Desperate Measures

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem


Most kids don’t believe in fairy tales very long. And maybe that’s the way it has to be. To survive in the big bad world, you have to give up the fantasies.. you have to stop believing in the play-pretend. The only trouble is that it’s not all just make-belief. Some parts of the fairy tales are all too real… despairingly true. There might not be a Red Riding Hood, but there is a Big Bad Wolf. No Snow White or Cinderella but maybe an evil step-mother…

But despite even the pitfalls of a fairytale, everyone still wants their own. Its like a human default. Everyone hopes that once in a while, right in the middle of a ordinary life, love will give you your very own happily ever after.

And the thing is, whenever I thought about a perfect marriage… well, I couldn’t help but think of my parents. As a kid, all I remembered was bliss. Sunshine. Rainbows. Getaways that seemed to never end… until we came home. Sheer bliss. Before Mama got sick, the base that my parents had created for us was one of such amazing warmth, stability and unlimited love… that over the years, I found it difficult to ever compare.

And of course, as I grew up and saw the harsh reality of couples around me… I forgot what marriage was about. Through the years I’d seen Zuleikha suffer… I’d seen Rubeena’s discontentment. I forgot that a perfect love could exist, until I glimpsed the beautiful world that Aadam had shown me.

I forgot that it wasn’t only about arguments and struggling. I didn’t know that marriage was not about feeling trapped. I had no idea that real love… was so much more… so much deeper.

The thing is, one thing I realized about a thriving marriage is that it’s not just about falling in love and making it work. Through forgiveness, through love… through compromise and through lots and lots of patience, it requires falling in love not just once, but many times… always with the same person.

And its never easy. Even ‘good’ marriages fail. Sometimes, you have to work real hard at overlooking someone’s annoying faults. Sometimes you have to ignore their inherent insecurities, that can make you crazy. But if you really want it, you have to strive for your fairytale. Sometimes you have to break down the barriers, knock down the walls.. and go beyond the boundaries of your own limitations, to make it all work.

And then, the reward of it takes you to another level . The height of beauty, in this world and the next. Truly beautiful couples.. well, they strive in winning Allah’s pleasure together in every way they can. They glorify Allah together in the quiet hours before dusk. They weep at night upon His remembrance. They are insatiable in the gratitude of His favours upon them. Qur’an forms the foundation of their every action, and the Sunnah is their very way of life.  They perform regular or random acts of kindness and charity… and all that exudes from their base is love. Love, love… and more love.

And the the most important thing to remember though, is that through all that striving.. Never lose hope.

Just as good marriages go bad, bad marriages can also go good. And its so important to remember this, if you are ever facing this predicament.

It was just that as I thought of Rubeena, as Nusaybah and I walked down the street at record speed, I just couldn’t help but wonder what direction she was going in.

And yes, I knew I was lucky to have Aadam. My heart was incessantly hammering in my chest as I thought of Rubeenas’ constant striving to keep her own marriage afloat. To weather the storm. To hold on so tight. Why was it sometimes so hard?

Nusaybah was still draping her hijab as we half-ran to the other side of the neighbourhood. She had such a beautiful modest streak, so she couldn’t stomach being less than decent when she left her home. Unlike many of the other girls in school, she wore flowy dresses and skirts which were the most beautiful hijaab modesty.  She pinned her scarf tightly around her head as we walked, picking up our pace as we entered Rubeena’s road.

The chatter of chirping birds above us were almost soothing as we trudged on speedily. It calmed my riddled nerves, but only momentarily, as the unexpected explosion penetrated my eardrums.

Get out! Just get out!”

The shouts could be heard from two houses down the road.

And I knew it wasn’t funny, but for two teenagers coming in from a place of calm to a situation of extreme dramatics… Well…

Nusaybah’s eyes were dancing frantically as she processed the words, and I could tell that she hardly believed that it was Rubeena’s voice.

“I don’t want to see you again! You and that witch of yours….”

Ooh, this was bad.

I shuddered slightly as I heard the word, which was actually a more offensive version. I looked at Nusaybah with wide eyes as I turned the handle of the door, witnessing Ruby in full-on crazy mode, as Shabeer just stood there and watched her. I instantly felt guilty about not coming here earlier in the week.

“Listen Rubeena, lets just talk.”

