Walk Away

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem


Every day is a new adventure. For my nearly-sixteen-year old self, that’s how I had come to see it. An adventure that sometimes takes us by surprise, and at times, never fails to allure, amuse, or even delight.

What we make of life is only how we see it. Although seeing the best and being the best is always a tough call, to conquer the evil that always lurks in the midst with goodness from within, was an unfathomable achievement. Good character, no matter what the situation, takes a strength greater than a 100 men… But it effects are far more worthy than we can ever imagine. It will simply blow you away.

I breathed in deeply as I reached the house that I had now come to know so well, reveling in the scent that lingered and taking in the the natural beauty of spring that was emerging in full force. It was that time of the year again, and as time went by, I knew that my time there too, was limited.

It had become a ritual of mine to take delight in the little buds that were forming on the bushes, and carefully track the constant rustling in the nests that were all being meticulously structured above. The unprecedented structure and beauty of nature never failed to amazed me.
And just like the sunlight brought hope for a new start, the little lights in my life always kept me going. It was like they knew I was there even before I even arrived. The door swung open just before I reached out to press the bell, and Dayyaan and Zia looked at me with wide smirks on their face.
“What are we doing today, Khawlah?” Dayyaan asked, his eyes wide with excitement.

“Dayyaan!” His mother shouted, and I could hear the scrunching of her sneakers as she made her way to the door. “Can you at least let Khawlah come in before you’ll bombard her?”

Rubeena emerged from the lounge area and as she entered my view, I noticed that she looked a little rough around the edges. Her hair was  a mess and her eyes were a bit puffy. If I wasn’t mistaken… it looked like she might have been crying.

”Is everything okay?” I asked, a little panicked now.

Rubeena had always seemed so… together. I was a little alarmed to see this sort of discomposure from her.


She opened her mouth, but I could literally see her almost choking on her words, as emotion overcame her again. I knew the feeling. The feeling when you so baldly wanted to speak… but you were scared that all that would come out was … more tears.

She hastily turned away as I watched her, and I quickly got the boys on the important task of setting up our favorite game to divert them, while leading her to the nearest chair in the adjacent kitchen.

“I’m sorry,” she finally spluttered, hastily rubbing away the tears at the corners of her eyes.” It’s just…”

She sighed, trailing off and swallowing as she looked at me, slightly embarrassed. Her cheeks were were flushed and her nose was as red a tomato.

“Everything’s a mess,” she blurted, shaking her head.

I swallowed hard, not knowing how to respond. It had been a few weeks since Zuleikha had spoken to me, and though I had promised her I would be careful and think about giving up my job… I wasn’t ready to leave them all behind as yet.

And yes, it had really got to me when I heard. I wished that I could tell someone what I was truly feeling. She thought I was ‘going out’ with Rubeena’s brother. The thought of what she suspected was even more loathsome to me than her. I was confused, overwhelmed and upset, all at the same time.

The worst part was that I couldn’t even talk to Nusaybah about it, because I was so worried that she too, would think something bad of me. How did I explain to them that I had done nothing wrong? There was just so much of opportunity for people to talk. It just looked so bad.

My heart thudded in my chest once again, whilst I deliberated my next words.

“I’m sorry, Ruby,” I said, genuinely apologetic.

I hated to see her like this. I hated all the conflict that was going on. I never spoke to Rubeena about what Zuleikha had told me but I knew some of the truth.

“The truth is, Khawlah,” she said, finally meeting my eye. “I’ve just had the hugest fight with Shabeer. My parents are angry with me. My brother doesn’t speak to me… I feel like I have nobody but these kids that make me crazy and I just don’t know what to do…”

She sniffed again, and I could see the beginning of another outburst. I could understand her feeling sorry for herself… But fueling that pity wasn’t going to do her any good. I wanted to tell her how lucky she was but I knew she wouldn’t see it that way, and it was at that precise moment that Danyaal chose to scamper in to the kitchen, grab an apple and dash out again, already ready to sink his teeth in.

I forgot that his mother was there, for a minute. It was just instinct from being with them for so long, and part of Foi Nani’s influence, that I had to shout out. Mama too, had always said that when Allah is in your heart, you remember him in everything that you do. Taking his name before eating or drinking was the least we could do, and I wanted these kids to take at least that with them if I had to leave them behind.

“Danyaal, say Bismillah!” I called out to remind him, thinking to myself how long it took for kids to learn it. It was so frustrating that no matter how many times I told them… they just never got it by themselves.

”I did!” he yelled back, already racing back to the playroom in hot pursuit.

For a second, I even forgot about Ruby who was sitting there, and as I looked back at her, instead of her tearful face, she was looking at me in a kind of daze. Almost as if she was dumbfounded.

“That’s what I mean!” she suddenly half-whispered, and it was like a light-bulb was coming on in her head. “That’s what I tried to explain to my parents! I mean, how are you so amazing, Khawlah? Never in a million years, will I be able to remember all these things. Sometimes I even forget to say it myself, because I’m so useless at being good. But you…”

She trailed off and shook her head.

“My brother saw something in you that I was missing all this time,” she said, almost in awe, and my throat suddenly went all dry. “And then he made the mistake of telling me.”

I swallowed hard as she continued,  half-dreading and half-anticipating the version of events that she was going to tell me, from her side of the story.

“He could see you weren’t the typical girl,” she said, a little sadly. ”So he asked me for advice. And who would blame him? You’re amazing, Khawlah. You’re stunning, inside and out. You have such impeccable manners… and the way you are with the kids… honestly, you’re my life saver.”

All I could do was nod and listen, like a robot. I was not sure what to say. It was the first time that Rubeena had ever said anything remotely pleasant about me. It seemed like her being emotional brought out a whole different side to her.

One thing Mama had always told me was that the greatest way to show what a Muslim was about, was through our character. The Prophet Muhammed SAW had a superb form of dawah, and superseding anything else, many didn’t realise that his greatest asset was gained through his impeccable characteristics. Not through war. Not through force of submission. Not through hatred. It was just beautiful character. To be the best type of person, even in the worst of situations was something of a miracle.

I tried… but I wasn’t sure if I really measured up to what Rubeena was saying. They say that whoever you meet, always understand that you should not leave them until you have learnt something invaluable that you yourself did not know. I’m sure that there were some things I could learn from her too. My greatest fault was that I never stopped to see it.

“My parents would kill him, Khawlah,” she said now, clenching her fists nervously. ”My family is so fixated on money and success… and when you came back again… they got angry at me because they blamed it all on me. They blamed me. They thought I had set you guys up… or something outrageous like that.”

She scoffed, shaking her head.

“They don’t know what you’re like,” she said, the shadow of a smile now visible on her face. ”Shabeer asked me once why you didn’t greet him when you saw him in the driveway. I didn’t understand that it was actually you being modest… until I actually googled it. You’ve actually taught me something. Not just one thing. So much.”

I was still stunned. My stomach was in all sorts of knots and twists as she continued, and slowly, as she let it all out and it sunk in, I was beginning to feel a little normal again. A little normal in a new upside down world.

It was a few days after Zuleikha had told me about everything that she had heard from Ahmed, and I had shrugged it off that day, not wanting to worry about something that might have been completely invented. I so badly wanted to meet Ahmed and ask him myself… but something within me was telling me to let it be for now.

He was fine. He was safe. He was in good hands. And if I met him… I wasn’t sure what kind of reception my older brother might give me. I sighed as I thought about it.

I took her advice that day and she left, feeling slightly relieved in the knowledge that soon I would be out of that environment completely.

It broke my heart but I knew that if what she had said was true… there was no way that I could continue to break that family up with my presence.

