When Money doesn’t Matter

Bismihi Ta’ala

Jameela

part 78

Who gets to determine when the old ends and the new begins. It’s not a day on a calendar, not a birthday, not a new year. It’s an event, big or small, something that changes us.

You know how they sometimes say that the whole lead up to the entire event is so much more nerve wrecking and overrated than the actual thing?

Well, let me tell you, when I spoke to Zubair for the first time, it was the complete opposite.

I mean, you would think that after all that obsessing over him from afar and conjuring up what my knight in shining weapons and armour (literally) was really like in person from figments of my imagination, I may have been a teeny bit…. extra.

But even so… all I could say was that the actual meeting with Zubair was something that I really did not expect to be so… ground-breaking. And I mean ground breaking in the sense that my entire world is now spinning on a different axis kind of ground breaking.

You see, an insaan, there’s very little that we do understand. We may think that we are wise and we are smart and that we have knowledge. But the vastness of Allah Ta’ala is something that our minds cannot fathom. We think that we know value and we know wealth, but Allahs wealth is something beyond all comprehension.

The intricacies of every creation, the anatomy of the human body, the unique patterns on every single leaf is a reminder to us that we truly know nothing of Allah and his magnificence. Nothing at all.

But we strive to learn. We go to lengths of constructing space ships, of drilling into the crust of the earth and of breaking all kinds of boundaries just to find out a little more than we already know. But still. Even the Jannati has no inkling if what Allah Ta’ala has prepared for him. Even the Jannati will get far beyond his expectations.

And sometimes on this earth, Allah Ta’ala blesses us with little pieces of Jannah, even if they are only for a short while.

And of course, my heart was only endowed with love because of the actuality of how Allah Ta’ala comes through for us.

It had been one of those exceptionally gorgeous days of the year, where the flowers were popping with colour and the sun was shining brightly. Despite it being January, there was a coolness in the air that brought little comfort. My eyes had been fixated on the roses that were coincidentally the happiest that they’ve ever been, despite being a little overgrown, but in all their colourful glory, they reminded me of happiness and joy and all things that made my heart swoon.

The fact that I knew Zubair tended to and made them even more gorgeous than they were, did something to my insides. A man who appreciated nature for me was already Mr Right.

But today, there was no time or reason for daydreams. Today, I was actually going to be meeting Zubair in the flesh, but of course, the ever present theatrics in our household that never ceased to exist made the day a little more interesting.

“Mohsina!” Nani screeched as my sister crept up behind her, trying to spy silently on what she was doing in the kitchen with about five hundred different utensils out. Nani had spun around, wooden spoon in hand and held her hand to her heart dramatically. “You gave me the frights!”

The Frights? Like, why do people even say that?

Oh my goodness, I was broken. I was holding my tummy and laughing the hardest ever as I watched Nani give Mohsina the mafia look, letting her know that she was not to be trifled with.

If there was anything to kill my nerves, it was Nani and her eccentric dramatics.

“But Nani, you gave us the frights,” Mohsina said, hiding her smile and placing her hands on her hips, while Hamzah grinned behind her. “You said you weren’t going to be here. Did Muneer and Nadeema already make their Nikah? So fast fast, Masha Allah.”

Mos had a sarcastic grin on her face and Nanis gaze faltered. I could see that for once, she was actually stumped.

“Muneer had emergency,” Nani said stiffly, adjusting her dupatta after a few long seconds, and I could tell that she was doubting something as she said it. “They came early also. Poor boy only got to talk five minutes and the message came. So hard he works, Allah, shame. But he is so rich so it’s okay.”

Mhhhmm. Shame, indeeed. She was holding out her free hand dramatically, looking as though her entire world had been shifted with the news. Only Nani will say things like that. Like money is the ultimate saviour and intervention no matter what the problem.

“But Nani,” Mohsina said evenly, raising an eyebrow. “Money doesn’t matter. You think money is going to make him a better person? He could have at least told someone else to take his place at the hospital so you wouldn’t have to rush all over the place.”

Wait.

I mean, I knew that my cousin wasn’t horrible in looks but she was was no diva I also knew that Muneer was a shallow guy. From the biceps incident, I got the feeling that a little extra cushioning here and there may have been a game-changer.

Mohsina’s eyes bulged slightly before she glanced at me with interest.

If I didn’t try my very hardest and think the best of every situation it would have definitely been an ‘aha’ moment. I didn’t want to believe the possibility that Muneer was that shallow. Surely he had to see beyond the superficial. Right?

”Don’t think I came because I’m happy with you people,” she said grumpily when she saw me. “I only came because I don’t want you to embarrass the family.”

Haai, Nani.

“Wrong granddaughter, Nani,” Mos said with an awkward laugh. “I’m the one who usually embarrasses the family. Not Jamz.”

There was something about the way she said it, that made me feel a pang of torment in my gut. Mos was dealing with so much more than I knew.

I waited for Nani to move away whilst grumbling something incoherent (probably about her useless granddaughters) and then turning into conversation to a sympathetic Hamzah before I went up behind my sister and draped my arms around her from the back. Resting my head on her shoulder, taking in her calming scent of Dove body wash and some designer shampoo, I could feel a slight tremble in her as she breathed in, and I realised that as she busied herself at the kitchen sink, she had been sniffling away.

Ah man. This day was way more emotional than I had bargained for.

”Mos, stop being so hard on yourself,” I said softly, feeling like for the first time in my life, I wanted to protect my sister. She had always been the one to protect me. To take care of me. And I knew that she had Hamzah to look after her for now but she was pushing him away and I didn’t know why she seemed so fragile all of a sudden. I wanted to wrap her up and save her from the world.

“I’m destroying someone’s life,” she said miserably, her voice breaking again. “Breaking so many hearts. I spoke to my in-laws yesterday. Spoilt the entire mood after Saaliha told us about the baby.”

My heart broke for her. She turned around and I looked at her teary face, unable to process what that meant.

“You told them?!” I asked incredulously. “I thought you were going to wait until Hamzah leaves…”

It wasn’t ideal but it made more sense.

“It was all Rabia’s fault, Jamz,” she said, shaking her head. “Honestly, I feel that she’s up to something. She mentioned that she saw Hamzah leaving work early the one day when he was coming to meet the lawyer with me.I think she was going to gym or something. She forced him to speak about it. It seemed so… plotted and vindictive. Like she wants me to fail… and I don’t even know why she hates me so much.”

She sounded miserable. And I’d never seen my sister so concerned about what someone thought about her. I guessed that perhaps because this was really affecting every aspect of her and Hamzah’s life.

I raised my eyebrows, wondering if Hamzah’s sister really was like that. She was probably just adding fuel to the fire because she enjoyed the show that came out of it.

“I can’t help feel like this is not going to end well,” she said softly, an evident panic in her eyes. “Do you know Zubair is putting himself into so much of danger trying to help Hamzah? Hamzah is still being so stubborn about everything, fighting to find a loophole. As for Rabia… she seems so thrilled, and then there’s still the instagram post…”

I wanted to ask what instagram post but it was at that moment that my attention had been diverted due to the doorbell and the swarming of butterflies in my tummy immediately turned to dragons.

”We’ll continue this later,” I said, squeezing her hand before she shook her head and smiled at me, as if she was back to being the unaffected and rigid version of herself that we were all so used to.

Zubair and family had just arrived and without even seeing him, as always, there was a heaviness in the room that made me immediately feel like I could barely breathe.

His presence was stifling.

And of course, even with all those thoughts racing through my mind, it didn’t take long after all the emotional greetings with Nusaybah and her winning Nani over with her beautiful ways before Zubair caught my eye as we walked to the small lounge, and I watched his face break out into a smile.

Honestly, after hating him for a few weeks and wanting to ring his neck, somehow, seeing him smile made me want to ring his neck even more. The way his entire demeanour had changed after Hamzah had somehow changed his mind was completely unexpected. Instead of being aloof and unapproachable, somehow it felt like I knew him so much longer than just a few months.

And there it was again, that feeling that he was not only just watching me, but he knew me without me sharing a thing.

Papa trusted Zubair, for some reason, despite his history  and rocky past.

Papa had stayed in the next room to talk to his brother-in-law, the doctor, while the two of us had made our way to the little sitting area just next to it.

And though I was so used to seeing him, it still didn’t conquer the nerves that were dampening my hands every few seconds. There I was, avoiding eye contact with this roguishly handsome guy, trying to at least pretend like I was used to this. Honestly, I was actually a little afraid of meeting his gaze, because I knew what it would do to me. Turn me to putty. Having spoken very briefly, mostly about Mohsina while Papa and Zubair were at the coffee shop a few days back, I would have thought that this meeting would have been a little less nerve wrecking.

Well, I was completely wrong.

I could feel the perspiration even under my hijab as soon as his gaze landed on me. I felt hot and cold all at the same time. My heart rate had picked up and I already felt like I was close to having some kind of panic attack due to the intensity of him looking like he could see right down to my soul.

My goodness, my heart.

”Hey. Assalamu-Alaykum…”

He looked up, and his tone was casual as he said it, and I almost did a double take when I saw him in the kind of clothes that were something other than his normal work slacks. Perhaps I was just being dramatic.

Zubair wore a blue-grey kurta with no collar, hitched up slightly as he sat down again, with a simple jeans underneath. His hair was brushed back under his topee and I had to focus on looking down so I didn’t start being all forward and staring at this man who was aesthetically quite something that I shouldn’t be looking at.

Sue me if I was attracted to the guy. It had been months of me seeing this dusty and ruffled up guy and I honestly couldn’t believe he cleaned up so well. Call me corny, but his bronzey skin almost looked like it was sparkling.

I almost giggled to myself, wanting to silence my thoughts, and then internally slapped myself instead.

I was so immature. Maybe I was just too used to virtual meetings. The meetings were showing up meant that you didn’t actually have to be present. Social media didn’t help with all of that and being a gen Z had made me socially awkward. Of course. That was it.

A weird feeling in my tummy made me a little giddy. This was so intense.

Meeting the week before had definitely made things less formal. Easier. But the swarm of butterflies were still there, in the pit of my gut. In fact, I think the butterflies were there from the minute he darkened our doorway, and never left.

“Hey,” I said back, looking at the carpet and smiling shyly. “Wa’alaikum salaam.”

I couldn’t look up. I just couldn’t.

I tried not to think of the flowing, pretty aqua dress that Mohsina had bought a few weeks ago and insisted I had to wear so he could actually see a better version of me. I kept my feet planted firmly on the ground, trying hard not to do any knee shaking that may make me seem unstable.

“How was your day?”

It was such an elementary question but the way he said it wasn’t.

”Erm,” I said softly, my lack of vocabulary a little embarrassing. “Alhumdulillah.”

Indeed. Alhumdulillah in every situation. I didn’t want to say much. Whatever the day had brought. However many emotions had been packed into it.

I breathed out while he looked at me briefly, and then placed a pink rose with a beautiful perfume on the table next to us, and my just kind of dissolved to putty. Roses were my absolute weakness and this guy knew just how to play his cards.

He brought an single rose- a colour I hadn’t seen in a long time- and while staring at it wasn’t ideal, I was working on avoiding eye contact as I sat on the couch furtherest from him, feeling all shy and out of my element, adjusting my scarf as I settled into a seat about a meter from him.

”That’s beautiful,” I said, blinking as I picked it up, noticing that he had shaved all the thorns off perfectly.

”Okay, I need to confess.”

It was him again and my heart raced again. A confession kind of scared me.

He had told Papa a lot about his past and though was good to know, I had so many more questions.

“Ive been wanting to ask you that forever,” he said with a shy smile, making me wonder what he was talking about.

I looked up, a little confused, rose in my hand, just a little speechless.

“What?” I breathed out. It smelt divine.

And okay, besides rendering me speechless every time he so much as moved, he had the most amazing teeth.

Like honestly, it was like a Colgate commercial.

”How was your day?” He said again, pearly whites all visible and … dang. “You have no idea … and you haven’t given me enough of an answer now because it looks like there’s so much more on your mind right now…”

The way this guy read me was like a book.

I looked down and I could feel my cheeks flushing a bit with the intensity of his gaze. Like, did the guy have any other way to look at people please? Everything about him was so intense and deep and completely disarming.

It made me realise that although I had been taking in by him and how criminally handsome he was, I had also been majorly attracted to the part of his personality that connected with people and made him so much more human than he realised. Yes, Zubair didn’t have money and rich parents but he was one of those few who had been blessed with integrity and amazing qualities.

From Nusaybah, I knew that he didn’t think much of himself, wanted to be better and felt that he had so much to work on… but to me, his consideration, his humility, him never overstepping the line with me even thought there was plenty of opportunity and always approaching everything with so much of thought and caution was goals.

He respected my father and in turn, he had earned my fathers respect.

”So?” He said expectantly, still giving me a small smile that knocked me for a six.

My mind needed to be sanitised. I was glancing at his mouth way too much.

“It was fine,” I managed to say, quite certain I was making a fool of myself. My hands were trembling and I sat on them to get them to stop. “Eventful. Mos is… emotional. Nani gave us quite the surprise and now you’re here…”

My words were fast and my voice had been a bit shaky but the sentence was coherent and true. It had been pretty eventful. I mean, I barely expected Nani to come.

I wasn’t sure what had happened and who had said what but her being here was something that actually consoled me. Like her presence meant that maybe things weren’t going to be so bad after all.

“I have a question.”

Questions. Right. That’s what we were supposed to be doing. I mean, I already knew so much about  Zubair but I also had questions. Questions about him that no one knew. Questions about his life that made me want to get right down to the bottom of his story. About his father. About why they never reconciled. About what really happened with his uncle and his past life.

But I wanted to believe that we had enough time. I opened my mouth and closed it again, because he was already speaking.

”Im sure you have questions too,” he said, shifting in his seat and looking at me as he did it again. He read my mind. I finally met his gaze as he watched me, feeling completely exposed as his expression turned to one of compassion. “I just needed to check… are you sure about this…?”

I could barely even nod. I wanted to ask him if he was sure about me. After so many months of my silly crushing on him, I couldn’t quite believe that he was actually here. Wanting to marry me. And liking me enough to do it.

Maybe when he knew the real me, things would change.

I looked up and it was the most intense thing, his gaze when it was on me, waiting for my answer to this very important question.

It was the first time I had seen him so up close, and though I did notice his unnatural eyes before, I didn’t quite notice how stunningly haunting they were in the daylight. Two different colours that made him seem like someone supernatural. The right one was a brown with yellow specks and the left one was a green with golden specks.

It was the first time I had ever seen anything like that in my life.

“I wanted to see you and explain this to you in person,” he said softly, not realising that I was staring into his eyes like a kuku case. “You know about my past. I’m far from perfect and I don’t even want to ever bring you into the kind of life that I was in. With a history like mine, I’m sure you realise that I’ve had quite the reputation…”

I didn’t realise that I was staring at a spot on the carpet blankly until he shifted slightly, realising that I was actually being a little weird.

”Jameela?”

His voice was soft when he said my name. And oh my word, I was a goner.

Get a grip of yourself, Jameela, I chided myself.

Zubair was worried, and it made sense. He didn’t want to drag me into a life where he had earned so many enemies along the way. Coming here to the farm had been his hide out, his safe place and I had to understand that going through with this would also bring its fair share of challenges.

And of course, being who I was, feeling the way I felt right then, and truly feeling that love could conquer everything.

I wanted what I wanted, and that was that. I wanted to truly know Zubair. I wanted to spend more time with him. To be more than just someone who he would pass by and never talk to.

