The Good, the Bad and the Intense


Bismihi Ta’ala


”What the hell is the meaning of this?” I growled.

I thrust the letters in my brother-in-law’s face the minute he opened the door, barely fazed by the expression on his tired face as he looked back at me.

And yes, the sensible part of my brain was telling me that I was absolutely off my rockers for confronting a recently diagnosed cancer patient in this appalling manner, yet the extremely agitated part of me was completely unconcerned.

”And Assalamualaikum to you too, bro,” Adam said blandly, raising his eyebrows at me. “I trust you had an amazing trip. How’s about a cuppa, yeah?”

He stepped back and gestured for me to come in, only half glancing at the papers I had in my hand. I walked in with my shoulders rigid, trying to appear more macho than I felt. The truth was, Adam’s indifferent reaction wasn’t what I expected. It wasn’t what I expected at all.

”Did Khawlah tell you what I said?” I asked, annoyed now and getting more worked up at the anti-climax of the whole situation. “Because she needs to understand that it’s not acceptable! In our family we don’t allow our girls to campus. Besides, this is not the time for all this kak… and do you even know what happens at those places?! Are you guys even thinking straight?! I won’t let my sister be some sort of… prey!”

”Tea or coffee?” Adam asked, ignoring me and running his hands through his unusually unkempt hair as he switched the kettle on. I couldn’t help but notice the excess stubble on his upper lip as he stood there, busying himself with his coffee container.

I was blinded by anger to see anything else, as I rattled off all the reasons why Adam had to wake up and tell my sister that she couldn’t just do what she felt. I was angry. So angry. Angry at Khawlah. Angry at him. Angry that he had gotten sick and now we were in this predicament that was changing everything. Angry that my own situation was compounding and we just couldn’t seem to pull out of the rut we were in.

I shook my head as he looked at me expectantly, shrugging nonchalantly and then taking out one mug to pour his own cup of coffee. He walked slowly over to his lounger, shifted the blanket that was bundled up on it with his other free hand, and sat back almost carefully, as he continued to watch me pensively. His behavior… or rather, lack of it… was highly unnerving.

”You seem pretty worked up,” he said, calmly taking a sip of coffee as he looked back at me. ”Regarding Khawlah, I’ve already spoken to her. She doesn’t want to study anyway. Is everything else okay?”

She doesn’t want to study? She didn’t tell me that. So all of this… venting… was for nothing?

I took a careful look at my brother-in-law as I stood there, not wanting to relax as yet. And despite my feelings,  his calm demeanor was somewhat soothing, and as he watched me I could feel myself calming down… without even realizing it.

Okay, maybe I was a little worked up about my own issues to think properly. Having to make a decision that was life-changing, not only for me.. but for my future and two other people who will be directly affected… was a little pressurizing.

And now that I was calmer, I digested my surroundings a little easier. When I barged in, I barely took notice of the darkness of the lounge, where the curtains were drawn. The bundled up blanket obviously meant that he was probably asleep… On the couch. I studied him, realizing that his legs looking even longer than they used to in his Pyjama pants. His face appeared slimmer than before, and his usually bulky arms were still toned, but barely as sturdy as they used to be. Adam was losing weight in a bad way. Three weeks without seeing him made it all the more evident.

And yes, though I didn’t expect it, I walked out of Adam’s flat with exactly what I had come there for. Adam just had a way of saying things. I couldn’t help but leave there so much more at ease than ever before.

Because every so often in life, it happens that we see things for what they truly are. Sometimes we are tested. Sometimes people around us are tested. Sometimes we are thrown in the deep end before we learn to swim.

