Barren Hearts


Bismihi Ta’ala


Everyone has their own struggles in life. Some people are struggling to make ends meet. Some people are struggling in their marriages. Some people have struggles with their kids. Some people are just struggling through the day to day ups and downs that make this thing called life… well, life.

And yes, I had my struggles. With my life. My husband. My past. The things that I thought I had missed out on. The things that I had messed up. But sometimes we have to just say it how it is and move on. Yes, we make mistakes. We gave in to our Nafs. We disobeyed Allah’s commands. We broke His Divine laws. We dated people and made our lives hell. We married someone who wasn’t as he seemed. We cherished people who turned their backs on us. We made bad choices. But we learnt and we found ourselves along the way. We fought. We conquered. We filled our barren hearts and we rose.

And whether I was stuck on a rut or just feeling down, the story of Yusuf (AS) was one that I looked at often for inspiration. This Nabi of Allah was a mere servant who lived for years in the house of Zulekha, a woman of beauty, power and influence. Day in and day out, Zulekha was exposed to his physical allure, a composition so stunning that the Messenger Muhammad [SAW] said:

Yusuf has been given half of all beauty” [Muslim]. 

Zulekha suppressed her desire for Yusuf until she could no longer control it. She was overwhelmed by the inclinations. She waited until her husband left the home, and alone with Yusuf, she lured him into her room, locked the doors and called him to fulfill her lust.

Imam Muhammad Al Qurtubi, the great Quranic commentator, recounts the story:

[After locking the doors] Zulekha attempts to seduce Yusuf.  She beautifies herself in the most attractive of ways and says:

“Oh Yusuf! You have the most handsome of faces.”  

Yusuf, sensing what Zulekha is attempting to do, replies, “This is how my Lord fashioned me in the womb.”

“Oh Yusuf!”she says, “You have the finest of hair!”  

“It will be the first portion of me to wither in my grave,” he replies.

Undeterred, Zulekha presses on. “Oh Yusuf! Your eyes are so beautiful.”  

“I use them to look at my Lord,” he retorts.

“Yusuf, raise your sight and gaze at my face,” she responds.  

“I fear [if I do so] that I will be resurrected blind in the afterlife,” Yusuf answers.

She tries to press herself close to Yusuf, but he moves away. “I come close to you, yet you distance yourself from me?” she asks.

I desire, by that, the closeness of my Lord,” he says.

“Yusuf, I have prepared my bed for you so enter under its sheets with me,” she says.

 Yusuf replies, “Your sheets will not shield me from my Lord.”

“Yusuf, I have prepared the finest of silk covers, so I order you to fulfill my desires!” she exclaims.

 “If I do so,” he says, “My portion of paradise will be lost.”

Her attempt to seduce him was fruitless, and his desire to remind her of Allah was falling on a barren and deaf heart.

And Yusuf [AS] was inclined to her, but he was a prophet of Allah who was in control of his desires.  Zulekha, like you and I, was not. She had an inclination and she went all out for it. She gave in. She allowed her desires to overcome her love for Allah. She found herself to be living with the object of her want…

Her Nafs.  Our Nafs.  A beast inside each and every one of us that we must tame.  An unbridled nafs will lead us to prefer all carnal desires over the love of what Allah and His Messenger Muhammad (SAW) call us to.

“I just can’t believe it…”

I looked at my sister as she said it, a little overwhelmed by everything she had just offloaded onto me. I was in just a little bit of shock. With the constant battle we fight within ourselves sometimes the Nafs can lead even the most unassuming of us into loads of trouble.

”Me neither,” I mumbled to myself as I met her eye. It was a helluva load of information to process  right then and I was a little overwhelmed.

”Do you think he knew that she had a baby?” I asked. I said carefully, watching my sister tie her curly hair back as she looked ahead, almost in a trance. I could imagine that there must be a lot on her mind. “Why would she tell you that she had a ligation and now come back and cause havoc? You think she has an ulterior motive?! Like what if she thinks he will die and then the inheritance…”

Khawlah looked back at me solemnly as I slapped my hand to my mouth. I could barely believe that I had said that. It was a petty thing to worry about but I knew that Aadam was pretty well off and it could be a reason for this whole occurrence. What if this woman was just trying her luck and making my sister miserable in the process..

”It’s okay,” Khawlah said softly, her eyes looking sorrowful. “I had thought the same thing but I don’t think it’s his baby. I mean, maybe it’s wishful thinking… But maybe she wanted me to believe that she couldn’t have kids. I don’t know why…”

Her dark eyes were slightly narrowed, as if she was thinking carefully, and her pale cheeks were looking a little more flushed than usual. I could see that she was a little more stressed about the doctor friends visit than she had let on.

”Are you sure it’s not his baby then?” I said, expecting the worst. What if my brother-in-law did have a child out of wedlock? It would be one of the worst possible things to find out at this stage. It would change everything.

”It doesn’t make sense,” she said softly. “Like the age and the time frames. I really hope that she’s not turning up here to try and unsettle everything. What if his mother finds out?! The baby is only about 14 months. It’s impossible for if to be his child unless…”

Unless he was still seeing her when he had supposedly change his life and was actively becoming interested in Khawlah…

”You should have just asked her,” I said, really hoping that if the kid that pitched up at Aadam’s flat yesterday wasn’t Aadam’s kid. “Just to clarify.”

”I’m seeing her again,” she said. “She didn’t want Aadam to know she was there and wouldn’t stick around in case he saw her. I didn’t argue because I didnt want him to see her either. She thought he would be at hospital or something…”

”Aadam won’t lie to you,” I said confidently. “If he says that it was over then it was over. He’s not the type to drag someone along when he was clearly changing his life. Just don’t ask him as yet. Don’t  jump to conclusions. Remember what happened the last time? You were miserable and so was he. Talk to her first and then see the outcome…”

I was pretty sure about this one. The fact that the doctor who said she was Aadam’s old flame had pitched up out of the blue meant nothing right now. There was definitely something she was hiding but it wasn’t a baby. That much I knew. I would expect something like this to happen to me. Jameel was the type to have messed around and hid it all, until someone randomly showed up to divulge his secrets…  but Aadam…

Khawlah’s relationship with her husband was worlds away from mine. Where I had always had some kind of reservation about Jameel, Khawlah, in the other hand always had full faith in Aadam. It gave me hope and an amazing sense of peace to know that my sister had made a good choice. That Aadam was everything he had seemed and more. That my Duaa for her when she had made Nikah had been answered in so many ways, that it simply blew me away. She was so happy with him and it made me emotional when I thought of it… I just wished that he would feel well and get better soon so everything could go back to normal.

”Zuleikha, can I ask you something?”

I looked at my sister as she looked at me, unsure of where she was headed with the question but nodding anyway. Her pretty face was looking a little slimmer than usual. I wasn’t sure if she was eating properly. I could only assume that all the stress was getting to her. With exams on the way and her husband in a state of uncertainty, I could imagine that having an appetite was not exactly easy…

”How do you hide something from someone you love? Like, how do I be normal with him right now… when this could be so disastrous..?”

I swallowed as I digested the question, pursing my lips slightly as I thought of how to answer her.

“Sabr,” I said softly, meeting her eye. “Lots of Sabr…”

She seemed contented and I wished that I could take my own advice more often. Sabr. Shukar. It seemed so contradictory for me but the sore fact was that my marriage was not exactly a typical one. Jameel and I had had our fair share of gripes and we weren’t completely undamaged due to it. It was just that at certain moments I felt like there was a wall that we couldn’t break down. My thoughts drifted back to this morning’s events, when I walked in to see him with his head in his hands as he stared at the kitchen counter.

”Is everything okay?” I couldn’t help but ask, getting worried.

He looked up at me, giving a small smile as Muhammed ran and climbed up to where his father was and gave him the cutest of hugs.

”Yup, I’m fine,” he said, running his hand through his now prominent beard stressfully and kissing Muhammed’s forehead. “Just family issues. You know how it is.”

I nodded but I didn’t really. It was something we didn’t get into much. I knew that his parents often had marital problems. To put it lightly, if was the cause of my husband’s drug problem and where Jameel had picked up some of his womanising habits too. As a result, his mother was often going on crazy tangents and his sister was always seeking attention in other ways. How parents mess up their kids with their irresponsible behaviour.. sometimes I wanted to bang my head on a wall at their deliberate incompetency as parents. It was Mishka’s first year in university and it seemed like Jameel posed a new issue with her every week.

I could see that he was taking it upon himself and if was stressing him out. Besides the fact that there were different guys bringing her home every day, rumor had it that she was sleeping around. The worst part was that as much as Jameel had changed his life now… there was still little he could do to change the rest of his family. It was something we didn’t talk about because somehow, Jameel just wouldn’t open up about it. It would bring out too many skeletons that he had locked away. Where I wished that we had the kind of relationship that we spoke about anything and everything, the truth was that Jameel and I always had that little avenue where we never ventured. Sometimes it hurt to think that he would close himself up from me about those things, but I had got used to family and his past being no-go zones…

”Did you speak to Khawlah?” He asked suddenly, his brow furrowing as he looked up at me again. He loosened his tie as he waited for my answer, obviously anxious about the news I would have about my brother-in-law. There was a softer side of Jameel that Aadam had somehow appealed to, and from day one, all I’d seen change about him was due to that. Aadam and Khawlah’s union was something that had evolved so much for not just them, but us all…

”I hope he feels well enough tonight,” Jameel said to himself. “He’s been waiting for this for a while. To see everyone settled. That guy’s heart is amazing..”

And so is yours.

I wanted to say it, but somehow, I couldn’t. To compliment Jameel was something I rarely did. I wasn’t sure what it was, but the demons from the past always came back to put a spanner in the works just as I feel I could move past it all…

What was it about us that somehow prevents us from saying things to break the ice? To be nice? Especially to the people we love. And yes, sometimes we think that it’s not a big deal but those little things that remind them about just how special they truly are are sometimes those things that make or break a couple.

“I’ll call her again just now,” was all I said, making an intention to try and be warmer next time. To fill those barren spaces with something that we could hold onto.

I knew that Aadam hadn’t been well after starting treatment but I didn’t want to say it aloud. I didn’t want to mention the fatal and dreaded tumour. My mind was occupied with the possibilities of what could happen if nithing worked and Jameel looked stressed too. Somehow, Aadam had just crept into everyone’s hearts.

Muhammed was busy blabbering away to his father about something I couldn’t quite comprehend as I forced myslef to get ready for the big night ahead and hope for the best…

Of course I had been a little skeptical about Ahmed and Rubeena but since my brother was the surest about anything he had been in his life, I knew that there was little I could truly do to stop him. Part of me was relieved that he had finally come out about his true feelings and there’d be no stress about his erratic mind changes. Part of me was worried that he was taking on more than he could handle. Four boys in your home was a huge lifestyle change.

”I’m so happy for you guys.”

Our conversation about Aadam had been interrupted with their arrival and it was Khawlah who spoke as Ahmed and Rubeena walked into the house, looking completely at ease with each other as they stood there, graciously accepting Du’aas and greeting the few family members who were around. Ahmed looked good in a black kurta that made his eyes look slightly more serious than usual and Rubeena was looking rightfully flushed as she greeted the few aunties of Abba’s who had come from out of town. She was looking beautiful.

Since the Waleemah would be a small and simple affair at a small restaurant later that evening, the guests who had come for the Nikah had already arrived.  The wedding house vibes were very much palpable and I was glad that I had chosen a restaurant for the venue as we simply didn’t have the space at home to accommodate Ahmed’s millions of friends and Jamaat acquaintances. 

I greeted my brother affectionately, making a firm intention to let go of the past tension we had shared. He grinned as I wished him all the best and gave him a playful scolding, hoping that he was following his heart and doing the right thing this time. With Ahmed, unfortunately, we just never know…

I smiled to myself as I watched my brother talking to Rubeena’s boys who were walking ahead of them, a little surprised at how well they actually got along. They were currently dragging him off to play soccer outside and Ahmed shook his head and gave in as he pulled his Kurta off. Right now, it seemed like he had no other worries. Everything else could wait as he just took the tile to enjoy this moment and everything that came with it. He had met Rubeena at her house and brought her here because he wanted everyone to meet her before the Waleema. I really loved that she was so easy-going as she chatted and laughed with even the older ladies who were there.


I turned slightly to see my new sister-in-law next to me now and I reached out to greet her, feeling slightly awkward that I barely spoke to her before this. Somehow… we had just never made an effort to become friends but I hoped that in time we would.

