as hard it was to digest, he was my husband after all. Maybe it was time to be make the big move…
Nusaybah was rummaging in my cupboard, already tossing out several outfits, some of them of an extremely embarrassing nature, when Ahmed’s voice from down the passage sounded out.
Now, sudden outbursts in my house were pretty much nothing out of the ordinary, but we usually tried to keep it together until all outsiders left. This was just a little out of character, even for Ahmed…
I widened my eyes as Nusaybah paused to look at me worriedly. I instructed her to wait there while I made my way toward the kitchen, clearly hearing Zuleikha’s raised voice as she addressed him.
”You can’t do this!” She was saying, he voice sounding dangerously on the verge of tears. She seemed absolutely distressed. “You can’t just go around breaking people’s hearts with a mere apology. What kind of person are you? She’s such a nice girl. I cannot believe you called it off! You’re not thinking straight!”
I could see my cousin looking back and forth as he watched them. Poor guy was caught in the midst of their banter.
”I can’t do it, Zulz,” he said simply. “I can’t marry someone just because they seem like a nice person. People are allowed to change their minds. She said so herself. There’s no harm done. Can we just let it go?”
”No!” Zuleikha almost screamed. “I won’t allow it! Have you even thought about this properly?”
I stepped into view as they both looked at me. Obviously I knew what this was about. The topic had been the only one in discussion for the past month. Obviously, I could not have been more disappointed with Ahmed’s lack of ability to deliver, but I really didn’t have much time to dwell on it. I just didn’t expect Ahmed to come back with a changeover… the only thing that may set everyone off completely.
”I’ve thought about it very carefully,” Ahmed admitted, meeting her eye. “I’m ready to make Nikah. The only thing is… I’ve got someone else in mind…”
Don’t forget our Sunnah this holiday!
Umar ibn Abi Salamah said: I was a young boy in the care of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and my hand used to wander all over the platter (of food). The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to me, “O young boy, say Bismillaah, eat with your right hand, and eat from what is directly in front of you.”
(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5376; Muslim, 2022).
Drink water while taking three breathing pauses. It is prohibited to drink water in a single gulp as our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: “Do not drink water only in one breath, but drink it in two or three breaths.”
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