Sometimes in life, when the focus has shifted and life’s giving you a bit of uphill, you’re given the grave choice between losing someone, and losing yourself…
And some people may call it selfish, but if you’re the kind of person that I am, you’ll understand what it feels like to wonder what will happen to your loved ones when you’re no longer around. To understand that if you lose yourself, nothing good can ever come out of it.
And if you are anything like me, and you lose yourself to someone, almost as if there’s no going back, your day and night becomes consumed with all sorts of thoughts and possibilities about what can and may happen.
It might sound crazy (and it is), but people like me, are one level above the realists. We are the worriers; the ones who think of every possible outcome for every possible scenario, even before it happens.
And I didn’t know it yet, that, that was exactly how it all started, but here I was, all soaked up and letting myself fall more and more into the sweet surrender of unconditional love, when I had slammed right into the most amazing lesson, that put it all in a nutshell for me.
And it was just as well that I’d heard it the day before, but in a beautiful narration reported by Abdullah ibn Abbas (RA), who was just a boy at the time, Nabi Muhammad (Sallalahu Alaihi was Sallam) advised his young companion to be mindful of Allah.
In the original Arabic of this, he uses the phrase “ihfadh-Allah, yahfadhak,” which literally translates as: “take care of Allah, and Allah will take care of you.”
And I’m pretty ashamed to admit it, but it had only become a recent habit of mine to recite the chapter of the cave with its innumerable benefits, also known as Surah Kahf, every Friday without fail.
And it was just as well, because within the extensive story of Musaa (AS) and Al-Khidr (AS), who was said to have somehow but unintentioanlly drunk from the Fountain of Life, it’s result being eternal life…. Allah teaches us something amazing about those we strive for, give ourselves for, and are consumed by the most…
Umar ibn AbdulAziz once said, “There is not a single righteous believer who dies except that Allah (swt) will protect his children and his children’s children.”
And to come back to that amazing moral… within the story of Musa and Al- Khidr (AS) , as these two men were journeying together, they came to a town where the people were, to say the least, extremely miserly and refused to give them even a morsel to consume.
It was at that place, as they were leaving the city, when Al-Khidr(AS) saw a wall that was crumbling, and promptly repaired it.
Now, imagine, like you and I, after the people’s refusal to assist them in their hour of need, Musaa (AS) was appalled by this seemingly virtuous deed, saying that he should have asked for some payment at least. Al Khidr (AS) then explained the wisdom:
“And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the town; and there was under it a treasure belonging to them; and their father was a righteous man, and your Lord intended that they should attain their age of full strength and take out their treasure as a mercy from your Lord. And I did it not of my own accord. That is the interpretation of those (things) over which you could not have patience” (18:82).
And truly, we can never understand the wisdom of Divine knowledge, the extraordinary insight that those pious saints are given and how they are able to execute their tasks with such perfection…
The sublime fact here was that Allah (SWT) sent Al-Khidr to protect the wealth of these orphans without anyone else’s knowledge or invitation for one sublime reason: their father was a righteous man. Their father took care of the commandments of Allah, and Allah Ta’ala, in turn, not only took care of this man, but Allah protected the wealth of the orphans as a favour to their Duniyaa, even after he left this world.
And it was mind-blowing, because if you ask any man today what his greatest worries were, that was the crux of it, wasn’t it?
And as I looked at my friend that day, before he left for his trip to the bank, taking in his full beard, Sunnah attire and reformed ways, I could very clearly see that fatherhood had not only come naturally to him, but also reformed him in so many ways.
And it was so true, because in this case, being so close to my friend, as I witnessed him becoming a father, I couldn’t help but feel the same way.
And maybe it was the fact that for the day, I had been given the immense responsibility of watching over him for a few hours, that got to me, but that too, was not without coincidence.
“Are you implying I can’t take care of a two month old baby?” I asked Liyaket, trying to sound incredulous as I looked at his doubtful expression.
I mean, how hard can it be? All they do is drink and sleep, right?
I wasn’t yet thinking about the poo part. That, I’d pass onto someone else.
