I remember once hearing a beautiful narration of the Prophet (Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam) that went like this:
The heart is between two fingers of power of Rahman (All-Merciful), and He turns it as He wishes.” (Muslim, Qadar 3)
And for me, during that period of my life when I felt myself constantly grappling with the changes, it was only true that my heart itself, was undergoing a whole host of them, that at times it felt like it was bursting.
And along with everything else, as the feelings of ‘love’ entered the mix, I could only claim to be caught completely off guard because I now saw everything with a new eye.
See, the thing is, some people find spirituality without much effort, whilst others keep searching. And sometimes hearts remain sealed and unyielding, not even awakening at the most earth-shattering of jolts, not ever realising that one significant piece that’s missing from their world.
For me, I had been too consumed with the fear of being ‘holy’, to ever open my heart. But as I learnt to rid my heart of its rigidity, and to soften it, I realised that it is only that heart, which allows its Rabb to enter, that will truly ‘love’.
And not just any love, but a love that truly opens … a love that is a purist kind of love that brings about calm—not inner torment. Real love, as Allah intended it, is not a sickness or an addiction.
Real love, the true type… is affection and mercy. It is complete and unwanting. It is open and free.
And that’s where I had got it wrong in the past. With my past self, love had made me a slave to myself. To my own desires. That false love had unleashed my desires, blinded my heart and broke my faith. The love I knew, had taken me away from Allah.
But in this new love that I was learning about, as I struggled with my mushaf recitation, sitting on the carpet in Hamzah’s bedroom in his parents house… I couldn’t help but process at how much closer to Allah this journey was taking me.
All I knew was that I wanted Allah to be happy with me, but somehow, from time to time it felt as if was this huge barrier that was with me as my Nafs, and I was trying so badly to conquer it…
And of course, he would ask, as he walked into the room from his slightly shortened day at the office, having taken early leave every day just for this week.
And there I was, sitting cross-legged, hands now tucked under my thighs because I couldn’t help but want to fiddle with anything in the vicinity if they weren’t, rocking furiously and looking as frustrated as hell. His room was cleaned spotless as a result of my restlessness, and his clothes were all neatly organized in his cupboard. I had been doing everything else, trying to find ways to escape idle mind that I could not seem to focus properly.
”I can’t do this,” I complained with utter desolation, as I gently closed it. “I feel like I’m failing. Just failing. I can’t even get this one thing right. I’m too old.”
Hamzah’s eyes immediately softened, as he watched me looking utterly distraught, and then glanced over at a stirring Zaid on the bed, before he came toward me, whilst he took off his shoes.
“You’re not too old,” he said softly with a slight smirk, lifting his kurta and sitting next to me, tucking his legs under him. “Unless you’ve forgotten who I am.”
The joke had lost its effect as I scowled at him.
”I feel like it up here,” I said, tapping on my head. Why didn’t I think of doing Hifdh earlier in my life?
“Listen,” he said comfortingly. “You’ve only just started. That’s how it is. Be patient. It takes some time.”
”Yes, but you know how I am,” I whined, getting annoyed even at my own voice. “Everything’s come easily to me in the past. If I can’t get this the first time then I’m just useless.”
“Open it. I’ll teach you.”
I looked at him, sceptically, raising my eyebrows.
“How will you do that?” I asked suspiciously, and watching as Zaid sucked his dummy a little more vigorously now, hoping he didn’t wake just yet. I still had a few lines left to achieve, and maybe Hamzah’s motivation was just what I needed.
“Can I show you?” he asked suddenly, not even waiting for my answer and already taking my hand with one of his hands, as he opened the Qurān with the other.
His sudden touch felt a little unnerving, but I loosened my hands as he grasped and guided my finger to the place where I had marked.
Top of the third page. It felt like I was doing that part forever.
“You have to point,” he murmured, eyes focused on the page, still talking quietly as he moved my finger along the top line. “Point, look, read aloud… and of course, listen. We used to say that doing that once is like reading it thrice otherwise. It’s one of the most effective Hifdh hacks, if you could even call it that.”
He concealed a smile as I glanced him from the side, also very aware of how his hand over mine was now making me feel strangely aware of his proximity, even though I knew that he wasn’t doing it to make me nervous. Or maybe he was.
Maybe he wanted me to take my work more seriously too.
He looked at the page briefly, watching me now as he pronounced the first ayah with perfect Tajweed and made me repeat after him.
