Long long ago… long before time and space even existed… long before Darwin’s theory, evolution or the ‘big bang’ or whatever many may believe to have happened 14 billion years ago… Our Lord, yours and mine, created your soul, my soul and the souls of every human being that ever was and ever will be.
Staggering, isn’t it? And if you really understand it… you’ll be even more amazed about the story that goes something like this:
On the plains of Alastu- in Alim-e-Arwah- was the place where the realm of souls gathered together before their Rabb to be asked a single question.
In this pre-eternal time, Allah Ta’ala gazed at his creation and asked:
“Alastu bi Rabbikum?”
“Am I not Your Lord?”
And to this, every single soul replied… in one thunderous voice:
“Yes, indeed! We testify to this, so that we have no excuse on the Day of Judgement to say that we were not aware of this covenant.” [Sura Ar’af 7:172]
But then… That moment faded… and we were placed in this world. This world of temptation, deception, greed and of rivalry for increase of every part of it. And not only did we come into this world, but with this world there was offered Freedom of Will… choice… to all the various creations. And the offer was made , but the only ones to accept it were Mankind and Jinn..
And as I see it, the trade off was something like this. With ‘freedom of choice’, no longer did we recall that pledge that we took with our Lord, once upon a time.
With freedom to choose, what we said on those plains, as we stood before our Glorious Lord, faded into the backdrop… but within us, was placed something called Fitrah. The nature that mankind, by default has been created by one Glorious Lord, to worship Him, is with us, from way back when we were still just a soul in Alim-e-arwah.
So it all comes down to this:
The knowledge that we have… the knowledge that Allah is our Rabb… the desire to do good.. to be good and to act on what is good and pure is so deeply rooted within us, that sometimes even we forget it’s there.
And with me, between the office, Netflix series, @mostlymohsina blogging about my daily shenanigans, work woes and skin care routine… life had become pretty ‘hectic’…
Eventually, with all the dirt that we feed ourselves, when you keep shoving it off… that inclination to do good eventually dwindles… until there’s so much of filth over it that it’s completely obscured.
But first, we post. Never mind what comes after, or who gets trashed in the process. Bloggers and influencers will need their moments of fame, no matter what the cost.
The latest post of mine was sponsored and it didn’t matter if it went against my morale. What’s trending was trending right? Whether Israel was funded by Starbucks or not, we can’t always get all political in blog posts. It was part of my disclaimer, anyway.
The content creation world was rough and brutal. It didn’t matter who got shoved over or bulldozed in the process. This generation of influencers and digital content was a blood thirsty lot with little values or consideration for people. And dare you say anything to challenge that Instagram diva- you’re hounded with DMs and all hell breaks loose as a simple person is shamed publically and then posted about on multiple stories.
And in a nutshell, my life was far too consuming to worry about goodness anymore. My world was so clouded by mundane filth that the ability to perceive right and wrong was quickly becoming difficult to distinguish.
Sometimes though, when you feel so dead inside, it’s it’s like that inner voice has been permanently blocked out.
In the pursuit of content creation, keeping up with what was trending was my greatest pursuit. Before making my way back to the car after a morning that lasted longer than I had predicted, one of my last stops to make was at Starbucks and I needed to do it in record time.
And as I stood in the queue with my many parcels, A girl in front of me who looked like Lesley in a hijab turned to me.
Her pretty eyes were bright with laughter and life, her presumably blonde hair covered completely and the negative part of me was annoyed that she even had the audacity to smile at me when all I wanted was coffee.
“Hey doll,” she said, and I blinked at her in shock, realising that it actually was Lesley, and doing a complete double take.
“Oh my word,” I breathed, a smile creeping on my face. “It’s you! And you’re wearing hijab. What and how…?!”
I hadn’t seen her since she had left Hammond’s about m 3 months back. She smiled and glanced over at the table on the other side of shop. Muslim guy from HR was sitting there. He raised his hand in greeting and I raised mine back. I barely knew him but I did think that he seemed like a pretty decent guy. How Lesley had actually bagged him, I wasn’t too sure.
I really wanted to ask her more but the crowd was getting rowdy and there wasn’t much time.
But first, of course, the snap. There was always time for that.