I didn’t think of what could happen after.

”I’m sure,” I said firmly, with not even an ounce of hesitancy in my voice, letting myself meet his alluring gaze once more.

”I’m afraid that you may change your mind if anything has to happen. And it’s not impossible. People can find me. They can threaten me. It’s why I never wanted to marry before, but I realised that at some point I have to also let go of the past.”

”And build a better future,” I said quietly. I almost added ‘with me’ like a creep but luckily my mouth wasn’t my worst enemy that day. Only my stupid brain.

Zubair’s eyebrows were raised quizzically but I could see something in his eyes as he said it.

His words too, were laced with fear. Fear for what, I wasn’t quite sure.

“Are you afraid of something?” I asked, looking up at him now and meeting his gaze. I wished that I didn’t.

I had to look away.

He was silent for a while, before he clasped his hands together.

“I have a weakness, Jameela,” he said, after a few seconds. “Maybe it’s a strength, because it’s for people who I care about. It’s just that in the past, the people I cared about didn’t really care about me. I would do anything to protect them. Even if it goes against my natural disposition. Even if it’s risky. Even if it exposes me. Sometimes I lose myself when those people are threatened. That day in the shop…”

He stopped mid sentence, and I already knew which day he was talking about. In the coffee shop when the horrid customer threw his weight around and made me feel like the scum of the earth.

There was a side of Zubair I had never witnessed or heard my father speak about. An angry, unhinged side that made me wonder who he really was.

But now I knew who he was. I knew that he had been on the wrong path once. I knew that he was fiercely protective. I also knew that although he told my father that things could get dangerous, he would never let anyone hurt me. There was something so right in the way that felt.

“I almost lost control of myself ,” he said in a low tone.

He may have been right. He had been angry. But people aren’t always the greatest, and anger is a normal emotion and natural response.

It’s how we control it that makes the difference, and he did.
I didn’t even think what it meant for me. I didn’t even want to ponder about Zubair actually noticing me at that time, like I actually meant something. He never showed it.

”It wasn’t like you beat the man up or anything,” I said, my voice sounding slightly squeaky as I tried to make light of the situation.

“But I wanted to,” he said seriously, his voice hard and full of dark emotion. “And that’s not what I was taught after I changed my life. That’s not what the Sunnah teaches. I wanted to be better. I wanted to be able to never hurt someone else in my life. I didn’t want to go back to the man who I was. To that cold-blooded monster who didn’t think or feel, and just do what he was being controlled to do. I wanted to change.”

He was so passionate and urgent in what he was saying. A huge knot of tension had formed in my stomach. Did this mean that it scared him to get close to someone? It explained why he was always here… alone, with nowhere that he really went to and no one he met.

“I’ve undergone so much of training,” he said softly. “I’ve been trying to reverse everything that had made me the person I used to be. I wanted to be able to overlook faults. To lower my gaze from people’s wrong. I’m trying to become type of character that can emulate the Sahabah. They had to experience so much for their Jannah, and we get overcome by emotion and give up at the slightest test…”

How he said it reminded me of the beauty of the ways of the Sahabah. I knew that many of them wanted to atone for their deeds by doing something amazing to make up for all the wrong they had done.

“But I’m failing. And it feels like the entire world has fallen into a drunken state and Islam is the only lifeline to sober us up. While everyone else sees blurred coincidences of chaos, we see the signs and we see the beginning of the end of times. I’ve seen so much of rot and ugliness, and it took me so long to change. Sometimes I don’t know if we even know that we have all the answers and solutions right in our midst…”

He placed his hand on his chest and I saw it, in the top pocket of his kurta. His lifeline.

The Qur’ān. It was the only lifeline here. When we hold fast to it, that’s the only time we see light within the darkness.

I widened my eyes as his long fingers grasped the edge of the pages and held them back in place.

“I know that this is a lot to take in but I guess what I’m trying to say is that I know that being who I was may be something that may make you feel uncomfortable. There are parts of it that were horrible. Terrifying. Painful. I don’t ever want you to suffer or start to hate me because of that…”

I shook my head, indicating that I wouldn’t ever do that. He came here to see me but all he was doing was trying to get me to change my mind.

I could feel myself getting angry as he looked down now, almost as if he had defeated himself.

“Are you done?” I asked roughly, feeling irritable that he had done that. Why did he have to be so hard on himself? 
“Do you only have bad things to say about yourself?”

He looked shocked that I said it. I mean, even I was shocked at myself. Shy, dreamy Jameela actually had a mouth that spat out some vicious venom now and then.

And then, as I glared at him, with much resolve I must admit, slowly but surely, an amused smile crept onto his face, almost as if what I had said was the most hilarious thing in the entire conversation.

“No, I’m not done,” he said with a grin, his amazing teeth visible again.

The audacity. I still wanted to ring his neck and the need was more intense with every second his alluring grin widened.

I narrowed my eyes as he continued.

“I actually wanted to also tell you that I know Nani doesn’t like me,” he said, still grinning. I could feel myself flushing at that. How did he know that? 

The walls had ears, for sure.

“And I don’t blame her at all. In fact, I think she’s right.”

”What?!” I scoffed incredulously. No. He wasn’t actually saying all this.

Telling me Nani was right was way below the belt. I mean, on the one hand I had Ken, I mean Muneer, who kept inflating his own ego… and now there was Zubair who kept hating on himself.

I didn’t understand it. What was it with this guy? 

”I think she is right,” he said again, more calmly.

”Why would you say that?” I asked, shaking my head at him.

How on earth could he say that Nani’s outdated thinking could be right?

I was about to tell him so, but he was looking at me now, and his face was suddenly all serious, as if he hadn’t just been all full off nonsense and humour a few seconds ago. His jaw was set firmly and his entire body seemed to suddenly morph into something completely different. Honestly, this guy reminded me of some sort of shape-shifter.

“I know I don’t have much,” he said softly, his voice serious and foreboding. “Nani is right with that. But from what I’ve seen in life, from all the people I’ve met… I’ve learnt that these things, that everyone cares about so much, don’t really matter. I’ve seen men in mansions who are so unhappy that they are wanting to end their lives, and I’ve seen a man in a shack living life as if it’s his kingdom. Money doesn’t matter.”

He was right. It didn’t matter to me and it was obvious that it didn’t matter to him. What I knew was that pure contentment was based not on how much of money we had, but based on the richness of the heart. I’ve always heard that if you can make shukar, you will be like royalty, because everything you have will feel like it’s much more than you deserve.

The thing was, when I looked at Zubair, even in the past, I’ve noticed that whatever situation he was in, he was never wanting for something more. He was happy with his lot and he was grateful even with his little.

“I know it doesn’t,” I said, knowing that what he said was beyond true. “But yet, you still think what Nani says is right?”

Like, was she actually taking Nani’s side here after everything? Did he even know her?

“I think whatever is best for you, Jameela,” he said, sounding tired. He looked away now, and my heart couldn’t help but just sink dreadingly to my toes.

Was he really just switching me off here? Turning me away because he was afraid? Trying to change the way I felt because he really didn’t believe that he was good enough?

“I guess the point here is that I don’t want to be the one to tell you what you should do. I know that I want you to  still have a choice to have a normal life. Consider this your freedom to choose,” he said as he got up to leave. “It’s all up to you, Jameela. I don’t want to drag you into my world but the thought of not seeing you in it…”

He didn’t have to finish the sentence, and why on earth did that warning just make me want it more? It was like something had been flipped on in me. Like some kind of magnetic force was drawing me to this, and nothing could deter me. No wealth, no status no worldly attribute could ever sway my decision.

His humility and his integrity was something that I could match to no one. His character had already drawn me to him from day one.

I knew what I wanted. All this time, even when I was forcing my mind to battle with my heart, I hadn’t stopped wanting it.

Yes, he had told me that I have the freedom to choose, but he had also indicated what he thought would be the best. He had, in many words, said that this wasn’t the best thing for me, but that I still had the freedom to choose…

And now, despite all that, I realised that being free isn’t ruining every good thing in your life because you have to prove you have the choice to do so. Its choosing good things because you can. Because it’s beautiful and it’s Halaal and it can do amazing things for your soul. It’s choosing to be in control of your destiny by being open to possibility.

Choosing to be happy because it makes you happy is the sometimes the only way to be happy….

Even if it was only for a fleeting moment in time…


Dearest readers:  extra long post to make up. My sincerest apologies for the delay. Beginning of the term was exceptionally busy for me. Please keep me in your esteemed Duaas especially this week, as these great days  dawn upon us.

Much love 

A x 

Sunnah of the month of Rajab 

Sayyiduna Anas Ibn Malik (radiyallahu’anhu) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) would recite the following supplication when the Month of Rajab would commence:

اَللّٰهُمَّ  بَارِكْ لَناَ فِيْ رَجَبٍ وَشَعْبانَ وَبَلّغْنَا رَمَضَانْ

Allahumma baarik lana fi Rajaba wa Sha’bana wa balligh-na Ramadan

Translation: Oh Allah! Grant us Barakah (Blessing) during (the months of) Rajab and Sha’ban, and allow us to reach Ramadan.

(Shu’abul-Iman, Hadith: 3534, Ibnu Sunni, Hadith: 660, Mukhtasar Zawaid Bazzar, Hadith: 662, also see Al-Adhkar, Hadith: 549)

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..💕

#RevivetheSunnah

#RevivetheSunnahofbeingGrateful

#RevivetheSunnahofQur’aanTilaawat

#ReviveSunnahofDuaa

#SunnahofMaintainingTies

#RevivetheSunnahofSadaqah

#RevivetheSunnahofGivingGifts

#RevivetheSunnahofGoodAkhlaaq

#RevivetheSunnahbeforeSleeping

#RevivetheSunnahofGuardingtheGaze

#RevivetheSunnahofLickingtheFingers

#RevivetheSunnahofMiswaak

#RevivetheSunnahofEnteringtheToilet

#RevivetheSunnahofSpeakingGood

#RevivetheSunnahofUsingtheRighthand

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Until Tomorrow

Bismihi Ta’ala

Ahmed

My Ahmed, 

My eldest son. Second born. The apple of my eye. 

It’s your Nikah day and I’m sure you are on cloud nine right now. As I sit here on the rocker overlooking the window, I’m picturing it in my mind and I wish I could see your joy. The twinkle in your serious eyes. Maybe you’d give us a smile as you walked out the door. Maybe you’d smirk knowingly as you left home to begin your new life. Maybe just for a moment of unguarded freedom… you’d actually put your iron shield down…

It’s your moment of glory now now, and soon you’ll be embarking on a journey of your own. A journey unlike all you’ve known. A journey of life and love. A journey that will make you stronger in so many ways, yet will simmer you down in so many too.

Ahmedoo. You’ve always been my soldier. Unwavering. Unchanging. I love that most about you. Throughout my sickness I think it’s you that I’ve drawn the most strength from. You never showed me once how much it hurt.

But today, when I saw you sitting in your room, slumped over your books in grief… I wanted to tell you that I never knew that the pain was buried so deep. I never realized that even strong people could break. That even they have a empty gaps to fill.  That sometimes, it’s okay to open up your heart too.

As I pen this, with much on my mind and hope in my heart… knowing that you will read this on a day that love and joy will be overflowing… it gives me a great sense of relief. I know that this is a step you would never take until you were completely sure. I know already that there is no doubt in your mind that this is the right thing to do. 

I really hope that you have found the one. The one who leads you to the Eternal One. I hope you’ve found someone who breaks your armour. Who opens your heart. Who makes you dig to the darkest depths to explore the avenues of your soul that lead you to the Ultimate Love. I hope that, through this union, you’ve found Allah. 

There are many distractions along the way, but do remember that if we keep our focus on what’s everlasting, we can never go wrong. Remember that Allah doesn’t look at money or cars or houses. Remember that Allah looks only at one thing, and that’s a contented heart. A heart that is with Him. A heart that is at peace. Qalbun-Saleem. 

Remember that we grow through what we go though. We make mistakes. We learn our lessons, and then we find ourselves. All we need is a little patience… and lots of trust in Allah.

After everything, my son, whatever you’ve gone though… I truly hope that your heart is at rest. That you’ve found your peace. 

Please remember to make Du’aa in every moment that brings you joy. In any moment you may feel pain.  Please make a little Du’aa with your better half for me. Tell her that I would have been so thrilled that you’ve finally found her… 

Love you from the depths of my soul…

Much, much love,

Mama

A certain tranquility had overcome me as I watched my wife hold tightly onto the letter as I drove ahead… trying to relive those moments when everything felt okay. When all the pain was miles away. I was trying to transport my mind back to then. Back to when we were all thrilled and at ease with each other as we sat and spoke… really spoke… for the first time. As I got to know this woman who had become my new wife.

Till then, everything was perfect. 

”Mummy, was that Khawlah’s mother?”

I turned slightly towards Rubeena, tightening my grip on the steering as Dayyaan said it. She had her Tasbeeh counter in her hand and I could see her recording her Friday Durood as she tried hard not to say anything. I knew why.

I will still angry. So angry.

”Not her mother,” Danyaal said, and I could see him rolling his eyes in the rear view mirror. “Her stepmother. Remember her mother passed away when she was six.”

It felt like a tiny stab in my chest as he said it. That was my mother too. I was ten years old… 

”Like me!” Dayyaan said, sounding a big too thrilled about it for my liking.

I knew that I was being grumpy.
I couldn’t blame the child but my mood had become dampened due to recent events.
Aunty Nas had made an appearance and I knew exactly why she had come today.

I felt a warm hand on mine as I roughly changed the gears, forgetting for a moment that I had four kids in the car with me.

”Sorry,” I mumbled, glancing at Rubeena briefly and looking ahead. I had slowed down as we entered our first destination road. 

“It’s okay,” she said softly, squeezing my hand comfortingly. “I’m sure you must be upset…”

Upset was an understatement. I was furious.
I held my piece for a minute as the kids jumped off as their grandparents house, waving at us as we said we’d see them later.

Although Rubeena had insisted they would be fine with their grandparents for the night, I didn’t want to send them away, and I wanted her to understand. I wanted to set the tone from now. The children weren’t a burden. There was no reason to send them off just because I was there. I knew what it felt like when stepparents were shoving their step kids off and I never wanted these kids to feel that.

”Will they be okay?” I asked my wife, gesturing to the kids who were climbing up the stairs to the front door. “Must I go and see them in?”

She smiled as the door opened and they all waved, and I shifted into reverse once again.

”They’ll be okay,” she said. “They’re growing up now. Becoming so independent. Are you okay?”

I fixed my gaze ahead and shrugged as I reversed out, glancing in the rear view mirror to check for any cars.

“I understand if you don’t want to talk about it,” she said softly. “So much has happened today… that letter though. It just made my day. Your mother must have been amazing… beautiful too I’m sure…” 

My heart contracted slightly as she said it and immediately remembered my mother.

”Khawlah looks exactly like her,” I said, thinking of how Zuleikha and I fell on Abba’s side, with the olive skin tone and identical eye colour… and somehow Khawlah had nothing of Abba at all. Yunus too had his own unique look, that resembled my mother, but was somehow different to Khawlah. It was weird how genetics worked sometimes. 

I glanced at my wife, noticing her eyes filled with tears for the umpteenth time that day and I couldn’t help but grin. She was really something. Different to girls in my family. I had never experienced this before, but I found it quite amusing. I couldn’t believe that she had actually bawled when I showed her the letter. I found it strangely touching, even for a tough guy like me.

