Merits and Virtues of Ramadaan…

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wabarakatuh…

Hope everyone is well. The blessed month of Ramadan is nearly upon us alhamdulillah. This is a month of mercy from Allah Ta’ala, a month in which Allah pours his mercy and forgiveness down on us. This month is such a great gift from Allah Ta’ala, as mentioned in the following hadith:

– Abu Hurairah R.A relates that Nabi SAW said, “My ummah has been given five special things that were not given to anyone before them:
• The smell from the mouth of a fasting muslim is sweeter to Allah than the fragrant smell of musk.
• The fish in the sea seek forgiveness on their behalf until they break their fast.
• Allah prepares and decorates his special jannah everyday and then says to it: ‘The time is near when my faithful servants shall cast aside the great trials of the world and come to you.’
• In this month the rebellious shayateen are chained, so as not to provoke those evils that they normally do during months other than Ramadan.
• On the last night of Ramadan the fasting muslims are forgiven.”

The sahabah thereupon inquired, “oh messenger of Allah, is that night Laylatul Qadr?”
Nabi SAW replied, “no. But it is only right that a servant should be given his reward on having completed his duty.”

There are a few points I would like to mention:

• Firstly, we must try not to waste time as much as possible. We should read the Holy Quran in our free time, try and make as many khatams as possible. And also read zikr in our free time. It comes in a hadith:

“In this month, you should try to perform four things in great number, two of which shall be to please your Lord, while the other two shall be those without which you cannot make do. Those which shall be to please your Lord, are that you should in great quantity recite kalima tayyibah (Laa Ilaha illallah) and make much istighfaar. And as for those two without which you cannot make do, you should beg Allah for entry into paradise and seek refuge with Him from the fire of jahannam.”

The zikr which comprises all of the above is:

‘Laa ilaha illah, astaghfirullah, as’aluka jannatal firdaus, wa a’oothu bika minan naar.’

• Secondly, we must try and pray off all our qadha salahs, and if we don’t have any left, we must try and pray nafl salah as much as possible. It is mentioned in a hadith:

“Whosoever tries drawing nearer to Allah by performing any virtuous deed in this month, for him shall be such a reward as if he had performed a fardh in any other time of the year. And whoever performs a fardh, for him shall be the reward of seventy fardh in any other time of the year.”

• Thirdly, we must try and engage in as much dua as possible, especially at the times of tahajjud and iftar, as mentioned in the following hadiths:

– Abu Saeed Khudri R.A relates that Nabi SAW said, “during each day and night of Ramadan, Allah sets free a great number of souls from jahannam (hellfire). And for every muslim, during each day and night, at least one prayer is certainly accepted.”
                   (Narrated by Bazzaar)

– Abu Hurairah R.A relates that Nabi SAW said, “there are three people whose dua isn’t rejected; the fasting person until he breaks the fast, the just ruler and the oppressed person, whose dua Allah lifts above the clouds and opens unto it the doors of Heaven, and Allah says, “I swear by my honour, verily I shall assist you, even though it may be after some time.”

– Ibn Mas’ood reports that on every night of Ramadan, a crier from the heavens calls out, “oh you seeker of good, come near. Oh seeker of evil,turn away (from evil) and open your eyes.” Thereafter that angel calls out, “is there any seeker of forgiveness, that he may be forgiven? Is there anyone with a prayer, that his prayer may be heard? Is there anyone wanting anything, so that his wish may be fulfilled?”

When Allah, the Kings of Kings Himself is asking if we want anything from his limitless treasures, if we don’t ask to our hearts’ content, who can be more unfortunate than us, dear sisters?

• Fourthly, we can do all of the above but if we don’t preserve our good deeds well, then simple, careless actions of ours can tear all our efforts into shreds. Amongst those actions are lying, backbiting, slandering others, or any other sins, as mentioned in the following hadiths:

– Abu Hurairah R.A relates that Nabi SAW said, “Many of those who fast obtain nothing through such fasting except hunger, and many a one performs salah by night but obtains nothing by it except the discomfort of staying awake.” 
                                 (Ibn Majah)

Ulama have mentioned different interpretations for this hadith: firstly, it may mean breaking one’s fast with haraam food, as that would make all our good deeds unacceptable. Secondly, it can mean those who fast but while fasting, engage in backbiting and slandering others. Thirdly, it may refer to the one who, while fasting, didn’t stay away from evil and sin.

– Abu Ubaidah R.A reports, “I have heard Nabi SAW saying, “fasting is a protective shield for man, as long as he does not tear up that protection.”
                    (Nasa’i and Ibn Majah)

Once somebody inquired from Nabi SAW, “What causes the fast to tear?” He replied, “telling lies and backbiting.”

• Fifthly, the last ten days of Ramadan are even more emphasised, especially the nights, because there is a possibility of Laylatul Qadr being amongst the odd nights from the last ten nights. It could be on any other night as well, but the last ten odd nights are more likely, as mentioned in various hadiths. So we should try and stay awake as much as possible during those nights, or sleep early and wake up earlier than usual for tahajjud salah. It is mentioned in the following hadiths:

– Anas R.A reports that Nabi SAW said, “on the night of power, Jibraeel A.S descends upon the earth with a group of angels, praying for blessings for every servant of Allah whom they see in worship, standing or sitting and engrossed in Allah’s praise. Then on the day of Eid, Allah boasts about them to the angels, that “oh my angels, what is the reward of that worker who has done his job very well?” They reply, “oh our Lord, his reward should be given to him in full.” To this Allah replies, “oh my angels, verily my servants, the males amongst them as well as females, have duly performed their obligatory duty, thereafter they set forth to the Eid prayer ground, raising their voices in prayer to me. I swear by my honour, by my grandeur, by my grace and by my exalted position, that I shall surely answer the prayers of these people.” Thereafter Allah addresses the people, “go forth, I have forgiven your sins, and have replaced your evil deeds with righteous ones.” These people then return from the Eid ground in such a condition that their sins stand forgiven.”

– Aisha R.A reports that Nabi SAW said,seek Laylatul Qadr among the odd numbered nights of the last ten days of the month of Ramadan.”
(Mishkaat reports from Bukhari)

• Sixthly, eid night is a night of great celebration, both here in this world (we see how the aunties run into the kitchen upon sighting the moon, preparing pots of different kinds of food, because for us indians, food comes first!😜 And how the girls run to apply henna and try on their outfits etc) and in the heavens, because that night is the ‘prize giving night’ as mentioned in the hadith; but it is also a great night for making ibadah (worshipping Allah), as mentioned in the following hadiths:

– Nabi SAW said,”whoever stays awake for ibadah on the night preceding either eid, with the aim of gaining reward, his heart shall not die on that day when hearts shall wither.” (referring to the day of qiyamah)

– Nabi SAW is also reported to have said,”whoever stays awake for ibadah on the following nights shall enter jannah; Laylatul Tarwiyah (the night after the 7th Zul Hijjah), Laylatul Arafah (the night after the 8th Zul Hijjah), Laylatul Nahr (the night after the 9th Zul Hijjah), the night preceding eid ul fitr, and the night preceding 15th Sha’ban.”

Like Ketoqueen mentioned, Ramadaan is like a huge sale. Imagine if a yearly sale was occuring right at our doorstep with a bold sign proclaiming, “buy one get seventy free.” Who in their right mind would pass up an opportunity like that? We would be the first ones to rush there and inform all our near and dear ones as well so that no one would miss out. Well, this is exactly like that, only that the rewards are far greater than any worldly treasures yet hidden from sight. We need to become fully aware of these treasures within our reach and try our best to fill our treasure chests with as many valuables as we can, to ensure our success in the hereafter inshaAllah.

Please try and pass this on to as many people as possible, so we can all benefit from this inshaAllah…

Wishing you all a very blessed and special Ramadan and Eid! Remember me and my family in your special duas!

Ilal liqaa (till we meet again)
Ma’as salaamah! xxx













Wake-up call…

They met in Aalamul Arwaah, the realm of souls. Two souls, identical in appearance yet divided by a wide chasm of years and worldly experience. One of them held an unused ticket in his hand; a return ticket to the dunya, the world. The other held an expired ticket; his time in the world having come to an end.

“Where are you off to?” He asked his companion.

“To the dunya. My time there starts in a few days.”

“But you do know that you have to return, right?”

“Yes, of course! I know that I have to come back to my Rabb and I will long for the day I return every minute, every day of my life. I know that my journey is temporary and my eternal abode awaits me here. I will try my utmost to fulfill my responsibility in the world so that I can return and enjoy the pleasures contained here once more.”

And so, he left. Filled with the promises made to his Rabb, filled with the purpose of his temporary visit into the world, he ventured forth oh-so-confidently.

But alas! He knew not that this world is a place of temptations, of sinful pleasures and a whirlwind of untold delights that would suck him into its vortex, with hardly any way out.

And so he forgot. He forgot the promises made to his Rabb. He forgot the return ticket still tightly clutched in his hand, with its impending date of return getting closer with the slow ticking of the clock.

Or did he forget? I think not. I think he merely chose to ignore the glaring fact and bury it deep within the recesses of his mind. Thinking that the saying would prove true in his case; “out of sight, out of mind”.

But that’s no excuse, is it? For when the final boarding call comes there will be no escaping it. The ticket will have to be presented, the flight will have to be boarded. Are we ready to undertake this journey?

So let us wake up, oh muslimahs. Let us become aware of the existence of our return tickets. We do not know the date imprinted on them but we do know that it could be anytime. So let us prepare for this journey before the clock stops ticking and before our escort arrives to take us to our final destination. Let us pray each salah like it’s our last. Let us watch each sunset like it’s our last. And let us make the most of this ramadhaan if we reach it because it might be our last.