Once, twice. A third time, then the next ayah.
I did it a few times, repeatedly, before I slid my hand out from under his, not sure if the whole lesson was just making me a bit nervous or if his whole husband slash teacher demeanor was a little more intimidating than he knew.
“I think we done for the day,” I said lightly, feeling my brain shutting down and closing the Qurān as he smiled at me. “I’ll go over it before I sleep. 10 times, nuh?”
He nodded and I grinned comically.
Why is it that I could sit for hours in front of a screen but a half hour of Quran made me tired?
Harami was not even the word for people like me.
”I think you need to help me,” I said, only realising now what a huge difference it made, having someone who loved Quran, to help you love it too. Someone who’s in it with you, guiding you along, helping you to be better.
It was like the ultimate kind of couple goals that I had always read about… the type that made you closer to Allah Ta’ala and lifted you to new levels of contentment, because it was only because of Him that you were aspiring so much for this kind of amazement.
“I just did,” he smirked, smiling briefly as i rolled my eyes at him.
He fixed his gaze on me for a minute silently, before talking again.
“You know… my Ustaadh once told me that the amazing thing with the Qurān is that the more you do it… the more you read, learn and memorise… the more it opens up for you. Like a fragrant flower. Only more beautiful.”
I couldn’t help but marvel at it. The Qurān is an amazing miracle, that promises so much more than just peace and comfort in its words.
”I’m not sure if I can do it,” I said, feeling a little overwhelmed, looking at all the pages I had left: I was only on page 3 of hundreds. “It’s tough. You must have finished pretty young, right? And why did you never mention it before?”
He was looking at me, a tiny smile on his face as he fiddled with my sticky markers.
”I didn’t know that it would have impressed you,” he said, teasing me slightly as I felt myself blush a little. He didn’t know that it had been a game changer and had solely inspired my decision. “If I knew, I would have pulled it out sooner. Anyway, I had been slacking on my dhor for some time in between. Went through a bad patch… generally. But now… it’s almost on track.”
A bad patch.
Gosh. I had continuous bad patches. More like a bad era. If only Hamzah knew half of the sketchy things I had done. I wanted to ask him more… even though he had told me once about how he didn’t take anything seriously, messed around and just didn’t care about breaking Allah’s laws.
Now may have been a good time to talk about those bad patches, that I’d been avoiding all along.
But no. Not now.
”That’s amazing,” was all I said, swallowing back my emotions and wondering if he was one of those genius people who could read from anywhere in the Qurān and know exactly where he was reading.
”You know what’s amazing?” He said, edging closer, and I looked at him questioningly.
“Me?!” I said hopefully, trying to not let my mind run away with me regarding bad patches. I had to just let it go.
“That too,” he grinned, touching my cheek lightly as he said it. His dimple faded as he continued, looking down and talking softly. “But also… I heard something amazing to the effect that went something like: There are people among you who have memorised the Quran and yet, are not of the people of Qurān.
And yet… there are people among us, who have not memorised, yet are regarded as the people of the Quran. All it is, is a matter of implementation. And the way I see it is, we need to make a choice which people we will be.
That was seriously beautiful. And he had hit it right on the head. Even though I wasn’t a Hafidha, I was trying to be that kind of person who actually implemented but sometimes I fell so short of it that it scared me.
I looked at him, immensely impressed by his words, but also, well, quite impressed with him on the whole because he was just being kind of impressive these days and I could barely believe that this was the kind of man that he had been moulded into, after being through so much during these past months.
I was also just about to go against my own rules to let him know that exact fact, in reticent fashion, but just as I caught his intensely penetrating gaze, it was at that very moment that Zaid’s muffled murmur had just started from the bed and Rabia’s voice simultaneously sounded from outside the door, when all other idyllic thoughts were already slashed.
“Hamzah,” Rabia called loudly from the slightly ajar bedroom door. “Can I take Zaid?”
I widened my eyes, obviously not impressed any longer.
”Sorry,” Hamzah whispered, smiling sheepishly as he disengaged and shook his head.
I was wondering how long she was probably standing outside, or listening to our conversation or just snooping around.
“Where does she keep popping up from?” Hamzah muttered, and he took the words right out my mouth. Only, his version was a bit kinder, as he got up to take Zaid.
It seemed like at any given moment, Rabia was around and ready to kill a moment or get right in between us.