And yes, I  had almost forgotten about the letter. Almost. Thinking about it again now calmed me down. How Dada, in his old age had remembered to hand it to me today was beyond me. My mother obviously had a reason that she entrusted him with them. And then of course, Aunty Nas had barged in on us to dampen everyone’s spirits. 

If she wasn’t strutting around looking for attention, she was screaming her head off at something that had disgruntled her. I actually couldn’t believe that Abba had put up with her as long as he did. I couldn’t believe that we all did. I couldn’t believe that I did. I shuddered slightly as I remembered her eery voice. Somehow, in retrospect it was even scarier than it was at the time…

Ahmed.” She had took me aside one day and looked me in the eye. Her tone was kinder than usual. I narrowed my eyes at her, skeptical of her intentions. “I can read your eyes…. You have a lot of anger….”

I looked at her as if she was crazy. She was crazy. There was no doubt about it. Evil too. Of course I was angry. But what did she know about my anger? What did she know about me?

“There’s something I learnt in class today that I know will help you,” she said convincingly. “It’s good. Really good.”

I shook my head and shrugged her off, her determined not to get involved in her crazy ambitions. I didn’t know that she had been attending those arb ‘emotional healing classes’ and I wasn’t sure where she was coming from. When I looked back, it was when I realized that this was the precise time when Aunty Nas was starting to change.

And I got why she targeted me. I was a rough kid. Troubled. I knew I gave Abba a hard time. Everyone had said that I needed therapy. I was a problem. Eventually, I gave in. I had little choice. I thought if she focused on me she’d leave my sisters alone. She wanted to teach me about her new techniques. She said I could be her assistant, and earn money. Money had always been a draw-card for me.

Yes, and I didn’t realize what I was getting into. She asked me things that no-one had ventured into. She had a way of making it seem like meager small talk, as she spoke. She delved into the past and said it will heal me. She had done various physical adjustments on my body, but right then, I knew nothing about boundaries. As a young kid who was on the brink of adolescence, what Abba didn’t realize was that Aunty Nas was a bit crazier than he had perceived.

And yes, I was all for giving people a chance and believing they could change, but to prove she hadn’t, she had barged into the house that evening, demanding to know why Khawlah had interfered in her daughters life, and promising to get her back for it. I knew why she had come here today. I knew that she wanted to stir things up… maybe even spoil my day. But was more confusing was her obsession with my new mother-in-law that no-one could figure out. The two seemed have some recent clashes, but never in a good way.

”Ahmed, are you listening?” 

I blinked and looked at Rubeena,  realizing that I had zoned out. I nodded guiltily. I was still lost in the past. I wanted to open up to her about everything. To tell her that I was messed up and abused and sometimes a little too intense, but after everything, it was so hard to speak about feelings.

”Really?!” She said, putting her hands on her hips as she stood outside the car. We had just reached her house and were venturing up the steps that lead to the door. “What did I say?”

”Err,” I attempted, wanting to laugh at her directness but feeling bad that I wasn’t listening. It wasn’t on purpose though. There were just so many things on my mind. Today was supposed to be one of the most important days of my life, but the unexpected visit had kind of rocked the boat. Plus my mind was troubled by Adam and his wavering health. I knew I needed to focus on my wife and being with her unreservedly, but I was mentally drained.

Ahmed, you can’t let this spoil your day,” she said, her expression softening. “I know there are things we are both worried about but let’s just be present, okay? I’ve been trying to explain this to you but I rather just hand it over now…”

She paused and watched me as I looked at her curiously, and then calmly handed me the keys to the house. I looked at them and then looked back at her a little hesitantly, not sure what she wanted me to do.

“I want you to be the one to open it,” she said simply. “It’s your house too. I don’t want you to feel awkward or out of place. You’re my husband. The man of the house. From today… well… this is our home.”

I took a step backwards as I fiddled with the keys, knowing that this was something we never spoke about. It was strange. My wife giving me a house. I didn’t even have the means to buy her a house. I felt like an invalid. I knew we would be living here but I didn’t realize how it would feel. I didn’t think that far ahead, but now I know that maybe I should have…

”Can we talk about this?” I asked, rubbing my temples and handing her back her keys. I couldn’t do it. I had to talk this out first. 

Money. I knew there’d come a time when we’d have to delve into this. I wasn’t rich like her previous husband. I didn’t have the means to give her whatever she desired. After Aunty Nas’s barging in today, the emotions were stronger than ever. The insecurities were overwhelming. 

After all… that’s what all the fights were about. That’s how it spiraled out of control. Money. In her skewed mindset, she said she was doing it for money. The first time Abba had found out about Aunty Nas’s business, there was a big fight. He had took most of it out on me because Aunty Nas wasn’t the type you could reason with. It was the catalyst to something that was long coming, so I left them alone. After her coaxing and convincing… I had been somewhat damaged. Something had been altered inside of me but I wanted to forget it.

To tell the truth, I was getting older and Abba was getting scared of me. I was becoming wild. That’s when our relationship died. He couldn’t talk to me. No one could. With Abba no longer able to get through to me, they started fighting about it. About us kids. About the house. About money. About her ‘business’. Aunty Nas left me alone. I would escape to catch up with the neighborhood guys. I got caught up. Everything was about money. It could kill the pain. At home. In the street. Guns, mafia and armour. Drug trades and small deals. I turned to vices to kill the demons. Money was always the draw card. I let it control my life because I thought that I had no other escape…

Then I met Ziyaad at the airport that day and my entire life changed. 

”Ahmed,” Rubeena said softly, as she looked at me expectantly. She was waiting for me to continue. I gazed at her, not really believing that this amazing woman had somehow become mine. I had been dreaming of this and now it was happening. She was right here.

I met her gaze steadily as she came towards me, catching me slightly off guard as she came closer, feeling myself automatically stiffen at her proximity. That was just me. Like a reflex, I closed up when I felt emotion. I felt my heart beat escalate in terrified anticipation, but all she did at that point was lean in to embrace me comfortingly, allowing the pain of the day to completely dissipate as found my arms around her and numbly held her back. Her slim body fitted perfectly. I was still scared to feel anything. I was still afraid to let go. Despite the letter and what my mother had said… loving someone unreservedly might be harder than I thought..

But I had to remember, I thought to myself, as I tightened my arms around her. We grow through what we go through. We learn from our mistakes. We let go of the past. Now it was different. Now I knew better. Now I understood that I couldn’t let my past control the future.

I pulled back to look at the beautiful and kind-hearted woman who stood before me, waiting for me to open up to her. This was my wife. With her there were no more barriers.

”Ruby,” I started, because I knew we had little time before the function and I needed at least some of what was on my mind…

She looked at me, her brow slightly furrowed.

I had things that I wanted to assure her of. Insecurities that I needed to address.

”Im happy where we are,” I said quietly. “But I don’t think that this situation is ideal. We can’t be living here indefinitely. It’s not my home. I don’t want us to have fights about money or the kids or what you do. I don’t want you to have to earn for yourself. Your family is my family. I want us to make our own memories. I want to live a different kind of life. Maybe even go abroad. Even though I can’t afford it right now, I have a plan to move to our own home and to support you and our family fully. I want those boys to grow up as mine and I want you to know that you can trust me, whenever you need to… and I’ll never let you-“

”Ahmed,” Rubeena said, cutting me off. “You don’t need to say all this. I know you’ll be a great husband and father but all this money stuff, it’s not about that…”

”You’re wrong Rubeena,” I said heatedly. We were still standing outside, and the keys had landed up somewhere on the bench.  “You may say it’s not about that but I worry. I worry that I won’t be able to provide for you. I worry that I might let you down. I worry that we’ll fight over money and become enemies. I know you haven’t had to worry about money your whole life… but I’m not a millionaire or a business whizz. I’m a simple guy who’s trying to earn his living… and to put it simply… what if I’m just not enough?”

”I don’t care about money!” She said, stepping back. Her brown eyes appeared darker as she glared at me. “Don’t you get it, Ahmed?! That’s exactly what your mother was saying. It’s about the heart. My heart is so happy… contented… She knew you so well… and I can’t believe she hit it on the head!”

“You said no once Rubeena,” I said quietly, shaking my head at her. It still hurt. “My mother was right but I felt like I lost the game with you. If I don’t step up… what if I lose you again… I don’t know -“

“That’s not what I married you for, silly,” she retorted angrily. “It’s never been about security! I was worried about other things. About my kids. About your age. About what everyone will say. Stupid things that don’t make sense but I worried about it because that’s how crazy I am. I’m sorry that you married a bit of a lunatic but you’ve met my mother and unfortunately it’s hereditary so there’s not much I can do about it!”

I looked at my wife through new lenses, fighting the urge to smile as she got up and paced in front of me, pausing suddenly and looking me in the eye. Her abaya was flowing behind her as she walked speedily, looking like a woman with a mission…

“It’s easy to talk,” she said, her tone lowering as she spoke. Her breathing was slightly heavy because she was worked up. “It’s easy to be all noble and say we do this for this reason and that for that reason. But we have a greater purpose here. Why we did this. We could have easily carried on with the Haraam. It would have been so much easier but we both knew it was wrong so we stopped. We could have been talking and developing deeper feelings for each other… getting into something that neither of us would have benefited from… but we made a choice for a deeper reason. Yes. We love Him, but we have to ponder and wonder and remind ourselves of what’s in our hearts. How are we going to maintain this relationship with Allah? Are our hearts filled with the reality of Allah? Is it completely trusting in Him? Yes, I’m scared. I have fears too. I worry too. I’m scared that I’ll mess up. I’m scared about my brother. I’m scared about my kids growing up and changing. But I don’t care where we live. I don’t care what we have. We can sell the house. We can live in a one-bedroom apartment. We can do whatever you’re happy with because I don’t care about any of it now. If there’s one thing I realized now after everything… after the hell with Shabeer and now  Adam’s sickness… We hold onto this life and money and cars so tightly even when there’s really no point to it….”

I was a little speechless as I digested her rant. Of course, because it was Rubeena, she obviously wasn’t done yet.

“Yes, we have to plan,” she continued, her voice a little softer. “But we have to plan for what’s eternal. We have to build our hopes and dreams but not for now. We have to focus on what’s coming after. Now can we just go inside and start our life together because I really can’t wait to see what this chapter has in store for us… ”

I stared at my new wife, a little taken aback by her impeccable faith. I’d never met anyone like her before.

I’d never heard anyone talk so trustingly, with conviction… and really mean it. I wanted to leave everything behind me right then and start again. I wanted to live a life of amazing  Tawakkul that she had, because she had somehow mastered it. I wanted to give her more than she had given me. She had opened her heart and her home to me, but for her, it was clear than it was no great sacrifice. It wasn’t about the tangible things. It wasn’t about the temporary perks. She only cared about what was to come. How we would grow. How we would learn to love each other. How we would worship Allah through every moment that we would hopefully earn our Jannah.

She was all pretty and flushed and wide-eyed as she went on, and I couldn’t help but grab the keys and open the door speedily, knowing that there was no other way she would stop talking. 

I had dreamt of traveling the world with her, of seeing Deen through a different eye. I wanted to spread love together. Like the Sahaba had left their comfort, I had hopes of continuing my passions. Of going out for greater causes. Of embarking on trips that would be filled with adventure and hope and guidance for others. Of offering her a different life to what she had known. I had so many ambitions that I wished I could make her a part of but I knew it would all happen in due time.

Maybe the kids would get a bit bigger first. Maybe our family would grow a little more. Maybe eventually, we’d settle down and then think about it properly, before we made any hasty decision. Maybe we didn’t need to have it all penned out… maybe it was better to just take it as it comes. 

Yes, we had worries and trials. We had many things that were in the pipeline that could throw us off track, but that’s the thing with patience.

There was no rush. Maybe it won’t be happily ever after. Maybe it will just be happily right now, but that was enough. Until tomorrow… even if it was just for now…. everything was going to be okay.


Dearest Readers

Just on the topic… (I’m sorry if I offend anyone who does this so please don’t hound me 🙈…)

With regard to emotional therapy, there was a recent talk by Ml Ridwana Kajee on how certain therapies like body talk and ‘journey’ have links with books that are completely against Islamic teaching. Many parents take their kids for these kind of healing if they experience any difficulty in school or otherwise.

 The fact that it can allow one to see into another’s life and past is clear that their is association with Jinn and Shaytaan. Let us just be wary of ever consulting with any emotional therapies if this sort. Allah Ta’ala promises us the best of cures in the Hadith and Quran. Just focusing on these can cure depression and many other emotional ailments InshaAllah 

Allah save us, 

#justmyrambles 

Much Love 

A xx

 

 


Sunnah Duaa for Month of Rajab 


Allahuma baarik lana fi Rajaba wa Sha’bana wa balligh-na Ramadan

Oh Allah! Grant us Barakah (Blessing) during (the months of) Rajab and Sha’ban, and allow us to reach Ramadan.
 Dua on the first night of Rajab is readily accepted by Allah.


Imam Shafi’i RA has stated: “I have heard that duaas are accepted
by Almighty Allah on five nights:
The night of Jumu’ah
The nights of the two ‘Eids
The first night of Rajab
The middle (15th) night of Sha’ban

Allah accept our efforts and Duaas. 

A forgotten Sunnah. Eaten fallen particles… Sometimes we forget the Barakah that can be in even a grain of food. To eat what has fallen on the cloth or even the floor… SubhaanAllah.

Anas ibn Maalik narrated that when the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) ate, he would lick his three fingers. Anas said: “And he said, ‘If any one of you drops a piece of food, let him remove any dirt from it and eat it, and not leave it for the Shaytaan.’ And he commanded us to clean the plate, and said, ‘For you do not know where in your food the blessing is.’” (Narrated by Muslim, 2034). 

#revivetheSunnahofMiswaak 

#revivetheSunnahofAkhlaaq 

#revivetheSunnahofKinship

#revivetheSunnahofhonouringguests

#revivetheSunnahofdrinkingwater 

#revivetheSunnahofeating 

#revivetheSunnahDuaas

Twitter: @ajourneyjournal

When things are not Pretty…


Bismihi Ta’ala

Rubeena

There’s a great lesson that I once learnt from a pressure cooker. Yes, from a pressure cooker. And no, I have not lost my mind.

Because sometimes, you just don’t know the reality. You are blissfully unaware of the facts. I know they say you must listen to your gut and all that sentimental hogwash… but something told me that I had to open that pot, no matter what, because it was time to eat. And damn, I was hungry.

I was persistent. I battled with its stubbornness, pushing and pulling the lid… despite protests from my friend who was there… until bam… it exploded all over the stove. My face was a few centimeters away, but my hands got the brunt of it. They burned persistently for hours. It was far from pretty, but I didn’t believe it would happen until I saw it.

Sometimes you have to let go and focus on the facts. You have listen when people advise you. You have to do what’s the right thing, under the circumstance, no matter what your sometimes unruly mind (or rumbling gut) may tell you…

And leave aside the pressure cooker… which I’ll come back to later… but the thing is, you never really know the day when your whole world’s going to get turned upside down, do you? I mean, no-one really anticipates it. I don’t think anyone ever plans it.

I mean, no one really says; “Well, today, I’m going to completely botch up the normality of my world, just because it looks like fun…”

I mean, really.

And I know that I don’t have the best of reputations when it comes to getting my act together, but give me some credit okay?

I had strongly come to believe that whatever good you ever have an inclination to do, the best thing you could ever do for yourself is to do it right then and there. Don’t wait for Ramadhaan, to start wearing the hijab. Don’t wait for when you get old, to start praying. Don’t wait for your heart to become so burdened… that you fear your repentance will never be accepted.