”I just wanted to say thank you for everything,” she said quietly as we stepped out of view. “For planning the function. Even though Ahmed says you were mad at him and a little upset about the past few months that he made you go crazy….”

She flushed slightly as she said it, probably feeling embarrassed on his account. Or maybe hers too.

“I’m sorry,” she said softly. “I feel responsible too… I’m just so glad that the Nikah is done. I half expected my ex-husband to barge into the mosque screaming for it to all stop…”

I smiled as she rolled her eyes, and I immediately felt at ease, despite her openness. I think one of the things that had made me uneasy was the fact that Rubeena had been married before, and her husband was not exactly an amazing guy. Obviously, it meant that it made her into an even more disagreeable person with different aspirations and hang-ups. Seeing her back then had made me realize how my life could have turned out if I had changed nothing. It reminded me of the mistakes I had made. The struggles that I had faced. But seeing her right now… at this stage was what made me realize that it was only when Allah willed for guidance to come, then it poured like His mercy. She had changed so much.

And of course, it was amazing but speaking to her now got me realizing how wrong I had been. How I had judged her. In plain sight, I could see what it was about her that Ahmed liked in the first place. She had an ease about her that I had heard Jameel mention about Aadam. She was so real and incredibly vocal. I loved the way she had a witty remark about serious things and though she was so different to my brother, I knew that these were the precise things that had attracted him. Ahmed needed someone like her to lighten up his life. He needed a balance. Someone who would give him a little allowance to express himself. Where he barely spoke about feelings, Rubeena was exceptionally expressive. She was amazingly normal, despite me thinking otherwise, and though I had previously written her off as a spoilt woman who neglected her kids… I realized that my opinions were quite widely off-base.

Somehow, after seeing them now … I was absolutely convinced. This was, by far, the most intelligent choice that my brother had ever made.

I really did like her, and as I greeted her mother who had come in wearing an exceptionally fancy dress and high heels, I couldn’t help but grin at how different they were. I could see them arguing about something about the menu that was supposed to be changed, finding their relationship pretty amusing as they went on.

I watched Ahmed as he came up to Rubeena, saying something to her and then watching her expression change as they headed down to the lounge. My heart was kind of breaking for my sister as I watched them, knowing that Aadam was having a bad day and might not make it for the function tonight. I made a silent Du’aa for it to be okay for their sake, and just as they disappeared into the lounge and I busied myself with checking if everything was packed and loaded into Jameel’s car for tonight’s function, I couldn’t help but notice a slight murmur among the outside crowd as I spoke aloud to myself.

“Sweet meats,” I murmured to myself. “Bottled water. Flowers…”

Although Ahmed turned up his nose at my ideas and didn’t seem to keen on my event planning, I had taken it upon myself to see to all the minor aesthetics and I loved doing it. It was my hobby to make things look pretty. I was seriously thinking of taking it up as a small business to keep myself busy. Now that Muhammed was growing and Jameel would never allow me to go back to teaching in a school, to do something like this would be my dream. 

I ticked off the things on the list, not noticing the jolly buzz from outside simmer down as I turned around to call Jameel. Though we didn’t have much family here, Ahmed’s friends were outside and a few of Khawlah’s in laws were also around. I had just spotted Jameel and my son, when an achingly familiar face suddenly came into view. My voice caught in my throat as I opened my mouth, not really believing what I saw as I gaped outside.

”What on earth are you doing here?”

I wasn’t even sure who said it as I looked ahead, blinking idiotically as the woman looked back at us with a certain enmity in her eyes. I didn’t know what it was about this woman, but she always came back with a barren heart, a vengeance and the most putrid timing…

If was like the past was coming back to haunt me. Just when I thought that I had moved past it all, this woman just had a habit of turning up where she was least welcome.

A spanner in the works and a ripple in the tide… Abba was gaping from where he stood, not quite believing that she was actually here. My heart hammered in my chest as I expected the worst.

I already knew that Aunty Nas had come back to stir something up…

Bonus post with some awaited revelations… Wonder what Aunty Nas wants now after all this time..?!


Favorite foods of the Prophet (SAW): Pumpkin and Barley. All we have to do is make an intention for Sunnah and we’ll get multiple rewards! 

Anas RA said: “I went along with the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) barley bread and soup containing pumpkin and dried sliced meat. And I saw the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) going after the pumpkin round the dish, so I have always liked pumpkins since that day.” (Abu Dawud 3782)

A forgotten Sunnah. Eaten fallen particles… Sometimes we forget the Barakah that can be in even a grain of food. To eat what has fallen on the cloth or even the floor… SubhaanAllah.
Anas ibn Maalik narrated that when the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) ate, he would lick his three fingers. Anas said: “And he said, ‘If any one of you drops a piece of food, let him remove any dirt from it and eat it, and not leave it for the Shaytaan.’ And he commanded us to clean the plate, and said, ‘For you do not know where in your food the blessing is.’” (Narrated by Muslim, 2034). 








Twitter: @ajourneyjournal




Finding Courage


Bismihi Ta’ala


Life is unpredictable. And then it’s amazing. At times deliberately unbearable. And then it’s amazing again. And in between it all, it’s ordinary and mundane, and all sorts of crazy, but we trudge through it because we know that at some point the moments of amazement will find their way to us once again.

The thing with life is that we always make everything about it super important. Whether it’s our jobs or our work or what we’re cooking for dinner… everything is majorly important until something more important comes to light. And that’s when you realize that it was the only thing that’s really important. Your health. Above all else. When sickness makes a show… that’s when we see how we borrowed from the bank of our health taking loans of stress and sleepless nights to pay for the things that don’t really matter… but when it’s gone, well, it changes everything.

And the thing is, it wasn’t easy when we’re tested. Because that’s exactly what it is. Our health and our wealth and the people that we love. It wasn’t easy to be strong and keep the faith through the tests. It wasn’t easy to keep believing and understanding that whether good or bad, everything only came from Allah Aza Wajal. We needed constant inspiration. Reminders. A continuous flow of unchanging Tawakkul that helped us to get through it.

When I looked back though, I realized that I was truly lucky. Whether it was Aunty Radiyyah, Zuleikha or Nusaybah… whether it was a Bayaan that someone sent me or a Wazifah that I had been told to read… I owed them the world for every piece of advice or motivation then so willingly offer to keep me going. It gave me courage. Hope. Perseverance. Because whether we find ourselves in extreme difficulty of whether we fall into complacency, we all need something to shake us up and remind us about Allah’s grand master plan. We all need to be reminded…

“Are you sure you’re okay?”

And as I looked at my friend with the very strength that I had acquired through her channel of love, she was obviously not buying my assurances.

”I’m perfect,” I responded, not really meaning it. There was just too much that had happened that was playing on my mind and I I knew I couldn’t hide from my friend.

I turned my face away as she narrowed her eyes at me and the smell of her Nik Naks hit my nose. For some reason I was beginning to resent the cheesy smell of  Nusaybah’s favorite chips. The main problem was that my dear friend seemed to be in love with them and overdosing on them during our study sessions.

”Listen Missy,” she said, crossing her arms over her chest and raising her eyebrows at me. “There’s only one Mr Perfect and the names not up for grabs… even if you do happen to be married to him. Spill it. Is he okay?”

“He’s perfect,” I said blandly, amused at the irony.

Mr Perfect was no longer perfect.  There might be some adjusting there for my dear friend. I looked back at my her, knowing that she was just concerned about me. To tell the truth, I was a bit concerned too.

I looked at my friend as she watched me, swallowing hard to suppress the tears.

“You have courage, Khawlah,” she whispered. “More than anyone I know. Pour your heart out on that Musallah if you can’t to me, and Allah will surely answer your Du’aa. I know you’re scared but I can almost see that hijabi-warrior mode switched on in your brain and I don’t know how you do it…“

Her eyes searched mine fervently as a single tear rolled down my cheek. I shrugged as I met my friends eyes, not really knowing how to answer.

Tawakkul, right? It was like a superpower. And as I sat and prayed that night, trying my utmost to plead with Allah through prayer and perseverence it was almost like I could feel my Lord reaching out for my hand.

Tawakkul. Sometimes we had to just pull it out and wear it over our clothes, even where we’re burning inside. After a while… the courage from within finds its way to the surface, knowing it has to pull us through.

I sat there, wondering what it was about life that made it all seem so surreal at times. I could barely believe that it had already been just over two weeks that the spinal tumour was confirmed and there were no words to describe the turmoil that had been engulfing me just at the onset of my final period of examination. The timing was completely unprecedented. Aadam’s uncle had explained that the tumour was an aggressive type and surgery wasn’t possible.

Somehow, through all the tests after the fall, they had missed this. This one crucial problem that would cost us so much. Maybe even his life. And yes, we could be angry but it was no-ones fault. How can we question Allah’s will? It was meant to be. The oncologists had been concerned about the Myeloma and it’s revelation had diverted them from the other signs of Aadam’s underlying condition. Usually patients were given time to consider all the pros and cons but Uncle Siraj had briefly and sternly said that he strongly recommended that Aadam start immediately. In a way, I was relieved to find out about it.

As terrible as it was, a certain amount of consolation accompanied the palpable fear. At long last… I was relieved that there was a reason for all the pain and discomfort. Relieved now that it wasn’t undiagnosed. Relieved that Aadam had finally consented to attempt some medical treatment… despite being so stubborn about it in the initial stages.

He would go to the hospital every day for a few hours and come back by the late afternoon, at most times, utterly exhausted. I had asked him multiple times about how he was coping but he never spoke about it and I had realized that it was something that he didn’t want to delve into. Whether he thought of it as tedious information or some kind of shortcoming on his side… I wasn’t sure, but I respected his wishes and let it be. We lived in a world where hope was our weapon and Tawakkul would see us through. My thoughts drifted back to the day before when everything had became starker than we ever wanted to see it…

“Drink this.”

I could see Aadam shifting uncomfortably in his seat as he looked back at my mother-in-law with his one raised eyebrow.

He studied the glass carefully.

”I don’t see anything floating in here,” he said with a tiny grin, despite his apparent weakness on that particular day. “Is it safe?”

”Of course!” She said, hands on her hips. “It’s only water.”

”Water that she’s made ‘phoook’ in about 25 times,” Rubeena mumbled to herself from behind us.

I grinned as I heard my sister-in-law’s voice, not expecting to bump into her here today. She had probably wanted to see Aadam before the big night. I smiled as I remembered how my mother-in-law was going on two weeks back about a lady who she was convinced was after her family, and was now going all out to protect them with her reading of various Amal, thankfully approved by Ma.

I turned slightly to smile at Ruby in mutual understanding, not expecting to almost do a double take as I glimpsed her lightly made-up face that seemed to be glowing from within. I was a little in awe as I looked at here, shocked that she looked so different today. Calm. Composed. Serene.

Being naturally pretty, she never did wear much makeup, but today’s subtle application was done just beautifully, to suit her completely natural demeanor. To accompany it, she had tastefully matched it with a beautiful pastel dress with a simple floral print that suited her perfectly. Of course, her abaya was thrown over the chair to cover the slightly fitted dress, until later on when she would be having her first meeting with her new husband…

”Wow, Rubes,” Aadam said, giving her a raised eyebrow. “You look like you’re going for a wedding or something …”

Never mind it was her own Nikah. That was just by the way…

And as I watched her chatting quietly to my husband, I couldn’t help but think that maybe Ahmed was a luckier guy than he had thought. i just couldn’t help but feel sorry for Rubeena who would have to deal with my clinically unexpressive brother well… for the rest of her life.

Of course, having first found about the Nikah two weeks ago was a bit of a shock for me, but not completely unexpected.

It took some processing but it was amazing to see that as I warmed up to the idea and truly became excited, I realized that this was the happiest I’d seen any of them. Rubeena was glowing. Ahmed was literally on top of the world. The best part was that the boys were equally excited when they realized who their new father figure would be. Surprisingly, Ahmed wasn’t as terrible with boy kids as I thought he’d be. 

And just as I was about to tell her how stunning I thought she looked, before I could get a word in, between us suddenly stepped my mother-in-law who was on a solid mission, relentlessly splashing drops of Aadam’s ‘phook’ water on her from all directions. She looked like some sort of weird sprinkler system.

I could see Rubeena’s expression change from peacefully composed to annoyingly exasperated in literally three seconds. I had a feeling that her serene composure was dangerously close to disintegration and I stifled my grin as I watched them both.

”Ma, please stop,” she said, rolling her eyes as she tried to avoid the droplets splattering her face. I could understand how annoying it must have been, but my mother-in-law was hearing none of it.