When I had asked Hamzah why she was here when we were supposed to have the house to ourselves for the week, he had just shrugged.
“Rabia’s had a bit of a tough time,” he said, biting his lip, looking like he didn’t want to get into it. “We don’t like to make her feel unwelcome. My parents don’t say anything much to her. She takes it a bit personally.”
Gosh, I wasn’t saying chase her out. I was just wondering why she couldn’t give us a few days alone before she decided to come here.
And I knew what it was, but trying to explain to Hamzah would be futile. Men were just daft like that. The classic old women rivalry thing was something they didn’t quite get, even when it stared them in the face. Rabia was competing for most people’s attention most of the time, and seeing me always capturing her brothers was a little more than she could bear.
And it annoyed me but I had just labelled her as the possessive type and made light of the situation. I definitely was not the type to fight for my husbands attention, even though she had tried every thing in her power to keep it from me since she arrived. With her just being in the house, Hamzah seemed to be more on edge than ever too. I supposed it was her remarks that she sometimes made and although I tried to ignore them, when she purposely asked questions about Hammonds or my Instagram profile in front of Hamzah, I couldn’t help but want to ring her neck.
The the thing was, after my marriage announcement, upon Hamzah’s request, I had made a resolution to be better. I had been trying very hard to keep myself out of peoples feeds and direct messages, and not worry about all the futile things they posted. It meant staying off social media and minding my own business, even when everyone else wanted the low-down on my entire life. Maybe Rabia was snooping for info about people, or trying to find faults, but I wasn’t going to give in, and neither was I going to back down and let her get her way at home either.
I mean, I didn’t understand what was her deal with Hamzah anyway. I was his wife. She was his twin sister. We both had our respective places in his life. The woman seemed a little crazy to me.
And now too, as she walked in the room with no invitation. I mean, what if I was completely indecent?
I breathed out heftily, not exactly concealing my annoyance. My patience, at that point, was almost non-existent.
“Okay, but wait a minute,” Hamzah called to her, making her backtrack as he gave her a look that said that she was crossing boundaries by not even knocking.
He had just got up to fetch Zaid from the bed and plant a kiss on his head, when she then knocked on the door.
”Can I come in?” Rabia asked sweetly, and though I rolled my eyes, I made sure that Hamzah didn’t notice it.
I took him easily from Hamzah, nodding briefly at her as she plopped herself on the single couch, grabbing a spare nappy and his half full bottle that lay next to the bed.
Hamzah didn’t do the nappy thing. He did most other things, but nappies was something that he usually steered clear off. And though it annoyed me sometimes, after all Nani’s and my mothers lectures about husbands and wives knowing their role in the house, I kind of gave him a break.
I was almost an expert at changing anyway and he sat quietly for once as I undid his nappy, watching as Hamzah leant over him to distract him, as Zaid looked unhappily back at him, moaning slightly, on the verge of tears. And I should have noticed straight away.
And it was unusual for him not to jump for Hamzah, because he was his ultimate favourite, but it was only as I opened his nappy and felt his body temperature against my fingertips that I realised that something was very wrong.
He was burning hot. All over. The child definitely had a fever and I was so stupid to not realise that the heat I had felt earlier wasn’t just induced from his 45 minute nap.
”Hamzah,” I said, looking at my husband as he sprawled on the bed now with his phone, me picking Zaid up immediately, panicking slightly. “Feel him. He’s got a fever. Right?”
Hamzah had already hopped over and was already touching him on his forehead, and Rabia, who had been sitting and waiting on the couch had already kneeled over to investigate as Zaid suddenly seemed like he couldn’t bear to keep it in any longer, and just let out a full on howl.
Hamzah’s concerned expression already got me worried, and I wanted to cry as I tried to unsuccessfully pacify him too.
Poor Zaidoo was now suddenly sobbing uncontrollably, and my own heart just felt like it was caving in as I watched him.
Oh my word, I was starting to tear too. How do mothers even deal when their kids are in pain?
“You want to give him something?” Hamzah asked, looking at me worriedly, a lump forming on my throat. “I think there’s Panado in the bag. And I remember Liyaket once saying something about suppositions or whatever.”
Suppositories. They were for fever. Layyanah also told me about them once.
We were first time parents with a first time sick baby. He never had fever before, and the thought of anything happening to him was scaring us both. They way he was bawling made me feel utterly helpless too.