”It’s not that,” Liyaket said, biting his lip hesitantly as he held onto his son before he left. “You know this is my kid. My blood. Severe attachment issues going on.”
”Hey,” I said, trying to sound all cool and collected, as if I was the most responsible adult in the room. “I got this.”
“Okay, bru,” he said, stepping back as I heard his wife issuing some last minute commands about before he left, as if he was leaving me stranded in the desert.
And I got it. Because, from my own parents perspective and now that I saw my friend morph into fatherhood…
If you ask any man who they are working so hard for, who is the first person who comes to mind? Their kids.
But there was really no need to worry, because the answer was right there, in that Surah we are supposed to be reciting every week.
We just need to refocus. We need to pry our eyes away from the goal of being “great parents,” and set our sights on becoming “great believers.” (Which will inevitably lead to being a great parent.)
Just be good. Be sincere. Be conscious of Allah, attain piety, and Allah will, undoubtedly, take care of it all.
I held little Zaid close to my chest as his parents left, wondering why I suddenly felt like I had this enormous responsibility on my shoulders, as I watched him drifting off to slumber, almost like we had done this plenty of times before. And then I got it: I supposed that’s how a parent feels. One day you’re just a single being and the next day, you have this tiny little life depending on you for every little thing.
It’s amazing to see, isn’t it? The change that happens sometimes when a child comes into the world, how the focus shifts. Somehow, all you want to do is keep them close, shelter them from the world and keep them away from any harm that could possibly ever come to them.
There were so many things that had happened… so many trials that the world was seeing… and so much that we had to keep our guard up about, that this parenting thing that Liyaket was already taken so seriously was already rubbing off onto me.
It had barely been three months but it was as if, without any warning even, my heart already held this binding attachment to the little guy. It was like coming home.
I already loved the kid. There we were, sitting for almost an hour, and it felt almost as if we had been best friends for years. I had bared my heart and soul, and it was as if he just got me, no questions asked.
It didn’t matter that he couldn’t exactly converse back. All I needed sometimes was someone to hear me out, and share my thoughts with. I mean, why else did you need in a soulmate?
“Hey, that suits you,” Rabia said as she came down the stairs, smiling widely as she saw him lying in my arms, fingers in his mouth and spitting up a lovely tsunami of saliva while he was at it.
She was dressed in a long, flowy kind of dress, looking like she was ready to go somewhere important, but wasn’t in much of a rush to get going either. Maybe he was the diversion, but as her eyes settled on him, I knew that she was already a goner.
As for Zaid, he was oblivious to his cuteness as he lay there, gurgling away at nothing in particular, while Rabia went all gaga over him, with no reservations.
”Isn’t he just the sweetest little thing!” She exclaimed, bending and beaming at him as he smiled back at her. “And he likes me! What a big smile… oh my.. and he’s got stories for me too… Yeeess… I’m talking about you, little pooky pops...”
Pooky pops? Oh-Kayy.. That was a first.
I sat back and watched Rabia losing the little dignity she had left over a two month old. Seriously, what babies do to women…
“Can I carry him?” She asked, her expression unreadable for a few moments as I watched her eyeing him out.
I shrugged and picked him up easily, passing him over as she watched me in awe.
“You’re an expert, aren’t you? Where’s Liyaket?” She asked with exaggerated disbelief, taking him carefully and cradling him affectionately. “Does he need to burp?”
She eyed the bottle that was on the table, that I had literally just finished feeding him.
Okay, my bad. I did forget about the burping part. That would explain the white stuff that was now trailing down his chin, and his slight discomfort.
I wiped it with a tissue that was lying around. No time to find allocated face towels.
“He does,” I said bluntly, not admitting my mistake, as I put the lid back in the bottle and handed it to her. “You can see if he wants more after. Layyanah needed to go to the bank for a bit to sort out some account. They’ll fetch him after.”
Rabia’s eyes widened. I didn’t tell anyone in my family that he’d be here because I knew that they’d make a big deal over it. Like I was completely incapable.
