Part 4: Only Skin Deep

Bismihi Ta’ala 


The shrill ringing of the iPhone tone was enough to make my head turn in the early hours of the morning. That and seeing my sisters name on the caller ID was a pure concoction for catastrophe.  

Jah,” I said, Jo’burg style, as I pressed the speaker on and continued to sponge on my Huda foundation, attempting to get it even under my eyes.

How did those online tutorials look so easy? Why did concealer always make them bags look so much worse? 

Moseeee!” She squealed into the phone and I glimpsed her excited face when she looked at me and widened her eyes. “Ohhhhh, woweeeee!”

I took a step back as I eyed myself in the mirror. Nude Scarf. Matching camisole. Charcoal pants, with a matching black suit jacket over the camisole, and pointed nude heels to match. Was it too much? Too matchy-matchy? Hijab styles these days were very much all those anti-climatic colours. I had often saw that all these matchy matchy wardrobes weren’t really in, but I felt really odd NOT to match. Like, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I think I could add in a turquoise accent… but I wasn’t sure-

“Moseee!” She shouted again, and I focused back to my sister. “I’ve got the most awesome idea!”

”What?!” I said, looking at her pretty face and getting annoyed that she wasn’t even wearing make up and could still look so perfect. How unfair was life? 

“I’m going into business!” She said excitedly,  as if it was the most brilliant idea in the world. “It’s going to be a gourmet coffee and popcorn shop, situated in a stunning garden, breathing in fresh country air, boasting the most amazing scenery while you sit and enjoy-“

”Did you ask Papa?” I said, cutting her off before she got even more carried away. I wasn’t sure if my father would want our house turned into a business. 

“No, but if I tell him that you are helping me then he can’t say no!”

There was a certain nervousness in her voice as she giggled and I understood that there was an underlying question there. She wanted me to be her scapegoat and her motivation at the same time and there was no way that I was falling for her tricks. If she thought she was going to use all her charms on me then she definitely thought wrong. She may have done it easy to wrap everyone else around her little finger but there was no way that she was getting me involved. 

“Jameela, I’m not interested,” I said coolly as I picked up my bag and my room card to head down for breakfast. “I’ve got a job, remember?!”

“But Mosee, you have all the experience and are so good at what you do!” She argued, putting on her flattering but pitiful voice. If that was even possible at the same time.

That was my smaller sister, looking around disdainfully as I looked back at her as she sulked in the elevator.

Jameela was the perfect child to both my parents. Unassuming. Impeccable in behavior. She was also the skinniest one, which inevitably made her look better. Beautiful, in fact. Whereas I was just the one with the best brains. That’s all.

“I’m on my way to breakfast,” I said, hoping she would get the hint and hurry up so I could get her off the phone before the elevator door opened again. “Can I call you later?”

Jameela had just matriculated and literally gnawed my brains every day about her future plans. My mother, of course, wanted her to get married. (Should we even pretend to be surprised?) My father had this idea that she should at least study something before. I mean, you never knew what could happen. I agreed with him. In this day and age where they guys were mostly scum, a girl has to secure something for herself. These days, the men weren’t like before. Very few of them actually look after their wives the way they’re supposed to. Some losers are just blatantly oppressive. 

And just my luck. She was still going on again about a certain ambiance she wanted to achieve when the elevator door pinged open again and in came Liyaket and Layyanah. 

Hamzah was right behind them. 

I was already beginning to regret answering her call. 

“Found them,” he mouthed triumphantly as I lowered the volume on my iPhone and tried to look interested for my sister. 

“It will be a state of the art coffee shop!” Jameela was saying. She said coffee shop as if it was the most amazing idea in the entire world and no ones ever thought of something so unique. Ever

“Let’s talk about this later,” I quickly said to my sister as I blocked her off from other lift occupants and lowered the volume a tad bit more. “It’s a great idea but I’ve got to go. Will brainstorm some ideas.

Shame. She was young. I didn’t want to burst her bubble. And I also didn’t want to sound so mean to put her idea down in front of my friends.

I turned my gaze to Layyanah who was positively glowing with I don’t know what, while the boys shifted to the other side of the lift. Ma will be happy about that. At least they were observing a little bit of pardah. All we needed was a screen in between. 

“Where were you’ll?” I muttered to Layyanah quietly as two more people entered the lift. 

She just smiled at me dreamily and then looked straight ahead, as if she was in some kind of parallel universe. My word. Was she even present in real time?!

We walked out in a line while I tried to (unsuccessfully) coax a proper reply from Layyanah. Honestly, she looked so elated that I really didn’t want to break her positive vibes about where their relationship was going. Even though I had previously warned myself to back off, it was becoming so difficult NOT to get involved. 

I swallowed my emotion and listened to her silently going on and on about how sweet and amazing Liyaket was, glad for the interruption when one of the other girls from the team came up to us as we were pouring some cranberry juice. 

“So does he not follow the same rules you do?” Lesley Potter asked as we walked back to the table and she eyed my plate of food.

She was gesturing back to Faadil who was hovering over the bain-maries. 

Liyaket and Hamzah were sitting on the table parallel to ours but it didn’t mean that they were too far to eavesdrop. 

“I think he’s checking what’s vegetarian,” I said carefully, knowing full well that there were only tomatoes today. 

“I’ve watched him every day this week,” Lesley said, shaking her head and putting a spoonful of yoghurt with muesli in her mouth. “He eats everything.”

“He just doesn’t care,” Hamzah piped up from the next table. He was super strict with what he ate from buffet and my father had drilled the same into me.