“Let’s take him to a doctor,” I said decidedly, googling on my phone, trying to stay calm. “His paed is not far from here. “
“Maybe we can give him some medication in the interim,” Hamzah suggested, pulling the nappy bag towards us. “And then see what the doctor says.”
“Good idea,” Rabia said, also looking a looking extremely worried as he opened the bag and dug inside.
Layyanah had always kept everything packed carefully and organised, and I tried to keep it that way. Although I had restocked and bought a few new things, her maternal touch was still very present. Sometimes I felt slightly grieved, when I thought of a day when Zaid may not be able to have any evidence of his mother. It was fading so fast.
I was beyond myself at that moment, holding him closer to me as Rabia offered to take him. I didn’t want to let him go but knowing I had to get ready, I handed him over and speedily pulled on an Abaya. Rabia herself looked helpless, even as she held Zaid and we hastily popped some Panado syrup down his throat with the syringe, expecting a small fuss and a host of erratic tears that seemed to evidently be stemmed by some sort of pain.
All I knew was that I was glad to have an extra hand while Hamzah fetched his keys, and it was a whirlwind of craziness as we drove, hoping to make it before the doctor left his rooms, worried, like parents should be, and extremely anxious about what could be wrong with him.
I had dozens of possibilities, of course. My mind was working in overdrive as I wondered if he had maybe gotten a bad virus or infection wondering if maybe it was something a little more serious.
As the tears ceased and he quitened down in the car, Zaids little body was limp and exhausted, as I held him to me, willing myself not to cry due to his very obvious discomfort.
And it took a good 20 minutes or so, but finally, the fever seemed to be subsiding and I could see him looking a little more at peace.
We were glad that because it was toward the end of the day, the doctors room was a little emptier than it usually was. There were two other mothers with their kids there and they smiled at me as we arrived, probably noticing my anxiety, and as the one was called in, I could see Hamzah too, visibly relaxing. He was the more relaxed one of the two of us, and as I held a sleeping Zaid, he quickly took the forms that secretary handed us to update.
The thing was, besides not being prepared for all of this parenting stuff, we weren’t quite prepared for the emotions either. It was obvious that Hamzah was a little jolted as he stared at the forms, Liyaket’s handwriting still on them, and because we had worked together, I too, recognised it immediately.
It was something like a knife being pulled out slowly, the pain gradual yet still present, and my eyes immediately moved to his face as I watched him study it for a few seconds, and then looked up at me, his expression riddled with emotion; still contemplating whether he could actually strike it all off. It just seemed so wrong. Once upon a time, Liyaket had probably filled in those forms, with so much of paternal hope. It felt like we were erasing them from Zaid’s life, bit by bit.
I held back tears and looked away, not able to imagine what he was feeling at that point. All I knew was that here we were, still figuring this whole thing out, and I still wasn’t sure if I was even doing anything right.
And as we pulled ourselves together, we had asked for a new form and filled in new details, placing it on top of Liyaket’s one, just before getting called in. Yes, we had shoved emotion away but I couldn’t help but feel the heaviness that this whole situation had brought.
We hadn’t even been back to their place to sort out their stuff. I had gone briefly with Jameela and Liyaket’s mother to get some clothes and essentials for Zaid, but I had gone straight into Zaid’s room and out again. It felt almost intrusive, to hover around and dissect Layyanah’s things.
I knew that I had to, at some point it would happen… sooner or later… being faced with tangible evidence of Liyaket and Layyanah but being there, right then, just felt like the weight of the world was coming down on us.
For the first time since this happened, the gravity of the situation was almost unbearable. As much as we both loved Zaid, we could not even dream of ever not letting him know how amazing his parents once were, and it was at that moment that I realised that we had really huge shoes to fill and I was barely able to comprehend the thought.
Right then, I just felt responsible and completely consumed by worry about Zaid. My heart had been filled to the brim with this little guy, and I could not bear to see him in pain.
Getting into the doctors room though, minutes later, was a huge relief. It brought a little bit of lightness to the gloomy atmosphere.
The paediatrician was a tall man, with an easy smile. His forehead was edged with salt and pepper hair and his glasses sat at the bridge of his nose. We knew he was probably going to bring Layyanah and Liyaket up. It took him a minute, as he went over the file, flipped through and then fixed his gaze on us, and I immediately recognised that look in his eyes which portrayed that he had just realised who Zaid was.