As it is, Liyaket was supposed to be my best friend, but when he’d phoned ten minutes back, I could hear the humour in his voice as he was obviously calling to check on me, and not on the baby. And yes, when he had told me he would be coming into town and needed a hand with the baby, all I thought to myself was that it couldn’t be that hard, right?
Feed, play, sleep, right? Whatever. I was a little hesitant but as always, I wasn’t one to turn away a challenge.
Plus, soon I’d be leaving for the trip of my lifetime and I wasn’t sure when I’d be able to spend some alone time with the little guy again.
“The thing was, I wanted to be as available as possible. Liyaket didn’t have many people who were there for him and i wanted to be one of the few who were.
“They actually left him here alone with you?” She said, blinking in shock. “Looking after a baby? And you are this calm? Where is my spoilt and selfish brother and what have you done with him?!”
I grinned, despite her insults.
“Seriously, though,” she said, rocking Zaid as his eyes fluttered open again. I threw her his dummy in case he started wailing. “Doesn’t this just make you want another baby in the family?”
I narrowed my eyes at her, not really knowing how to answer that. I for sure, was not planning on it anytime soon.
“Let’s get to the marriage part first,” I said with a raise of my eyebrows, not mentioning Imraan on purpose as she looked away, pulling her face at the marriage part.
My sister may be an outright pest who interfered the ith everyone, but I also knew that she had gone through a pretty rough marriage and didn’t exactly come out with the best of mindsets. To top it off, last weeks Samoosa run with a guy who I had met at work had been an absolute lost cause, and she had made it very clear that she was giving up all hope of ever finding a decent man to marry.
As for my brother, I knew that his wife was kind of desperate for another kid. He had told me to make Duaa this time, when I went out with Molvi, for that specific thing, and I would.
This time, going out was going to be a completely different experience.
A mixture of nerves and excitement overcame me as I thought about how my first trip with Molvi out of the country in would pan out. I just couldn’t seem to contain my excitement.
And despite my contentment, I didn’t think many people could digest how I had just filed for unpaid leave after just a month of work. Audits, taxation and accounting no longer psyched me up like it used to. It’s like I had been completely consumed by another purpose.. a great calling that my heart was fervently yearning for…
Those few weeks with Maulana Umar had altered me, and as much as my heart was being captured now, there was no going back now.
Zaid was looking slightly unsettled as I watched him with Rabia, noticing him sucking on his fingers relentlessly. Hungry or tired? It was the greatest mystery in the land of tiny beings.
“I’m in love,” She declared, cradling baby Zaid close to her as he snuggled in.
I needed to have a chat with him. He was such a comfort creature with the ladies that it was almost embarrassing.This behavior was simply not on. If he continued like this , the ladies were going to have a field day with him. Not that he minded. But still. A little dignity at least.
Zaid’s eyes were now finally closed, and we placed him carefully on his size in a little cushion type thing that was apparently designed just for babies.
“Can’t I just wait for him to grow up?” She said quietly, careful not to stir him. She didn’t know that he slept like a log. “If I have to go through another Samoosa run I’ll just die.”
”Me too,” I said with a grin just messing around with her, sitting back now and placing my legs on the coffee table as I was finally able to relax. “Fed up of samoosas.”
Sheesh. This parenting this was no walk in the park. Now I knew why Liyaket cherished nap time so much.
Rabia gave me an unimpressed look. She obviously didn’t appreciate the humour.
”You don’t even know what a Samoosa run is!” She said bitterly. “Besides, when we went to Mohsina’s house, they didn’t even serve samoosas. They served moons and pies. Really now. Did you guys actually plan it that way?”
She looked at me sceptically and I smiled, not being able to dissolve the memory that it brought back. It was still funny even now, as I thought of it months later.
And because Mohsina’s expertise was to stir up things, the Samoosa saga was her way to get back at her Nani. It was her idea to go against tradition and I knew that she had done it just because she wanted to annoy her.
And as we had just arrived at the house, after a few minutes minutes of sitting and listening to general business talk of the men, I kind of decided that I needed a breather.
