Journeying: A Step Ahead: Haseena’s Hang-Ups

بسم الله

“About me?!” I asked him, completely confused.

“Well… It was because of you,” he replied, not meeting my eye. “I didn’t want to tell you because I hoped it would go away… But now I realise that I have to.”

He shook his head at himself, still looking like he had the world on his shoulders.  He looked up at me, speaking softly.

“I suppose I should just start from the beginning of it all.”

I nodded, waiting for him to continue.

And he did. He started from the beginning… From where it all began to change. From when he started getting the letters for the court appeal, and purposefully ignored it. He didn’t tell me because he didn’t want to ‘worry’ me, but now it looked like his past was catching up again. The man that he had initially shot was appealing on the basis on recurring treatments from the wound he had sustained. Umar didn’t think it was a problem until the final letter came today.

“That’s not all, though,” he said, taking a deep breath.

I looked at him, waiting for the worst that was still to come.

“I got a phone call today,” he said, after a few seconds. “It wasn’t very clear. The line was terrible. But from what I could hear… It was Mahmoud.”

“Mahmoud?” I immediately repeated, trying to place the name. Mahmoud… The Mahmoud? From when Umar was away? Wasn’t he missing?

Umar nodded at me, watching my expression.

“All this time I thought he was gone, babe,” he said. “And now… Bam! A phone call from nowhere. Saying I have to come back.”

I looked back at Umar, immediately shaking my head at him. No! No ways.

“No… There’s no way you’re going back,” I said, reaching out for his hand. “And if you are for a short while, I’m coming. You’re not leaving me again. No.”

Umar immediately pulled his hand back, looking away.

“Haseena, you don’t understand,” he said simply. “I have to.”

“There’s no such thing!” I argued with him, feeling hurt. “I thought all of this was over! I thought we weren’t going to talk about this again!”

Umar immediately looked guilty, and  I could see him softening. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.

“Haseena, there’s no other way,” he finally said. “I knew that I would have to tell you one day… But I just couldn’t. This is the time to say it, but please understand that I didn’t intend to hurt you…”

He trailed off, while I waited for him to continue. He wasn’t meeting my eye, but instead looked down, rubbing his forehead.

I instinctively leaned forward, waiting for the rest of his sentence. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to hear it.

“When you had gone into labour, I thought I was going to lose you,” he started saying, still not looking up. “So the thought crossed my mind… That if you were just to survive….”

His voice seemed to break and that point. He remained silent whilst I leaned forward, hanging onto his words.

He cleared his throat.

“If you were to survive it,” he said, sounding distant. “I said I would go back.”

I looked back at him blankly. He was going back for Jihaad?

“I wasn’t sure whether the opportunity would ever arise,” he said quickly. “And I had conveniently forgotten about it, as our life continued… And believe me, babe, it was so great, I never wanted to.”

He paused and glanced up.

“But the court case will be over next week, and then I leave. This is what I have to do, Has.  I can’t go back on what I had intended.”

He finally looked up at me, his eyes pleading with me, as if begging me to understand.

I wouldn’t. I never would.

“I’m not asking your permission, Has,” he finally said, sensing my feelings. “I have to go.”

I looked up at him, completely shocked.

I felt as if he had just ripped out my heart with that statement.

He had to go. That was it? No negotiation?

The finality of it made my body quiver with a mixture of grief and fear.  I covered my hands with my face, not wanting him to even see it.

Try as I did, I couldn’t hide the overwhelming emotions. As Umar always does, he immediately caught onto my concerns, trying to console me. I pulled away, not wanting his comfort.

I was angry and frustrated at how helpless I was in this situation. There was nothing that I could ever do or say to him that would make him change his mind. I wasn’t sure if anyone could understand how absolutely distraught I was at that moment.

I walked out of the room without another word, ignoring Umar’s calls behind me. I knew he wanted me to accept it, but how could I? How could I just accept that he was going to leave me, without even knowing if he would return?

I locked myself in our room, not concerned about how he would explain my disappearance to his parents. He didn’t deserve sympathy. He hadn’t even consulted with me about this decision, just went ahead and made it.

And though at that moment, I felt completely isolatesd, Allah is always there. The thought crossed my mind that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes, you may like a thing, but if will be detrimental to you. At times, you may resent a thing, but Allah knows, that thing will become good for you.

It was all in the plan of my Rabb, I convinced myself.

But this test was greater than any other one I had faced. Knowing that Umar was purposefully leaving me, and feeling so helpless, made me all the more unsettled. I paced the room, still upset, trying to come to terms with it.

This wasn’t the spirit that I had so much wanted to capture for myself. I lacked the faith that if Umar was to go, it would be for the best, and so would everything thereafter. I lacked the conviction that I had always fought so hard to attain. I was weak, and my emotions were consuming me.

And then I thought of the Women of Islam. The Sahabiyya, and their courage. The spirit that they had embraced. They had husbands too. They had sons as well, but their faith was so firm that they willingly gave them up, ready to sacrifice for Allah and His Nabi (SAW).

Hadhrat Umm ‘Umara (RA) set out to the battle with her husband, Ghaziya, and her two sons. Her task had been to give water to the wounded, but Allah Ta’ala had planned for her a more rewarding role.

Hadhrat Umm ‘Umara (RA) had herself gone out into the field, defending my Nabi (SAW). At one stage, the Prophet (SAW) was left alone, so taking the opportunity, the enemy Ibn Qumaya’a charged at the Prophet (SAW).

Umm ‘Umara (RA) was among the companions who rushed to the side of the Nabi of Allah (SAW), and began fiercely striking at the enemy of Allah (SWT), even though he was wearing double armour.

And then, my Nabi (SAW) simply enquired of her, what it was that she desired?

Umm ‘Umara (RA), seeing the Prophet’s pleasure on her determination and valour, earnestly requested, “Ask Allah to make us your companions in the Garden!”

So he said, “O Allah, make them my companions in the Garden.”

SubhaanAllah!

And this was the desire of Umm ‘Umara, to which she replied, “I do not care what afflicts me in this world!”

And, they were true to what they said. She really didn’t bother about the Duniyaa, because her Imaan was of such calibre.

All this, because of her faith. The Du’aa of my Nabi (SAW).

Where was my faith?

Yes, it was difficult, but I had to gain the strength. I eventually unlocked the door, and read my Salaah. I sat in Du’aa for a long while afterwards, asking Allah Ta’ala to change the condition of my heart. I didn’t want to feel so resentful about it, but I couldn’t help it at that moment. I couldn’t help the feelings that were overtaking me.

I heard Umar come into the room shortly afterwards, but I remained sitting down, not trusting myself to speak. There was so much going through my mind at that moment, I could barely make sense if it.

It was multiple waves of conflicting emotion.

“Haseena, please look at me,” Umar said, coming to sit down near me on the floor. I glanced at him and then turned away, still uneasy.

I shook my head, telling him to just give me some time. He nodded, and went to the dressing room, where I heard him unzipping a bag.

I had almost forgotten that he was leaving for Jamaat tomorrow, but with the new turn of events, I thought he would spend a little more time at home. I reminded myself about the sacrifice for Deen, pushing away my silly insecurities.