And as much as my heart could not be controlled, I knew that I had to start making preparations to leave. Slowly, and in a subtle way, I had to give these kids as much as I could before I had to leave them on their way. I was tormented by the thoughts of what would happen to them when I left, but I knew that I had to put my fears aside and let them go.

Life would never be the same, but maybe… I hoped… in the future, I would meet them in a better and easier time of frame.

I sighed to myself as I sat with the kids the following week, trying to muster the words that I knew I had to say.

Rubeena had poured her heart out to me that day, and the feelings that had surfaced were hard to put at bay. Although playing with the kids was the most fulfilling thing, whilst i heard them giggling and squealing in delight during our mini pillow fight, my conscience just wouldn’t let me rest. The nagging feeling was still there at the back of my mind, reminding me that there was always an end to every story. Maybe the end to our story was approaching. Maybe it was time to write the final chapter.

It was nearly time for me to leave for the day, and with just a few minutes left,  the children were bouncing around on the rubber horse that was their latest addition to the playroom.

I smiled as I watched them, whilst holding little Zaydaan in my arms. He was particularly exhausted that day, after our high-energy afternoon, and I felt my heart unexpectedly soaring as I savored the feeling of this little dumpling in my arms. I held him a little tighter as I took in his lavender-scented powder, breathing in the baby-ness as I tightened my arms around his tiny frame.

“I love you,” I murmured to him, overcome with emotion and feeling nostalgic already. He mumbled some intelligent statement of toddler language in reply, and I found myself instantly giggling to myself.

They were growing so fast, and I just could not fathom how these little people had snuck so deep into my heart.

“Do you love me too?”

It was Dayyaan who asked the question, and I looked up to see him watching me with his little brother. His statement was as straightforward as little boys’ ones come. There was no mincing his words.

I was so absorbed in Zaydaan that I didn’t even notice him watching us. I couldn’t help but break out into a grin as he watched me, oh-so-seriously.

“Of course,” I said to him, nodding vehemently. “I love you all. You’ll do know that, right? No matter what happens, remember that Khawlah thinks that you’ll are really, really amazing.”

No regrets. I had to tell them that. I had to let them know.  After the chat with Rubeena, I wasn’t sure where I stood. She had to leave in a bit of a rush after her meltdown, so I didn’t exactly get to tell her what I needed to.

Danyaal was looking at me now, with that dreamy look that he sometimes got. My heart contracted momentarily as I thought of leaving them behind… of some day, walking out the door and not seeing them again. I was already having panic attacks about that tormenting moment. I was not sure how I was going to deal. I just wasn’t prepared for it being so soon.

“So, since you love us so much,” he said, looking thoughtful but with a mischievous  grin on his face.

I frowned at him, wondering what he was about to say.

”Please can we have one more story today?”

I smiled, shaking my head.

“Mum will be here just now and my father will be waiting for me,” I explained.

”It’s my birthday,” he said, a little sadly. “Please.”

I didn’t know it was his birthday. Although we never celebrated birthdays as kids, I wasn’t sure how to explain it to Danyaal as yet. It was on the bucket list of things I needed to say. I wanted to teach them so much… but there was so little time.

Either way, his puppy dog look was doing the trick.

”Pleassse….” Dayyaan copied.

“Pweeeeeezee,” mimicked little Zia.

I chuckled to myself, looking at the three rascals and shaking my head. They were so unknowingly manipulative, but they still made me laugh.

“Just one,” Danyaal quickly said, sensing me crumbling under their scrutiny. “Here.”

He thrust a familiar book at me, and I momentarily remembered the first day I had brought it for them. There were so many memories I had shared with these kids.

The pictures in the book were a sure winner, and over the almost two years I had been here, it had grown to be a favorite.

“The first one,” he said, knowing exactly which story he wanted. The story of Aadam AS was right of the front.

I sighed, shaking my head. It was the most popular one for the kids, but frankly, I was sick of reading it. I almost knew it by heart.

“Choose another,” I said flatly.

“Okay, let’s read the Lion King,” Dayyaan piped up.

“No!” squealed Danyaal, annoyed.

“Story of Aadam,” he insisted, and as if he suddenly spurred into action, Dayyaan climbed on the colorful ottoman at the center of the room, pumped his first in the air, and started screaming at the top of his voice.

“Lion King, Lion King, LION KING!”

“Aadam, Aadam, AADAM!!” Shouted Danyaal back, just as loud.

How did these kids even learn things like this? It was horrific.

They looked like a pair of those terribly behaved children who would just create spectacles to get their way. I widened my eyes at them and opened my mouth to scream.

My mouth was left hanging as we were all silenced by the abrupt voice at the door.

What is going on here?!” it shouted, obviously disturbed by the outrageous behavior.

I mean, if I heard that from the other side of the house, I too would have been shocked.

I whipped my head around, blinking as I glimpsed the figure who stood at the door. For a few seconds I was actually dumb-founded as I processed who it was.

Although I barely recognized him, there was no mistaking it. I could literally feel my face changing all shades of colors as he too, looked at me in shock. He obviously did not expect me to be here, and his next words were very evident of it.

“You?!” He said, looking strangely disturbed by my presence.”Sorry, I thought… Nevermind.”

He seemed genuinely shocked that I was there.

Oh goodness. This was a bit awkward.

The boys were looking from me to him, stunned by the reprimand and slightly shocked at their uncle’s presence. It was also obvious that he thought that I didn’t come here anymore, and hence, didn’t expect to bump into me today. This was a bit of an uncomfortable mess.

“Hey Uncle Adam,” called Dayyaan.  “You look like Mufassa.”

Now I wanted to slap my hand to my forehead, like Danyaal often did what Dayyaan asked a unexpected question. I knew that he was obsessed with the Lion King, but how could he call his uncle Mufassa?

Trust Dayyaan’s quirky sense of humor to break the ice. I wanted to giggle but I didn’t dare crack a smile. The tension in the room was still palpable.

His uncle smiled and dropped the box that he was holding down onto the floor as I hastily grabbed my bag to let myself out of the room. From the looks of it, I could escape without much notice from the boys, because Adam was already ignoring me and watching the boys obsess about the electric cars he had bought for them all. I was so glad it didn’t escalate. I always knew that kids were the best ice breaker.

I wondered why he had come. Maybe being Danyaal’s special day, he needed an excuse to visit his nephews. Maybe he knew Rubeena wouldn’t be home tonight, or she had actually stayed late on purpose.

I silently closed the door behind me, letting out a huge sigh of relief as I walked down the passage to the door.

My heart felt strangely at peace as I made my way to my leave. So many plans I had… so much I still wanted to say.

But the defining question was… Right here and right now, on this journey that I had decided to embark on… would it ever end? Would it ever be enough?

Maybe it was time. Maybe it was time for me to let go now. Maybe it was time for me to leave, and just let it be.

Maybe my time here was up. I had said what I needed to… conveyed what I could while I was here. I had been that little window that they so badly to get a glimpse into. How much longer was I going to hold on to them for?

My heart soared and sank almost simultaneously as I heard the joyful giggles from the other side of the house. Hearing those shrieks of laughter and bursts of excitement now were enough to send my escalating emotions into overdrive. I may had been their window to get a glimpse of the other side that they so badly needed to see… but maybe these kids needed more.

I was just a stranger, after all. They needed their family. They needed their uncle too. Maybe there was another window waiting to open for them, revealing a world that would hold so much more than I could ever imagine giving them.

The truth is that we all have this desire. This innate need, put in us by our Creator. The unshakable yearning to help others in need is like a reflex, whether for family, friends, or a stranger on the street. There is nothing evil about our nature, until we make it so.

I was just someone who had stumbled upon their path for a season of their life, and now it was time for me to move on. Things had gotten a little out of control, and it was getting difficult to distinguish between right and wrong.