Abu Hurayrah (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “Hasten to do good deeds before you are overtaken by one of the seven afflictions.” Then (giving a warning) he said, “Are you waiting for such poverty which will make you unmindful of devotion; or prosperity which will make you corrupt, or disease as will disable you, or such senility as will make you mentally unstable, or sudden death, or Ad-Dajjal who is the worst expected absent, or the Hour, and the Hour will be most grievous and most bitter.”

And yes, I had tried. I had really tried so hard to keep it together. For my kids… for my family… even for myself. But the thing is, sins… well, they’re something like quicksand. They have a tendency to make you think you’re on top of things when in reality, you’re sinking.

And boy, we were sinking. We were nearly underground.

“Hey hey hey, Assalamualaikum!” Adam’s voice boomed from outside. The boys had already smelt him. “Where are our little aliens tonight? Have they finally come back down to earth?”

I could hear a series of giggles and whispers as little footsteps made their way down the passage. The kids were ecstatic. It had been while since they spent time with Adam and they had missed him.

My mothers face scrunched up momentarily before she tossed her head back indifferently. I didn’t ask her what was wrong, as I exited the kitchen. I knew there was no point.

Besides, I had told myself that I was going to try and be a better person. Especially to my mother. No more rolling eyes (directly) at her. No more mocking her holier than thou attitude. No more looking down on her. Instead I was going to try and gently be the better and more refined person… and see where it gets me. I wasn’t sure how far I was going to get but hey, a girl could try right?

“Hey Ruby, Salaams,” Adam looked up at me as he emptied a hoard full of chocolates from his pocket. “How’s everything going?”

It was a normal day. It was a simple question too.

But for me, a normal day was one with regular inconveniences. The traffic to school was as crappy as always, Zia had been as sick as a dog while he brought up in the back seat (all over my new branded sports hijab) and Zaydaan had thrown a complete hissy fit in the middle of the service station convenience store (over a drink with a name that he couldn’t even pronounce). A completely normal day, by the standards of any mother.

And so when I got home and saw Shabeer already making himself comfortable on the reclining couch… I wasn’t sure what snapped in me.

All I could think of was some really uncensored words.

And in true ruffled-up-my-feathers female style, I said nothing as I started to (very noisily) unpack my grocery packet. Bottles were clanging and cupboards were banging. I knew if I raised it up one more notch, it couldn’t do much harm, but as I heard Shabeer clearing his throat in the passage to announce his arrival, I already knew that I had gotten the desired effect.

“Err, Ruby?” His voice said, a little hesitantly as he entered the kitchen. “Are you okay?”

”Yes,” I barked.

Bang went the spice drawer.

”Are you sure?” He asked, frowning as he came closer, taking the empty packets and stuffing them under the sink.

Clank went the chilli sauce on the counter.

I said nothing as I continued with my task.

“Okay what the hell?” He said, looking defeated as he shook his head at me. “Have you lost your marbles?”

”I’m applying for Hajj,” I said suddenly, looking him in the eye for a minute, taking him in. He was all pooped out from a semi-busy day at work and I could see he was a little stressed. I knew he had all these debts he was trying to sort out and he had blamed them on Hannah. I didn’t care because I knew that he was lying. I had checked up on many of his personal files in the last few weeks, and I had clear insight on what was going on. I had even contacted someone to figure it all out. I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea but it put everything into a much better perspective for me.

Money. Women. Vices. Sins. I was just so sick of hearing about it, whether it was from the nosy neighbour or the woman at the gym. The gambling and the drink that I smelt on Shabeer at least three nights every week.

I had had it. Literally. I didn’t want to live this life anymore. Sooner or later it was going to take its toll. All that money… so much of it yet all so devoid of any goodness.. I couldn’t use it to nourish my kids anymore. I couldn’t use it to live a regular life. We had to change. All this Haraam was taking its toll.

The thing is, when my kids were younger, I could easily pull the wool over their eyes and act like everything was peachy. Now that my kids were bigger, how was I going to explain to them why their father was so evasive? Now that Danyaal was eight, who was going to take him to mosque? Who was going to explain to him everything about growing up and living as a proper Muslim male, when his father was completely devoid of every aspect of it.

“Really?” Shabeer said, raising his eyebrows at me. “For when?”

“Whenever it comes through,” I said casually. “I’ve already put our names down.”

Shabeer smirked.

“Is someone giving you all these ideas,?” He asked mockingly, and I could see he wanted to laugh. “I’m not ready to go all holy yet, please Ruby. Hajj is for fifty plus. Give me a break… I’m still young.”

”Look at you!” I retorted, wondering if he glanced in the mirror lately. “You look like you’re nearly 90 years old! Who knows how much longer you’re going to live?”

I didn’t care that Shabeer’s ego was visibly wounded by my statement. The way I saw it, all it would take was one overdose and he was probably going to collapse.

With all the silly young women he usually ran  after, he probably didn’t realize just how crappy he really looked. I also knew that he was hiding something from me. I had dug onto some of his recent shenanigans and realized that he had clearly not learned his lesson. Another woman. Another Nikah. The chase was never enough for Shabeer. This was, for me, the last straw. He was either going to change, the way I wanted or he needed to leave. There was no other way.

And of course, it became a fully blown argument with ugly words and accusations. I told him exactly what I thought of him and he called me, to put it lightly, a stuck up pain in the behind. I didn’t care what he was on about. He told me no-one will want to marry me now, with four kids. He tried to convince me that I was lucky to have him.

All I knew at that point was that if he wasn’t going to change, I didn’t want him. So when Aadam asked me how I was…. well, what more could I do but shrug. No use burdening him with all my sorry stories.

I smiled at Khawlah as she offered me a half wave.

How had everything been going? Besides being a little over ambitious in the eating department, slacking on the training and dwelling in the misery of probably being alone forever, I’d been been doing good. I could already feel the kilos loading on.. but you know what? I didn’t care. I liked being chubby.

“Where’s mum?” He said, squeezing my shoulder as he offered a small hug. “Did she cook up a storm?”

I tried really hard not to roll my eyes. See, I really was trying.

”Shes made that Mesh Om Ali thing for dessert,” I said, keeping a straight face. “She said she’s the only one who hasn’t tried it yet because her family never comes to visit her. She’s feeling like the unloved mother so I’m just warning you…”

”She’ll snap out of it when she sees me,” Adam said, winking at me confidently as he walked to the kitchen. I didn’t follow him because besides not wanting to get in my mothers way… I really didn’t want to answer the one question she had been raving about since I arrived.

“Where is Shabeer?”

And honestly, I had no idea why she was so on about him. Every previous time when he hadn’t come, I had told her the tale about him being busy with work and she had accepted it. It was just that today… well, today, she knew something was up. How she knew, I had no idea, but I could tell that she wanted to hear it from me.

I sighed. The other thing she couldn’t stop talking about was how she couldn’t believe that Adam had replaced us. I had kind of blanked out after that.

The kids were busy outside, and since my mum had refused any help in the kitchen, Khawlah had gone to join them. My mother was acting all hard to get as Adam tried to strike up a conversation, which was just a tad bit unusual.

It went something like this.

“How was your week, mum?”

Mum: Sulky face.

“Do you need help with anything?”

Mum: Shrugs shoulders.

”Am I still your favorite or have I been demoted?”

Mum: Stony glare.

Now if I was him, I would have clean given up by now. But I knew that Adam couldn’t stand when anyone was upset with him. A weakness, yet a strength that he possessed since he was a kid.

“Okay mum,  I’m sorry,” he finally said. “Please tell me what I can do to make you smile.”

I wished he wasn’t such a suck up.

“You worry about making everyone else happy but you forget about your own mother!” My mother snapped, and I couldn’t help but widen my eyes with the viciousness of the onslaught.

Adam was, to put it lightly, taken aback.

”I heard about how you go to that lady’s house every day. She’s not even related to you! What kind of son are you?!”

I had to hand it to my brother. He remained composed.

“I didn’t know that it upset you so much,” he said quietly. “Those people lost their son. They don’t have family here. I keep imagining if it was you… and you lost me… I wouldn’t have wanted you to hurt alone…”

I closed my eyes momentarily as my mother turned to Adam, expecting the worst.

“I wouldn’t make it everyone else’s problem,” she retorted acidly, the entire crux of what Adam was trying to say completely going over her head.

What she didn’t know at that stage was that she was going to eat her very own words sooner than she thought.

“No-one is making it my problem,” Adam said softly. “They’re really nice people. Aunty Radiyyah barely speaks to me but she always makes us comfortable with her hospitality. I’ve become really close to her husband and I just wanted to be there for him… I didn’t mean to hurt you, mum. You know I love you. You’ll always be my fave.”

And of course, like a sucker, my mother scoffed and wiped away her fake tears, because Adam was just so good at breaking her firewall. The two of them were murmuring to each other as I left the kitchen in semi-disgust, actually quite shocked that I could never swindle my mother like that.

And of course, now that the awkwardness was over, I was quite looking forward to my mother’s supper. My father was chattering away to Khawlah and Danyaal about some higher grade Du’aa I never heard of that you need to read if you forget to make your first dua… as they sat and as I began to tuck in, I really did not expect any more drama.

Despite my marriage very possibly crumbling, I was feeling completely at ease. Knowing that Shabeer was going to be out of my life was actually kind of comforting, and as I savoured my first mouth full of my mother’s butter chicken, her next words were enough to make my taste buds completely numb.

“Where did you say Shabeer was again?”

All I could taste now was chalk. The mention of Shabeer nowadays usually did make me lose my appetite. I just wasn’t ready to tell my mother the truth as yet.

“He’s not coming,” I said flatly. “He’s busy.”

”But I especially called him!” She said, annoyed that I wasn’t giving her a proper answer. “Why didn’t he come?”

“Because I told him not to,” I said simply, and I could feel all eyes on me. I swallowed my chalk roti and took a sip of powdery Appletiser.

“Why would you do that?” My mother asked, appalled as she looked at me. “He’s always welcome here!”

“Not when I’m here,” I said, raising my eyebrows at her and sitting back.

I couldn’t eat. My mothers questions were becoming too intense. I didn’t want to tell her like this but she was really pushing me to. My father was wisely trying to distract her but she was having none of it.

She was going on about how hard it was to get her family together, and the one time she does, I had to go and spoil it by opening my big mouth. I didn’t want to tell her that no-one really missed Shabeer anyway. Her words were just kind of going around in circles as she went on and on, and even though I was trying really hard to block it out, I felt like I was being hounded by the mini-demons in my head who gave me no relief whatsoever, no matter how good I was being.

The voices were kind of compounding on me, and even when I started humming to myself in the hope of ignoring it, they just seemed to get louder, louder and louder… and as my mother praised Shabeer and basically knackered everyone else who wasn’t him… I had to call it quits on my better conscience. The evil was definitely triumphing the good here and I could not even resist.

I just could not take it anymore. I felt like that bursting pressure cooker. I completely snapped.

He’s never coming back!” I shouted, the entire table silencing immediately as I said it. And yeah, how crazy was it that now everyone was looking at me like I had gone bonkers?

“But why?” My mother said weakly, and I could almost see her bottom lip sticking out. How typical it was that she would make it all about her?

”I’ve asked him for a divorce,” I said, knowing that this was going to cause a commotion. And yes, I knew that this was no surprise to anyone, despite how my mothers lip was trembling.

What I didn’t anticipate was what happened next.

My mothers eyes narrowed as she shifted her gaze around the table almost in disorientation. At first I thought it was just shock, but as she finally let it settle on Khawlah…. I knew this was no coincidence.

It wasn’t even that she had just lost her cool, as she stared at my sister-in-law. As her eyes promptly narrowed and she glared at her… I couldn’t help but cringe as she pointed a completely unnecessary accusing finger. My mother knew more than she was letting on and this was definitely not going to be pretty…

You!” She exploded, and my heart literally shuddered as she shrieked. Khawlah obviously knew nothing about what she was on about.

Unfortunately, I was the only one that did…

“This is all your fault!”


Apologies for the late post 🌸 

Just a reminder of Jumuah Sunnah… I think it’s an awesome idea to set a goal for Durood every Friday. (Usually 1000+) 

Don’t forget Surah Kahaf, Friday ghusl and lots and lots of special duaas for the Ummah. Make intention for Sunnah and we will get double reward InshaAllah! 

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Twitter @ajourneyjournal

7003D0CA-CAAB-445C-8CA2-25C073DAAB28

Deception

Bismihi Ta’ala

N.B. Drugs, vices, alcohol and everything else that goes along with it are great trials for the Ummah and we pray with sincerity that we are saved from it.  A bit of a twist from the usual posts but also an important part of the story. Humble Apologies in advance for any shortfalls.

Muslim (2597) narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “It is not appropriate for a sincere believer to be given to cursing.” 

Hannah

Once damaged, always damaged, right?

Everyone allows themselves to be victims at some point of their lives. Sometimes it’s just easier that way.

The thing is, for me, most days were spent thinking why on earth the entire world was working against me. How was it fair that some people were dealt the best of deals, houses, bank accounts and still get the best husbands at the end of it all. How was it fair that I always got the raw end of the deal, when I worked so hard to get myself to the top.

I had learnt a long time ago than being nice never works. It may make people like you, but it doesn’t get you to the top. There’ll always be that one deterrent that stops you from getting there. To get what you any in life, you had to play hard. Ruthless. You had to fight the referees. Change the rules. Cheat a lot. Take a break and tend to your bleeding wounds… but keep playing. Play hard, play fast, play loose and rough. And at the end of the day, no matter what you do, you make sure you win. 

And sometimes, to get that, you have to pull out the victim card. Whether you’re a victim of assault. Of a degrading lifestyle. Of abuse. Of unfiltered addiction. I was a victim, and I wasn’t afraid to let everyone know it.

“You using again, aren’t you?”

I looked up and sniffed. Was it that obvious?

“Why don’t you do something with your life?” Shabeer asked angrily. “Get out of this damn flat and make something of yourself. Go back to school. Bloody hell, you have a child to support. You can’t just sit here and rot in cocaine.”

”Its your fault,” I said, hating him right then. It was.

He had left me to my own devices for almost three weeks. Ignored my calls. Let his wife degrade me however she wanted. It’s not like I could even get out there and work. Who would look after the baby?

“Bullshit,” he shot back. “Nothing is my fault. That’s not even my child. You always had a problem. Don’t blame your issues on me. Blame your addictions on your crazy mother.”

”Shut up!” I shouted, seeing red.  “My mother is the only one who truly cares. All men care about is what they can get out of you, and then they leave you in the dump to die and screw off.”

“Whatever,” he said nonchalantly. “Where’s my watch?”

He was ignoring me and looking through the shelf it was on… well… maybe three weeks ago. He was used to my rants by then. They just flew over his head.

“I don’t know,” I lied, switching the TV on, trying to divert my own mind.

“Don’t talk shit, Hannah,” he said, getting angry. “I left it here. This is still my apartment and I can kick you out any time I want. I need it.”

”For what?” I spat. “To buy your spoilt wife a new handbag?”

“Shut up!” He shouted, spinning around angrily. “Don’t talk about my wife. Give me the bloody watch!”

I blinked. Now it was don’t talk about his wife?

Just the other day she was a nag. His family was a burden. Nothing else mattered. As long as he gave me what I needed… and I did what he asked, it was everything I had dreamt about. A real husband. Money. Fancy cars. Credit cards. Everything that went with it.