I had to come around sooner or later. I stood up and silently went to help him pack, whilst we both remained silent. We silently worked together until I finally zipped the bag, and he put it on the floor.

Without a word, he guided me to the couch, embracing me fiercely, with no reservations. He assured me that he would be back earlier than expected, so we could have some time together before he left.

I nodded, but didn’t say much else. Umar had brought some food up for me, since I had missed supper. Although I had no real appetite, I ate a little to make him happy, and then enjoyed one of the last nights I would have in my husbands company.

I tried to stay awake, afraid of what the next day would bring, but sleep finally overtook us and the next morning came with no warning. Umar left early the next day, and I felt an empty space where something had once been. I knew he would be back later that week, but his next impending departure made me all the more anxious.

Since Laila insisted, I stayed at my parents house for a two nights, intending to go back before Umar arrived. I was glad because it helped to take my mind off things, even if it was just for a little while.

Laila had tons of news for me. Fareeha was pregnant, and Laila seemed more excited than Fareeha herself. I was glad that she was spending time with Fareeha. Since her father had passed away, she had been down a bit mire often. It looked like she was a good influence on Laila. I felt slightly jealous of their friendship, intending to catch up with one or two of my friends whilst Umar was away.

I smiled, immediately remembering how there can always be goodness out of every thing. I convinced myself that the time would fly by, and soon Umar would be back again. I assured myself that everything would be okay, even if my gut was telling me that it might not.

But time was a funny thing. Looking back, everything seemed to be in slow motion, adjusting to the rhythm of life. In retrospect, it seemed to have flown by, with even the most heart-felt emotions completely forgotten.

The thing was, when it came to time, everyone knew the deal. It doesn’t wait. Allah Ta’ala takes an oath by it in Surah Asr, describing who the successful ones will be regarding it.

But as it went by, and time caught up, and everything seemed to be happening at once. Laila’s big news came as Bilal’s hopes went into slight disarray, and my own life seemed to take a slight twist in terms of everything I had been planning.

It was a constant stirring of activities, and a mixture of sweet and sour, bringing each moment with a new flavour. And as time would have it, the days again passed me by as my Umar came back, just momentarily. Everything had just begun to unfold, as I bid farewell to him again on that last day, trying to control the emotions that were at bay.

It was the day that he had left, but that day was, and always will be, in my memory, the day that I had let Umar go.

Author’s Note: Dearest Readers… Just a heads-up… I’m sure that most people have caught on  to the fact that we are slowly approaching the initial post of season two.

We will take a break once we get there, and all the questions are answered, and then post the final few episodes to conclude the blog, Insha Allah. JazakAllah to all for the constant support.

Reminder for Mission Sunnah Revival

#RevivetheSunnahofMiswaak

#RevivetheSunnahofAwakening

#RevivetheSunnahofEating

#RevivetheSunnahofDressing

#RevivetheSunnahofWhudhu

#RevivetheSunnahofDrinkingWater

#ReciteQur’anDaily – at least a quarter

Tweet @ajourneyjournal 

P.S. Insha Allah next post by Saturday. 

Journeying: A Step Ahead: Haseena’s Heartstruck

بسم الله

I hastily placed the vase of roses on my sideboard, anxious to open the card. It wasn’t uncharacteristic of Umar to send me flowers, but I still wondered what the occasion was. Nevertheless, they were absolutely beautiful.

I flipped open the card, grinning to myself as I read it.

‘Just because…’

Unbelievable. He had already answered my question.

It was almost as if Umar could read my mind at times. He knew I’d be wondering why he had sent them today.

I sat on the couch, getting myself comfortable before I opened the card again to read the other side.

‘Because our days are numbered in this world, I wanted to take the time to tell you that I’m glad that I chose to spend mine with you. Thank you for being my light through every dark tunnel. I just want you to know how much you mean to me, every day.

Through everything we’ve been through, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Your Umar.’

I smiled as I closed the card, putting it in a box in my top cupboard. Umar got slightly romantic at times, but I couldn’t help but feel elated by Umar’s impromptu gift. It was hard to believe that even after being married for a few years, Umar still took the time out for these small gestures. After all, I reminded myself, our Nabi (SAW) was the most romantic one to his wives, despite his great status and responsibilities.

When the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) would have a meal with Aisha (RA), they would both eat from the same plate and drink from the same cup as each other.

What the Prophet (SAW) would do is, turn the cup where Aishas lip marks were left and would drink from that side of the cup. He would also make eye contact with her and then drink. [Sahîh al-Bukhârî ]

And as I thought of that, I recalled how my husband would also try to bring in that spark again. I knew that Umar still made an effort, and I appreciated it.

It was nearly time for him to come home though, and I neatened up and then busied myself in the kitchen whilst I waited for him. I always made a small effort to look a little more presentable when my husband came in, knowing that it was important.

Umar was now teaching at the local Madrassa that had recently opened. It was part of his initiative, and with the help of a few other Aalims and donors, they had managed to run a successful Madrassa for a few months now.

After moving in with Umar’s parents, it was a little bit more difficult to have ‘alone’ time. But, with Yusuf gone now for over a year, they had broken down the wall between his and Umar’s room, and made a larger suite for us. Since they weren’t around today, I appreciated the privacy of the extended house.

The key turned in the lock, and Umar emerged from outside, a big grin on his face. It was one of those days when the rain was pouring down, and I rushed to Umar to give him a towel. I grinned back at him whilst he embraced me, and looked up at my husband lovingly. Being alone tonight meant we didn’t have to worry about being affectionate in the outer house.

“You’re getting very romantic these days, Maulana!” I said to him, noticing him smiling again, whilst he took the towel to wipe his face and beard. He took off his jacket, hanging it up on the coat stand.

“Did you like them?!” He asked, feigning anxiety.  He knew I loved flowers, so I didn’t reply, just smiled back to let him know.

“See, even after nearly four years, I still got the touch!” Umar said, winking at me.

I laughed at him and turned away, dishing out the food and placing it on the cloth I had lain out on the floor. We ate and chatted about general things, until Umar mentioned that he had met someone from Hajj. I smiled as I recalled the couple, remembering how close I had been to his wife for those few weeks.

“Did you invite them home?” I asked him.

He nodded in the affirmative whilst I thought of Hajj again. Though it had been over a year ago, some memories still stuck with me until now. The whole journey had been such a wake up call for me, and I realised how ungrateful I had been for the little things I had.

“I invited them for the following weekend, because I won’t be here next week, Insha Allah,” he said.

I nodded, and though I felt slightly saddened, I knew that these sacrifices were of the greatest kind. Umar went away on local Jamaat every few weeks, but I didn’t feel so bad about him leaving me anymore. Going for Hajj had put all that into perspective for me, as I had been forced to attain the qualities that would gear me for life. It was really an experience that built your character, and reformed you completely.

Because through the tying of Ihraam and it’s limited period, it symbolises the short span of this life. It reinforced for me the true purpose of us being here. The gathering of Arafaat was a sure representation of the gathering of Qiyaamah, where all will be assembled together, on the Day when everyone will be only concerned with themselves. And the offering of Qurbaani, whichever sacrifice, and whatever way, brings closeness to our Rabb. Through giving of ourselves and what we love, will we only gain piety.