And I was never good with emotions, but somehow, Adam just knew what to say to simmer my aggression. The thing is, I didn’t know how to explain to him how badly I wanted it all to just go away. How I wished that this didn’t happen to him. How everything else in my life was compounding at the same time, but as I walked out of his flat that day, I knew that Adam had some kind of amazing gift that put every other quality of his away. The thing is, I hated to admit it, but it really wasn’t his or even Khawlah’s fault. I knew where all of this had started. My temperament was only a result of my own doing. I had thought that feelings were by the way. I didn’t expect to feel it… but when Khawlah had mentioned a few weeks ago that Rubeena would be out and about soon, as a single woman… Shaytaan was already starting to put all kind of thoughts in my head. I couldn’t help but find myself feeling a little unsettled.

And I supposed that it was on a whim, but when Molvi had called to ask, just at that precise time, if I set a Nikah date as yet… I couldn’t help but find myself jumping for the opportunity at another Jamaat… no matter how far back I’d have to push the much-awaited event of a Waleemah.

I had been doing so well… and I had no intention of going down a road of sin again. All I knew was that I had to remove myself from the risk of falling deeper into the trap that I had found myself in before… and just avoid Rubeena altogether, until my Nikah was over.

And of course, I didn’t regret going. It was just that I didn’t exactly expect my world to come crashing down when I heard about Adam as I boarded the plane back home. I felt like everything around me was falling apart.

And it was like dejavu because as the news hit me, I could recall the exact same thing happening to me when my mother had taken a bad turn and landed in hospital. I was gone away with school for two nights to a biological swamp, and coming back with my mother hooked onto drips and the works was like a shock to my system. Yes, her sickness had always been there… but as was the case with Muscular Dystrophy… it can spike at any time and take a turn for the worse.

And as I sat on the plane back, fighting the insomnia that had taken over from the time I heard about Adam, I couldn’t help but feel a bit grateful that I had amazing company this trip that had grounded me so well. I knew that I had no right to feel like this. I knew that it was Allah’s will. And if was just as well that He had sent a walking and talking distraction right next to me, to remind me about the true purpose of life.

Well. His version of the true purpose of life.

”Just imagine,” he was saying as he looked at me and stretched, on the last leg of the flight back to Joburg.

Despite not liking him when I first let him, Ziyaad had become the ultimate go-to guy, whenever I needed a dose of humor. It just so happened that he was seated right next to me on the return flight, and I knew it was no coincidence. He was one of the most laid back guys I had ever met.

“I was having the most amazing dream,” he yawned.

I didn’t look at him to prompt him. I knew that wouldn’t stop talking anyway. That was just Zee. It was the last hour of the flight and he had just woken up, and energy levels were flying as high as the plane was making its descent.

”Imagine this, boss,” he said dramatically, his arms spread out. “Pure whiteness before you… The most exotic of Hoors surrounding you… in the most pristine place of unimaginable beauty.. and then… the queen of them of …all.. Hey, what’s your chics name again?”


”Yup, that’s your one,” he exclaimed. “Saffia. Just imagine. The queen of your Jannah… the apple of your eye..”

I shook my head as he went on, not being able to resist a smirk.

“Dude, how do you even think of these things?!” I asked in bewilderment.

“I’m well trained,” he said, putting on a serious face. “When things get tough with the vrou, sometimes you have to pull out the big guns.”

”Does all the buttering up really work?” I asked, amused.

”Well, boet,” he said breezily. “You have to have the skill. You can’t be pulling them out and not knowing where to shoot them.. with women it’s like a completely different ballgame. Believe me, I’ve had enough experience with the opposite gender by now…”

“Is this guy bothering you?”

I looked up to see Molvi smirking at me from the seat in front of us, shaking his head at Ziyaad.

“I’m just trying to get this guy psyched up,” he explained. “For a guy whose on the brink of Nikah, he’s like a brick wall of anti-emotion. If I was him I’d literally have some weird sort of ants in my pants.”

Molvi grinned back at him as the two of them playfully bickered about nothing in particular. It was Ziyaad’s easy nature that made him all the more fun to be around. He took Maulana Umar’s comments in jest as they went on.

“This is the type of guy who the women complain about…” Molvi said jokingly.