Rubeena was standing wit her hands clenched and Shabeer was looking as nonchalant as ever, as he said it. They both turned to look, and I felt a teeny bit self-conscious as I felt their eyes on me.

“Just go,” Rubeena said finally, looking defeated but probably gaining the courage she needed as she saw me.  “I don’t want to hear what you have to say.”

Shabeer stuffed his hands into his pockets and took a slow walk to exit the room.

I looked around and my heart dipped. Danyaal and Dayyaan were peeping around the corner as they watched their parents, obviously knowing that it wasn’t the right time to interrupt. Even as kids, when you see it often enough, you understood that when adults fight, you don’t get yourself in the middle.

“Will you take them outside for a bit?” I asked Nusaybah, who gladly nodded. I had a feeling she was still reeling from shock.

As for Rubeena, well, she had literally collapsed onto the couch… and was sitting there with her head in her hands. She was obviously in a fragile state… But I mean, what was new?

I breathed in as I berated myself for being so hard. I had to give her moral support. As much as I felt that Ruby kept doing this to herself… I knew I had to be sympathetic.

”Ruby,” I said softly, sitting down next to her. “What happened?”

Her sobs were getting heavier as I inched a bit closer, not really knowing how to offer her comfort. In all fairness, Ruby’s decisions were kind of unsettling to everyone’s lives.

”I dug my own grave, didn’t I?” She said, bitterness seeping through her voice.

“It’s going to be okay,” I said, not really sure what else to say. I rubbed her back comfortingly as I said it, a little worried about saying the wrong thing.

Her sobs halted uncharacteristically as she looked up at me with red-rimmed eyes. She had been crying her eyes out.

“She came… here,” she said, her breath slightly strained from all that emotion. “Acting all innocent and meaning well.”

I looked at her, a little confused.

“Hannah,” she said, clarifying.

Ah. Hannah had made an appearance .

“She knows about the pregnancy,” she sighed. “And Shabeer hasn’t been there so…”

She closed her eyes momentarily and inhaled.

”Khawlah, why am I so stupid?”

I blinked at the directness of the question, not really sure what to say.

“And don’t try to tell me I’m not,” she said with hostility. “Because I know I am.”

I took a deep breath. I felt a bit sorry for her right then.

“Ruby, I think there’s a difference between thinking with your heart and thinking with your mind,” I said, shrugging. “Sometimes we just don’t do what’s good for our soul. It doesn’t mean you’re stupid.”

Though Rubeena and Aadam were so different, the one thing they had in common was they always tried to see the best in people. Unfortunately, that too… sometimes came with its price.

“You know what she brought?” She said, raising her eyebrows.

I shook my head, wondering why Hannah would have brought something for Rubeena. It was uncharacteristic… and hugely suspicious.

“She brought a black romper!” Ruby almost screeched. “A black one! For the baby! Now if that’s not evil reincarnated, then what is?”

I almost wanted to laugh. Almost. Except it was weirdly freaky.

Goodness. Hannah was really something else.

“I think she wants payback,” Ruby said, sounding even more morose.

I just couldn’t help but wonder how Rubeena dealt with that.  The infidelity. The worry. The possibility that he might do it again.

Aadam had once told me that so many men do it all the time, and I found it so hard to stomach. Always looking over your shoulder, wondering who your husband was going to launch at next. It was like living in a prison… such a crazy ignorance.

I looked up as I heard a shuffling at the door, seeing little Zaydaan coming towards us. He was still quite little, and as he rubbed his eyes I could tell that nap time was well overdue.

”I can’t manage,” she finally said, her lower lip sticking out slightly. “I miss Adam. I can’t do this on my own.”

That part, I knew. Rubeena was not strong. She often used desperate measures. She was easy to influence and take advantage of. It didn’t help that my mother-in-law was not the easiest person either. When it came to Ruby and Shabeer, it was possible that he was just taking advantage of a fragile situation and her forgiving nature.

I wasn’t sure if she even still loved him… but he was there and he was prepared to do what it took …

“Listen, I’m here,” I said quickly, feeling guilty that I hadn’t been calling to check on her the past week.

Come to think of it, I had even been intentionally stalling on calling my mother-in-law. I knew it needed to be done sometime this weekend.