On this note I bid you farewell, my dear readers, for the blessed month of Ramadaan. Stay blessed, stay happy. May we all meet here after eid inshaAllah, and if not, may we meet in the gardens of jannah❤

Posts will resume after Ramadaan inshaAllah, on the 29th of June. I will be posting the virtues of Ramadaan a bit later on…

Remember me and my family in your duas…

Wassalaam xxx

Part 114

“Wooowwwwww!” I breathed, staring at the sight infront of me in horrified fascination, “are you on a mission to kill us?” I joked, turning to look at Lisa who was grinning, looking completely unfazed. At least Khadija looked as apprehensive about this as I did.

“Don’t tell me you’ve never been here as well!” Lisa looked at us in mock horror.

“Nope. Never seen this place,” I replied.

“Yusha brought me here once,” Khadija put in, “I swore then that I would never try this out and I intend to keep that promise.”

“Oh, come on, don’t be wimps! This is so much of fun! And we’ll be properly strapped up so it’s completely safe! Come on!” She grabbed each of our hands and led us past the huge sign which boldly proclaimed, “Aerial Extreme.” I shook my head and wondered how we had ended up here when our only plans for today had been to shop leisurely at Trafford Centre, have a scrumptious lunch at one of the restaurants then go back home. I had known that something was up when Lisa had insisted that Khadija and I wear trainers instead of our usual pumps or sandals. But she had simply smiled mysteriously when I had asked her and told me to wait and see.

“I guess just shopping is too tame for you,” I remarked tongue-in-cheek, “the first time you dragged us skating from there and now this.”

“Yeah, because you guys don’t know how to have fun!” Lisa replied, “just shopping is so bleh. This is where the fun begins!”

“Hopefully this is not where my life ends,” I muttered.

“What a drama queen,” Lisa rolled her eyes and bit back a grin as she dragged us along. Khadija was quiet till we reached the starting point then she suddenly balked.

“I can’t do this!”

“You can, Khadija, we’ll be right here with you,” Lisa said reassuringly.

“It looks too scary. What if I end up breaking a leg? I’ve never done anything like this before.”

“You can’t fall, miss, you’ll be all strapped up,” the guy in charge said, indicating to the straps he had laid out for us on the ground.

“Relax, Khads, we can do this. We’re in it together. Come on,” I reassured her. Despite my earlier dramatic protests I felt a thrill run through me at the thought of doing something so adventurous. I was looking forward to it now.

Aerial Extreme was a high ropes adventure course just beyond Trafford Centre. We were strapped up securely before treading our way through the various, nerve-wracking obstacles. Lisa led the way with Khadija in the middle and me bringing up the rear. We wobbled our way across planks and tyres suspended several feet off the ground by ropes, walked the tightrope with our hearts in our mouths, climbed across a web of ropes suspended mid-air like a huge spiderweb and made our way through several other obstacles before finally ending off with a zip-line which took us back to the ground. I screamed all the way down, a mixture of fear and adrenaline pumping through my veins as I whizzed past the trees, the wind blowing in my face, and finally landed on the ground, spent but exhilarated. That.had.been.AWESOME!!!

I voiced my thoughts to Lisa after we had caught our breaths. “Lise, that was awesome!! I am so happy you brought me here!”

Lisa smirked at me smugly. “Told you so! That is why you have to listen to Lisa! I always tell you to listen to Lisa but you never listen!”

“Yes, mummy Lisa! I will always listen to you now.”

“Good girl!” Lisa grinned before turning to look at Khadija, “you okay, Khads?”

Khadija stood up shakily. “I’m not sure. Ask me that in ten years time then I’ll have the answer for you.”

I laughed. “How many times have you come here before?” I asked Lisa.

“A couple of times. Dom and I…” she trailed off, the familiar sadness clouding her eyes yet again. I had seen it happening frequently over the past few weeks. She would be all smiley and happy then she would remember her family and the sadness would hit her again. She gave her head a firm shake now and continued, “Dom and I have been here a couple of times. We both love outdoor activities.”

“That’s nice. I have a feeling I’ll also grow to love them with you around,” I grinned at her and jumped up, “now let’s go have some food. I’m famished!”

Khadija turned to look at me incredulously. “How can you stomach anything right now?? My stomach feels like it’s been turned upside down!”

I pretended to give it some thought. “Well, it’s like this. You know when a ship goes through stormy waters? It’s tossed around from side to side and is so unstable, right? So when they want to ground it and bring it to a stop what do they do? They throw down the anchor. Then the ship becomes stable again. That’s how food is for me. My stomach and all of my insides have been tossed all over the place and now my body needs an anchor. So food will be like that heavy weight inside my body. It will ground my stomach and in turn stabilise my body. Get it?”

Lisa and Khadija stared at me for a few moments before bursting into loud guffaws. They laughed and laughed while I acted dom and looked at the sky, whistling softly.

“Only you, Faz, only you,” Khadija finally managed to say, wiping tears of mirth from her eyes.

“How do you come up with these things?” Lisa asked, raising her hands then dropping them again, “you have this relationship with food that’s unbeatable, man!”

“It’s the love of my life,” I agreed, nodding solemnly and placing my hand on my chest.

“You and Dom would get along famously,” Lisa continued. This time she didn’t react at the mention of his name, “he also loves his food and he eats like there’s a bottomless pit in there,” she patted her stomach.

“I highly doubt it,” I muttered darkly. I had developed a strong dislike for Dominic after seeing his uncouth behaviour with Lisa. “Okay, come, let’s grab a bite,” I said again.

Khadija declined to have lunch, buying herself a box of juice and packet of crisps instead. I, on the other hand, bought myself a burger and fries with coke. All that activity really had made me hungry. Lisa also said she wasn’t hungry and just ordered a thick shake for herself but she ended up pinching half of my fries as well.

We finished eating then made our way to the car again where we had dumped all our shopping bags earlier on. I dropped Khadija off before carrying on towards our house.

“I want to have a nice, hot shower then hit the bed,” Lisa said with a yawn.

“I thought you were fine?” I smirked at her.

“It was still tiring,” she replied, punching me playfully on my shoulder. She disappeared into her room to get her clothes. We had turned the spare room into her room since she couldn’t keep sleeping on the mattress.

Six weeks had passed since Lisa’s father’s and brother’s disgruntled exit from our house. They had never returned again and hadn’t bothered to contact Lisa even once since then. She had gone back to her house twice since then, once to meet her family because she missed them terribly, and the second time to fetch her clothes and other necessary items that she needed. The first time her mother had let her in but had been considerably colder towards her than before. They hadn’t managed to talk much before her father had come home; then all hell had broken loose. He had taken one look at her and ordered her to get the hell out. She had broken down infront of them and pleaded with them to take her back. Her father, however, was immovable. His condition still stood; she could renounce islam and come back, or remain a muslim and not step foot in that house ever again. In tears she had left but not for a second also had she considered giving up her faith. She had come back more broken than before, sobbing endlessly into my arms as my own heart had shattered to pieces for her. It had taken nani and me a full day to calm her down, but even then the sadness in her eyes had lingered.

The second time she only went back because she needed some of her things urgently. She had made sure to go at a time when her father and brother wouldn’t be around. Her mother had let her in again but this time she had tried to convince Lisa to give up her faith and come back. Lisa had shaken her head and in turn given her mother dawah towards islam.

“She didn’t say anything. She heard me out then simply nodded,” Lisa told me later on, “then she asked me if my faith was more important to me than my own family. I said my faith will always come first but I shouldn’t have to choose at all! I can have faith and family side by side but they won’t accept that,” she had heaved a sigh then changed the topic resolutely.

Lisa hadn’t gone back since that day. She had instead thrown herself in other things to keep herself busy. She volunteered to teach at the orphanage as well so between that, campus and learning about islam she remained busy most of the time.

Nani, Khadija and I tried to compensate for the loss of her family by trying to fill the gaps they had left as best as we could. Nani had long since given Lisa free reign to do as she pleased in the house and not ask for permission all the time, and she also showered Lisa with the same motherly love that she showered me with. And Lisa greatly appreciated it and tried to reciprocate it as best as she could. But obviously we could not completely take the place of her family. And as much as Lisa tried to conceal her pain and heartbreak, it revealed itself in glimpses from time to time. I saw her sob her heart out in tahajjud each day. I saw her wipe away stray tears when she thought no one was looking. I saw her standing at the window, staring blankly outside, her pain etched vividly on her face. And each time I saw her struggle to raise her head over the waves of sorrow that washed over her, threatening to overpower her and drag her under, my heart broke a little more for her. But even as my heart bled for her, a deep sense of admiration took root within its depths; for I saw that each knock and blow that she suffered only served to strengthen her imaan and draw her even closer to Allah. The raging thirst within her to learn about Islam and practice upon it burned even hotter at each hurdle she had to cross. One week after accepting islam she told me to lend her an abaya and hijab because she wanted to start donning them full time. Despite knowing that she had to cover herself I asked her if she was sure of her decision because I didn’t want her to take the plunge too soon then find it too much after some time and stop wearing it again. But Lisa reassured me that she was fully ready and she didn’t feel comfortable going out uncovered anymore. I lent her my abaya and hijab and that same day we went and bought several more for her to wear everyday. From that day onwards Lisa did not leave the house without wearing an abaya and hijab.

She was disowned by her own family, ostracised by her snotty group of friends who looked down their noses at her new identity and image and thought she had become brainwashed into becoming an extremist, and publicly shamed and humiliated by her own brother, who took great pleasure in putting her down infront of his friends and anyone else who might be present.