And I had realised that through sacrifice, this was the only way to gain Allah Ta’ala’s closeness. Qurbani, came from the word “Qurb”- which meant closeness. So to attain Allah Ta’ala, and His love, it wasn’t always easy. The more you give up for His sake, the greater your status is with Him. And if you are great in His eyes, what does anything else matter?

So, I had learnt to sacrifice for Allah’s sake, and though it was difficult a lot of the time, I assured myself that the rewards would be plentiful. Through Allah’s mercy, I had been able to practise a few of those qualities even till now.

So despite the slight despondency, I didn’t mind Umar going away, even for extended periods of time. He had been recently to see Yusuf, who had been on Jamaat for quite some time now. It looked like he had settled down now, and was intending to study in India after his degree. I wondered how he would manage alone, but Umar had said that he would probably find a wife here at some point and then go back.

“Where are you’ll going?” I asked Umar after we ate, starting to clear up. Umar picked up the remaining dishes whilst he told me about a location they were going to visit. They needed a few members of the Ulema to go out, and he wanted to join them.

I nodded and listened, wondering whether I should go to my parents or stay here. I sometimes stayed, since I wasn’t alone in the house anymore, but some time with Laila would be nice too. The last time I had spoken to Mummy, she was convinced that there was something wrong with Laila because she wasn’t married yet. I knew that people in the town sometimes talked, but there was no reason for her to be worried.

“But she’s getting so old,” Mummy had complained. “All of you young girls are too fussy! I told your father not to let her work at the office, but now it’s too late!”

I giggled to myself as I remembered the days of Mummy complaining about me getting old. Maybe if I was younger then things might have been different now, but I was happy where I was. Umar and I had grown together, through everything, and like him, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

But thankfully, Alhumdulillah, Mummy’s fears were put slightly to rest the following week. Laila phoned me to ask me a few weird questions, before I realised what she was getting at.

“So how did you know with Umar? After Istikhaarah and that?” she asked me bluntly. “Like how did you make sure that you weren’t going to regret it?”

I thought to myself for a few seconds. There was no way to be sure. You had to place your trust in Allah Ta’ala, and trust in His plan, whatever it was. I was quite sure that Umar was the one, but I knew that whatever was meant to happen, would happen.

“Laila, just tell me,” I said after telling her my own experiences. “Who is he?”

She was silent for a while before spilling the beans. I listened whilst she told me about one of Bilal’s friends who had been home the previous week when we were there. I made a mental note to ask Umar about him properly, realising that I wasn’t really listening when he was telling me. Umar seemed to have gotten along with him quite well.

“So, did they phone?” I asked, wondering if Laila was just counting her chickens. Worse still, I worried about her getting involved in something again.

She sighed audibly, admitting that she had just ‘seen’ him, and was wondering. I felt slightly sorry for her as she spoke, hoping that this wasn’t a one-sided thing. I knew how it was to be sitting around and waiting for someone, and I didn’t want her to do that.

I got off the phone, intending to ask Umar as soon as he got home. If Laila was finally interested in someone, it would be a real let-down if he didn’t come home.

Umar walked in surprisingly late that day, although he was due to leave the following day. Instead of his usual broad smile, I felt myself immediately getting panicked as I noticed his sullen mood. He greeted his mother before pulling me into another room. He gave me a quick peck, looking at me seriously before he spoke.

“Has,” he started saying, gesturing for me to sit down next to him. “I have a small problem.”

I turned my knees towards him, waiting for him to continue.

He was silent for a while, then sighed audibly, rubbing his forehead.

“I know that you never wanted me to speak about this again,” he finally said. I looked at him, wondering what it was that he was talking about. “But there’s something that I haven’t told you about. It’s something to do with you…”

 

Author’s Note: Reminder for Mission Sunnah Revival

#RevivetheSunnahofMiswaak

#RevivetheSunnahofAwakening

#RevivetheSunnahofEating

#RevivetheSunnahofDressing

#RevivetheSunnahofWhudhu

#RevivetheSunnahofDrinkingWater

#ReciteQur’anDaily – at least a quarter

Tweet @ajourneyjournal 

P.S. Insha Allah next post by Wednesday. 

Journeying: Bilal Steps In: Part Four

 بسم الله

I took a seat on the couch, processing the information typed in black font, feeling slightly overwhelmed.

“When did you get this?” I asked Shazia, looking up at her.

“It came yesterday,” she said excitedly, sitting next to me. “The opportunity of a lifetime! Isn’t it awesome?!”

I ran my hand through my hair, not knowing how to respond.

The letter was from one of the biggest medical faculties in the country, offering us both positions to work there. Shazia had probably pulled some strings to get my name there, since I wasn’t officially done, but nonetheless, here it was. And yes, it was big.

But I couldn’t help but get the feeling that this wasn’t what was best for us. Why did Shazia even do this?

“Shazia,” I said carefully, not wanting to offend her. I handed the letter back to her. “Why did you even apply for this?”

“I actually didn’t,” she replied casually. “Someone approached me. And I didn’t even take it seriously until this came.”

I was silent for a while, getting up to distract myself for a while. I didn’t want to go. My life was here. My family was here.

“It’s what we need, Bilal,” I could hear Shazia saying. “A fresh start. Away from everyone. Just the two of us…”

I turned around to look at her, noticing the pleading look in her eyes. That’s what this was for her. An escape from everything. A way to remove herself from what was happening. I could feel myself getting a little angrier as she spoke.

“Don’t you see? We can just forget about all of this Reza and family business, and go somewhere where everything won’t be our problem anymore.”

“But I don’t want a fresh start!” I said, irritated. “I need to be here. I want to be here!”

“But Bilal, you’re not even thinking about it!” She argued with me. “Think of how perfect it would be… How much of experience you would get there-“

“Shazia, it’s not for me,” I replied calmly. “I’m happy where I am, so please just drop it.”

Her face fell before she spoke again.

“Bilal, You’re not thinking rationally. This is-“

“I don’t care!” I snapped back, cutting her off.

I didn’t want to discuss it. This was all too much. Why did she have to keep on pursuing this?

I got up and walked out of the room, not wanting to get into a fight. Every few weeks there was something or the other.

Shazia and I sat in silent conversation for the rest of night, neither of us wanting to speak first. I knew I was feeding my pride, but so was she. I could tell she was upset, but I knew bringing up the topic again would just further exacerbate the situation. What was done was done.

Besides, I had other things to worry about. I had taken it as my responsibility to make sure that everything went smoothly with Reza. I had a feeling that I was maybe focussing too much on him when I shouldn’t be, knowing there were other things going on, but I shoved the feeling away.

We both went to bed that night without speaking. It was the first time that we had both let it go so far, that we didn’t even bother to greet before we slept. I regretted it as I woke up, but it was too late to undo it. Shazia had already left before I woke, and I got up feeling more annoyed than I was the previous night.

I couldn’t understand what it was with me. Was I the type of husband that would just ignore the rifts between us? Was I becoming the type who was the perfect guy outside the home, but became a burden for those he lived with?

