Travel. It had it moments. Sometimes when things get a little over the top, it’s good to remind yourself where the sunshine is. There was just something about the open skies with cotton candy clouds that made me light-headed with elation.
And then there’s one above that:
Praying to your Lord when up in the air. Well, that was just sublime. A feeling of being grounded, without actually being on the ground. A touch of freedom without actually being free. It was a most powerful weapon, a way to find home, wherever in the world you may be.
When your head finds the ground, and you are connected with your Rabb, there’s no other place you can go but higher.
It was a beautiful reminder that everything that happened and everything in existence was never our doing and always controlled by the Greatest Power of All.
And up there, amidst the great white cotton clouds, with natural silver linings from beyond, glared a light from the highest point of where one could ever conceive.
The view from the way up where even blue birds fly was something that reminded me of faith and fairy tales, and the feeling of being beyond it made my heart soar just as high as the airplane did.
I mean, have you ever stopped to think how Allah Ta’ala commutes people over seas, in a meagre piece of metal? How the airborne vessel actually stays up there, despite it defying every conceivable law that you’ve ever known? How Allah Ta’ala seems so much closer and greater as you peak out at the clouds, letting your imagination run wild as you wonder what Jannah really looks like, and what it really felt like to be able to have whatever your heart desires…
Narrated Abu Hurairah [ra]:
“I have prepared for My righteous servants what no eye has seen and no ear has heard, nor has it occurred to the human heart. Thus, recite if you wish, ‘And no soul knows what joy has been kept hidden for them.”’
(Sahih al-Bukhari, Muslim, at-Tirmidhi, and ibn Majah, Surah Al Sajdah, 32: 17)
It was a first for me. After Umrah with my parents years back, it was a first time I’d travelled so far and for such a worthy distance and it made me see life out of the bubble I’d always keep myself in.
The thing was; travelling not only opened your mind, but also offered a stark and rude awakening as to how status-driven the world was. The world judges according to what kind of holidays you had, how much money you forked out for your tickets and what kind of brands you sported while you continued on your mission of competing for the best instagram hits for your travel diaries.
Being tucked away in a farm in the corner of Gauteng, and with my nose stuck in books wasn’t exactly conducive to reality. This- being in the hustle of bustle of major movements and people of the world- was reality… and it wasn’t pretty.
On the up side, it was a welcome diversion from the last week at home when Nani had forced me to meet Muneer (aka Doctorsaab) again. Doc was making efforts to solidify his case as husband material, to the extent where his cringe-worthy shenanigans made me feel as if I wasn’t even remotely old enough to be subjected to his courting.
I had made sure that I maintained a safe distance on the couch at the opposite side of the room and excused myself when things got a little too haraami-like, my cheeks flaming red as Nani wiggled her eyebrows at me when I exited the room.
And there I was, thinking that the older generation was supposed to have a natural sense of modesty. Nani may have just been the exception.
I still, for the life of me, could never imagine myself actually married to him… leave alone being his smoothie chef and raising his rugrats for the rest of my life. Nani couldn’t understand how I could not want to be the wife of a Ken-look-alike who had a medical degree and the depth of a shallow pond.
I sighed, pulling out my backpack and my jacket and placing my doodling pad back in. Sketching was something I did to keep myself busy, although I wasn’t exactly amazing at it. I just didn’t want to get caught up in the in-flight entertainment this time, so I had carried enough to keep myself busy for all those hours, and not let the holiday spirit conquer the better parts of me.
I pulled my scarf on tighter, taking note that just because I was on a technical ‘break’, didn’t mean that I forgot who I was. It was a small reminder to myself that wherever we are in the world, we were Muslims first.
Dress wise, character wise and Imaan-wise. One slip could be disastrous. Deen was a complete way of life, a soothing for the lost soul, and a quenching relief when we are faced with the drought of hope that the world brings. Going out there, into the open, seeing so many new faces and places… well, it made our lives seem so small compared to the vastness that surrounded…
Being here, finally having landed in Heathrow Airport, I was feeling like an entirely different person. After going through the queues, searches and motions that came with regular travel took up a good amount of time and energy, but I was in awe of what kinds of lesson I took was going to take home here, even when my trip had just begun.
People watching had got my mind all fired up as I wondered what each persons story was… what they were here for and where they were headed. I grabbed my Qur’ān that I had placed in the seat holder, pushed my glasses up my nose, and headed out behind my uncle and aunty as they all started disembarking.