“Oh, look, there goes the Saudi Princess,” he jeered once, emphasising the word “princess” sarcastically, “who’s your master and ruler, my dear? Oh, run away from here before he sees you talking to a man! He might lash you in public because of that great crime!” Then his friends and him would burst into loud laughter while Lisa would quietly walk away. This happened several times and I only got to know of it because Yusha had been around once and had mentioned it to Khadija who had told me in turn. When  I had asked her she had admitted that it hadn’t been the first time he had done that. My blood had started boiling on hearing that but Lisa had simply shrugged.

“It’s just his ignorance showing through. I will continue to pray for his guidance.”

But the next time it occurred I happened to be right there.

“Well, well, look who’s here! Jihadi Jane and her minions! Or are you the minion, my dear, gullible sister, and is this friend of yours the gangleader?? Tell me, when are your jihadi husbands coming to fetch you and take you to Syria?? Y’all must be wishing to blow yourselves up and earn yourselves paradise by now, right??” His friends snickered as he sneered at us mockingly, his face twisted in malice and hatred. Lisa ignored him as usual and I was about to do the same when I spotted the sheen of tears in Lisa’s eyes which she quickly tried to wipe away, and my control snapped.

“Your ignorance is showing in every vile word you utter, you moron!” I spat, “go educate yourself about islam before making a fool of yourself by spewing the rubbish that is fed to you by the media! God, I would have thought you had enough brains to know right from wrong! But it seems that when it comes to islam your’lls common sense flies out of the window and the ignorance rears its head!”

Dominic’s face darkened with anger. “You dare to call ME ignorant?? When it’s you guys who are the ignorant ones, following a book and wearing clothing which is outdated and a throwback to the stone ages??”

I clucked my tongue. “Fine, if you don’t wanna educate yourself about Islam at least educate yourself about Christianity. Tell me, who does Mary look like? Go see the picture you’ll revere so much, you’ll see that she looks like a muslim by the clothes that she’s wearing! Who does your’lls image of Jesus look like? Like a muslim or your modern day Christians?? Would you also call them outdated and oppressed?? You know what, forget about what the media is saying for once and learn about islam, the true islam! Come and learn what Lisa is learning, then you’ll see the difference for yourself. But please, stop picking on Lisa. She has been through enough already and for what? For simply exercising her right to freedom of choice and going for what she thinks is right? Is that such a big crime that you have to make her go through hell because of it? YOU have not seen her tears because of what you’ll have done so you’ll never know her struggle! Never!! Leave her alone, please, and let her live her life as she wishes. And by the way, your loss is my gain. I have gained a sister by your’s and your family’s actions and I wouldn’t give that up for anything.” I suddenly became aware of the tears pricking my own eyes and quickly walked away from there with Lisa in tow. After a few minutes of walking in silence I heard a sniffle behind me. I turned around to ask Lisa what was wrong when she suddenly threw her arms around me and hugged me tightly.

“Jazakallah for what you said back there, Faz. And for everything you’ve done for me so far. I can never…never repay you for it. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve such love and acceptance from all of you. I just feel so blessed,” she said emotionally.

I smiled through my own tears and hugged her back. “It’s nothing, Lise. I meant what I said back there. Their loss is my gain. I love having you around.”

“And I love being around all of you. In fact I think it’s a blessing in disguise because I would never have been able to learn and practice my religion as freely at my own house. So there’s definitely a silver lining with every cloud,” she wiped her tears then laughed, “look at us, being all emo here!”

I laughed as well, shaking my head and wiping my own tears.

“You really did shut Dom up, man! I’ve never seen him so stunned in my life. Usually he always has a comeback,” Lisa laughed.

“Yeah, he looked like a fish with his mouth hanging open,” I chortled.

Lisa mostly hung around with Khadija and me now since her own group of friends, which included muslims as well, did not want to acknowledge or befriend her anymore. I could not understand how muslims could do that to muslims but I witnessed it happening with my own eyes. But despite all that Lisa stuck firm to her faith and beliefs. And in doing so, she became a role model, not only for me but for all us born muslims around the world who are born with islam on a silver platter, so to speak, and who take it for granted. I once heard a scholar saying that Allah did not need us; we needed Allah. Because even if we turned away from islam Allah would bring other people in our place who would raise this flag of deen and do a much better job of it than us. And now, after seeing Lisa I realised the truth of his words. Here was a new muslim who was far more practising than many born muslims. A new muslim who had to go through so much just to practice on islam yet never did she waver. What sacrifices have we given for our deen in comparison to her? We give up on the first hurdle. I had heard of so many muslims who shaved their beards or removed their hijabs out of fear yet here was a new muslim who donned it proudly as a symbol of her faith and did not let anyone make her feel inferior or lacking because of it. Us born muslims have this inferiority complex within us. We see the glitz and glamour of the west and find it so much better than our own deen. So we leave the practices of our deen in order to follow the trends of the west. Whereas here was a girl who had seen and experienced the life we would like to experience, yet she did not find it enough. She found her peace and solace in the warm embrace of islam and now, having witnessed the stark difference between the darkness of kufr and the light of imaan she would not give up her light for the world. If I had one thing left to say, I would say that we needed to see our deen through the eyes of the Lisas of this world and learn about deen from them, and then maybe that fervour would ignite in our hearts as well.

Part 113

Rain pattered down softly, beating rythmically against the windows as I curled up on the sofa, my hands wrapped around a steaming mug of hot chocolate. I was trying to work on my project but my mind was on Lisa. Finally I shut the laptop and leaned back with a sigh, wondering what was happening. She had left over an hour ago but there was no news from her yet. I sent her a message telling her to keep me updated then sipped on the hot chocolate while browsing through my Facebook feed. The steaming liquid left a hot trail down my throat, warming up my insides and leaving me with a cozy, happy feeling. A feeling that was short lived.

Half an hour later I woke up with a start at what sounded like someone trying to break into the house. I jumped up from the sofa where I had dozed off and looked around me frantically before realising that the incessant banging was coming from the front door and I’d better see who it was before they ended up waking nana and nani. I padded to the door and peeped through the peephole then started in shock.


I pulled open the door hastily then stepped back in alarm as Lisa half fell through it, loud sobs escaping her mouth and tearing through her body.

“Lisa?” I grabbed her by her shoulders and pulled her up, staggering back as she fell against me, “Lisa?! What’s wrong?? What happened??”

Lisa continued to sob heartbreakingly. Realising that she couldn’t say anything at this point, I stopped talking and started rubbing her back soothingly, making comforting hushing sounds. For a long time we stood like that, till Lisa’s sobs finally subsided, the occasional hiccup taking its place. Finally she raised her eyes to mine and I almost flinched at the raw torment reflected within their depths.

“They…they kicked me out,” she rasped, “they threw me out…and…and…told me never to go back.” Fresh tears pooled in her eyes as I stared at her, my vocal cords frozen in horror.

“How COULD they do that???” I finally burst out. I could feel anger rising up in me, “just because you chose to believe in something different??? What happened to freedom of choice???”

“I told you, they don’t like islam. All three of them ganged up on me. I argued with them for over an hour, trying to make them see sense. But they just wouldn’t listen! Finally papa…my dad…gave me an ultimatum. He said I should choose them or islam. I chose islam,” Lisa drew a shaky breath, “then he told me to get out and never come back. And mamma and Dom never said a word! They just watched everything. They saw me pack my bag and leave but not once did they tell me to come back!” Tears rolled down her cheeks again and my heart felt like it was breaking for her. I hugged her fiercely, trying to get words past the huge lump in my throat, trying to tell her that we were here for her. But nani beat me to it.

“Lisa,” she said softly. We jumped and turned to see her standing behind us in her robe.

“I heard everything. You are not alone. We are here for you. We are your family now so you can stay here for as long as you want.” She came forward and hugged Lisa, who broke down in her arms again.

It was close to midnight when we finally went to sleep. I had made Lisa a mug of hot chocolate and forced her to drink it, despite her protests that she couldn’t stomach anything at that point. She had felt a little better afterwards though. The colour had come back to her cheeks at least. I had told nani to go sleep after a while then Lisa and I went to my room where I laid out the mattress for her again. I had told her to sleep in my bed but she wouldn’t hear of it.

At fajr time I got up as soon as my alarm went off and stepped over Lisa, wondering if I should wake her up for fajr or not. I knew salah was fardh on her now but I didn’t know if she would be willing to start waking up this early from now.

The dilemma was solved when I found Lisa awake as I went back to my room after making wudhu. She looked at me sleepily.

“Is it prayer time?”

“Yeah,” I replied.

“Show me how to pray.”

I prayed my fajr then showed her how to make wudhu again and pray salah. I taught her the basic phrases, “Subhanallah, Alhamdulillah and Allahu Akbar” which she could pray in her salah till she learnt her surahs and other duas.

From that day onwards Lisa didn’t miss a single salah. The zeal and enthusiasm she showed towards learning blew me away. She was like a parched man in the desert who had finally reached an oasis. She soaked up everything like a sponge and immediately put it into practice.

I started teaching her the arabic alphabet so that she could learn how to read the quran and at the same time I taught her Surah Faatihah and other small, main surahs that she could pray in salah. I also taught her the main duas, for eating, drinking, sleeping, etc. She had a sharp memory and picked up everything really quickly. And unbeknown to her she turned me into a more practising muslim than I had been before. Because I had known my duas and other sunnahs since a young age but unfortunately I wasn’t practising on all of them. But now I had become a role model for Lisa. She watched my every move and word and learnt from it. So I became more conscious of doing things the sunnah way and reciting my duas regularly as well.

Lisa loved listening to the quran. She sat next to me while I recited quran everyday after fajr and seemed to take even more enjoyment from it than I did. She also downloaded Shaykh Salah al Budair’s recitation of the quran with an english translation and listened to that daily.

