”Can you stop stressing?”
Imraan was looking at me with his eyebrow raised as I bit my lip, trying hard not to think of the thing that had been bothering me the last two days.
“It’s not good for the baby.”
He came toward me, rubbing his hands vigorously up and down the sides of my arms as if to comfort me.
It wasn’t doing much good.
“How do you know that I’m stressing?” I asked with a frown, rolling my eyes at him as I breathed out.
“You do that weird thing with your lips,” he said, shaking his head, his brown eyes twinkling playfully. “As if you’re going to nibble them off.”
I narrowed my eyes and he grinned at me humourlessly. I stuck my tongue out at him. Sometimes I wondered if we were still kids.
He was watching me carefully before I finally snapped. I couldn’t hold this in. I had to tell him.
But not yet.
“I just feel like we should be doing something!” I suddenly exclaimed, throwing my hands up in the air and feeling exasperated. “You just sit around and watch me being all riled up, as if you’re not bothered. Aren’t you worried, Imraan? Can you imagine what this is going to do to Hamzah? Remember he took like fifty steps forward when he changed his life and got married. What’s going to happen after?”
Imraan merely shrugged at me before looking away, avoiding the obvious.
“I’d like to believe that it’s only a paper but with those two I really can’t be certain…”
He honestly didn’t know what else to say. My mother-in-law had retreated into her own kind of shell after Mohsina had told her about the court case. My father-in-law said nothing at all.
As for Rabia, I couldn’t help but notice something frisky in her eyes that day Mohsina told us about this nightmare they were experiencing. Well, after she literally forced them to tell her what was going on in their marriage, as if she was part of it.
And then there were the messages.
“What about Zaid?” I had asked the day before, my entire world feeling like if was spinning as I recalled what Mohsina had said about the court case. A divorce was imminent. There was no other way. “What will happen to him?!”
I was getting a little panicky. In situations like this, I tend to get prickly and not manage emotions very well. Being pregnant didn’t help the situation. Everything was like fifteen times more intense.
”He will be in between us for now,” Mohsina had said, her voice sounding strained. “He’s not feeding so much anyway. I don’t know if it’s the stress or if the milk is just drying up in the past two weeks… But without needing me all the time and us being apart… I think it’s Allah’s way of showing me that he’ll be okay.”
I watched her as her expression remained stoic, like Mohsina’s often was, but there was a certain vulnerability that seeped through the hardened exterior that she was trying to portray.
She was emotional. Unquestionably. Maybe she was feeling it that Zaid was self-weaning. She looked worn and pale and I could see that she was probably barely sleeping. All this must be taking a toll on her.
I glanced at Zaid who was sitting in the feeding chair that my father-in-law bought for him. He was family. Part of our family, and no one dared ever say otherwise. He was sucking his brocolli covered hands with such concentration that I couldn’t help but smile at him, despite the somber situation.
My mother-in-law was fussing over him and my father-in-law was alternating between watching Zaid and looking out at Hamzah and Imraan talking outside.
”So when’s it all happening?” I asked, not sure if I really wanted to know.
“After the Nikah,” she said simply, but with a tiny smile at the mention of Nikah. “My sisters insisting that they have it this weekend. She’s such a hopeless romantic that she literally cannot wait. I thought it would be best if Hamzah and I were together for the wedding and the functions. Too many questions otherwise…”
I heard her concerns but my heart felt like it was going to crack open.
My eyes drifted to Hamzah, who was leaning against the balustrade outside while Imraan sat in front of him, speaking about something animatedly. I could see from my husbands hand gestures that they were talking pretty seriously and I just had a hunch that they were discussing the same issues that were on my mind.
I wanted to ask her what exactly happened to make it so bad. I knew that it had to do with her old boss and that there had been some foul play involved. Imraan wasn’t the type to air anyone’s dirty laundry, no matter what it entailed, but I got the idea that Mohsina and the old boss weren’t just having a professional relationship. I had heard Rabia’s theories too, who claimed that Mohsina was very much seriously involved with him, but listening to Rabia always caused problems. She was also looking a little too smug about the entire situation for me to actually take her seriously.
Rabia had just sauntered in at that point, and from her body language I could tell that she was looking to start an argument. I’d been living with her long enough to tell.
“What time are we even eating?” She scowled, glancing at the two salads on the counter as if they annoyed her. “Do you guys even know how hungry I am? I need some protein. Like. STAT.”
I almost rolled my eyes, but Mohsina’s raised eyebrows still portrayed enough annoyance for both of us.
”Help yourself,” Mohsina said, nudging one of the salads towards her. “There’s cheese in there.”
I wanted to giggle but Mos’s straight face was too serious to even try. She had quite the quirky sense of humour, and I also got the feeling that she was upset about how Rabia had pushed them in the spotlight the day before when they told us about the courtcase.