Caption: Shop, coffee, play. All in a day…
Never mind that I was literally spinning with the craziness of the day, the post had to get sorted, because that was the whole crux of being a content creator. You had to pull through. You created the most amazing content, no matter what.
I hastily left Lesley without so much as chatting to her even about her inspiration or what was going on with her. I consoled myself with the promise that we will catch up soonest, as I hurried off to stop at the chocolate shop to get on with my next task before heading to the car, when I heard him.
I paused for a minute, on my way out of the chocolatier shop, umpteen bags in my hands as I stepped onto the sidewalk, trying to figure out where the familiar voice had come from.
I had just finished off with my bribery shopping that was necessary every time I took the dreaded trip back to the farm. I knew that I would have to make a little story about the colleagues from work who seriously needed some mentoring, and make that the reason for the hold up that made me so late.
”Over here,” Faadil said again, and as I glanced to the right, there he was.
He was still around and this was horrible timing for me. When Faadil was out of work, there was no rush for him. I wasn’t sure if he had a life out of work, but I mean, not everyone had the leisure of earning millions a year and not having to sweat finances. There he was, all cool and calm, dressed in a jeans and golfer with canvas slip on shoes, gesturing for me to join him at the window of the most expensive jewelry shop just next door like I was some old and familiar friend.
A business social had gone on a little longer than expected and I was kind of rushing around now to make up for lost time, and I had thought that he had left since then.
And because the business related brunch and coffee meeting was in the area- I had seen him like an hour back. That’s when one of the girls who was unashamedly into him (what’s new?) hopped into his car from the parking lot to the dessert place.
And I got it.
Faadils Porsche was the bomb. Of course, I had to take a few snaps for the gram. Seeing the inside of a Porsche wasn’t something that happened every day.
I took a deep breath now, feeling a little under pressure, because there was no easy way to deal with this. The inclination to do the right thing was dwindling away. Sometimes I wasn’t even sure what the right thing was anymore.
I hadn’t even checked my phone in the past half hour. Jameela was probably going to kill me, and I was too busy to try and make any excuses. If I was already late, I might as well go all out, right?
This was my boss. I couldn’t be rude.
But you could be honest, and just tell him that I you were really needing to be somewhere, something was saying, very diplomatically.
“Hey,” I said easily, knowing that formalities were kind of unnecessary. It was the weekend anyhow and I had just seen him. “Still around?”
Faadil ran his hand through his hair and I looked at him pacing as he appeared to be making a very important decision.
”Just trying to choose a gift for someone,” he said off-handedly. “You got a moment? I’d appreciate a female’s opinion. Men don’t always know these kind of things.”
He gave an awkward kind of chuckle and then looked at me, and I already relented mentally. As a senior manager, he had that way of getting you to do projects that you didn’t feel like, by making it sound like it was no big deal.
But this was different. This wasn’t business and it wasn’t professional. It was where the line between office meetings and out-of-office meetings were crossed, but in my mind, I wasn’t quite seeing it the way I was supposed to.
No, something within me was screaming. Tell him you have to go.
“Sure,” I said casually, betraying myself, always eager to please. “Before I rush off, let me see if I can help.”
You coward, said the inner voice, and I felt like kicking myself already. What was wrong with me?
Just when I thought Nani’s nagging was out of my head, my inner conscience suddenly reached adulthood.
I hastily ushered my aching legs to where he was standing, trying to ease the pain of my foot as I shifted my weight from one foot to the other.
It had been a long morning and I knew it was a horrible idea to wear these fancy but painful shoes. My feet were battered and broken because of them.
To add insult to injury, I had fifty packets of handmade chocolates in my hand (one each for Ma, Jameela, M Husayn, Nani and Layyanah) as well as a the coolest new work outfits, baby clothes for the bubs in another packet and I had to walk to the next blocks parking lot to get back to my car.
Brilliant, wasn’t I?
At least 15 minutes before any relief, if I didn’t decide to stop anywhere else. Which, knowing me, I definitely will do and kill myself further.
“You okay?” He asked, putting his hands out to take some packets from me. “Let me help with those.”
Quite the gentleman. Hmmm.
I gratefully shoved the heavier packets onto him. It was a tricky business, not touching a strange man as they tried to assist you. But then again, he wasn’t so strange, was he?