”Mo-Seena?” A voice said, and of course, I didn’t turn around because it wasn’t my name they were calling, but I heard it loud and clear.
My sisters name. Well, a version of it. But my sister wasn’t here, so…
“No,” the voice said, and I could hear her talking to someone else about how this girl looks like Mohsina but she can’t be her. “Mos’s sister, right? Jameena?!”
And at that, I swung around, nearly toppling over in the midst of people streaming around me, finally being able to see who the speaker was, and giving her a once over as I did.
A few people gave me annoyed looks and I blushed and quickly continued walking as I smiled at the girl, already recognising who she was.
I probably hadn’t seen her more than twice in my life, but I had heard plenty about her from Mos. It had been an amazing thing when she had reverted and seeing her at Mohsina and Hamzah’s function dresser completely differently to how she had been dressed the previous time had completely bowled me over.
I mean, what were the odds of meeting Mohsina’s long lost friend and colleague here in Heathrow airport today?
Definitely no coincidence. And what was her name again. Ah, yes.
I was honestly gobsmacked to see the amazing transformation of this beautiful girl. Her hijab was tied beautifully, with not even a strand of her blonde hair showing. Her modest dress was flowy and loose, with her ankles covered, and I was honestly struck with a feeling of amazement as I watched her.
”Oh my goodness,” she breathed while I fell back and we trudged along with our hand luggage. She had echoed my own thoughts, leaning forward to embrace me, until her vanilla mixed with Orbit gum scent overpowered me. “It’s so great to see you! Assalamualaikum!”
”You too,” I said shyly, greeting back and trying not to stare, despite how intrigued I was, as we made small talk.
Her husband was at a few steps behind, dragging two hand luggage cases with him as we made our way through the long and wide corridors.
As for Lesley, who had actually just let me know that she was called Aalia, I couldn’t believe how much she had changed. She had a look of serene contentment on her face, and I couldn’t quite digest how Allah Ta’ala can take someone from zero to hero and make them one of His most beloved just through the gift of Hidayat. It was nothing short of a miracle.
When Allah wants to guide, there’s no limits.
”How is Mos, after… everything..?” She asked, her eyes concerned for my sister as we glimpsed a queue ahead. “I think of them so much. How is the baby?!”
She didn’t say it but I knew that she meant after Liyaket and Layyanah’s death. It always felt like people were too scared to mention them. I felt the same way too. Death pricks at parts of us that are sometimes buried deep below, and when we go there, sometimes it feels like picking at an old scab that doesn’t quite want to heal.
She smiled sadly and I remembered that they all worked together at one point. It was a loss that they felt unanimously.
“She’s… good,” I said, nodding. She was good. Mostly. “Zaid too. Coping. Mohsina has her moments.”
It wasn’t untrue, what I had said. I didn’t want to mention that Mohsina was having quite a few moments, up until lately.
Her moods had been a little weird lately. On top of their marital woes, they were still very obviously dealing with a tragedy, and I also knew that Rabia had gotten a little hectic too with targeting Mohsina, especially after she posted a little something malicious on Instagram last week.
I knew where it all came from of course.
And I pretended like I wasn’t shocked, but I actually couldn’t believe that Mohsina’s in-laws didn’t call their daughter out for doing it. I honestly feel that the girl had never caught a hiding from her parents before, and it entitled her to acting the way she did.
She had taken it upon herself to write a long post that about family members who were big influencers and supposed to inspire people, yet kicked people out of their houses and had sinister methods (with a whole lot more falsified drama to the story).
It was a very obvious jab at my sister and though Mohsina went a little crazy, and it came with more name calling and coverage that sent dms to @mostlymoshina too, I couldn’t quite understand what went through Rabia’s head.
Mohsina was still angry at Rabia (if not even more so now than before), and the thing was, I kind of felt sorry for Hamzah, who just looked at a dead loss when it came to the dramas between his sister and Mos. When it came to the relationship between sisters-in-law, I could see how it went.
Where Hamzah pushed to make things okay, both women pulled, making it even more complicated.
“I’m sure Hamzah is taking care of her,” Lesley was saying, after a few seconds, in step with me as we walked toward the queue. Passport control queue was going to kill us. “He always was a good guy.”