A quick fix Nikah and now… I’d just been dropped like a bloody hot potato.

What a pig. He used me.

And despite being so pissed off with him, I supposed if the watch was here, I would have given it to him by now.

Only, it wasn’t. Rolex’s pick up a lot with the dealers.

Shabeer was still rummaging around in the drawers, looking for his stupid watch. I supposed I might have found it funny. Only, I knew how Shabeer got when he was angry.

“Do you want a line?” I asked him, hoping it would calm him down.

Maybe he’d relax and stick around for a while, instead of running of the the ridiculously annoying Rubeena. Maybe we’d have some fun. Well, it had worked before. When Shabeer was in the mood he was super easy-going. Not to mention, such a breeze to persuade.

“I’m not falling for your freakin’ games tonight,  Hannah,” he shot, glaring at me. “You stole my watch, didn’t you?”

I shrugged.

Who cares? It was just a watch. He had enough money, he could buy another one.

All I saw was Shabeer heading towards me. At first I thought that maybe he had come to his senses…. maybe he had realized what he had been missing… after spending that time with his annoying wife.

Before I could even think properly, all I felt was Shabeer grab me so hard by the neck that I could barely breathe. I felt dizzy as my head hit the corner of the wooden table. He came so close to my face, I could smell his cigarette breath right on me.

I wanted to swear him. I wanted to hurt him. But I could barely even talk.

“I let you get away with it when you were pregnant,” he snarled, looking at me with his bloodshot eyes. “So you either shut up or I’ll make you.”

I wished I could hit him. Thank goodness the baby started crying.

He let me go, swore me, and the grabbed his car keys as he made his way out.

I sat there after, helpless baby in my arms, in a kind of trance. I wasn’t sure what was happening to me. What I was going to do. Some days I felt like just ignoring her. She was such a bawler. I couldn’t deal with the pressure of motherhood at such a young age.

My mother would come and help me, but she also had her own life. Her own ambitions. People she had to meet. Men she was plotting, odd jobs she was doing. My father would send money sometimes. I wasn’t even sure if I was fit to raise a child. I wasn’t even sure if I could be a mother.

Days passed. Weeks too. I was caught in my own world of delirium. I couldn’t think properly unless I had a fix. If I didn’t have drugs, I’d raid the medicine cupboard.

Shabeer had left me alone sometimes for days on end. He said I needed to sort out my shit. Sometimes he would pop by and I’d beg him for some cash for the baby’s milk. He always had enough. Of course, that too got used up on more coke. A distant family relative of my father eventually came to take the baby. I had told my mother to get someone to take care of her. I remembered the lady from when I was little. She never had her own kids, and as I let my baby girl go, I was strangely relieved. I felt free. Liberated. Able… and then, I couldn’t help but feel the immense guilt.

I drowned it with more drink and drugs. My mother didn’t come much to check on me any more. She did try to warn me. She told me that drugs had messed up her life, but now she had found a new prospect. Some rich old man who she was looking after… probably wanting to cash in at the end.

And then, the message from Rubeena came.

”Assalaam, Hannah. How are you?”

“Ws,” I replied vaguely. I was switching TV channels while tapping on my phone , trying to find something to watch. What did this woman want from me? 

The mundane soapies didn’t even sway me at all. Why did it feel like my life had no purpose?

”I’ve spoken to Shabeer. I’m sorry that everything didn’t work out the way you planned. Maybe you expected your marriage to be something different. By now, I’m sure you’ve seen through him and know exactly what he’s all about. He has many weaknesses. Don’t let the money fool you. Remember, I’ve had four kids with him. I’ve been with him for eleven years. I know him inside out. I’ve been through some really tough times. The thing is, I stuck around because I loved him. I still do. But I also know that you deserve better. I also know that you deserve another chance in life. You are still young. You’re a clever girl, Hannah. You don’t need to deal with this abuse.”

Abuse?

The witch. She was trying to throw me off because she wanted him to herself. All he did was ruffle my feathers a few times because I spoke to him badly. He didn’t like it when I spoke back. He was a man. All men get those macho vibes from time to time. They wanted to be treated like royalty and she felt threatened by that. He wasn’t the problem. She was.

I tossed my phone aside, not wanting to read any more. I was starting to feel edgy again. I didn’t think that I had a problem.

I never did. Shabeer knew that. All I knew was that we had fun together and that’s what made me better than her. He had told me that.

Later on that evening, after popping a few of the painkillers Shabeer had left next to his bedside, I picked up my phone again.

“Hannah, I’ve found Allah. I’ve started praying. Living. Loving. Appreciating everything I have for what it is. I’ve stopped comparing myself to others. I’m not unhappy anymore. I don’t look back anymore. I look forward to an amazing future with Allah in my life. I’ve found a fulfilling part of me that’s been missing all along. Caught up in Shabeers problems and my marriage, I never could see what I was missing. All I knew was the emptiness I was feeling… always looking around to fill that gap up with some impermissible thing… more Haram… That’s all I thrived on. I want you to know that now it’s different…”

Emptiness? I couldn’t help but get goosebumps as she said it.

It was the first time she had ever reached out to me. I was also completely sure that there was something she was gaining from it. As I read it, I just couldn’t help but hate her more. Now she thought she was better than me? 

I shook my head, seeing the bigger plan here. All this business about finding Allah… what was she on? She was so spoilt and lazy. Self-centered too. All this crap she was feeding me was just a ploy to get me out of her hair, and I knew it.

When I met Rubeena for the first time, I was in awe of her amazing life. She had everything. She had a lovely house, gorgeous kids, a handsome and rich husband. Honestly, this was the life I had dreamt of living since I was a little girl.

The night Shabeer showed interest in me was like my most amazing dream coming true. Pretending I was Khawlah had brought me to an entirely different level for him. He doted on me endlessly… it was like I was his every dream and desire… well… until he found out the truth.

And like the worst kind of punch in my stomach, everything about him changed when he knew who I really was. It was too late for him to turn back then. He was already too deep in. I had to tell him that I was pregnant with his child, so he knew that there was no getting away. And of course I knew it wasn’t right, but that was the way of the world. To get things done, there was no other way but to cheat your way through.

And okay, maybe life with Shabeer wasn’t as amazing as I had thought. For men, as long as you give them what they need physically, half your battle is won. The other half was trying to win his kindness, which was a difficult task to achieve. The more I tried, the more he praised that witch. He was always comparing me to her. Always saying how much she changed her life now, and for some annoying reason, he was in awe of her stupid spectacle.

And of course, there was no-one else that I could blame but that goody-two shoes who made my blood boil.

And course, this was all Khawlah’s fault. Khawlah, who everyone thought was so amazing. Khawlah, who had somehow become the wife of Rubeena’s famous brother. Khawlah who had risen to and even higher pedestal now that everything in her life was so damn perfect …

I wished I could really just get rid of her, once and for all. In my mind, I had concocted multiple plans to do so. I could sabotage her marriage. I could even convince her to move out of this town, if I scared her enough. If it wasn’t for her, I know that things would have been different. She had taken everything that was supposed to be mine. She was living the perfect life. She was living my life.

And maybe I would have let her be, but on the day that Shabeer gave me the  divorce was the day that I lost it. Rubeena had suffered a miscarriage.

Served her right, I thought to myself. I had it out with Shabeer after I heard she was pregnant. I couldn’t believe it. Why would he even want to still be with that spoilt brat? The biggest problem was that now he was going on some kind of crazy mission to ‘serve’ his wife and family. A little too late if you asked me, but all he said was that he’d been thinking and this thing we had was fun but not practical.

Fun but not practical?

I wanted to gorge out his eyes. He had said it so casually. Made it like I was just kind of call girl. Just someone who was there for his convenience. I was never going to stand for that.

Of course, I had put up a big performance, saying I’d call the dealers and put his name in their bad books. I told him I never wanted to see him again, thinking he’d reconsider. I even tried to convince him to stay. I needed him. I needed his money, and everything that he had given me. I promised I’d have my revenge.

He seemed set on leaving, and there was nothing I could do about it. He was giving me two months to find a place to stay, but I didn’t think that was gracious at all. He was just trying to get rid of me with the least problems. My mother was right. Men were all scum.

And I could always find someone else to scrounge off but I didn’t want to get out there again. After the sordid debacle with Khawlah, my entire reputation was spoilt. Her stupid big mouth of a friend had threatened to tell my friends about me swapping exam papers. I couldn’t risk that. It would have turned the biggest trouble-makers in school against me, and no matter what, I wasn’t ready to take that on.

I sat and thought for a long time. I tried to stay sober because I didn’t have much money to do otherwise. When I felt like I needed something, I’d start to self-harm. Somehow, it would ease the pain.

Then of course, I was tired. I was broke, too. The mind games were making me sick. I felt helpless. I needed a way out. A way that was going to cost me nothing but gain me some money.

And then of course, I had an idea. I was tired of moping around. I needed to get serious. I was tired of men. I didn’t want love. Not any more. I was tired of chasing that game that I kept losing.

I tried to think of my strengths… The things that had kept me going. And yes, at first the plans sounded crazy. Really unthinkable. But the more I thought about it, the less psychotic they sounded.

I’d always be good at pretending. Acting. Portraying someone who I wasn’t. I mean, that was how I had bagged Shabeer. It was the only way I got anything in this world. It was the only way I could make something of myself.

After a good few days of planning my vengeance, I knew now was the right time. It was the perfect plan that would get everyone exactly where I needed them to be.

I threw on a purple maxi dress that my mother had used at some point in her life and found a matching scarf somewhere in my cupboard. I dressed perfectly and made my face up expertly, knowing that I looked the best that I had looked in months. I looked like a sophisticated young hijaabi. Almost like Khawlah.

Using the Uber app on my phone, the silver corolla was waiting outside precisely twenty five minutes before the time of Danyaals school dismissal.

I was good with details. I remembered things well. On the few occasions that Rubeena couldn’t make it to fetch him, I had recalled Shabeer’s rants about having to do rounds. He was always annoyed about having to fetch the kids. I even remembered exactly where Danyaal’s school was.

I walked into the office with my head high, fifteen minutes before dismissal. Smiling at the secretary, I asked if I could take my nephew, Danyaal, a bit earlier- if they didn’t mind. His mother was unavailable to make it and I had another kid to fetch from the other primary school a few roads away.

“Which grade is he in, my dear?” The white lady behind the desk asked. I kept my face pleasant. “And what did you say your name is? I just have to check on the list if you have authority to fetch him.”

“Sure,” I said confidently, grabbing a sweet that was in the bowl at the front and smiling appreciatively. “He’s in grade 2B. The name is Khawlah. K-H-A-W-L-A-H.”

What a fancy school. It reminded me of the one my mother had put me in when she had first married Uncle Nazir.

Money was king. It got you places. It spoke to the big guys.

”Ah, yes,” the woman said, smiling and peering at the computer. “Your name’s here. I’ll send a message for him to come right down. You can take a seat or wait outside. He’ll be right there.”


 

Just some reflection and a challenge: a general pattern we see around us is that many people are unhappy with their lives because they keep comparing themselves to others. Someone had suggested a gratitude journal… so we can reflect over the bounties we’ve been given. I think that’s an amazing idea. To look at others who are less fortunate also puts everything in so much of perspective …

May Allah grant us contentment, 

Much Love, 

A 🌸

Sunnah reminder: Speaking Kindly: Abu Hurayrah(RA) relates that Nabi (SAW) may , said: “Whoever believes in God and the Last Day should speak a good word or remain silent.  And whoever believes in God and the Last Day should show hospitality to his neighbor.  And whoever believes in God and the Last Day should show hospitality to his guest.”

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In the Moment

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Khawlah

Roses are Red,

Violets are Blue,

I don’t do poetry,

But I do love you. 

The soft tune of the beautiful Nasheed played as I glanced at my phone, my brow instantly furrowing as the words lit up on my screen.

“What was that..”

I mean, my phone had buzzed and it was there just a second ago, and now… it was gone. It was just a fleeting moment of cuteness, and now…

And wait, did it actually say “I love you“?

“Hey, don’t act like that,” Aadam said loudly, glancing at me and pretending to be hurt. “That was my hard-written poetry. It took me like, a whole day to write.”

”Is it another one of your hidden talents now?” I asked, trying to be light-hearted, despite my hammering chest.

Well, trust Aadam’s to send it to me as a ‘flash message’ which was probably gone somewhere to Jupiter by now. Besides not being the best with gadgets, there was no way I would even know how to get if back… even if I tried.

“How did you do that?” I turned to look at him.

He narrowed his eyes at me, taking them off the road for a second to do so.

The Freemasons,” he whispered, looking all mysterious, as he quickly fixed his gaze on the road ahead again.

I wanted to giggle. Really? The Freemasons?

“By the way, you look like a million bucks today,” he said suddenly, raising his one eyebrow. Another talent he had. “I think that may be the reason they’re stalking you.”

Despite my mood, I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Is that a smile I see?”

I kept silent. My tummy was doing weird things again.

“The least a gal can do is say thank you…” he said, in a cowboy accent.

“Did you copy and paste?” I asked, trying to keep my face straight.

Aadam chuckled, as he drove, moving his free hand toward mine as he grasped it tightly. His warmth was comforting, although it wasn’t yet completely familiar to me.

The late night phone calls were by the way. We had barely spent any time together, well… in person… but it was amazing how we just synced with each other… even when we were still just a little more than strangers. He was an easy person. I felt like a huge chunk within my chest that had already been irrevocably surrendered to this guy, and there was really no going back from here.

“You’re a real toughie, aren’t you?”

I grinned at his statement. I didn’t sway easily. That was right.

The robot was red, and he turned to me for  a second, with that intimate look he usually had when he wanted to say something serious. I knew him that much to understand his words were probably going to be a little more important than usual…

”Listen, Angel,” he said, the corners of his mouth turning up slightly. He looked a bit hesitant about his next words, though.

“Don’t take it personally, yeah? Mum’s a bit… difficult.”

I breathed out, thinking about earlier that evening. Earlier, when his mother just ignored me as if I was not even there.

”I don’t think she likes me very much,” I said, a little quietly.

Okay, so I kind of guessed it when I didn’t get a huge welcoming smile from her. I knew that Rubeena’s mother would be a challenge though, but I was not going to let her break me. Maybe she just needed some time.

“That’s nuts!” He exclaimed, shaking his head. “Don’t you dare even think that! I still can’t believe that she did that… I mean you’re a guest, and I know what that means now… but Mum… she doesn’t know better.”

Really?

I supposed he was right in a way. That was a bit of the problem these days. I remembered Foi Nani always talking about guests. She used to say Mehmaan.

When Mehmaan come, treat them like royalty.’

It sounded so old-fashioned, but I didn’t understand it back then. How important it was to honor your guest.. and how much of reward there is in entertaining them. This is the beauty in knowing our faith… it’s perfection and hospitality knows no bounds.

“I mean, the treatment I receive as a guest when I go anywhere Khawlah… especially when I’m with the guys…. it’s beauty.”

I wanted to ask him more, but I felt like a lump was stuck in my throat.

“It’s okay,” I said, a little shakily. “I’m not really a guest..”

”A new daughter in law should be treated better than a guest,” he said stubbornly, and I kept silent as I saw his jaw clenching tightly, as if he had really taken it personally.

It was the first time I had seen such a adamant side of Aadam and it was a little scary.