Ma!” She almost yelled now as her mother continued, holding up her hands. “My make up! You’re spoiling it!”

“You rather spoil your make up now than spoil your marriage later!” My mother-in-law almost barked at her. ”If only you know how people can be. Selfish and jealous. Anything they see, they look with bad eyes and then you’ll find yourself falling flat on your face even when you’re sleeping! You have no idea, Rubeena!”

I wanted to giggle, but I pursed my lips to conceal it. I got what she was saying. I knew that there was the evil eye and people who do weird things when they’re jealous and a little bit messed up in their heads… but that being said… like Rubeena, I also shared the notion that she was being a little over the top. Sometimes the bad things that happen to us are tests. Sometimes we needed to understand that Allah places these tests in our way for us to turn to Him…

And as the two of them argued inconclusively and finally left the room to fetch the boys and get them ready for the big night too, I smiled to myself, thinking about how sometimes things just work out so perfectly. I could see the relief on Aadam’s face when everything had fell into place for Rubeena the week before. When I hadn’t put up a fight with him about what I had always thought would be the worst move ever…

Surprisingly, Shabeer too didn’t stand much of a chance with trying to convince Rubeena to reconsider.

I snuck a look at my husband that evening, noticing his eyes serenely closed. I could see that today wasn’t a good day and I missed his usual banter. The thing was, the more serious Aadam’s condition became, the busier the house seemed to be getting. It also meant that he got more tired, and faster. We didn’t have much time alone. There were people who were coming to visit him that I’d never heard of before, apologizing for not coming earlier because they didn’t know. Now that Aadam’s cancer was out in the open, I supposed the reality was also hitting much harder on my heart…

And as I glanced at him, and then busied myself with clearing up some scattered cups that were lying around, I barely even noticed Aadam shifting around uncomfortably behind me and then suddenly sitting up and sprinting to the bathroom in haste, promptly retching his poor guts out as I listened in shock from the outside.

My heart was hammering in my chest as I heard it. It sounded horrific. His breath was raspy and his heavy breathing was audible even from outside. I couldn’t help but shudder at the noise of his gagging as I pushed the door open, then watched him dabbing his mouth with a face towel, not meeting my eye as I witnessed him at his worst state yet. Yes, he was fatally ill but the reality never really hit me because I had never seen him this way. 

”Sweets,” he said softly, not looking up at me yet. There was a slight quiver in his voice as he spoke. “I don’t know if I can do this today. I mean, I can’t. I can’t find the strength… the strength to drag myself out of this room… but I know that I need to…”

He sounded desperate as I watched him, searching for the familiar signs of humour in his eyes as he said it… but today, there was nothing. Today he was hollow. Inside and out. When your body can’t make the cut, there’s really nothing else that can be done. I wasn’t sure if I could even accept what he was saying. Aadam never complained. It was the first time he’d ever showed pain. Weakness. It was the first time he was showing any sign of defeat.

He leaned over the sink and looked at me from the side of his eye, almost as if he was beyond repair.

”I can’t do this,” he said again, his voice dropping as he looked at me. “I can’t.”

If only he could see the sins falling from him for every ache and pain that he had so patiently endured…

I shook my head at him, not knowing what to tell him. Everything that I had known and loved about him had been sucked out of him by this illness. Every hope that he had had was extinguished. I could feel my heart hammering as I watched him, taking a step closer and pulling him toward me as he sunk his head into my shoulder, involuntary heaving as he let it all out, finally realizing that his strength was not meant to bear so many mountains.

I helped him to the couch, sitting next to him as he gained his strength. I ran my fingers over the stubble on his neck, taking in the familiar scent of him as he pulled me towards him. 

It was amazing how Allah put empathy and patience in between hearts to pull us through the most trying times. It wasn’t like this was a a familiar feeling for us. This kind of feeling was foreign. Unexpected. Completely beyond anything I had felt before. This was above the romance and passion and intensity that had engulfed us over the few weeks that Aadam was still ‘okay’. Right then was something beyond superficial. It was when understanding and compassion and love were the founding factors. It was a calling to show him the beauty of the strength that Allah had most definitely given him to get through this. It was when I had to remind him that you can’t throw in the towel on something that Allah had placed in his path, despite how deeply you may be hurting inside.

Sometimes it was in those moments of weakness and vulnerability that we truly seek what we’re looking for. Sometimes when we think we’ve lost it all, it’s the very time that we find our greatest treasure.

”Aadam,” I said to him, holding his hand tighter as I spoke. “Listen to me. This is not forever. You will feel better. You may be hurting… but you will be okay. Yes, you’re allowed to have moments of weakness but let me just remind you that you aren’t defined by this. You are stronger than this and you will find the courage because this is what Allah promises. He promises us that we will never be given more than we can bear and one thing I know and have learnt over the years is that Allah’s promise always holds true…”

His dark eyes were still searching mine for answers as he looked back at me. 

“How is this even fair?” He asked, shaking his head.

I looked at him as he said it, obviously not having any words to answer him. We were never promised that this life would be fair. We were never given a promise of justice and recompense for this temporary abode. If only we could see what awaited us after… when we walk in our eternal home… then we’d truly understand.

“I mean,” he continued, looking up at me with the shadow of a smile. “That I have you. I took a little chance on an investment that I made and look how I’ve been repaid. Overpaid. Like I don’t even understand it… because all I am is a smelly sick guy who married a girl who blew me away and somehow I scored the gold…”

I couldn’t help but grin as I looked at him, glad to see the going of humor in his eye again.

”You’re not smelly,” I said to him. His lashes were darker than ever today for some reason, and his one dimple flashed at me as he smiled. “You always smell amazing…”

“If vomit and dettol is your flavor,” he said wryly. “Maybe I should puke around you more often. Like really go all out. Maybe even puke on you. Might do me wonders, yeah?”

”And yet another talent of yours,” I said, trying not to smile. ”I love that you do everything with so much of passion…. always going the extra mile…”

“Really?!” He said, raising his eyebrow playfully. “You think I have skill?! Wow.”

I nodded.

”You do,” I said with a sweet smile. “But you know which talent I love the most?”

Aadam cocked his head and looked at me pensively.

“Please do go on,” he said innocently.

“Most of all,” I said slowly, building up some momentum as he eyed me out cynically and crossed his arms over his chest.

“Most of all… I love that weird eyebrow of yours,” I said with a giggle. “It’s the cherry on the top!”

And just as I stuck my tongue out at his anti-climatic moan in good humor, it was at that precise moment that the shrill noise of the buzzer erratically sounded.

“My eyebrow?!” He asked, shaking his head. “Come on! This calls for a re-election.”

“I’ll think about it,” I said with a laugh. ”Let me get the door.”

”If it’s my mother, tell her I’m on a hunger strike…” he called after me.

I shook my head at him as I made my way to the door, tightening my hijab and stopping to unlatch it without really thinking about the possibilities of who would be outside.

To tell the truth, I expected one of Aadam’s or my family members. I expected a friend or someone who might have worked with him. What I didn’t expect to see was the striking female doctor that I had met at the hospital those few months back, looking at me with a slightly hopeful expression and a certain reservation in her eyes.

I could already sense her hesitation and as I spotted the little girl on her hip… my mind already racing with all types of possibilities that I had never imagined before.

Yes, life was unpredictable. Amazing. At times, unbearable… but in between it all, it’s all sorts of crazy that bring you back to the reason you were put here in the first place.

Sometimes things are not as they seem. Sometimes life unfolds in sinister ways to show you what the most important things in them really are. And sometimes the worst of situations can be the very instance when we find the greatest treasure of all…

Dearest Readers 

Apologies about the delays. I know I’m pushing it but I had a few patients in my house the past week and it still hasn’t ended!   Am aspiring to be more punctual InshaAllah #goals 

Duaas always needed 

Much Love

A xx

Duaa at the onset of Rajab, do recite.

Don’t forget our Sunnah Revival!

Favorite foods of the Prophet (SAW): Pumpkin and Barley. All we have to do is make an intention for Sunnah and we’ll get multiple rewards! 

Anas RA said: “I went along with the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) barley bread and soup containing pumpkin and dried sliced meat. And I saw the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) going after the pumpkin round the dish, so I have always liked pumpkins since that day.” (Abu Dawud 3782)

A forgotten Sunnah. Eaten fallen particles… Sometimes we forget the Barakah that can be in even a grain of food. To eat what has fallen on the cloth or even the floor… SubhaanAllah.
Anas ibn Maalik narrated that when the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) ate, he would lick his three fingers. Anas said: “And he said, ‘If any one of you drops a piece of food, let him remove any dirt from it and eat it, and not leave it for the Shaytaan.’ And he commanded us to clean the plate, and said, ‘For you do not know where in your food the blessing is.’” (Narrated by Muslim, 2034). 









Twitter: @ajourneyjournal


Bismihi Ta’ala 


For as long as I could remember, I’ve always wanted a sister. I’m sure you’ve heard that from only daughters before, but it has to be a girls’ thing, right..? To have your very own BFF and confidant that’s just like a meter or two away at any given time must be amazing.

And to tie in with that thought, way back when I was an exceedingly difficult (according to my mother) nine-year-old who was told that I would be getting the long-awaited sibling, I made it very vocal to everyone who mentioned it that it better be a girl. I wasn’t kidding. I was just that kind of vocal personality. For some reason, I just couldn’t imagine having a brother. The thought was way too morbid.

And I know it sounds terrible, but I think it was the first time in my life that I had actually prayed for something. My modern mother wasn’t exactly the type who would encourage me to seek my spiritual side, but it was Ma who had given me the idea. She said to ask for a normal and healthy baby. I took it one step further and asked for a normal and healthy girl baby.

I didn’t see the big deal. I even bargained with Allah, hoping that would work (probably the manipulative genes I inherited from my mother). I truly believed that it was the way to achieve things. Of course…. I still had a lot to learn.

And of course, when Ma came home from the hospital the day my mother went in for her scheduled c-section and told me that it was a boy who they were naming Adam, I was absolutely devastated. I couldn’t believe that my Duaa wasn’t answered the way I wanted. I couldn’t understand why I’d been short-changed.

In my ignorance, what I didn’t realize was that someone else’s Duaa was being answered. That maybe someone else had wanted something more than I did. Maybe we all needed something from this little boy that we didn’t yet see. That years down the line, this little boy would grow up to be an amazing guy who would change someone’s world. What you don’t see in any disappointment is that maybe there was a greater and more intricate plan at work…

And it was like when the mother of Maryam (AS) had her baby girl. Her heart was sorrowful because she wanted a boy. She wanted a boy so badly, because she prayed he would be a prophet. She wanted something so badly but Allah had a better plan. A greater plan was in place… that would reveal so much more than she could imagine. A plan that would make her daughter not just a great woman, but one of the greatest of the world. A plan that would honor her to such an amazing extent that an entire chapter of the Noble Qur’an was named after her. A plan that would make her the mother of one of the greatest human beings, and esteemed Ambiyaa, Isaa (AS).

And sometimes I had to touch base with that. That when things don’t go our way, sometimes we have to tune our minds to that possibility. That despite the joy of getting exactly what you want… sometimes not getting what we want at that moment can bring so much more in the future..

And of course, looking back at the years that he had grown up as more than just a little brother to me, I supposed that I never thought I’d end up loving my brother the way I did. Like the excessively noble qualities of Maryam (AS), my brother too far exceeded my expectations of him. He had become a friend, playmate and confidant. He had become the one person I could rely on, call as my plan B and finally, the inspiration behind me taking the great step towards changing my life that I had never thought I would. Sometimes Allah takes away something important to give you something so much more…

“Okay so first the good news or bad news?”

I looked at my uncle as he said it, peering over at us over his glasses as he flipped pages on the clipboard he was holding. I hated when he got into his doctor mode. All the professionalism just made me feel awkward.

”Do you have to give any news?”

It was Adam who spoke up from the hospital bed, raising his one eyebrow and peering at him cynically. I smiled, despite the dreary atmosphere that was in the room, glad that my brother had finally come to after his half-day coma. The minute Ahmed had told me about his unconsciousness the day before, I really thought he was a goner.

It had been a hysterical fit of drama and screaming road rage as we rushed to get to him, praying with every ounce of me that he would be okay. Begging Allah to give us more time. The fact that he wasn’t responding to Khawlah was something that was freaking us all out, and those few hours before he actually came to were agony. Exhaustion had gotten to him like never before and it seemed like he had exerted himself a little too much to get to that point.

“What’s the bad news, doc?”

