Change. We don’t like it. Well, I know I don’t. We fear it, but we can’t stop it from coming. The thing is, we can either adapt to change, or we get left behind. By default, our lives are meant to be such that everything around us, within us and ahead of us constantly changes.
And one of the most extraordinary gifts that a person can ever be blessed with is the ability to smile amidst the challenges that they face. To take change in their stride. To make Sabr from the first test. To show forbearance at all times, whenever the burdens of the world that they carry may overwhelm them.
As was the outstanding quality of Nabi (SAW)… despite his trials, his losses and the grief that he endured within his blessed heart, he was always seen with a smile on his Mubarak face. Because he, (SAW), among all people understood that the nature of this Duniyaa is such that trials and tribulations are part and parcel of it’s disposition. He buried every child of his, except for one. He saw the pains of the beloved Sahaabah as they suffered from severe hunger. He experienced hurt and betrayal and abuse from even those whom he loved.
We are meant to learn Sabr. To practice Tawakkul. To build our faith and our belief that Allah does not wish for us difficulty, but only wants to strengthen us, to give us ease in the hereafter. To remind us that this world is not forever.
And along my journey, somehow, I had been fortunate enough to meet a guy who reminded me about this on a constant basis. He was the kind of person that you’d remember for those qualities, because in every situation that tests you, those simple things are lessons that remind you. Those moments are ones that you remember despite the sadness and despair, because they shine out through the darkness. Those moments are moments that not only make history… but moments that you can’t forget.
And though I’ve had my fair share of gripes with my mother-in-law, one thing I couldn’t deny was that someone.. somehow, had raised a great guy. Even if it was by some miracle, my husband had turned out to be an amazing human being.
Our character… the way we are and people see us… well, these are the things that aren’t tangible… yet leave everlasting impressions. Somehow, Aadam had acquired not just a helluva amazing approach to life, but also a conviction in his heart that no trial could shake.
“Are your uncle and them coming back tonight?” I asked, noticing the house suddenly empty as I got back downstairs.
”Uncle Siraj’s temporarily disowned me,” Aadam said with a raised eyebrow. “I don’t think he’ll be back any time soon…”
I glanced at Rubeena but she didn’t meet my eye. Something was up, and I knew that I had to get to the bottom of it.
”What did you do?” I said. Narrowing my eyes at my husband.
“Listen, sweets,” he said casually with one raised eyebrow, getting up and pulling out his crutches to use. “Don’t worry your pretty head about these things. It was some tests that I didn’t want to take… but I’m going to do them now, okay? It’s all under control, right Rubes? There’s a Greater Power here. It’s all under control, yeah?”
It was almost as if he was asking her and reminding her at the same time, and though I frowned and noticed her stagnant expression, with Aadam’s indifferent attitude and carefree approach to life, I obviously didn’t make a big deal of something that didn’t seem like a worry at the time.
The weeks of the second term exams flew by steadily, and being so busy with work and getting dragged into Nikah plans for Ahmed was pretty much consuming. It was the week when exams were due to end when my brother suddenly came to us and have us a considerate heads up about his heading off to Europe for two weeks. I would never forget the look on Zuleikha’s face when he said it. She was utterly peeved.
”Oh my word, Ahmed,” she squealed, looking up from the notebook she was writing in. “You can’t be serious! I’ve already set a date with the caterers.”
”Change it,” Ahmed said simply. “Nothings written in stone. I did tell you not to book anything yet.”
Zuleikha rolled her eyes at him in frustration. I could see through her niqab that she wasn’t impressed. Her amber eyes were narrowed, and I could see Aadam’s mouth lift up at the corners as he watched the two of them. To be fair though, maybe I should stick up for my sister. Ahmed seemed to be a bit softer with me after my teary episode when Aadam’s health had been a great concern. It had been consuming me for weeks, but with Aadam’s reassurance that everything will be okay… I was holding up just fine.
“Ahmed, are you sure you want to go?” I asked, a little disbelievingly. “Don’t you want to make Nikah first and then take your wife with you?”
”It’s a men’s Jamaat,” he said, as if I was crazy to even suggest it. “And I’ve waited my whole life to get married. I don’t think a few weeks will make a difference. Right Adam?”
”I don’t know about you, bro.. but i couldn’t wait.”
”I’m different,” he said confidently. And with that he shrugged and walked off as Aadam and I made our way out after greeting an annoyed Zuleikha, and dismissing his behavior as typical Ahmed behavior. Besides, I was already preoccupied with psyching myself up for the night ahead. It was family night and supper with my mother-in-law always had it’s fair of drama.