Because I had heard about those types, completely convinced that I wasn’t. They were the types who compartmentalised their lives. They were the ‘perfect’ Muslims in the workplace and Masjid, but when it came to home life, what happened behind closed doors was a different story. I knew that I hadn’t abused Shazia in an obvious way, but I hadn’t exactly been considerate of her feelings. I had been isolating her for a while, ignoring the hiccups that we were facing.

We had been basically tolerating each other for the past few week, tiptoeing around, trying to come to some kind of silent agreement.

I thought about the way which I should have been behaving. And to make my marriage work, I knew that there was no other example that I could follow besides that of my Nabi (SAW).

“The best of you are those who are best to their wives.” [Tirmidhî, Sahîh]

And it was the recipe. I could be doing everything else right, but if my attitude in the home was lacking, it barely mattered. I wanted to be the best where it counted, not for those who hardly meant much to me. I wanted my marriage to become easier, so everything would fall into place.

And to be the best, I knew the challenges that I faced. I had many faults, and so I tried to fix them by improving my character. I couldn’t give Shazia what she wanted, and though I could see she was upset about it, I tried to compensate in other ways.

So my efforts improved when it came to my wife, even if it was just the small things. A kind word here and there, or a warm smile when I found it the hardest. I tried to show her that I appreciated the whatever she did for me, whether it came to basic housework or doing the extra bits. I helped out where I could, trying to ease her own burdens.

Those were the little things that made a big difference, and I found Shazia finally coming around. I knew that she still had the job offer on her mind, but I didn’t discuss it. I let it be, hoping that she would forget.

We went through the motions of marriage, and even though it felt like we were hanging by a thread, things started looking up as the year ended. I felt a little bit of the tension ease off, as Shazia and I grew as a team.

But as life has it, sometimes certain things take over, in this rat race, and we forget about ourselves for a while. We got a bit side-tracked. In between family responsibilities and the ending of Reza’s treatment, there were a whole new lot of responsibilities that came the following year.

Reza had to be practically babysat when he came back from treatment, just so he wouldn’t relapse. It was tough on Shazia’s sister, and we  were the only other people who could help. Eventually, true to his word, Yaaseen came through to check up on Reza. It was really not necessary for him, but he took the constant responsibility off us for a bit, mentally gearing us and telling us what to expect.

We didn’t really notice the changes happening, but one by one, things were shifting around. It was like a chain effect, one after the other, to get in place, just as they needed to be.

Haseena and Umar had moved back into town for a while, and were around more often than usual. Laila had somehow twisted my father’s arm to let her work at the office with him. I was secretly glad that he had help, since he didn’t trust anyone else with his books, but I knew his concerns about Laila. He was worried that she was getting too old, and her independence will deter her from getting married.

The truth was, my father was also getting old. He needed to think of retirement soon, but he was too set in his ways. I couldn’t explain it to Shazia, but that was one of my main reasons for not wanting to leave. I knew that starting afresh would be good for us as a couple, but what if my family needed me?

And so, the next change, none of us really saw coming. It was a weekend, when Shazia and I had stopped to visit my parents. It was just as I pulled into the driveway when Yaaseen phoned to say he was around. I knew my father would enjoy having more company, and I was sure Umar and him would get along, so I invited him over. In fact, I always wanted the two of them to meet, for some reason.

Yaaseen, like Umar, was one of those guys who got along with everyone. He had an easy manner, and we soon settled into conversation. It was a good half hour later when I heard Laila calling from outside the room, and went to see what she wanted.

“Mummy said you’ll must eat before you’ll leave for Masjid,” she said. “The table’s already set.”

I nodded at her, turning to call the rest of them. I didn’t realise that Yaaseen had already got up behind me, looking for the bathroom.

Laila looked up and then looked away quickly, immediately looking embarrassed. I couldn’t understand what exactly was going on, until I saw Yaaseen hastily moving away, looking just a tiny bit displaced.

It was the first time I had seen him looking anything but cool and comfortable, and I wondered what had caused it. It was only after a few seconds that my mind wrapped around what had really happened.

Long-story-short, that was how Yaaseen saw Laila. I’d like to say the rest is history, but that was just the beginning.

Well, the beginning of the end.

 

Author’s Note: For the women, Insha Allah, to attain the best of men, we need to be the best of women. May Allah help us to become the best of women, Aameen!

“The best of women are those that please him [her husband] when he sees her, obeys him when she is commanded, and who does not secretly betray him with regards to herself and her money in that which he dislikes.” [Ahmad, Sahîh]

The next Sunnah we will be implementing will be the Sunnah of drinking water. Five very simple Sunnahs that can reward us in a way we never imagine.

1. A dear sister has kindly mentioned that to look into the vessel whilst drinking is also a Sunnah. Alhumdulillah!

2. Drink with the right hand.

3. Sit and drink. It is forbidden to drink while standing.

4. Recite before drinking.

5. Drink by taking three separate sips and not all at once. Separate the utensil from the mouth each time.

6. Say  after drinking.

Note: It is also recommended to cover the head whilst drinking.

#RevivetheSunnahofMiswaak

#RevivetheSunnahofAwakening

#RevivetheSunnahofEating

#RevivetheSunnahofDressing

#RevivetheSunnahofWhudhu

#RevivetheSunnahofDrinkingWater

#ReciteQur’anDaily – at least a quarter

Tweet @ajourneyjournal 

P.S. Insha Allah next post on Monday. 

Journeying: Bilal Steps In: Part Three

 بسم الله

I was expecting this. At some point.

I was expecting the confrontation… The final showdown. But I wasn’t ready.

“Shaz,” I said, sitting next to her, but not meeting her eye. “I’m so sorry… I know I’ve been busy and I haven’t asked you how you’re doing… I’m selfish, babe, you know that. I always worried about other things…”

“Bilal, listen,” she said, shaking her head and lifting my chin to look me in the eye.

I looked back at her and realised that it was the first time I had looked at my wife properly in ages. It was like I was seeing her in a different light after so long.

The thing is, when you get familiar with someone, you forget the little things that you used to appreciate. When you get too used to them being around, you sometimes even forget to appreciate them. When was the last time I had even told her how much she meant to me?

I liked the fact that she would make sure she looked and smelt good, even at home. I looked at my wife now, forgetting for a moment about the the tension that hung in the air.

“Bilal, I know that we need to talk,” she said seriously. “But this is to do with something else.”

I breathed out.

“What?” I asked, a little relieved.

“Reza. My family. All the complications,” she sighed. “It’s getting exhausting and that’s why I’ve been so distant. But at the moment, it’s Lameez. She just phoned.”

“So?” I asked, rubbing my forehead, not understanding. This stuff in her family just never ended.

“Reza’s on the way to hospital,” she said bluntly. “He overdosed.”

It took a moment for it to sink in.

“What?!” I asked, disbelievingly. “That’s not possible! I just saw him! He was adamant on-“

She placed her hand on mine, looking at me and nodding firmly.

I still couldn’t believe it. What the hell was wrong with him?

He was doing so well… I was so optimistic. Was I too late? Was he going to live? Maybe I didn’t try hard enough.

I shook my head blindly, putting my head in my hands. This was bloody exhausting.

Just when things were looking up, he goes and does this. The last binge before the end. That’s probably what he told himself. Knock out all the cravings before they leave completely. But some people don’t realise that those last binges are sometimes the last for the rest of their lives. And if they die like that…?

