When Money doesn’t Matter

Bismihi Ta’ala

Jameela

part 78

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wait.

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

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

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

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

Haai, Nani.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It wasn’t ideal but it made more sense.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His presence was stifling.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, I was completely wrong.

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

My goodness, my heart.

”Hey. Assalamu-Alaykum…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I couldn’t look up. I just couldn’t.

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

“How was your day?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

”Okay, I need to confess.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like honestly, it was like a Colgate commercial.

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

The way this guy read me was like a book.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I have a question.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

”Jameela?”

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

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

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

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

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

I didn’t think of what could happen after.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I had to look away.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I narrowed my eyes as he continued.

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

The walls had ears, for sure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Much love 

A x 

Sunnah of the month of Rajab 

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

اَللّٰهُمَّ  بَارِكْ لَناَ فِيْ رَجَبٍ وَشَعْبانَ وَبَلّغْنَا رَمَضَانْ

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

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

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

Someone asked Ali (RA): “How much was the Sahaba’s love for the Prophet (Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam)”

He replied: “By Allah! To us The Prophet (Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam) was dearer to us than our riches our children and our mothers, and was more cherishable than a drink of water at the time of severest thirst.”

SubhaanAllah… what perfect imaan they had… May Allah enable us to practise..💕

#RevivetheSunnah

#RevivetheSunnahofbeingGrateful

#RevivetheSunnahofQur’aanTilaawat

#ReviveSunnahofDuaa

#SunnahofMaintainingTies

#RevivetheSunnahofSadaqah

#RevivetheSunnahofGivingGifts

#RevivetheSunnahofGoodAkhlaaq

#RevivetheSunnahbeforeSleeping

#RevivetheSunnahofGuardingtheGaze

#RevivetheSunnahofLickingtheFingers

#RevivetheSunnahofMiswaak

#RevivetheSunnahofEnteringtheToilet

#RevivetheSunnahofSpeakingGood

#RevivetheSunnahofUsingtheRighthand

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Suspicious Encounters

Bismihi Ta’ala

Mohsina

Part 77

It was the Instagram post that first got me suspicious about Rabia.

And okay. Maybe I had been in a particularly suspicious kind of mood since the entire thing went down, and even the slightest thing made me feel said emotion, but I called it a hunch.

I mean, even Hamzah’s whole open love confession at the minute I was ready to throw in the towel made me a teeny bit out of sorts and thinking that something may be off with his brain alignment.

Like, what on earth was with his whole love declaration that felt like it set my entire heart on fire? I didn’t even understand how someone could even have words like that and not belong in some kind of romcom kind of screenplay that made you weak in the knees.

Hamzah knew that he had to go, if he wanted what was good for him. He had agreed with me that he couldn’t lose his job. But now, emotions were coming into play and he was confused, and that’s all. I just needed to keep steering him that direction. The one that would be best for him.

And then there was going back to work for the meeting with Hammonds, when I glimpsed the new woman who had taken my place as external auditor, and the suspicion started again. The good news was that seeing Faadil made me realise how truly over him I really was.

All I felt when I looked at it, was annoyance. The bad news was that the new girl was skinny and semi-attractive, and what got to me was the way that she looked at me as Faadil walked up to join me in the meeting room that day.

There was an outright scowl in my direction,  she seemed highly invested in him who was seemingly oblivious, and I couldn’t help but be quite certain that she had also fallen under the Faadil spell. My suspicion was kind of confirmed everytime she battered her eyelashes at him, and it kind of made me want to puke.

And all that aside, I couldn’t help the prickly kind of feeling that overcame me as I lay awake in bed two days after I had caved and decided to let Hamzah stay a bit longer in our home and my life, as I scrolled through my instagram feed and snuck disbelieving looks at him. Maybe it was just a hunch.

The star husband was laying next to me, one arm slung over me as he slept as if there was no evil that existed in this world, and on the other side of me was Zaid, arms and legs splayed out in the summers heat, with blankets all kicked off.

I wanted to log this onto my memory, never to be erased, so I could keep coming back and revisiting the moment. I didn’t know how many of these mornings I would have. I didn’t want to think about it.

And as much as I tried to get Hamzah to keep his distance, all it took was his swoon-worthy words and I had already melted like ghee on a thawa, and I wanted to kick myself for it. And yes, we were in Nikah and even though Hamzah had made it clear that even if he did sign, no papers would change that… the fact was that, sooner or later, I knew that Hamzah had to go. If not, it would be scandalous.

There was no way I was going to let him risk everything he had worked so hard for once this case goes to court. Though he promised that he would stand by me with fierce loyalty, our marriage would make him a complete target for every kind of treacherous assumption. A divorce on paper and distance between us would be the only solution. For now, it was the only way.

I sighed as I gently edged away from him, lifting his arm so I could move off the bed. So much for distance. All aspirations were out the window.

And I knew that Instagram was not exactly the wisest thing to be scrolling through mindlessly at 7am but sometimes, my overwhelming nafs got the better off me, especially when it came to escapism. I knew that I should at least put the phone down, engage in some dhikr at least, and my entire day would take a turn because of it.

And I did. I wanted to make it a habit of remembering Allah when I first woke up, and not see someone’s pouty, fake-lashed filtered face instead. I had to try and at least rid myself of the dust that had collected over the past few weeks. I had been so absorbed in the allegations and everything it had brought, even my Hifdh had taken a back seat for a while.

But the amazing thing with Hamzah was that since things had erupted, he was the one who had made sure that the Qur’ān was the one constant, even during the days we were at loggerheads with each other. He kept solemnly to his promise of helping me memorise parts of the Qur’ān. It had been doing its thing… cleaning and polishing my soil from all the dirt that had overcome it. Maybe it was a hope he had that Qur’ān would bring us together, like it had before, and whatever he intended, such was the miracle of Qur’ān… that I could most certainly feel the affect on my heart.

The heart was being polished. The grime was being removed. The dust was definitely being wiped off.

And there was nothing more I needed, because the phone had taken over our lives to such an extent that we slept with it and woke up with it, and before even remembering the purpose of our creation, our limbs would stretch out for the gadget that ruled and ruined lives, without even thinking.

The thing was, I always loved social media. Always have. It was an amazing tool for marketing and networking, but a not so amazing too for making me feel great about myself.

Social media is designed to curate and promote highlights. We post the best snapshots of our days, the best meals we eat, and the best places we visit. When you have a stretch of a tough few days, it can be easy to feel like everyone else has it easy and
Dnly you are dealing with this type of difficulty.
It creates a type of insecurity. A person starts to wonder why they cannot get things together when it appears to be so easy.

Although I knew how horrible it was and that it would only feed my silly insecurities, I still couldn’t seem to wean myself off it or delete it completely. Like a drug, it would draw me back to it, craving just one more hit of juiciness until I felt a little satiated.

In fact, everything I opened the app, Instagram just made me feel crappy.

That morning, after my dhikr counter had reached 500, I squinted my eyes slightly in the darkened room, trying to figure out how Rabias social life had suddenly gotten so … quirky.

There it was. The post that made me suspicious. That would raise all the questions in my mind. A picture of the favourite ice cream place that I had been obsessed with just months ago, and a picture of three cones, two sugar and one normal, in three different flavours, snapped together.

And okay, I knew that it was a very popular place at the sometimes trendy Melrose Arch but the guava and mint flavour ice cream that had been snapped in the picture made my heart kind of contract momentarily.

And I knew that I had no damn right to feel even the slightest bit nostalgic, having this gorgeous and amazing man next to me, and the cutest baby in the world snoring like an adorable little steam engine, but the emotion came without warning.

That was Faadil’s favourite flavour. His favourite flavour, always in a normal wafer cone (never sugared, he just had this weird-so weird- thing from childhood that made him hate sugar cones). A most odd flavour, I always thought one of the least popular, and although I didn’t want to go back to that space mentally, it was the place we frequented at least three times during those few months I was with him.

It was also the place where he always said that it dawned on him that he apparently didn’t want to just be friends.

And I had no idea he allegedly felt that way of course, but it was the day he had lent me the Porsche and before that had treated us all to ice creams, before some of the less demure girls jumped into the car with him.

It had flattered me of course. How much of it was real, I still didn’t know. The tune after was that the reason he had let those girls take a ride in his car was that he was waiting for me to be the one to get in, and when I didn’t, he had to find a way to get my attention somehow.

I never did the throwing myself at guys thing, no matter what car they drove. Personally, I feel the elusive, hard-to-get factor was probably what made the chase more exciting for him.

Whatever it was, for him that’s when everything kind of kicked off in his head, and despite me regretting every bit of it months after, I couldn’t help but feel the rising suspicion as I closed the app.

How could Rabia know who Faadil was? Could the instagram snapshots that incriminated me been her doing?

No ways. She couldn’t have been acquainted with him. How could she know who she is?

I shook my head as I put my phone down, sneaking a guilty look at Hamzah because I was suspecting his sister of such lowly things.

Just glimpsing him momentarily, while he slept so peacefully, made my heart burst with all sorts of overwhelming emotion as I shoved the thought out of my mind.

I shook my head. No.

Maybe I was being a little paranoid.

Just to be sure, I would try and suss her out later when I saw her. Ask her a thing or two about the gram. Or ice cream. After all, guilty people usually act a little nice than they’re supposed to. After the whole fall out with her, I had barely seen her, but with Saaliha around in Joburg for this weekend l, I knew that Rabia was bound to be around when they give everyone their amazing pregnancy news.

I had been so excited for them that I yelped crazily when Hamzah had told me the previous night, especially since I was well aware that Saaliha couldn’t fall pregnant for years. Allah was so merciful. Rabia was definitely bound to be there, even if it was only to suck the joy out of the occasion.

I sighed as I tried to think happy thoughts that morning, and although the morning had started off on a little bit of a questionable note, Hamzah shifting around as he woke up immediately lifted my spirits.

I had made him a special breakfast (well, as special as it gets with me, who allegedly can’t really cook) and I was trying to be as nice as I could be considering the awkward circumstances. We were at this very weird stage in our relationship where we were avoiding each other but trying to spend time together at the same time. Hamzah was doing his best to respect my wishes, but he was still holding onto hope that I would change my mind and I was so close to throwing in the towel on my plans, but I knew, for his own sake that I couldn’t just abort mission.

All I knew was that no matter how hard I had tried to push him away, he always found a way to rebound, and proved himself over and over again.

And since we usually ended up in my parents area on Saturdays because of dropping Zaid with Liyaket’s mother, I knew that there was no better time to pop in at my parents and Jameela, before the big day for her tomorrow. I had been so absorbed in my life, but seeing Hamzah was a bigger gossip than I was, and after Nani’s call the other day, he desperately wanted to find out what was going on from Zubair myself. I knew that my parents were preparing for Jameela but what I didn’t know was the Nani also had her own preparations going on.

And after she had huffed and puffed about it like the big bad wolf, I really didn’t expect her to be there as yet.

And so, if course, you could understand my utmost shock when I glimpsed Nani standing at the counter in all dedication, mixing something vigorously, considering that she had so much to say about the upcoming events, the delicious smell coming from the stove made me completely suspicious.

I mean, what on earth was she up to, when she had clearly said that she was completely against that ‘aloo’ coming to see Jameela. I mean, I couldn’t believe that she was calling him a potato. Her entire reaction was enough for me to understand that there were no samoosas coming from her this time, and my parents weren’t in the least surprised. I was just glad that my parents weren’t adopting the same stance, and were actually giving Jameela scores about actually wanting to meet Zubair.

“Hey Naans,” Hamzah said sweetly, his one-dimpled smile genuine as he saw her. I had to look away when I saw the pure affection in his gaze because knowing that he would become off-limits to me soon made me feel completely out of sorts. “We’ve missed you.”

Nani immediately looked up as she saw him, and her star grandson-in-law planted a kiss on her cheek as she continued with her exaggerated gestures and gorgeous smelling treats. He was so good with swindling her that it made me jealous.

”Mos,” Hamzah said, turning to me and raising his eyebrows, holding a squiggly orange thing in his hand.

I met his eye hesitantly as he watched me. He knew what he was doing. Making this entire thing harder for me was apparently his sole objective.

“How could you not tell me that Nani makes Jalebi? This stuff is a winner.”

I rolled my eyes at him, concealing my true emotions, but I couldn’t help but smile, watching Hamzah devouring the jalebi as if it was the most delectable treat in the world.

His brown eyes twinkled as he munched, and I could see from his face that he wasn’t just throwing Nani up.

“To what do we owe the honour?”

My humoured question lost its effect as soon as Nani heard it.

“Nadeema asked me to make it,” Nani said proudly, as if my dear cousins requests were the only thing in the world that mattered.

Nadeema was still one of Nani’s favourites, despite what she did to me. Of course, I couldn’t expect Nani to understand. In her eyes, I was the married one so I wasn’t worthy of pity, and Nadeema wasn’t… so she deserved sympathy plus a kilo of jalebi for extra effect.

Jameela had entered the kitchen at that point and was standing at the door, waiting to catch my attention, but Nani had already caught it. Now, I needed to know more, and I wouldn’t let this rest.

If Nadeema wanted to Jalebi, why on earth was it here?

”So is this all going to her?” I asked with a raise eyebrow, gesturing to the pile of orangey sweet stuff that was on the counter next to the stove. The thought made me want to smash it all up so Nani could serve her jalebi syrup.

Crushed. Orange. Jalebi. Syrup.

It’s not that I hated Nadeema. It’s just that, after the incident where she literally broke off my proposal, I wasn’t exactly obliged to like her. The thought that Nani would make her stuff in our home, with our cooking oil, made me want to cry. Oil was expensive, okay. And Nadeema was not worth it.

I could see Jameela trying to gesture to me, and whilst Hamzah saw her and tried to signal me too, but I was far too vested in this conversation to pay attention.

Since Nani mentioned Nadeema, all I saw was red.

”Of course no, Mohsina,” Nani said nonchalantly, sounding oh-so-reasonable. “This is extra batter. Nadeema’s jalebi is at her house, ready for the boy who is coming to see her tomorrow.”

It took me a few seconds to process that one. Wait. Jameela’s proposal was also tomorrow. With Zubair. His sister and brother-in-law will also be there. She knew this. She had told me. Did that mean Nani won’t be here for it?