Since Ruby still had a few days to come out of Iddat and supper was at her place … I kind of hoped that things wouldn’t erupt like they usually did. What I didn’t know was that tonight was going to be a moment in history that I didn’t anticipate.
”You guys are all so… unique,” Aadam was saying, almost to himself as we hopped in the car. “Ahmed is so rough and… powerful… And Zuleikha is super sensitive.. and considerate. Yunus is in a world of his own. He’s probably like one of the deepest guys I’ve ever met. As for you…”
I held out my hand to stop him in mid-sentence, already anticipating some quirky dig at me that Aadam was so famous for.
”I’m the most unemotional person you’ve ever known?” I said, shrugging indifferently and focusing on the road. My driving was becoming better and it was just in time because Aadam’s cast was due to come off in a week and he’d be more or less back to his normal self.
Well, I hoped.
“You’re my rock, Khawlah,” he said simply. “You are the way you are, and that’s precisely why I love you. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner… but back to the point..”
”No, no,” I said, waving my hand at him. “Carry on complimenting me please. Let’s not get back to the point.”
Aadam grinned as he leant over and planted a slobbery kiss on my cheek.
”Euw,” I said, wiping it off.
”I can sit here and compliment you all day, beautiful,” he said seriously. “Without having you in my life, I really would have seen none of this. I would have been so lost if Allah hadn’t looked at me with His gaze of mercy and brought me from that pit of revolt that I was sinking in. I used to think that all these worldly things made me a cut above the rest, when in truth, all I have is a dark shadow that follows me wherever I go, reminding me that at one stage of my life, I was worth nothing at all. I had everything going for me, but I was still a lost soul. An unfulfilled being. I knew nothing of what my purpose was and who I was meant to be. That my living and my dying an everything in between is and always will be, only for One Supreme Being…”
I glanced at him and swallowed, pondering on that characteristic of him that never seized to amaze me. He was so humble. It was something that had blown me away from the minute I had gotten to know my husband, and that kind of humility only comes when you truly recognize Allah in everything you do.
And I would never admit it to anyone, but when he we sat together, some time after the day of his big work function… What I saw in him was something that I didn’t often see in anyone before this. He had made it very well-known that all the glory, attention and awards meant nothing to him. For him, it wasn’t important. All he knew was that no matter what people payed to him or said about him or spoke of him… he knew that otherwise he would be worth nothing at all. Nothing without Allah.
Ans tears had filled my eyes as I sat there, remembering his past and hurting for every pain that he had ever felt. There’s always a regret over time lost without knowing the Allah who gave you everything that you are. As he spoke about his childhood, his mother… his past… I always sensed a pain there that I wished so badly that I could make go away.
”Do you know what Yunus wants to be?” I asked him softly, with the train of thought still running through my mind as we sat in the car outside, not yet ready to go in until this conversation was over.
”He told me,” Aadam said with a smile. “Amazing guy. An Aalim, huh? I love him to bits.”
”Yunus talks to you?” I asked, wondering when it ever happens. Yunus was always in his own kind of silent zone.
”All the time,” Aadam said. “Sometimes in his mind. But we get each other.”
”Its such a noble thing,” he said as he thought of Yunus. “But not everyone’s destined for that. I know that I’m too rotten, yeah. Allah chooses those who do His work…”
Of course, I couldn’t help but think that growing up with Khalid had a great impact on him too. His influence was so intense that it had carried over so many years…
“And yet,” I said, catching on to my husbands sentiments. “The professionals in our community play an unbelievable role in uplifting this Ummah too. Especially those who do as much work as you do. Allah gives everyone different roles and skills for different reasons.. You’re a genius at what you do and you and you must never underestimate it, Aadam… you do amazing work.”
“Is someone actually complimenting me?” He asked incredulously. “I can’t believe this. Who are you and what have you done with my wife?!”
”I give credit where it’s due,” I said with a smile.
”I think the moment of truth is really close…” he said as I reached for the door handle. “The moment of declaration that I’ve waited for from the time I was married to the girl of my dreams…”
I shook my head as we walked up the steps to the doorway, amused by Aadam as usual. I straightened my face, as we pushed open the door, not wanting to appear too smiley with Aadam’s mother.
Yes, my mother-in-law had simmered down a lot but it was still awkward. The ice was still very much intact. I had no idea when it would be broken… but I didn’t suspect it happening anytime soon.