“He is,” I said, nodding in agreement, despite what Mohsina complained about lately. The usuals. That he was brainwashed by his sister and never stood up for her. But he was a good husband nonetheless. An amazing father and role model to Zaid. “That’s what’s important. And he’s good for Mohsina. You won’t believe how much she’s changed too…”
”I know,” she said, her eyes twinkling as we reached the gates. “I’ve noticed from social media… or should I say lack of it…? She’s so different to what she was… what can I say? Pre-Hamzah…? I truly believe that the best kind of spouse is one that makes you check yourself, lifts your Imaan and really brings out the best parts of you.”
Wow. To have that coming from Lesley was super inspiring.
“So true,” I said, with a small smile. “Sometimes he is the only one who can talk sense into her.”
He really was. Even when Nani couldn’t get through to her Hamzah just knew which angle to go in with. I knew that the magic was in the words of the Qur’ān that had changed her heart, and the way she saw everything thereafter. Hamzah was just the product of her efforts, the continuation she needed for her love story with Allah to continue.
”I always knew the two of them had a thing for each other,” Lesley whispered to me with a wink. “I think everyone in the office did. Including Faadil. That’s why he sunk his paws into her. I still can’t believe that ever happened.”
I paused briefly, careful not give away too much in my expression, not aware that Lesley knew about Faadil. Not aware that Faadil knew about Hamzah either. All these office dramas were way beyond my understanding.
”Allah saved her from a nightmare,” I said, almost to myself, honestly wondering how she would have dealt with a marriage that featured someone who respected no one but his own selfish needs.
It was a twisted triangle where the better man had definitely won, and I hoped it would stay that way.
Haraam relationships had a way of biting you in the behind at some point. I just hoped that it wasn’t still making its way back to her.
And as we queued and made our way out, waving to Lesley and joining my uncle and aunty as they grabbed a taxi and finally got to the hotel, I was still completely in awe of the meeting with Lesley.
Once again I felt sublime gratitude that I saw this. That it made me appreciate Deen so much. That someone else had seen a beauty in it that made them want it too. That I could be here to witness and learn so much from what I had seen.
The hotel was a good half hour away, but getting to where there was some Wi-Fi was an amazing relief, and I couldn’t help but log on to WhatsApp quickly and send my mother, Maahi and Nusaybah messages to let them know I was in town and at the hotel.
I had to be quick because Nani was stalking me on WhatsApp, so I was afraid to go online. I knew from Mohsina that she had a habit of doing that, especially when she didn’t like the way something was going. It was a good thing that I didn’t check statuses because I kind of figured that Nani had probably put something about ideal, amazing husbands on hers, in an effort to nudge me toward the likes of Doctorsaab who seemed to fit every criteria she had set for me.
The hotel we were staying at was central but basic, and I sighed tiredly as we finally reached our rooms and plopped my bag on the floor. I had already splayed myself on the bed, enjoying the feeling of lying completely flat for the first time in over a day. M
As always, airplane seats were comfortable to sit in, but barely suitable to sleep in. Though the room I had now wasn’t big or fancy, it was neat and clean, and that was really all I needed right then.
I didn’t even realise how tired I was, until my head found the pillow and I almost instantly drifted off into a soothing slumber, only waking to the sound of buzzing next to me as I grabbed my phone.
All that flight time had definitely had it’s effect, and as I glimpsed Nusaybah’s name on the screen as I picked up, I tried my best to sound anything but drunk with tiredness as I greeted.
“Girl, where are you?” Her upbeat voice said, and I could hear the background noise as she spoke, almost as if she was in the middle of a bustling street.
I stifled a yawn, pulling my specs on, hoping I didn’t sound like a complete dead loss.
“I’m downstairs in the foyer. Waiting for you. Faheem is on call and dropped me off here on his way. Come join me.”
”I’m coming,” I croaked, trying to rub the sleepy drunkenness out of my eyes.
Gosh. Nusaybah was really something else. I couldn’t believe that she had come so soon.
I glimpsed a message for Maahira saying that she was working till late but may see me the next day. Pulling on an abaya and a scarf, I speedily exited the room before she came up to literally yank me out of bed. She was so full of energy that I really couldn’t keep up.
My mind was already overwhelmed with the new spaces as I ventured downstairs to the reception area, glimpsing Nusaybah from a distance, her niqab covering half her face as her eyes crinkled with joy.