Jameela’s gestures were becoming a little more vigorous, and with it were tiny little hisses that accompanied it, solely intended to draw my attention that was refusing to be diverted from Nani.

And who could blame me?

“She’s also getting a proposal tomorrow?” I asked incredulously.

I mean, what were the odds. I wonder who was the (un)lucky guy.

My poor baby sister was now jumping up and down with pure purpose, but now that I was onto something, I averted my eyes and wouldn’t back down. Jameela knew that I was never the type to turn down a challenge. Nani was about to show her displeasure about the situation by being there for Nadeema, and acting as if Jameela’s proposal wasn’t happening.

What I didn’t know was that she had gone one step further.

“Muneer will see her tomorrow,” Nani said, her face turning slightly so I could see her beam. “After Jameela broke poor boys heart I knew that I had to try and fix it.”

”Wha-“ I was cut off as she turned back to her frying and at the point that the rage in me was threatening to boil over, Hamzah had literally steered  me out of the room, whilst Jameela grabbed my arm to pull me away.

I was so angry, I could not believe it. Nani had completely lost her mind. She was doing the exact same thing to Jameela as happened to me.

“Just leave it,” Jameela warned through gritted teeth.

I didn’t want to. I wanted to scream at Nani for being so superficial, and claw at Nadeema’s face for being such a spoilt brat, but Hamzah had wisely blocked me off so I couldn’t go back to the kitchen. The look in his eyes told me that he knew me way too well, and what I was thinking was a really bad idea.

He had called to Nani that he would be back in fifteen minutes, sending me off with Jameela to safety and was already headed to the door for his ritual smoke break, grinning at us as he grabbed his lighter near the door.

”You didn’t tell her anything?” I hissed to my sister as I was shoved up the stairs.

”I figured that some things are not worth fighting over,” she said with an exaggerated sigh.”If Nani doesn’t want to be here, so be it. She doesn’t invalidate the Nikah and it’s not like I’m being a disrespectful grandchild by marrying someone below her expected income bracket. All that aside, it’s great seeing you and Hamzah together. Do you know how much of Duaa I am making for this to be okay. And it’s so amazing because I can see it being accepted right before me. You guys are so strong.”

If only she knew we were just stringing ourselves and everyone else along. She didn’t know that by us staying together we were risking so much. It had to be temporary.

”We’re trying to be amicable,” I said simply, not wanting to explain the whole arrangement we had. “When the court case goes public he will move out. I offered but Hamzah said he won’t let me leave. So…”

She looked at me suspiciously, and then raised her eyebrows.

”So you’re basically waiting for everything to head south before you kick him out?” She asked incredulously. “Mos, are we even related? How are you this horrible?!”

I frowned at her, wondering since when my sister gave me these intensely judgemental looks that made me feel worse than what’s under her shoe.

”Jams,” I said, trying to justify myself. “He will lose everything he worked so hard for if I don’t. Then, I’ll be really mean.”

Jameela’s eyes flared at me as I said it.

”Yes, yes, you said all that, but do you really think he cares?!” She scoffs as she glares at me.

“He has to care!” I said incredulously. “How can he not? This is his entire life. His degree, career, his repuation… Everything he worked so hard for! And he agreed to go.”

“Haven’t you realised that all that stuff is barely important to him?” She was pointing a finger at me accusingly as she said it.

I sighed. But she doesn’t get it.

“It is important,” I retorted obviously.

“Says who? Has the world taken over your heart Mohsina?” she said quietly. “Is that the only thing thats important right now? Status and position and how much money you’re worth. Because if it has, you have to let the Duniyaa go. You have to claim it back and give your heart to its rightful owner.”

My heart was slowly cracking at its seams anyway. It was a searing pain that penetrated right through because I realised that I was going back to that place that I had been at months ago.

”But how?” I said to her breathlessly. “How do I even get there? I’m so weak and hopeless… and now Hamzah’s going through so much because of me and he has to leave so what hope is there for me?”

I didn’t even know what I was saying anymore. I was just getting so emotional thinking of it all.

Somewhere along the way my bond that I had worked so hard at with Allah Ta’ala had been compromised. Maybe I hadn’t tried hard enough. Maybe I wasn’t sincere enough. Maybe I didn’t make enough istighfaar.

All I knew was that I wanted to make this right again, but I didn’t know how to.

“The only reason he’s going is because you threatening to leave him if he doesn’t go himself,” Jameela said to me resentfully. “He won’t be able to bear you being back to that point where you have to ask anyone for anything. Where you have to rely on someone. Even when you’re putting him through so much of pain, his only concern is for you. He only wants you to be happy, Mos. Even if he has to go and make himself miserable in the process.”

What?” I said, narrowing my eyes at her as she looked back at me, now avoiding eye contact as  if she said something she was never meant to disclose.

“How do you know all that?”

My voice was low and disbelieving. It sounded too close to the truth that I didn’t yet know. All this talk was making me suspicious. But then again, I was being a tad bit too intense on those very emotions that week.

“I don’t,” she said, her gaze immediately faltering and I knew that she was lying.

I narrowed my eyes at her, wondering what she would be hiding.

“Spit it out, Jams!” I barked at her, swallowing back my emotion. I could see her face turning a shade of whatever she turned when she was flustered.

“Okay, fine,” she said softly, still avoiding my stare. “Zubair said so.”

I raised my eyebrows at her. Zubair said so?! Is that all she had? She’s dropped a bomb and then stopped. How on earth could I just leave it at that?

“You spoke to him?” I asked, completely gobsmacked that my usually shy and evasive sister would actually talk to a guy. And not just a guy. The guy. Handsome stranger who she’s been going gaga over for way longer than she cared to admit.

Was she talking to him now? Like talking talking?!

“You and Zubair?”I asked, widening my eyes. “Are you guys….”

Wait.

“Papa was there,” she explained hastily, her bashfulness very evident. “He wanted to see Papa and Papa thought it would be good if I was there as well. We chatted. A little. We didn’t have long but. I know certain people look down on him because they think that he’s poor but it doesn’t matter to me. Why do people think that wealth makes you someone? Sometimes people get swayed by the charms of the world as if it’s everything that ever mattered and will matter. We think we can find constancy in all these things but what we hold onto is inconstant and perishing. Money and status and everything the world presents is just a mirage….”

“You make it sound so easy Jams,” I said softly, wondering how my sister had become so wise. She was so…. pious.

On the day of Qiyaamah, Allah Ta’ala will apologise to the poor in the same was as a person does to another person in this life, by saying, “I swear by My Honour and Greatness that I did not keep away the worldly wealth from you because you were disgraced in My eyes, I did so for the sake of bestowing on you the great honours of this day; you go and look into the rows of Jahannamis for those who fed you or clothed you for My sake, they are all yours.

When the poor approach such persons they will all be drowned in their own sweat and the poor people will pull them out and lead them to Jannah. (Rodh-ar-Rayahim)

We look at wealth as if it’s the be all and end all of life. As if someone without money is not worth anything. Little do we know that there are people in this world who not a soul knows, but in the heavens, there is not an angel who does not know that blessed slaves name.

”He really likes Hamzah,” she said softly, looking all dreamy-eyed. “Thinks he’s one of the few people he can actually trust. We don’t want to lose him…”

Oh my word, they were a ‘we’ now. What. Wait. Did I miss so much? They discussed Hamzah and I as if we were something that was so important to ‘them’.

I narrowed my eyes and she looked away again and I knew that she was done for.

My word. My little sister hopelessly besotted was doing things to my insides

”I want to know everything,” I pressed, my eyes narrowing even more at her. “About what he said. About what Hamzah told him. And about what on earth you guys were chatting about. Was he pushing for this? Are we having a Nikah at the same time.. just tell me what’s going on?!”

I was completely in shock. While caught up in my own world I had completely sidelined the spicy masala moments that may have been happening at home. I was now an obsessed women, hanging onto every thread of information. And Jameela was looking frightfully suspicious when I mentioned the word Nikah.

My heart felt like it was about to explode with emotion, despite the looming clouds above.

“Relax,” she said steadily, a smile creeping on her face. “Zubair is a good guy and he’s not forcing me into anything. It’s me who wants to do this fast. Like, really fast. Make it halaal. And yes, Papa did agree that we can have the Nikah this week. It’s taken so long to get to this point and we’ve both felt this way for a while so….”

If I knew how to do a double take, I probably would. What?!

They both felt what way for so long?!

Oh my word, I couldn’t breathe.

“Are you sure you know what you are doing?” I breathed, still partly in shock.

Jameela and her bloody romancing. It was just too utopian-like.

She honestly could not wait to get married and I knew it wasn’t about the glitzy parts of the whole event for her. Jameela was too obsessed with Zubair to see beyond that.

She nodded eagerly, and I felt like somehow, this was always supposed to happen. But there was still a niggling feeling of hesitation as she said it, and I knew that there was still early days.

Nani still wasn’t okay with this. Zubair still had an awkwardly unmentionable history. Hamzah and I were still buying time.

All this time, this kind of ending for her was merely an idea but now that things were wrapping up, I couldn’t help but feel that something was completely amiss…


Mission Sunnah Revival

Sunnah of Thinking Good about others  

We’re so quick to assume bad things about people, even when we have no idea what’s the real story. Thinking the best about others is part of the Sunnah of Nabi (Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam) and is a great way to give us a positive outlook and always be good to others.

Someone asked Ali (RA): “How much was the Sahaba’s love for the Prophet (Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam)”

He replied: “By Allah! To us The Prophet (Sallalahu Alaihi wa Sallam) was dearer to us than our riches our children and our mothers, and was more cherishable than a drink of water at the time of severest thirst.”

SubhaanAllah… what perfect imaan they had… May Allah enable us to practise..💕

#RevivetheSunnah

#RevivetheSunnahofbeingGrateful

#RevivetheSunnahofQur’aanTilaawat

#ReviveSunnahofDuaa

#SunnahofMaintainingTies

#RevivetheSunnahofSadaqah

#RevivetheSunnahofGivingGifts

#RevivetheSunnahofGoodAkhlaaq

#RevivetheSunnahbeforeSleeping

#RevivetheSunnahofGuardingtheGaze

#RevivetheSunnahofLickingtheFingers

#RevivetheSunnahofMiswaak

#RevivetheSunnahofEnteringtheToilet

#RevivetheSunnahofSpeakingGood

#RevivetheSunnahofUsingtheRighthand

FB/Instagram: @thejourneyingmuslimah

Going with the Flow


Bismihi Ta’ala

Mohsina

In my house, going with the flow was my mother’s antidote and fool-proof solution to avoid many a conflict, especially when it came to my notorious Nani. 

To tell the truth, I assume that this is precisely where the ‘problem’ with Nani all began. Not that Nani is a problem, don’t get me wrong.

It’s just that over the last few months, things had become strange between the two of us. We had become almost estranged. The thing was, believe it or not… I wasn’t always as assertive and opinionated as I am now.

No, that particular quality had kind of developed over the last few months. Ever since the incident with my cousin about which we will not mention, lots of unmentionable words were mentioned and things just got kind of… unmentionable. And for Nani, as a younger girl, I was her ultimate fave.. and then as I eventually started having an opinion and sometimes disagreeing, well, let’s just say it didn’t go down very well…

The thing is, there’s a few things I learnt about going with the flow, when it comes to the bigger things. Sometimes going with the flow is not always the best solution, but at other times, it’s most ideal.

It’s like when a bird is in flight, if one has to really think about it… it will become obvious that as long as the bird is gliding along with the wind, without even flapping its wings even, it will move along easily, with very little effort. The thing is, I didn’t know that Nani might have been onto something when she would nag my brains about visiting the people I never wanted to.

Mohsina, Nadeema was asking about you, why don’t you go visit her so she can tell you about her madrassa classes?”

That one always made me annoyed, because I wasn’t quite sure if Nadeema was just acting pious or she really was. But it didn’t stop there, because then there was:

Mohsina, why don’t we go see your Appa’s daughter, she had a baby last week?”

I had rolled my eyes then. I was busy. I didn’t have time to see little human beings that puked on me whenever I carried them. And then of course, was the most famous one:

Mohsina, when are you coming for the Taaleem? All the Taaleem ladies are asking when they going to see that granddaughter of mine again. Some of them have nice grandsons also. You must come next week.

It went on and on; but I couldn’t quite see how Nani was actually trying to push me into the company of people that she wanted to mould me into. I didn’t quite get that when you are surrounded by goodness, the only after effect is that you will most probably end to going with flow, and becoming one of the ‘good people’ too. I knew Nani was hoping that would happen for me, but I couldn’t quite see it. 

A beautiful parable in the Hadith compares a good friend with a perfume seller and a bad friend with a blacksmith. It goes without saying that the least one will benefit from a perfume seller is that one will certainly get the beautiful scent of perfume, which will freshen the mind and heart. Merely being in his company will incline the heart towards good, likewise, the company of a bad friend is spiritually toxic and will influence one towards evil and sin.

And it might have not been the only mistake I was making but it was definitely one of them. Going with what was in, what was easy, and what was ‘trending’, for me…  it was the reason why at that time I felt like there was a ton of bricks raining down on me… and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

Nani’s words always had long-lasting effects on me. I was still thinking about how she had drilled the respect for Adhaan into me the previous day.

I had gotten up extra early the following morning, pulling on a modest navy blue blouse with a neutral colored pants, and slapped some make up on my face. I knew it wasn’t my best look, but I looked decent and the sooner I got out of the house meant the sooner I could relieve myself of the anxiety I was feeling and know exactly what was going on with Layyanah and Liyaket.

On reaching the office, there was no comfort. I came to learn very fast what exactly had happened with the outcome of yesterday’s meeting and my heart sunk to my knees.

Liyaket was suspended. The office was buzzing with gossip and I couldn’t not overhear it. Hamzah was late  this morning. Layyanah was missing in action since I couldn’t even remember when. Knowing that I had to unburden myself to someone, I had messaged and tried calling her the previous night but her phone was off and there was still no reply from her nearly twelve hours later.

Only Mickey and Lesley were in view and I couldn’t exactly ask them anything confidential without creating a huge hubbub.