It was Shabeer that suddenly spoke from where he was sitting and yes, I didn’t expect him to open his mouth in front of my uncle that day. After the last episode, I would have been too embarrassed to show my face here, but Shabeer was not exactly the type to feel ashamed.

To tell then truth, I didn’t even know why he was there. I hated to bring up skeletons from the closet, but the thing was, he couldn’t even show up for me when I had needed him to do the ABC’s in our marriage, but here he was acting like the concerned and doting brother-in-law who truly cared about extra-curricula responsibilities.

When he had pitched up this morning, instead of doing what I asked him to and seeing to the boys, instead he dropped them at his mothers place and came to the hospital. His excuse was that I needed support. Yes, bring my neurotic self…  I did need support, but the only problem was that it wasn’t his support the I wanted.

“They’ve found something in the scan they did this morning,” Siraj said non-commitedly. “A growth on the spinal cord. We’re waiting for the results of the biopsy and I don’t know why they didn’t pick it up earlier, but of course, it’s all in the plan of the Greater Power and we have to just try and move forward..”

It was like my heart had ceased there for a moment. They found something that could exacerbate his illness and my uncle was surprisingly calm about it.

I looked at my uncle with slightly narrow eyes, wondering what if was that was different about him today. Besides the visible facial hair that made him look almost exactly like my brother now, he seemed worlds away from what he was. Not as highly strung. Cooler. More relaxed. It was like the magic of Tawakkul had been breathed into him. I’d never heard him speak of Allah’s power and relate it to his work. For him, religion had always been a separate entity, and I never thought I’d see the day when he’d merge the two and understand how Allah plays a role in everything that occurs.

Without us realizing it, through spending time with Adam and treating him through this time… there was a unexpected transformation in my uncle that had taken us all by surprise.

“Okay, so what’s next,” Adam said quietly, while I watched them both. Khawlah looked like she was in shock. Of course another complication would change everything for their future. For us all.

I could feel myself started to hyperventilate as I watched the calmness around me. I felt like Adam had known this all along. Like they had this conversation a million times in their heads before, rehearsing if multiple times in order to get it perfectly calm and drama-free. Call me crazy but I seriously felt like banging their heads together. I hated when everyone acted like everything was okay when it clearly wasn’t.

My mother was sitting in the corner of the room, surprisingly quiet. I felt almost nervous as I watched her, half waiting for her to erupt like she sometimes would, when we would least expect it. Only, it was like an inwardly bubbling volcano… even that wasn’t happening…

”I think it’s time to discuss treatment options,” Siraj said steadily.  “On a serious note now. Just so we’re prepared…”

Now he was talking. I tried to breathe in deeply as I watched them.

Relax, I commanded myself. It will all be okay.

I felt like there was a part of my brain saying, “Yeah, right,” but gave it two smacks, blocked it out and focused on the present.

Adam narrowed his eyes and shook his head, a streak of stubbornness filling his eyes as he looked back at Siraj.

”I don’t want to know the treatment options,” he said through gritted teeth. “I’m not doing any systematic chemo or radium and I told you this before!”

I felt my heart drop. Where there was no will… there was no way…

“Adam,” Siraj said firmly. “This may be the last option. Stop being so damn stubborn. Chemo and radium have had high success rates. You even get the tablets. If it is what I think it is, why don’t we just try to treat the cancer and try and eliminate those cells.’-“

“It destroys the cancer cells but it destroys everything else with it,” Adam retorted. “I don’t want to be stuck not being able to have kids for the rest of my life… however long that may be!”

I could see Siraj visibly wince as he said it, and Adam immediately realized his mistake. My uncle looked like he had been stung, but being use to controlling his emotions, he recovered quickly, clenching his jaw as he looked at my brother.

Of course it was a sensitive topic for him. Both the topics…. but not having kids… well, he knew the reality of what it felt like and didn’t want that for my brother either. I’m sure he wouldn’t suggest that unless it was necessary.


It was Khawlah who spoke softly, and all eyes were on her as she walked slowly up to my brother’s side. I could see her reaching for his hand while she tried to compose herself. Of course this wasn’t easy. Of course it was taking a lot out of her, but the maturity of my brothers teenage wife just astounded me over and over again. When I looked at her, even I felt like a little kid who had no control over my emotions at all.

“I know you’re worried and scared and a little overwhelmed,” I heard her say. “But I want to hear them. I want to know our options. Can we just listen? For me?”

I could see my brother instantly soften as he looked at her, visibly soothed just by her presence as he nodded. A single tear rolled down her cheek as she looked at him, and I could see him squeeze her hand back as they looked at Siraj expectantly. It was so emotional that I wanted to bawl my eyes out right there and then.

It was the first time I had witnessed this kind of emotional intensity… and as they spoke seriously in low tones, my heart was thudding methodically as I watched their heartfelt fears unfold on their faces with bated breath.

My mind was abuzz with information. Adam was expressionless as Siraj. My parents were looking alarmed. I could just imagine what I looked like as I kept blowing my nose noisily, because I felt like my heart was breaking apart, bit by bit, solely due to this new discovery.

And of course, since I was an expert at getting caught up in awkward moments, it was at that very moment when I glanced at the door and saw a considerable figure hovering there, causing my heart to accelerate as I realized who it was. He was looking inquiringly at Adam with relief on his face. Relief and absolute joy that made me want to smile despite my own tears. Of course he was ecstatic that Adam was looking normal. Awake. Alive.

I looked away as he came in, moving back to the outskirts of the room, feeling a thudding in my chest as I thought about our last conversation. I tried to appear all normal and together by doing the noble lowering my gaze thing, but my heart was a stubborn vessel that refused to co-operate with my mind. It was already beating away, way out of control…

”We both know that this is not what we planned,” Ahmed had said almost in a rush as the call came and just before the drama all unfolded the day before. “But if we both know what we want then I really don’t see a reason to delay this any longer…”

He trailed off as his hazel eyes met mine, and I could tell that this was a mouthful for him. I wasn’t sure if I’d heard the guy speak more than ten words in one sitting and that day he had exceeded way more than twenty. For once in my babbling life I was a little gobsmacked, but if I had to really introspect, I think that it was one of the things I had felt myself liking about him. When I found myself short of words, anyone knew that I was impressed.

He was so different. Despite the fact that he clearly had all the Deeni aspects that I had been looking for, I loved that he wasn’t a charmer. Never looking to impress anyone or care what they thought. Unlike Shabeer, he wasn’t a talker. He said few words that meant business and that was what had got me. I wasn’t sure what it was about this guy who was so much younger than me, but seemed like he knew so much more. Maybe age was just a number. Despite it all, his eyes spoke more about the world than I had seen in my entire thirty years.

I had already given my consent, but there was just one problem amidst it all that I didn’t exactly anticipate. Shabeer pitching up early that morning, looking all sparkly and sober was something that was quite baffling. Whether he had got wind of what was going on, I wasn’t sure, but as I stood there, I could see Ahmed glance from me to Shabeer warily, and the two of them locked eyes for a minute before I intentionally turned around to leave the room, my heart hammering in my chest for fear of what may come out of this.

Goodness. This was probably going to cause a stir. If Shabeer knew about the proposal, this could be trouble. If Ahmed mentioned anything, it would bring a helluva lots of havoc too. Besides the two of them, my mother would probably hound me relentlessly and Khawlah would come to know the truth before I got the chance to explain it all…

I tightened my grip on my handbag as I got made my way to the door, knowing that Shabeer already had his guard up. I knew that Ahmed made him sweat and the thought gave me a strange sense of satisfaction. It was just that right then, I couldn’t bare to watch any possible drama unfold, because my nerves had already taken a helluva load in the last twenty-four hours.

In my mind, there was only one solution. Coffee. I needed some coffee. To see it all clearer and put everything into perspective. I felt selfish. Like I was worried about my own future and security when my brother was basically withering away. I wish that there was someone I could confide in.. to ask… to truly know what the right thing to do was right then.

Think good thoughts, I tried to coax it. Happy thoughts.

And just as I calmed myself down and the lady handed me my double caffeinated triple-sugared lifesaver, it was just on cue that my mothers kitten heels could already be heard amidst the regular hustle and bustle of the reception, coming from the direction of the elevator. I held my breath as I turned and looked, hoping against every hope that it wasn’t hers and maybe just someone who sounded like her. But as my luck always had it, fate was never really on my side and I could see my mother fix her gaze on me as I tactically chose a spot far away from any strangers ears, knowing that my mother already meant business.

I held my breath as I watched her, slowly and torturously leading up to what I knew would be some sort of explosion, by now expertly recognizing the familiar body language and absolutely dreading what would be happening in the next few moments. She was now directly in front of me, and it was obvious that I could avoid eye contact no more. I looked up reluctantly, giving her a shaky smile as I told her to take a seat, well aware that she wouldn’t anyway.

There was no way to postpone the impending doom any longer. I was already wishing that she would just explode already, because the anticipation was way more nerve-wrecking.

“I can’t believe it!” She muttered through gritted teeth, careful about not causing a huge scene from the beginning. This was how it always started, and she was getting better at the build-up. Soft and almost embarrassed… before it morphed into something loud and appallingly embarrassing…

”Ma, I can explain-“

”Explain?!” She said, her eyes widening as she looked at me. “I don’t understand how people think sometimes. Acting all innocent and then coming to a hospital at such a crucial time and turning everything completely upside down!”

I cringed. I supposed she was right. I knew exactly what she meant but I really didn’t mean to. I knew that my mother was in love with my ex-husband (mainly because of his amazing genes and light hair) but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t look for happiness elsewhere since he had made me feel like a disposed diaper so many times. What I didn’t know was how to explain to her that I really didn’t mean to be selfish at this crucial time…

”It’s just uncalled for!” She said, her voice expectedly rising now. “Unheard of. Makes me so suspicious, you know!  All this time and now suddenly she pitches up here all concerned about what’s going on in my family -“

”Wait, Ma,” I said suddenly, not really understanding who the ‘she’ was in the conversation. What was she going on about?

My mother looked at me stonily, obviously peeved that I had interrupted her onslaught.

“Who is the she?” I asked, obviously confused. Was there a female intruder that I should be worried about? Just when I thought I had enough of them during my marriage to Shabeer, along comes another…

I really had such amazing luck.

”Didn’t you see her talking to me?” My mother asked incredulously, her eyes narrowing as she stared ahead and half gestured her eyebrows towards someone sitting a few tables away. “That woman!”

I turned my face, half expecting to see a young woman who would be my sworn rival to be looking back at me. Maybe she was one of Shabeers ex-wives? Someone who wanted to cause a stir? Worse still, what if it was Ahmed’s ex-fiancé looking to cause trouble?! I swallowed nervously as I thought of the possibilities, wondering if that’s how my mother had heard the recent  news. Maybe there was a huge confrontation in the ward and I had missed if because I had been too chicken to face my own music.

Ah, the embarrassment that might have ensued. Sometimes I really wanted to kick myself.

But thankfully, the worry was in vain because as I looked up, what I saw instead was a middle-aged woman of medium complexion,  donned in a purple maxi dress and flaunting her recently dyed mahogany straightened hair. By now, of course, I was completely confused.

”That’s her!” My mother muttered with a scrunched up face. “The woman I was talking about. She just came out of nowhere, mocked at my genuine caesarstone counters and stole my recipe and then said it was hers. Can you believe her?! Why is it that everytime there’s a problem I spot her face, Rubeena?!”

I shrugged as I looked at my mother, knowing that craziness doesn’t go much further than this. I sincerely hoped that the kuku genes were not hereditary.

I frowned at my mother, knowing that I would probably never understand her, as long as I tried.

“Mum,” I said calmly, a mixture of relief and annoyance flooding through me. So she didn’t know about Ahmed. That was a relief. I could just imagine the spectacle it would cause when she did find out, but for now I dwelled on the bliss. “It’s only a recipe-“

”But this just it, Rubeena!” My mother almost shouted, flinging her hands up in the air. “It’s never just a recipe! See how she’s looking at us! Your divorce, Adam’s sickness and everything that’s happened… This is much more than just a recipe, Rubeena, and you know it!”

She looked at me and I stared back at her in amusement. She was really cracking me up.

”Im serious, Rubeena,” she said, her voice dropping as I looked at the lady with her cynically narrowed eyes. I felt like she would bore a hole through her head with the way she was glaring.

Besides, I didn’t really buy Mum’s theory. I mean, she looked slightly familiar, but I couldn’t quite place why…

It was all a bit of a concocted mystery, but what I didn’t know at that point was that despite my mother’s seemingly ridiculous speculations, there was a reason that this woman always seemed to be around her… a reason that my mother had noticed her and a noted blast from someone’s past that was here to dig up some skeletons that were long locked away…

Don’t forget our Sunnah Revival!