About a week after Lisa’s family kicked her out her father and brother pitched up at home. Lisa’s elation that they were here to take her back was short lived. They pushed past her, barely ackowledging her, and demanded to see the man of the house. When nana emerged from the kitchen they immediately laid into him.

Giovanni Moretti was a large, strapping man, well over six feet tall. He towered over even nana’s tall frame as he stood before him, a large bulk of simmering fury. His loud baritone echoed throughout the house as he upbraided nana in his own house for something he had not even done.

“You stole my daughter from me! You sold her your pretty picture about your filthy religion and turned her into one of you! You think I am blind?? You think I don’t know what men like you do to innocent people?? Does my daughter know about how you recruit innocent young girls for ISIS as well?? Are you planning on doing that to her as well?? Tell me what you did!! Tell me what you told her to make her fall for your lies!!!” He screamed, his face red with anger, his hands clenched at his sides.

Nana stood calmly, unflinchingly in the face of his anger.

“Not a thing. Lisa chose to accept islam of her own free will. I simply answered her questions, answers which none of your priests possess. Maybe if your priests had been able to answer her convincingly enough she wouldn’t have searched for those answers in islam.”

Cazzate! What nonsense!! Maybe if she asked nicely the priests would have been willing to answer. But she’s always been rude, that one,” he turned on Lisa then, “you can stay here now. I do not want a sporco moslem in my house! And we will see how long these people also keep you for! I know that when a moslem turns away from their religion they behead them. Watch they don’t do that to you!” He sneered contemptuously.

I saw Lisa shrink back under the force of her father’s anger and my own anger boiled over.

“You say we “behead” people for turning away from islam, which we don’t even do, but how is that any better than what you’ve done?? You’ve disowned your own daughter for choosing a religion different to yours?? Who looks more barbaric right now, us or you???” I spat at him, looking him right in his beady little eyes.

Giovanni took a step towards me, his anger even more apparent at my insulting words. I have no idea what would have happened if Lisa hadn’t sprung forward at the same time that Dominic pulled his sleeve, checking him mid-step.

“Papa, let’s go. We need to leave now.”

“You watch your mouth, girl! One day your words will come and bite you in your face!” Giovanni snapped, stomping off in anger. He turned back at the door to fire his parting shot.

“I’ll be watching you,” he told nana ominously, “one wrong move and I’ll report you to the authorities! So be very careful about what you preach and do!”

Nana simply inclined his head, almost mockingly. “You do that. Whatever makes you sleep at night.”

I stifled a burst of laughter at Giovanni’s dark scowl. He hurled one last loathsome look at me and nana before stalking away, his son in tow.

And that was that.

Part 112


“Let me start from the beginning. Hi! My name is Lisa Moretti,” the girl stuck out her hand, her mouth curving into a warm smile. I smiled back and shook her hand, my earlier reservations dissipating.

“I’m Fazila Bhayat,” I replied.

“Okay, uhmm, I wanted to ask you something. I’m sure you saw me back there,” she jabbed her thumb behind her. I nodded in agreement.

“I wasn’t happy with the way my friends were harassing that poor guy but I got dragged into it against my will. But now I’m glad I did because I got to hear what you said to them. And it got me thinking, you know…about islam.”

“I see…what about it?” I asked with a smile.

“Everything. I’m a born Christian but lately I’ve become fascinated about islam. And when I heard what you said back there I thought you would be a good person to ask about it.”

“Yeah, sure. Go ahead,” I replied while hoping against hope that I knew the answers to her questions.

At first it wasn’t so bad. I explained my limited knowledge of islam to her, telling her how our beliefs were similar in that we both believed in one God. The part where we differed was where she believed that Jesus is the son of God and we believed that he was the messenger of God.

But after a while her questions stumped me. So with great embarrassment I offered to take her to nana instead.

“I’m so sorry, Lisa,” I said, my face reddening, “I do know what islam teaches us but when it comes to comparing it to Christianity I’m afraid I know very little. But my grandpa is a scholar. He will be able to answer your questions much better. Would you like to accompany me home now?”

“Okay, sure,” Lisa replied, getting up. She went to her own car which was parked close to mine and followed me home. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw nana’s car parked in front of the house.

“Nana!” I called out after seating Lisa in the lounge. I went upstairs to look for him and a moment later he emerged from his room.

“Jee beti, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing is wrong. Nana, I’ve brought home a friend who is interested in learning about islam. I don’t know the answers to her questions so I thought you can answer them instead.”

“Aahh…okay, where is she?”

“She’s sitting in the lounge.”

Nana nodded and we went downstairs. I sat next to Lisa while nana stood in the doorway, his body half turned away from Lisa. He kept his gaze trained on the window as he asked Lisa about herself and her religion, which she duly replied to.

“So you believe in the trinity, am I right?” Nana asked.

“Yes,” Lisa replied.

Nana then went on to explain how we believed that Jesus was a messenger sent by God, not his son. Nana had knowledge of what was written in the Bible as well so he quoted verses from there to prove that Jesus was not God but actually a human being just like us. By the end of nana’s dawah Lisa was silent. She seemed deep in thought so we let her be. Nana asked her if she would like to know anything else, to which she replied with a preoccupied, “no.” Nana left us then, saying he had to go to the masjid.

“Your grandpa is so wise!” Lisa blurted out after a few minutes of silence, startling me.

“Yes, he is,” I smiled.

“He made me look at my religion and islam in a whole new light. This trinity has never fully made sense to me anyways but I was taught to just accept everything without question. But what your grandpa said made so much of sense. Islam makes so much of sense…”

“Yes,” I replied again.

“He actually had answers to everything I asked him, you know! Did you see how many questions I threw at him? He answered all of them so calmly and confidently. There’s been times before when I’ve questioned my priest like that. He didn’t know how to answer me I think and instead chose to get offended that I dared to question such things. He told my parents as well about how I was being so bold as to actually question him on such holy things and I ended up getting lectured by my parents as well and told that I must listen and accept and not keep asking questions!” Lisa said all at once then paused to catch her breath. I smiled encouragingly at her and waited for her to continue.

“That’s why I liked your grandpa so much. Not only was he willing to answer my questions but he had the answers to them as well.”

“Yeah, usually when people don’t have answers they shift the focus onto something or someone else,” I commented.

“Yeah, exactly!” Lisa was quiet again for a while then she turned to me, “can I…that is…can I ask you for a huge favour?” She asked hesitantly.

“Yeah, sure. Go ahead!” I replied.

“Can I come spend the weekend with you? Kind of like a sleep over? You can say no,” she added hastily when she saw the look of surprise on my face, “I’ll totally understand.”

I held up my hand and laughed. “Relax, Lisa. You just caught me off guard. Do you mean you want to sleep over for the weekend?”

“Yeah. I basically want to spend my whole weekend here. I’m quite inclined towards islam at this point but I still have like a million thoughts running through my head and it’s so confusing. This isn’t a small decision to make and I need time to think it over. And I want to spend that time here. Not at my house.”

“Sure, no problem,” I replied, “I don’t mind at all.”

Lisa got up and gave me a hug before saying she would be back with her clothes. I updated nani on what had happened and she was more than happy to keep Lisa with us as she found her way to the truth inshaAllah.

Half an hour later Lisa was back with a small bag.

“The hardest part was telling my parents where I’m spending the weekend and why,” she said, dumping her bag on the floor of my room. I had brought in a mattress from the spare room so that we could share a room, “I had to lie to them and I felt so bad about it. But they would never have allowed me to come here if I’d told them the truth.”

I took Lisa down to meet nani after a while and nani took an instant liking to her. Nana ate early then went to the lounge while we ate.

After supper Lisa and I sat cross legged on my bed and chatted for hours, getting to know each other fully. I learned that she was Italian, from a staunch Christian family and only had one brother, Dominic. I told her about my parents, Hanifa and Adnaan. She smiled.

“It must be so nice to have a sister. I really wish I had one at times. Brothers are in their own world most of the times, you know.”

“Yeah, it’s nice once you get over the annoyance of having a pesky twat stealing your clothes and sharing your space,” I replied laughingly.

Lisa spent the whole weekend at my house. I called Khadija over the next day, which was a Saturday, and introduced her to Lisa. I had already briefed her on what had happened on WhatsApp so she was familiar with Lisa’s story. We went out shopping then to eat at an Indian restaurant. Lisa loved the food though.

“Your spices beat ours any day,” she said around a mouthful, “this is spicy but so tasty!”

“I don’t know about that!” I said with a laugh, “I love italian food as well.”

After eating Lisa dragged us to a skating rink not far from the restaurant, insisting that it was an experience worth trying.

“You mean you’ve never tried to skate before?” She shot me a look of horror. Khadija had skated before so she was spared the censure.

“No, I come from sunny Africa, remember? Only rain and shine there, no ice and snow!” I grinned.

“But you’ve been here for how long now, three years? And you’ve never even tried it??”

“No, because it looks too scary,” I replied, eyeing the rink with trepidation, “I don’t wanna break any bones, thanks.”

“Oh, come on! Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it,” Lisa dragged Khadija and I over, made us wear skates then led us out to the rink. Khadija was as reluctant as me because she wasn’t that good and had also suffered a few injuries before.

I tried, I really did. I held on to Lisa at first, refusing to let go, till she firmly set me away from her and told me to go for it. I managed a bit before flying off my feet and landing in an ungainly and painful heap. After a few more failed attempts I was done.

“That’s enough for today, I think!” I gasped, holding onto the edge, “I’m done!”

Khadija and I hobbled out of there, groaning at our bruised joints while Lisa laughed and awwed at us and told us that this was how we would learn. It had been a good  experience though and one I wouldn’t mind trying again. Though not until my poor joints stopped protesting at the injustices I had afflicted on them!