And once again, I resorted to my desk, keeping to myself and trying to appear composed (when in reality guilt was gnawing me from inside) when a voice next to me snapped me out of my lucid thoughts.

“You wanna join us for coffee?” Lesley asked, plopping herself ON my desk and letting her long legs dangle off the edge.

Like, why couldn’t she just sit opposite me, on the chair, like a normal person?

I glanced at her, frowning slightly as she waited for my answer. Who was us? I knew that she was friendly with that Muslim girl from debtors, so if she was joining I wasn’t too sure if I would. The girl was just rude to me. 

And despite Lesley not being my favorite person ,the thought of coffee out of the office was great. I was done with my selfies. Alone. In my allocated two-meter cubed space. And I was seriously considering saying yes.

FYI, Lesley always ordered the most exotic vegetarian (she was vegan) things and I needed some new snaps for Instagram. Ideally, a hiking or adventure-inclined post as a weekend post might have gone down better but today the followers would have to settle with some foodie shots.

My social media presence had been dwindling for the last few days. I still went on often to check what was going on and to stalk other people, but I just hadn’t put up any good new posts. I was in dire need of one… while I was stuck in my uneventful rut, the last thing I needed were any UNfollowers. 

I looked up at Lesley, wanting to ask her where they were going when I saw her watching me with her grey-blue eyes.

“What time?” I asked, still typing away at my computer and trying to to appear too desperate.

Be cool, I reminded myself. 

“Maybe around one?” she said. “Will you tell Hamzah to join?”

“Why can’t you?” I asked, glancing up at her and frowning. 

“You guys seem cosy-like,” she said, eyeing me out. “If you ask him he’ll probably agree. You guys are not a thing, are you? Asking for a friend. “

Was she for real? She looked almost desperate as she waited for my answer, and I really felt like telling her to buzz off because right the I realized what her scrutiny was about.

I could see Marie at the front desk peering at us. She was discreet but not very friendly. She was probably also trying to figure out what exactly Lesley trying to get out from me. Only, she was decent enough not ask.

Lesley, on the other hand, was way too nosy. 

She had obviously gotten the wrong end of the stick, but then again, did I really owe her an explanation? 

“No, we’re not,” I said shortly. “I don’t have a boyfriend.”

“You don’t?” She asked, and I saw a flicker of relief and then she was just looking inquisitive again. “But why not? You’re so pretty.”

I shrugged off the compliment, but smiled anyway. I wasn’t sure if she was being sincere or not.

Why didn’t I have a boyfriend?

I wasn’t sure. Was it my career? I mean, so many girls were married and had careers. Was it because of my parents? Disappointing them by sneaking around? Or did I have some deeper reasoning that I hadn’t yet discovered.

Was I just getting it wrong by taking everyone else into account and completely ignoring what my Allah expects of me?

I took a sip of my coffee that was now gone cold, screwing up my face as I glanced at Lesley again.

The thing was, how did I even explain to her about the dating thing? So many Muslims dated. How did I explain to her that I was ‘saving myself for marriage’ without sounding dumb and outdated?

“I’m just one of those Muslim girls who don’t believe in dating,” I said calmly. “The statistics prove that arranged marriages are more successful. After all, you can go out with someone for years and still not know who they truly are, haven’t you heard of people like that?”

It was so true. I’ve heard so many of my school friends who were together from school days, and didn’t know so many (undesirable) things about their spouses. One was even divorced. And no, I wasn’t an angel, but I really wasn’t interested in getting involved with guys. Because Papa wasn’t exactly born into luxury and  had worked so hard to put us through a good school and university, I knew it was my responsibility to at least make sure that I didn’t mess it up. Besides that, the divorce rate for arranged marriages and were so much less then those for ‘love’ marriages. What other proof did anyone need to understand the wisdom behind this?

“So it’s a Muslim girl thing?” She said, and I could see her brain ticking. “What about Muslim guys? So is it true that Muslim guys can marry other religions too?”

Ooh, this girl was definitely fishing for something.

Well, there had to be a reason she asked me to join them for coffee. From Faadil to Hamzah… I wasn’t quite sure what she was up to but I was already thinking twice about agreeing to spending lunch with her. One hour of this mental battering would do my head in.

And it was just as well that Faadil stepped out of his office at that point and she went scampering back to her desk, and for the moment at least I was glad to be rid of her.

No, Lesley was definitely not the kind of current that I wanted to move in.  Sometimes going with the office flow is not always a good idea.

And it was just as well, because as I glanced at my phone the following hour, the reply came from a unknown number, exactly at 12pm.

Meet me at the usual spot. 12.30 sharp. Layy. 

It didn’t mention anything else and I knew that this was a sign that I needed. It was the least I could do, after opening my big mouth and causing such destruction. 

And yes, I wanted to ring Maahira’s little neck but I didn’t know exactly who or what she had said and I was hoping that talking to Layyanah might clear that part up, since Maahira was MIA.

I hastily tidied up my desk, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to focus until I saw my friend. 

Taking the short walk down the street to the Coffee Gallows, I was actually enjoying the sunshine that was beating down on my covered head. It was comforting and made me feel slightly more relaxed somehow, and I prepared myself for what I was going to tell Layyanah. Reaching the entrance of the little coffee shop that I so loved, I was surprised to see that Layyanah was already there when I reached.

I spotted her in a grey turtle neck with a matching turban style hijab. Her make up was done minimally and the girl looked like she had lost 2 kilos since I last saw her. I bent down to give her a quick hug, and then took a seat opposite her, putting my phone on the end of the desk and remaining hands free this time because I owed Layyanah that much at least.

“Sorry I’ve been awol,” she said quietly, giving me a small smile. “I meant to message you last week but it’s been so crazy and I have no idea where to even start.”

Now is my chance. I had to tell her the reason I wanted to see her.

 I took a sip of coffee calmly. Layyanah had already grabbed us both a takeaway cup each. It meant that she probably wasn’t staying very long. 

Hurry up and say it, I urged myself. I felt like there was a frog stuck in my throat.

“It’s been crazy,” she almost whispered. “I cant go anywhere alone. They monitor my phone. My computer. They don’t let me leave the house. Now I heard that Liy is suspended.”

Now my mind was in overdrive.

Did I cause all that? Would she be angry with me? If only she knew what part I had played.

Say it, I urged myself, as I put my coffee cup down. Just say it.

The greater good was finally triumphing the evil and the rising in my chest had to be relieved as I spoke out.

“Layyanah, I’m so sorry!” I blurted out, my voice sounding foreign even to me. I can’t even remember when was the last time I apologised to anyone. When last I felt so remorseful.

She looked up at me questioningly, looking slightly confused.

“I think I put my foot in it,” I hastily continued before I lost my pluck. “I happened to mention you and Liyaket to someone and I have a feeling that she might have told someone that you know…”

I couldn’t look up at her and meet her eye, but when I finally did, it was already unsettling to see the hurt in her eyes.

“You did what?”

I took a deep breath and finally met her eye.

Oh no. From hurt to anger to upset… Now, she just looked... Absolutely devastated

“It was a mistake,” I reasoned weakly. Was it? Yes. It was. “I didn’t mean to be so careless and the girl is all the way in London so I -“

“In London?” Layyanahs expression changed to slightly anxious, and then, as she registered what I was saying… she just looked up again, as if a puzzle piece was slowly fitting together.

“Who is this girl?”

It took her a minute or so to finally ask. Her voice was flat. Almost as if all the emotion was sucked out of it. 

“An old friend,” I sighed.

Whether I could still call her a friend, I wasn’t sure. What was in it for Maahira anyway?

“Her name is Maahira and she’s also a CA. I just didn’t think that she would actually have anyone to gossip to….”

Layyanah looked visibly stricken, as if I’d just pulled out a rug from beneath her feet. I could see her blinking a few times, and then, it was as if a penny dropped. 

“That explains it,” she said, holding her finger up almost in as if in awe. “Oh my word. That’s it.”

What?!” I asked, only a little concerned.

“Long story. Oh gosh, Mos, I’ll explain another time, I promise. This is it! It has to be. It’s this girl…”

She trailed off and her eyes widened as I looked at her suspiciously. Her entire demeanor had changed. It was like she was an entirely different person from the person I had first met here about ten minutes ago. 

Her eyes were darting back and forth and the colour had returned to her cheeks. In all fairness, I thought that I was giving her the worst news of her life, but turns out that her life couldn’t have gotten any better than at this point. 

Wait.

A fresh wave of anger and resentment was rising up as I realized that Maahira may have just been trying to impress someone and this had caused so much of trouble. How could she be so selfish?

“Mos,” she whispered, her eyes bright and her cheeks were now flushed and pretty as I always remembered.

She wasn’t looking all pale and ghastly anymore. Now I could see the girl I once knew and loved. In all fairness, now I could see why Liyaket was so crazy about her that he had given everything up just to make sure that she would be safe. Everything that was important. Even his job.

I just wished that it had turned out differently.

“Mos, I need your help.”

I looked at her questioningly, as her eyes met mine again. 

“I have to tell you something. But it’s a long story,” she said, her voice soft as she spoke. “My parents are planning my wedding to be in 6 months. An affair of the century. All the events that lead up to it.. the proposal, fancy engagement, Arabian night, seafood night, bachelorette party, mehndi… will take about six months and probably cost millions in itself. There are no limits, because I’m the youngest and Mummy is insisting that this must be the event of the year. Daddy’s already booked the tickets to Dubai. She’s psyched about the jewellery shopping. His aunties and sisters must all have gold and nothing less, because everyone must know that we are classy people, you know? We still have to think of a theme and the finer details that go with it. They’re all insisting that Rose gold and Spring blooms is the new in, so they are probably heading that way. My cousins from LA are already booking their tickets. There’s so much of excitement and to look forward to…”

I looked back at her questioningly, not quite understanding.

“Layy, what are you saying?” I was utterly confused.

How on earth did they already start planning such a huge and significant event in just a few days? Are they trying to bribe Layyanah into marrying some random rich guy?

She looked down for a second and I glanced at her, my mind not yet registering what exactly she was saying and even more so, now the undeniable defiance in her eyes.

“I feel numb,” she whispered, swallowing hard as her eyes glazed over and she looked at me again. “I have no emotion. No inclination to any of it. I don’t want that. I want a simple Nikah and a small supper. I don’t want all of these ridiculous functions that have no purpose and Islamic significance. What’s the point of planning all of this when the guy is as shallow as a pond? All he cares about is the money my father is spending to set him up a fancy office in the North. I can’t tell them that because they don’t want to hear it but Mos, I’d take any risk… anything… I’d even rather die than marry him.”

I looked at Layyanah, slightly shocked. This was serious. My phone buzzed but I wouldn’t even dare picking it up. I had to talk sense into her. I mean, if she had to oppose her parents, who knows what could happen?

“I don’t want to get you involved, so all I need you to do is give me two things. A little bit of time and your phone. Just for a few hours.”

Part with my phone? No. 

“Layyanah, I’m not sure if this is a good idea,” I started saying.

I couldn’t just agree to this. I was starting to hyperventilate. What if her brother had some mafia people that would come for me? What if they put a hit on me or something?

Aiy. I wasn’t going to risk that.

”Trust me,” Layyanah said, noticing my hesitancy as her eyes bored into mine. “I trusted you. I need your help. I promise, this is for the best. I can’t be that superficial girl that my parents want to be. I’m someone different. It’s like I’ve been sleeping all this time and meeting Liyaket woke me up, and I can’t go back to sleep, Mos. I don’t want to be that girl whose life is going to revolve around Sandton meet ups and Louis Vuitton bags…”

Yup, she trusted me and I broke her confidence. 

My heart was aching for her right then. Can it really be so bad to be spoilt and rich? I supposed everything came with it’s price, right? 

 “What if they blame me?” I said, keeping my voice low.

“Tell them we took the wrong phones from the table by mistake,” she said quickly. “By the time they figure it all out, I’ll get your phone back to you, don’t worry. I just need you to keep mine for a while. Please Mos. Just go with the flow.”

Go with the flow? Oh yes, sometimes it was easy, but this time I wasn’t too sure.

How exactly was I going to figure this one out? 


Mission Sunnah Revival: The beautiful Sunnah of using the right hand.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

 

Hazrat Hafsah 
رضى الله تعالى عنها
narrates:
رسول الله صلى الله تعالى عليه وسلم would use his right hand for eating, drinking and wearing his clothes, and his left hand for some other tasks

(Aboo Daawood Shareef)

An amazing quality to inculcate into our lives…

#RevivetheSunnahofMiswaak

#RevivetheSunnahofEnteringtheToilet

#RevivetheSunnahofSpeakingGood

#RevivetheSunnahofUsingtheRighthand

FB/Instagram: @thejourneyingmuslimah

 

Deception

Bismihi Ta’ala

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

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

Hannah

Once damaged, always damaged, right?

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

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

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

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

“You using again, aren’t you?”

I looked up and sniffed. Was it that obvious?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a pig. He used me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I shrugged.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then, the message from Rubeena came.

”Assalaam, Hannah. How are you?”

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

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

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

Abuse?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fun but not practical?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

May Allah grant us contentment, 

Much Love, 

A 🌸

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

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A Special Acquaintance

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem 

Khawlah

Whenever I thought of my mother, even after so many years, it always brought on mixed emotions. Reading the letter, with all its sentiment was an experience that brought back memories I thought I couldn’t even recall. And yes, although I missed her… not really having that much to miss her about made it a bit easier.

Her name was Sarah. I always remembered her radiant, graceful and full of love. Before she got sick, I supposed many could say she was beautiful. Then, as the illness took over… well, everything changed.

When I started working for Rubeena, story time always brought back memories of my mother. Somehow, whenever I had read the story about beautiful Sarah (RA), the wife of Ibrahim (AS)… my mother crossed my mind.

And though the story of Ibrahim (AS) was an spectacular one with multiple lessons, what was most amazing for me was the incident where the couple migrated to Egypt, where there was a King who captured beautiful women. This migration was with Sarah, and It was said that he had told her that this tyrant was one who if he finds the husband with this woman, he will kill him.  Knowing this, and also bearing in mind that this man intended evil, Ibrahim (AS) had said to her: “Besides you and I, there are no other Muslims in this place, so you are my sister in Islam. You must tell him that I am your brother.”