Being in school and having in-law responsibilities was a bit tough, but the last thing I wanted Ruby to do was take Shabeer back out of desperation now, when her heart was completely averse to it.

“He wants to sleep,” Ruby said as she held Zaydaan, almost half-heartedly. I knew what she meant.

“You rest,” I said softly, feeling sorry for her. “I’ll sort the kids for tonight.”

She looked at me gratefully. Thank goodness it was a Friday. I would have to phone to let Abba know I wasn’t going to be home early. I knew that Dada usually waited for me to dish out his supper for him every night, and when I’m late … he didn’t eat.

I inhaled deeply, hoping he’d understand my predicament.

I made my way to the kitchen with Zaydaan on my hip, looking at the time. I had enough time to make the kids sleep and pray Maghrib. Nusaybah also would need to go home before it was too late, so by some miracle… I had to get it sorted.

I hummed to myself and Zaydaan as I switched the kettle on, the tune of Mamas lullaby still stuck in my head since the night we had the kids at Aadams. The Dhikr soothed my soul, as I touched base with my Creator again. It was just what I needed.

I missed Aadam even more as I held Zaydaan close to me. He rested his head on my shoulder, and I wondered if I was lucky enough for him to fall asleep before we even got to the bed.

And of course, just as I could feel his breathing pattern alter and his body become almost motionless, a voice from behind literally made me jump.

“Is Ruby gone up?”

I turned my head as he spoke, instantly frowning as I  caught sight of him.

Oh hell. Of course he didn’t go.

I honestly thought that he had left. After Rubeena’s performance, all he had probably done was kill some time in another room for a bit and choose a moment that was most inappropriate for him to come out.

And of course, it was inappropriate. I was his brother-in-laws wife. He had no business coming into the kitchen when I was here alone. And Shabeer was blocking the doorway.

“Didn’t she ask you to leave?” I said openly, not really caring about being rude. Certain circumstances called for certain measures.

Wow,” he said, and I could tell he was taken aback by my tone. “The famous Khawlah has a fierce side that we never knew about.”

The famous Khawlah? I narrowed my eyes suspiciously.

Zaydaan was now wriggling around on my shoulder as I attempted to fill powder in his bottle. He didn’t seem too interested in his father. He didn’t even squeal to be carried by him as he spotted his entrance. Come to think of it, I had never really heard the boys talk much about their father. It was strange, but sad.

I put the lid on the bottle and shook it effectively to dissolve the powder. I stepped towards the exit he was blocking, willing him to move and leave. I knew he was throwing his weight around because Aadam wasn’t here, and it made me even angrier.

The thing is, ideally, not to put yourself into situations like this, would be awesome. But in all fairness, when I offered to help Ruby out, I didn’t expect this.

I placed Zaydaan in the pram next to me, hoping he doze off while he drank his milk, and looked in Shabeers direction.

I was seeing him properly for the first time, and all I could think was… He looked old. Much older than Rubeena. He wore a pants and shirt with a loosened tie, and possessed air of arrogance about him that gave me the creeps.

Shabeer, being one of those overconfident guys that obviously thought that the sun shined from somewhere behind him, expected me to humour his conversation. He might have been good-looking at some point in his life but right then, I could not see what Hannah or Rubeena had ever seen in him. Even if he looked like movie-star, I wasn’t ever falling into his trap.

And because he knew nothing about me, my next words to him came as a shock.

“You need to leave,” I said, dropping the volume of my voice, but speaking in a blunt tone. “Rubeena doesn’t need this inconsistency in her life and neither do these kids. Maybe she’ll phone you. Maybe she won’t. But right now, you need to go.”

And yes, though he looked taken aback by my words, being an expert in his field of weaselling his way through things, he recovered almost immediately.

“Will you at least tell her that I love her?”

I raised my eyebrows.


This guy was good. He was really good. After everything, turning on the pitiful, affectionate and doting husband who would do anything for his wife… It was a classic. The thing was, even as he stood there, looking so genuine, I knew exactly what he was all about.

I pushed the pram, almost jamming his leg in the process. Luckily he jumped aside in time, else I wouldn’t have thought twice about riding over his foot.

