There are certain instances in life that stick with you, no matter what passage your heart has been altered through. Whether it’s been turned by the whispers of man’s whims, or twisted by the whistles of the world…. Certain things have not only have made their impact on your mind, but the very essence of that message has filtered through, somewhere to within your soul. Maybe not now. Maybe it was was way back when. Maybe once upon a time, there existed a part of you that was once moved by something so elementary. But then life went on and you forgot just how significant that moment was for you… until something happens and it’s brings it back, as if you are right there, playing it live, all over again.
At the time of the marriage of Ali bin Abu Talib (RA) to Faatimah (RA), Hadhrat Ali (RA) had none other than one pillow, a rug and a jug.. The floor of his home was the bare earth. A simple piece of armour was given as Mahr, and the Nikah was a simple ceremony performed by the Messenger of Allah (Sallahu alaihi wa Sallam) himself. Such was the asceticism of the lives of the pious, that they didn’t even think to acquire something more luxurious, even on a grand affair like a marriage.
Upon her deliverance to her marital home, our beloved Nabi (Sallalahu alaihi was Sallam) entered the home, offered a supplication for them, and thereafter, simply said to Hadhrat Faatimah RA:
Remember I have performed your Nikah to the person who is most beloved to me from my family.
The words were few, but it’s meaning was of great magnitude. Moreso, because he then turned to his cousin, and said the same thing to Hadhrat Ali (RA), after which he left.
He continued to supplicate for them until he exited the door.
And it was a beautiful narration that had stuck with me from the few years of Madrassah I attended, where my Ustaadha would absorb us in a different piece of literature every month, even when we had tons of secular work… but it had instilled a deep love for the wisdom and way of Nabi (SAW), as I grew to an age of understanding. And it was something that I would remember many a time, but especially then, as the Nikah sermon of my friend had just commenced. I sat next to her, silently supporting her because in all truthfulness, my throat was all kind of choked up and restricting my breath, which meant that all I could do was sit there and gape at how peaceful and content Layyanah looked as she sat there, digesting today’s events and trying to figure out if this was all real.
Okay, so I know that I don’t exactly come across at that type, but believe me, I’m all kinds of emotional at the most inappropriate times. And while Layyanah was busy smiling tearfully, looking serene in a rose gold and champagne dress that she had somehow gotten a hold of at the last minute, I was all snotty-nosed and ugly crying while the few females who were there from Liyaket’s family were hovering around.
They probably thought that I was a little over the top, but I didn’t care. All I could think of was how brave Layyanah was for doing this and how terrified I was for her at the same time. How she was leaving everything in this world behind, to embark on a journey to please Allah.
And yes, I’m not the dramatic type, but having being the first Nikah of someone that I knew so well… the emotions were kind of coming on with no warning.
This was huge. Liyaket and Layyanah would be staying here for a few days whilst they tried to figure out where their path would take them to next. They had no plan. No house. No real preparation for the journey that they were about to take but they were already moving in the right direction and I was almost certain that it was going to be okay.
Almost. And yes, I wasn’t sure if this was the right thing. Parents were important. Their blessing was important. But Layyanah had indifferently stated that after she contacted her parents to invite them to her Nikah, she had been accused of being pregnant and emphatically declared disowned. The quote was that they wouldn’t be seen dead attending her cheap wedding even if she begged them.
So that, I supposed, summed up the parent issue for now.
And of course, I had asked her about eleven times since I’d got there if she was absolutely certain, because well, I just had to make sure. Jameela had nudged me in the ribs by the seventh time, and I was a little grateful that I had been forced to bring her with, but that was another story altogether.
I was certain it wouldn’t have happened if my dearest mother hadn’t hit up a royal fuss about the invite.
My heart had been hammering in my chest as I walked back to the office after meeting Layyanah earlier that week. I was expecting someone to pop up and pin me to the ground, demanding some explanation about Layyanah. But thankfully, as I reached my office I breathed a sigh of relief, ecstatic that I had reached safely and in one piece.
Also, my phone was on my desk by the end of the working day, which had got me even more excited because I knew I would not have survived a second more without it.
And I was all sucked into work and very busy minding my own business that Wednesday afternoon when Lesley’s over-cheery voice got me averting my gaze as Hamzah sauntered through the front office. It was his usual, up to no good, kind of saunter. I didn’t catch on that he was probably playing it up. He raised his hand at Lesley, trying to appear polite. I ignored him and focused on my spreadsheet. The guy got enough attention from everyone else.
The thing is, I was so good at ignoring people that I didn’t even notice him coming over to my desk until he was right there, in my face.
As with other people, he was all smooth and easy as he spoke, running his hand through his growing beard briefly as he waited for my reply.
I looked around me in confusion, wondering if he had got the right person.
Sjoe. I had no idea that he could be polite.
And I was about to shoot him the usual glance of annoyance as I looked up, but just for a millisecond, there was a flicker of something that I barely recognized in his eye, and then, just as fast as it appeared, well, it was gone, and he was looking down at my desk.
What that was, I wasn’t sure. I looked at him, slightly perturbed. He said nothing more as he passed, but tapped three times at the corner of my desk before leaving with two ambiguous words.