“Not enough protein,” Rabia said with a flip of her hair. “Plus, I’m like starving. I only had my protein shake this morning and it’s been like 7 hours.”
”Ah,” Mohsina said, something unreadable in her eyes as she looked back at her, hands propped up on the counter against her face. “And where do you get your special protein shakes from?”
The question seemed innocent enough and Rabia looked pretty flattered that she was asking about her dietary requirements and restrictions. There was a certain attitude she adopted when she replied, trying to make her lifestyle sound as glamorous as possible.I always noticed it.
”Oh it’s that place near Melrose arch,” she said with an easy smile. “You know, they sell all those organic things that make you feel like your life is soooo unhealthy. Near the ice cream place that you-“
She cut herself short and quickly re-adjusted her head band as she paused awkwardly.
She had stopped mid sentence and was now shifting around and adjusting her phone cover.
Did I miss something?
A sinister look passed between the two of them that involved Mohsina’s narrowed eyes and Rabia’s fidgety fingers, and I immediately got the feeling that there was something glaring at me here.
”I meant,” Rabia reiterated, taking a deep breath and finally looking up. “The place that I posted about that sells the most amazing flavours of ice cream.”
”The same one that has the guava and mint one, right?” Mohsina asked with a cock of her head, not missing a beat, despite Rabia’s pinched face. “I mean, I always wondered… who on earth even eats such weird flavours? Do you know how unpalatable that is, Sawls?”
Mohsina’s gaze switched to me and I frowned and shook my head at the mention of guava. I’ve never been a fan of the fruit so ordering the ice cream flavour for me was kind of out of the question.
I turned to look at Rabia who has stopped her sentence, and I could actually see her entire body suddenly rigid, as if frozen in place after Mohsina’s gaze landed on her. She looked like she had been struck senseless by whatever Mohsina had just said.
”I used to know a guy who actually loved that flavour,” Mohsina said, ignoring her, but her face riddled with suspicion as she said it. “I wonder if he still eats it…”
She was looking distinctly uncomfortable but before I could even ask what was up, and Mohsina could continue the conversation, Imraan and Hamzah made their way inside, both looking a little frazzled by whatever they had been speaking so intensely about.
My husband, being the everlasting peacemaker, landed his gaze on Rabia’s stiffened shoulders questionably, not able to be quiet.
”Whatsup sis?” He asked animatedly. “All okay?”
He ruffled her open hair playfully and
Rabia’s entire demanour seemed to suddenly morph again as she looked at Imraan and huffed.
”Nothing,” she said stiffly, looking all tensed up and unsure of what she should do next. Her hands were twisted around each other and I watched her flatten her bouncy hair as she looked at him.
I barely even noticed it, but she had changed so much in the past year. Where she had been really strict about hijab, now Rabia didn’t bother much, especially if she was going out to gym or for her runs.
Mohsina’s face was as stony as ever as she watched Rabia, and as for Rabia… It was like Mohsina had rattled her in a way she never knew before.
Something about the ice cream place had shifted something in the atmosphere. I wish I knew what was going on.
“Your face doesn’t seem like nothings up,” Hamzah said with a small grin, the serious expression I had seen on him earlier as he spoke to Imraan slightly lifted.
It was like he didn’t want Mohsina to see his true feelings.
“I have a masters in reading your expressions and I can see when something’s unsettled.”
I looked at Mohsina who was now seated on the opposite side of the room, also watching Rabia curiously. All eyes were on her and she was feeling the pressure. For the first time in months, I actually felt sorry for Rabia.
“I’m fine!” Rabia almost shouted, throwing her hands up into the air, glaring at us. “Stop trying to read me and force me to feel stuff. What the hell is your vibe?!”
Hamzah’s expression was now completely lost as Rabia stormed off, in all her unpredictable fury. He was looking from Rabia to Mohsina and then to me, as if trying to find some answers that he wasn’t getting.
I shrugged. I was honestly just as lost.
“What on earth?”
Hamzah was looking at Mohsina, who was unreadable, but I could tell that he had no idea either of what was going on.
“Vibe,” Imraan said as he watched he retreat up the stairs. “What the hell is a vibe anyway?”
He frowned slightly, scratching his head. Honestly, sometimes he acted ten years older than he actually was.
“It’s like a mood,” I said with a small smile, trying to move on from the outburst. “Intuition? Like something you have. I don’t know. Positive, negative. Sinister. Cool. Good vibes only is like a thing people say right?”
I turned to Mohsina but she was spaced out as i looked at her. Sinister. Why did I even say that?
Oh yes, because that’s how Rabia had been acting.
Hamzah had been frowning at her questioningly just before he moved into the lounge to check on Zaid, who my father-in-law was very busy entertaining. As he walked forward, I couldn’t help but notice Mohsina following them both with her eyes, watching Hamzah as he picked Zaid up and kissed his face unreservedly.