”Molvi,” Ziyaad said with a grin. “I was thinking of giving the vrou a break, but a third Nikah may just set me off completely. To tell the truth I think she gets sick of my inherent charm. I can’t understand why though because I really am such a catch…”

Maulana chuckled as I looked at them, stopping for a minute to remind myself about the kind of life that Ziyaad had had. I could hardly believe that he actually lost his child and his wife too… at his age… been through so much and still took life with so much of conviction and ease. He really was one of a kind.

And it made me think about how when I first met him… how I had judged him and thought that he was probably just a typical Joburg guy with an easy rich-boy lifestyle. It’s funny how we judge people without knowing anything about their lives… and strange how when we see how rough other people’s worlds are, we are forced to rethink.

And yes, it was a sore reality check too for me again… because as I went out in the path of Allah, there was nothing about the trip that ceased to amazed me. There was so much to learn and consider that I was blown away. To witness the result of ethnic cleansing that had happened decades ago and how it had impacted on Deen in Europe was something completely new to me. Muslims were forbidden from practicing Islam. From fasting. From reading Quran even in their own homes. Countries that were predominantly Muslim had some Muslims still, but not a hijab is in sight. And though it was heartbreaking to hear the tales of how Masaajid were destroyed and Islam was obliterated with such long lasting effects… what I couldn’t get over was the hospitality that the people had. People were willing. So willing. Accepting… so accepting that they were ready to take the Shahadah at times when we still weren’t ready for them.

It gave me a completely different sense of appreciation for what we had, and it was one of the reasons that I loved traveling. It didn’t matter where. Because I had little attachment to the place I called home, anywhere in the world could be mine. It was here where I would have the greatest adventures, connect with the most amazing people.. and learn the most amazing things.

And then of course, hitting home base after it all had a whole list of conquests that were awaiting me.

First things first… I knew I had to be there for my sister and try and be some kind of support. I just didn’t anticipate the plans she had for the following year coming in the way, but that was a different story altogether.

Secondly, to come back to the point of how the whole thing blew so way out of proportion in the first place, let’s just say that I had to contact my future in laws, even if it was just to say I’m alive. The important thing here, though, was that in the back of my mind… I knew that I had to set a date and give them some clarity on the Nikah.

And I would say that the first half of the planned visit went well. My future father-in-law was an easy enough guy to get along with. Conversation revolved around my trip and other general things, before we got onto the serious business.

And I knew that I was taking too long to get to the point. I didn’t realize that I was stalling on purpose. I kept telling myself that all I needed was to come here and see what my future held for me, and put everything into perspective again… but the longer I was here, the harder it was becoming to bring the subject up.

Besides, the little chatter box that had entered the room was literally talking our ears off. No-one else could get a word in edgewise. She was only three but she really would not stop talking. She was clearly very excited that her mother was getting married.

I was trying to adjust to the obvious cuteness, knowing that this would be a part of my daily life… when her mother came in, and hastily sent her away. I supposed she could see the expression on my face. I couldn’t say that I was disappointed. Chatty kids were cute, but I definitely preferred them in small doses.

“I’m sorry to hear about your brother-in-law,” Saffia said, as I finally looked up at her. She had just walked in and was still standing, and I couldn’t help but notice her serious expression.

Her eyes weren’t filled with laughter, the way they were when I first met her. I wasn’t sure if it was the news about Adam or something else that was on her mind.

“I hear he has cancer…”

It just hit that much harder when someone else said it.

I nodded, as she took a seat next to her father, still looking serious. As they sat side by side, I could see that she resembled her father most. For me, it wasn’t really about how a girl looked. Although there were a lot of things about her that appealed to me, more than anything, I needed someone that I could talk to on every level… someone who was patient, intuitive and level-headed too. Being who I was.. and going through what I had gone through wasn’t a breeze for girls to relate to…

“Papa,” Saffia said, turning to him slightly as she said it. “Can we talk alone for a while? Ahmed and I?”