All I knew was that “See you”, according to loose-ish office boys really meant that he probably would be seeing me, sooner that I thought.
He said it by the way, and I was a little in shock as I wondered what on Earth was going on with him.
And then when I glanced down and saw the white baronial envelope on the side of my desk where he had tapped, my throat kind of restricted. This definitely did not look like it was work related, and my heart thudded with trepidation.
All Nani’s words about office boys came pouring down on me, like a summer storm, and I was obviously wary of him already. These boys and their up to no good ways were way too sinister.
And then of course, I picked it up carefully, realizing that anxiety was getting the better of me prematurely as I studied the outside with my name written all fancy and suspiciously. I was still digesting that it was dropped off by none other than Hamzah, silently and expertly, even away from the prying eyes of Lesley, until I tore it open and realised that he wasn’t up to no good after all.
The invitation was simple. It was all in paper and old fashioned, almost like we were back in the twentieth century. And yes, of course it made me uncomfortable to see people still wasted paper, but you know, sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zones.
But it wasn’t over because I had to deal with Lesley’s skeptics as she tried to drill me about why Hamzah had been at my desk, but that was also regardless, because it didn’t compare to the drama would soon unfold as when I got home and revealed the contents to my mother. It only took her her about three and a half seconds to go completely bezerk, and as soon as she saw where it was she was all up in arms as I tried to reason with her about why I had to be there.
“But Ma, ” I squealed, putting on my best pleading face. “It’s not so far…”
My mother gave me one of those looks (I’m sure you know those by now), and then immediately turned to my father.
“See what you cause!” My mother bellowed to him, as I stood, slightly dumbfounded, in the middle of the hallway, watching them both. “Rather she live by herself, let her do as she wants all the time. Why must she ask, if what I say doesn’t matter?”
My father looked confused, and I passed him the invitation silently. And I know I shouldn’t have because I knew my parents. I knew my father would try and play it down but the idiotic part in me still did it. I still passed it to him with the hope that maybe he could win her over somehow.
”Its just 2 and a half hours away, Fathi, she will be back tomorrow…” my father reasoned, trying to be diplomatic.
Wrong response. Ma’s face was turning as red as a tomato.
“She can NOT travel with no Mahram !” Ma was yelling. “You said that last time was the LAST TIME!”
Last time was the last time?
I wanted to giggle but I dare not. I was only grateful that Nani was not here because that would have been an entirely different and horrific scenario. I knew that she could not even hear about this.
“What last time?!” my father said back, his voice slightly raised. “That was for work! She can’t say no for work!”
I wanted to hang my head in my hands.
There’s it. Bayaan time.
“Allah’s law is not only for leisure!” my mother shot back. “We don’t pick and choose when and how. Every time it’s the same bloody thing. Same story! You and your children gang up against me!”
When my mother said ‘bloody’, I knew she meant business.
Was I the only one who thought my parents had completely lost their minds everytime they argued?
They were going on about who the worse parent was and it was mortifying.
Crazy. It was just crazy.
Jameela had plundered down the stairs and was watching them too with raised eyebrows.
I wasn’t sure how this was all going to end but I really wanted to be there for Layyanah. Besides, her message sounded so sincere, and amidst all the fakes in this world, I could do with some sincerity. I really could.
I really would like you to come. Layy.
I looked at the invite. The venue was out of town. Google maps said 2 hours and 47 minutes away.
But I understand if you can’t. It’s not around the corner.
The next message came about 3 minutes after.
I typed, wondering how this would all turn out.
I will try my best xx
I really wanted to. If my mother calmed down and listened to me.
Please please. I need someone for moral support. You’re the best friend I have right now, Mos.
I was strangely moved by her message. I really wished that at the moment I could see her or just give her hug. She was going to be going through a huge transition. She wasn’t only going to be getting married, but I could imagine that she was losing her entire family in the process too. Probably her friends that she had once known from way back. She had no support structure whatsoever.
And that was when I knew that I had to make it for her. It wasn’t always easy to sacrifice your pride, and put your tail between your legs. Sometimes it was just downright mortifying. I messaged Layyanah to ask her if it was okay to bring my siblings. Doing the right thing wasn’t always easy, but sometimes you just needed a parent who had heir head on the right way, to make sure you’re in line. And so, after Fajr salaah, the very next morning, all three of us siblings were headed off to the farm town where the Nikah was being held.
In case you were wondering, my younger brother was pretty much non-existent. He was one of those teenagers who had morphed into some kind of weird warrior, wearing army suits and sitting in his room playing with his pocket knife collection. How my father allowed that kind of violent behaviour, I wasn’t sure, but I suppose that being an only son after two girls had to have its perks.
And of course, the trade off came with a price. As for my brother, I had to promise him a new leather pocket knife holder. Jameela insisted that I’d look into her plans for the coffee shop as soon as we were back.
Muhammed Husayn was sitting in the back seat, silently looking out the window while I drove the 220 odd kilometres to our destination.
And in all fairness, they were doing me a favour, but I couldn’t help but recall what Ma was saying. She had a point. Allah’s law was not negotiable. And of course, there was a reason for what Allah had set for us. Every role and rule was in place for a reason.