“Zaid Khan,” he said, his gaze faltering slightly as he looked at Zaid who was now subdued and almost asleep due to the medication we had dosed him with. “I tried to get hold of his guardians, but no information was available. No next of kin either. Both parents passed away in an accident about two months ago.“
It wasn’t a question, of course. Hamzah just nodded and swallowed, before he spoke. I could sense how heartbreaking this was for him.
“The adoption is being finalised,” Hamzah said briefly, concealing his feelings expertly, and the doctor nodded sympathetically.
“How is the little guy?” He asked, a little more sympathetically, glancing at Zaid and getting up, while he signaled for me to bring him to the bed. “And I’m assuming you guys are his relatives?”
“Good friends of his parents,” I said briefly, not really wanting to go into details right then. “He had a fever. He was crying so much…”
I trailed off before I started tearing again, whilst the doctor nodded and first checked his eyes and mouth and ears, and then opened him up briefly, preparing myself for the drama that would ensue when Zaid awoke. He was already stirring as the doctor checked and prodded him, and once he was done almost in record time, looked up at me and said.
“Looks like it’s just an ear infection for now,” he said almost to himself, writing something in his file as he walked back to his desk. His laptop was next to him, and I could see him frowning slightly as he looked from the file to the laptop, and then looked up at us both.
”I know this may sound a bit awkward to you both,” he said, his steely eyes looking at us over his spectacles as he sat down and wrote out the script, and then looked directly at me. “But are you open to attempting breastfeeding?”
I widened my eyes at him momentarily, not actually aware of the shock on my face, until his mouth lifted slightly at the corners.
I mean, I know he was a doctor. A proper paediatrician too. They spoke openly about things like this and how good it was for babies and of course, I knew that breastfeeding was important but I mean, how did he even expect me to think of that?
“Just a suggestion,” he said apologetically, glancing at Hamzah whose head was down and arms were over the chair back as he stared at a spot on the carpet for the last minute or so, looking very uncomfortable indeed. “You guys can discuss it, of course.”
Of course, I wanted to laugh but I knew it would just make me look immature so I stifled a smile and said, a little stiffly:
“I didn’t know that was possible. We actually haven’t even thought about it.”
Which was true, because we hadn’t. There was just so much that was going on that we didn’t even give it a single thought. Come to think of it, the endless formula battles might have been over if I had. How clueless was I about babies?!
”Well then, I think it may be time that you do,” he said, looking at me. “Of course, there are pills or injections you will have to take, some side effects, it may take about two months or even less to get a supply… but I always tell the mums, it’s the sacrifice you make for your child… but also, the best gift you can ever give them.”
Besides the immense benefits of breastfeeding, I didn’t even think that this was the one step that would transform him into the closest thing to my real son. I was still standing, with Zaid in my arms, as I digested this.
If you had asked me this a year or 6 months ago, I would have never agreed to this. I supposed when the hearts open, even the most impossible things can seem entirely likely.
I nodded, the idea growing on me, wanting to ask more questions. My heart was now even more inclined to it, as I realised how much it could benefit him.
What kind of pills? And how do I start? The whole thing was still kind of freaking me out -maybe just as much as it was Hamzah- but as my mind opened to the idea, the doctor wasn’t yet done with what he was saying.
“Also, I just recalled the reason why I was looking for his guardians,” the doctor said, shaking his head, looking at Hamzah now again, almost as if he couldn’t believe he hadn’t followed up the process. “The infection isn’t bad, thankfully. But before we get into that, I need you both to take a seat. There’s something about Zaid you need to know.”
Hope everyone enjoyed the extra long post. ❤️
Quick one: any thoughts or experiences with regard to breastfeeding with adoption… I’ve heard of some siblings even feeding each other’s kids, so their kids are mahrams for each other… good to hear personal experiences 💕
Always appreciate the feedback
Mission Sunnah Revival
Concealing the faults of others:
Whoever conceals [the faults of] a Muslim, Allah will conceal [his faults] in this life and the Hereafter.”
The matter of concealing the faults of others is mentioned in numerous hadith of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. In particular, we find the following:
Someone asked Ali (RA):
“How much was the Sahaba’s love for the Prophet (Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam)”
He replied: “By Allah! To us The Prophet (Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam) was dearer to us than our riches our children and our mothers, and was more cherishable than a drink of water at the time of severest thirst.”
SubhaanAllah… what perfect imaan they had… May Allah enable us to practise..💕