My mind was occupied with worries about the time Aadam would be away. He didn’t even get to tell his mother the big news. My heart burned for him, because I could tell that he was so excited, especially about telling her. No matter what she did… Anyone could see his mother was really important to him. It was something that concerned me yet also contented me as well. He was really a good guy.

And talking about honouring guests, Aadam’s big news was precisely that. I couldn’t forget the words he uttered when  he told me as we sat on the handmade swings, swaying side by side.

Allah’s called me to meet him,” he had finally said. “I’ve just been called for Hajj.”

He looked like he couldn’t believe it himself. Apparently, he had applied the previous year with a few of the guys he had met.

 And of course, I sucked in my breath as he said it, because I was so overwhelmed.

“That’s amazing,” I said, a little dreamily.

He’d been called as a guest… to the best place. And of course, I couldn’t help the tugging feeling at my heart as I felt its throb.

Without me? He was going to the best land in the world… with the best journey of a lifetime… and he was doing it without me?

Oh, my heart.

I could still picture the beauty of the Ka’bah, all those years ago when we had gone with Mama, the year before she got really sick. It was our last trip… her last wish that Abba had fulfilled. My heart yearned to hear the hustle and bustle Makkah again… To breathe in the sweet air of Madinatun Nabi… To walk towards the Haramain.. With that feeling of closeness to the most Beloved of Allah swelling in my heart…

But Allah knew whose call was there… and He knew when our Labbaik will be answered.

And of course I would never stop him from going. His mother though… she still didn’t give him a hearing. She had point blank refused to leave the room that she stayed locked in, and we eventually all left with heavy hearts to follow Rubeena home. She wanted us to come in for tea but I really didn’t feel like it. I just wasn’t in the mood.

I really just wanted to go home. To crawl under my decade-old lilac duvet and live there till morning.

I loved that Aadam was so positive but the reality was that his mother wasn’t going to warm up to me any time soon.

And I was trying to be positive too. I mean, I was trying to understand their mothers point of view. I got that she felt threatened, insecure and all the rest of it… I also got that she really and dearly loved her darling son and I did not want to cause problems between any of them. I just needed us be civil to each other.

Aadam sped up as he took the off-ramp, and I clung onto my seat as he took a turn, glancing at my tightened knuckles in amusement.

“I see you don’t like my car?” he said, with a small smile.

“Well…” I started, not wanting to be rude either. We were brought up differently. Different values.. opinions… different things were important to each of us.

Besides, although Abba had been doing really well at one stage, Foi Nani always gave him a scolding when she saw him getting too flashy. That said, he had owned one really expensive car when Aunty Nas was married to him (it was her request, as you could imagine)…. and I suppose that could kind of explain why I hadn’t ever been a fan of fancy cars.

The thing is, when it came to materialistic things, I think we were just tuned differently. Childhoods, by default, are inherently magical. My parents strongly believe that we didn’t need things to make it that.  With us, Foi Nani and Abba always believed that extra toys, birthday parties and unnecessary outings were just wasn’t what it took to make things amazing. No matter what we had, as a child, everything was still magical.

The thing is that we will keep on filling ourselves with Duniyaa to satisfy our desires. This world and it’s love knows no bound… Whether it be shoes, handbags or holidays to tour the world.. all it is is more extravagance and the greed of more and more. Posting pictures, portraying this kind of lifestyle that we are living for this world … when we have this overwhelming desire to show others what we have… it becomes a disease, and creates a desire in others to have more and more.

And then, man’s greed will have no end, as long as he lives in this world.

He goes on entangling himself in one thing and another for increase in his income, for more luxury, for more pomp and fashion… having no rest to even remember the One who had blessed him with it all. This is why our beloved Prophet (SAW) made the Du’aa:

Allahuma Aj’al Rizqah Aalah Muhammadun Quwtah 

Oh Lord! Let the provisions of my family be a bare sufficiency” (i.e. just enough for their bare needs, lest they be entangled in the vicious circle of getting more and more.)

That was the Du’aa of the most beloved of Allah (SAW).  I mean, think about it… while he lived, Allah Ta’ala never let that wealth enter his household. He didn’t want the light of Nabi (SAW) to be contaminated with the filth of this world.

And I knew Aadam was young and he had worked hard for his money… but I knew this was also where my test was. This was where our differences lie. I hated being so rigid, but having these opinions were part of who I am. Besides, I wasn’t exactly the type that liked the attention. How did I explain it to him in the best way?

“Well, it’s not exactly my favourite choice,” I said carefully.

And although his face fell, he knew exactly what was on my mind.

“That’s it,” he said immediately, throwing his hands up in the air. “I’m selling it. Really. I just needed that push. Just imagine it’s already gone, okay? Anything else? You know I’ll do anything for you, yeah? Just to make you happy. Just to make sure you know that you did make the right choice…”

I grinned. He didn’t have to do anything for me. But yes, It was kind of amazing…

“Nah, thats it for now,” I said, with an hint of feigned fussiness. “Let me sleep over it and I’ll have more requests tomorrow.”

I knew what I really wanted. I just wished that he could change his mother’s heart.

And of course, I knew there was only one thing that could change her heart.

“Okay, whatever you want, I’m ready for it. And if I can’t do whatever it is… I’m going to have to be making a fervent Du’aa…”

I swallowed my emotion as he said it. I wanted to cry on his shoulder. Of course, he was going to the best of places to do it, and he had to plead with Allah to make it happen…

“Just give her a call when I’m gone, yeah?” He suddenly said, looking as if he was thinking really hard about this one.

I wasn’t sure what to say. I felt torn. I really didn’t want to. I supposed that’s what people mean when the say marriage isn’t easy. It’s not always all peachy… barely always rosy. Not always perfect, with that swept me off my feet, cloud-nine kind of feeling.

Yes, those moments are part of it, and they are beautiful and inspiring and oh-so-intoxicating, but there are moments when reality is harsher than we think.

Everyone has their tests. Some people deal with difficult husbands. Some people have difficult wives. Some people have other trials in their lives… in their marriages… infertility, abuse, depression… the list goes on…

I found myself thinking of Zuleikha. Of Rubeena. Life wasn’t easy. Marriage wasn’t smooth-sailing. I just hoped and prayed that I’d make the right choices if I ever got there.

I, on the other hand, just had one woman who seemed like she wanted my blood. She probably wouldn’t even talk to me. I didn’t say anything though because just as  he rounded into Rubeena’s street behind her, the pile-up of cars that seemed like they were stationed around Rubeena’s property caught our eye.

Of course, Aadam sped up as we reached the house, and with a worried look on his face, pushed his door open with such a force that I thought it was going to fall off. All I could see was him sprinting toward the house like an Olympic athlete, Kurta lifted, and panic sleeping through every bone.

There were about seven cars all parked awkwardly around the house, and amongst them was a car with flashing lights that had just arrived on the scene. Of course, my heart was thudding incessantly in my own chest as I fiddled with the finicky handle of the car, anxious to know what was going on too.

Of course, my first thoughts were the kids. The kids. I had to check on them. I didn’t want them to go in, if anything was wrong…

I sprinted over to Rubeena’s car, just as she arrived back there, looking like she was in turmoil . He face was a ghastly white and her eyes were wide with shock. I offered the kids some comforting words just before I rushed over to her, in kind of a panic. She looked like she had seen a ghost.

Rubeena!” I said, clicking my fingers in front of her face, as she stared into space. She looked like she was in a trance.

Now, I was getting really scared. Not to mention, absolutely distressed. Something was wrong.

Khawlah…” she almost whispered, and just as I was about to get to her, a figure from the inside emerged, their words colliding over each other as I tried to comprehend something from the jumble of sentences they were rattling off…

My heart was bursting with anxiety. The moments seemed to drag as I looked from them to her, and then back as I tried to figure out who this man really was… and then, just as I kind of made sense of it, and all the puzzles pieces started clicking into place… without any warning…

Rubeena’s body just collapsed to the ground.


 

A little bit of drama … please do remember this writer in all your special Du’aas

Much love, 

A 🌸

Especially in these Mubarak days, let’s remember to make extra Ibadat.

A tip that’s also a Sunnah:  

Aaisha (RA) said about the Beloved Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him):

“He used to sleep early at night, and get up in its last part to pray, and then return to his bed.”

When we have a million things to do, it is easy to fall into a horrible cycle of sleeping late and waking up late.

Break that cycle today! Wake up early and sleep early to be the strong, successful and all that you want to be, In sha Allah.

Let’s revive this Sunnah InshaAllah!

How easy to practise!

#revivetheSunnahof Sleepingearly

#revivetheSunnahofAkhlaaq

 

#missionsunnahrevival 

#revivetheSunnahofMiswaak

#revivetheSunnahofeating

Twitter @ajourneyjournal

IG: @thejourneyingmuslimah

 

 

 

 

 

Spanner

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Khawlah

“Where is she?”

My father reached the top of the stairs as I came out, a worried look on his face.

“She’s inside,” I said, with a tiny smile.

I had just witnessed the most beautiful moment for my sister, and my mind was still wrapped in the amazement of it all. Amidst the worry that consumed me, I was still in awe of the miracle that came in that little bundle of joy.

“Is she okay?” He asked anxiously. “And the baby?”

I nodded silently. Abba was looking more like himself these days. The worries that had seemed to consume him were fading and his happiness now was quite visible. Yunus was there too, and they both looked exceptionally relieved at the news.

“When can we go in?” Yunus asked, shifting on his feet nervously.

My younger brother had changed a lot over the years. Yunus was generally the nervous type, and although he was always busy with some sport or activity, close contact with other people put him on edge. He wasn’t exactly sociable, and as he grew up, I found him withdrawing a lot. I wished I could speak to him and get through to him more… but somehow, as we grew up, things just changed.

Both Yunus and Abba headed for the room while I stayed back, just trying to catch my breath.

So much had happened in such a short time, and I couldn’t help but be completely blown away by the beauty of it.

Seeing Zuleikha there with a little baby was so moving, yet awesome.

“Did you see him?” She asked me, her eyes shining with something that I’d seen once before. I couldn’t seem to place the look she had in her eyes… but its presence was remarkably familiar.

I nodded.

“He’s beautiful, Masha Allah,” I said as i caught a glimpse and the nurse wheeled him away. He was. “Looks like you.”

She smiled at me, and I could see that she was in pure ecstasy. I couldn’t quite believe it too. I was an aunty.

“How’s Jameel?” I said, knowing that I had to ask. “Happy that his baby is here?”

Her expression hardened, and she blinked. It was like I had yanked her out of the little happy place that she ha been in, the moment I said his name.

“Ahmed,” she said, her voice shaking. “Where’s Ahmed? Did you hear what happened?”

I nodded. I knew that Ahmed had shot Jameel. Intense guilt consumed me as she said it, because I knew that whatever grudge Ahmed had acted on was due to information that I was responsible for giving him. I couldn’t tell Zuleikha that now, though. I stayed silent.

“Everything was so crazy,” she said, her eyes darting from side to side as she recollected the days events in her mind. “Ahmed… Jameel… and then… the blood. Khawlah, there was so much of blood! I can’t remember much after that, but honestly, I can’t believe that I actually got through this day.”

She sounded tired as she sighed, her worried eyes watching me.

“And then he came,” she said, after a few seconds, and the dreamlike haziness entered her eyes one again. “And I just could not believe how lucky I was. How perfect he was. Khawlah, motherhood is the most beautiful feeling ever. But when you are on your own….”

She trailed off there as she swallowed, and I moved closer to hold her hand. She looked up at me and her eyes were desperately seeking mine, almost begging me for some hope… some inspiration that she needed to hear.

I grasped her hand a little tighter, knowing exactly what to say.

“You are never alone,” I whispered to her. “Never. Even when life knocks you down on your knees… remember, Allah is placing you in the perfect position to pray.”

Zuleikha looked up at me in wonder, and slowly, as her eyes lit up again, she nodded.

“Remember how mama used to say to you, Khawlah? Remember?”

Of course, I thought to myself, looking away… not able to say the words. How could I forget?

I could almost hear her voice. After all these years… I still couldn’t forget. I could almost picture her saying it.

Allah. He was always there. No matter what. No matter who. He was always there. He remained.

“When they slept, He was awake. When they broke, He carried you. When no one else was there, He was. He remained. He always remains. Remember that always, Khawlah. Remember that. Remember Who you owe everything to.”

By then, I had tears in my eyes, but I hastily wiped them away. I didn’t want her to see it.

“I want to change, Khawlah,” Zuleikha whispered, her voice shaky as she wept. “I don’t want to be like this… I don’t want to be stuck. How did Mama do it, Khawlah? I cant even be half of that! I want my son to know the beauty of Deen that we knew as we grew up… I want him to learn his Kalimahs and go to madrassa…I want him to learn the Sunnah and practice it. Khawlah, I’ve gone so far away… ! I don’t know how to do it. I’m not strong enough, Khawlah… I’m not strong enough. I’m not like you…”

She was broken. A broken girl from a broken home… like the little girl I had left behind, so many years ago.

I placed my hand on my sister’s, swallowing my own emotion before I spoke.

“You  are strong, Zuleikha” I said calmly, keeping my hand firmly on Zuleikha’s. “You just don’t know it. Speak to Him. Allah will guide you. He is always listening… and right now, He knows exactly what you need to do.”

And your Lord says, “Call upon Me; I will respond to you.” (Surah Ghafir, verse 60)

Her hazel eyes were overflowing with tears as she spoke, but she wasn’t finished. There was still one more thing that she needed to say. One more thing that she needed me to know.

She turned her face away momentarily, and the streaks on her face glistened as I watched her.

She didn’t look at me as she said her next sentence, and I almost missed it completely.

“There’s one more thing, Khawlah,” she almost whispered, and I inched forward in an attempt to grasp her words.

I nodded solemnly.

“Promise me,” she said, her hand clenching and unclenching, almost as if she was releasing a rage from within her.

I nodded again.

“Promise me, Khawlah,” she repeated, as I nodded once more. I didn’t trust myself to speak.

“Don’t let them lie to you,” she said, and I looked at her in confusion.

“Don’t let the money, cars and status make you lose yourself,” she said, and my heart beat faster as I wondered why she was telling me this. “Even if he promises you the world, Khawlah… stay away. In the end, it’s not worth the heartache. At the end of the day, to his family, you’re just going to be the poor girl who has no mother.”

She spat out the last few words with such venom that my heart pounded violently at it’s ferocity. I widened my eyes in disbelief, unnerved by her directness. What was she saying? What did she know?

I wasn’t sure if she was talking about me or herself. The reality of what my sister was going through was sinking in, and I didn’t like it. Aunty Radiyyah’s words resound in my head.

My heart was still thudding in my chest as I walked out, barely able to put one foot in front of the other as I walked.

I answered Abba’s questions as normally as I could, keeping my voice stable.

She was okay, I assured him. She had just had a baby. It wasn’t abnormal for her to be in a bit of pain.

Right now though, I had other concerns on my mind. Zuleikha’s words just before I left the room were still with me.

“Go check on Ahmed,” she said as I walked out, sounding worried. “Now you know why I don’t trust Jameel.”

In her entire married life, my sister had never so much as uttered a negative word against her husband. Everything had always seemed rosy and perfect. Although I might have had doubts about him myself, nothing she ever said ever confirmed that.

Today, everything was new. Shocking. Inconsistent. Like her whole life, thus far, had been a horrible hoax. I couldn’t help but feel betrayed and hopeless.