Being in a new country hadn’t yet settled in for me.
But being here with Nusaybah… well, she was really one of those people who reminded you of Allah Ta’ala, just by seeing them. It was the reason I met her over and over again.
She was always so full of life and energy, and good advices, and it was only natural that her positivity overflowed to those around her. Seeing her already made me feel at home, even in this strange place. Just being with her gave me a whole new sense of purpose.
I couldn’t help but spend a few seconds admiring the view of the city behind us after greeting her with a huge hug, before I finally took a seat opposite her. She was studying a menu, and I didn’t even realise my tummy was rumbling until she asked me if I was fine with sharing a snack platter.
I nodded, knowing that the hotel probably didn’t offer much else halaal, just happy to see her for now.
”You’re looking jet-lagged,” She said with a grin, closing her menu. I had spoken to her on WhatsApp a few times since she left and she knew a little of what was going on. “How was the flight?”
”It was refreshing,” I said honestly. “I can’t remember when’s the last time I flew. Just glad to be here, finally!”
”The flight can be killers,” she said, shaking her head. “But Alhumdulillah. Everything okay back home?”
I groaned, knowing she was referring to Nani, especially since she was honoured to witness the first hand verbal assaults of my grandmother when she was going through what she called her very own kind of emergency.
”Err, kinda,” I said, still remembering Nani’s parting words before l left. “Honestly, I feel relieved to have some time out of the mix.”
I didn’t want to mention that Nani was far from happy about me running away in the middle of a proposal. Neither did I want to mention that Muneer actually did propose. Thinking about it gave me a weird feeling in my gut.
It wasn’t exactly the way I planned to spend my short break but with Nani, there wasn’t much compromising. She wanted me to give an answer in two days, no matter where in the world I was. She would have no other way.
Nusaybah smiled a quirky smile as the waiter came up to us with the platter two hot drinks that looked exactly like what I needed. It was freezing outside.
“You can tell me,” she said with a wink. “Don’t worry, I’ve heard all the levels of cray cray and I’m not even kidding. My husbands ones sister is not exactly my cup of tea but I put up with her. Someone bothering you?”
Sounded like Nusaybah had a similar issue to Mohsina. Why were sisters in law like that sometimes? Why was Nani like this sometimes?
Anyway, I could barely imagine Nusaybah being that kind of sister-in-law. But then again, I would never know, right?
”Remember the doctor?” I said, letting the drink warm my palms, and cutting straight to the chasr. “The one that came with a proposal.”
Her eyes widened and she looked at me and blinked once.
Exactly how I felt
“Oh Emm Gee, Jameela!” She exclaimed, and I was so sure she would spill her drink as she almost jumped up. “A stunning and amazing girl like you with so much of goodness in your heart… Of course he proposed! He would be an idiot not to!”
She chuckled to herself as she watched me, and I smiled shyly, wondering how to tell her that I was feeling completely in over my head here.
“And I would be an idiot not to accept, right?”
The question hung in the air as I said it, and she gave me a sympathetic look for a moment and grabbed a cracker, before she spoke again.
”You don’t have to do anything,” she said, shaking her head. “I’m sure he’s a great guy, but I’ve realised that everyone looks for different qualities in their spouse. Usually, qualities that compliment theirs, traits that they don’t have. So if he’s got all those things that you always wanted, if he can build you to be a better person and pushes you toward Allah, then I would say, it’s a good match. But if not….”
She trailed off, and I noticed she didn’t meet my eye as she said it.
She knew. She knew that I didn’t want to marry this guy. Just like how Mohsina and Papa and my mother knew too. I just needed affirmation that I was doing the right thing. I mean, who turns down a handsome and upcoming doctor, who looks so good on paper. It was ludicrous.
But nonetheless. I still didn’t feel it, no matter how hard I tried to. The people milling around us seemed to fade out as we spoke, and I didn’t anticipate feeling it so deeply as I did then.
“What do you ask for?” She said softly, and I looked at her, slightly confused as she watched me.
“What do you mean?” I asked, slightly confused.
“I mean, like in your Duaas,” she said with a wink. “I would always tease my friend Khawlah that I wasn’t ever sure what kind of amazing Duaas she made. She got a Mr Perfect… and she got an amazing husband twice over. She had been through so much when she was younger, and then her first husband passed away when they were both really young… and I honestly wondered what kind of status she had when she got married again to her childhood friend who she never thought she’d see again. Seeing dreams come true is something like eating chocolate. Sweet and addictive. I know it sounds idealistic… but is this guy… this doctor… well, is he your dream guy?”