On Sunday Lisa and I just relaxed at home. We woke up late, though Lisa had woken up when my alarm for fajr had gone off.

“That’s my call to prayer. Don’t worry, you can go back to sleep. I’ll join you in a bit,” I said, heading for the bathroom.

Lisa was awake though when I came out after making wudhu. She watched me pray then lift my hands in dua after salah. I smiled at her after I was done.

“I have to pray my quran now. Our bible. I’ll be back in a bit, okay?”

“Where are you going?”

“Downstairs, so that I don’t disturb you. You can go back to sleep if you like.”

“No, you can pray here. I don’t mind. I would like to listen to you actually.”

“Okay,” I acquiesced with a smile. Sitting down cross legged on my musalla I closed my eyes and started reciting my daily portion of the quran. As usual I lost myself in it, the beauty of the words enveloping me even though I could not understand them. I only became aware of Lisa’s silent presence next to me once I had completed and opened my eyes again. I found Lisa staring at me with an awestruck look on her face.

“Wow!” she breathed, “that was so beautiful and touching…I have no words to describe it…what did it mean?”

I looked down in embarrassment. “I don’t know,” I replied, “I don’t understand arabic.”

“But you were praying from memory! How is that possible if you don’t understand the words?”

“That’s the beauty of the quran,” I smiled at her, “Allah has given us the ability to memorise it without understanding it. We cannot do that with any other book.”

I guess that might have been one of the things that inclined Lisa more towards islam. I couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment she made her final decision but she announced it after dinner on Sunday.

“Fazila, Uncle Hammaad, Aunty Hafsa…I think it’s time.”

We all turned to look at her…except nana who kept his gaze averted as always. But it was he who asked her what she meant. Her reply shocked us into silence for a few moments, then filled us with euphoria so intense, it felt like we would burst from it.

“I want to become a Muslim.”

“Subhanallah!” I was the first one to utter the joyful exclamation, with nana and nani’s voices echoing over mine. I closed the space dividing Lisa and I with a single leap and threw my arms around her, hugging her out of the sheer joy that I was feeling.

Nana proceeded to recite the shahaadah loudly and clearly with Lisa repeating after him, while nani and I listened in silence, tears rolling down our cheeks. And then it was done; Lisa was a muslim. Her slate of deeds was wiped clean and she was like a new born baby all over again. Such is the beauty of islam and such is the mercy of Almighty Allah.

The difficult part came after that. We basked in the newfound bliss of the moment for a while, but all too soon I noticed the happiness fading slowly from Lisa’s face, only to be replaced by a nameless apprehension.

“What’s wrong, Lisa?” I asked softly.

“I have to face my parents now,” Lisa raised troubled eyes to mine, “I don’t think they’ll take the news well. They are too firm in their beliefs…and they don’t really like islam,” an embarrassed flush stained her cheeks.

I felt sorry for her. It couldn’t be easy going against everything you believed in from birth and everything that your family firmly believed in as well. It had to be a daunting task to say the least and I hoped against hope that Lisa’s family would adjust to the change…for her sake.

“It won’t be so bad, I’m sure,” I said, more confidently than I felt, “pray first and ask Allah to help you. Allah will make everything easy for you inshaAllah.”

I guided Lisa through the motions of making wudhu and ghusl and praying salah then she packed her bag and left, saying she would rather get it over and done with as soon as possible.

I saw her off at the door, silently praying for her as I watched her drive away.

Part 111

I opened my eyes slowly to bright daylight filling my room, then stretched luxuriously and rolled out of bed, my feet hitting the carpet lightly. Summer was slowly but surely creeping in and the weak sunlight streaming in was such a welcome change after months of cold, fog and snow. I grabbed a pair of clothes and my towel and headed for the shower.

After showering and combing out my hair I checked the time. Ten thirty. Normally I would have been rushing like mad by now to get to campus on time, if I wasn’t already there, but today I only had a couple of lectures in the afternoon so I was taking it easy.

An appetising aroma wafted out from the kitchen as I took the stairs two at a time, causing my stomach to rumble.

“Mmmm, nani, something smells deelish!” I declared, sniffing the air dramatically. I went over to where she was flipping something like pancakes onto a plate next to her, “are those pancakes? They don’t smell like them.”

Nani smiled over her shoulder. “You’re finally awake! I was wondering if I would have to wake you up for zohr salah.”

I laughed just as my stomach rumbled loudly again.

“Here, warm up the tea again. And take some of these parathas to eat now. The rest are for lunch.”

“Parathas?” I perked up at the mention of that, “are these aloo parathas?”

“Yeah, they are.”

“Ooh, yummy!!” I loved nani’s aloo parathas, with their spicy and lemony potato filling. I grabbed some and bit into one then hummed appreciatively, “nani, these are like mann and salwa! Straight from jannah!”

Nani laughed. “Tsk, can’t compare them to jannat foods now.”

“You know, making these parathas always reminds me of Ahmed,” nani commented after a few minutes, “that boy also used to love them so much. I used to make them more often then but if I didn’t make for long he would come and stand just out the kitchen door there, out of sight so that I wouldn’t have to wear my purdah, and he would say, “Appa, this house is lacking in some serious paratha barkat,” or, “Appa, this stomach of mine keeps rumbling for parathas, what must I do now?” Then Hammaad would come in and tell me I must make for the poor boy because he’s lissing so much for them,” nani shook her head and laughed, “sometimes I wonder if it was your nana who sent him here because he would also enjoy the parathas so much. He would laugh and say, “Ahmed ka naam aur hamara kaam.” ”

I found myself smiling involuntarily at the thought of Ahmed joking around with my grandparents. He must have been quite close to them to be that free with them.

“Haven’t made them for long now,” nani was saying, “I’ll have to make them again and tell your nana to call Ahmed over to come have them.”

I stuffed myself with parathas and tea, then had some again for lunch before going to fetch my bag. Nani was in her room when I was leaving and I made salaam to her then went downstairs. I was passing the kitchen when a thought struck me. I quickly went in, removed a small ice cream container from the cupboard and stuffed a few parathas inside before shoving it in my backpack. I drove to campus, reaching just in time for my lecture.

By the end of the first lecture I was regretting my impulsive decision. Who knew that parathas would emit such a smell, even from inside the container and inside my bag? I had received a few looks when I had opened my bag, much to my embarrassment. I guess I was a true indian today, emitting strong masala smells for the world to behold!

As soon as the lecture ended I decided to find Ahmed there and then and give him the container so that I wouldn’t have to walk around with it for another few hours. I had an hour till my next lecture so I walked over to where Ahmed and Zul usually hung around. They were sitting at their usual spot and smiled at seeing me approach them.

“This had better be worth it!” I declared as I reached them. I sat down opposite them on the grass.

“What?” They were looking at me in confusion now.

“This!” I removed the container from my bag. Zul’s face lit up.

“Ice cream?”

I laughed. “You wish.” I opened the container and Ahmed’s face lit up.

“Are those aloo parathas? Please tell me those are aloo parathas.”

“Fine, I will. These are aloo parathas,” I grinned at him and dumped the container in his hands then turned to look at Zul’s crestfallen face with a smirk, “awwwh, don’t feel so bad, man. Us indians like to fill up ice cream containers with our curries and stuff. It’s our speciality.”

“What a let down! Here I was thinking I would get to dig into some nice, cold ice cream!” Zul said dramatically, “fine, now let me taste these parathas. Ahmed looks like he’s in jannat right now.”

Ahmed held up his hand. “Ey, leave me and my parathas alone. We have this relationship going on which is unbeatable,” he said around a mouthful. He turned to me and smiled. “Tell your nani jazakallah, Fadheelah. I really appreciate the thought. Haven’t had these in long now.”

“I brought you these, not nani,” I said, “she was telling me how much you like them so I thought I’ll get you some. She doesn’t even know that I took some for you.”

“I see. In that case, jazakallah. I really do appreciate it,” Ahmed flashed me another smile before he bit into another one.

“These are delicious!” Zul declared, “I’ve tasted aloo parathas before but none as good as these,” he reached out for another one but Ahmed swatted his hand away, “this last one’s for me, boet. Go find your own if you want!”

“I thought sharing is caring? Aren’t there so many rewards of sharing, maulana??”

“Yeah, I’ll share my chocolate with you, don’t worry. But leave my parathas alone,” Ahmed replied, covering the container and hugging it to him. I laughed and got up.

“I’ll be off now. I’ll come get that container afterwards, Ahmed, or nani will wonder where it’s gone.”

“Yeah, sure. No problem.”

A couple of hours later I made my way over to where Ahmed probably was again. I needed to grab that container before going home.

I was walking along when a small group of people to my right caught my attention. I looked curiously in their direction then stopped dead in my tracks, staring at the sight before me disbelievingly.

Ahmed stood with his back against the wall, surrounded by not less than five girls. I heard them flirting openly with him while he kept looking down and telling them to move. He looked annoyed and frustrated and at that moment my control snapped. I marched forward and stopped just behind the girls.

“My, my, what a sight! So many girls after one guy?? Is there really such a shortage of guys in this world??”

The girls turned to look at me in surprise. “Mind your own business, girl!” One of them snapped.

“When there’s open harrassment going on, it becomes everyone’s business,” I replied, giving them a hard stare, “you’ll can clearly see that he’s not interested! So why not go bug some guy who will give you’ll the attention you’ll are clearly crying for, instead of throwing yourselves at a guy who couldn’t care less? Are you’ll really that desperate??” I sneered, curling my lip contemptuously.