The story of Ibrahim and Sarah (RA) in Egypt goes on to an incident that night, when the King tried to have his way with the beautiful Sarah. Through the will of Allah, as the King tried to advance toward her, his hand was suddenly stricken by paralysis.

SubhaanAllah. He asked her to pray to her God to relieve him, and he will leave her alone.

She did so, and he was cured of the paralysis. He then again tried to advance with evil intentions, but was struck by paralysis once again. Seeing this happen once more made him realise that this woman was no usual character…. seeing this awakened him to the fact that there was more about her than just some supernatural power.

And of course, reflecting on it again just made me realise how Allah can turn a situation completely around with His help. For years, Ibrahim (AS) had tried to no avail to get the people of his town to believe. Being the only Muslims at that time, Allah made the situation such that not only did he save them from the evil King… but Allah also granted them honour through him. He realised that the couple were pious people. This King was to be the one who had sent multiple gifts with Sarah, of which one was Hajar (AS), who was according to some narrations, his very own daughter and a princess of Egypt. And everyone knows what happened thereafter… that it was through her that came the descent of the most Noble Ambiyaa, and lastly, the Holy Prophet SAW… Final messenger of all time.

And all this… because of a man who never gave up on this Islam. A man who sacrificed much to spread the truth of one Allah. A man who submitted to Allah’s command in every way, through every walk of his life.

And this is the very basis of Islam. To obey Allah. No matter what. No matter how hard it may be.  To submit. To wholeheartedly adhere to the commandments of Allah, not only because He has stipulated such, but also because there is a great, great benefit in its execution. To stay away from what Allah has forbidden for us, is not only about abstaining from the temporary pleasure it can bring. What we don’t see is the bigger picture that Allah has full knowledge of. What we don’t see is the harm that Allah is saving us from in the long run.

And of course, as I sat with my favourite kids that Sunday of Aadam’s arrival, and read the story of Ibrahim (AS) once again, I couldn’t help but tear up. Maybe I was crying for more than one reason. I wasn’t too certain. All I knew was that I had removed myself from the mayhem that was going on downstairs, because getting in my mother-in-laws way was probably going to be disastrous today.

The thing is, in life, we never know when things will change. No human being has knowledge of the future. But, sometimes, it happens. Sometimes, we wake up, we face our fears. We take them by the hand. And we stand there waiting, hoping, ready for anything…

And sometimes it’s good to be scared. Sometimes, it’s healthy to be afraid. It means you still have something to lose. It means that there’s still something that you care enough about to be afraid to let go of..

I could hear my mother-in-law busy harping off instructions to the people who were there, and in a way I was glad she was occupied, so I wouldn’t have to undergo her scrutiny again.

I had taken special care in what I wore today. Simple, modest and elegant was the look I was going for. I knew that I would be judged by every person who was there today. It was a mere half hour before Aadam’s expected arrival and I could already hear the noise of incoming people downstairs… as I completed my Salaah, and silently wished for everything to go well.

I stepped out of the play room a little hesitantly now, not really knowing how to react to all the foreign faces. The kids were immediately diverted by a popcorn and candy floss machine, that had become a new trend at functions, and were already eating themselves sick. I finally left them in the ‘kiddies tent’, with Zaydaan still in my arms… a little hesitant about what to do next. I felt a bit lost. Rubeena wasn’t anywhere in sight and my mother-in-law was fussing over the decor.

My mother-in-law had stopped at nothing to plan the ‘perfect’ function. It was really ridiculous, and just plain extravagant.

“Everyone will want to meet him,” my mother-in-law had said, tossing back her perfect hair. “We have to accommodate for them. How will it look if we are unprepared?!”

I was just glad that I had Zaydaan to hold onto, and to keep me company, and even more ecstatic when I finally glimpsed Aadam’s car turning into the driveway.. much sooner than expected.

My heart was completely out of control as it caught wind of what was in store… and I raced down the stairs in a frantic rush, making a silent Du’aa that my mother-in-law was too busy to notice his arrival right then.

And of course, as I glimpsed him step off the car, I couldn’t help but feel my heart soar with ecstasy, as a wry grin crept onto his beaming face.

Oh, how I missed his smile. So easy. Carefree. Completely soothing

And I wished I could have been graceful about the whole thing, but as I flung myself into Aadam’s secure embrace, with Zaydaan squished between us… I really had no words to even appear cultured.

All I knew was that I felt like the only girl in the entire world as he literally lifted us off the ground in the most massive of hugs. It was like coming home.

Woah!” he said finally, pretending to be shocked. “Careful, gorgeous. This guy’s not muscle man. You’ll might break my back.”

I could hear him faking a raspy breath as he let go of me, squishing Zaydaan cheeks lovingly as he looked at us both, and I couldn’t help but giggle, amidst my erratic emotions.

I missed his annoying humour… more than I thought I would.

“You act like I weigh a ton,” I muttered, whacking him playfully, trying to retain some of my dignity.

“You might be surprised,” he complained as he pretended to rub his arm, winking at me. “Or maybe it’s Zaydaan… Bordering on child obesity.”

I studied him easily as he smiled playfully, his eyes a little moist at the edges. If I could glimpse his soul, I knew I would have witnessed the magic of this miraculous journey that he had just undertaken… How my heart ached.

How must it have felt to be of those present, on the scorching plains plains of Arafah? How spectacular must it have been to sleep under the twinkly stars of Muzdalifah? How amazing must it have been to be of them who could pour their heart out to their Rabb with utmost conviction…

I wished I could ask him right then.. to soothe my soul… but I had step back for a minute to take him in as Rubeena came out to greet him too. She grabbed Zaydaan from me, allowing a little time to scrutinize the changes in my husband.

He looked completely at peace. Tranquil. Like he had been irrevocably fulfilled… beyond any understanding… and I was so jealous.

His beard had grown fuller and his hair was obviously now non-existent. The baldness suited him. Although I could see that all that strain had lost him a kilo or two… In that massive hug it was evident that the arduous journey had definitely made him pretty hardy. I was itching to hear every detail of it.

The elation was short-lived, as Aadam finally lifted his gaze, looking around and then glancing at me.

“What on earth is happening here? Who’s getting married?” His eyes were wide as he saw people streaming in.

I grinned and shrugged. The man had just come home from the trip of a lifetime. I wasn’t going to burden him with my sorry stories of what a misery his mother was making of my life… and how she planned this entire thing against our will.

I remembered Zuleikha’s words the day before. By giving him a good welcome, it also meant to ease his mind of any worries. It was a beautiful etiquette that women forgot when their husbands come home.. and so, so rewarding.

“My mother, right?” He said, already looking exhausted as he ran his hands through his beard. “Makes everything a big deal.”

I could tell that he was annoyed as he inhaled, pulling me aside for a minute before he was spotted, as we entered the slightly concealed doorway.

“P.S,” he whispered, his tired eyes suddenly looking alive again as he pecked me on the cheek. He wasn’t going to dwell on his irritation. It just wasn’t Aadam-like, and I loved that about him.

I looked at him questioningly.

“Was it everything you imagined?” I asked him, reaching for his hand and dying to know about every single bit.

“More,” he said, his eyes looking hazy as he looked into mine. I could just imagine how amazing he must feel… what a beautiful journey it must be.

“Did I mention that I missed you?”

My heart skipped a beat, but he wasn’t getting away that easily.

“No,” I said, pouting. “You were too busy complaining about how fat I’ve gotten.”

“Oh yeah,” he said, his eyes dancing playfully. “I can barely even recognize you.”

I knew he was pulling my leg but I frowned at him and turned away, threatening to leave him there to fend for himself. I could already see people coming toward us… I would steer them all in his direction on purpose.

“Hey, don’t leave me!” He said, feigning panic.

“You deserve it!”

He grabbed me by the arm, just as my mother-in-law came into view. He ducked slightly as he saw her, and I already knew this was going to bring trouble.

“You better get used to me bugging you,” he said quietly, but I could hear the amusement in his voice. “I plan on doing it every single day for the foreseeable future.”

I scowled.

By now, I had realised that bugging me was his crazy way of showing emotion. What worried me was that his mother might get upset that he wasn’t greeting guests like he should be… Of course she would blame me, even though I was desperately trying to rid of him by now.

“You better go,” I said, widening my eyes at him in warning. “Your mother…”

“You know why?” he said, ignoring me.

Oh gosh, he was so persistent.

I shook my head vigorously, swallowing nervously as I spotted my mother in law in the driveway now, eyeing out Aadam’s car. Her eyes were narrowing as they darted around…

“Later,” I mumbled, getting nervous about his mother in the vicinity. “We’ll talk later.

“Because even when you’re angry, you’re still beautiful,” he said quietly, as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

He was oblivious to my panic.

And bulls eye …  she just spotted Aadam and I…

It was easy for him. He wasn’t the one to deal with the drama after. Men were always unaffected. And of course I had perfect response for Aadam’s smooth lines… but as my mother-in-laws voice rang out in utter annoyance, I had to swallow it…

“Can we at least get into the house before we do all of this?” she snapped, looking at us both. “Goodness! There are people here!”

Of course. I could already sense her female rival radar emitting signals as she approached. Emotion wasn’t allowed. Of course we couldn’t talk together.

People will see.

My dear mother-in-law turned away in a huff as Aadam’s eyes widened scarily, and then grinned as he called out to her.

”Salaam Mums,” he said holding out his arms and stepping forward. “Hajj Mubarak. I hope you made Du’aa for me. Don’t I get a hug?”

Aadam could melt an iceberg, he just had this amazing way of making everyone succumb. It was really quite unbelievable.

She stopped in her tracks. Of course, he had her at ‘Salaams’. I turned away, in half admiration, half disgust. He was amazingly good at conning people… well, except for me.

Crowds were coming to greet him now from all directions. I was sure that he felt celebrity-like. I mean, I really didn’t know that he knew so many people. I smiled as I stepped back to avoid getting caught up in the craze.

And I was so glad that we had stolen those few moments because of course, I barely saw him that afternoon as he was whisked away with the crowd to have his meal and entertain the guests about his trip. Aadam was visibly exhausted, but he was also not the type to fail when it came to entertainment. He was just always so easy-going. He never complained. I could hear him enthusiastically giving the low down for every part of his journey from where I was, and as I helped Rubeena to serve the never-ending in flux of guests. Rubeena was exhausted, and in pain, and I didn’t blame her because it was getting quite tiring.

I breathed in as I dished out more sojee for an older lady who had asked, convinced that I was going to need a time out after this serving. Rubeena had already gone to rest. I had just found a spare chair, before loosening the buckle on Zuleikha’s shoe that I had borrowed, when my mother-in-law caught sight of me.

Muhammed had gotten sick at the last minute, which meant Zuleikha had to stay home… and Nusaybah was gone away for the weekend with her family. Right then, I was aching for some moral support. I felt extremely vulnerable, and just a teeny bit frustrated.  I was almost ready to get up again, just to avoid her confrontation, but as she came toward me, I was kind of caught off-guard as she wore a a half smile on her face. Besides, I was exhausted, and the thought of getting up again was already making me tired.

I could see her gesturing to someone as she beckoned to them, and then advance towards me again with more people in tow. I was so glad that the function was separated, except for the few stranglers… but the scrutiny of these high-flying women was really something else.

She stopped in front of me and smiled, introducing me sweetly to her friends as her new daughter-in-law. I was actually a little in shock as she laughed with them, and watched them scrutinize me from head to toe before finally giving me a nod of approval.

The verdict was revealed. I had passed the test.

I was still in awe about how people like that could exist. It was all just a little bizarre for me… but completely regular for them. And just when I thought that I had recovered, and the ladies left, a young girl who I had noticed watching me from the beginning of the function came up to us.

It was amazing how my mother-in-law was so perfectly civilized to everyone but me. They turned to me as I got up to leave… and I smiled, knowing that I was expected to be polite.

“I’m Khawlah,” I said to the girl, glad that she seemed a bit approachable in person. “I’m Aadam’s wife.”

The girl smiled as she nodded, and then looked at my mother-in-law.

“This is my friends daughter, Zaira,” my mother-in-law said. Didn’t ring a bell.. but I supposed that explained a bit.

And it was all good as I smiled and asked her how she was, before Aadam’s mother dropped the bomb.

“Aadam and her were friends from school days,” my mother-in-law said, and I could see an uncharacteristic glint in her eyes as she said it. “We all thought that they would get married.”

I swallowed hard, as that feeling of imminent emergency overcame me…. I knew the wisest thing was to escape, but it was already too late…

“Well, until you came along.”

And of course, I felt as if I’d been punched in my stomach. I actually could not believe that she had said that. I was in shock.

The girl at least had the decency to look embarrassed as I swallowed hard to stop myself from breaking down right there and then. Now that, was completely uncalled for.

I was half choking as I somehow made an excuse to use the bathroom, hoping with every ounce of myself that no-one was occupying it, so I could just bawl my eyes out in peace.

Of course, I wasn’t immune to feelings. I was tough.. but what was it about this woman that just wrecked havoc within me.. I didn’t know.

And just as the torrent of emotion overcame me, a distinctive knock on the door caught me by surprise. I almost wanted to shout at them to go away, but I knew that it wasn’t exactly a wise thing to do. I breathed in and speedily grabbed a clump of toilet paper to dry my eyes, hoping that I at least looked normal.

The knock sounded again as I got up, wishing I could peep out to check who it was. I mean, was there no respect for people who were in the bathroom nowadays? Not even letting me cry in peace. I knew I was getting exceptionally angry over something seemingly small, but I couldn’t help it.

And of course, after a quick glance in the mirror to ascertain the damage on my puffy face, I walked to the door calmly and yanked it halfway open… expecting to see an impatient child or family member who didn’t know any better.

But as I met her pretty eyes, I couldn’t help but digest for a minute… wondering who this person was.

She removed her niqaab as she saw me, and just her kind smile immediately lifted my spirits. She was lovely in a soft and completely unexpected way. She blinked as she opened her mouth, almost hesitant about what to say.