Dream guy. I mean, I didn’t even know if that existed, but I got what she meant. Was he everything I had imagined?
I hated to say it, but he was nothing like I imagined.
I shook my head, feeling like I’d disappointed myself by admitting it.
Nusaybah, however, looked unbothered. Almost as if she knew I would say that from the onset.
What she didn’t know was who it was that actually fitted that description for me. How I would daydream about him asking Papa about me. But of course, I could never tell her that. It was way too embarrassing to be crushing on a guy who barely even noticed I existed until I broke into his weapon house stash.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to know. I was just too afraid to tell her. What if what I said was too close to what are knew? What if she actually suspected that I was a little obsessed with her brother.
It was something I would take to the grave.
“So what do you ask for?”
What do I ask for? My Duaas were pretty basic. I didn’t really know what I wanted. The usual was a man who is brave and kind, puts Allah first and isn’t afraid to stand up for what he believes in. In this day and age, it was so hard to find the right person.
I think everyone is looking for someone who is good to them, unconditionally. Someone they can talk to and who they like to listen to. It sounds quite simple but it’s actually kind of hard to find both.
“I suppose I just want someone who is decent and has good values,” I said quietly, heading for the safe route. It was important to me though. Someone who didn’t do others down was important. “Someone who l who sees me for who I really am…. instead of just a pretty face or whatever guys see when they look at me…”
I trailed off because I didn’t want to sound stupid. Good ethics was the best I had. But what do you know about ethics when you meet a person?
“That sounds fair,” she said with a nod. “Jameela, you’re so sweet. Like, one of the sweetest and unassuming people I ever met. You’re light and happiness and candy floss…”
I giggled as she chuckled at her own words.
I was candy floss. Really?
“I’m serious,” she said, her eyes going wide as she looked at me. “You are like that cute little poem. From the day I saw you, I thought.. ‘she’s sugar and spice and all things nice’. That’s why you need someone just as nice too, but with also a little bit of spice…”
She winked and I rolled my eyes, not even believing she was comparing me to a nursery rhyme.
“First impressions can be deceiving too,” I said with a grin, because she obviously thought way too much of me.
Nusaybahs eyes lit up.
“Zubair says the opposite,” she said with a grin, shaking her head, and my heart ridiculously raced at the mere mention of his name. “One of his many theories. Because I always ignore first impressions, and he doesn’t. He says you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Sometimes when you know, you know…”
I swallowed awkwardly, wondering how we ended up on the topic of Zubair again. And why, when it was precisely what I was trying to avoid.
“At least now that he’s away from my uncle I can have actual conversations with him,” she continued, almost absentmindedly as she went on. “He was so young when our mother passed away, and being there for him was second nature until something happened between my father and him and he fell into the wrong crowd. I honestly wish that I could turn back the clock, and guide him toward the right path before he got caught up, but it is what it is. My mother used to say that Allah’s plans for us are always more beautiful than our own wishes. Maybe it was my wish to always be there for him, but maybe it was Allahs plan for him to somehow end up right where he is.”
Oh my goodness, this was getting way too close to home.
The reality that hit me was like a wall of bricks cascading down. It had just occurred to me that I was so completely obsessed with her brother that I couldn’t even hear about him without acting like a complete idiot, and blushing as if I was already a new bride.
I was trying to walk away and hold on at the same time, and any thread of hope that she was offering was like glimpsing that silhouette of sunlight, like the one peeping out at me from behind the clouds.
What was wrong with me? I was so messed up. Completely done for. I felt like I needed to bath in Nani’s phook water. Or maybe I needed something stronger.
My mind is was in the gutter. Completely and utterly.
I was in the gutter. In the gutter. In the gutter.
But what Nusaybah said next was about to pull me out of there, and lift my hopes right to the clouds.
I just didn’t know it yet.
My sincerest apologies for the delay. Just that crazy time of year again, but I will try and post the next masala by Friday. Hehe.
Mission Sunnah Revival:
Sunnah of Noble Character:
Nabi (SAW) gave attention, spoke and showed love to even the worst person of a nation until the person felt that he is being given special attention.
May Allah make us of those who uphold the Sunnah of character always.
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..💕