“Oh, please, what harrassment?” Another girl laughed sarcastically, “look at you,acting holier than thou! Like you’ve never had the hots for anyone before!”

I have the hots for the same guy you’re pursuing but unlike you I don’t cheapen myself by throwing myself at him!!!

The words “holier than thou”, though uttered sarcastically had a sobering impact on me. I realised that I was a muslim first and foremost and so were these girls; or most of them anyways. I had to bear that in mind and not utter hurtful words in my anger.

“Ok, look. I’m not condemning anyone here. We all do things we’re not proud of but let’s remember that we are muslims, please! We know what our religion teaches us, that is to avoid speaking to the opposite sex and to lower our gazes. Most of us don’t follow these laws of shariah but the least we can do is respect those that do, right?” I searched each of their faces in the silence that followed. I could see that my words were having an effect of them so I pushed on, “I know Ahmed and I know how much he tries to avoid girls as much as possible. Let’s not make it difficult for him to follow the commandments of Allah, please. The zionists are doing enough to bring us muslims down. Let’s not add to that. We need to unite and build each other up as muslims, not tear each other down. One ummah, remember?” I smiled then and some of them smiled back half-heartedly. The others just shifted on their feet and looked uncomfortable…and guilty. I decided to leave things at that and made salaam to them before walking away.

“Fadheelah,” his deep voice stopped me in my tracks. A moment later he caught up to me.

“Jazakallah. For supporting me over there. You have no idea how much it means to me.”

I raised my eyes to his face then caught my breath at the warm appreciation in his eyes as they rested on my face. I quickly looked away, trying to compose myself.

“It was nothing. Don’t worry about it,” I said with a wave of my hand.

“It wasn’t “nothing”. I keep getting pestered by girls, especially after I changed and stopped talking to them. They just can’t seem to understand that no means no. So it feels really nice when someone does understand and supports me like that. So many muslims also don’t get it, you know.”

“Yeah, I know. Unfortunately sometimes it’s the Muslims who don’t get it even more,” I replied, shaking my head.

“Yeah…anyways I have to go now. Here’s your container,” he handed it to me then made salaam and left. I stared at his retreating back for a few moments before turning and making my way to my own car.

“Excuse me.”

The soft voice made me stop walking yet again. I turned around to see one of the girls from the group that I had stood up to just a while ago, standing there. Uh oh. Now what?

“Yes, how may I help you?” I asked politely.

“I’d like to ask you something…”

Part 110-BASHIR

Life was good. Life was awesome. Life was exactly as I had imagined it to be. Going from the pits of a dead marriage to flying high in a blissful marriage was the best thing I could have asked for. It had taken a lot of time and patience but finally my life was on track and getting better each day.

And yet…life was not as it should be. There was still something missing, something that stopped my life from being complete and perfect. That something was my deen and Allah.

I was a born muslim of course, but like many other muslims my knowledge of islam was very limited and basic. I hadn’t grown up in a deeni household. My parents had sent me and my siblings off to madrassah and thought that they had given us all the deeni knowledge we would need. But it wasn’t enough. There was still a lot I didn’t know and suddenly I wanted to know more.

How did this desire suddenly crop up, you may ask? It was because of one person; Adnaan. Fazila’s brother and Zeenat’s lifelong neighbour.

Adnaan was a very quiet and reserved dude. I had met him several times, whenever Zeenat’s mum invited them over for a meal and called us over as well, or whenever I had gone over to his house with Zeenat. But each time he only spoke a little bit then kept his head buried in a book or his phone the rest of the time.

Until one day. I had met him at my inlaws house and started making small talk with him.

“Haven’t seen you for long, bru,” I commented generally, “what you been up to?”

“I went for jamaat,” he replied, more enthusiastically than he had ever sounded before.

“Ah, nice. How was it?” I asked since he seemed so hyped up about it.

“Oh, was awesome, bru! I only went for three days this time so didn’t get much time there but still. It’s just so peaceful, you know. No wordly issues, it’s just about giving dawah, talking to people about islam. We went to a rural area this time and the people there don’t know much about islam. It’s so sad how they don’t know how to make wudhu properly, can’t pray salah properly, they don’t know halaal from haraam. We sit content in our houses but we don’t know how thirsty the ummah is out there…” he paused for breath.

I listened in silent fascination, partly because it was the most I’d ever heard this guy speak and partly because what he had said was so touching in a way…it struck a chord deep within me.

“So what do you do? How do you teach them? Do you like take kitabs with you?” I asked.

“We take fadhaaile amaal and fadhaaile sadaqaat. We make talim there, we go for ghusht…that’s going from door to door giving dawah to them. We invite them to come for salah and talims. Then we try and teach them as much as we can. Like I said, the time is very limited and there’s so much to teach. But we try our best.”

“Ghusht sounds like those christians who go from door to door telling us about jesus,” I commented.

“Yeah, exactly! It’s just like that. It’s sad, isn’t it, that we sit in our houses content with our imaan and the christians are doing the job that we are supposed to do. They are going around and spreading their own dawah and so many people get convinced by them. I’ve even heard of muslims becoming christians simply because they don’t have sufficient knowledge of islam to know right from wrong. They are susceptible and since we are not giving them the beauty of islam they see beauty in christianity and start following them. Whose fault is that? Only ours, bru!” Adnaan heaved a sigh, “it’s only our shortcomings, nothing else.”

I stared at him, at a loss of words. Everything he said pierced me deeper than anything else ever had.

“That is terrible!” I said vehemently, “can’t people do something?? Can’t you get more people to come out and give dawah? We need more people to get this message further!”

Adnaan smiled. “Will you join us, bru?”

“Me?” I started in shock, “but I don’t know anything about islam. What can I teach anyone?”

“This is the same attitude that everyone has. Everyone thinks that they don’t know anything so they can’t come out in jamaat. This is why there’s very few people doing this work. Because everyone is waiting to be perfect before coming out. But that day will never come, man!” Adnaan slashed his hand through the air for emphasis, “we all can never become perfect. We keep learning new things till the day we die. This path isn’t for the perfect people. This path is for the flawed servants of Allah. This path is for sinners and pious alike. Even if you only know the kalima you should come out because there are hundreds of people out there who don’t even know that much. We come out like a piece of black coal, covered in sins and the filth of this world, then this work of tabligh polishes us and cleanses us of our filth. So come on bru, put your name down and come out with us next month. You’ll never regret it inshaAllah.”

I was still full of doubts but I agreed to let him put my name down. And it turned to be the best decision I had ever made. Going out in this beautiful path taught me so much about islam and made me value my deen so much. The state of the ummah out there was a real wake-up call for me and I realised that just sitting in our houses wasn’t enough. If we sit in our houses content with however much of deen we have then what will happen to the ummah who are thirsty for deen yet there is no one to pass it on to them?

Over time I learnt that there are three sections of deen; there’s tazkiya which is purification of the soul through the remembrance of Allah, there’s ilm which is acquiring knowledge and there’s tabligh which is inviting people towards islam. All three are crucial to our deen. One section can’t do without the other so if we want to perfect our deen we have to adopt all three into our lives. Like just acquiring ilm and purifying ourselves isn’t enough. Because if we only worry about ourselves then what will happen to the ummah out there who are dying without the kalima on their lips? Who will pull the ummah from the jaws of jahannam and set them onto the path of jannah if we don’t make fikr for them? There are so many muslims out there who don’t know anything about islam. If we don’t go out and teach them how will they learn?

I learnt this beautiful ayah of the quran,

كُنْتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ،

[Surah Aal-E-Imran, Ayah 110]

“You [true believers in Islamic Monotheism, and real followers of Prophet Muhammad SAW and his Sunnah (legal ways, etc.)] are the best of people ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Ma’ruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar (polytheism, disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden), and you believe in Allah.”

It is such a beautiful and thought provoking ayah of the Holy Quran. As one moulana mentioned in a talk, we are Khairul Umam (the best of ummahs) and we have been taken out for the people, meaning we should call people towards good and forbid them from evil.

The past nations only had one responsibility; to worship Allah alone and follow their deen. But our ummah has two responsibilities; that of worshipping Allah alone and that of calling people towards the true path as well. Our shaan (honour) is in giving dawah but unfortunately the people who have given their lives for this work are very few and far in between.

It’s high time we leave the comfort of our homes in order to fulfill this responsibility and in turn ensure a place in jannah, not only for ourselves but for the entire ummah inshaAllah.

And so our journey of reformation began. Zeenat had also begun attending talims and I could see the visible changes in her. She went into full time hijab and abaya at around the same time I started growing out my beard, swearing to myself never to touch a razor to my chin again. We supported each other on our journey and learnt new things from each other everyday. We started making talim in our house everyday as well and the barakah that filled our house from it was indescribable. Now, finally, our lives were complete as we treaded the path of total submission to our Rabb hand in hand…all the way till jannah inshaAllah.

Part 109-ZEENAT

“Zeenat? Come on, what’s taking you so long?” Bashir’s rapid footsteps could be heard in the passage before he appeared in the doorway of our room. I stuck my head out of the closet.

“Coming! I don’t know where my black pumps are!”

“Just wear anything, we’re only going to your parent’s house. And we’re already quite late,” he checked his watch again for emphasis.

“We’re not that late,” I disagreed, rifling through my shoes again. Where had I put them??

Just then my phone rang. It was my mum. I groaned mentally and answered it, putting it on loudspeaker so that I could continue my hunt while talking to her.

“Where are you, Zeenat?” Mum asked as soon as she had replied to my salaam, “what’s taking you’ll so long?”

“Still at home. Coming, we’ll be there in five!”

“Quickly, your daddy wants to start eating.”

“Yeah, be right there,” I hung up and turned to see a smirk growing on Bashir’s face.