I opened the front door, forcefully holding back the tears that were threatening to escape. I wasn’t going to cry. I wasn’t going to lose myself on this path that I had so carefully trod. This was all Duniyaa, after all. This was all a part of the beautiful  journey to my Lord, that lay ahead.

Today, I needed to be strong. Today, I needed to do the bravest thing. It was no walk in the park, to a destination that would most certainly offer you the sweetest ease. This was hurt. The bittersweet pang that rips your heart apart as you walk away, has nothing on convincing yourself that you need to stay. Only, you don’t.

I halted, swallowing as I deliberated what could be the of the entire game change, or just another weak moment. It was just as I convinced myself and stepped out, a familiar voice called out, as if it was designed to target the vulnerability of my heart strings once again.

The words taunted me, even as I took that one more step I needed to break away.

“Khawlah, wait.”


P.S. Wonder if Khawlah should leave or wait..?

Dearest Readers,

In preparation for Ramadhaan, last week we were working on Reviving the Sunnah of Miswaak. This week, Insha Allah, let’s try and bring in a little about the Sunnah of eating, as touched on in the post. I will try to keep it short, simple and effective🌸

It is mentioned that when eating, if you recite Bismillah before eating and Alhumdulilah when done, your sins are forgiven.


How easy to practise!





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Beyond Barriers: Zaynah

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

It’s true what they say… Certain people come into your life for a reason. Once in a while, people enter your life that you love—not for what they give you—but for what they are to you.

But when that person leaves… For some reason… It’s either that their role has been fulfilled, or you are no longer in need of what they can offer you.

And when we lost Mummy, I anticipated always feeling that hole that seemed to be etched within my heart. I didnt think that the pain would ease, until time took it’s course.

And sometimes, the key to making progress is to recognize how to take that very first step. Then you start your journey to healing. To open your heart again. You have faith, hope for the best and stick with it, day in and day out. Even if you’re tired, even if you want to give up. You don’t.

You keep on trying, because you want that result. But too often, the thing you want most, is the one thing you can’t have. Desire sometimes leaves us heartbroken. Desire is what can slowly kill us inside.

And right now, I had kind of reached that point. The point of no return. The point where I honestly could not take any more.

I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I unzipped the teal and cream heavily beaded outfit that my new sister-in-law had arranged for me. It honestly was beautiful, but at least now I could sit without worrying about the stitches ripping.

Last minute adjustments were done as I got in yesterday, and it had fitted like it was made for me. The only thing was, I just couldn’t wait to get out of it.

Waseem’s voice cut through my hazardous thoughts.

“Will you be okay, angel?”

He was watching me carefully, but I avoided eye contact. Looking at him would be like him seeing right through me. I knew that if he had to respond to my insecurities, I would probably just break down.

I had been quiet on the way home, but I hadn’t given him an idea of what was on my mind. I mean… What was the point? Would he even have any answers for me?

“I’ll see you tomorrow?” I asked, sitting on the bed and ignoring his question.

I had decided to come home for the meantime, until Waseem was more settled. Settled in more than one way. Firstly… He needed to sort out where we would be staying , thinking it be best that he looked for another place.

Secondly… I think he definitely had issues to sort out within his family.

I mean, I sometimes thought that if I knew that things would be so evasive when it came to his parents, I wouldn’t have agreed.

I knew that he would never do anything that would hurt me. It was just that I was finding being around people too much. It was humiliating.

After the Walimah, although Aasiya and many people were really nice, my patience and nerves were at wits end. The absence of my new mother-in-law was a huge question mark for many guests. I could tell from the hushed tones that they were trying so hard to conceal. I could tell that they thought I wasn’t good enough for Waseem. Not modern enough. Not rich enough.

We had stayed late at his brother’s house, and right now, I just wanted to pray my Esha and get into bed. I sighed, slowly removing the bronze sandals and flexing my feet.

At least now that I was feeling more comfortable, I might feel more at peace with everything that had happened. It didn’t feel so frustrating.

I lay back on my continental pillow for a few moments, moving my hair to the side so the hair pins wouldn’t annoy me, ignoring Waseem’s penetrating gaze. I knew he wanted to make it okay. But what could he say?

I opened my bedside drawer, looking for my stash. Stocks were low. I scowled.

Nabeela!” I shouted, annoyed, forgetting for a second that Waseem was there. He didn’t flinch.

It could only be Nabeela. Tomorrow I would have to take a trip to the supermarket.

Thank goodness most of the people at our home had left to go to back, or else I would have had no privacy here whatsoever.

“Must I get you some?” Waseem asked, already knowing what I was looking for.

Honestly, he was amazing. I instantly felt guilty for being off-ish with him, looking up at him apologetically. I nodded.

It wasn’t fair. This wasn’t his fault. Waseem was a good guy. A good husband.

“I think I have some in the car, actually,” he remembered, leaving the room to go and fetch it. I smiled, and Nabeela appeared in the doorway.

What?” She asked, narrowing her eyes at me. “Stop screaming like a banshee. The guy’s going to think you’re completely off your rockers.”

“You ate my stash!” I accused her.

She looked at me and rolled her eyes. It annoyed me even more.

“You better replace it!” I warned her.

“I thought you would have come back in a better frame of mind,” she said, coming inside the room to sit on the edge of the bed.

“I’m fine,” I retorted, wondering why Waseem was taking so long. Maybe he had to go and buy some. I instantly felt worse.

I looked at Nabeela, and then put my head in my hands.

“I don’t know what to doooo!” I confessed finally, on the verge of tears.

It was just all so overwhelming for me. Nabeela looked panicked.

“Must I call Zakiyya?”

It was her way of saying she couldn’t deal with my dramas. I fanned my face with a nearby book, trying to supress the tears. I needed sugar. Where was Waseem?

I took a few deep breaths.

“So, how was everything?” She asked carefully, as I calmed down slightly. “Besides all the dramatic parts?”

“It was good,” I replied, remembering the first few days of our marriage. Before the reality of everything had settled in.

It was actually amazing, but telling Nabeela that would definitely lead to more questioning. She was at that annoying age where guys and everything that came with the opposite gender was oh-so-exciting. It made me want to strangle all my teenage cousins.

“Did you say it?” She asked, pressing on. “I love you? I don’t ever want to live without you… Again.”

I just smiled, remembering Waseem and his words. I knew she just wanted to hear about all the mushy stuff. And he was just so damn sweet.

To tell the truth, even my heart kind of melted, but with the tough-girl idea that I was trying to portray, it didn’t make sense for me to expose my heartfelt feelings.

Not as yet. I needed it to be my secret. Just for a little while longer.

“Or was it just awkward?” She asked now, making her voice sinister and leaning forward as if I was a spectacle of some sort. “Did you make it past base two?”

I wanted to giggle at her ridiculous terms. Base two? This child needed to stop watching junk.

It was my turn to roll my eyes at her now, because I knew where it was leading, and I definitely didn’t want to go down that road. In fact, going down that road would just be wrong. On so many levels.

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) turned to the men and said, “Is there any man among you who, when he comes to his wife, he locks the door, throws his blanket over himself and conceals himself with the cover of Allaah?” They said, “Yes.” He said, “And does he sit after that and say, ‘I did such and such, and I did such and such?’” They remained silent. Then he turned to the women and said, “Is there anyone among you who speaks (of private marital matters)?” They remained silent.

Then a buxom young girl sat up tall so that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) would see her and hear her words, and said, “O Messenger of Allaah, (the men) speak and (the women) speak.”

He said, “Do you know what the likeness of that is? The likeness of that is that of a female devil who meets a male devil in the street and he fulfils his desire with her when the people are looking on.” Narrated by Abu Dawud

I looked at Nabeela strangely.