Favorite foods of the Prophet (SAW): Pumpkin and Barley. All we have to do is make an intention for Sunnah and we’ll get multiple rewards! 

Anas RA said: “I went along with the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) barley bread and soup containing pumpkin and dried sliced meat. And I saw the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) going after the pumpkin round the dish, so I have always liked pumpkins since that day.” (Abu Dawud 3782)

A forgotten Sunnah. Eaten fallen particles… Sometimes we forget the Barakah that can be in even a grain of food. To eat what has fallen on the cloth or even the floor… SubhaanAllah.
Anas ibn Maalik narrated that when the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) ate, he would lick his three fingers. Anas said: “And he said, ‘If any one of you drops a piece of food, let him remove any dirt from it and eat it, and not leave it for the Shaytaan.’ And he commanded us to clean the plate, and said, ‘For you do not know where in your food the blessing is.’” (Narrated by Muslim, 2034). 









Twitter: @ajourneyjournal

Some Storm

Bismihi Ta’ala


“Can I look yet?”

”Just a few more minutes…” Aadam’s voice said excitedly.

I was completely in tune with my senses as I walked along. The scent of wilderness was refreshing. The scrunching of the leaves underneath my pumps were an indication that we were somewhere outdoors. The teetering of a variety of birds reminded me of the park near Aadam’s place, although now that we had travelled for a while, I knew that we were quite far from home….

”Now?!” I asked, tapping my foot impatiently as we halted, and the sound of water now audible as I listened. I had regrettably put the blindfold on, despite hating surprises.

One positive was that now I did realize that when your one sense is compromised, it seemed as though every other one was considerably heightened.

“Patience gorgeous,” Aadams voice was saying, and I could hear him a few meters away. “Just a little more time…”

“You mean you dragged me out of bed at insane hours so you can keep me standing here looking at nothing but blackness?!”

”Careful cowgirl,” Aadam was saying. “With all this biting my head off you’re competing with the hungry crocodiles…”

I placed my hands on my hips, naturally getting grumpier by the second.
Biting his head off? What did he… Hey, wait.

Did he just say hungry crocodiles?!

Yikes..! Was this some kind of insane trust test of something?!

Aadam!” I almost screeched. A bit like a fish wife. I knew that I was going against every rule that Nusaybah had set up for me last night but I couldn’t help it. The guy was making me freak out.

”If you don’t take this thing-“

”Okay, okay, relax… you can look!”

Of course, as the magic of light became apparent to me, my voice already froze in my throat…

He was planted in front of me with his hands outstretched and a look of wizardry on his face. At that moment he honestly reminded me of one of those comical magician figures as he watched me, my eyes fixed ahead in absolute wonder.

Ta-da!” He said, quite visibly thrilled as I grinned at him and then shifted my eyes to the beautiful scenery that lay before me. And honestly, if I could say I have ever been at a loss for words, this would be the moment. “I know it’s not Maldives, but yeah, you know…”

I was simply blown away.

He walked towards me slowly, reaching out for my hand and giving it a little squeeze.

”Are you in love yet?”

”Absolutely,” I breathed, completely at a loss.

There were millions of things that I loved about nature and what was pictured right in front of me was one of them.

I really had to pause to catch my breath as I looked up into the green mountains that surrounded us, with the most strikingly blue estuary spread below. A small stream was right ahead and in between was a bank which lead to a greater mass of water that looked extremely appealing. Sea gulls squawked above us and Egyptian geese settled on the nearby shore. The early morning light was a feast for the eyes as it met the break of tide, revealing the most perfect shades of blue and scarlet from here to beyond the seas… where the water seemed to never end.

Of course, with my husband knowing me so well… right on edge of the waters, just for my grumbling tummy was a simple picnic spread that boasted a few basic breakfast necessities and snacks. Sunnah style dates with cucumbers. Crackers and cream cheese. Milk and cookies. A few of my favorite all-time snacks that I would munch on at regular intervals at home… and it just showed how much Aadam already knew about me. I simply would not survive without some scrumptious nourishment.

”Remember the date we were supposed to go on?” He asked, as he sidled up to me and I reached for a cucumber.

I nodded. Of course I remembered. It was that crazy week where Aadam’s past had come back to haunt us and I couldn’t bear to even face him. So this was what Aadam had up his sleeve…
He reached down and picked up a fresh date, handing it to me.

”Here you go,” he grinned, obviously finding himself very funny.

I rolled my eyes at his lame joke but grabbed it anyway, surprised at its amazing sweetness as I bit in. I had forgotten the unfamiliar queasiness I had been feeling after that long drive… my stomach was in need of some nourishment and I was already tucking in.

I glanced around, almost in awe of the beauty. It wasn’t every day that you saw the sunrise against the most beautiful emerald hillocks that seemed to never end. It was an array of pinks and magenta… yellows and tangerine… somehow, even in different parts of even the same country, sunrises were magnificently different. Aadam pecked my cheek as we looked on, both of us a little mesmerized as the light from the skies seemed to fill the entire world.

It had been an early morning once again but I appreciated it because Aadam that taught me that at these parts of the day was when the most amazing things can be seen.

When Aadam had said early, I supposed my mind kind of blocked out the reality of what he really meant by it. I hated waking early, but with Aadam, his sickness hadn’t changed his habits. As usual, when he had these sort of plans, he had pitched up at my house in the wee hours of the morning. Ahmed had given him a key a few months ago… to avoid any possible early morning moodiness from the inmates of the house and without even hearing him sneaking in to my tornado-ish bedroom, the scent of alluring aftershave in the midst of my early morning slumber awakened my senses before I could even pry my eyes open. His voice was gentle yet disturbingly alive at that part of the morning…

“You’re early,” I mumbled, wishing that he wasn’t.

”Sweetheart,” his completely unnervingly smooth voice said. “It’s almost 10AM…”


I jumped up with a shock, narrowing my eyes at Aadam’s chuckling as he watched me.

”I knew that would work…”

My eyes shot open, taking in the contours of Aadam’s face as he smiled at me. As usual, he looked great, smelled great, and made me feel like Mrs Frump all over again.

And yes, I know that I should have known better. By now, and it wasn’t like I didn’t expect him that early. It was just that when my dear friend  Nusaybah had heard that I was needing to be out of the house for a special outing the next day, of course, the twenty-one questions (most with answers provided by my amazing friend) were already inevitable. I had a list of do’s, don’ts and absolute no-nos. I had only slept after midnight by the time she finished off.  I felt like I was getting married all over again and Nusaybah was the bossy advisory officer.

“Where do you even find these places?” I asked, shaking my head at him.

“I used to come kayaking with my grandfather,” he said, glancing at me as he twiddled with his long fingers. “It was like our thing. He was an awesome  guy but he was rough… you know? A real man’s man, yeah. Always onto something adventurous and dangerous. Heart of gold. Tons of charity work. We always had a blast… Of course, I haven’t been here since he passed…”

I could feel the emotion is his voice as he spoke. It wasn’t often that he mentioned his grandfather and this was the most he had said about him. I knew that he also took after his grandfathers hobby with the carpentry. Somehow, we never got to talking more about him.

”That’s amazing,” I said softly, reaching for his hand. “You never did tell me though… how did he pass away?”

Aadam looked up at the skies as some pretty pigeons cooed above us, and then turned to glance back at me. They were unlike the ones I usually saw in the cities. Grey with a tinge of green… simply beautiful.

”Cancer,” he said simply and I could feel my heart immediately hammer in my chest.

”I didn’t know…” I said, my throat feeling dangerously constricted. “May Allah grant him the highest stages…”

All sorts of things were going through my mind. I had no idea that his grandfather had cancer. What cancer was it? Was that why he barely spoke about him? Did it bring back painful memories?

He was studying me as I looked up at him, my eyes searching his for an answer. I was too scared to ask. I didn’t want to spoil the mood…..

The beauty… the nature… the sincere love that Aadam had in mind when he planned this. Of course he had wanted it to be a perfect day. 

”You know what he used to tell me back then?”

I glanced at him for a moment as he stared ahead. His dark eyes were fixed on something in the distance and he subconsciously ran his hands through his beard as he spoke.

I looked back at him inquiringly.

“He wasn’t the most pious person you could meet, but he had this awareness, you know?” He said quietly. “I remember him asking me once while we were here: ‘Can you see Allah’s hand here… in everything?’
Of course… I didn’t get it then. I never really understood what he meant. All I thought was that he was a little bit of a crazy old man who didn’t understand the science of rock formations and seasonal changes. I was always taught that everything around me was pure science. That’s how I was engineered to think. Coincidence, you know? Laws of nature. Allah’s existence for me was merely an ideology.. but now, Khawlah, now I see it. Now I see that His creation are signs. Now I see the reality. Now only, as I look at it… I can see His constant presence in everything that exists. How nothing exists without Him and how He can exist without anything…”

I swallowed and nodded, too afraid to speak. I could see exactly what his grandfather had spoken about. Of course I could. In every leaf. Every ebb of the soft tide. Every rock that surrounded us.

”So much of beauty here,” I murmured, letting my emotions settle. “This place is really something else…

“Imagine how Allah planned this all in complete synchronization,” he said softly. “How everything flows and blooms and reveals itself in such a wonder that we can’t help but remember Him…”

He was right. This was a level of it’s own. It was pure nature and beauty that was unforgettable. The thing was, anywhere you go could be an opportunity to see the master of Allah’s work…

“Come on,” he said, pulling the boat forward as he gestured to it. “You ready for some adventure?”

I raised my eyebrows at him as he looked at me.

“Are you sure there are no animals lurking in there that might eat me?” I asked.

He smiled and grasped my hand, gently guiding me as to where to put my feet and then seating me sturdily in the low boat. It felt… different. Almost like I was so close to the water, but not exactly there. Relaxing and peaceful and unlike any feeling I’d felt before.

“I learnt to kayak when we were in school,” he said as he hopped on easily, pushing off from the shore as we made on our way to the midst of the waters. “The guys would always have a ball out in the water. I came here once with my grandfather and fell in love with this place.”

He was swiftly moving the oars as we moved ahead. I watched him intently, as his sturdy arms rotating steadily round and round, in a certain rhythm, wondering how much of practice it took to get to the point when you could do it so effortlessly.

”Are you checking me out?” Aadam asked, raising his eyebrows at me. ”I’m married, you know…”

I rolled my eyes at him as he winked. His jaw was clenching with each tug of the awe, and I could only imagine how much of effort this must be putting on his limbs.

”Aren’t your arms sore?” I asked, worried that he was straining himself. Today seemed like a good day but with Aadam… well, I was always worried. He was an expert at pretending he was okay.

”I’m fine,” he insisted, stopping for a moment and looking at me intently as he explained to me about geographical laws of nature and how the rock formations occurred. How he loved learning about it and how it all came together with the will of Allah.

There was a beautiful but seasonal waterfall that was trickling from the peak of the surrounding mountains… and I gazed up at it just as the grey clouds suddenly came into view…

We had already been rowing for close to an hour. The skies above us were changing slightly as I looked up a little worriedly.

The waters were getting more rough and what was a slight drizzle became raindrops falling, blurring our vision slightly. It was so beautiful and serene… even with the rain and the grey clouds above… I was so in love with this that I couldn’t help but tear. What I didn’t know was that it wasn’t just the surroundings that was making me emotional. I had no idea of the magic yet, but as I sat there with my husband, feeling like some kind of crazy and hormonal woman, there was very evidently something foreign and miracle-like wrecking havoc within my body.

We had reached the shore now and I couldn’t tell what was blurring my eyes more. Without any warning, a low rumble of thunder sounded from above us and I jumped. Aadam looked at me from across, rowing fiercely as he tried to mount us onto the sand. We still had the stream to cross, and unlike earlier, where it appeared calm and serene, now it was raging with ferocity. My heart was in my throat as I looked at Aadam, trying to steady myself on the bank and wondering how on earth we were going to get out of this. The panic was settling in and I could see that Aadam was concerned too. 

“Aadam, how are we going to get to the car?”

He had just pulled the boat up and was now trying it to keep it from getting washed away.

He turned to me, silently throwing me a jacket from his bag as I covered myself with it. His hair was soaked already and his t-shirt completely drenched.

”What are we going to do?!” I asked, panicking like never before. It was unlike me, and  the first time in my life I had been so scared. We were caught in the middle of two raging streams and had no idea how to escape.