I shuddered to think what their fate would be. My hair literally stood on end.

“Don’t blame yourself, Bills,” she said softly. “It was meant to be. I knew and I didn’t do anything either. Just ignored it because it didn’t concern me. And now-“

He voice broke and she hung her head, but not before I saw the tears falling.

“Is he going to make it?” I asked, not even bothering to comfort her. I was still in shock.

She shrugged her shoulders, then started speaking again.

“The thing is, Lameez doesn’t have anyone else. She’s a wreck. She’s got a kid to look after and now all of this. And my family is driving me mad… I just don’t know what to do anymore!”

“What d’you mean?” I asked, since I had never asked before.

She shook her head, telling me not to worry.

“They have weird ideas,” she finally said. “They still don’t see that I chose you, and that this is my life. They don’t like to see me changing. They still talk about when I come back and how nice it would be… It’s delusional..”

A surge of pure fear went through me as I remembered everything that we had encountered. Hamza. Her grandparents. Was it all going to happen again? 

I shook my head, convincing myself, more than anyone else, that it could never be. No matter what happened between Shazia and I, I knew that they would never be able to pull her away from me by her own will. I realised now that maybe I had been a little too relaxed. I didn’t bother to maintain any connections with any of them, despite knowing that they were her family. I stayed away, convincing myself that they weren’t ‘my kind of people’. Maybe I needed to break that wall that I had built.

Because the fact was, everyone creates that wall. Everybody creates a barrier between who they want to associate with and who they don’t. And we see this when we go to functions and meetings, where people congregate on the basis of who they know or are related to.

We forget that we are already connected by one thing. We completely forget that it is by the kalimah that we are already bound. The statement that we all believe in, by whatever strength, has already bound us.

And so, to kick the habit, I knew that I had to learn to embrace everybody in the same way. No matter who or from where they are. No matter what race, creed or ‘ghaam’.

Because that segregation is what has caused the Fitnah in the Ummah. Islam has no place for segregation on these minor factors. Islam has no room for disunity, when our Lord and Prophet (SAW) is one and the same. We promote the right way, by not acting superior and by inviting to what is good and straight.

Because that was what our Nabi (SAW) had done. No matter who it was, the way he treated people, is a lesson for all of us. Embracing those who had isolated him. Who could say that they could forfeit their pride to do that? We could never humble ourselves enough, to treat people the way they expected. That was the gift of our Nabi (SAW). He was really a light for mankind, and a guidance for all.

Because at the end of the day,everybody’s looking for that little bit of mercy. People travel to the Holy cities, searching for that quality of our Lord, hoping to attain it. We return from the pilgrimage, feeling a little more optimistic that maybe this time, through the efforts, Allah Ta’ala had showered us with it.

But we don’t need to look so far. Allah Ta’ala tells us too, that this ‘mercy’ that we are all searching for, is not something out of reach. It is not something far-fetched or unattainable.

There is a simple solution.

 Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: “Whoever is kind, Allah will be kind to him; therefore be kind to man on the earth and He Who is in heaven will show mercy on you.”(Abu Dawud & Tirmidhi)

SubhaanAllah. How amazing and easy.

And just by following his example, we can attain that mercy that we looking for. Show mercy to others, and the Most Great, Allah Azza Wajal, will shower you with His mercy.

I remembered that as I reflected, wondering how exactly I had drifted so far from that. I hadn’t really thought about it, but now I realised that I needed to make some kind of change… To alter my impressions, and be a little better when it came to others. The test was doing it, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. That’s when you know you’re on Haqq.

I knew I would have to try, starting from now.

As soon Shazia got ready to leave, we drove to the hospital to see if everything was okay with Reza. It was really a big challenge for me to keep my frustration in, but this was what was meant to happen

I phoned Yaaseen to tell him the latest on the situation, and to my surprise, he sounded quite calm about it.  He was on his way home, but I caught him just before he boarded his flight.

“It’s normal… If he’s alright, we’ll still go ahead,” he said. He still sounded optimistic, despite everything.

I spoke with my wife about how to handle the whole thing, and we decided to just be supportive for now.

“Lameez needs that,” she said, sounding tired. This was difficult for her.

I nodded and went with the flow as we entered the hospital, trying to figure out what was going on with Reza. We finally got the news that he was being pumped, and settled down, feeling a little more optimistic. The news finally came about him, stating that he was in recovery and we could go through. He was still disorientated, but I tried my best to be cool and optimistic.

The treatment was scheduled for the following week, and I just hoped that he could pull through till then. The days passed by, and every phone call almost made me jump, wondering if Reza had finally decided that he had enough.

Shazia was busy too, and we barely got to speak, despite knowing that the bridges between us were growing longer and wider. I just couldn’t seem to get the opportunity to express myself properly, and let her know what was really on my mind.

But as fate would have it, sometimes a little push is what we need. Sometimes we just need something to change our situation and to alter our train of thought.

At times, we may like it, and embrace it. Sometimes we don’t like it, but we can’t stop it from coming. We either adapt to change, or we get left behind.

And neither of us knew it, but as we continued with our monotonous lives, change was the event of the day. It was just something small, but it was the turning point that we, as a couple, needed.

For the first time in ages, my wife smiled at me as I entered my home, looking like the world had been lifted off her shoulders. She embraced me affectionately, and I had wondered what it was about her that had changed. She looked different… Just a little bit more at peace.

And then, without any warning, she handed me a piece of paper that would change my life.

Author’s Note: A reminder for us to keep up with our Sunnah Revival, Insha Allah.

The next Sunnah we will be implementing will be the Sunnah of drinking water. Five very simple Sunnahs that can reward us in a way we never imagine.

Imagine, if for every Sunnah revived we get a reward of 100 martyrs, imaging reviving five just when we drink water! SubhaanAllah. 

1. Drink with the right hand.

2. Sit and drink. It is forbidden to drink while standing.

3. Recite before drinking.

4. Drink by taking three separate sips and not all at once. Separate the utensil from the mouth each time.

5. Say  after drinking.

Note: It is also recommended to cover the head whilst drinking.

#RevivetheSunnahofMiswaak

#RevivetheSunnahofAwakening

#RevivetheSunnahofEating

#RevivetheSunnahofDressing

#RevivetheSunnahofWhudhu

#RevivetheSunnahofDrinkingWater

#ReciteQur’anDaily – at least a quarter

Tweet @ajourneyjournal 

P.S. Insha Allah next post by Saturday. 

Journeying: Bilal Steps In: Part Two

 بسم الله

As training medical professionals, our mentor had always taught to believe in the ‘medically impossible’. We might be faced with the worst possible scenario, but our training always provided a reason to be optimistic.

Regardless, everybody has their down times. Everyone gets a little paranoid now and then, not wanting to believe in, or take that step to maybe achieve the unthinkable. But that’s where your faith comes in. That’s where you learn to trust the Higher Power, and believe that whatever it is that occurs or is going to occur, can only be through Him. That’s how you learn to have faith.

And I had learnt it the hard way as I ‘grew up’, adapting the “Power of Science” theory. It wasn’t science that had all the answers, really. It was only the Almighty who had the means to make it happen.