“I’m so sorry,” she started, carefully stepping back as she tried to ascertain my reaction. “I don’t mean to pry. I saw what happened and I just wanted to check if you were okay…

I flushed as she said it, feeling so embarrassed that other people had heard my mother-in-laws words. It was one thing when she did it in private, but when it was in front of so many people…

“Don’t worry,” she said kindly, placing her hand on my shoulder. It was strangely comforting. “I don’t think anyone else heard. I just felt so bad for you… So I well.. I followed you. I hope you don’t mind. My husband was somehow persuaded by yours to join him for supper before we head back home. He must really like him, because Yusuf never eats anywhere but home. We just didn’t know that there would be so many people here…”

I looked at her, feeling like there was a need to apologise. She didn’t sound like she was from here. Her accent was not even remotely Gauteng-like. I wasn’t sure how to explain to her… whether to just say it or to just carry on looking at her a little dumbly, like I was doing now.

She smacked her hand to her now bare forehead and shook her head, almost admonishingly.

“Here I am going on about myself when you’re in such a state. You’re probably wondering who I am. You may know my sister, Haseena… or heard of my brother-in-law, Maulana Umar..?”

Maulana Umar? Of course I knew him. Well, I knew of him. He was the Maulana that Aadam and Ahmed never stopped offering praise for. I made the link in my brain as I looked at her, a little surprised that she was so sweet and down-to-earth. These were special people… They were of a different calibre..

“Khawlah, right?” She smiled. “I love your name. Reminds me of one of my favorite stories. It’s so good to meet you… I’m Laila.”


 

A blast from the past… combined with a bit of family dynamics.. I keep trying to shorten the posts and they keep getting longer. Sorry!

Maybe our Laila might have some advice for Khawlah.. 

Much Love,

A 🌸

New account: We see that we’ve been getting quite a few Facebook Shares, and so we have created a page where posts of the blog will be shared from. Follow us at:

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Being good to our parents is also an Ibadat and part of Akhlaaq. As they get older, it definitely does get harder. Allah make it easy for us to fulfill their right as they had looked after us when we were young .

How easy to practice!

Let’s revive this Sunnah Insha Allah.

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A Different Kind of War

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Ahmed

Who doesn’t want to be a soccer star?

Being a soccer fan myself, I could imagine that it must be some sort of perfect dream world. Imagine fans going crazy just because you decide to make an appearance? The glitter.. the glam. The fame and fortune that comes with it all… It’s so easy to get sucked in.

But a picture doesn’t always paint a true story.

And in this world of illusion, what we are exposed to is often sifted and targeted, and is often very far from the truth. What’s next to best, after being a soccer star?

A soccer stars wife, of course.

And an article I read recently, put this into an entirely different perspective for me. And yes, from what I read, she lived a pretty amazing life, materialistically. But in all honesty, I think that sometimes we do forget that there is more to life than what meets the eye.

Because then she broke it to her audience… in a most natural and unbiased way… That there are some days when she is broken inside. She feels robbed of her rights. She is a prisoner to the world and its whims. She stands on the scale, literally, five times a day, just to check that that she hasn’t put on a single kilogram.

She is a slave to fashion… and a victim to expectation. Her appearance has to be perfect, just in case… her man’s eye has to stray onto a woman who is dying to be another notch on his bedpost. She is an object to his gratifications, his full-time secretary, the mother of his kids and on top of it all… has to live in a constant fear of another woman taking her place.

And if what I read there, was not complete ignorance of this age, I had no idea what was… and I had to backtrack…

Jahiliyah. 

It existed once, and we think its over… but this kind of prison obviously didn’t end there.

The people of Arabia had sunken into a pit of  revulsion and disgust. It was a different kind of war. 

`Jahiliyah

“The worst religion; and the worst house.”

And we can never truly understand the animosity of Jahiliyyah. They were overflowing with ignorance.

Women had lost their dignity. They had no value… they had been robbed of respect. They would walk in the streets… literally, naked. For a man to divorce his wife multiple times… kick her out… be with another woman… and then take her back the next morning… was a usual thing. 

The people drank dirty water and ate filthy food. Desires had deflected them and self-conceit had swerved them. Extreme ignorance had made them foolish. They were confounded by the unsteadiness of matters and the evils of deception. Man disregarded kinship and practised robbery. They flogged their slaves. They worshipped idols, liaised with the demons of parallel universe and shed each others blood. 

A woman had no right. No court. No one to defend her whatsoever. And as she displayed herself in that beguiling manner… her worth decreased, and of course, seeing no value to the life of a woman.. knowing she would be subjected to the same barbaric treatment as every other women…

Upon their birth… Fathers actually buried their little girls alive. 

And this was the time when the light of Islam made its onset. It came to give women their rights. It came to save mankind. It came to relieve them from their burdens, and ease the turmoil that had broken out with such ferocity. As the sun dawned on a new faith.. a new beginning, and a new way of life for all… a new religion came to shake up this city of foolishness… to dispel the darkness.

When Makkah slept and woke, there was no other talk other than a man who had come with a truth of One True God. A bringer of glad tidings. A warner to call unto the worship of One Supreme Being. And for the Arabs at this time of overwhelming darkness… It’s light was a beacon that would illuminate the entire world in time  to come.

And among the dwellers of Makkah was a boy who was one of his most attentive listeners. He was the apple of his mother’s eye. A boy who, when he walked, the women would tail him in stupefaction. A youth who was brought up with utmost luxury. His name was Mu’sab.

And he was no ordinary young man. His beautiful garments were so long that they dragged behind him when he walked. He wore tailored shoes that came from Yemen. He wore scented oils that people could smell his fragrance before he even walked into a room. Mus’ab was extremely handsome, and one could only imagine the rancour the ensued when his mother got wind of his new faith… 

But among the chosen servants of Allah, there are some whose faith doesn’t shake. Some who are so steadfast, that no money, luxury or materialistic gain can sway them. He sacrificed everything for Allah and His Rasool (SAW)… 

“It’s Mus’ab!”

Mus’ab? It wasn’t the first time that I had heard about him…

“Hey, hey, hey….”

I turned my head to see who it was talking, and Ziyaad winked at me as I switched my view again to see what he was on about. Around me a group of men had gathered as they spoke, and an exotic, but neat looking car sidled up next to us as we watched.

“Someone’s got a downgrade.”

A downgrade? 

“I wouldn’t call it a downgrade,” Molvi’s younger brother, Yusuf said, eyeing the car that approached.

“Who cares? A car is just a car,” a voice I didn’t recognise said blandly.

”That’s my man!” That was the Molvi talking, of course.

At that moment, the door swung open and only then did it click with me what they were talking about. Aadam stepped calmly out of the new, completely less flashy than his previous car, and gave us a Aadam-styled grin. Did he actually sell his Ferrari?

“Exactly my point,” someone muttered, still hanging onto their previous conversation about whether this was a possible downgrade or not.

To me, cars had mattered. Money had mattered. But the whole ‘a car is just a car’ phrase intrigued me so much, that I wanted to know who said it. I couldn’t quite place the voice in the growing crowd.

Aadam went around the other side like a real gentleman, opening the door easily as my sister stepped out.

Yeah, I supposed the two of them were ‘sweet’. I dropped my cigarette bud and squished it under my shoe as I offered to help, and the other guys obviously stayed at a distance. It was only after I had come forward to the noble thing, that the back door opened, and I got caught kind of off-guard.

Now despite not being the sociable type, I couldn’t help but feel a little inclined to these kids that were pouring out from the back. And although the macho guy attitude didn’t exactly mesh with all these soppy feelings, I knew for certain that they had earned, for some reason, a very special place in my sister’s heart too.

At the end of the day, I got it. A child is a child. I mean, if people (especially parents) take that notion seriously and do their utmost to just ensure that a child has the most normal kind of special childhood, I would have no problems. But what broke me here was seeing these kids so torn over their parents issues. Although the smaller two were mostly oblivious, catching the eyes of the bigger ones kind of broke my heart. Basically, what I saw was that look of defeat that even I wore as we grew up… and it ate me alive.

I stepped back as their attractively dressed mother jumped off, being careful not to look at her and allowing them space to pass me while I took Aadam’s luggage.

I kind of blamed her for this inner battle that the kids were facing. I mean, almost always, it was both parents that deserved a solid telling off about how they were messing their kids up. But the main candidate whose perfect nose I so badly wanted to break had basically been off the radar for a few weeks, and I was waiting for him to make an appearance that day. Somehow, after the drama on the wedding day with Hannah, Aadam’s brother-in-law had just gotten onto the wrong side of me.

As the women and kids went inside, the group of us were huddled on the side of the car drive through at Johannesburg airport, as we waited for them to finish their dangling cigarettes. Aadam looked like a typical high-flyer guy gone pious, with his tailored Kurta and hand luggage Samsonite bag that moved with his stride. His smile was infectious, as usual, as he outstretched his hand to greet Molvi first and then the rest of the guys. Aadam just had this easy-going nature about him that made everyone feel at peace. And of course, I couldnt believe that he had actually sold his sports car. I was so sure that Khawlah had something to do with it.

Molvi and his brother had flown in from Durban airport and were also leaving for Hajj on the same flight as Aadam, lucky guy… which explained the huge crowd that was there. Two of the guys were smoking vapes… and mixture of fruity smoke and tobacco were keeping onlookers at a distance. The only guys who didn’t smoke were Molvi and Aadam, and I killed my urge to light up another one as I stood next to them.

“Another real life Mus’ab, nuh?”

Being a finicky guy, I personally hated when Jo’burg people used the nuh/neh thing. It just annoyed the crap out of me. But wait, there was that Mus’ab again right? Who was this Mus’ab?

Wow. Waseem! Bro, I haven’t seen you in ages!”

I switched my gaze curiously as a guy from the crowd moved forward and I eyed him out, taking in his calf length Kurta and modest posture. Besides being dressed to Sunnah perfection, there  was something special about this guy. Piercing blue eyes and a charming smile… Aadam embraced him and as Molvi stepped back to where I was, he could tell I was curious.

“The two modern-day Mus’abs,” Molvi said with an illuminating smile on his face.

I nodded as he elaborated, explaining to me about how he had first met Waseem, who he called the first Mus’ab. It was a few years ago just when Waseem had changed his life. For him, it wasn’t only about a girl who he thought was out of his reach… he was giving up his family, throwing away the chance to be an heir to his father’s multi-million business and losing a home. He had risked everything to change his life… and Molvi couldn’t be prouder. According to him, Aadam was on a similar path, and it made me see my brother-in-law differently. The crazy part here was that Molvi had just told me that Waseem, was actually the Zee’s brother.

Like, real brother. I was in awe. The trademarked phrase of ‘a car is just a car’ was his.

“Are you guys talking about me?” Zee asked, hearing his name.

Molvi smiled and winked at him playfully.

Ziyaad was eyeing me suspiciously as I looked from him to his two brothers and raised my eyebrows. Now although I loved Ziyaad and his quirky humour… and between him and his older brother, there were definitely dials… with Waseem, I saw no connection..

”That’s your brother?” I asked him incredulously. “Like really?”

Zee frowned.

“Is it because he’s like Prince Charming and I’m Shrek?”

I wanted to laugh, but I’m sure you gathered by now that I  was pretty good at maintaining a straight face. Molvi was cracking up next to me though.

Zee grinned, just to show he didn’t take any offense.

“It’s okay,” he said coolly. “Waseem’s the enigma in the family. I got the drill ages ago. I’m just the damn go-to boy.”

Molvi shook his head and slung his arm around Ziyaad’s shoulder, trying to cheer him up. That was the thing about Molvi. He was so terrifying yet easy- going at the same time. Although his sturdy build, seriously striking features and solid gaze sometimes gave me the creeps, his amazing smile and ability to just make everything easy was so amazing. Such a perfect example. And this was something I learnt from the time I had spent with him on the last trip he had convinced me to accompany them on to Egypt, a few weeks before, because truly, when you travel with someone, especially when they are the friends of Allah, then only did you realize their true worth.

And those few weeks ago, I really didn’t have many expectations about the trip. He had mentioned we would give aid to refugees if need be, and do some Da’wah work while we were at it. His brother and one of his friends were with us as we boarded a bus after landing at the basic airport, dragging our bags through dusty streets and hoping to find a suitable place to stay.

I looked around at the Egyptian capital… A place of extremes, filled with ancient landmarks, snarling traffic, ornate mosques, and glittering modern skyscrapers. Who would have ever thought that there had been so many riots caused by the infamous Arab spring, just a few months ago? I took it all in as we walked, enjoying the boisterous  city scenery and trying not to worry too much about the rumours about terrorist attacks that always seemed prevalent. I had to relax.

Molvi, Yusuf and Imraan all seemed at peace. I had to get the drill.

They were so easy. Simple. Everything about him was Sunnah. And the amazing part about Molvi Umar was that he wasn’t a poor guy. From what I heard, he was a guy who had a considerable amount of money. His family owned a good business and his brother, who was with us, was an engineer. But all this… never made him lose sight of what his purpose was. He could have booked the best hotel in the city… stayed in luxury… made sure that we were in perfect comfort… but this man was not about the ‘finer things in life’. From what I had heard from his friend Imraan, and the sacrifices that he had made during his former years, Molvi was no man of the world. He had given up so much for the sake of this selfless work and he wasn’t going to stop there. Because his entire life was about one mission, to waste money on what was not necessary was something he could not bear. For him, he needed to get right into the heart of the camps… and the project. He wanted to meet the guys going through the rough times… whether they were Muslim or not. He wanted to converse, to mesh… and to completely be in service.

And of course, travelling as brothers who were in the way of Islam, many people had their eye on us. I mean, imagine four guys with fully bearded faces, full Muslim garb and backpacks on their shoulders.

Enough to break anyone’s swag, right? Yeah, I can tell what you’re thinking already. But let me just kill the stereotypes here. Most religiously clad people go to these countries with the intention of serving the people who are there. They don’t go there to ‘fight’. They go their to provide food, hampers, assist in medical aid… and many other valid reasons that have nothing to do with the treacherous ISIS.

And I know where you’re coming from if you were thinking that way, but although we were only only going to Egypt and the typical Islamaphobia was not common… but the odd few security personnel and passengers would definitely give us a second look. There were times in my life when I had wondered about this.