As fearless as I had been, stormy weather was my weak point. My shortfall. My Achilles heel. Even as a kid.. when it came to the big ones..  There were some storms that I could never face…

I turned to my husband as he glanced at the stream, a little taken aback at how it had transformed.

The water was crashing against the surrounding rocks, and I grabbed onto him with a yelp as it splashed onto my dress, now soaking the bottom. The jacket was over my head and I looked around me, wondering how the weather had changed so fast.

“Aadam, this is crazy,” I breathed. “We need to find some shelter…”

Storms were one occasion that brought out the worst in me. Rivalry. Swords. Even guns. I could take on anything else, but the warrior within me wasn’t equipped for this. I remembered curling up close to Mama when I was a little girl the moment I would hear that familiar rumble from the sky. I was almost frozen as Aadam tried to hoist me over the water so I could be partially untouched, I could see his own strength wavering.

”Come on,” he said as he turned to me. “You have to push against the current…”

”I can’t,” I almost cried. “It’s too strong! Let’s just wait for it to be over…”

”And get washed away in the process!” He almost shouted.

His expression immediately softened as another rumble of thunder roared above us. The pelting rain seemed to up a notch as well, and I could see a streak of fear in his eyes as he turned around to face me, who was by now absolutely hysterical…

Tears were flowing down my cheeks, but with the rain pouring down on us I wouldn’t think he noticed. He grasped my shoulders sturdily as we tried to balance, despite the force around us.

”Khawlah, do you think I’ll ever leave you here?” He said, his eyes boring into mine.

The droplets of water were sliding down his face as he said it, and he wiped them off hastily, holding onto me fiercely as he spoke.

I shook my head, knowing that he wouldn’t. Of course he wouldn’t.

”I love you, Khawlah,” he said, his hands gripping me tightly as the storm raged on. “But this… around us… right now.. like everything we’ve seen today… it’s proof of Allah’s power. And He loves you much more than I do.
Do you ever think that He will leave you alone, Khawlah? Do you ever doubt that he won’t take care of you?! As terrifying and unexpected as this all is… Khawlah, In every time. In every place. As much hurt or fear or pain that you feel.. There is a loving and caring Lord who is always looking after you…”

I looked at him, the fear in my chest still palatable but significantly less intense.

“Truly… He gives you what you expect… if not more. Have high expectations and you’ll never be let down. This is no ordinary being. He is One who made you… created you… sustains and loves you more than you will ever know… come on, sweets. Trust me. We’ll get through this.”

And just like that, I wasn’t sure from where or how… but there was a serenity that descended over me like I never felt before. It was as if the entire world didn’t matter. It was a magic that he had passed on with his words, pushing me to delve into the depths of my soul and find the courage within. Find the faith I knew I had. Despite the storm, and despite the panic and overwhelming fear… Sometimes we just had to leave it to Allah. With that knowledge and submission, often, you find an entirely new kind of liberation…

And as he turned back around, almost carrying me through that raging stream, we did just that. We got through that storm. That furious river. That pelting rain. The rumbling thunder above and bolts of lightning that flashed all around us.

Because sometimes we do need someone to remind us that there’s an end to every storm. That there’s something more beyond it. More powerful. Overwhelmingly greater.
Once everything’s been uprooted. Once the buildings have been ripped apart. The wind will hush, the clouds will part, the rain will stop, the sky will clear in an instant. But only then, in those quiet moments after the storm, do we learn who how we were strong enough to survive it. How we got through it. Who brought us to safety. That beyond it all there was a Great Lord Who hears every cry, knows every fear and sees far more than we know

And as we sprinted through that storm, reaching the car panting and in absolute exhaustion, my mind too was racing with those very thoughts that I could not fathom all along. Right then… at that moment, I had all the words to tell him, to explain the magic… to express my amazement… but as Aadam literally collapsed onto the seat next to me, my thoughts halted as I heard his labored breathing significantly more strained than usual.

“Are you okay?” I asked, feeling the adrenaline rush wearing off as I glanced at him, forgetting the moments of pure liberation I had felt just then. Running in the rain had brought on a completely different dimension for me that day.

”We’re… so lucky,” he said, sounding so unlike himself as he took breaths between his words. “Allah really… took… care of us. Just… need… a few minutes…”

He closed his eyes as I watched him, his chest rapidly rising and falling as I waited for him to turn to me and give me his usual Aadam grin.

But it wasn’t a few minutes. It wasn’t what he had thought. Some storms are meant to be faced. Some can be defied. Some can even bring a beauty that we’ve never seen before.

But sometimes there aren’t always rainbows waiting to reveal themselves after the storm. This storm was one that changed the season of our entire lives…

Dear Readers,

Just on that note, a thought that ran through my mind as I wrote… was that we often hear of Allah’s love for us and how it can exceed any kind of love we have in this world.

Many people wonder about the Ummah and often question all the calamities that befall us today. It truly pains our heart, and though we send money, raise funds and awareness… a valid point I just read about this morning was that we should constantly try and boycott sin. This is the only true remedy to stop the stress on the Ummah. May Allah assist us and help us to heave faith in His love and plan always…


Much Love,

A xx

A forgotten Sunnah. Eaten fallen particles… next we’ll do some Sunnahs on food as mentioned in the post. 

Sometimes we forget the Barakah that can be in even a grain of food. To eat what has fallen on the cloth or even the floor… SubhaanAllah.
Anas ibn Maalik narrated that when the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) ate, he would lick his three fingers. Anas said: “And he said, ‘If any one of you drops a piece of food, let him remove any dirt from it and eat it, and not leave it for the Shaytaan.’ And he commanded us to clean the plate, and said, ‘For you do not know where in your food the blessing is.’” (Narrated by Muslim, 2034). 









Twitter: @ajourneyjournal


A Battle of it’s Own

Bismihi Ta’ala


The battle was raging, the fighting furious. The archers disregarded the orders of the Prophet SAW by leaving their positions on the mountain when they saw the polytheists withdrawing .

When they saw the confusion and horror splitting the ranks of the Muslims, the polytheists focused on the Prophet of Allah (SAW) to finish him off. Mus’ab saw the impending threat, so he raised the standard high, shouting, ‘Allahu Akbar! Allah is the Greatest!’… like the roar of a lion.

He turned and jumped left and right, fighting and killing the foe. All he wanted was to draw the attention of the enemy to himself in order to turn their attention away from the Prophet SAW. What mastery… SubhaanAllah…

This one warrior thus became an entire army in himself. One in a million, this man… Would he not just back down?

Nay, Mus’ab went alone to fight as if he were an army of giants raising the standard in sanctity with one hand, striking with his sword with the other. But the enemies were multiplying on him.

Spear after spear. He fought on.., until he too was hit. One down. Two down… And then… a third one struck him with his spear, and the spear went through him. Mus’ab fell first and then the standard…

And of course, we all know that this was the event that lead to the martyrdom of one of the most beloved companions of the Prophet (SAW). That this event, where he strove and struggled to fight… where every ounce within him was battling for victory… was not unrewarded.

One of the most pampered youth of Makkah, Mus’ab bin Umair (RA) fell after he had struggled for the sake of Allah in the great battle of sacrifice and faith… and yes, he didn’t live to tell of it, neither did he have any great possessions to his name… but he died with the greatest comfort of all.  The comfort of palaces and pearls and pleasure that would last not only till Qiyaamah.. but even beyond…

And as I read and reread of the ambition and devotion of these great people that existed in the past, trying to find some focus and direction after my momentary downfalls… I couldn’t help but feel that maybe I had been missing something all this time.

As happens in this temporary world, sometimes we get caught up in its whims and fancies of our Nafs. Like a screaming child… We say what our desires tempt us to. We feel things that our hearts are inclining to. We cast gazes where we’re not supposed to. We taint our hearts and we corrupt our Imaan, when we give into everything we merely desire to do…

And yes, I know that I’ve had my fair share of not entirely unprecedented events in the recent past, but sometimes even the greater warriors fall, right? That’s the thing with being human. We’re allowed to err. To make mistakes. Find the balance, even after we’ve kind of lost the plot… that’s what it about, right?

”You just make sure you stay out of trouble,” Zuleikha had warned me the week before, clearly annoyed by the constant drama surrounding me for the past few weeks. After the hounding I got from my sisters, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever recover… and it wasn’t even over yet.

“Don’t worry,” I said wryly. “I think I’ve been through them all now…”

Zuleikha raised her eyebrows at me in annoyance.

”Proud if it, aren’t you?” She said begrudgingly. Of course I wasn’t. “I sincerely hope that you find a girl who can tolerate all your nonsense. You’ve made me grey these past few weeks. I honestly wish your future wife tons of luck.”

She was shaking her head at me in annoyance as I grinned, finding her just a little more moodier than usual. Maybe her husband was annoying her so her moods were damper than usual. Jameel still got on my nerves at times but things had simmered down by then.

As for her mention of girls, I had just had it out with my uncle and I was pretty much done with the topic. It was dusted.  And yes, maybe I gone a little overboard on the cousin front, leading my uncles daughter on… but you have to believe me when I say that I really didn’t mean for it to happen… I didn’t know that all her coo-ing and googoo-like eyes meant that she was really a little obsessed with me. 

It was just a misunderstanding. A young girl who got the wrong idea from a little attention that I had given her. I wished that I could take it back but I couldn’t. All I could do was repent and hope to atone for it in some other way…

I had just reached my brother-in-law’s place and I wasn’t sure why I had the feeling that something was up with the phone call he had made to me last week, but as I made my way up to the floor where his flat was, I couldn’t help feel a little awkward about the current situation. The last time I had been there was two months ago when my brother-in-law had very diplomatically tried to explain to me his sister’s reason for refusing my very well-thought proposal..

“Hey bro,” Adam exclaimed, after returning my greeting and giving me an affectionate pat on the back.  I could see he was happy to see me, but but I was there an hour earlier than I had planned.

”I know I’m early,” I apologized, feeling bad about disturbing his peace.

”No problem at all,” he said, his infectious smile already visible on his face. “You’re welcome anytime. The boys are here but they’ll be leaving just now… nearly their bed time…”

The boys? I caught sight of a little guys shoes at the doorway.

Ah. The nephews.

And at the mention of it, I seriously had every intention of turning around and going back home, but I knew that it wouldn’t be the most mature thing to do. At the end of the day..  my sister was married to their uncle. I knew I’d have to interact with them at some point. If it wasn’t for Adam’s almost shove into his flat, I knew I would have been rooted to the spot. I looked around warily, expecting the boys to pop out from somewhere and start doing kiddish things that would probably start annoying the heck out of me… but nothing of the sort happened at all.

Instead, I was actually left wondering where they were, as I walked to the lounge, catching sight of three heads that were silently bobbing around on the floor. It took me a few seconds to realize that the bigger two were busy assembling a race track on the carpet while the smaller one was occupied with the cars that went with it. I took a seat nearby while they snacked on chips and Adam went to the kitchen to fetch some cool drinks, feeling a little odd as these boys played silently while I watched. From what I remembered from those misled days when I spoken to Rubeena… the boys were nothing like their mother had described. I honestly doubted that think they were even the same kids…

”This part is not fitting in.”

I looked up to see an angry looking 6-year-old with two components in his hand and a frustrated expression on his face.

”Who are you?” He said, his frown deepening. “Where’s Uncle Adam?”

”Dayyaan,” warned the older boy. “Stop being rude. He’s Aunty Khawlah’s brother.”

I glanced at the other boy who looked surprisingly like his uncle. Danyaal, who I remembered Khawlah often mentioning, took the parts from Dayyaan and tried to assemble them with little success. It did look like it was a little tricky.

“Pass it here, I’ll try,” I said, stretching out my hand while little eyes scrutinized my fiddling fingers.

I wasn’t sure what made me say it, because it was completely out of character for me… but something about these kids just made me feel at home.

It took a few tries but eventually it clicked into place. The smaller boys eyes lit up as he took the assembled parts from me,  obviously content that he could get back to work. I could imagine Adam keeping them occupied this way almost every week. It seemed like the kind of thing he would do… get them busy instead of placing them in front of screen. For a computer-geek he was surprisingly anti-technology.

Danyaal grinned as he sidled up near me on the carpet, now knowing the ice was broken and asking for snippets of guidance where he required. Before I knew it, I had also delved into the whole track-building thing, eager to see how this assembly would eventually turn out. I got so into it, that I had even forgotten that Adam was around until I heard his voice behind us, telling the boys that they had to get ready to go. Obviously, there was a series of moans as Adam hurried them along because the track wasn’t yet finished, and even I felt myself getting a little disappointed. Like most other guys, I loved cars, and a Hot Wheels track was my favorite kind.