So, as things unfolded from the days of the funeral, I had often felt myself wondering what would have happened if I had never bumped into Yaaseen that day. A lot of things might have been the same, but a lot of things might have changed too. Speaking to him made me realise a whole lot for myself too. Seeing things from another light, and from someone who had so much of faith in everyone, made me realise what a pure pessimist I was.

“Don’t give up on him, Bilal,” Yaaseen was saying to me. “You don’t realise what it is to get someone straight… Really.”

And it was what I needed to hear, because I had lost a lot of faith in the guy that was like family to me. The truth was that I had a problem. I had pride, because I had got myself out of my own mess, and I expected everyone else to do it too. I had this idea that I had done it on my own, without realising where the strength came from. And now that I was clean, I had basically shrugged myself of the responsibility of others. I had basically lost hope in anyone else.

“You’ll never realise the importance of keeping someone on Deen, bru,” Yaaseen had said. “You can see the guy is slipping. You can see he’s gone far, probably doesn’t even care, but don’t take it lightly. Be a brother. Help him out.”

And as I spoke to Shazia later that week, I realised that she too had lost contact with her sister. Going there and seeing what was happening made her want to stay away. She barely saw her family much, but as a result, I could see her pulling away from me too. She was worried beyond understanding, and it had come to a point where even I could barely talk to her. She had closed off, completely blocking me out of her family problems. I should have pushed her to tell me, but that was my first mistake.

It was only when I had passed Reza’s flat one night, and thought of him again, did I call him. It just took a simple call to realise how far he had gone. Lameez didn’t mince her words when she spoke. She was basically fed-up with the endless disappearances. From what I could gather, she was too scared to leave.

And then came the final truth, the last straw. The guy was losing his Imaan. Like really losing it. I spoke calmly to him and tried to convince him to get help, but he was adamant. He felt isolated. Alone. Suicidal.

It was like the wind was knocked out of my stomach the moment I heard it. The guy was practically on the border. He wasn’t even sure what he believed any more, and it hurt me like never before. Because when someone speaks bad about something you have the ultimate faith in, you can’t help but feel your heart sink.

But I didn’t look down on him. I didn’t betray myself by thinking that he was beyond help. I knew that this time, real action had to take place. And I knew where to get it.

Yaaseen did voluntary work for a Muslim organisation that dealt with drug abuse. I could see that he had been there, but he didn’t speak much about himself. That was what I liked about him. I like the fact that he cut to the chase- No stories.

He got straight to the point, always making me reflect. Because at the end of the day, he knew what he was talking about. He knew what he was dealing with, and didn’t hesitate to make it clear. He got Reza to come with us while we met at the garage, and eventually convinced him to go for the treatment. It was a long shot, but I admired the way in which he approached it. He made sense, even to Reza, and that was what clenched the deal.

But what was more amazing to me was reasoning behind it. Something that he had only explained to me after Reza was dropped back at home. Something that made me see this guy for who he really was.

The value of Imaan, he had said, was priceless. There was no excuse whatsoever to let someone slip out of the lines that defined him from Kufr. How can we live with ourselves knowing someone else could have possibly been saved from punishmen, and we just let it be?

Because it was during the time of Hadhrat Umar’s (RA) Caliphate, that a man had slipped out of the fold of Islam. The Muslims were quite worried about his conversion, so Ameerul Mu’mineen sent a group of Sahaba to try and bring him back to Islam.

When they tried to convince him, he said he would come back, but on two conditions. First being that he be married to Hadhrat Umar’s (RA) daughter, and second, he be made Calipha.

They were sure that Hadhrat Umar (RA) would consent to the first, but since they were not sure of the second, with it being a decision that had to be made collectively and by the community, they went back across the border.

When they had reached, Ameerul Mu’mineen was at his wits end. He urged them to go back and tell him that he can have anything, as long as he comes back to Islam.
Such was their concern for their brother, that they didn’t want him to die without Imaan. Any trade can be made, just to save this man.

But as they went back across the border, they found his Janazah leaving the city.

His mauth and state of death was decreed, and he died a kaafir.

But nevertheless, look at the Sahaba. Look at their love for one another. They didn’t want anyone to lose their Aakhirah because they knew the value of it.

How could we benefit if we knew the true value of caring for someone else’s Aakhirah? When someone loses Imaan, or is headed there, we could never imagine the value of being brought back to Allah Ta’ala.

And that’s what this guy lived by. He was convinced that maybe by doing this, even just one time, somehow, his own Aakhirah could be secured. I couldn’t imagine having such fikr for someone else, when I was so weak myself. I couldn’t imagine letting go of my own selfish concerns, so that I could have enough concern to get someone else onto the right path.

It was mind blowing. I got a whole new perspective on life that day, as I conversed with this guy.

I got home that day, all psyched about the new dimensions that were revealed to me. I was all excited about the big new step Reza was going to take, in order to put everything right.

I unlocked the door, ready to let my wife in on the good news,  expecting the best out of the situation. I had just swung the door open, when I glimpsed Shazia sitting on the couch, her head bent over.

“Shaz,” I started, clearing my throat. “You’ll never guess-“

I stopped in my tracks as I noticed her solemn expression.

“Bilal,” she said softly. “I think you should sit down. There’s something I need to tell you…”

 

Author’s Note: Sincerest apologies for the very late post.

Reminder for Mission Sunnah Revival.

#RevivetheSunnahofMiswaak

#RevivetheSunnahofAwakening

#RevivetheSunnahofEating

#RevivetheSunnahofDressing

#RevivetheSunnahofWhudhu

#ReciteQur’anDaily – at least a quarter

Tweet @ajourneyjournal 

P.S. Insha Allah next post on Thursday. 

Journeying: Bilal Steps In: Part One

 بسم الله

There was nothing quite like coming home after a long night, knowing that the next day would be free. And the day after.

I didn’t often get weekends off, but this one was special. I had planned a getaway for Shazia and I, away from the madness of our jobs.

For once, Shazia’s work, at her private practice, wasn’t as demanding as mine was, but I took some solace in the knowledge that this was my last few weeks before the very end. With my final year of community service nearly over, I felt an unbearable relief. Next year, I could finally take it easy.

And so, as I was doing just that one evening in late October, maybe a little prematurely, I was suddenly shaken awake by Shazia, who was visibly distraught.

I got up in shock, noticing her flushed cheeks.

“Shaz, what’s wrong?” I said to her, rubbing my eyes vigorously.

Shazia opened her mouth, but burst promptly into tears before she could say anything. I swallowed the urge to become impatient, and leant forward to give her a comforting hug.

“What’s wrong, babe?” I asked softly, leaning back to look at tear-stained face.

“It’s… It’s Uncle Farouk,” she finally managed to say. “He… He passed away!”

I was a bit baffled before it clicked with me. Crap. Saalihah’s father?

I rubbed my forehead before picking up my phone to see the messages. It was true.

Inna Lillahi wa Inna ilahi Raji’oon.

Some sort of attack he had, on the road, after Fajr. Janazah was in about two hours time. I got up and let Shazia sit down, before getting her a glass of water. Uncle Farouk had always tried to do what he could to get Shaz’s family to warm up to the idea of us together, despite the whole mess with Saalihah. There were very few people like him. I couldn’t believe that he was actually gone. I had just seen him at masjid yesterday.