But still, my mind was saying. He’s your boss. He’s not your Mahram. Maintain distance.
The internal battle was still going on. Could it just shut up already?
And now, as if on cue, I could just imagine Nani’s eyes widening, her warnings about ‘office mens’ and their ‘funny funny ideas’.
I focused my gaze away from him, keeping a safe distance while glancing at where he was pointing, processing what he was asking my opinion on.
“Which one?” He asked, looking from left to right as he pointed at two different necklaces in the store window.
My eyes instantly rested on the one closest to me, which was a beautiful but simple rose gold piece, with a petty pendant of two rings that was symbolic of unity. It was elegant and classy. Something that would enhance the look of a simple t-shirt and jeans.
”That’s beautiful,” I murmured, wondering who this special someone in question was.
”Or that one,” he said, pointing out one about two steps away.
But as he stepped sidewards and pointed it out, my raspy breath kind of caught in my throat as my gaze settled on the stunning piece of white gold, with the one carat diamond pendant, that made my heart hammer with exaggerated anxiety.
The one. The Eternal Flame setting.
I felt like he had dug out a piece of my heart and thrown it on my face.
He could not even be serious.
I glanced at him in disbelief, hardly able to process what it all meant, if anything at all.
Did he know? What did he know? How did he even know?!
”This one, right?” He said, tapping on the glass, and sounding like he was quite certain.
His question seemed too innocent to be have any other insinuation, as he pointed to the cause of my sudden discomposure.
He can’t know.. there’s no way he can.
I let out the breath I was holding in.
It was just a necklace.
What was I getting all hyped up about anyway? The necklace was an extremely popular piece and trending for a few months now and of course he didn’t know that this was the same one that Hamzah had given me.
Of course not. Don’t be ridiculous now.
“Um,” I said swallowing, looking at the price tag on them both and nearly having a stroke.
Yikes. The one in question was triple the price of the other. I cleared my throat, trying to concoct a response … any answer that sounded even slightly coherent.
But now I had to go, before I lost the plot completely. Slowly, my resolve to stay away from anything that would compromise my values was becoming weaker and weaker…
And saved by the bell, the buzzing from my sling bag that was tucked away somewhere within all the layers of shopping, happened in the nick of time.
”Just a minute,” I said sharply, not really caring about politeness anymore.
I turned away and dug into my bag to see Jameelas name on my iPhone screen. The call cut off just as I took it and it was at that point when I glimpsed the 14 missed calls from her. She was obviously trying to contact me with insane resolution and I knew the least I could do now was to call her back.
I also knew that the least she could do was not kill me for going completely awol. I knew being late got on her nerves, but to call so many times was out of character for her. Completely out of character.
“I need to return this call,” I said quickly, hoping he’ll take the bait and leave, as I dialled her back.
“Hey, I’m so sorry,” I said as soon as she answered. “I completely got caught up-“
“Don’t even try apologizing,” she snapped, sounding as dragon-like as pissed-off sisters get. “Just get to the hospital right now. Liyaket isn’t in town and Layyanahs having the baby!”
Layyanahs at the hospital? Oh gosh. I sucked in my breath.
“I’m on my way,” I said after a few seconds, turning to gesture to Faadil that I was leaving. I started walking toward the exit briskly.
“Tell Layyanah to hold on,” I said, almost as an afterthought. Guilt was overwhelming me. If I hadn’t been late, I wouldn’t have missed this. “Please. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
It took me a second before I realised what I had said. I was telling her to wait before she pushed her baby out. I honestly needed a brain check.
Also, I needed an Uber. There was no way I was going to waste 20 extra minutes getting to my car that I parked in an isolated parking lot because everywhere else was full and the parking price was insanely lower.
”Everything okay?” Faadils voice said from behind me, sounding concerned. Here I was, thinking the guy was stalking me when I realised that he was still holding my fifty-odd shopping bags. Of course he couldn’t leave.
”An emergency,” I said speedily, holding out my full hands . “Layyanah’s baby is coming. Sorry, let me take those.”
He shook his head, pulling the shopping bags back.
”No ways,” he said evenly. “Let me help you. Where are you parked?”
I laughed humourlessly. Was he really going to trudge all the way over to the next block?