I could see Adam picking up pieces of scattered chips that were on the floor, making sure they didn’t get trampled on or go to waste as he went along. I watched him as the boys bickered in about who was cleaning up what. What Adam was doing right then took a humility of another kind. My brother-in-law was really something else. It was hard to believe that he had grown up knowing none of this and was now such a firm practicer of the Sunnah that he put most people I knew away…

”Looks like you were having fun there,” Adam said, cutting through my thoughts and raising his one eyebrow in surprise as he looked up at me. ”I didn’t think you were the type who could get along with kids…”

He was smirking and I knew he was taking a dig at me to ascertain my reaction. I stayed neutral as I shrugged, not really knowing what to say. I supposed kid-boy things were fun. In doses.

”How are you feeling?” I asked, remembering the real reason I came to visit.

I hadn’t seen my brother-in-law in a while and the visit was overdue. Being Adam, he had been the one to call me last week to check how I was, and I kind of got the feeling that he had something else to mention too.

“Great,” he said, a little too enthusiastically. “Doing great.”

I nodded, looking at him a little skeptically and then leaving it at that. I was glad that he wasn’t bed-ridden or feeling like crap. I was also glad that my sister was staying here at least a few days in the week… and both of them seem to be on cloud nine since then. I was happy for them. I really was.

”I know I called to see you last week,” he said suddenly, taking a seat opposite me. “I wanted to talk to you, but I’m not sure if I should say it…”

I looked at my brother-in-law questioningly, not really sure what to expect.

”I know your sister would probably have my head for this,” he continued, a hint of humor visible in his eyes as he spoke. “But this is kind of important to me too…”

I swallowed as he continued, not expecting him to bring up my past request after we’d been through it, but equally intrigued by the point of it all the same. He explained that he couldn’t leave it as it was… and I couldn’t help but be slightly speechless as he finished.

What he was actually suggesting something that would dig up all the old skeletons from the closet… and from where I was right then, I wasn’t exactly prepared to go back there…

”I don’t know,” I said, rubbing my temples, a little overwhelmed by his request.

”She’s changed her mind,” he said simply. “She asked me if you’re still interested. Obviously Im in no position to answer the question… I know it’s a bit late but maybe you’ll consider? Maybe she was just caught by surprise at the time but now… well, now she’s thought it through, spoken to lawyers… my father… and guess what, yeah? He actually wants to meet you… properly…”

Adam eyed me out while I stood there, hands in my pockets and slightly stunned at this turn of events.

Yes, I loved him but he had a helluva way of making things seem like they were no big deal. Only problem was that this was actually a real nerve wrecking thing and with all the drama in my life recently I wasn’t sure in what light I’d be seen. Did he really know what a rotten kind of guy he was suggesting for his sister? I wasn’t even sure why or how… but somehow I had gotten another shot with the girl who I couldn’t seem to get off my mind and the thought was making me feel a little edgy.

”Tomorrow?” I asked, not quite believing that it had to happen so soon. I wasn’t sure why I was set I’ll looking for excuses. Maybe it was the shock of it. “That’s a bit soon though… don’t you -“

”I’m taking your sister somewhere tomorrow,” he said, and I already understood. “I think it’s better if Khawlah isn’t here when it actually happens …”

I hated to say it but I knew it was true. Khawlah was convinced that Rubeena and I would never work out. So much so, that even I had begun to believe it. She also couldn’t keep a secret from Zuleikha and I wasn’t keen on her finding out just yet…

I swallowed and nodded, understanding his point and trying to psych myself up for it. This would be a complete game-changer. It would alter my entire life. It would change everything as I knew it right then.

But hell, everything within  me was telling me to go for it. There was no doubt, like the last time. There were no excuses, like I found my mind conjuring up two months ago. Right then, I knew that there was no-one else who I would have ever been so certain about… and there was no way that I was going to let the opportunity slip by. Somehow, Allah had placed everything perfectly… and there was no way that I was going to mess this up.

”I think you’re amazing, bro,” Adam said, as I made my way towards the door now, knowing that I had to neatly prepare myself. “But it’s a big step for any guy so take it easy. Don’t stress yourself out. Talk it out to settle her fears. Ease your mind… trust in Allah…  and then you can see how you guys feel, yeah…”

I was kind of spinning.

I couldn’t quite believe that this was actually happening. I barely slept that night, because I was so scared that I was going to mess it up. I asked Allah for His guidance, for a sign to know that it would all turn out okay. I kept going over various scenarios in my head, and eventually drifted into slumber just before Fajr Salah, struggling with all might to pry my eyes open on time so I would make it for the first Takbeer. I hadn’t missed it in years and I wasn’t going to let the thought of a prospective proposal ruin it for me.

Of course, I couldn’t sleep after so I busied myself with some work and then read some Quran before getting ready. It still sounded a little far-fetched, and reality was a foreign notion to me even as I got into my simple Golf, a little more dressed up than usual, and headed off down the estate to the house I’d been avoiding even glimpsing for a few weeks.

Of course, I was a little unsettled. My hands were slightly sweaty and I couldn’t quite believe that this was making me feel like some sort of invalid. It was completely out of character for me but I sucked it up and straightened my kurta, checking my appearance one more time in the rear view mirror as I stepped out, just concentrating on making my way to the door without any major hiccups. Adam had said that the kids would be with his mother and I was glad that there would be no spectators while I tried to prove myself to the woman who obviously thought I wasn’t worthy of her in the first place…

And as the door opened, I had to kind of do a double take, because in person, the situation was that much more intense. My heart was beating rapidly in my chest as I greeted Adam’s father, introducing myself briefly and answering his general questions about my job and everything else that I was currently doing.

And yes, I was nervous. The obvious fact was that I was a whole decade younger than his daughter, and I didn’t have half the money that her previous husband did… but since being a genuinely nice guy was his expertise, like Adam, he didn’t make it an issue. Surprisingly, I quite liked him… and until it seemed like all his fears were addressed and the end of our meeting was nearly at its end, I had kind of forgotten what the next step would be.

Seeing Rubeena after all these months was going to be something that I was half dreading and half awaiting, and as Adam’s father instructed me to wait there while he called her… I couldn’t help but wonder if this was all going to just fall flat on my face.

For the first time in my life, I was scared. So scared that everything was going to collapse and nothing would turn out the way I wanted. Despite knowing that it was all in Allah’s control… I wanted something so badly that I could feel deep fear gripping me from within at the mere thought of it not working out…

” ‘Salaam-u-alaikum…”

I looked up as she spoke, obviously not entirely prepared for her actual presence. All I glimpsed was a loose dress and her simply draped hijab. I had envisioned so many scenarios in my mind, but they all paled in comparison to the reality right then. Right then, as I gawked a little idiotically at this woman who I was trying so hard to forget for the last few months, the reality was that I couldn’t stop staring because everything at that moment was just kind of surreal…

”How are you?”

She was looking at me as I looked at her, slightly uncomfortable under my gaze, as I hastily looked away, knowing that I shouldn’t have been staring like that. It was a little creepy and I knew it.

”I’m okay,” I said, just barely audibly. “Fine, Alhumdulillah. How are you?”

Politeness was the way to go. Polite and nice. Calm, polite and the nice guy that I knew I sometimes could be. If I tried really hard.

And of course, as she answered and made her way slowly to the couch opposite me, of course, it was at the precise moment that the buzzing in my pocket kind of caught me off-guard. I pulled it out hastily, looking at the caller ID and getting only slightly worried as I looked up at Rubeena who was also probably wondering who was calling with the most inappropriate timing.

”It’s Khawlah,” I said aloud, not really comprehending why she would be calling me. Right now, of all times. Yup, she really chose her moments.

The call cut as I watched it, and just as I was about to call back it immediately started ringing again.

”Take it,” Rubeena said, her eyes looking slightly more serious than it did just a minute ago. “It may be important…”

I nodded and slid my finger to answer, placing the phone to my ear and really not anticipating the anxiety in my sisters voice as I listened to her. My own mind went into overdrive as she spoke, sending me into a slight panic as she explained her reason for calling…

I calmly told her that I’d leave right away, cut the call, and then hastily got up, knowing that this was a battle I would have to fight no matter what. A battle that I might lose, in order to win the greater war. A battle of sincerity that I was struggling to conquer. A battle where I would realize the true purpose of waging a war.

Sometimes it wasn’t only about the conquering.
Sometimes the greatest battles are fought on the inside.
Sometimes it was about doing the right thing… whether your heart wants to or not.

”You need to go?” Ruby asked, a little anxious as she watched me. “Is everything okay?”

I didn’t want to go, but this was the test. I wasn’t sure if this would sabotage everything but I took a deep breath, and then finally looked at her steadily, knowing that she had a right to know too.

It was her brother after all.

”I’m sorry, Ruby,” I said bluntly. “I have to go. Everything is not okay…”

A forgotten Sunnah. Eaten fallen particles…

Sometimes we forget the Barakah that can be in even a grain of food. To eat what has fallen on the cloth or even the floor… SubhaanAllah.
Anas ibn Maalik narrated that when the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) ate, he would lick his three fingers. Anas said: “And he said, ‘If any one of you drops a piece of food, let him remove any dirt from it and eat it, and not leave it for the Shaytaan.’ And he commanded us to clean the plate, and said, ‘For you do not know where in your food the blessing is.’” (Narrated by Muslim, 2034). 









Twitter: @ajourneyjournal


Softening the Blow

Bismihi Ta’ala


I was once told by my dear friend Nusaybah that there’s something magical about leaving your affairs in Allah’s hands. That there’s a beauty in submission.

I didn’t actually understand it at the time, but I remembered her saying that when we make Allah our caretaker, it means we submit our affairs to Him. We hand it over. We let go and we allow the One who is Ever-Living, All-Knowing and Eternal to take care of what He knows best. We take His name and we surrender to His will, no matter what is to happen. That knowledge alone will soften even the severest of blows…

And it can be scary to venture into the unknown. It’s scary to find out we’ve been wrong about something. It’s always scary when things are changing. It’s scary to imagine that at some point, for better or for worse, things will never be the same.

And yes, we don’t like it… but sometimes we just have to tune ourselves to the fact that nothing is within our control. As much as we try to plot, plan, organize and rearrange… despite it all, we have to understand that our plan is never the ultimate one.

The future, by default, is always changing. The future is the home of our deepest fears and wildest hopes. But one thing is certain, when it finally reveals itself…. The future is never the way we imagined it.

And as I tossed a handful of seeds into the ground and let the boys use their spades to compete in hastily covering it up, I couldn’t help but ponder about how I had gotten to where I was right then. In my minds eye, I was still a school girl who was babysitting her charges… but in reality, despite not ever anticipating it, I was married to the amazing uncle of these four boys that I had by some unexpected intervention, come to love so very much.

At that point, it seemed like my heart was bursting.  Allah had blessed me with so much and I couldn’t even find the words to describe how grateful I was. Of course, when we are at the top of the mountain… sometimes we just need to dwell in the glory before looking down.

”I want more seeds!” Dayyaan was squealing in exasperation from the patch he was working at. “Zia took all of mine! It’s so unfair, he always-“

”Okay okay,” I said, cutting him off and digging in my pocket for the other packets that Aunty Radiyyah had given me. Zia was tottering around happily and Dayyaan, on the other hand,  always seemed to be putting up a fuss about something or the other. Sometimes you had to just nip it in the bud.

I had finally gotten a chance to pop in to see my dear Aunty Radiyyah amidst my daily chaos, and I was so glad that I did. Of course, she had spoilt me with everything in her kitchen, plus sent me home with tons of goodies… and a variety of seeds that she had collected just for the boys. Since them days… it was her habit to collect all types of seeds to plant, which explained why her garden was such a mastery to walk in. There were varieties of fruit and plants that I had never seen before elsewhere before…

I placed one packet in Dayyaan’s hand, glad to see him content as he got back to work, enjoying the feeling of the Spring sun on us as we worked. I missed Aadam’s company and quirky humor that day, but since it was a Friday afternoon, he usually stayed home to preserve some energy for the weekend. It had become a routine for his mother to stay in the week, because, of course… she didn’t trust me with carrying out the dietary requirements. Of course, I wasn’t complaining. I looked forward to the uninterrupted weekend with my husband. Aadam always found a way to make it extra special, and I couldn’t help but smile as I thought of it.