I could practically see her swooning.
It was obvious that she still felt for him. A lot.
Besides, when I watched Hamzah and Mohsina, I could tell that they weren’t ready for this. As strong as they were trying to be, I could see the glances that passed between them that betrayed their words.
They were both, undoubtedly, in love. But what’s love got to do with destructive law suits that can ruin your life, right?
I didn’t understand much about the corporate world but I did know that Mohsina had been pretty deep in it. I just wished that there was an answer for her to get out of it.
“Jannah vibes!” Imraan almost shouted randomly as he held his hand up in the air. “That makes sense, right?”
Oh yes, we were still on the vibes thing.
”I mean, technically, we should all be having Jannah vibes right?”
I smiled at that. Jannah vibes for sure. I mean, no one’s ever asked me what’s my vibe before. It wasn’t like a basic conversation anyone would have. But our entire aim in this world is suppose to be Jannah.
The thing is, in everything that we do, our core question should always be to ask: what does Allah expect of me regarding this?
Society is warped and social media has got everyone into sheep mentality, but Qur’ān and Sunnah is always unchanging and forms the best anchor. Through the lens of the hereafter, we let ourselves understand the true kind of vibes we should all have.
Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever is kind, affable, and easy-going, Allah will forbid him from entering Hellfire.”
Source: al-Sunan al-Kubrá lil-Bayhaqī 20806
Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Albani
And it was simple. To be good, to be humble, to be easy going and kind to everyone was part of our path to attain Jannah. And most definitely everyone’s path isn’t the same, but what I did know was that to strive to be who Allah Ta’ala wants us to be, despite how hard it may be, is goals for me.
That’s definitely some amazing kind of Jannah vibe.
”No Jannah vibes coming from that direction,” I murmured light heartedly, nodding toward the nook where Rabia was and remembering her sullen face as she left.
She didn’t come out again till the evening, and no one really asked. In fact, I kind of appreciated the peace.
If was after Hamzah and Mohsina left that Imraan and my in-laws were sitting in the lounge while Uthman had pulled out a pack of uno cards. I sat on the carpet and played with him mindlessly as I heard the conversation surrounding me, feeling myself lose any of the hope that I’d had about them sorting out the problem.
It seemed that the more time passed, the more complicated it became.
We were in the city for the week since Imraan had some work, and being Mohsina’s sisters wedding, Imraan thought that it would be best to stay till the main even, especially since Hamzah seemed to be a littel stressed out.
Mohsina had told us that we would all be invited but since her sister wanted a simple and quick affair, dates and times would be decided in the week and she would let us know from there.
And though the wedding was so exciting and fun to plan, even for me as she tasked me with baking a few dozen mini cakes for tea, I couldn’t help but feel the impending doom of what was to come after it was all over. I knew for a fact that this event was keeping them together and that it was afterwards when Mohsina and Hamzah would be forced to part ways, no matter what happened in between.
The talk was too depressing. If I heard about legal divorce and embezzlement one more time, I would probably start getting emotional. I needed a diversion and
I loved to bake. Knowing that I would be tasked with making mini cakes with a Nikah theme got me all excited. Though I kept most of my baking supplies at the farm now, I did still have some at the main house where we used to stay in Joburg. I felt myself gravitating toward the kitchen, wanting to check on what was still okay to use and make a list of what I would still need to get.
I barely noticed Rabia sitting on the corner nook, next to the grocery cupboard, until I heard her little snort of laughter. I whipped my head around to see her watching her phone. She was sitting away from the family, as usual, stuck on social media and whatever else was on that device of delusion. It was weird how people would forsake an actual conversation for something that was virtual, but with Rabia, nothing seemed to even surprise me anymore.
“All okay?” I said lightly, opening the drawers below the oven as I glanced at her.
”Mhmm,” she murmured, nodding blankly. She barely even lifted her head. She was obviously not into actual socialising today.
And it was so sad because that kind of behaviour was actually becoming so normal, that it scared me. While I thrived on visitors, actual meetings and functions that happened, the newer generation were far too comfortable sitting on their phones having fake relationships that have no depth. We are so obsessed with media, building and things, that we’ve stopped worrying about the things in life that really matter.
There is a slightly sinister side (depending on how you look at it) to how social media shapes what you care about.
“Mark Zuckerberg, a journalist was asking him a question about the news feed. And the journalist was asking him,
“Why is this so important?” And Zuckerberg said, “A squirrel dying in your front yard may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa.” And I want to talk about what a Web based on that idea of relevance might look like.”1 -Eli Pariser
The glaring truth is: social media companies decide, for example, which tragedies will provide the option of updating your profile picture in solidarity. As we consume content about one issue, or similar types of issues, algorithms then kick in. They note our interest, and then continue to serve up similar content.