“It’s not your business,” I said to her, not caring that I was being slightly rude.

As a teenager, I had also been obsessed with the romantic and sometimes ‘erotic’ stuff… So much so, that I would actually read pointless books on it, since Abbi never allowed us to watch TV.

It’s a different story of we want to inform ourselves about the Islamic rulings on how to please one’s spouse, but we don’t even realise that reading about intimate relations that occur is completely forbidden, whether the fictional couple is married or not. Bedroom matters had to remain in the bedroom, even if it was just lighter intimacy.

And besides the fact that it wasn’t right Islamically, it just wasn’t ethical to be talking about it.

Rude or not, I knew that if I didn’t stop it, she would have continued to venture down that avenue.


Waseems voice filled the passage, and Nabeela immediately jumped up as he appeared in the doorway.

I knew that Nabeela was still very shy of him. I mean, Nabeela was shy of everyone who was male. Besides, he was looking a little intimidating in his Kurtah with the most intricate details. I loved it, though. The colour actually suited him really well.

She smiled meekly at him, exiting as he stepped back let her pass. I just hoped that he heard nothing of what we were discussing. That would just be so embarrassing.

He came in, eyes sparkling and grinning slightly with his crooked smile. I already knew that he had heard some of Nabeela’s conversation with me.

I flushed, embarrassed.

“I’m sorry,” I said, covering my eyes and peeping at him through the gaps.

“It’s okay,” he chuckled, placing a Select packet on the bed. I was ready to lunge at it, but I controlled myself.

“I’m glad you get along so well with your family,” he said, passing me a bag of sweets from the packet. “I mean… You’ll find it easy to say what you’ll need to.”

I sensed that he had more to say but I didn’t press the issue.

We sat in silence for a few seconds as we munched, amd it felt like the first night we had met. Only this time, we weren’t so nervous. I pulled my knees up to my chest, making more space for him to sit.

“Zaynah,” he said, and I looked up at him now, meeting his gaze.

He was watching me carefully and I shifted under his scrutiny.

His eyes looked different today and I noticed that they sometimes changed with his mood. Tonight he seemed to be in an extremely subdued mood, and I wondered if what was on his mind was also my concern.

“I haven’t been completely open with you, Zaynah,”  he said, coming forward to sit just where my knees ended.

I nodded, trying to swallow what was in my mouth. For some reason, with his proximity to me, I couldn’t seem to say much back. My mouth was stuffed, either way.

“I’m sorry. But I can’t go forward into this… With us… Without telling you… I just hope you  won’t be upset.”

Upset? I honestly couldn’t remain upset with him over anything. I kept feeling guilty because he was being so nice. And sweet. Too sweet.

Either way, that was what marriage was about, right? I knew whatever it was, we would deal with it and make it through it together. Nothing could be too great a burden or too much to handle.

I was ready to hear him out. I knew whatever he had to say might not be easy, but it would be okay. It was time to break that barrier that was keeping us strangers to each other’s emotions.

“I wanted to tell you at-”

His sentence was cut off with the ringing of the phone. He usually never answered his calls around me, but as he glanced at the ID, he looked up at me apologetically.

“Sorry, sweets… I gotta take this.”

I delved into the gummy bag again, patiently watching him speaking. If it wasn’t for his sudden change of tone, I probably wouldn’t have paid attention, but the moment he cut the call, his expression said it all.

“I’ll be back,” he said, looking stressed and coming forward to peck me on the forehead.

“I have to go. Ziyaad’s in trouble.”


Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

“Let’s talk numbers,” I said, putting on a poker face and my best mafia voice.

“Show me the money and I’m all yours.”

Well, I supposed I deserved it when Waseem swatted me at the back of my head. I rubbed it, over-exaggerating the pain, and followed him out of the building.

“I’m in a fix,” he finally said, rubbing his temples, and just looking slightly stressed.

“Dad’s seized all my accounts,” he explained. “Except the one he doesn’t know about.”

Sheesh. I didn’t have to ask why. It was his way of showing Waseem who was boss. Dad had contacts. He could do anything when it concerned money. Unfortunately, this was just kind of low… Even for him.

Waseem went on to ask me if I’d help find out about that property that my Dad seemed to be going crazy over. He was worried that Dad would take the opportunity to probably turn the house over, since he seemed to be so peeved about his marriage.

I nodded, realising that this was a bit serious. I had a big responsibility and I wasn’t sure if I was about to pull it off. I mean, I knew I had been pulling off some big stunts with my new ‘mature’ outlook on life, but stepping up to interfere in my father’s affairs was a tough call.

I nodded while Waseem hurriedly went forward for the second Jamaat since he was a bit late. He greeted and left again quickly, just pausing to greet a few people briefly. He looked straight ahead and seemed like he had a lot on his mind, and I really did feel bad for him.

And so, after greeting Junaid and making plans to meet up with him the following week, I set off to actually do some of the work that I was supposed to. I organised an awesome wedding car for Waseem, even though I knew he wouldn’t care, and set up a mic system for Mo to use tomorrow. I was going to take it a step further and organise a ‘Halaal Mp3’ for the function, but I wasn’t sure if my brother would approve.

We had strict instructions to simplify every bit of Aasiya’s attempts to ‘fancify’ the whole occasion, and as I looked at the set up at Mo’s place, I realised we had a huge job on our hands.

From  shiny cutlery, draped lacey thingums and matching fabric serviettes (napkins?)… My eyes were overwhelmed with the decorations. I mean, do people really care about all those things? Do they even notice?

The whole ‘garden set-up’ was awesome, but I just hated to think what would happen if it rained. It would definitely ‘dampen’ the spirit and make it a day to remember.

I went home after Esha Salaah that night, and thankfully, Dad wasn’t home to draw me in to any more of his conquests. Mum seemed to be in a strange mood, but she didn’t say much as I went up to my room to get an early-ish night in preparation for the next morning.

Well, I supposed that it was just as well that as I woke up the next morning, the sky was quite clear. As sunrise came in, and I watched the view from my balcony with my early-morning cigarette in hand, the sun was making it’s presence very felt.

I’m sure Aasiya was very glad… She probably had the whole thing planned out from A-Z and I’m know that Muhammed wouldn’t have been as cool as he was if it all didn’t go according to plan.

I got there early to see him very busy trying to tone down the whole scene as he walked through the table settings, undoing bits and frills of the men’s section as he caught Aasiya looking elsewhere. It was kind of funny, but I felt a bit sorry for Mo, stuck between making Aasiya happy and fulfilling Waseem’s requests of simplicity. I thought I had heard him say he just wanted a simple Sunnah style supper of about 50 people, so I was kind of anticipating him getting a shock when he saw the lay-out that was prepared for him.

As for me… I was psyched.  It was like my previous day’s dream was becoming a reality.

First things first… Of course, I had made sure that I was dressed, in full fancy ‘Kurtah-style’ wedding attire with pants above my ankles, knowing that I was ready to be Waseem’s right hand man. Mo was also looking cool, but what really amazed me was the evidence of a beard making it’s presence felt. I could see that my eldest brother was definitely exploring the better side of life.

Secondly, when I realised that the dream had become something of a reality, I honestly felt like I was on Cloud 55. Platters of the most awesome munchies were already being set, and of course, there were girls of all types coming in to set them up.

I took it upon myself to play the supervisory role again, thinking that I was doing good. I just wanted to help out. I didn’t exactly go ‘into’ the ladies section, even though it was empty, so what was the issue if I just helped them out a bit. Just for now.

And of course, I never intended to fall into the trap of Shaytaan. The thing was, there can be no good where there is an element of bad. Even if you do something with the intention of helping someone, if it involves displeasing Allah, there can never be any goodness in it. It’s what we often fail to understand.  There’s no obedience to a creation if that obedience equals disobedience to the Creator. That’s not possible.