I delved into the soil, pulling off my gardening gloves in haste and savoring the feeling of moist earth on my fingers. Never mind my nails would probably be filthy afterward. Never mind I would probably have to scrub them clean. I was prepared to make the sacrifice for my favorite hobby. I was still quite obsessed with gardening, and it was only after getting into it again after all these weeks did I realize how much I missed it. I hadn’t had much of a chance to go into the rooftop at Aadam’s place, and being with the kids too as they ran around, spraying each other with water and squealing excitedly as we dug into the depths of opportunity was a feeling of unmatched liberation that  I had completely forgot…

”Remember that time we ran in the rain?” shouted Danyaal as he looked towards me. “I almost wish that we could do it again!”

I smiled as I recalled, obviously not being able to forget that moment when I stepped up into cover and saw Aadam watching us with an amused expression on his face. It was almost a year ago and I couldn’t quite believe how the time had flown…


I whipped my head around as Rubeena’s call sounded, wondering why she was outside. I had told her to put her legs up for a bit and relax while I saw to the boys, but Rubeena, as I had come to know her now, was not the self-absorbed and inconsiderate Rubeena that I used to know. It seemed like she had forgotten how to give herself a break and I was actually beginning to feel really sorry for her. And yes, though I was glad that she was giving the kids more attention and love, I knew that at some point everyone needed to slow down, take a few deep breaths, and enjoy some me-time.

”Khawlah,” she said, coming up to me and lowering her voice.

I watched her as she made her way to me, dressed in  a pastel pair of tights and a loose and flowey top that really suited her. Her cheeks were slightly flushed and she was tying her hair up into a bun as she widened her eyes at me. She was actually looking really good these days. I supposed not having to stress about Shabeer’s dramatics had done her wonders…

”Its Hannah,” she almost whispered, looking like she had seen a ghost. “Right here. Outside.”

Hannah?! The Hannah?

Oh my word. It was Hannah. For a moment I just stood there, blinking at her in confusion as she watched me. What on earth was she doing here?

”What does she want?” I asked, placing down the gardening tools carefully and wiping my soiled hands on my skirt. I knew it wasn’t the wisest thing to do but I wasn’t exactly thinking straight.

”She’s got her baby with her,” Ruby said, almost disbelievingly. “She asked to speak to you too…”

I gathered the boys up in one area of the garden, my mind racing as I made my way up the stairs and down the passage to the entrance hall. Danyaal was old enough to see to the others for a bit. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but I tried to relax and convince myself that Hannah wouldn’t be up to no good. Besides, if Rubeena had thought it was safe to let her in… well, I’m sure there was a good reason she had called me.

”Salaam Khawlah.”

I turned to the direction of the voice, already doing a double take as I saw this girl that I now vaguely recognized. Hannah had always had a pretty face, but I never ever anticipated the day when I’d see her in Hijaab. I was a little overcome by emotion, as I saw the change. Even though her face was looking thinner and she was looking a little weaker, I couldn’t help but notice the beautifully peaceful expression on her face as I looked back at her. It was the first time I had ever noticed her so serene and I was completely blown away. On the floor next to her was a little girl who looked like she was just under a year.

I smiled as she gurgled, already overwhelmed by how cute she was. What a lovely little girl… I couldn’t believe Hannah had a baby.

”I’m sorry to just show up like this,” Hannah said, looking a little out of place. “I know I should have called or something but I was scared that you guys would tell me not to come…”

She trailed off as I shook my head at her, not really knowing how to react. Should I hug her? Comfort her? Assure her that everything was okay…?

After everything, even though I had forgiven her deceptive stunts… I still found it hard to completely forget all the hurt she had caused… it was still a distant memory.

”It’s okay,” I said quietly. “It’s good to see you looking… happy. And her too…”

She nodded as I glanced at the baby, I could see hear looking nervous. I could tell that she wanted to say more…

“I wanted to talk to you,” she said, picking up the baby as she squealed. “To apologise to Rubeena. And you. And also…”

She paused as the baby squealed, taking out a chip from her bag and giving it to the baby in her hand. Goodness… I didn’t expect Hannah to be so… maternal.

Rubeena was still looking like she was in a slight shock. I couldn’t imagine the emotions that she must have been feeling… to know that this girl had plotted her husband and basically lured him into bed… I was a little overwhelmed by the change that was right before my eyes.

“As I was saying,” she said, obviously  uncomfortable as we both stared at her.

Well, she kind of deserved the scrutiny.

“I also wanted to thank you for signing the forms and for giving me a chance even after everything that I did. I really do feel like I need to refocus and sort out my issues even more now, that I have this responsibility. You must really have a big heart to be able to overlook all my ridiculous stunts… both of you..”

I narrowed my eyes slightly as I looked back at her and Rubeena. Papers? The papers were with Aadam, as far as I knew. Unless he…

Ah. Of course he had. That was Aadam. Quick to overlook. Always able to deliver. He never passed up an opportunity to make someone else’s life easier. I didn’t even know how he had done it but somehow he was able to get a joint custody for Hannah and the lady who was looking after her daughter previously. Where I was hesitant, I was so glad, and immensely grateful that he had done it.

I smiled, wondering how Hannah was managing to support her and herself. She wasn’t a stupid girl. I was hoping she had used some of her intellect to get a job. She was definitely looking like she was in a better place than before. In a strange way, through feeling responsible for her and also living together for those few years… I was kind of proud of her.

”I hope you’ll take good care of her,” I said, hoping she knew what a great responsibility it was to have a child.

”I will,” she said softly. “I think of you often Khawlah. About how different things were back then. About how I saw a little bit of yours and Khalid’s world and I wanted to see more. I always thought that you two… well…”

She trailed off as she looked to Rubeena, and then decided not to say it. I supposed that I knew what she was going to say. I also supposed that she probably didn’t know that Khalid was no longer around…

My heart contracted as I thought about it again. I wanted to tell her but something held me back.

Its not important, something was telling me, knowing that saying it aloud would probably get me choked up again.

It felt like a lifetime ago, but it was so impressionable because I knew that it was through him that Hannah had glimpsed a different perspective. I remembered how she would watch us from the window, and then turn away when I looked back… almost as if she was playing a little game of her own that no-one knew about. I supposed that I was also a little stubborn, by not letting her into our world. It was through the little adventures that she had been watching where Khalid would never fail to enlighten me with miracles of Allah’s creation, that Hannah too had glimpsed some of the light.

Of course, the magic of Deen can have astounding effects on even a corrupted heart. It comforted my heart to know that Aunty Nas’s effects weren’t permanent. Maybe there was still hope for Hannah…

”Anyway,” she said, after telling us a bit about  her life now and the place she was renting that was next to the other lady who had been given custody of her daughter.

”I need to have her back home by 5,” she said as she grabbed her baby bag. “I just wanted to apologize… because I know I really made such a huge mistake and I really don’t know how I could ever make up for it… but one day.. I hope that I could.”

She trailed off and Rubeena looked at her slightly sympathetically.

I had a feeling that Rubeena might have even been a little grateful that Shabeer and Hannah’s short-lived Nikah had been the reason that she had finally seen the light. Although I couldn’t quite understand how you could ever forgive someone who potentially messed up your marriage… I suppose Rubeena’s one was a bit unique. We both knew that she wasn’t happy before that. Now,  for the first time in the three years I had known her, she seemed to be glowing from within. This time, through her pain and her struggle and her searching… she had truly found what she was looking for. I was quite certain that she had found Allah and I had a feeling that Hannah was on her way there too.

And as we watched Hannah leave with her little munchkin, I couldn’t help but feel emotional. Yes, of had been a helluva couple of years. From the time we had lost Mama to now, the going seemed to be getting a little easier.

And yes, we did have our tests, but there were times when I actually forgot about Aadam and the cancer. I didn’t want to think of it as the dreaded C-word. I lived for the moment when he’d come home one day and announce to us that everything was okay and there was nothing really to worry about. I lived in the hope that our longing and praying would reach the doors of the Heavens, and Allah would send His mercy upon us in showers. I lived with the knowledge that only ease was meant for those who were striving for Allah… but how wrong I was…

Nabi (SAW) said:

The most severely tested people are the prophets, then the next best, then the next best. A man will be tested in accordance with his level of commitment to God…”

And maybe I should have seen the signs as my husband came by later that day with a big mysterious box, saying he wanted to spend some time with the boys and needed some company.

”Looks like you guys have been having fun…” he said, his expression only slightly tired as he watched us out in the garden. “You’ll carry on while I watch from here…”

There was no chance of that though. As soon as they saw it, the garden tools were already stowed away and the boys were all hovering over all the carpentry items that Aadam had brought. It looked like an unfinished piece that he had been working on, and as I watched them, I could see how thrilled they were that they would get to knock and hammer like real carpenters.

I looked at my husband as he left them to it. He was wearing a black kurta and prayer hat, but his thick brown hair was visible from the sides. His beard was combed neatly and I smiled as he pulled me into a sudden embrace, for some reason, sensing that something was different about him yet not being able to put my finger on it. Maybe he was just tired? Possibly.

“I missed you, beautiful,” Aadam whispered as he took my hand, his eyes smiling as he sat on the edge of the chair at the back porch.

I grinned back at him. I had missed him too, but spending time with the boys like old times was amazing.

“Thank you for sorting out Hannah’s papers,” I said quietly, not wanting the boys to hear. “She came by earlier.”

”Really?” He said, sitting up and looking at me with interest. “She actually came here? What did Rubeena say?!”

”She was quite mature about the whole thing,” I said, shrugging. “Personally, I think Hannah just brought out a very active side of Shabeer that Rubeena wasn’t able to see anyway…”

Aadam said nothing, but gave a knowing smile.

”I’m so glad she’s out of that,” I said quietly, as I squeezed his hand.

”Me too,” he almost whispered. “I’m so glad it’s all coming together.”

I didn’t read into his words, as I watched the boys as they started working with Aadam’s exciting tools. The boys were embarking on a real task as he watched, thrilled at their eagerness. From time to time he would get up, check on their progress whilst he gave them some motivating words, and then sit back on the couch.

”You’ve got them really busy, haven’t you?” Rubeena said as she stepped out, shielding her eyes from the afternoon sun.

”I’ve got everyone on a schedule,” he said with a twinkle in his eye. “Mums sorting out the diet and cooking, and after a small chat, there are some good things that are actually finding its way to my plate. Ma is on the property front, looking out for a good investment apartment for me. Siraj is on the health front, doing all the important things and making sure my finances are in order… You’re doing my paperwork and admin, which by the way… needs a lot of catching up with…”

Rubeena smiled as I looked at her, wondering how Aadam was still worried about administrative aspects and finances when he was supposed to be taking it easy. It just didn’t seem important to me right then.

I didn’t quite understand why he was having me over in the weekends and his mum on week nights. Why he came to Rubeena everyday for lunch. It didn’t click with me why, after years, him and his father had taken a fishing trip down the coast, and why he came to spend time with the boys on a Friday evening despite being so exhausted.

Aadam was actually very carefully planning a way to spend private time with each of us in a very subtle way.

I watched Rubeena shake her head as she walked away. It didn’t faze me as I got up to get my bag, my mind occupied because the time time for my study session that Nusaybah would have my head about if I missed was nearly there…

“Khawlah,” Aadam said, a twinkle in his eye as I waved to the boys and leant down to peck his dimpled cheek. “I haven’t designated you to a task as yet…”

I raised my eyebrows at him as he smiled convincingly. I could already tell that his mind was occupied, planning for what would soften the blow…

“What can I do for you, sire?” I asked him, crossing my arms over my chest as he looked up at me.

”A small request, love,” he said softly. To me though, it sounded something like a death sentence.

“Can I have you to myself tomorrow?” he said, meeting my eye. “Early?! I have somewhere that I want to take you…”


Sunnah Duaas! Let’s try and practice InshaAllah !

Oh Turner of the Hearts, keep our Hearts firm on Your ReligionYaa Muqallibal Quloob Thabbit Qalbee ‘alaa Deenik.

Oh turner of the hearts (Allah, the Most High), keep our hearts firm on your religion

Sunnah Duaa for drinking water 

اَلْحَمْدُلِلّٰهِ الَّذِىْ سَقَانَا عَذْباً فُرَاتاً بِرَحْمَتِهِ وَلَمْ يَجْعَلْهُ

مِلْحاً اُجَاجاً بِذُنُوْبِنَا


All praise is due to Allah, Who of his mercy has granted us sweet and pleasant water to drink and did not make it bitter and salty due to our sins.

Revive the Sunnah Duaa for drinking water. How easy to practice! 

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