“I’ll get an Uber ,” I said decidedly. “And come back to fetch my car later.”
I had already started walking to the nearest exit, tapping on my phone to arrange the Uber.
“You can’t take an Uber,” he said to me, grabbing my phone from my hand.
Intrusive, much, wasn’t he?
He didn’t seem to be bothered by my annoyed glare. He was quite persistent.
“It’s not safe. My car is right here. Must I take you?”
Yoh. Was he even for real?
Can you even imagine the performance if I had to drive in our little neighbourhood alongside my sought-after boss in his flashy car?
Nani would probably immediately arrange my funeral.
“My family is very traditional,” I said firmly, turning around to face Faadil, hoping he would understand.
Even if he didn’t, he’d get the memo. One day I would explain how crazy they were. It wasn’t like usual Jo’burg shenanigans where he dropped me off and it was all cool. It was different back home. Judgemental. Conservative. That’s why I hadn’t been home in way too long and Ma and Jameela were all up my grill because of it.
“If I came home with you they might lock me up and throw away the key.”
I added that part on for a bit of humour amidst the tension.
I thought he would back off and go but instead, he dug in his pocket and handed me a key.
And oh my word…. my heart kind of froze in my chest as I felt like I had just been given Willy Wonkas Golden Ticket…
It was none other than the real and actual key to his Porsche.
I widened my eyes; wondering if this was real. Like could this really be me? Driving around the streets of Johannesburg like a diva?
I felt like I needed to pinch myself.
”Take my car,” he said forcefully, probably missing the part where I was completely gobsmacked. “It’s already here.”
He gestured outside to where only all the fancy cars we parked. And ta–daa… like magic, there it was.
Who needed a Valet service when you drove one of the most expensive cars in Jo’burg?
You could literally park wherever you like.
“I can’t” I said, common sense now kicking in as I started panicking. “Let me book that Uber. This isn’t necessary …”
Gosh. I wanted to say that it was too much. Way, way too much, for just a colleague to do as a favour.
“Just take it,” he insisted, his tone hardening, as he put the dangled the keys on the top of the car roof, popping open the boot and placing my bags in. Oh gosh, was this actually happening?
“It’s an office car, if that makes you feel better,” he said. I knew very well that he had two cars. I just didn’t know that this was part of his package. “You’re also an employee. Just tell them it’s part of the package. They won’t ask whose.”
I looked at him, trying to read his earnest expression. Was he for real here or was there some ulterior motive for all this…. niceness?
My parcels were all in the car. Faadil knew that I was in a fix. Time was ticking by and I knew that I had to leave soon if I wanted to get to Layyanah before she gave birth. I couldn’t waste time thinking much more.
Well, that was it.
I grabbed the keys without a second thought, hopping into the front seat, and waving gratefully to Faadil as he stepped back to let me drive off.
I was still in dreamland as I drove along the highway. One tap would send the engine roaring crazily, and it kind of made me feel better and more in control, but at the same time also sent shots of fear pulsating through me as I felt the power of not just the car… but something else too.
It was a weird emotion, feeling all rich and powerful, and knowing that I was heading to the hospital where something really important was going on. At one moment I felt all liberated and excited and the other moment… well, that was what confused me. All that came to mine right then was… here I was, driving a bloody Porsche, living the live I always dreamt off, and not even having a single soul to share it with.
What was it about this kind of life that I just could not place my finger on? It felt like as soon as things got better materialistically, something else was slipping further and further away.
And as I pulled into the hospital, the feelings just got more intense. I couldn’t help but remember the last time I had been here. It was the moment where I made that decision… the one that had changed so much and broken so many hearts. It was the moment where wealth and power had intervened, and where my entire purpose in life would change.
And now again, wealth and power were at play, but something else was slipping away.
And as I parked carefully, climbing off the car almost as a new person, I made my way inside, confident and optimistic, I convinced myself that life couldn’t get much better than this.
Walking in and dialling Jameela’s number, I hastily made my way up to the second floor, hoping that everything was going according to plan.
The lift door had literally just pinged open, and almost instantly Jameela came rushing toward me, a look of panic on her face, and my heart skipped a beat as I wondered why her expression looked so dreadfully stony.