And even as I stood there in my half fury, desperate to get away from him,  all I could think about was the Hadith about the brother-in-law…

In a narration, Nabi (SAW) has said:

Beware of entering upon women.” (when they are alone)

One of the Sahaabah said to him, “O Messenger of Allaah, what about the brother-in-law?”

He said: “The brother-in-law is death!

[Bukhaaree, Fath al-Baari, 9/330]

And this brother-in-law, with his dodgy history… was probably worse than death.

And of course, as I let out a sigh of relief,  thinking I had got rid of him as he made his way out, I could still hear his muttering in the passage, almost to himself.

I continued to walk toward the stairs, hoping that Nusaybah would somehow make an appearance before I gave him a piece of my mind. She and the other three boys were still outside but since it was starting to get dark, I knew they would be in soon.

I silently willed her to hurry up.

“I can see how you’re judging me,” he was saying, obviously wanting to have the last word, as he put his shoes on. “Like you have the perfect life. Everyone makes mistakes, you know. Think about it. I mean, how well do you really know Adam?”

I paused in mid-step as he said it…. And then, I just saw red. I wasn’t sure what it was, but my fiercely protective inherent nature was somehow making its way to the surface, as this guy practically prodded at my sanity. Now I knew exactly why Hannah had set her sights on this guy. Their sadistic similarities were painfully striking.

How dare he bring Aadam into this?! How dare he speak to me like he knew me?

Did this guy have no fear of Allah… no conscience… at all?!

I spun around, delving into my pocket to retrieve the penknife that Ahmed had forced me to keep. I expertly swung it open in a single twist of my wrist, baring it’s sharpened blade.

Yes, it was completely unbecoming but desperate situations called for desperate measures. A little induced fear never killed anyone.

And of course, those emotions that were buried so long ago, made way again, as the old and forgotten Khawlah resurfaced. The Khawlah that everyone had always relied on. The Khawlah that would come back with a vengeance. The Khawlah that had, in so many figments of my ambitious mind, out of nowhere galloped into the field, sword flying, all ready to take whatever life had thrown at her, completely on.

I was angry but completely in control. That was the difference between Ahmed and I… but only I knew it.

“I’m sure you’ve met my brother,” I said, stepping forward just a little menacingly. “He’s an expert at archery and martial arts. He taught me well.”

I was sure I wasn’t imagining the fear on Shabeer’s face as he raised his eyebrows, almost disbelievingly.

And yeah, it was almost super-warrior like, but he was definitely alarmed. The mention of Ahmed was enough to get anyone scrambling.

”I’m going,” he said in a slightly higher pitched voice. He was contained but a little too quick in his exit to fool me.

He picked up a suitcase, before he turned away with a slight shrug of his shoulders, knowing this time, he had to drop his case.

And of course, as I stood there for a good few minutes, more than just a little stunned at my unexpected ferocity… wishing I could be like the sleeping Zaydaan that was completely oblivious to the ugly world… the cool evening draft from the back door made me touch down to reality once again.

At one end was Nusaybah, staring at me with a mixture of shock and admiration… and at the other end.. as the front door opened almost immediately after, well.. was someone who looked a little less enthusiastic to see me.

Oh,” she said. My mother-in-law caught sight of me, and immediately her expression changed.

“What are you doing here?”


Dearest Readers

Shukran to all the sisters for the love and input. It warms my ❤️

I’m so sorry about the comments that have unknowingly gone to spam. I will definitely check my spam queue more often..

I’m so sorry… I have a bit of a busy week but I will try and post by Saturday, Insha Allah. Shukran to all… will definitely try and keep to suggestions.

Much Love, 

A 🌸


I’ve often heard that the personality of Nabi SAW was such that he spoke when necessary and always gave an attentive ear.

Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said: And this is how Allah’s Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) used to utter (so distinctly) that if one intended to count (the words uttered) he would be able to do so. [Muslim]

We have been given two ears and only one mouth for a reason. Whenever somebody wants to share a story or just wants to talk to you, turn to them and listen to them attentively, as if only the two of you were in the room.  When somebody talks to you, really make them feel that you are interested in what they are saying.

How easy to practice- being a good listener is part of good akhlaaq!  

Let’s revive this Sunnah Insha Allah.

IG: @thejourneyingmuslimah

How easy to practise!

#revivetheSunnahof Sleepingearly






Twitter @ajourneyjournal