“Don’t even say it,” I warned, knowing just what he wanted to say.


“Don’t say it!”


“I’m warning you…”

“So! Hah, said it! Ouch!!!” Bashir clutched his head as my shoe made contact with it solidly, “you pack a solid punch, ey! Don’t mess! Lucky that wasn’t a stiletto or else it would have pierced my brain by now!”

I burst out laughing at that. We acted like such kids at times but it felt so good! It had been so long since I had been so carefree and happy. Probably before Salim had passed away. So I absorbed every moment like this and made the most of it…

“Preparing for war?” Bashir cast a sidelong glance at my somber face as we drove to my parents house.

“Kind of,” I sighed and crossed my sandalled feet at the ankles. I’d had to settle for a pair of black sandals since I hadn’t managed to find those dratted pumps after all.

Bashir reached over and squeezed my thigh. “Relax. Don’t turn this into a confrontation, okay? Be calm and respectful. They probably have their own reasons which you’re not aware of.”

I nodded and stared out of the window. I would try to keep calm as much as I could. I didn’t have anything against my parents anyways. They HAD acted in my best interests after all and I was in a really good space right now. I wouldn’t change anything in my life at this point in time. I guess I just wanted closure. I wanted to know why they hadn’t told me of their true intentions and why they had let me carry on being miserable for months on end.

Bashir parked under the tree on one side and we made our way to the front door which was partly open. A mouthwatering smell of food hit our nostrils as soon as we entered. Mum poked her head out of the kitchen with a smile.

“Zeenat, Bashir, how are you, ma? Come sit down, the food is already on the table. Bashir, look how thin you gone! Is Zeenat not feeding you nicely?”

Bashir and I laughed. Mum had a soft spot for Bashir and always fussed over him. She kept an eye on him as we ate and made sure he had eaten to his fill.

After eating we all settled in the lounge with bowls of ice cream, talking about random things. I caught Bashir’s eyes on me a couple of times and nodded at him slightly. It was time.

“Mum, dad,” I began as soon as there was a lull in the conversation, “I want to ask you’ll something.”

“Jee, what is it, Zeenat?” Mum looked at me questioningly.

“Daddy…you did not just choose Bashir for the business, did you?” I asked, looking directly at him, “you chose him because you thought he would make me a good husband? And you didn’t talk to him about the business till we were engaged?”

“Yes, that’s right,” Dad replied.

“Then why didn’t you TELL me??” I exclaimed, “why didn’t either of you tell me what’s going on?? Why let me carry on thinking that Bashir was only marrying me for the business??”

“Is that what you thought?” Mum asked, furrowing her brows.

“YES! That’s why I didn’t wanna marry him! Didn’t you’ll see how miserable I was before the wedding? I didn’t wanna marry him, I only went ahead for your’lls sakes!”

Mum looked worriedly at Bashir. “Sweety…but you are happy in this marriage, aren’t you?”

“Yes, now I am. But initially I wasn’t happy. I pushed him away for months thinking that he only married me for the business. I made myself and him miserable for months due to this misunderstanding. That’s why I wanna clear the air here. I want to know why you’ll didn’t simply tell me that he agreed to marry me for myself! Then I wouldn’t have said no!”

“I thought you knew, Zeenat,” Dad finally spoke up, “we thought you were refusing because he was a divorcee. That’s why I kept pushing you. Because I knew that he would make you a good husband, divorcee or not.”

“The divorce wasn’t the main issue,” I replied, “the business was. How was I supposed to just know if you’ll didn’t tell me anything? You’ll saw how miserable I was before the wedding but you’ll still didn’t come and ask me what’s wrong.”

“Daddy’s right, Zeenat,” Mum said, “we thought you were protesting because he was a divorcee. That’s what you hightlighted on after he came to see you. You said you didn’t want to marry a divorcee. You didn’t mention the business.”

I sighed heavily and dropped my head in my hands. This was what happened when the doors of communication are not fully open all the time. Misunderstandings crop up, anger and frustration is directed at people without knowing their full story, quarrelling and playing the blame game becomes the norm…all because people aren’t honest and open with each other from the beginning. After seeing the lack of communication in my family before marriage and experiencing the benefits of open communication in my marriage I could not stress enough on the importance of it. I truly believed that it was the root of successful marriages and parent-child relationships. I guess I could learn a lesson from this on how not to be with my children.

“It’s ok now,” I told mum and dad with a smile, “Bashir told me everything and we’re really happy now alhamdulillah.”

“That’s great to hear, Zeenat,” mum replied with an answering smile, “and I’m sorry for not clarifying things with you.”

“It’s fine now, don’t worry,” I replied.

We left soon thereafter, popping over for a little while at Bashir’s mum’s house on the way home. Usually we ate at my parent’s house on Fridays and at my inlaws on Saturdays but my inlaws were going to Cape Town for a couple of weeks to my mother inlaw’s sister’s place for a holiday so we thought we would meet them before they left early the next day.

The smell of freshly baked biscuits hit us as soon as we stepped in, making our mouth water even though we had just eaten.

“Ma!” Bashir called as we made our way to the kitchen. A few seconds later Ma popped her head out, her face creased into a smile.

“Bashir, Zeenat, come in. Come have biscuits, they’re fresh out of the oven.”

“Yummy, ma, they smell divine!” I hugged her and sat down at the counter with Bashir.

We sat and talked for a little while, munching on the hot naan khatai before Naailah, Bashir’s sister, joined us. Naailah was Hanifa’s age but we got on really well. She was lively and very straightforward. Many times she blurted out things that earned her reproachful looks and reprimands from her brothers and mother but she would simply grin unrepentantly. I liked her honesty though. It was quite refreshing because you knew exactly where you stood with her.

Bashir’s family was really nice and sweet. His mother was soft spoken and very kind and I had grown quite close to her after Bashir and I had sorted our marriage out. His brothers were also very mischievous and they liked joking around and squabbling playfully with each other. They liked ganging up on poor Naailah but as tough as she was, she gave as good as she got. They were a close-knit family and one I was very happy to be part of.

All in all life was good alhamdulillah. However, certain things kept bothering me. Like I felt so guilty of denying Bashir his rights as a husband when we weren’t getting along. Talking to Faz had put things into perspective for me and I had realised that my lack of adequate islamic knowledge had led me to commit sins and earn the anger of Allah without even realising it. And so, the thirst and desire to acquire ilm (islamic knowledge) grew within me. I only had the basic knowledge of islam, what I had done in madrassah as a kid. But that wasn’t enough. As muslims as have to keep acquiring ilm. It comes in a hadith,

“Seeking ilm is fardh (obligatory) upon every muslim.”

I had become very lax in the past few years. I had stopped attending weekly talims and bayans of ulama. I had basically lost touch with my deen. I had been trying to perfect my dunya all this time but I had forgotten about perfecting my deen. But I had to start concentrating on my deen now.

From the very next week I started attending the weekly talims. And instead of only listening to bayans on marrige I started listening to other bayans as well. Maulana Sulayman Moola’s bayans and Maulana Yunus Patel’s bayans in particular touched me a lot. I also used to ask an apa who attended the same talim as me if I had any questions on any deeni aspect. Despite being just a couple of years older than me and having graduated recently she possessed a wealth of deeni knowledge and was more than willing to pass it on to me. Slowly, a friendship developed between us. Over coffee dates or relaxing at her house or mine she imparted many pearls of wisdom to me. It was after soaking up all this ilm like a parched man in a desert who has just found an oasis that I truly realised the value of ilm. There were so many people like me out there, who, despite performing five times salah and praying quran or making zikr, still fell into sin simply because of a lack of ilm. To learn that much ilm which would make a person aware of what is halaal and what is haraam is fardh. So we can never sit content and think that we know a lot because no matter how much ilm we have it’s too little. We should have a never ending desire to keep on learning and acquiring ilm.

Slowly, as I sat in the company of the learned and listened to their talks…as I drew closer to Allah as a result…as I finally worked up the courage to don the abaya whenever I went out; be it to a funeral or wedding or a holiday destination…my life became complete. Because as much bliss and happiness as we have on this earth, our life can never be complete if we don’t have Allah in it. We can never attain true happiness, of this world and the hereafter if we don’t place Allah above anything else; if we don’t make Allah our number one priority. The day we realise this and the day we put it into practice is the day we will attain ultimate success inshaAllah.

Part 108-ZEENAT

Assalamu alaykum lovely readers…

This post is packed with important lessons that I would like us all to ponder over and take home with us. So please, if you’ll want to read it, leave all your work (and family😜) on one side and read with a free mind. I know people are wondering why I’m taking so long to post but it’s because I wanted to send the message across the right way so it had to be just right…

Mummy, this one’s for you. I thought of you while writing this post😘

“Why are you reluctant to show me your body?”

I stared at him in bewildered embarrassment. What did he mean by that? Had I been more obvious than I thought?

“What do you mean?” I asked finally.

“I’ve noticed that you aren’t comfortable with exposing your body in front of me. So I’m wondering why. Is there something you’re not showing me? Do you maybe have a scar hidden somewhere…or like a burn mark or something…anything that’s stopping you from getting comfortable with me?”