I nodded and headed home with Foi Nani, who was exhausted from the day spent at the hospital. As much as she didn’t like to admit it, Foi Nani was getting old and a bit cranky too. I felt a bit sorry for her as she climbed up the stairs to our home. I remembered the days when she had taken the place of Mama, and been there for us as we grew up. She was the one constant we had… and as a child, constants were really important. As a kid… you crave that person who you know, no matter what, is always around.

I thought of the children that I looked after, realizing something that I’d never processed before.

I was their constant.

With the exception of weekends, for the past year or so, I had been the one thing that was consistent for them. Every day, our routine… though changing at times; we had a certain continuity that kids in general thrived on. The responsibility alarmed me, but a sense of possessiveness comforted me. I couldn’t let the down. I wanted to always be there for them, no matter what. When Danyaal had uttered the words that struck my heart, I already knew… I couldn’t let them down. I couldnt control my own heart. It was swelling with love.

I just didn’t know that some things, even the heart couldn’t control.

I held Foi Nani’s hand as she struggled up the stairs, thinking how fast time goes by. There was a time when she would be the one holding my hand as I struggled to step up… hoisting me along and prompting me to take that one more step as a little girl. When Mama was sick, it was Foi Nani who looked after us, making sure we were taken care of, bathed, changed and the whole lot of care that’s comes with bringing up little kids. I patiently waited as she took the last step, tears stinging my eyes when I processed that she might not have that many chances left to climb those steps again.

“Where’s Ahmed?” Foi Nani finally asked as she caught her breath, and I remembered about my brother again.

A thudding in my chest signalled the warning that something may be up, but with a mixture of hope and fear, I searched the house, hoping he would be hiding somewhere here for now. As much as Ahmed wasn’t scared, he also wasn’t stupid.

He wasn’t in his room but I wasn’t yet worried.

It was only after Maghrib that my feelings took a bit of a plummet. Now that darkness was overtaking the day, my fears were escalating. He hadn’t called either.

The shrill ringing of the phone got all our hopes up after Salaah, and I hastily grabbed the receiver, greeting and speaking into the it with purpose. It was Ahmed’s voice I was now aching to hear.

”’salaam,” the voice replied back to me, but already my hopes were shattered because it was a female on the line. I wasn’t despondent.  Maybe the call would at least bring some news about my brother.

“Khawlah?” The voice asked, and I vaguely recognized it.

“Yes, it is she,” I replied. “Who is this? Are you calling about my brother?”

I had to ask. The desperation was overwhelming.

”Khawlah, it’s me, Ruby.”

My heart plummeted to somewhere near my feet.

Ruby. Rubeena. What on earth was she doing calling my house phone now? At this hour.

“Oh,” I said, my thoughts hazy, because I couldn’t focus. I was still consumed with worry. What did she want?

“I needed you to spend some extra time here tomorrow,” she started, not even waiting for a further response. “I have a date with the girls and then the usual. But I’ll run a bit late because Matt is shifting my session to accommodate my luncheon. So yeah, I’ll be late. I hope you will wait till six. If Shabeer is home early you can leave, but not before 5.30 because you know him. He won’t manage alone with the kids for over half an hour.”

I could picture her rolling her eyes as she paused for a breath.  I couldn’t believe her audacity. She didn’t even ask. She just demanded.

Matt was her trainer and it was a bit weird that she had a male trainer, but I didn’t ask any questions. It was her life, after all. Rubeena wasn’t exactly the type that you could get through to easily.

“Rubeena,” I said stiffly, knowing that I needed to tell her in a diplomatic way that I have a bit of a family crisis. “My sister just had a baby. Things may be a bit crazy. Can I confirm with you?”

Besides, Abba will never let me stay out till so late. It got dark early these days.

“What do you mean?” She asked, sounding peeved that I didn’t just relent. She was used to getting her way.

“I’m going to have to ask my father,” I said, trying to explain that I can’t do as I pleased. Although I was nearly fifteen, I was barely a grown up.

“Can’t you just ask him now?!” She snapped, sounding annoyed.

“He’s at the masjid,” I said, pursing my lips. Not that she could see, but I was getting pretty annoyed too.

“Listen, Khawlah,” she said, in a no-nonsense tone. “I need to know ASAP, because I can’t cancel anything so you just need to be here.”

I wasn’t sure whether to say it. I didn’t want to risk sounding cocky, but I also didn’t want to commit in case I couldn’t make it.

What if Ahmed was still missing? What if Zuleikha needed me? She was probably going to leave the hospital tomorrow… and even if she wasn’t coming home like we thought, she might still want me with her.

I had to tell her. I had to let her sort herself out for once. I was tired of being bossed around.

“I don’t think I’ll make it,” I finally said. “I think you should cancel for tomorrow.”

I knew that she wouldn’t like it. I thought that she might ask her brother. He would be a better option than a helper or some stranger. At least he cared about the kids and they seemed to really like him.

Despite the impression I had gotten the first time Nusaybah and I had met him…. he  had actually surprised me.

I could hear Rubeena’s shallow breathing on the phone. The silence was a bit deafening.

“I have a better idea,” she said, and I couldn’t tell what she was thinking.

Her next words were as icy as a snow storm. I wished that I hadn’t opened my mouth, but it was already too late as she uttered the final blow.

I didn’t know that she would dare to put a spanner in the already messed up works.

“If I cant rely on you, Khawlah,” she snapped with dismay. “I’d rather just find someone else.”

And with that, there was a click of the phone and she cut the call.

 

 

 

Double Trouble

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Khawlah

Some people are talkers. They can talk themselves out of most things. They can talk when they are in a strange environment. They can talk when they are in trouble. They can even use their talking when they find themselves in a situation that is… let’s say… less than favorable.

Now for one, I was not that kind of person. I never was. Yes, I was tough and I was always up for a challenge… but talking was not my forte.

So of course, when Ahmed stormed up to me, wondering what was going on, who the baby was and why there was a strange male in the vicinity… I obviously did not know what to say. Instead, I just waited for him to say the first thing before I put my foot in it.

He walked up idly past the flashy Ferrari sports car in the driveway, looked at me, and then cast a disgusted look at Rubeena’s brother.

“Who are you?” He said, not even making any effort to sound polite.

Of course, I wouldn’t have expected any more from Ahmed. He was tough by nature and made no secret of it. He didn’t see himself as rude. For him, he was just being direct.

Adam was frowning slightly as he saw my brother, and in the streaky sunlight I can see his brown hair looking a little less informal than the last time. He wasn’t all gelled and business-like today. He looked like he was a little calmer than the last time… also less intimidating… except , he was looking annoyed too.

He stood up straight and looked at Ahmed squarely.

“Who are you?” He asked just as directly,  raising his eyebrows at Ahmed questioningly.

“What’s going on Khawlah?” Ahmed said, not liking the response he was getting and narrowing his eyes at me. “Is this your boyfriend?”

Of course, at this point, I literally wanted the floor to open up and transport me to some other space and time. I did not, for the life of me, know what to say.

”No no,” I said, a little worried that this Adam guy was also going to jump to conclusions about me.

Maybe he would think that I was some kind of desperate young girl who was making false allegations. Maybe he thought I was trying to set him up. It was just a wonder that whilst they were busy bickering, none of them noticed the baby in my arms.

“I was wondering if Khawlah had gone mad,” Ahmed muttered, almost to himself.

“And so what if I was?” Adam was saying, now taking on an entirely different approach. His body language has now gone on the defensive and I could see that he was getting angry.

I opened my mouth, slightly agape, knowing that I had to say something.

“Hey!” I shouted at the pair of them, trying to get their attention. “Didn’t you’ll even notice that there’s a baby here in my arms?”

They both stopped and looked at me, frowning slightly.  I knew they thought I was gone mad, but they were acting crazy too.

“I need help,” I confessed desperately.  “Zaydaan has a fever and I don’t know what to do. I’m kind of panicking.”

I looked at Ahmed with pleading eyes, knowing he would understand why I brought him here.

“Do you want to take him to a doctor?”

I nodded, then shook my head.

A doctor? I couldn’t. Even though it would be a great plan… I just needed someone to put this all in perspective for me. To help me think.

“Wait,” Rubeena’s brother said, actually speaking so softly I wasn’t sure if he was. He ran his hand through his hair and looked at us both.

”Let’s try a cool shower,” he suggested, his eyes lighting up. “And I’ll try for Rubeena-“

”I did,” I said, cutting him short. “She’s not answering.”

”As usual,” he muttered.

He shrugged it off and hastily took the sleeping child from me. He was still hot to the touch and I could tell that his uncle was just as worried as he felt him. He hastily took him to the bathroom while I busied myself in trying to sort the other kids out. Their nails were long and the sand had gotten underneath. I knew that Rubeena could be home at any time, and even though she hadn’t given me many instructions about the kids, I knew she would expect everything to be perfect.

Athough I loved looking after kids, Rubeena wasn’t always easy. Her expectations were high and I had always exceeded them.

I sighed, annoyed that I had always been so ambitious. I ushered the kids to the bathroom, determined to do a quick wash and get them looking neat and clean in record time.

Ahmed, on the other hand, was looking at me inquiringly, probably wondering what on earth I called him for. He knew nothing about kids, and even if he did, he was certainly the type to act like he didn’t in case, by my chance, he looked a little less macho than he wanted to. He tentatively entered the doorway of the house, looking around curiously at its expensive interior and raising his eyebrows.

He was definitely bought.

Unlike the rest of my family , Ahmed had this strong inclination towards ‘the good stuff’. He liked nice things. He liked fast cars. Expensive watches. The best perfumes.

Duniyaa.

Ahmed loved it, and it was one of the biggest tests he had to fight off since Abba could no longer afford all the good stuff he used to.

So, although he was a bit peeved at Rubeena’s brother for being here, when he clearly didn’t want him to be near his sister, the fact that the house was beautiful and there was an unmentionably expensive sports car in the driveway, was already changing his entire perspective.

He looked at everything around him now with a hint of interest, already letting me know that he had something else to focus on besides my emergency. He was consumed by ty splendor… looking like he was being devoured by its materialism. Ahmed was very much occupied.

I tried to ignore the crying from the bathroom and hurried to the room to take out some clothes for the kidswhile I had a few minutes free, letting the two big ones dress themselves. They didn’t always do it perfectly but I loved that they tried and were getting better every time. I was so absorbed in them that I didn’t even hear the door opening behind me.

I almost jumped as he spoke, in a hushed voice.

“It’s gone,” he said, hesitating as he saw my shocked expression and takin a step back. I didn’t expect him to come here. I didn’t exactly know what to say, so I just  nodded.

”Wohere can I leave him?”

Zaydaan was finally sleeping peacefully and my heart felt so much more at ease. I pointed to the camp cot outside the playroom, and I watched as thier uncle carefully settled him on the pillow.

I wondered how he knew so much about babies. He seemed young. I mean, he was older than me, but  barely old enough to have his own. I wondered if he had babysat a lot of Rubeena before.

He had seemed so busy. Before when I had met him… I didn’t think he had time for kids. He seemed tired. Fed-up. Annoyed.

But today… today, he had surprised me. Today, he had literally saved the day.

I smiled stiffly, not exactly at him, but hoping to seem appreciative .

“Thank you,” I said, not very loudly, but just audibly.

I knew he heard me because he looked up slightly as he stepped away fro the cot, and looked at me, probably for the first time, with a  more interest than before.

“Welcome,” he said indifferently, looking away quickly. It was a bit strange, and even though I always knew that I didn’t have much time for boys, this wasn’t a usual conversation that any girl would have. Well, so I thought.

“What’s your name again?” He asked, and then I knew that I was going into a danger zone.

Instead of this just being precise and a means to get out of a situation I had been in, it was becoming a little more friendly that I liked. But how could I ignore him?

”It’s Khawlah,” I said hastily, turning away to leave and wondering where Ahmed was. Hopefully he would take me home and not go without me.

“Are you leaving?” He asked, and I hoped he wouldn’t go on complaining about the kids like he did the last time.

I prayed that I could escape silently and he would just take over. I jus had to get out of this conversation with the least effort on my part.

Now, one thing most people knew about me was that I was a reader. I loved my books, and since I loved them I much, I would go out of my way to find educational and informative books on Islam. Not always, but I loved to read about different aspects.

I remembered what I had read once. As I was getting older, I had become more aware of myself and interactions. Now aware of boys, especially during the past few months, I knew that there was a certain way to act. I knew there was a certain way in which I should speak as a Muslims girl, especially when it came to guys.

Allah (SWT) said in the Quran; “then be not soft in speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease (of hypocrisy, or evil desire for adultery, etc.) should be moved with desire, but speak in an honourable manner”.

And I saw it all the time. Girls who would talk to boys at school… or even on the phone. It was so weird how their voices and tones would suddenly become annoyingly sweet and sugar-coated when there was a guy involved. To keep our voices as low and unattractive as we could was the only way to keep away trouble and unnecessary sin.

There were alarm bells ringing in my head and I knew that I had to get away. Adam’s gaze was boring into the back of my head.

”I have to go,” I murmured, almost to myself, turning around again to retreat.

“One minute,” He said, almost convincing me that there was something important I had been missing.

I glanced at the kids. They looked neat enough. I looked at my watch.

It was time for Rubeena to be back, and it wasn’t the first time that she was late. I knew that I would have to leave now, and I didn’t feel bad because her brother was here. What was annoying me the most though was that this guy thought I had all the time in the world to be here.

I turned back slightly, offering a tiny wave to the boys who were watching, making it known that I was on my way out. Their uncle was more than capable. If Abba comes home before us, I knew we would have a lot of explaining. I would have to spend the drive home convincing Ahmed to let it be for a little while longer. Just to buy me some time.

I was caught by surprise when Rubeena’s brother’s voice called out again.

“Will I see you again, Khawlah?”

I almost stopped in my tracks as I heard him, feeling a little ruffled and slightly unnerved by his audacity.

He was clearly not just asking out of my own concern. There was an underlying hint of interest in his voice, and I could tell that he was quite experienced in this kind of chatter.

Of course, it had to be at that precise point that my brother chose to come and look for me, and him hearing it made me me want to run and hide. I wasn’t sure what he was thinking. His penetrating gaze moved from me to the guy, and back to me. I was already scared… worried. Hoping he wouldn’t think that I was actually flirting with this outrageously confident guy.

He gestured for me to follow him, without saying a word, and I blindly followed, looking down and trying to appear as innocent as I could. I didn’t do anything wrong, but I wasn’t sure how it would explain it all to Ahmed.

I could tell that his mind was already working, and his amber eyes were filled with an obscured emotion that I just couldn’t put my finger on.

We had just reached the car, and Rubeena pulled in. I waved at her as I got to the car, gesturing that I would call her later.

The look she gave me back wasn’t very convincing, but I just hoped that she would understand my predicament when she knew the full story. I couldn’t really worry about her right now, because all I could think about was the onslaught I would probably get in the car.

I could already tell that Ahmed was revving up for something, and it’s wasn’t just to drive his car.

Maybe my little adventure was a little more trouble than I had anticipated…

 

The Greatest Plan

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem 

Zuleikha

There are moments in this temporary world where we get completely lost. We lose ourselves to desires.

Our hearts are swayed, and not only do we form an attachment… but we come to love things as we should only love Him. We make them ours. We take those ‘things’ and inject them into our hearts, until they take over.

It’s not long before we feel that we cannot live without them. Every waking moment is spent in contemplation of them, in submission and worship to them. Every moment we yearn for them.. pine for them… and basically feel lost without them… is proof that we have been duped.