And as the door opened, my heart immediately lifted to see the boys running towards us in excitement. Since Aadam’s arm was a bit better now, he easily lifted Zaydaan and plopped a kiss on his nose. He was at that cute and podgy stage where his words were all mashed together and incoherence was his cutest attribute. He babbled on about something to Aadam while I hugged Rubeena and the other three, making our way into the house to see where my mother-in-law was.
Of course, she had taken over occupied in the kitchen and didn’t even bat an eyelid as all six of us made a rowdy entrance into her place of magic. I could already smell the yummiest chow mein and sizzling steak that was my all time favorite. My mouth was already watering.
“Howzit Ma,” Aadam said as he went up to her to greet. “Something smells good. New recipe?!”
Somehow Aadam knew just how to put his foot in it with his mother.
“No!” She snapped, her eyes narrowing at him. “Who told you that?! Can you believe that lady, that one that came home the last time to see my kitchen. She phoned last week to ask me for my recipe and I so graciously gave it to her. Little did I know she was planning to make it for the ladies function on Monday… and guess what?”
”Was it horrible?” Aadam asked hopefully.
”It’s not as good as I make it,” she said with a huff. “But everyone was going crazy about it and she never once even mentioned that it was my recipe! The cheek. Plus, I heard her tell her whole table about how Rubeena forced her husband to give her a divorce. Then she went on to talk about how my kitchen counters weren’t pure Caesar stone . Can you ever? How can people be so… evil?! Who even uses granite these days? What do they say about people like that? Better be careful… I just read my quls and avoided her for the rest of the night.”
Ah. The cooking drama’s of middle-aged women.
Aadam calmly tried to pacify his mother about how people are not jealous and don’t really wish bad, but are just like that because they admire her. She wasn’t buying it. Poor Aadam always tried to make every situation a positive one.
I glanced humorously at Ruby who was quieter than usual as she raised her eyebrows. Yes, my mother-in-law has been taking it slightly easier with me but it didn’t mean that she was being easy on Ruby. Her side comments were very evident of the fact that Rubeena’s life was far from her idea of perfect.
”So Khawlah,” my mother-in-law said, turning to me. I still felt awkward in her presence but at least she was being civil. “I hear your brother’s getting married.”
It wasn’t a question. She wanted more details. Ahmed wasn’t joking when he said that Aadam’s mother had taken a liking to him. He really had made an impression.
”I heard the girl is divorced with a child?” She pressed on, raising her eyebrows.
”Ma, can we stop doing the 411 on Khawlah?” Adam asked innocently.
I knew he was avoiding greater problems here but my mother-in-law shrugged it off as she continued to look at me.
”Jhee,” I said, a little unsure. How could I be rude? I had to answer her.
“Ahmed’s quite mature for his age… he feels it’s better to have a wife that will be more on his line of thinking…”
”Thats a lucky girl to bag an unmarried guy,” she said, raising her eyebrows. On the contrary, I thought Ahmed was lucky to find someone who tolerated his moods.
“But at least there’s hope for Ruby,” she continued casually. “I was worried that no man will ever be prepared to take on someone else’s kids, but this gives us both some assurance, doesn’t it, Rubeena?”
”Ooh, this food is too good to eat cold,” Aadam cut in to no-one in particular. He was looking at his mother, but the fact that she hadn’t eaten a bite didn’t faze her.
Rubeenas eyes were narrowing and my mother-in-laws voice was getting more high-pitched by the second. I had a feeling that Rubeena was really fighting her urges to say something that would put her in the ugly spotlight. Aadam’s father was watching the scene silently as my mother-in-law just went on and on…
And then of course, not unlike what I’ve seen before… almost as if she couldn’t tolerate it anymore… the expression on Rubeena’s face suddenly altered, and all of a sudden, almost as if she couldn’t help herself, she just erupted.
”Mum, please stop!” she snapped. “There’s more to life than bagging an idiotic guy.”
”Rubeena,” my father-in-law said meekly, his eyes widening in worry. “How’s about you show me where’s the dessert?”
“I wish I could,” she retorted. “But I cant even taste my food anymore! Ma, can you just give me a break? After you and Shabeer, and all your constant mental battering, don’t you think I’m already damaged enough? I definitely don’t need another man to come and mess up my life..!”
“You need a husband to be accepted in the community,” my mother-in-law said, and I honestly wished I could kick her under table. Only I knew that would go down well. My mother-in-law just didn’t get it.