In her eyes, what had to be done, had to be done, but not with breaking the law of Allah.
And so that’s how I had made it, all set to be my my friends side, psyched and scared for her all at the same time, as I witnessed her life starting to change.
And what Layyanah was about to go through, I couldn’t digest, I knew that I for one, would never have been able to adapt to this mew kind of life. Never in a million years would I have been to leave my extensive closet, my privileged life and family, to start afresh with someone I barely knew, knowing that life was going to completely change for me.
And as I sat back on the grassy plain just beyond a little hillock, many thoughts were coming at me, almost unexpectedly.
It had been a few minutes after the conclusion of the most emotionally charged Nikah ceremony, and after hugging my friend and then leaving her to meet with some of her new in-laws who were mulling around, I knew that there was nothing more I needed than a dose of fresh air, and the sliding door leading outside seemed like the perfect place to get it.
Jameela had gone off to take some scenic pictures as soon as we got here (she had my fathers habit of getting lost in the wilderness), and Muhammad Husayn (who was pretty anti-social) had been claimed by someone from Hamzah’s family who said they would take care of him (not that he needed taking care of, but you get my drift.)
The thing is, I couldn’t even worry too much about the technicalities about anything… This place was so beautiful and I immediately understood Jameela’s urgency to get out and take it all in. From what Layyanah had said, it was a vast plot that belonged to Hamzah’s family. On it were 3 houses, which made it perfect and private for the event this weekend.
For some reason, my iPhone was far from my side, lying on a pedestal in the room behind me as I collected my thoughts and emotions, experiencing the present after what seemed like ages. I sat cross-legged, pulling at some weed, noticing the crowd of people mulling about, but for that time, sitting in my beige and black abaya set with the breeze caressing my cheek, I was oblivious to their chatter. As I gazed, more hillocks ahead, boasting such greenery that made me dizzy, I felt alone and appeased all at the same time. I was almost glued to the escape I had found, as if I was sinking into a realm of abandonment, where nothing else in this world mattered at all. The sun was shining brightly beyond the meadow, and as I sat there, soaking it in, it was a moment of freedom, a moment I felt released, and a moment that I wouldn’t have traded for anything in the world.
The truth is that sometimes, as life goes on, we not only become new people, but we also lose a lot of what was important to us before. We forget what made us, what broke us, what moulded us into the human beings that sometimes look without seeing and hear without listening. We forget what it felt like to lay still in the breeze of spring, or how to sit, unmoved, at the buzz of a mobile phone.
We forget to keep our eyes on the glorious way the sun embraces the earth, to take back our own happiness, instead of relying on that the clicking of that button, thinking we were savouring a moment when we really weren’t. We are so immersed and absorbed in a world that is so far from real, that at times it’s as if our reality is only what is happening in a world beyond a 120-millimetre piece of glass …
Yes, this wasn’t my comfort zone and I was far from a nature person, but this… well, this was breathtaking. Jaw-dropping. Stop-in-your-tracks, savour every moment, kinda stunning. This was life beyond life, from every new sprig and sprout, to the vast evergreens that lay beyond where I could even see, it was so breathtakingly beautiful. It was like one of those pictures that Papa often sent me… actually even better… and as I sat there, I breathed in the fresh air of nature, took in its glorious scent and I was already miles away. Right then, I just felt like a slave who was just gaping in awe of her master. Thoughts were running away with me. Emotions had overwhelmed me. The empty life as I knew it, now held no value for me.
Because right then, it all made sense. What Layyanah was doing. Why she didn’t value what I had always put before everything else in this world. All I could think of is why some people could leave a world of so much of wealth and promise behind, knowing that there was so much of splendour and beauty that existed. Why they would abandon something that seemed like it was the most glorious thing, because they had seen something that was sent from the Most Glorious himself.
This was peace. This was contentment. This was life.
For that brief moment, like a gasp of fresh air after the longest underwater dive, I felt like I had been lifted out of a world that I had been trapped in, like a bird soaring high above that very same water, finally gaining the courage to catch a glimpse of something that only very few in this world could ever fully comprehend…
And then of course, as a voice from behind me not only broke right into my epiphany, but also just shattered my soaring spirit.
And perhaps it was in the air on that scenic day, because it was obvious that someone else’s spirits were also soaring a bit too high that day.
Mission Sunnah Revival: the beautiful Sunnah of eating and licking fingers.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
١٥ ربيع الأول ١٤٤٣
15th Rabee’ul Awwal 1443 – South Africa
22nd October 2021
رسول الله صلى الله تعالى عليه وسلم said:
If the morsel of any one of you fall, then he should pick it up, thereafter remove any dirt etc on it, and eat it. And he should not leave it (morsel), for satan.
And he should not wipe his hand, with a cloth, until he lick his fingers, for verily he doesn’t know, in which portion of his food, is the blessing (Barakah)
If a morsel fall down, then we must not regard it as, reprehensible.
There’s great reward in picking up a morsel and eating it, regarding it a Sunnah.
If it’s not possible to eat it, then place it in such a place, where some animal can eat it.
An amazing quality to inculcate into our lives…