Her father nodded a little hesitantly, and stepped outside like he had done when I had first seen her.

I looked up at her, as she watched him leave, glad that I wasn’t having to explain more to him. Besides, it was between the two of us.

“Sorry, I didn’t come earlier,” I said. “It’s just been a hectic couple of weeks…”

”We were wondering if you’d run away,” Saffia said, raising her eyebrows. She was smiling but I could tell that she wasn’t joking.

Why would she think that I’d run away? 

”Hey,” I said with a frown. “I wouldn’t do that to you…”

Things were quiet for a while as I sat on the couch, unsure of how else to explain my absence. She went on to talk about general things, but my head wasn’t in it.

I was still thinking about her words. Maybe I had been a little too evasive. Maybe I…

”Ahmed,” she started, turning to face me after a while. “I spoke to your sister…”

”Really?” I said, knowing that Zuleikha was upset with me for postponing the big event.

She wouldn’t have told me. She would have probably had a fat lot to say about me too.

Saffia nodded.

“I would hate to sound like the insecure kind of girl whose desperately been waiting for this great guy to come save her…. but lets be serious here…”

I cleared my throat, knowing she was giving me more credit than I deserved. I was far from a great guy. Right now I felt like scum.

“As far as I know,” she continued. “Both our families are waiting for you to make a decision and are worried about dragging the engagement on for so long… it’s already been almost 6 weeks…”

I said nothing. This girl spoke a lot more than I thought. Now I knew where her daughter got it from.

Six weeks was barely anything. It’s not like I was going anywhere. Well, not right now.

“My previous marriage,” she said, as if it was self explanatory. “He kept on pushing back the date and it was only later on that we found out why…”

“I’m sorry,” I said automatically, feeling bad that I was bringing back bad memories for her.

”It’s not your fault,” she said quickly. “But I have to be more careful now. It’s not only about me anymore. I need stability in my daughters life and when I looked at you the first time, despite your age… that was what I saw.”

“I haven’t changed,” I argued, trying to defend myself.

”It’s not that,” she said, not looking at me. “I’m not asking for sympathy either. It’s unfortunate, but Allah plans what happens and I supposed that my ex-husband was trying to make his parents happy. But the point I’m trying to make is that if there’s anything at all that may be stopping you from taking this step, Ahmed.. I need to know now..”

I nodded, not trusting myself to speak. This whole revelation was a lot to process. I mean, I didn’t plan on hurting the woman but the fact that she had been through hell before put an amazing amount of pressure on me. The situation was getting pretty intense.

There was nothing much more that I could say. I wasn’t even sure what to think.

What I had no inkling of  was that it wasn’t really the time until Nikah that was bothering her, but rather, there was another reason she might have suspected, that had steered the conversation directly this way.

“I suppose what I’m asking, Ahmed,” she said, taking a deep breath and finally meeting my eye. “Are you really sure that you want to make Nikah?”

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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13 thoughts on “The Good, the Bad and the Intense

  1. Well worth the wait…
    ما شاء الله
    Sister, you are truly talented, May Allaah take you from strength to strength in your writing career…
    Ahmed needs to reassess his life before making a mess of a whole lot of people’s lives…
    Jazaakillah khair for the lovely posts and reminders 🌹

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Omw …hope Khawlah is finding some sort of solace seeing as she prefers to not shoe emotion . I feel scared after hearig how Aadam has deteriorated.
    As for Ahmed…I hope he makes the right choice …this has me hanging .

    Shukran for the amazing post. Hope you enjoy your holidays 💕

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I need a dose of nusaybah in this story..seriously gripping and a excellent lessons but i cant deal with the gloom in the air..some dose of nusaybahs drama and thoughts will be good..misingN# LOL
    sorry for the ramblings

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Jazakillah Khair for another gripping read, I read it the same day you posted but wanted to re read to get the proper ‘feels’…
    May Allah take you from strength to strength Aameen

    Liked by 2 people

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