Yet, again, I was reminded of how quickly this life can be snatched away. One minute you’re there, and the next minute, your name was on a Janazah text. Inevitably, one day, it would be my name there.

The reality of it gave me a slight shock to the system.

I mean, really, we can’t expect to stay here forever. We build our homes and lives with the notion of remaining here for quite some time, without reality setting in. We are reminded, over and over that one day, we will be returned, and have to account for every single thing that we had ever possessed.

It is reported that Rasullulah (SAW) said: “On the Day of Resurrection, everybody, rich or poor, will wish that he had been given just as much in the world as barely sufficed for his needs.”

I looked around at our own apartment, letting it all sink in. To observe Taqwa, be grateful for whatever I had, and like for others what I possessed was the means to becoming a good Mu’min.

I had to realise that it was all nothing- really. Once the angel of death comes to take us back to where we know we will be returned to, all that we possess means nothing. Just me and my deeds.

And we are really fools, when we entertain thoughts of the distant future, without even thinking about the reality of what was chasing us. Death was constantly on our tails, but were we prepared? I doubted that anyone could say they had done enough.

And the thoughts flooded my head as I entered the funeral house later that morning, taking a seat on one of the chairs outside, determined not to get into conversation with anyone. It was literally the whole town that was there, and I was amazed at how many people were present.

I sat purposely a little further away from the crowd, doing some Qur’an reading as I waited. Umar was also sitting there, visibly engaged in some recitation. He was probably reciting whole paras by heart. I wished that my dhor would be that strong one day.

There were seldom kitaabs on the men’s side, so it took a lot of effort to stay away from the talking that usually went on. I leant back on my chair, trying to block everything else out.

I mean, what was the point of making this a social gathering? There was a time and place for everything, and I couldn’t help but get annoyed at the slight drone in the background.

I looked up again to see one or two other guys I didn’t know sitting near us. I suddenly felt a pat on my back as someone said my name, and I swung my face to see Reza towering above me, a crooked grin on his face.

Now, although he was like my brother-in-law, I had lost contact with him ages ago. I never went with Shazia to Lameez’s place, just because I knew what I would end up doing. I judged him relentlessly, even though I knew that I shouldn’t. It was my weakness.

“Howzit, bru?” I asked casually, trying to keep my voice low. I didn’t really want to get into conversation here.

“Long time, man!” he exclaimed loudly. “I see you don’t wanna know me anymore, huh?”

I quickly ushered him aside before we attracted more attention, trying to get him to calm down. I wasn’t sure if he was even in his right senses.

“Reez, relax,” I said, making him sit down. “Everything okay? You’re not looking-“

“I’m cool, bru,” he replied, still looking like a wreck. “Just you know… Taking it eeeasyy.”

He said his words slowly, breathing in as he spoke. Didn’t his wife notice how messed up he was?

I started to get a bit annoyed as I realised that he was going to become my problem today. I wasn’t sure how to actually do it, but I needed to get him out of here before anyone noticed. It was like this guy just never grew up. I mean, come on, at a funeral?

He finally took out his phone and started fiddling with it, and I went back to where I had been sitting, feeling slightly relieved. I was just about to go back to reading when the guy next to me caught my eye.

“These things really mess up lives, neh?”

I looked at him, a bit confused. I wondered what he was speaking about, only realising as he gestured to Reza, who was now standing up and walking around.

Ey. That guy was super edgy today.

“You talking about him?” I asked. Had this guy already noticed?

He pit his hand on my shoulder, turning his face towards me so no-one else could see him speaking.

“Don’t worry, no-one else really noticed what’s up,” he assured me. “But I deal with it every day. These guys try kicking the habit, but they only come back worse off when they don’t have the help. Sad to see, but the truth.”

I looked at this guy, a bit in awe of him. He seemed to know what he was talking about, and I found myself hoping that he could help.

I studied him now, for the first time, noticing his beard. I could tell he was from Gauteng by his accent, and the fact that I had never really seen him around.

“Name’s Yaaseen,” he said, sticking out his hand to shake mine. He jerked his head in the direction of the guy behind him. “Aadil’s cuz.”

Aadil sounded familiar, but I didn’t have the time to place him. I was more interested in what this guy had to say, and worried about what Reza was up to. Why didn’t Shazia tell me that he was still up to his nonsense? It would have saved me this situation.

I introduced myself to Yaaseen, taking in his whole demeanour. He seemed genuine. I actually liked this guy. There was just something about him that made me want to trust him.

“You know him?” He asked me, keeping his tone low.

I shrugged my shoulders. What difference did it make?

“He’s family,” I replied.

“Well then,” he said, getting up as his cousin did. I think he could tell that I wasn’t that worried. I mean, I had tried to help Reza before.

“You can’t just leave him, bru,” he continued. “The owe needs help. Come speak to me later, if you change your mind.”

And with that he gave me a pat on the back, and followed Aadil into the house. I didn’t want to have these concerns at a funeral, but Reza’s unstable life was going to inevitable affect me. There was no question about it.

And as the house men finally brought the Janazah before Jumuah Namaaz, a whole new perspective on life came to me. At this moment, when our bodies would be lifeless, there were no second chances. There were no retakes or rewinds. We couldn’t change a single thing.

Luckily for Uncle Farouk, he seemed to have got it right. Somehow, people envied him, remembering what kind of man he was. And yeah, I’m sure he made mistakes, but maybe there had been someone there to help him put them right. Allah Ta’ala knows best, but maybe it had just taken a moment for him to get his life on track.

The Janazah namaaz and burial were speedily done, and my mind was a boggle with all the thoughts that consumed them. I watched Reza, remembering that I too was in that situation at one stage. I felt slightly guilty as I had purposefully ignored the signs before this, determined to just turn a blind eye.

I finally went up to Yaaseen, knowing that I had to do something. Everyone needed a little shove before they can eventually find the way.

Everyone deserved a second chance.

Author’s Note: We hope that the post serves as a small reminder about the inevitable, the destroyer of pleasures. A piece of advice that is golden:

Abu Ayyub (RA) says that a person came to Rasullulah (SAW) asking for some advice.

Rasullulah (SAW) said: “When you perform Salaat, do so as it were your last (when a man think a Salaat to be his last, he will obviously perform it with great sincerity and devotion and will take pains to make it perfect); and do not speak a word for which you will have to express regret (and tender an apology); and, faith a firm mind, do not desire what other people possess (do not even turn your eyes to what men possess).”

Reminder for Mission Sunnah Revival.

#RevivetheSunnahofMiswaak

#RevivetheSunnahofAwakening

#RevivetheSunnahofEating

#RevivetheSunnahofDressing

#RevivetheSunnahofWhudhu

#ReciteQur’anDaily – at least a quarter

Tweet @ajourneyjournal 

P.S. Insha Allah next post on Tuesday. 

Journeying: Initial Descent: Part Five

بسم الله

I couldn’t stand the wait, and Bilal knew that all too well!