It’s like phoning a chic to wake her up for Fajr. It didn’t make sense. Or even like, when people have mixed functions to please certain family members or the more ‘elite’ class of people who don’t have knowledge of Deen… There can be no blessing in their function, because it is against Allah’s command. And then people wonder what happend to the marriage, when the very inception of it was completely against Allah’s command. And it goes on to other dealings as well… Like even when a business is operated against the laws of Allah… There can never be any goodness in what comes out.

And in all honesty, in my efforts to be ‘helpful’, if the hot girl with the really tight cloak, (and it was really tight, I kid you not), and bumped up scarf with the fringe sticking out, (is that a stupid fashion or what?) hadn’t asked me in her extremely unnerving voice about the cool drinks, I would have been fine. In fact I would have been awesome.

But as she spoke, something kind of flickered in me… Like a fused light bulb suddenly being rebooted. I looked at her, full on, taking her in. I could read her body language. I could see that she liked me. And she definitely wasn’t one of those girls who were just teasing. I knew the type.

It was how I used to operate when I didn’t really have emotional attachments… Or any conscience. A small dose of physical services would always do the trick, and even if I never saw the girl again, it wouldn’t make a difference. That was how those things went. No strings attached.. No pressure.

Honestly, I would never admit it to anyone else, but I was seriously thinking of taking advantage… The thought crossed my mind… More than once.

You’ve been so good all this time, something was telling me. You deserve this. Be free. 

That’s how the thoughts came at you. It wasn’t an outright commandment. The thought is just planted… And it was just a matter of pulling a few Zee moves and getting the goods. I’m not saying that I was going to go through with it, but the opportunity was definitely presenting itself to me.

But as we turned the corner around the back of the house, once again, like the previous day, something was on my side again.

Aasiya, who was supposed to be in the front, facilitating the caterers, popped out of nowhere, studying us both in a very suspicious light.

Yeah, I could see what she was thinking. But being the Zee, of course, I was as smooth as ever. Ice cream had nothing on me that night.

I asked her if she needed help with anything, ignoring her scrutinising looks. The chic, on the other hand, just went a light shade of red. Well, a little redder than the layer of blush plastered on. She muffled some excuse to Aasiya, and quickly turned to go back. I shrugged my shoulders, looking indifferent.

Aasiya knew me better than that. She raised her eyebrows and made sure I didn’t find my way near any other girls that night.

Of course, I quickly realised that I had gone completely off-track. I mean, I had nearly lost the entire plot in those moments.

Watch yourself, Zee, I warned my Nafs.  You’re getting caught up.

I actually couldn’t believe that I was thinking the way that I was. It was like I had no control over myself… Like when I used to just let myself go… When I thought that I was just a free soul in this messed-up world.

But what really got me was that although I was evidently so messed up, like all the other times, Allah still saw something to salvage in me. This time, He sent Aasiya at that particular moment to kill the whole thing. I couldn’t believe it. I could not fathom how lucky I had been, despite my ridiculous desires that made me go off.

The thing was, no matter what level anyone may reach, we cannot ever assume that we are free from the effects of evil. In fact, that’s when Shaytaan seizes the opportunity, because he works on our weaknesses. That’s when he tries harder, to get us to go off-track again. It’s always well planned out. He will whisper into the heart, and suggest his plan… And then, we either act on it or not.

But it’s not as obvious as we think… That owe’s definitely got strategy.

Because if you’re praying, he’s not going to come right at you and tell you to just stop praying. Slowly, by giving in to him and your Nafs, he will make you delay, or doubt your intentions. You might even stop, if you’ve given in to him completely. That how he works. Or he does it by making everything seem much peachier than it really is… So if something is completely forbidden, and you’ve been restraining yourself for a while, he will present it to you in such a way that you cannot resist. That’s how awesome he makes it seem.

But at the end of the day, I had to remember:

“Every human is a slave. You either a slave of your desires or a slave of Allah. You either live your life by your own rules or by the rule of Allah.”

I checked myself. Was I living in obedience to Allah or to my own Nafs? I immediately asked for forgiveness, seeking refuge from Shaytaan, who seemed to have taken advantage of my spirit today. It was amazing how brilliant he was at seizing an opportunity, and I just relented so easily. But even though he had all those sly tactics, I had to remember that Allah was obviously The Greatest. Allah was above it all. With all the wedding excitement and the ‘lurv’ in the air, I had just got carried away.

“You okay?” Mo asked as I got to the front of the men’s section, probably noticing my slightly forlorn look.

I nodded. I was fine. In fact, I was more than fine. I was saved from sin, once again. I was given another chance to prove myself, despite me being hopeless.

He was greeting the people coming in, and I joined him, greeting some of the people I vaguely recognised. It was only then that I realised how many people they had actually invited.

I wasn’t sure what Waseem’s reaction would be, but as I glanced outside, I realised that I wouldn’t have to wait long to see. He was already here, by the entrance we had kept open for him, letting his wife off the car, and immediately, as he held guided her into the ladies area, I noticed that Waseem wasn’t in the least bothered about anything else. All the concerns and weight of the world that he had carried yesterday seemed to have disappeared. He seemed completely free of any burdens… Because his worries seemed to lifted, just for the moment with his wife by his side.

Well, it was a bit clichèd, but it was definitely what the ladies would call ‘sweet’.

Yeah, my brother was that type. The sweet type, who used all these corny phrases. It always used to perturb me when I heard him calling chics weird names before, but now that he’d channelled his ‘sweetness’ into what it was meant for, it definitely had the desired effect. He always made everyone seem extra special, and it was precisely that reason why he showed her to the ladies section, and then came to join us, greeting guests, even though we told him that he should be sitting. I knew he found the whole ‘do’ to be a bit much and a tad bit extravagant, but with consideration for Mo, he didn’t say a thing.

The Du’aa of one of Waseem’s friends from Madrassa started off the function, and all that we expected of the function was more than we had anticipated. Everything went off awesomely, and I honestly felt like there wasn’t a Walimah that I had gone to that touched it. And it wasn’t because the lighting created the rustic look, and presented the perfect ‘intimate style’ wedding. It wasn’t because of the ‘soft’ colour theme and all the decor that complimented the ‘earthly’ colours, flavours and scents for ‘seasonal styling’. And to tell the truth, it wasn’t even about the awesome and delicious 5 course meal that just went down the right alley.

The thing was, it wasn’t any of that that made it the ‘it’ function for me. It was amazing because it was pure, and it was pure because there was really no Haraam within it at all. People may have thought it was boring, or devoid of something, but in simplicity was where the Barakah lay. Don’t get me wrong. Aasiya had made sure everything looked great, but nothing was overdone, and nothing was breaking the command of Allah.

For this part of Pretoria, it was extremely strange, but that’s what it made it good. That’s what made it real. That’s what made it stand out like a rare diamond in the darkness.

And after a long evening, after even killing the urge to be lazy and helping them right to the end, all I wanted to do was get into bed and knock myself out. I was already thinking about my soft bed and block out curtains that would allow me to sleep till noon, as I entered the front gate. The door wasn’t latched, and though I found it strange, I turned the handle, already making my way up to my room.

And it was just as well that the rest of the house was quiet, or I wouldn’t have heard the soft muffles coming from the couch on the landing. As I got up the stairs, I caught a sight of a figure in the semi-darkness where the noise was coming from, and I was immediately on guard. Something was just not right.

“Ma,” I said, my voice sounding slightly foreign. It was shaking. “What’s wrong?”