To tell the truth, for me- it was awkward. Being the kind of person I was, every time that someone gave me an odd look or double-checked my passport… I wanted to break their face. For Molvi, Yusuf and Imraan… it didn’t even faze them.

And I supposed that was the trick, because then of course, came the moment when a security guard at the airport pulled Molvi aside and demanded he open his backpack. And of course, my heart kind of just seized right there and then because I honestly didn’t know what I would do if they arrested Maulana Umar. And of course he had nothing with him that would be a warrant, but you heard of those stories where people were accused or even framed.. and had to spend years in prison for no reason at all? My mind was going into overdrive.

Though I came close to his build, and did present quite a threat, Molvi’s presentation was much more formidable. It was no wonder that from the four of us, they picked him aside as their target and I couldn’t help but think how unfair this world was.

What a test… and of course, as my gaze caught Molvis, extreme relief overcame me as I saw the complete ease that was in his eyes.

This man was something else. Of course, his response was on another level completely.

“We have nothing to hide, my brother,” he said calmly, talking to no-one in particular. “We are open. We are transparent. We have nothing to hide.”

The man who searched him seemed contented and I looked ahead as Imraan came up beside me. Molvis stance was so cool. Calm. Unexpected. And of course, he just amazed me even more as we went on. To top it all, he was completely right.

“You look like you’re panicking,” Imraan said calmly. “This is nothing … relax. You lucky Umar’s calmed down over the years…”

What I didn’t know at that point was that he had gone through much worse…

My brain just kind of froze as I processed what it was to be a Muslim traveler. I was caught up in my own world for so long… that the reality was such a shock. And of course, there weren’t only Islamaphobic people out there… but you HAD to expect the odd few. One thing I’ve learnt was that if you are open, friendly and genuine, then other people will treat you the same way most times. When you don’t make your dress/hijab/attire an issue, they don’t make it an issue.

And as works out, when your faith is in the One Who Controls it all.. Of course it all has to all work out in the end. Molvi and the security guy had a jolly conversation before we moved on, my heart still beating rapidly in my chest. I climbed out of the taxi that day as we reached the Mosque, with a relief that was unimaginable.

They called me the virgin Mujaahid… not because we were going to ‘war’ as many people would think, but because a Jihad is basically a struggling and striving with the inner self in order to please Allah. It was the first time that I had experienced this. This was a different kind of war. This was what Khawlah had always try to tell me about. It’s a process of putting aside all other whims and desires, trusting in Him alone and hoping to attain a reward that was reserved for those who attain a beautiful status of asceticism and disregard for anything else.

And man, as I travelled with these guys and got to know them, I just loved them and their work so much more. I even forgot about the macho and hard-core kind of vibe I was used to putting on. I was in awe of them, and as Molvi greeted he guys in the Masjid with affection, I could see the genuine warmth that they exuded when they saw us too. They were so welcoming… hospitable… so glad that we had braced them with nothing else to offer them but our meagre presence. They seemed to know Maulana Umar well, and had prepared a wholesome traditional meal for us that exceeded our expectations.

And just as we got ready for the next prayer, and I got my things together… A figure standing to my right caught my attention as I felt his eyes on me…

And of course, being the formidable me, and not being able to stand people staring at me, I switched my gaze steadily to this guy who was openly gaping at me with a look of absolute wonder.

And of course, as I caught sight of him, I couldn’t quite believe it myself.

Right before me stood a guy that I had not seen, literally, in years. I could still remember his ambitious laugh and superb character, as if I had just seen him yesterday. With the exception of a amazingly defined cheek bones and a sparse scattering of facial hair, as I would expect of anyone that age, he looked almost the same.

I wondered when he had got here. I wondered if he knew of everything that had gone down back home. At one stage he seemed so close to us… but now…

I had no idea when or how he had reached this place that seemed so far away… but I was soon about to find out.

Khalid?” I asked, a tiny smile creeping on my face as I watched him in awe.

“Is that you?”


Dear readers,

Sincerely hope all had a lovely Eid! Extra long post today with a different perspective.

Love to hear from the readers…

Much Love,

Nawas ibn Sam’an reported that the Prophet of Allah, SAW, was asked about doing good and evil. He replied, “Doing good is having good manners. Doing evil is what troubles you inside and what you would not like others to know about.”

May Allah help us be of the best character and manners for our families, friends and all people around us.

Let’s revive this Sunnah Insha Allah.

IG: @thejourneyingmuslimah

How easy to practise!

#revivetheSunnahof Sleepingearly

#revivetheSunnahofAkhlaaq

 

#missionsunnahrevival 

#revivetheSunnahofMiswaak

#revivetheSunnahofeating

Twitter @ajourneyjournal

In the Moment

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Khawlah

Roses are Red,

Violets are Blue,

I don’t do poetry,

But I do love you. 

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

“What was that..”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wanted to giggle. Really? The Freemasons?

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

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

“Is that a smile I see?”

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

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

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

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

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

“You’re a real toughie, aren’t you?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Really?

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

When Mehmaan come, treat them like royalty.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, my heart.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allahuma Aj’al Rizqah Aalah Muhammadun Quwtah 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rubeena’s body just collapsed to the ground.


 

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

Much love, 

A 🌸

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

A tip that’s also a Sunnah:  

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

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

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

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

Let’s revive this Sunnah InshaAllah!

How easy to practise!

#revivetheSunnahof Sleepingearly

#revivetheSunnahofAkhlaaq

 

#missionsunnahrevival 

#revivetheSunnahofMiswaak

#revivetheSunnahofeating

Twitter @ajourneyjournal

IG: @thejourneyingmuslimah

 

 

 

 

 

Glitch

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Rubeena

The biggest mistake as Muslim parents living in a western world, is that we believe our role as parents is like any other parent. What other kids do, ours must follow suit. Furthermore, how other kids are raised, becomes the norm for us as well.

The painful truth is that western parenting methods have a really big glitch. The fact that kids can be vocal to an unruly and disrespectful extent, can often create disagreeable adults. Disciplining your kids in a western society with a simple smack, is a definite no-no. In short, any attempt to show whose boss and to mould your kids into straight and refined individuals who think before they talk, and ponder before they act, is taboo.

The thought came to me as I drove to my mothers house one weekday morning during the holidays, in an attempt to occupy the kids and also get the long awaited meeting with my mother over with. Zia had been recently re-exposed to one of the catchiest tunes of the century and was now ‘baby-sharking’ at peak volume, despite me going crazy on him from the drivers seat.

Now, I had been warned by Adam to filter their YouTube videos. I had been trying to get them to watch good stuff, instead of the usual crap, because killing their addiction completely was proving difficult. But yesterday, upon Shabeer’s request to meet with him at a restaurant so he could spend some time with the kids, a unhappy little boy at the next table sat and watched the “doo-doo-do-do” video about seventy-five times in one sitting, despite protests from other annoyed customers, just so that his parents could eat in peace.

I was appalled. And of course, if I didn’t know better now, I couldn’t help but think to myself- that could have been me! Actually, if nothing had changed in my life, it would have been me!

And of course, even as an exceptionally good-looking version of Shabeer stole glances at me, trying to figure out exactly I was thinking as he pretended to listen to the kids, I couldn’t have been more grateful for seeing the light. Now, while my kids talked, colored and even uncontrollably giggled, I was so much more at peace because I knew that they were in a much better place than ever. Technology-free was bliss. Without the constant need to take selfies wherever I went, to show the world that I was having a good time, when I really wasn’t, I honestly felt so much more… free.

The thing is, if anyone had to ever ask me why my children were suddenly so well-behaved, I knew I’d be able to say it without a hitch. It was only when I had found the peace within the shade of Allah, that I noticed the difference in them. When I started covering myself, stopped sinning and started praying, it was like a huge cloud had been shifted out of our vicinity, and all that descended on us was serenity. Peace, that I had never, in my entire life before, ever witnessed. The fact is that our lies, deceit, gossip and general disobedience to our Lord’s commands not only affect us, but cause a huge glitch in our network.

To be able to keep a firm hold over your child, despite the situation, was a gift indeed. As was the practice of the old, prince and princesses, dukes and duchesses, were taught differently. Likewise, Muslim children are special, and it has nothing to do with having a sense of false superiority. Our responsibility as the Ummah who was given the last and final messenger is a huge one indeed. Where other nations were sent multiple prophets, and multiple books, for us was reserved the one guide and one manual, which undoubtedly has such conviction and amazing insight to last us till the end of time. And we can never understand the gift on being brought up with Imaan (faith)… and the responsibility as a parent in fulfilling this trust.

Parenting is no walk in the park, but when we truly understand that we are to be shepherds over our flock, we will understand the true beauty of the responsibility that Allah has entrusted us with.

Abdullah ibn Umar reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The leader of people is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects. A man is the guardian of his family and he is responsible for them. A woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and his children and she is responsible for them. The servant of a man is a guardian of the property of his master and he is responsible for it. No doubt, every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock.

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6719, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1829

And as much as I sometimes looked back on my life and wondered if I really had done the right thing by bringing these kids into a marriage that I knew was not the strongest. I had to understand that what had happened was all in its place, and what mattered now was how I got through this. Getting married young was my idea. I wanted what I wanted. I wanted who I wanted. And I was the type that would do anything to get it…

Well, look where it got you now, Ruby, I told myself cynically. All that go-getting didn’t serve me very well in the end.

I tried to put the thoughts at bay as I breathed out and scooped a few more spoons of pasta into the three bowls I had taken out to feed the kids. Where Danyaal had always been easy about what he would eat, the other three were difficult to please. Most of the time it was either pasta or chicken pops. I honestly wondered if they didn’t get sick of the same diet, but it definitely made things a bit easier. I wasn’t the most ambitious cook, but nutrient wise, I wasn’t sure how good it was.

”Yummy yum,” Dayyaan said as he reached for the bowl in haste. I couldn’t resist to smack his hand away, with an irate glare.

Ask first!” I snapped at him, annoyed at Dayyaan’s general habit of helping himself to anything he had an inclination to. Where Danyaal would always ask, Dayyaan often took matters into his own hands. His independence and general attitude was starting to get on my nerves.

His face immediately fell, and of course, I couldn’t help but feel guilty. Was I being too hard? Too stern? Too mean?

Where was the balance between disciplining my kids and doing permanent damage? I was still struggling to get it right.

“Go and take a seat, and I will bring it for you,” I said now, my voice a little less harsh.

I seated them and placed their bowls in front of them, getting ready for the big talk with my mother that I had planned. I hadn’t told my mum about Shabeer and I also knew that Adam was immensely relying on me to smooth talk my mother into letting him make his own choice for marriage.

”Where’s Uncle Aadam?”

Danyaal was looking at me questioningly as he scooped up the last few grains of my mother’s Breyani. If I wasn’t mistaken, Danyaal had seemed a bit quieter than usual these days. He also looked a bit worried.

“I think he’ll come later,” I said, not really certain if what I was saying was true.

“Adam, not Aaaadam,” Dayyaan said, munching on his pasta as he frowned.

Despite Aadam having his own place, he still stayed with my parents most of the time. Recently, though, I wasn’t too sure.

“Khawlah says the Arabic name is Aadam,” Danyaal said, matter of fact.

Dayyaan was easily convinced.

“Isn’t Uncle Aadam getting married?”

Dayyaans question was directed at no-one in particular, but I immediately felt panicked  when he said that. I wasn’t sure when or where Dayyaan had heard it, but the information that kids had picked up involuntarily was scary. I could only assume  that my mother must have said something with the kids around. We really had to be so careful about what little ears may hear.

“No he’s not!” Danyaal said, clearly irritated. “Nona says he doesn’t like that girl. He’s too fussy.”

I really wished that I had zips that I could use to shut my kids mouths. Zaydaan, who had just started talking, never missed on opportunity to out-talk the others. It seemed like the only two words he had caught there were the most incriminating.

”Nona fussy,” he said, clear as day, just as my mother waltzed into the kitchen. I took one look at her and I could already see that she wasn’t too happy with me. I mean, what was new? I honestly wished that I had an invisibility cloak that I could throw on, at that moment.

Now, if you haven’t met my mother, let me just do a quick intro. To put it lightly, my mother was, and always had been, the most upright and sophisticated woman in the extended family. Maybe even in the entire town. My mother seldom wore flats, always had her hair done professionally and her face was always perfectly made-up… to the tee. Personality wise, in short, she was a force to be reckoned with. As you can imagine, I struggled throughout my childhood to meet her expectations, yet still fell short. To my mother, status was important. Excessive wealth was a necessity. And , of course, presentation was everything. How you looked, essentially,  could make you… or break you.

“Why are you turning my grandchildren against me?”

My mother’s glare was directed at me as she spoke.

“Ma, I -“

She cut me off with a simple wave of her hand and called for her helper to take the kids outside. I was glad that they wouldn’t have to hear the rest of the argument. My mother and I always had a strained relationship but I never minced my words when it came to the truth, even if she didn’t like it.

“Mum, they’re kids,” I explained, obviously annoyed. “I can’t control what they say-“

”Oh Rubeena, don’t give me that,” she said dismissively. “As it is my own son doesn’t respect me and my opinions, now your kids are heading the same way. Do you want to turn the whole world against me before I die?”

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Now she was blaming me for Adam and his lack of interest in her friend’s daughter.I had no idea how I got sucked into all of this… as if I didn’t have enough of my own troubles to worry about. I was sure if I told her about Shabeer leaving, she would probably blame me.

”Mum, you do know that Adam is not a baby anymore?” I started, knowing I needed to address the bigger obstacle here.

“Yes, but he’s never been this way till he met that girl!” She retorted, stating exactly what the problem in her eyes was. “And he would always listen! I do know better than you’ll and I know what’s best. If you had listened to me before you chose that husband of yours then you would have been in better place right now! What did I say? I told you to watch out. I told you that Waseem would come around. But no, you wouldn’t listen. As usual, you just went and did what you wanted!”

Of course she would bring up the tragic past and throw it back in my face. Waseem was the son of my father’s friend, and a childhood acquaintance. Yes, we would play weird pranks, watch DSTV together and have a ball while our parents socialized, but he was never a serious type of guy. He messed around a lot as a teenager and I knew he wouldn’t have committed to anyone at that stage. Of course, when I saw him, post-adolescence, a few years back, he changed his life in such a way that I actually couldn’t believe he was the same guy. I was sure that my mother would be shocked too.