”Mum, it’s not the end all and be all of life!” Rubeena said now, obviously a little fed-up. “Life is not only about extravagant houses and world-class kitchens and good-looking husbands. Ma, there’s a whole world out there that we know nothing about! There’s so much that Allah has promised us that we ignore and forget about just because we don’t see it right now. There’s a bigger picture, Mum… and there are so many more important things in life that when you realize them… it makes everything else that you thought was so huge look so amazingly insignificant.”
”Oh gosh, Ruby,” she said, rolling her eyes. “You’re behaving like Ma now with your Bayaans. All I’m saying is you need to be more forward in your thinking…”
“I really don’t care about that right now!” Ruby snapped. “Sometimes things happen, and they open your eyes in a way you’ve never seen before. Sometimes life has many more lessons for us than we are willing to learn. Sometimes we get so caught up that we don’t realize that one day, we’re going to have to leave this world… and everything we have here behind us…. am I right, Adam?”
Adam was looking at Rubeena with his lips pursed and a stagnant expression on his face. I almost expected him to have something quirky to say back, but all he did was shrug as he glided his long fingers through his beard, and then glance at me a little warily.
”Ruby, don’t do this,” he said softly, and I could see him swallowing hard as she looked back at him… with a single tear rolling down her cheek. “Not now…”
“Are you going to tell them or must I?” Rubeena said, her voice strained from emotion.
I watched them both in utter confusion as they looked at each other, speaking words through the silence that no-one but them could understand…
“Aadam, what’s going on?” I couldn’t help but ask, as he they sat there, just staring at each other.
”Sweets, I wanted to wait until you finished writing…” Aadam started, as he looked from me to my mother-in-law.
”Wait for what?” My mother-in-law asked with her brow furrowed and her attention immediately diverted as we watched them both.
And like a wave that came and knocked us completely off our feet, the news that they delivered was one of the most severest of blows.
“It’s Myeloma. A type of cancer that affects the bone, among other things… I suppose it explains his clumsiness…”
My mother-in-law was looking at him in utter shock. My father-in-law was stunned. I was completely speechless.
Inna lillahi wa Inna Ilaihi Rahioon.
Oh yes. Sabr at the first test was so much easier said than done. I felt like I couldn’t breathe as I watched my husband, thinking how everything could suddenly be turned upside down in such a little time. Here I was, thinking we were living a comfortable little life, and out of the blue… a bomb just falls from nowhere at all. And what a bomb too…
“We were waiting for the final test results… and they’ve just come in today…” he started, trying to explain.
”Adam, is this a joke?” My mother-in-law asked, her eyes widened. “Because Siraj didn’t say a thing… if this is a joke I promise I’m going to whack you-“
”I told Uncle Siraj not to,” he said simply. “It’s not a joke, mum.. although I wish it was. I think the main thing is to be positive here… can we talk properly after we eat?”
“This can’t be happening,” she said with tears in her eyes. “You’re only twenty two… I don’t understand…”
”I’m still twenty-one, Mum,” Aadam said with a shadow of a smile. “For two more months. Don’t make me older than I am…”
“I have to go,” she said, her voice shaking as she shifted on her chair. “How can you expect me to eat? You acting like it’s so normal. I can’t do this, Adam …“
And with that she pushed her chair back noisily and stood up, walking to the kitchen almost in slow motion as all of us sat in semi-silence at the dining table.
My father-in-law was just staring into space, shocked out of his senses. Ruby was sobbing her eyes out in despair. Aadam was in no state to comfort anyone as he shifted uncomfortably in his seat and refused to meet my eye.
Of course, I swallowed hard and said nothing as I got up… making my way out to where my mother-in-law was, not really planning how I was going to deal with this all of what I would say.. but knowing that someone had to keep this thing together… to remind them about the purpose of life… to renew their trust in Allah and in Qadr and whatever He wills…
And sometimes it takes a harsh situation to bring out the best in people. Sometimes it takes something bad to bring out the good. Sometimes we don’t know what Allah has in store for us until in time, we see the fruits that can come even from a once barren tree.
”Mummy,” I said, as I entered the kitchen and walked up to my mother-in-law who was standing with her back to me. I placed my hand on her shoulder as I drew nearer, not knowing what to say but feeling her pain all the same.
It was a moment in history that changed everything.
And just as I reached her and she turned to face me with emotion overflowing from her eyes, she couldn’t hold it together even a moment longer. It was as if everything within her was falling apart as she gripped me helplessly and burst into tears.
Sunnah of Drinking water
Drink water while taking three breathing pauses. It is prohibited to drink water in a single gulp as our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: “Do not drink water only in one breath, but drink it in two or three breaths.”
FB: The Journeying Muslimah