She looked up at me from where she sat, and I could see that her hair and face was fully done, as if she was ready to go out. I could also see that her eye make-up was smudged and her face was streaked with tears. I expected some kind of explanation, but all she did was stand up and say, in a barely audible voice:

“Your father wants to see you.”


Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

I shuffled on my feet, obviously feeling awkward to say the least. I mean. It wasn’t only her that was watching me… It was the four or five people in the queue behind me too that were practically ogling me. I stepped back, trying to give a cool and collected kind of smirk, only slightly missing the desired effect.

Look down, Zee, I reminded myself. Just keep cool.

Now, the old Zee would have loved all this, and would have probably even played up the whole scene, basking in undeserved glory… But tonight, there was just something different in me. Something was telling me: Do this one thing, and you’ll see how it all gets sorted out.

And so I did it. I looked down, hand in pocket, nodded a greeting, and turned to walk out. I didn’t even look at her gorgeous face again, as much as I wanted to, because something inside of me was telling me to just restrain myself for once. Just this one time, do things differently.

“The furtive glance is one of the poisoned arrows of Shaytan, on him be God’s curse. Whoever forsakes it for the fear of Allah, will receive from Him (Great and Gracious is He) a faith, the sweetness of which he will find within his heart.” (al-Haakim.)

The sweetness of Imaan.

And really, honestly speaking, it costed me nothing. I was actually feeling better about myself as I opened my car door. But as fate would have it, when you try to stay away from what drags you down, somehow, it finds it’s way back to you.

“Ziyaad,” the voice said, halting me in my tracks.

I knew whose it was. By far, this night was one of the most eventful one after a long time, and I could feel myself taking the toll. I felt even more worn out than I did after a night of hardcore partying. Ironic.

“Yes?” I said, barely turning around.

“Why did you ignore me?” Farah asked, sounding hurt.

Women. They had this way of making everything seem like it was your own fault. I wasn’t even sure what I did here. I was just trying to avoid problems. I didn’t even want to dwell on why she was here and what she was asking. I just needed to leave.

I went crouched slightly to get into my car, but just as fast, I felt a hand on my shoulder.

I literally shrugged her off, feeling so awkward.  I turned my face now to look back at her accusingly.

Like, why did she touch me?

Jasses, Ziyaad, I though. You’re getting worse than Waseem.

After a few months, I couldn’t even stand a girl touching my shoulder. Now that was ‘hectic’.

I tried to calm myself down, but everything about Zinaa and my past kept coming back into my racing mind. What was going on?

“Zee, what’s wrong?” She started, evidently bringing on the water-works.

Now, I knew that she was looking for pity, but at that moment, it was the last thing I was feeling. I was angry. Confused.

She was getting married.

Basically, I was wondering: What.The.Hell?

But, fortunately for me, I didn’t have to say any of it, because as soon as she stepped back to let me enter my car, someone came to tell her the boss is back, and she rushed off. I was secretly glad, but couldn’t help wondering what she was doing there. It only hit me afterwards that ‘the boss’ was probably the guy that she was marrying.

I hit my hand in steering, not believing how dumb I was being. Idiot.

I was just so glad I didn’t play up to anything that Farah was trying to communicate. Something was definitely on my side tonight when I made the choice to keep cool. I knew I was definitely inspired by something bigger than my own desires. If her fiance had seen any of it, I knew I would have probably been in trouble.

And although I knew that I did the better thing, the nagging feeling in my mind was consuming me, like so many other thoughts that night. With little else to do, I went home and forced myself to sleep, just to keep cravings and other negative feelings at bay.

I woke for Fajr and then went back to sleep, just drowning out all my thoughts with slumber. I woke just before Zohr, feeling slightly rejuvenated and decided to pay my brother a visit after Salaah.

With all my contradicting feelings and reservations, I needed to talk it out with someone.

If I had done everything in my power to do ‘the right thing’, why were my thoughts still turning back to the past? Was it just a weapon being used to get me back into the lifestyle I never wanted to resort back to?

I pulled up outside Muhammed’s house, only to realise that Waseem wasn’t there. I had honestly thought that Waseem was staying there, but as Muhammed came out, still in his boxers and T-shirt, looking completely confused by my presence, I realised that he had probably being stating somewhere else all this time.

“Where’s Waseem? ” I asked, ignoring the pre-occupied look that he had on his face.

I didn’t ask him what was going on, and he didn’t ask me.

We both had our own concerns on our mind. It made me realise how selfish we had become… When it came to things that concerned us, we only had one-track minds.

“Huh?” he replied, still rubbing his eyes. “Mosque.”

Mosque? I didn’t get a chance to ask him any more, because he was already turning to go back inside. Instead, I drove back to my neighbourhood, and to the building that Waseem had taken me, just a few months ago.

I climbed up the stairs, immediately surprised by how many people were there even though there was still time for the next Salaah. I scanned the room and noticed Waseem with a crowd of other guys, and watched him from afar.

He was reading Qur’an, but I could tell from  how he was concentrating that he was probably getting tested, and it opened my mind immediately to the miracle of the Qur’an. What a great thing.

I mean, like I never even thought it possible to memorise one page of literature properly, but people all over the world are able to memorise this book, word-for-word, that was hundreds of pages long. How profoundly amazing.

I watched them in awe, feeling out of place. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to approach him, because Waseem spotted me, and came over.

“Salaam,” I said, greeting him.

He looked concerned that I was there, asking me what was up. At first, I didn’t know how to explain myself, but as I started talking, the words found their way out, voicing my greatest fears.

How was I going to move past everything I had done? Why did I still feel the urge to sin when I knew the consequences? The most important question was… With the brewing emotions I still felt within me, was that a sign that I should try to somehow make everything with Farah right?

“What d’you mean?” Waseem asked, looking confused. “Make it right? Bru, the only way you can make it right is by turning to Allah. Not by getting carried away by this chic under all the wrong circumstances. I mean, If it’s meant for you, it has to come in the right way.”

He made sense. I knew he did. He wasn’t writing it off… He was just explaining the sense behind it.

But I couldn’t understand myself… Why did I still even want it? Just when I had thought that I had found the gold yesterday, something was still steering me in the other direction. Was it all just attachment and emotions?

“When you change you life, Zee, your whole perspective changes. What you love, becomes what He loves. You don’t meet Allah only half-way… You go the entire distance. In this case, you have to get carried away. For the one who sustains your every breath, you go all out.”

Wow. That was deep. I mean, I never thought about it that way.

Then he told me something I never though existed. The truth about real love. How it starts, and where it all makes a difference. The love that we give our whole lives to find, is not really a love at all. In every western story or book, the ending is where the union occurs. It all ends at the point where the love is found, and where the joining of two souls take place.

But, ironically, the path is not meant to end there, at the place where you meet your soul mate or your other half— It is only found when you find your Lord. That is the only place that you can find any bliss in this temporary life. Because you won’t only begin to love Him, you’ll start to love BECAUSE of Him. He will become you reason for loving… The reason to do it the right way. For Him.

Ah, it was all just so… Sweet. So real.

“Not for your Nafs,” he reminded me. “For Him.”

Nafs. A new concept that I was just getting the hang of. Beginning to recognise as I battled with them on a daily basis now. I had to step up in terms of myself.

From thinking Waseem was getting too hectic, now I was in awe of my brother, who made it so far, just because he knew he wanted his life to be different. All this, I knew, was inspired by a Greater Power, who most definitely chose who He wanted to guide, and through what means.

“Anyway, I offered to take Molvi to the airport at three,” he said, getting up to go.

Maulana Dude. I had forgotten about him. And Aasiya. I wondered what had happened after I had left last night.

I didn’t have to ask though, because Waseem was already a step ahead of me.

“You heard, right?” He asked, his brows slightly furrowed.