“This is not about me and the choices I made,” I said through gritted teeth, knowing now that my mother definitely knew more than she was letting on. “Adam can make his own decisions and he doesn’t let anyone tell him what to do. Why would what I say even affect him? He’s a grown man who can think for himself.”

She scoffed.

“He’s my son and I know what’s best for him,” she said without a hitch. “He’s handsome. Wealthy. He’s got international investments… and of course, he’s reached a platform that no-on his age has ever reached, in his industry. He deserves the best and I would know that, better than anyone.”

Ugh,” I said, infuriated by her boastful attitude. A few months ago, her saying all this wouldn’t have worried me… but now, all I could think was; didn’t she know that there’s more to life than that?

She was living a painful deception.

I also knew that she was having a go at me because I never got so far with a career.

“He’s not perfect, you know! He has faults too!”

I wasn’t sure where I was going with this, but I know that she was getting to me. I had to recheck myself, review my intentions, and I took a deep breath as my mother raised her eyebrow at me. I had to get back to the point of the discussion.

“I’m just saying,” I said, a little softer now. “I know you love him. And he loves you. He does respect you, and he’s begging for you to just listen… He’s wondering why you can’t see things from his perspective…”

She shot an unhappy glance at me as I said that, obviously feeling that I was overstepping the boundary. That was the problem though. There had always been boundaries. Respect, I understood. Of course it had its place. Obedience, I understood. That went without saying. But as a child, I had to always watch my own feelings so carefully because I could never show if I was hurt, upset or even feeling broken inside. For my mother, emotion was a sign of weakness. No matter what happened in life, to be an unwavering pillar, despite the ups and downs that came with life, was the only way.

I wasn’t sure if I saw right but there was a flicker off something unfamiliar in my mother’s eyes before she finally spoke.

“Mum, he wants to get married,” I said finally. “He’s changed so much in the past few months, and I know you’ve notice it too. Don’t be so hard on him. That ease… that enlightenment… that complete peace that he’s found now, Mum, I know that it’s not normal. I know because I’ve found it too.”

She glanced up momentarily. If only she truly understood. That moment of pure freedom… that loneliness that comes with complete and utter submission… its more precious than life itself .

”I’ll talk to him,” she said, her expression now back to the usual stagnant and in-control one. My mother was a difficult person, but I knew that she would do anything for her son. Well, a least I hoped…

I left my mothers house feeling a little more hopeful that day, and not like a complete failure of a sister.

Knowing Khawlah was coming later that day got the boys all excited, and since she told me she wanted me to have a small break while she was there, I took advantage. I made a point of not telling Adam because I wanted to give it some time before he met her officially. I didn’t want to put fuel in the fire regarding my mother either. I just didn’t think that the excitement of my boys would get to my brothers ears, and of course, as I drove in after my 90-minute Thai massage , feeling all calm and relaxed, despite the pouring rain, I didn’t anticipate what met me as I parked my car and stepped out.

That’s of course, when I saw Adam coming down the stairs, and of course, my feelings of slight anxiety immediately dissipated because on his face was the biggest and most genuine smile ever. He looked like he was in a rush but he came forward and greeted me as per usual, looking me in the eye with a look of pure delight, as he ran his hands through his hair. He placed the prayer hat he had in his hands back on his head and it really suited him.

Khawlah’s effect was obviously going further than just changing his frame of mind. If he wanted to marry a girl like her, he clearly understood that he had to step up.

I looked back at him questioningly, obviously wanting to know how Khawlah had taken the unexpected proposal.

“Rubes, I asked…”

I held my breath as he looked at me, and then broke out into an even wider smile. Of course I was already excited, as I hugged my brother in congratulations.

”Well, I think she said yes,” he said, rather comically. I smiled. “She was almost in tears. That’s a good sign, yeah? Or am I counting my chickens a little too early…”

He looked doubtful for a moment and I grinned. I already knew what her answer would be.

“Her brother’s coming back. We have a few things to sort out before the Nikah. Mum… Her father… and yeah, of course, I needed to sort some other stuff out…”

I was barely even listening to him as I started planning the event in my mind. Subtle decor, of course. Nothing over the top. Maybe white roses with crystals… or even orchards, with a neutral runner…

“Rubes, are you even listening?!”

I jumped as I looked back at him, slightly perturbed at his annoyance.

We would have to make a guest list of course. I’m sure they both would want something small and intimate. It was so much better that way. I was already picturing Khawlah in a pretty dress, as my brother would see her for the first time, as husband and wife. I was thinking candles. Pretty pastel colored candles with rose petals. The ambience… the atmosphere… I simply loved weddings and the romantic, cosy feel that it brought.

”You got that look on your face,” he said, his eyes dancing as he shook his head at me. “Just letting you know that we’re doing this the most conservative and Islamic way.”

”What?!” I said, peeved that he disrupted my virtual decor. I would start penning it all done later.

He wanted simple? Of course it would be.

“I asked about Shabeer,” he continued, his smile now just a shadow. “I can’t seem to find him. His phone is off and he’s not at his apartment. I don’t want to do any hacking again but if push come to shove…”

The panic was rising in my gut as he spoke about Shabeer, because I knew that sooner or later, I would have to tell him. I wasn’t used to hiding things from Adam.

“I need to talk to him because he’s the only one who can sort Hannah,” he said seriously. “The sooner, the better. Khawlah’s obviously in a state over everything that’s happened, and you know I won’t let it rest…”

I cleared my throat as my brother reached for his phone, while I stood there, a little unsure of whether I should spill out the truth or not. My heart was hammering in my chest.

“You won’t get him there,” I murmured to Adam, knowing that sooner or later he would find out.

I was visibly nervous and I couldn’t hide it. Adams eyes narrowed as he watched me, and finally rubbed his temples in frustration as I looked back at him in silence, not having the guts to actually say it.

“Wedding drama, right?!” I said meekly, trying to soften the blow.

“Oh crap, Rubes,” he said, visibly disturbed about the havoc this would most definitely cause… I knew that I had a lot to explain.

”You took him back, didn’t you?”

I knew that this was definitely going to cause a glitch in Adam’s perfectly-synced system…

But a little wedding theatrics never killed anyone, right?!


Note: sorry about the extra long post. There’s so much stil to be revealed and I know everyone is waiting for the Nikah- but we are getting there!  

Much love,

A 🌸

 

The beautiful character of Nabi (SAW).

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“He who believes in Allah and the Hereafter, if he witnesses any matter he should talk in good terms about it or keep quiet.” [Muslim]

We often find ourselves in situations where we sit and talk about things that do not concern us. We waste precious minutes, even hours, just by talking about matters that will not increase us in knowledge, character or anything for that matter.

When speaking ill of a person or situation, the conversation becomes elongated, sadly due to the desire to gossip. The beauty of this particular Sunnah is that it will help you save time and reduce the amount of energy used to contemplate over irrelevant matters being discussed.

Let’s revive this Sunnah InshaAllah, because it is through our Akhlaaq that people can see the light of Islam and beauty of Deen.

How easy to practise!

#revivetheSunnahofAkhlaaq

 

#missionsunnahrevival 

#revivetheSunnahofMiswaak

#revivetheSunnahofeating

Twitter @ajourneyjournal

IG: @thejourneyingmuslimah

This is War

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Zuleikha

“Jameel, you’re…” I tried to say, fear gripping me from within, and my heartbeat escalating to a nearly unbearable rate. 

Hurting me, I wanted to say. You’re hurting me.

But the words couldn’t escape my lips. Even my saliva wasn’t able to slip down my throat.

His grasp finally loosened and I loosely fell to the bed, coughing and gasping for breath. I was so sure that he was going to hurt me. I almost thought he would kill me. For the first time in my married life, I felt out of control. Out of control, and freakishly fearful of what this man could do.

But this was your choice, the voice within me said, reminding me that I’d basically dug my own grave. I had to let go and give up. There was no way I could get out now… no way I could leave this. I told myself that there was no escape.

And although not ideal, life becomes such that, you find yourself in some kind of rhythm. Abnormal things become the usual. Strange things become a norm. 

I was stuck in this world, sworn to secrecy and trapped in a place where I wished I could get out of…

At the beginning I would think a lot. I kept on thinking about Abba. About what Jameel had said. Did he mean that he made Abba go missing? Did he mean that Abba was involved in drugs? No matter what way I looked at it… nothing seemed to make sense. It just made me feel even more lost in the home that I was beginning to feel like a prisoner in.

Jameel didn’t let me go anywhere alone. To console me, he said he would stop the cocaine. I believed him. I forgave him. I wanted to forget it. Maybe he wanted to stop. Maybe he truly thought he could get better. I did too. 

It was okay, I would tell myself. He gave me everything of the best. It was just a small compromise.

I knew I was being foolish, but I couldn’t help myself. What would I do if I ran away? Where would I go? No-one would want me after this… especially pregnant with someone else’s child, I stood no chance.

It was a case of manipulation and forced guilt. It’s what Jameel would tell me when he would realize that I was catching up with his antics too. The thing with cocaine was that it was a drug that wasn’t easy to always detect. It had really short periods of ecstasy and really fast crashes. Because it caused the user to become ultra alert, something else would have to be taken to kill that. I learnt that those were called beans, and they helped Jameel when he came down, or needed to get some sleep. All this, I realized long after I needed to.

Sometimes I thought that maybe he was high. Sometimes I didn’t know. Sometimes I just suspected. I tried to learn more. Jameel was good at hiding it. Things didn’t change. The parties would continue. The life of luxury, material wealth and unlimited pleasures, for him, was at its best. There was no shortage of good things…. no limit to the worldly whims that had become a part of our world.

The voice inside would remind me… as always… but I felt helpless. I was sucked in… devoured by the world of that was at my disposal. The money. The cars. Food and drink. It knew no limits… it was pure extravagance. The endless socializing that Jameel was always a part of. Those nights always ended off with a drug binge, and we would end up at square one, with a screaming match that always ended in tears for me. 

“This can’t carry on!” I had screamed, on one particular night, not caring if his parents would hear and have a rant about waking the neighbors. They didn’t care that he was abusing drugs. They didn’t care about me or the baby. As long as they didn’t lose their respect in this world of wealth, game and fame.

I was exhausted from running after him, trying to keep tabs on this grown man. He was an adult, for goodness sake. Why was I always having to look after him… to make sure he didn’t lose control?

Tonight was wild. It was one of those nights when the party had reached a height of extremity. It was rough and very much explicit. Too many people knew him. Everyone wanted a piece of him, and Jameel, as usual, would go to the limits to satisfy. He would compromise the anything for the respect of the VIP’s, no matter what it meant to me or our marriage.

The music was purely satanic. The drugs were too exposed. The women were too naked. Everything was just too much. That night, I had reached the limit. 

Of course, Jameel thought it was all cool. My bulging tummy now made me more tired than usual. I felt heavy, burdened and really, really exhausted. 

“Leikha, just chill,” Jameel had said, trying to persuade me that it wasn’t a big deal. The problem with Jameel was that nothing was a big deal. He didn’t realize that we were living our lives like non-Muslims. I wasn’t even sure if our Imaan was still in tact. 

Chill?!” I asked incredulously, so fed up with his laid back approach to things that were both morally and religiously wrong. On so many levels. “I will not! This is getting out of control, Jameel. You are getting out of control!”

I still had the fear of approaching him after the last time, so I tried to lower my voice as I noticed his face hardening. I didn’t want another onslaught of his. I could see his high was starting to wear off, and he came a little closer to me, tightening his grip around my bare arm.

“Zuleikha, you don’t own me,” he said stubbornly, clearly irritated and wanting his way. “In this business, I have to do what it takes to step up. I have a big deal that’s going through. You think all this money comes from nothing?! You think I just make a few deals and we get rich?! Babe, I have bills to pay. People to impress. Don’t give me shit about my job. I know what I need to do.”

And with that he shoved me away as he stepped back, gave me a dirty look and stormed to the room, slamming the door. It was time for him to crash and I didn’t want to get in the way.

I sighed in relief, rubbing my arm. At least he wasn’t violent. At least he didn’t try and force me to be intimate tonight.  The drugs didn’t change him all the time. It was only sometimes… before he would crash… that a slightly sadistic side would come out. That was when I had to watch my back, and stay out of his way. Nothing I could do could make him see sense, and of course, his family would be of no help.

On top of it all, there was this innocent life inside of me that I felt I was ruining even before it breathed its first breath. 

The tears were rolling down my cheeks, as I thought of my life that night. ‘The introspection was bound to come sooner or later, and with the emotions toiling within me, I knew now, I had to reflect. Jameel ignored the sobs. I couldn’t seem to control them either. What was I doing? What was I doing

I wasn’t raised like this. This wasn’t how my Mama had brought me up. What would Abba say? If they knew what had been going on in my life, they probably wouldn’t have been able to bear this. I was on the verge of tipping over too. 

Where was the inspiration? I wanted to change, but I didn’t even have the energy to take the step. What had our lives become?

It was a rivalry… a competition for worldly wealth that was being chased.

I wasn’t sure when last I had truly prayed. I had tried to read some of my Salaah. I didn’t remember when last I had opened the Quran. I had known so much… I had been so aware. I had looked at people like me before with pride. I never thought that anyone could lose so much of Deen, but I was a perfect example of neglect. 

I got up from where I sat, slowly walking across the room as I reached for the Qur’an on the top shelf of my cupboard. There was actually dust on its cover, and I felt like a hypocrite as I wiped it off, and settled on the dressing table chair. The dim light in the dressing room was sufficient to see. I didn’t want to risk waking Jameel. I opened the cover carefully to my marker, eager to see what the last page was that I had read.

My eyes settled steadily on a page toward the end, and I sucked in my breath as I read the verses. I knew exactly what he devoured us. 

It was just as Almighty Allah says, so clearly and aptly. Just that first verse sent chills down my spine. 

أَلۡهَٮٰكُمُ ٱلتَّكَاثُرُ

Competition in [worldly] increase diverts you

I was astounded with the truth that stared at me.

The increase. The constant competition for increase. The rivalry that came with the increase of wealth. It was a curse that couldn’t compare… until reality hits. 