It may have been the plan, or just pure coincidence that on my way, I had caught sight of Mohsina, outside the kitchen door, seizing the opportunity to have a quick chat before anyone else saw us.
”Hey,” she said, taking a step back into the kitchen and frowning at me, her cheeks slightly flushed. Her sister, who was in the room, cautiously made her way out. “You’re not supposed to be here.”
And I smiled guiltily, because I knew she was right. If Nani had to get wind of this, I would probably be in for it. But I was drawn to her, well, not just because of how pretty she looked that day, but to be honest, because from the kitchen was the smell of something yummy and I hadn’t had time for lunch..
”I know,” I said indignantly, but not making any attempt to leave either. All I wanted was a samoosa. “Just checking what’s on the menu…”
It was just an excuse and she had turned away with a shake of her head, and I kept my distance, because I did still respect the rules we had set.
And as I watched her silently, I could see her strategically taking some things out into a Tupperware, and placing some more things on a platter, before turning around to face me, with a triumphant expression on her face.
“You want to see something funny,” she had said mischievously with a grin, as we peeked into the room from where we were standing. “Watch Nani’s expression.”
I already knew that Nani was a really traditional character, and that made me like her even more. I had a feeling that she was probably the only one who Mohsina truly, but secretly took seriously.
It was just that I wasn’t quite sure if she would like me, so bringing the flowers that day was my form of a trade off for her approval. The dynamic between her and Mohsina had also intrigued me significantly, and I could see that Mohsina was itching to put some masala in the works that day, and she was very much successful.
I stood behind as we peeked into the room where the food was, from where we were standing, while Mohsina went onto the other side, scanning it for Nani and notably noticing her face change while she looked from one platter to the other, literally searching for samoosas, while I could hear someone asking where Mohsina was.
I could see Nani getting a little worked up, as she was calling for who I presumed was Mohsina’s mother… and that’s when Mohsina quickly straightened her scarf, gave me a warning glare that spelt that I better get out of there without a word of what she had just done, and made her appearance in the room once again, as if she was not just behaving like a unruly child a few minutes before that.
I was chuckling randomly for a good ten minutes after. For some reason, Mohsina got a kick out of living on the edge, and causing a stir. It was just that, living in the edge sometimes led to catastrophic consequences.
I stifled my sigh, looking at Rabia as she got up to put the kettle on. Looked like she wasn’t heading out after all.
And yes, as for Mohsina, maybe I should have known from the very beginning that her nature was a little erratic, but I thought that she would be able to draw boundaries where it mattered.
And now, more than ever, the lessons from the mistakes I had made now stood out greater than ever.
‘Knowing’ someone before you got proposed didn’t change a thing. Knowing someone before , set up expectations that sometimes didn’t materialize. Knowing someone before, having those memories, was something that stuck with you and literally hounded you… even when you were trying your utmost to move past it.
I sought refuge from the wrong I had done, from every sin that I thought was little, from every word I had said that may have been a source of Allah’s wrath raining down on me.
And now, as I found a new path in life, I knew that I had found something better. By changing my life, by maintaining my respect… by keeping my honour intact, Allah had granted me not only peace… but a contentment that felt like I was coming home, every time I surrendered to Him.
Now, I knew better. I would do better. I knew that I’d never set myself up for so much of pain and heartache, the way that I had before.. Next time, I would play it safe.
I looked at my sister, who was still waiting for an answer.
”I think we can just blame it all on the samoosas,” I said with a grim smile. “Or lack there of. Next time, please insist- samoosas are obligatory.”
Rabia let out a loud burst of laughter.
And yes, I felt sorry for her, and she had it tough, but although I wasn’t the biggest fan of her ex-husband, I couldn’t blame anything on him solely. Marriage is two people who are equally choosing to either make it or break it. Or maybe it wasn’t all that simple. I didn’t have all the answers, but I did know that I had plenty of time.
“No more Samoosa for me anytime soon,” she said blandly. “The problem is that everyone else gets the extra rich, cheesey ones and I’m just stuck with the tinfish.”
Tinfish samoosas? I chuckled.