Without realizing it, we are in the ultimate brainless echo chamber.
Everyone we know is talking about the same thing and from the same point of view. It is then unfathomable for anyone to not take part, or have a differing opinion. We assume that if people simply saw the things we saw, they would think the way we think. Hours are then invested into debates over group text and comments sections sharing and resharing the content that supports our views while ignoring everything else.
People think that posting something to 100 strangers or 20 friends is going to somehow completely counteract the effects of the politico-me-dia complex.
That’s not going to happen.
What we need to do instead is focus on our more personal networks. We need to have deeper relationships with actual people… have frank discussions with and challenge each other’s views. We need to switch off that Wi-Fi connection and build our family bonds.
Rabia was obsessed with the exact opposite.
I ignored her as I continued to search for some pastel coloured cake flora that I was so sure I had bought a few weeks ago. She was humming to herself and me, being so busy with my own task, I barely even noticed that she had something on the stove. I mean, there was plenty of food left over from earlier, but Rabia had been so annoyed with us all, for Allah knows what reason, that she didn’t even come eat.
Not only that, it was obvious that the food didn’t meet her standards, hence the reason why she was actually here, making her own packet of those ever-popular extra hot noodles that everyone had been raving about months ago.
“Something on the stove?” I asked, sniffing something a little odd but not quite sure if I was just being paranoid.
”Oh shit,” she said immediately, her eyes widening at me as I closed the cupboard and watched her literally blast off the bar stool she was sitting on.
In seconds, her phone had literally fallen onto the counter next to me as I tossed the few cake toppers I had found onto it, sorting through the lot while I heard her mumble a whole lot of incoherent words under her breath.
She was so busy trying to do damage control as she wiped the overboiled mess off the stove, that she didn’t even hear her phone ping.
And I didn’t mean to look. I just happened to be there at the time, and her phone was right next to me. It was almost like a reflex reaction. The phone buzzed as I sorted the mess on the counter, and my eyes literally shifted over to the suddenly brightened screen as I saw the sender.
The F Factor: So are you sure that she’s onto you because of that post? Wasn’t that the plan?
I blinked and looked away.
I mean who names someone the ‘F factor’? It sounded so… sinister. Not to mention, slightly crude.
It buzzed again.
And before you call me a creep and a nosy housewife with nothing better to do, let me just explain that I really never did this.
Let me make it clear. I never spied on peoples phones before.
Kinky texts or coded messages weren’t my thing anymore than pumpkin spice latte but with the second message coming in literally seconds after the first, my eyes already glided over again and I couldn’t help but suck my breath in as the next message came in.
The F Factor: Better question. After everything you said… you think Mos is onto me?
I stared at the phone for around three seconds before it registered.
Oh my goodness. I had just seen something that I wasn’t supposed to see.
Correction: I had just seen something that involved someone I cared about, that I wasn’t supposed to see.
I had witnessed something that was supposed to only be meant for Rabia’s eyes, and in that it was almost like I had incriminated her of something I never thought she would be capable of.
I glanced at my sister-in-law, oblivious to my findings, quickly scooping up the packets of edible decor before I moved along on the counter, my heart beating like never before as I recalled the message in my mind.
What in the world did it mean? It was obvious that Rabia was talking to someone about Mohsina but what wasn’t so obvious was what her whole motive behind this was. Was she trying to help Mohsina or was she trying to make things worse? The whole exchange earlier was definitely something but the bigger question was, who on earth was this ‘F factor’ person who she was feeding all this information to? I had only seen two messages but it was obvious that there was a lot more than just those two.
I couldn’t quite believe that Rabia actually had in in her to sabotage someone’s marriage and life but looking at her lately, I wasn’t quite sure anymore. It felt like the only thing that mattered to her was her social media feed and all the posts she hankered after to impress people.
Family, relationships and actual people in her life meant nothing to her. I could feel myself shaking with anger as I registered all that, feeling like I was about to explode any second with fury.
And just when I felt like I was about to boil over, and shoot questions at her like never before, when I realised that there was no way I could do that. There was no way I could confront her.
And okay. Maybe I was scared, but come on. Hear me out. This was Rabia we were talking about. At the mention of anything even remotely incriminating, she would probably hate me like never before.
I had to think about this. Really carefully. I mean, I just saw one sinister message – okay two- that could mean that this entire thing is a huge set up for Hamzah and Mohsina’s marriage to fail, but I couldn’t just jump to conclusions. As much as my gut was telling me that it was highly likely, my brain was telling me to lower the accusations down a notch before jumping to conclusions.
I had to get my ducks in a row. It was possible that I had a lot more than just baking some fairy cakes this week… and it was highly possible that Rabia was not going to like what all this would expose…
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)
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..💕