2. Until you visit the graves.

3. Nay! You shall come to know!

4. Again nay! You shall come to know!

5. Nay! If you knew with a sure knowledge.

6. Verily, you shall see the blazing Fire!

7. And again, you shall see it with certainty of sight!

8. Then on that Day you shall be asked about the delights!

The delights. What delights we were enjoying in this world… would surely be a cause for the fire in the next. I had forgotten was simplicity was. I had forgotten about the most beautiful examples. I had forgotten about the lessons that I needed to change.  

 

Where had I gotten lost? Where was I going? So far I had wandered… and my life was such that I had no relation whatsoever with the pious people of the past. 

I was lost. Truly, I had lost my way. Was I going to die like this?

No. I couldn’t.  But how did I find the path again?

I breathed in. I breathed out. Where did I even begin?


Everything seemed to be going downhill. I couldn’t seem to find a way out.

And then later that day, as I lay in pensive thought… I heard a loud knock on my door. Because my house was attached to the main house, I had no bell and neither did I get many visitors. I looked up, wondering who it was. 

The mad knock on the door was loud enough to wake the dead, but Jameel slept on obliviously, as I went to open. I almost jumped  with shock as I saw my brother standing at the door, muttering something about a psycho woman who I guessed was my mother-in-law. I remained silent as I let him in, noting his roaming eyes as he surveyed my home and then let his gaze settle on me. It was only the second time he had been here.

“Yoh, you are HUGE!” Ahmed said loudly, not even trying to be polite about it.  I looked back at him, narrowing my eyes.

 “Thanks,” I muttered, wanting to get to the point and get him out of here fast, before Jameel woke up. He didn’t like my family visiting. He had his reasons, but I knew he was worried I would say something that would kill his reputation as being as amazing as he always pretended to be. It was only Ahmed who didn’t seem to take to him. 

“What are you doing here?” I asked. 

He poked around in a few of my stuff as he walked in, finally settling on the suede couch near the kitchen.

  “I came to see my sister,” he said, as if it was obvious.  “You’ve been scarce. Jameel treating you okay? Whens the baby coming?”

There was a hint of something in his voice and I almost suspected that he knew more than he was letting on. 

Baby stuff. I had been thinking about that. Somehow, with everything going on, I didn’t even have much time to look at the options. I had ordered the basics online, and kept them in the little room in the back. I just couldn’t seem to get very excited about the baby at this stage. I wasn’t sure if there was something wrong with me.

 I was about to say something back, but the door of the room slowly opened as Ahmed continued talking about Khawlah and her plans for when the baby arrived. They were expecting me to come home. 

Jameel sauntered in casually, and I already knew that something was up. For all I knew, he was probably pretending to sleep. He had that look on his face and I was already wishing that Ahmed didn’t come. I didn’t want him to see this side of Jameel.

“Zuleikha is not going anywhere,” he said, and his voice was icy as he eyes Ahmed out.

Ahmed’s expression changed in an instant, and he stared at him, with his eyebrows raised. I remembered the time Ahmed wanted to kill my husband. The situation was getting close.

“No one asked you, idiot,” Ahmed said, and I could tell that he wasn’t scared. That was the problem with Ahmed. He wasn’t scared of anything.

I could practically see the smoke coming out of Jameel’s ears. He was fuming. He started hurling swear words at my brother like there was no tomorrow, and Ahmed looked back at him, with an indifferent eye, almost in amusement. I wanted to run but I was frozen. This was soon going to get out of hand, as Jameel got even angrier. He couldn’t stand when someone made him feel stupid, especially on his own territory.

And then, just when he couldn’t take it anymore, his entire body suddenly lunged forward, and charged at Ahmed. It didn’t help that he was still slightly out of his senses. It probably contributed to his disorientation.

As he reached Ahmed in a kind of fury that I had seen glimpses of in recent weeks, I could already sense that something bad was going to happen. I wanted so badly to control it, but I could do nothing. Jameel shoved Ahmed backward as he almost stumbled himslef, but he remained intent on getting his own back. And then, my worst fear became a reality. 

It was almost in slow motion that I saw Ahmed pull out his handgun, and my heart jumped straight to my mouth as he aimed it at Jameel, and then looked at me in expectation.

I was in limbo. In utter limbo. I couldn’t say a thing. Time was at a standstill.

Ahmed was always quick. Too quick. Quick with his food. Quick with his work. Quick to lose it… completely.

He was equally quick with the trigger. 

The piercing bang resonated through the air, just as I felt trickling down my leg. I couldn’t believe what was going on, and even as I averted my gaze to focus on what was going on with me, the feeling of excruciating despair was overwhelming. 

What had he done?! What had he done?

I couldn’t swallow it. It was all too much. We didn’t know what this would all bring… and I didn’t know that it would go so far. I could hear the screams from somewhere close by but I didn’t know who it was.

All I knew was that whatever the outcome was here…

This would be war. 

 

 

Flickering Flame

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Khawlah

There are times in life when everything suddenly comes into perspective. It’s like the mist on our minds suddenly cleared… or the dirty windscreen just got cleaned. The outlook, or whatever one may call it, is all of a sudden, so, so clear.

Those moments… I feel, are moments of true realization. Moments that, if only we knew… could mean a world of pure amazement, as we step back and just let it all sink in.

It had started to rain as we drive home, and I couldn’t help but think about how clear it  was now. Although I was lucky that Ahmed was there to take me home, I wasn’t sure how much I would have to sacrifice now that he knew.

The drive home was close to unbearable. My heart was in my mouth as Ahmed drove home in the small golf that Abba kept as a spare car. Although my brother didn’t officially have a license, his driving skills were admirable. I sat back expectantly, trying to think of ways to explain.

I just wished that he would get over the berating and I could go on with my life. The anticipation was the worst.

“Rich people,” he suddenly muttered, and I held my piece, thinking that it would be the start of a torrent of  fury that Ahmed needed to release.

“Thy guys got a nerve,” Ahmed continued, his voice getting louder and he prepared the onslaught. “Coming there with all his flashy stuff and just taking over like a hero! I hope you know that these people are not like us, Khawlah. I could see what he was doing. I would have killed him if you didn’t walk away. Don’t get carried away, Khawlah. The guy is bad news. ”

I exhaled, slightly relieved that it was over. I knew that.

I wasn’t the type to get carried away. As much as this Adam guy had tried… I knew that I had been through way too much in life to lose myself now. Nusaybah always said that I behaved like I was thirty instead of thirteen.

I took a deep breath. I explained to Ahmed that it was a job that I had taken to help Abba and I really wanted to keep it. He made me promise not to entertain the ‘Adam character’, and I immediately agreed, at that time, fully meaning it.

I had no intention of falling into Shaytaan’s trap. I knew what problems it could cause. I knew how blind love and money could make a person lose all sight. I just didn’t know that sometimes… one person was not strong enough to withstand the pressure. But that was another story altogether.

We continued driving, and Ahmed was still muttering to himself as we drive into our relatively simple home. I was lucky to get off with a warning. From Ahmed, it was really something.

The thing was, for Ahmed, it mattered. Money mattered. I think what made it worse was the attitude that Adam had. In his mind, he felt that he was being looked down on. It was probably not the case… but with Ahmed’s insecurity, even a mere look would make him feel inferior because money wasn’t on his side.

I sighed to myself, thinking about how this Duniyaa could trap you. Money. Houses. Cars.

All so temporary… yet they weave themselves into our minds and even our hearts, and we still give them so much of undue preference. We put them above everything else. If only we understood that if this world was even worth a mosquito wing in the eyes of its Creator, Allah Ta’ala would not have given the Kaafir even a drop of water to drink.

It was narrated that Sahl bin Sa’d said:
“We were with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) in Dhul-Hulaifah, when we saw a dead sheep lifting its leg (because of bloating). He said: ‘Don’t you think this is worthless to its owner? By the One in Whose hand is my soul, this world is more worthless to Allah than this (dead sheep) is to its owner. If this world was worth the wing of a mosquito to Allah, the disbeliever would not have a drop to drink from it.’” 
SubhaanAllah.

I thought to myself, as I walked to my room, wondering about the day and everything that had happened. Some people… they had so much… but yet their lives were so empty.

I thought of Rubeena. Zuleikha. Even Adam.
They had so much of everything. I mean, sometimes, I couldn’t even think of a single thing I could get my sister that she didn’t already have.

But yet… recently, she barely looked happy. Rubeena, with her beautiful family, with chasing after everything else, was never satisfied. She was the one that puzzled me the most and that day was the last straw.

Almost as if she knew some thing was up, Rubeena called that very night, profusely apologizing about not giving me proper instructions about the sick baby. I gracefully accepted her apology, and though she didn’t mention her brother, I knew that he definitely had something to do with this. It wasn’t usually in her nature to admit she was wrong, so although I should have known there was something fishy, in my innocence, I ignored the nagging feeling and told her I would see her the following week.

It wasn’t out of the ordinary. Things would go back to normal, I convinced myself.
And then, I kept myself busy as I buried myself in my books again after what seemed like eons that evening, trying to forget about the day’s events and settle my mind.

I chose my favourite diversion… as I lay back on my favourite fluffy lilac throw and turned over to read my book.

The book told stories of life… of war… and of course, all centered around love… and as I devoured the contents, I couldn’t help but feel elated and inspired once again. The flickering flame was still there as I sunk into my literary pleasure and the very much needed escape was appreciated as I explored the lives of those whom I admired tremendously.

Their bravery and conviction was unparalleled. I sucked in my breath, unable to tear myself away from its excitement.

In the heat of a raging battle, a burning heart pursued her dream, chasing a flickering flame and igniting the fierce passion once again. It was a moment of pure exhilaration.

Victory was the only thing that was sought.
It was on its way again, but they didn’t yet know it.

Who are you?” Khalid RA insisted, adamantly staring down the evasive knight. 

She had no choice. She had to relent. 

“I am Khawlah Bint Al Azwar. I was with the women accompanying the army, and when I learnt that the enemy captured my brother, I did what I did.”

Khalid RA did not hesitate. He felt indebted to this brave warrior, and her determination was unmatched. It is said that he ordered his army to chase the fleeing Roman army, with Khawlah RA leading the attack, looking in all directions for her brother, but in vain.

The fight was furious, but by noon, the victory was decisive. A ferocious battle ensued, but finally, most of the Roman soldiers were killed.

Knowing that her brother and the prisoners had to be somewhere, Khalid RA sent Khawlah RA with a number of knights to find them. After a hot chase, they managed to catch up with a Roman detachment that was taking the prisoners to their headquarters.

They didn’t hesitate. Arrows were shot and swords were drawn… it was once again another mighty battle that took place. With hot pursuit and unmatched dedication, the Roman guards were all killed and the prisoners saved.

Khawlah RA and her brother were reunited once again. The attachment of these two siblings was intense, and the freedom that they had now acquired was a certain triumph. With Allah’s help alone, the taste of freedom was Divinely sweet. 

Free. 

Free. How amazing it must have felt after that victory. How amazing is must have been to be free of shackles. They cared of nothing but Allah… they relied solely on His help.

How brave.

Through their bravery, they acquired so much. I wondered how I would fare if I had a loved one in trouble. Maybe there was already a test awaiting me… maybe I too, needed to prove my worth.

I couldnt help but think of my sister as I put my book down and got ready to pray my Maghrib Salaah. Abba was not home yet, and I took the opportunity to lie down for a bit while I waited, enjoying the free thoughts that roamed in my mind. There was just one thing that kept coming at me, like a silent reminder… a nagging feeling that didn’t want to leave.

Zuleikha. Somehow, she was just on my mind.

It had been ages since I had seen her and I really hoped she was okay. I lay on my bed, with my Extraordinary Heroine book in my hands, not even realizing that I had drifted into slumber in the process. I had read the book so many times before and the pictures of it’s events were still playing in my mind as I dozed off.

I didn’t even realize I had drifted off until Yunus knocked on my room door, and I woke in a slight panic, thinking I had slept till the morning. I blinked furiously as I sat up, looking questioningly at my younger brothers worried face.

“What?” I asked him, my words still slightly slurred by the daze I was in. “What’s happening?”

“We’ve got a visitor. Someone is here to see you,” he said tentatively, and I frowned.

At this hour? I didn’t even think to ask who it was. It was relatively late but I hastily washed my face and pulled on my hijab, calling out that I’ll be there in a minute.

I walked speedily to the front entrance, seeing a figure that I immediately recognised. Her back was to me as I approached, and even though I couldn’t see her face as her, I was already transported back to beautiful moments shared and stories told over afternoon tea and biscuits.

I couldn’t believe she was here.

After everything, I couldn’t believe she had come.

I cleared my throat, but it still felt dry as she turned around and met my gaze, with that oh-so-familiar smile settling on me after what seemed like years. It was still as jolly as I remembered, but what I almost didn’t see was the flicker of distress that lingered for just a few seconds. It was so fleeting that I thought I had imagined it.

And then, of course, her embrace consumed me as I reached her, and I forgot all else.

“My beautiful Khawlah,” she breathed, and I inhaled her familiar scent as I grasped her back tightly.

Aunty Radiyyah. Aunty Radiyyah was here.

I could barely look her in the eye, because it was she had come to see me after all this time. She pulled back and took a long look at me once again, swallowing hard as she scrutinized me from top to toe. I could tell what her thoughts were. Her emotions were overwhelming and as she rubbed her own eyes, I could feel myself tearing, as I remembered the days of innocence that I had spent at her home. As I remembered those moments, that had passed in haste. Where had the moments gone to?

She shook her head, as if to disregard all that had occurred, but I couldn’t help but feel extremely guilty for leaving the way I did.

The least she deserved was a proper farewell, and I was too much of a coward then to offer it back then. The flame within me had been extinguished. Everything had just fallen flat, when Abba had said we were moving house.

Now, it was too late. She had come herself, and though I didn’t know it yet… the news she would bring would ignite the desire… it would ignite that flickering flame once again.
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Dear readers, 
I will be away and not be able to post for two weeks. I will try and fit it one more before I leave but my sincerest apologies if I do not manage. Insha Allah the story will continue when I return. 
Shukran to all the readers and commenters 🌸
Much love 
A 🌸