“I can’t believe you!” she spat, narrowing her eyes, as I remembered suddenly about her dragon-like manners today. “If it wasn’t for concern for Layyanah, I wouldn’t even ask you for a single thing, but Layyanah actually wants you there with her. Liyaket is rushing here but he’s never going to make it on time. I’m warning you. Don’t you dare let her down again!”
I swallowed. I would deal with my sister later.
The only time I had seen Jameela so angry before was when I borrowed her expensive white suede bag and mistakenly spilt activated charcoal all over it.
I nodded silently, barely saying a word as I was hastily shown into the ward into where a hugely stressed out Layyanah was already in mid-labour. She could barely even acknowledge my presence, but I could tell that seeing me definitely made her feel that much better.
And yes, I was horrified by the actual thing. I had watched a fair share of birth scenes on Netties but the real deal was nothing in comparison. Layyanah was exhausted, to the point of nearly passing out.
There was a flood of feeling as the babies cry echoed through the room, evoking the most unexpected emotions as I stood for a minute, feeling the sudden serenity that now descended, and hearing the suction sound as they cleaned him up and made him look like the most beautiful (but scrunched up) baby I had ever seen.
Ah, yes, it was certainly a gorgeous little boy.
It seemed like minutes became hours before they gave a birth weight and that’s precisely when I heard Liyaket’s voice from the outside, and I made a silent Du’aa in gratitude, knowing that it was my time to leave and feeling completely absolved of responsibility.
I blinked back tears, squeezing Layyanah’s hand as she smiled, her pretty face now a striking contrast to the painful expression she bore just minutes ago.
My heart was bursting with pride. And now that Liyaket was in his scrubs and already in the room, I took my cue to move along, passing him on the way, knowing that it was my turn to catch my breath.
”Thanks Mos,” Liyaket said, looking like any new father who was completely besotted with his newborn. “You’re a lifesaver.”
It was perfect timing, and as I left the room with the sound of Adhaan (call to prayer) being called out, I couldn’t help but feel a lump in my throat, almost as if instead of a new life, something within me had died.
Was I really the lifesaver? I felt like I was barely even living. I nodded and walked out, the slightest feelings of inadequacy niggling away at me.
I didn’t correct him, even as I grimaced at the irony.
I didn’t tell him that it was Jameela who had brought Layyanah here. I didn’t even have an inclination to.
I left the room that day, the realisation of what had just happened not yet hitting me.
It was a new life. A new lesson. A brand new birth, and a fresh reminder that even with all the brutality and brokenness in this world, once in a while, there comes a little miracle that reminds you of just how wonderful this world can really be.
But the reality of this can only come to you when you open your eyes to it. The problem with this lost generation that we become enslaved to the moments that feed our ego, our pride and our Nafs… in worlds that have already passed away, or ones that don’t even exist. But in reality, more than a thousand times a day, we are born, with a new opportunity to find ourselves once again.
The opportunity to know your Lord, to see Him in every thing… to see His hand in every new spurt of growth, in every life, in every miracle… it doesn’t come every day.
With every birth, there is an extraordinary reason to renew that recognition, a new opportunity to start over, to turn around, or to keep going. To rise higher, to heal, to grow. To be better. Each new moment calls for transformation. For return. For Tawbah, to go back to Him.
But sometimes we don’t.
Many of us choose to just let ourselves die again and again, as each new moment fades.
When moments fade as quickly as they come, with not even the slightest bit of change… then know that you are already dying inside.
Mohsina in the deep end here… blogger life taken over her world. Just a Hadith pertaining to the state of the heart:
Abu Mūsa al-Ash‘ari (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The example of the one who remembers his Lord and the one who does not remember Him is like the example of a living and a dead person.” The narration in Muslim reads: “The house in which Allah is remembered and the house in which Allah is not remembered are like the living and the dead respectively.”
[Sahih/Authentic] – [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Mission Sunnah Revival
Sunnah of good manners/Akhlaaq
Rasulullah Sallalahu Alaihi Wa Sallam said: ‘There is no gift that a father gives his child more virtuous than good manners.’ (Tirmidhi)
N.B. Some translators of Hadeeth have translated the Hadeeth as, ‘A father gives his child nothing better than a good Islamic education.’