“What?” I asked, getting anxious. Like, really, no-one in my family ever told me anything. How was I supposed to hear whatever the news was?

“Aasiya,” he replied, sounding like it was so obvious. “She’s gone.”

Curve Ball

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

I followed my brother up a driveway, leading to the entrance of what seemed to be some kind of learning institute. Posters with schedules and Salaah times were pinned to the front walls, and two students clad in Islamic attire were entering. Waseem greeted them as if he knew them, mentioning something about a youth programme, and they glanced briefly at me enquiringly.

“This is my brother, Ziyaad,” Waseem said, introducing me to them.

I nodded at them but they didn’t move. It took me some time to realise that they were waiting on me to extend my hand. They clasped it readily in turns, exuding a warmth that I had never witnessed in anyone that I’ve newly met before. It was unexpected. It just felt so… Different.

We went toward the door leading to a staircase that led to a fully carpeted area. There were tons of people there, and a few were gathered in a certain area, as if gathering for some kind of meeting.

Oh hell, I thought to myself, quite annoyed. Waseem brought me for a second Friday bayaan.

As it is, I never sat for the usual ones, and now he was forcing me to sit for another one, out of choice.

“Waseem, ey,” I said, speaking in a loud whisper. “I cant park here… I’m not even dressed.”

I felt a bit weird to be dressed in my Guess jeans and golfer today, even though I usually prided myself in it. Almost everyone here had on their traditional Friday garbs.

“Just wait,” Waseem said sternly, pulling me aside, his eyes penetrating mine. “It’s not a lecture… It’s a program, boss. Just. Listen.”

I rolled my eyes at him, already bored. Mosque twice in one day?

Nonetheless, I sat put, noting Waseem’s piercing gaze. Unfortunately, my brother had a knack of getting people to do things against their own will.

Obviously, I couldn’t block out what was being said. Waseem moved over to sit close to the crowd, but I stayed back, still not eager. I found myself thinking that maybe it wouldn’t do such harm if I could be a little more co-operative. Just a little.

“So, respected brothers,” the voice was saying. I caught him in the midst of whatever he was saying. “Our next speaker needs no introduction. He has inspired many with his words. May Allah Ta’ala enable us to take the lessons from whatever he has to impart….”

There was a murmuring as I saw some people look up to see this Maulana dude. Since I was at the back, I stood up, trying to see who they were talking about. I could hear someone in front of me talking softly about the kind of man he was. I strained my ears to hear.

They sounded so much in awe of him, that I couldn’t help but scan the crowd carefully to at least catch a glimpse of the man they seemed to be going bananas over.

I mean, I’ve met famous people before. Really famous people, actually. Quite a few of them, at functions that Dad had took me for. I had even rubbed shoulders with them, so I wasn’t rearlly going to start getting all papparazzi here.

But this kind of hype was different. It was a contained, peaceful excitement. The man in question, who I caught a glimpse of now, was the epitome of humility. No bodyguards or huge barricades surrounded him, as he moved forward to shake hands with a few people in the crowd. He didn’t seem to have any chip on his shoulder, but you still could still tell that this guy was special. He was anything but normal.

“That’s the guy,” Waseem said, and I jumped, not even realising that he was next to me.

Did he move back or was I unconsciously moving forward?

“Oh,” I said, trying to sound neutral. I didn’t want to reveal my true feelings, but I’m sure Waseem knew. I mean, if he was impressed with this Maulana dude, then I’m sure he knew I was too.

Maulana dude was talking, and I watched him, just a little sceptically. I wasn’t too sure what he was saying, but something about his tone was so… Appealing. He spoke loudly, but he was in no way condescending. He made people want to listen to him.

“So, brothers,” he said, actually sounding so affectionate. He was speaking with so much of passion. “My message to you all today…. Here.. Now… is to give you hope. If we’ve been messing around, this itself should give us hope. Every brother should leave here, knowing that there is a chance for him. By being here, we have that hope… We have that level of faith.”

His words just sounded so pure… So true. I wondered… How can just a few lines uttered by someone I never knew before already move me?

“We know that Allah Ta’ala will not even allow us to utter His name, had He not willed it. He chooses who is privileged enough to do so. He is the only One who can allow us, even in that greatest time of greatest need, to turn to Him. To converse with Him. To know Him.”

I didn’t even stop at that time to realise that it was only precisely because of what he had said, that I was actually even present here. His very words, just a few seconds before that, didn’t even occur to me at that time. This was obviously no coincidence. It was like every word was aimed at me.

“That guy who’s regretting something he’s done,” he was saying, looking around at the crowd. “I want to speak to you. I want to appeal to you, my brother. We know how appealing western ideologies seem when you’re in the mix. When you’re caught up, it always seems to be the best to fit in… To go with the flow.”

That was me. All of me.

“My friends, don’t get me wrong. I’m in awe of you. I’m in awe of youth today who can restrain themselves. Allah knows, brothers, it’s a great jihaad.  I can’t imagine what you guys are going through now. The challenges that you’ll are facing. The temptation of drugs, alchohol, zinaa… You know it all. You know you shouldn’t be with that girl, but you’re battling to fight your urges. You shouldn’t be taking that fix, but you think you need it. You’re convinced that you do.”

I was all ears by now.

“Bright lights, pumping music, goosebumps and heart pounding,” he said, his voice sounding sinister. “Yes, my friends. But when you come down, and your head is screwed back on, on that pillow in the darkness of the night… Everything is a just a waste. The emptiness that awaits afterwards is traumatic. But you can make a choice, my friends. You have the choice to change. At any moment… At any time in your life, you have that choice. You can decide and you can say; this is not how I’m going to end my story.”

And then… Then he told us of a true story… A story of a young guy who came from a background where life was pretty much on the right track. A pious guy, you would say. And he was thrown in the deep end, in a secular system, with the freedom of it at his feet. And he did what anyone would do, given that.

He committed the ultimate. He got caught up one night after a party. He gave in to Zinaa, and went through with it, out of pure emotion.

At this, my breath quickened, as I re-lived my own experiences. As I thought of my life, not that long ago.

My heart literally burned at that moment.

But the difference here was that he lay there, afterwards, filled with regret. Filled with remorse. He knew he needed to make amends. He had betrayed his Lord. And so he set forth, back home, in effort of this… Wanting to seek some guidance on the matter.

And my inner being, somwhere beyond my soul, literally ached as I listened to this guy speaking, with tears in his eyes. He was actually sobbing as he told us the story, in awe of this youngster who came back to the path. Who made it happen for himself. He didn’t let his sin drag him deeper, but let his pain become a means for change. He let his sin be the reason he changed.

So, immediately, the realisation hit me. I always had this perception that these things, this kind of belief, was only restricted to certain people. ‘Piety’ was only for a certain breed of people.

There was no way that a person like me, who had done so much of wrong and had so many grievances, could ever actually invoke his Lord. I always had the notion that my turning to Him would probably be like a joke. Like, the angels listening to me would probably laugh in my face or something.

But, I was so wrong. I was so misled.

Because, if it was true… If only the pious can go to Allah… Then where do people like me go to? Where do we go?

“Indeed, the regrets of the sinners make Allah more impressed than the piety of the pious. Make a choice to be the cream of the crop… To be the best of the lot. Do good deeds… Cancel your sins. Allah loves those tears of the sinners. It will cleanse you. Your Creator wants to know where you are headed and why you have left Him. Return to Him in a beautiful and amazing way. “

The crowd was dispersing as the Du’aa commenced, and I walked out, finding it all too much at once. My mind was in over-drive. Over-loaded. Uncomprehending.

So much of information, so much of chance. Thrown at me all at once. I wiped my own eyes, looking out onto the tarred car park, with no-one in sight.

“You okay?” asked someone, and I turned around to see Junaid, standing next to me.