Bilal was cheekily grinning at Shazia and I as he drove. Shazia shook her head at him, trying to convince him to let us in on the big secret. He refused, point-blank, pursing his lips just to show us a point. My brother could be really stubborn if he wanted!

Bilaaaaaal,” I moaned, trying to figure out which route he was taking. “Stop being so annoying!”

He mimicked my voice, aggravating me even more. Shazia playfully thumped him on the arm, trying to get him to give it up.

“Ey, leave me alone,” he said to us finally. “You women need to learn to wait!”

It was only when we pulled into the driveway of the house that I realised exactly where we were. I sucked in my breath as I looked at Bilal, wondering why we were here.

“Bilal, why are-“

“Shoosh, Laila,” he cut me off, jumping off the car. Shazia and I hastily followed. I felt a little awkward wearing my one of my fancier abayas to a house, especially this one.

Umar’s father came out of their home, sticking his hand out casually to meet Bilal, and ushered Shazia and I into the house excitedly where the ladies were seated. I was completely confused about what was going on, since Mummy was already here, making conversation with Aunty Zarina. She got up to greet us as we entered, fussing over us and handing us plates to eat.

I really was so stuffed, but took the plate anyway just to be polite. It was like something big was happening here, and I looked at Mummy as she smiled back at me jovially, still talking. Two of Umar’s aunties were also there, and I wondered what the occasion was.

I was really confused. It was just so baffling.

I greeted them all, then looked at Mummy enquiringly.

“Mummy, what’s happening?” I asked softly, trying to keep my voice low.

She had a slight sparkle in her eye as she winked at me, and then turned to look at the open doorway.

I couldn’t help but follow her eyes to where she was looking, and as I finally saw who it was, my eyeballs almost fell out of my sockets. My mouth hung open for a few seconds before I managed to close it again.

I couldn’t believe it! I hastily handed my plate to Mummy and rushed forward.

Haseena was back!

“Has!” I almost screeched, thrilled to see my sister again. I held her tightly for at least a few minutes, just trying to digest it all. I couldn’t believe that she was actually here. She wasn’t due back till next week!

I finally let go, to look back at her teary eyes, asking her the only question that I needed.

“Did you make Du’aa for me?”

She nodded and cleared her throat, briskly wiping away the tears that had formed in her eyes.

“You look so grown up, Laila,” she said softly, and I wondered what she meant. I mean, it wasn’t like she was gone for so long. Maybe it was what I was wearing.

We sat in the lounge whilst Haseena entertained us with her Hajj stories. Some were sad, and some were amusing, but the amazing part was that there was a lesson behind them all.

Truly, this journey of a lifetime was really an experience that prepares you for the rest of your life. The friends that you make there, Haseena said, were unlike any other normal friends. They see you in your best and worst form, and are with you through every spiritually altering and heart rendering situation during that journey.

I gazed at my sister, who seeemed to be emanating noor from somewhere within her, and felt so jealous when I realised that she had emerged from this journey as pure as a newborn baby.

Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said, “Whoever performs Hajj for Allah’s pleasure and does not have sexual relations with his wife, and does not do evil or sins then he will return pure and free from sins as on the day on which his mother gave birth to him.“ (Bukhari)

How fortunate she was that she could, with an accepted Hajj if Allah willed, put everything behind her and start over. Like, really start over, if she needed to.

And the whole journey was a test of Taqwa, that strengthens and improves one’s piety as one carries out the command of Allah Ta’ala. And when we sacrifice the animal, through the sacrifice of our Nafs, it brings us closer to our Rabb, who is constantly calling us to Him.

I could see how the trip had made her, and reformed her character.  Though she expressed constant hope to go again soon, she also feared that she might take it for granted.

I admired her honesty, as it made me wonder about how we treated the Holy cities of Makkah Sharief and Madinah Sharief. Some pious people wouldn’t even urinate in the Mubaarak cities, due to their utmost respect for them.

I just hoped that when it was my turn, I could give this great trip the respect that it deserved. I prayed for my chance, although I knew it probably wouldn’t be anytime soon.

But I had constant hope in Allah Ta’ala’s mercy.

Because true belief in Allah Ta’ala, and remembrance of Him also meant that though we need to fear Him and his punishment, we need to also have faith in His ability to forgive and bestow us with His blessings. It was also complete belief in Allah’s limitless bounties, knowing that there was always hope, no matter what we had done. It was also remembering  that Allah Ta’ala was listening and answering every Du’aa, even if we may not see it.

As I thought about when my turn would be, in retrospect, it was weird how we always want to grow up when we are young, yet we look back on the more innocent days with longing, once we have past them all.

And it was so true for me, as my life took a new direction the following year.

We left Umar’s house late that night, whilst they stayed over for the next few days. I had barely even noticed that Yusuf wasn’t around, until Haseena had mentioned later that week that he had gone in Jamaat for four months. I was quite surprised, but really happy for him. It was amazing that he had taken that step.

The following January, Daddy and Mummy had planned a small Jalsa for the completion of my Hifdh, and though I was just a little but hesitant about it, I also began to teach at a Madrassah.

As a final clencher, instead of letting myself get too bored, I also enrolled to study a course through correspondence, hoping that Daddy would allow me to help him with his office admin work some time.

Alhumdulillah, everything in my life had reached a better balance, and I sometimes reflected on how far I had come during the past year. Yes, I still had a lot to achieve, but it was becoming much easier to envision as time went on.

I gave myself plenty of time away from samoosa runs, determined not to think about marriage too much. Instead, I finally got my license, and found a little independence in my small achievements.

Daddy wasn’t too thrilled about me not worrying about prospective husbands, but it suited me fine. I think he was worried that I would end up living at home for the rest of my life, but I knew that there was a plan for me.

I had full faith that in the end, Allah Ta’ala would take care of it.

Fareeha had been up and down a few times, but because she now lived so far away, there wasn’t much time for us to really meet when she was around. Despite this, I could see that marriage really suited her. I understood that her family was priority, and though I missed her, I kept a small distance, so she could spend enough time with them on her short trips.

Since her trips were always so rushed, I didn’t meet whoever she had in store for me for quite a while.

Everyone seemed to just continue with their own routines, but once again, that feeling of getting too comfortable had surfaced again. As yet another Ramadhaan and and Hajj season passed us by, the devastating phone call came early on a Friday morning, as I lay in bed.

My line buzzed momentarily before I realised the call was for me, and I instantly sat up, wondering who it could be so early.

Sometimes it takes a calamity to reach the reality of the blessings we have. Sometimes a small shock to the system helps us to realise the true fleeting moment that life really is.

I picked up the phone, greeting warily, unaware of  who it was.

At first there was no response, but Fareeha replied after a few seconds, sounding completely unlike herself.

“Laila,” she said, choking on her tears. “He’s gone, Laila… Papa is gone.”

 

Author’s Note: Reminder for Mission Sunnah Revival.

#RevivetheSunnahofMiswaak

#RevivetheSunnahofAwakening

#RevivetheSunnahofEating

#RevivetheSunnahofDressing

#RevivetheSunnahofWhudhu

#ReciteQur’anDaily – at least a quarter

Tweet @ajourneyjournal 

P.S. Insha Allah next post by Saturday, and then I’ll be taking a short study break till Tuesday afternoon. Request for Du’aas.