“The mind and the heart that was created by Allah, for Allah, becomes the property of someone or something else. And then the fear comes. The fear of loss begins to cripple us. The gift—that should have remained in our hands—takes over our heart, so the fear of losing it consumes us. Soon, what was once a gift becomes a weapon of torture and a prison of our own making. How can we be freed of this? At times, in His infinite mercy, Allah frees us…by taking it away.
As a result of it being taken, we turn to Allah wholeheartedly. In that desperation and need, we ask, we beg, we pray. Through the loss, we reach a level of sincerity and humility and dependence on Him which we wou
ld otherwise not reach—had it not been taken from us. Through the loss, our hearts turn entirely to face Him.”

Through loss… sometimes we gain so much more.

I packed my last bag as I sat on my bed, knowing that I would miss this room and it’s airy indifference. It had held a special place with me, just as this house did, and I never wanted to lose the memories that I had in it. Mama’s voice calling me softly as the Fajr Adhaan would go still played on my mind. I could never forget the soft embrace I would feel as I slept, and she would whisper a sweet Du’aa in my ear.

Well, those days are over now, a voice inside me said stubbornly, and I breathed in slowly, savouring the crisp Spring air fill my lungs.

I kind of missed Foi Nani’s nagging today. She had come down with a virus, and her voice was almost non-existent. I told her it would be best if she rested. Packing wasn’t difficult for me.

Everything had gone so fast. I never imagined it would be like this, but circumstances were such that it had to be. The arrangements were done in record time and the  Nikah was going to be quick and simple. There was to be no huge reception or merry functions. I didn’t want to make this a big deal right now. Without Abba here, how could I ever  think of celebrating like that? This was all so we could have him back with us.

I tried not to think of my siblings as I pulled my suitcase down the stairs. Although their stares haunted me, it was Khawlah’s words that had pierced my already tainted soul. She had a way of making me feel even worse than I ever had.

“I can’t believe you!” She had shouted at me, her dark eyes flashing angrily. Her curls were bouncing around as she spoke, as if they had a life of their own. I had never seen my sister so angry.

“For money! It’s like you are selling yourself,” she spat, blinking furiously at my silence.

I couldn’t believe my twelve-year-old sister actually knew things like that. I widened my eyes at her.

“Shut up!” I said to her, blinking back the tears that were on the verge of escaping.

She had crossed the line. She had gone too far and she knew it.

“You don’t know what it’s like,” I said, wanting to shake her up.

Didn’t she understand? Abba needed our help. Being the eldest made me feel responsible for the entire household.

She looked like she was a bit calmer now. I could practically see the fury draining from her face. She was looking a little more like Khawlah now.

“Everything will fall into place,” she said now. “Abba will come home.”

I looked at her, slightly startled.

“How do you know?”

Khawlah’s fierce eyes met mine, and she nodded.

“Allah will take care of it, Zulz,” she said with so much of confidence in her own words that I was blown away. “He alone is on charge of the entire world. If only we knew… We just need to put all our faith in Him.”

As she said it, I could feel the hope in her voice shining through. She had so much of conviction in her words that I felt like I was completely lost.

How? I wasn’t sure how my sister had gotten this kind of faith… but just her mere disposition was a wake up call for me and made me reflect.

Maybe she was right… but what if she wasn’t?

In my own mind, I couldn’t stop the nagging feeling of ‘what if’. What if it just doesn’t happen? What if I just didn’t have enough faith or patience to get through it on my own. I wasn’t strong like Khawlah.

“He’s changed,” was all I could say, because at this point, I couldn’t go back. I couldn’t even admit to her that I had been weak. How did I explain to my sister that everything I had repeated of Mama’s sentiments… I myself was not able to withstand.

He had changed, I convinced myself. When he phoned for the proposal a few weeks back, he sounded so different. So mature. Not like the spontaneous and irresponsible guy I had known back then. And no, he wasn’t perfect. He never would be. But I was willing to give it a chance.

Bedsides, he was willing to do whatever it takes to get Abba back. I knew what it looked like. It sounded horrible too, but I was relying on him tremendously.

Khawlah just shook her head at me, and I could see the sheer disappointment in her eyes. She didn’t want to talk about it anymore. The topic was closed. All I saw  was her back as she made her way up to her room, probably to drown her sorrows in her books again.

I knew this was hard for her. It wasn’t easy for me. But what other option did I have? We tried everything, and Abba was still not back home. We couldn’t give them what they wanted to get him back. What if they killed him? I didn’t want to even think about that.

I sunk into the orange couch on the entrance hall, sighing deeply as I reflected over the events of the week. Too much had happened. I felt as if I needed time to just slow down a little bit so I could breathe normally again.

The shrill ring of the phone caught me off-guard and I picked it up, without even giving it any thought. My voice sounded tired and my nerves were shattered.

“Hello,” I said, sounding as dull as the dreary weather outside. I could see the grey clouds creeping through the window and the sky was beginning to darken as I watched. It looked like rain was due at any time,

“Hey babe.”

I paused momentarily as I processed. I immediately sat up in the couch, alert and fully conscious now. It was Jameel. I wasn’t sure why but he insisted on calling me that. Some girls liked those kind of names, but it kind of irked me.

“Jameel, why are you phoning here?” I asked, moving the phone away from my ear to make sure that I was speaking on the house phone.

“Because you wouldn’t answer if I called on your cell,” he replied, matter-of-fact.

He was right. I wouldn’t have. I didn’t want to speak to him before the Nikah. It was just a few days now anyway.

“You know why,” I said, holding the phone between my shoulder and ear so I could hear better. ”You’ll get tired of me before we even get married! We have enough time…”

”I won’t ever get tired of you,” he said sweetly.

My tummy did a small flip, but I ignored the warning. I mean, who didn’t like to hear nice things about themselves? Who didn’t like a guy to throw them up?

“Really?” I prompted him, taking the receiver and moving into the lounge where I wasn’t so audible.

“You’re amazing,” he continued in his smooth voice. “Not to mention… so gorgeous…”

”Hmmm,” I said, enjoying every bit of it.

I knew I was being self-centered. I knew I was being stupid. I also knew it was wrong.

I just needed that convincing. After Khawlah’s little session, I wanted to prove to her that he was good. And of course, to me, he was proving himself very well. I didn’t realize that my younger sister had a better version of good than I did.

“Okay, I have to go now,” I suddenly said to him, cutting him short after getting what I needed out of him and not wanting to listen to his small talk.

Also, I spotted Khawlah enter the lounge from the corner of my eye, and I didn’t want her to overhear my conversation. I could see from her questioning gaze that it was probably too late.

“Who was that?”

Her voice was neutral and I could see that she had calmed down from earlier.

“No-one,” I lied, not wanting to hear more outbursts from my sister.

“You know boys and girls aren’t supposed to be friends,” she said, raising her eyebrows at me.

I narrowed my eyes slightly, wondering where this goodie-two-shoes sister of mine had come from.

It was easier for her to talk. She was only twelve. Marriage was a notion so far off for her. All she had to worry about was school.

“Says who?” I challenged her.

Since when was she allowed to lecture me? 

I didn’t want to admit it, but a little bit of arrogance had crept in. All that I knew in my demented opinion was that I was marrying the guy.  What was the harm?

I didn’t know that the mere thought that I was still doing something okay was itself a danger. The thing was, when anyone engages in sin, at first there’s a flicker of doubt that appears on your mind… and this flicker is a warning. It serves to inform you, trying to alert you that something is not right. When you persist, with no regard for it, the reminder eventually goes away. The part of me inclining to do good was dwindling away, and at that moment I had no conscience whatsoever.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, when the servant commits a sin a black spot appears upon his heart. If he abandons the sin, seeks forgiveness, and repents, then his heart will be polished. If he returns to the sin, the blackness will be increased until it overcomes his heart. It is the covering that Allah has mentioned: No, but on their hearts is a covering because of what they have earned.” (83:14)

Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 

Khawlah just looked at me, and I couldn’t tell if she was more disappointed or more annoyed. I shrugged at her, putting on a indifferent face, and climbed back up the stairs to finish zip up my bags.

She didn’t have to be so uptight about everything. She didn’t have to make me feel so guilty.

Things were going to get better. There was a lot to look forward to… she would see.

The way I saw it, it was going to be amazing. I would get married. Jameel would help us with the money we needed for Abba. Foi Nani will get well again and get back to normal.

What I didn’t know was that there was a greater plan in place. In my childish ignorance, I didn’t know that our plan was not always the final plan.

To Khawlah, it seemed like she had lost everything. To me, everything had been found.

For us all, we didn’t know it yet, but there was a master plan in place… a plan that we would watch unfold, piece by piece… a plan that was carefully designed by none other than…

The Greatest Planner of all.

Making History

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Waseem: The Right Way...

Often, you don’t recognize the biggest days of your life. Not until it’s already happening. The day you commit to something… Or the day you make it big-time… The day you meet your destiny.

Or the day you realise the truth about this world… Because you foolishly thought you could live forever, when you were always told that nothing’s meant to last…

Whatever event it is… That’s the thing with making history. It’s always in the making. And for me, all the making was just on one day.

And right then, as I sprinted towards the house that I had come to know fairly well during the past few months, I just had a feeling that it was going to be a day that I would probably not forget very easily.

Besides almost bubbling over with anger, the anxiety about the outcome was killing me. How was I going to end this open onslaught? How would they deal with this vicious insult… This ripping apart of their home for no other reason other than Dad’s plans to build more and more?

I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Fortunately, there was no car in the driveway. I was at least grateful that the man who owned these things didn’t have to witness this undignified removal.

I scanned the yard, immediately seeing the guy I was looking for. They called him Ossie and he was my Dad’s go-to guy. He always did Dad’s odd jobs, and especially intervened when it came to things of this nature. You name it, and he would deliver.

I manoeuvred my way into the house where he was going, calling out his name to try and get his attention. He turned around to face me, looking confused at first. I supposed it took him a few seconds to realise who I was, but he eventually did.

“Waseem?” He asked, cracking a smile.

I nodded, greeting him. Straight to business, I reminded myself.

“Uncle O, please halt this operation,” I said seriously. “Your guys need to start putting everything back.”

He frowned, shaking his head.

“Strict orders, boss,” he said. “He’ll finish me if I leave without doing this job.”

I had to do something. I had to make it end. It was time to pull out the draw card.

“I’ll sort you out, don’t worry,” I said, feeling slightly nauseated. “My father will understand the situation.”

He was still reluctant.

Money. I mean after all, it was all that mattered, right? Without talking rates, nothing gets done. I could always have threatened him in ways that I knew would work, but somehow, I just didn’t want it to get ugly. Firearms weren’t meant for this kind of business. Here in Pretoria, it was just the cause of more killing and gangster business going on. I had to be responsible.

I pulled out whatever cash I had, making sure he could see that I was armed so he wouldn’t try any tricks to get me out. Obviously with a promise of more cash still to come, I finally began to see some enthusiasm. I was disgusted.

Firstly, with myself, because I had become a part of it, and secondly, because I had forgotten the way of the world. Being on a different path of life had got me deluded… It had got me thinking that the whole world had changed, when it actual fact, when you move on, everything else stays exactly where you had left it.

I only wished that I could make people see where the real riches lay. I wished that they could trash the idea that it was in the massive houses, luxury super cars and branded clothing that they bought. I wish people could stop worshipping the idols of this world, like their Smart Phones, shoes and handbags that they would probably die without.

It was a fact. We made idols of these things, making them such objects of extreme importance, when it actual fact, every thing that we see around us is just going to turn to dust. Every silly sentimental ornament, or expensive gift… The gold and diamonds of the world that we hold so much value to… It will all just become dust. Just powdery, useless dust.

And about the real wealth, people don’t care. The wealth that is invested with your Lord is eternal. Those hours spent in repentance and worship can never be a waste. The disregard for this world will always avail you… Because what awaits after, can never compare.

And no-one could put it better than our Prophet (SAW) saying:

A proclaimer will proclaim: “For you there is everlasting health, and you will never be sick. For you there is everlasting life, and you will never die. For you there is perpetual youth, and you will never get old. And for you there is everlasting bliss, and you will never be in want. (Muslim)

SubhaanAllah. It is truly humanity’s real abode… A place in which there will be no human imperfection. We can never imagine… And yet we still prefer this temporary life over the promises of Jannah.

I shook my head, letting the feelings of putridness dissolve.

This was the last thing I wanted to happen. I felt like an invader in these people’s house. I didn’t know how my father did these things, most of the time for no apparent reason.

It was just as well that they weren’t at home, because I would have hated for them to witness this.

I facilitated the quick replacing of furniture, as best as I could remember. The guys left quickly, eager to be let off early, and I stayed back while Ziyaad helped to re-arrange final bits in the main home area. He was actually behaving himself for once, and it was quite something to see how much my brother had grown up.

Ziyaad, my previously ‘idiot younger brother’, was actually growing into a man. And not the disagreeable, obsessed man I had feared. Allah had looked at him with such a mercy that I could see his whole life changing, and it was yet another reminder of how Du’aa could change anything.

We finished off, glad that the car wasn’t back yet, and hoping that I wouldn’t catch them on the way out. I wasn’t sure what exactly I would say or how we would explain ourselves, so I ushered Ziyaad out and followed him toward the door as quickly as possible. And it was just as well that they didn’t reach the other rooms as yet, because just as we were about to step out, a voice caught us completely unawares.

” ‘Salaamalaykum.”

The voice was soft, but loud enough for us to hear. We both spun around to see a youngish girl, covered modestly and not even looking at us, just at the passage entrance. I looked away. Had she been standing there all that time? 

A new anger rised up, realising that they were probably in the house all this time. How could they intrude with these girls alone at home? It was just so unethical. I knew this was something I was going to confront my father about. Just thinking about what could have happened, made me so angry.

They literally broke into their home. No consideration at all.

At that moment, I was seeing red, but I had to focus on what this girl was saying.

“My sister… Erm… She says to tell you’ll… Um…”

The girl was probably in  her early teens, so I could understand her hesitation. I mean, she had probably never spoken to a guy before, and now she had to face two who were in her own personal space. Leave alone that, the one was shamelessly ogling her, completely unaware of how unsettling it was for this chic.

I whacked Ziyaad on the back of his head, hoping he would get the hint and stop being so damn audacious. He was acting like he’d never seen a girl before. The poor girl was looking terrified.

“My sister says to, er, w-wait for Abbi,” she finally stammered, and literally spun around to run back to the room.

I looked at Ziyaad and he smirked at me, looking slightly apologetic.

“Idiot,” I said, shaking my head at him, and turning around again.

All this time I was on edge, but now that the girl mentioned her father, I felt like the whole world’s weight was on my shoulders.

Despite what she said, I really wanted to get out of there before he came. I just couldn’t face him after everything. There was too much history… Too much to be said. I didn’t know if I had it in me to go through with it. I just hoped they wouldn’t hold us accountable for my father’s selfish actions.

“Let’s get out of here,” I said, literally pulling Ziyaad with me as I walked down the verandah, eager to escape.

What?” Ziyaad was saying, stubborn as ever. “You heard her the lady, bru. She said to wait.”

He didn’t know what this could all bring… And the truth was, neither did I. I had just stepped down the stair and started to open the gate, when the familiar white Toyota pulled in, with the man in question looking directly at us, a strange look on his face.

History resurfaces. Sometimes we can change things, and sometimes we can’t. Sometimes we have a choice.

So, we had to remember, the most important thing, was the history we’re making right now.

Make it good… Make it the right way. But most importantly, make it the way you want to remember.