I nodded, pulling out a cigarette to light it, eager for a distraction.

“Waseem’s looking for you,” he said, not making any other attempt at conversation.

My brother suddenly appeared, scrutinising me relentlessly.

“What?” I asked, annoyed.

“Come meet him,” he said, moving his head toward the entrance.

I didn’t really want to meet the guy. I wasn’t sure what it was but somehow, I felt like this Maulana guy could probably see right through me.

I shook my head, not budging. I needed to go home.

“Just come, he’ll be leaving today,” he said again.

Waseem’s insistence was getting to me, and I finally snapped, getting fed-dup.

“Why the hell is it so important?!” I snapped.

Waseem didn’t answer straight away, but just looked at me kind of blankly.

“Because,” he said, looking slightly awkward. “He’s the guy I want to arrange my Nikah.”

True Colours

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

“Who is it?” I asked, slightly less obnoxiously.

Curiosity caught hold of me as I found myself straining my neck to see past the doorway. I didn’t have to wait long.

I  inhaled the scent of the perfume before I saw her. Wasn’t sure what it was, but it was definitely something new today.

“Salaam,” she said, studying me. Well, more like scrutinising.

Under other circumstances, I would have been annoyed. That was just my usual temperament, but I was just so glad to see her. Everything negative that I had felt before this seemed to diminish as she came inside, sitting on my two-seater leather couch, with a look that said so much more than words could ever mean. Somehow, the words I wanted to say didn’t make way through my mouth.

“Are you okay?” She asked, still looking a bit reluctant and uncomfortable.

I knew why. My mother was still standing in the room, unsure of what to do. It was the first time a girl had actually been up to my room, and I assumed that she didn’t know how to behave. Waseem had brought girls home before, but never under these circumstances.

I nodded at her, gesturing for my mother to go. She obliged, and left us alone.

I wasn’t sure what to say to Farah. I couldn’t even look at her properly. I felt.. Weird. Conscious of something. Everything felt strange after yesterday. It was strange how confident I usually felt, but even in my own room, I couldn’t even feel comfortable enough to say what I needed to.

Well, I thought to myself, obviously feeling flattered that she had come. YOLO. You only lived once. When words failed you, I knew that actions never would.

Something within me altered as I forced myself to just be normal. I had to show my true self… My true colours. A subtle whisper within my conscience said; be the Zee that everyone knew and obviously loved. Give in. Be who you want to be.

I caught her gaze and moved towards her, missing her more than ever at that moment.

It didn’t feel wrong any more. Nothing was stopping me. Opportunity was knocking at the door. I was going to make it up to her. I  knew that I just needed to show that I was worth it… That I could live up to be the caring, compromising person that she needed.

But as fate would have it, my newly enlightened brother entered the room at that precise moment. Without even knocking or announcing his arrival.

Awkward wasn’t the word.

“Sorry, sorry,” he said, looking away when he saw Farah.

Say what?! Waseem couldn’t even look at a girl?

I glared at him, waiting for his explanation.

“I didn’t know you had visitors,” he said, saying it with a certain undertone.

“Just one,” I said, gritting my teeth.

Waseem mumbled something back and I was sure I heard something about the devil there, but didn’t leave. He just stood there, despite my glares. Like, didn’t even budge.

“You guys carry on,” Farah said, sensing the hostility and standing up. “I have to go. I just wanted to leave this.”

She gestured to a small gift bag she had left on my coffee table.

My eyes pleaded with her to stay, but I knew she was already mentally not here.

I watched her walk out, then turned to Waseem. Every devastating emotion I had previously felt, resurfaced. Every ounce of relief that Farah had brought with her presence disappeared, the moment she left. On top of it all, I was just so furious.

All that had come with seeing her had now gone, leaving with me a bigger hole than before. It was all… Just.so.temporary.

I knew exactly what Waseem was going to say before he even said it.

“That satisfaction,” Waseem said, cocking his head and shrugging. “It’s wrong.  It’s just an illusion. Temporary.”

Really?” I asked, being sarcastic. I was getting angrier by the second. “So, do me a fave, boet, can you make your being here also temporary?!”

I edged closer to him, trying to be a threat.

Waseem still didn’t budge.

“You still think you know better than everyone else?” He said, coming close to me, poking me with his extending hand. “Even after yesterday, you still act like you got no worry in the world?! You need to do some growing up, Ziyaad! Be a man! Not a bloody fool!”

“I’m not a fool,” I retorted, enraged. “You’ll just can’t leave me alone! Even with my chic here, you’re sitting on my head! You’re not perfect yourself! Can’t you just lay-off?!”

“Lay off?! When I can see what’s happening! You walk around like you’re not gonna die,” he said, striking a nerve. “You’re caught up… You are your own worst enemy. No-one else!”

I couldn’t help myself. I flung myself at him with no warning, using all the strength I could muster, and gaining the upper hand with Waseem for once. It was a short-lived victory.

He tackled me back, breaking free, pushing me off him. He held my face tightly for a few seconds, getting me to look directly at him.

“I’m not provoking you, Zee,” he said now, speaking calmly. “I’m just tryin’a get you to see the bigger picture.”

I knew I wouldn’t see it unless I really wanted to. And I couldn’t fathom his desperation.

What was so great about what he was trying to tell me anyway? I wanted to live. I wanted to be me. Why must I follow all of these rules…? Why must I be so… Limited?

“Come with me,” he said, giving me no option but to follow him outside and straight into his car. His ‘new’ car.

“Where’s your car?” I asked, missing his two-seater that he had driven for the past year. He drove a less flashy Mercedes. Decent, but not my kind of ride. It was a definite downgrade.

“A car is just a car,” was all he said.

He sounded like how I had felt yesterday. In those moments when every materialistic thing meant absolutely nothing. When I truly realised that having the top of the range of almost everything was so futile.

“These things are not for us. I learnt a lot… You’ll never believe the kind of people I’ve met… The places they’ve come from.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, confused.

“I mean…. We don’t belong here,” Waseem said, after a few seconds, concentrating on the road.

We don’t belong here?

He continued, enlightening me.

“I mean… This is not our home,” he said, as if clarifying everything.”But, the good news is,  there is a place where we do belong. A place where there will be no discomfort, like you feel now. No anxiety… No pain. A place where nothing, and I mean, nothing at all, is just temporary.”

My heart beat just a tiny but faster, in anticipation for what he was saying.

Yes, I knew about that place. And yes, I wanted it.

Waseem’s voice dipped now, almost to a whisper.

“But, Ziyaad, are you earning it?” He said, as if he was seeing right through me.

It was like he had been building up this great golden tower, only to knock it right back down to the ground.

“You want to be special, right?” He asked, taking a turn. “Look around you, bru. Everyone you know is just like you. They’re all looking for some kind of worldly recongnition… Some happy-time here. Pursuing it like a dog catching his tail.”

“So?” I asked rudely, missing the point.

“So, Ziyaad,” he said, all matter-of-fact. “If you want to be different, you don’t do the stuff that the normals owes do. You wanna be conspicuous, you do what the special people do. You wanna be a cut above the rest, look at the ones who know their Creator. Look at the ones who go the extra mile. Look at your friend, Junaid.”

“Junaid?” I was confused for a few seconds.

Oh, that owe. He was different. Yeah, definitely.

“That, my friend,” he said, glancing at me. “That’s where you’ll find what you’re looking for.”

Ah. The gold. The ever-so-evasive gold.

How did Waseem even know all of these things?

The car halted. We were outside what looked like a house to me, but was actually something else that I had no idea about.

“Where are we?” I asked, looking around.

Waseem had a mysterious look on his bearded face.

“I’m taking you to meet a real man,” he said. “You’ll see.”