Coming out here would mean that I’d have to make sure that there was no contamination with food that wasn’t Halaal. Many people didn’t understand it and it just took some explaining. I tried to explain to her about meat and vegetables and how certain things required us to have Halaal certification before we consumed it. 

Faadil, however, wasn’t as concerned about contamination. He happily ate the ‘Halaal friendly’ buffet, avoiding only the pork which was right next to the lamb sausages. Sharing the same utensils too. He was sitting three tables away from us on his laptop now, devouring his breakfast with a knife and fork, already fully focused on the day of work ahead. It was no wonder he held the position he did at Hammond’s, where we worked. He was never off duty.

And though m I occasionally ate the beans or potatoes, I’d never venture to the meat. When Hamzah had blatantly asked him a few days back, Faadil was adamant that it was all Halaal. 

“Hey Lez, why you watching him so carefully?” Liyaket called from their table. He had a smirk on his face and winked at Layyanah as they caught each other’s eye. She blushed unreservedly. 

Euw. Couple gestures creeped me out. 

Lesley shrugged. 

“He’s quite something to watch,” she said, not looking awkward at all about Liyakets question. “Pretty damn fine if you ask me.”

I nearly choked on my corn flakes as she said it. I’ve never heard any girl speaking so openly about another guy, especially our boss, in front of so many other people. 

“You think he’s married?” She asked, not even concerned about my coughing as I tried to dislodge the corn flakes caught in my oesophagus. I took a sip of water. 

I actually never thought about it till then. I mean, Ma was always drilling modesty in the workplace into me.

“Don’t look at all those corporation business men,” she warned with big eyes. “Big big titles they got for what?! See Yasmeen, my Bari Kalas daughter-in-laws sister? She married one of those big directors and he left her for his secretary. They are too busy with their corporate ladders to take you seriously. You finish your work this year and then we’ll find you a nice boy from the town who has his own hardware shop.”

I had rolled my eyes when she said it. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be that kind of girl who would just sit at home and be someone’s wife. 

I didn’t want to look at Faadil that way, but the way Lesley was going on about him and we got up to leave, I couldn’t help but steal a look.

Though we always saw him as ‘bossman’, thanks to Hamzah’s nickname, I never really wondered about his personal life. I glanced at him from the corner of my eye, noticing for the first time his broad posture and somewhat alluring demeanor. Oh yes, I was sure that he was either married or in serious long term relationship. Everything about him said it. 

“You think he’s handsome, don’t you?” 

It was Hamzah who was watching me, watching him. 

His expression, for once, was strangely serious. 

“He’s okay,” I said breezily, not wanting to look at Faadil again and get caught red-handed. “He’s much older.”

I used to be so particular about lowering my gaze. I had to be more careful, even with colleagues. 

The Prophet ﷺ also warned us explicitly of the dangers of not lowering the gaze, when he said:

“…The adultery of the eyes is looking (at [that] which is not allowed)…”

(Bukhari, Muslim)

It was time for me to start implementing it seriously. No more messing around. It would only be bad news in the long run. 

“Maybe in his late thirties,” Hamzah said about his age as he grabbed an apple from the front table. “He’s also married to his job.” 

“I don’t know,” I said carefully, dusting my hands on the napkin and carefully wiping my mouth. “I think he’s probably more easy-going than we think.”

“Trust me,” Hamzah said, taking a huge crunching bite of his apple. “He’s the complete opposite of what you think.”

Trust him? Ugh.

But before I could even ask him what he even meant, Liyaket had come forward to ask Hamzah something about yesterday’s audit and all I could do was take a seat next to Layyanah at reception and forget what exactly Hamzah had been on about.

It was almost like he was warning me about Faadil, but for what reason, I wasn’t quite certain. 

Mission Sunnah Revival!

One of the first Sunnahs that we introduce is the Sunnah of miswaak, and though we know its benefit, its so beneficial and it’s useful to know that besides the Sunnah benefits, there are so many scientifically proven benefits as well. Miswaak:

  • Fights plaque.
  • Fights gum disease.
  • Prevent any existing teeth decay from getting worse.
  • Contains minerals such as chloride, sodium bicarbonate and potassium.
  • Strengthen the enamel in your teeth.
  • Leaves you with a healthy mouth.

Keep a Miswaak at our bedside:

Whenever the Exalted Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam) would wake up from his sleep, he would use the Miswak. [Sunan Abu Dawud, Page 54, Hadith 57]


FB/Instagram: @thejourneyingmuslimah



6 thoughts on “Part 4: Only Skin Deep

  1. Asalamualaykum Warahmatullah sister!!! How have you been??So so happy to have you back💚💚 loving this new line and can’t wait to read the rest. Her mum is exactly like my mum and nani lol. They have to use a word twice when making a point😂big big or quick quick

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wslm, dear sister! I’m well Alhumdulillah! How are you sister S?
      Haha, yes, Indian kind mentality, we are still getting to Mohsina’s Nani and that will be an eventful one, hahah.. It’s a very experimental theme and I hope that it’s okay so far. InshaAllah good change is coming soon … ❤️🤍❤️🤍


      • Shukr alhamdulillah we’ve been well..
        Don’t couldn’t have chosen a better topic…very very current day affairs with lots of lessons to be learnt. Allah Ta’ala continue to bless you in whatever you do and accept it from you..

        Ps. I always find myself going back to the previous stories just to draw inspiration whenever I feel like I need reminders❤❤

        Liked by 1 person

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