“When I meet that husband of mine,” she continued with a frown. “If he even exists… I’m going to give him one big smack, for taking so bloody long.. howcome everyone has such good luck? … It’s so unfair… I met a girl ones who didn’t even have to go through all of this. Along came one rich, handsome guy from the blue and pitched up to propose. How unfair is that? And then Shabana… remember our second cousin..? she’s so spoilt rotten, can’t cook and doesn’t even greet properly when we meet her, but she got such a nice guy. And people like me end up with the rotten leftover.”
Ah, here we go again, the old ‘howcome’ saga. Howcome they get it all and we don’t? Rabia was a big fan of it and I wasn’t.
“It’s Allah’s justice system,” I said simply. “You can’t question it. Allah already knows both sides of the story. We are all sinners and have done bad things. Everyone has their tests… look at people who are worse off than you before you start comparing…”
It was the golden rule to combat jealousy. And even if someone is bad to you, indeed, isn’t Allah is in charge of the how, why and where of punishment? If not now, will Allah Taála not even the scales at some point?
In a verse of Holy Qurán Allah says:
“… Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.” (Holy Quran 60:8)
If we want to take our matters into our own hands, when Allah is the ultimate judge, is this not an injustice?
Rabia shrugged and sighed, looking at the sleeping Zaid and planting a kiss on his forehead, downing her cup of tea before getting up to leave again.
And yes, I understood her point. There are times when I wonder how people who I know or once knew ever got away with things that they did. There were times when I wondered how the scales will be evened, when it seems like nothing in life is fair and will ever be okay again.
But all these feelings… this hostility… the aversion to people… the ill feelings… it all went away when I took a new step in my new journey of life.
I didn’t have to hold onto past grievances because I had full faith that Allah already knew exactly what my heart had been through and had a perfect plan that was just for me.
And yes, for now, I had found a place where my heart was at ease… and I had found home.
I knew that if Allah was in my side, whatever hurt, whatever pain… I knew that my Allah would never abandon me.
Home was where my heart was contented and where I really had no desire to be anywhere else but where I was right then.
And as I got up and left Zaid in his sleepy silence for a good few minutes, I found my mind switching back to the present once again.
It was just two days left, before I would be leaving again, and I could barely wait.
And I supposed it was his luck that as he shifted again and the front door opened, with both my sister-in-law and my mother entering, the huge wail that escaped from his mouth got them both rushing over and swooning over him like they’d never seen a baby before in their lives.
Life, huh? It was weird that way. One way you were a normal person with not much purpose, and the next moment you have this tiny human being who turns everything around and brings a light even in the darkest of times…
Sometimes home wasn’t a place. Sometimes home was a feeling. Sometimes home was two eyes and a beating heart, and sometimes that home was all that mattered.
It was just three weeks, I told myself, feeling amazingly discomforted by the fact that I would be away from Zaid for so long. It felt liek a lifetime and I was beginning to feel like a real parent now.
Feelings of guilt and missing out on important milestones of his life were starting to plague me. This whole parenting this was becoming a little too a serious for me, but I couldn’t stop it. I supposed once it hit you, there was no going back.
My world had already changed, and life was already so different to the one of that free-spirited and carefree guy that I glimpsed in the mirror just a few months ago.
What I didn’t know that coming back home after three weeks would feel like I was coming back to a completely different world…
Mission Sunnah Revival
In an effort to revive a Sunnah, let’s try and put our family first, instead of friends, followers and anyone else… be the best we can be to those who truly do love us the most ❤️
Sunnah of being best to our family.
Aisha (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The best of you are the best to their families, and I am the best to my family...”
Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 3895
Du’aa for Rajab
اَللّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا فِى رَجَبَ وَ شَعْبَانَ وَ بَلِّغْنَا رَمَضَان
Allaahumma Baa’rik La’naa Fee Rajab(a), Wa Sha’baan(a), Wa Bal’ligh’naa Ramadhaan.
“O Allaah! Make the months of Rajab and Sha’baan blessed for us, and let us reach the month of Ramadhaan.”