I dropped my gaze to the ground, my cheeks burning with shame. How do I tell him that it’s my Fat, Flabby, Ugly body that I was trying to hide from him?? I knew that my body was nowhere near perfect. I had known it from childhood. It hadn’t bothered me then but as I entered my teen years, the comments from classmates and friends alike, the hurtful remarks uttered laughingly, the name-calling, “fatso”, “tubby”, “pumpkin” and the worst of them all, “bloated whale” had etched themselves into the crevices of my brain indelibly, making me horribly self conscious all of a sudden and hate my body so much that I tried to disguise the shape of it under loose clothes. I had tried numerous times to lose weight but each time I had lost only to bounce back to my normal weight a few months down the line. I guess it was in my genes since my dadi (paternal grandmother) and fois (paternal aunts) are all on the big side. Lucky Faaiza had gotten my mother’s slim genes while I had been stuck with the body from hell. Then with the grief of Salim passing away and with all the marriage drama that had followed I had lost weight drastically. But again that didn’t last, much to my frustration and I was fat again as usual. With added stretchmarks caused by the previous weight loss slashing my once-smooth skin and making me look even uglier than before.

It didn’t help that Bashir was built like a hollywood actor. Not only was he thin but he was fit as well and he was gorgeous on top of that. At first I was wowed by his looks but in retrospect this hadn’t been such a good match at all. My marriage was awesome, I wasn’t complaining about that but when it came to the physical aspect of things we were so mismatched that I didn’t know how he had even agreed to marry me. I had started dieting again and trying to walk everyday to lose weight but till then I had wanted to subtly avoid exposing myself in front of Bashir. Only I had obviously not been as subtle as I thought.

“How did you notice?” I asked, stalling for time…wishing he would just drop the subject and let me slink away into the shadows once again.

“It’s pretty obvious, love. You always insist that the lights should be switched off before getting intimate, saying that the faint light coming from outside is bright enough…you don’t ever change in front of me…you avoid having showers or baths with me…we’ve never been intimate during the day because you always come up with an excuse or think of something else to do…till date I don’t know how your body looks properly love, and I don’t want it to be like that. I want us to be open and free with each other and not hide anything from each other. I’ve bared myself to you and I’d like you to do the same with me,” his eyes probed mine gently.

“You can bare yourself, with the body that you have,” I muttered, looking away again, “if you had a fat, ugly body like mine you would be shy to expose it as well.”

Bashir’s mouth dropped open in shock. “Come again? FAT, you said??”

“Yes!” I exclaimed irritatedly, “FAT! And flabby as well, though you haven’t seen that. I need to lose weight and I have already started dieting. Just give me a few months then you can see my body if you want,” my eyes pleaded with his.

“Zeenat, you are NOT fat,” Bashir said firmly, “I don’t know where you got that idea from…”

“I am,” I interrupted forcefully, “look!” I whipped up my shirt so that Bashir could see my slightly protruding belly and wide hips, “and look!” I dropped my pants slightly to expose the stretch marks running along my thighs and butt. I knew I was doing the very thing I had sworn never to do, which was to show Bashir my body as it was now but I wanted him to see that I wasn’t exaggerating. Bashir’s expression, however, didn’t change.

“That isn’t FAT,” he emphasised, “you are not thin, granted. You are not skinny, thank God! But you aren’t fat,” he must have seen my incredulous expression for he came forward and held me by my shoulders, “by which standards are you measuring yourself? By those models who look like walking skeletons? Or by those hollywood actresses who think showing more bones than flesh is considered sexy? Or is it by those celebrities who have breast implants and lip suctions and butt inflations done just to sell the image to the world that to have such figures only is considered hot and any other body shape is ugly?? It’s all a gimmick, Zeenat, a gimmick that most of us are falling for. But who said only skinny is hot? And any extra flesh is ugly? Did you know that arabs and Somalians consider chubby people beautiful? Meaning fat by our standards but to them that is attractive. So hollywood isn’t the only yardstick by which we can measure ourselves. Being underweight is actually as harmful as being overweight. And you’re nowhere near overweight so I don’t see why you think that you’re fat. You’re not! You’re beautiful and I love your body! It’s perfect!” There was no mistaking the sincerity in his eyes and in that profound moment all my insecurities and sense of inadequacy melted away. I jumped into his arms and buried my head in his chest, trying to hold back my tears. I hugged him tightly, wondering what I’d done to deserve such a brilliant husband. Bashir’s arms wound around me and he kissed the top of my head, rubbing my back soothingly. After a few minutes he moved back slightly, keeping me in the circle of his arms.

“So, I think I should go take that shower now. It’s getting late,” he said meaningfully. This time I understood the implication behind his words…and I accepted.

“Leave the door unlocked,” I replied, my pink cheeks belying my casual expression. My blush deepened as Bashir’s face broke into a smile.

“That’s more like it!” He grinned and walked away, calling over his shoulder, “don’t be too long now!”

I bit back a smile and walked over to my walk-in closet. I rifled through all the modest pyjamas in front till I came to the slinky lingerie hidden at the back. I pulled one out and scrutinised it, my cheeks getting even hotter at the image of me wearing something so revealing. Then I shook my head resolutely. There was no hiding anything anymore…

I honestly felt that letting go of even that small reservation with Bashir drew us even closer as a couple. I became a firm believer in being open and honest with him at all times and he was the same with me. I also tried to keep the spark alive in my marriage. In the beginning things are very rosy and lovey-dovey but it doesn’t always remain like that. After some time couples get into their own routines and the novelty of being married starts wearing off. If couples don’t put in an effort to keep the spark alive the marriage soon becomes boring and monotonous. I didn’t want that so I started reading articles and listening to bayans (lectures) on marriage. One thing I read was that wives should welcome their husbands home dressed up nicely, with warm, welcoming smiles, and let him relax fully before bringing up any negative issue that they may have had during the day. It said that husbands come home tired and the last thing they want to see on entering their homes is a moody, annoyed wife. So put your issues aside for a little while and let him unwind first.

That is what I started doing. I made sure I cooked and finished other household chores before Bashir came home. Then I bathed, changed into clean clothes, applied some light makeup and sprayed perfume on myself. I didn’t want to be one of those ladies who hung around in garlicky sameeras all day and only dressed up when they went out. I wanted to dress up for my husband, not for strangers who don’t give two hoots about what I’m wearing. I made sure I welcomed Bashir home with a smile and kiss each day and I had no idea of just how much he appreciated this little extra effort on my part.

There were other little things that I did as well which wasn’t even extra effort on my part since I thought it was what everyone did anyways…like making sure Bashir got a hot meal as soon as he freshened up after getting home. I remember my mum alwaya telling Faaiza and me, “a hungry man is an angry man. Remember that. Always give a man hot food on time and he will become your slave.” These words had been further ingrained in me on seeing my dad getting annoyed whenever mum delayed in dishing out the food. So even if I had gone out somewhere I tried to get home before he did so that I would be there to welcome him when he got home and we could eat together. I made it a habit of eating with him in one plate and sharing the same glass as well because I had read somewhere that it increases love betweeen couples.

I did all this without much thought to it when one night Bashir laid his hand over mine as we sat down to eat.

“Zeenat…I just want to say jazakallah for everything you do for me. I really appreciate it.”

I smiled at him, slightly puzzled. “Ameen…but…I don’t really do anything for you.”

“Of course you do!” Bashir stared into my eyes and I felt butterflies erupt in my stomach yet again, “the way you’re always here to welcome me when I come home. The way you make such nice food for me. The way you care so much about my happiness. It feels so nice, you have no idea!”

My heart warmed at his sweet words. I smiled and placed my hand on his cheek. “I’m glad you notice and appreciate all that. I know of so many men out there, my father being one of them, who take all these little things for granted. They expect their wives to just do it because it’s their job. It feels so nice to be appreciated.”

“After coming home to a cold, empty house and having to order takeouts almost every night for two years I can never take all this for granted,” Bashir replied, “I know the difference, I have seen the bad side of marriage so I appreciate you and this marriage all the more because of it.”

And that is when I fully realised that the stigma attached to divorcees and widows or widowers is purely nonsensical and stems from nothing but ignorance and lack of experience. I felt ashamed of my earlier reservations of marrying a divorcee when now, given the choice, I would never choose any single, eligible man over Bashir. Bashir surpassed them all by far and in my opinion, what made him stand out from other men was his experience of a previous marriage. Like he said, he saw the bad side of marriage and he learnt bitter lessons from it. He was trying his utmost to make this marriage completely opposite from his previous one and he appreciated the little things that I did for him that a single man wouldn’t have. So divorcees and widows or widowers aren’t bad. They aren’t second best and they aren’t used goods astaghfirullah. They are just as good as any of us and in some instances they make even better matches than us. Their experiences shape them and mould them into better people. Instead of shaming them or staying away from them due to unfounded mistrust, treat them like any other person. They have been through trials that we haven’t, they don’t need our judgements and comments to add to it all. After all, the best human being to walk this earth, my beloved Nabi S.A.W himself married divorcees and widows. Only one wife of his, Aisha R.A. was a virgin. The rest had all been married before. If they were not good enough then why would Allah decree his beloved messenger to marry them? Are we saying that they were good enough for him but they’re not good enough for us?

In the times of the sahabah nikah was so easy that zina was difficult. Nobody stayed without spouses for long. If their spouses passed away or they got divorced they would remarry within a short period of time. The sahabah found nothing wrong in it because islamically there is nothing wrong. In our times, due to our ignorance and lack of appropriate knowledge we shun these people. So nowadays zina has become easy because nikah has become difficult.

It’s time to revive the lives of the sahabah yet again. It’s time to know what is really wrong islamically and what is just baseless notions steeped in culture. It is time to start making nikah simple once again…so that zina becomes difficult and far removed from our lives.

So some people might be wondering why I brought up the topic of thin and fat but countless youth have been taken in by this notion that the hollywood bodies are the only way to go. Any extra fat is considered ugly and such girls are taunted by other people which only drops their self esteem even lower. So to all the girls out there. You’re ALL beautiful. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes so embrace your bodies and be HAPPY with yourselves! You all are PERFECT!!!😘❤

Shoutout to my cousin who was partly the inspiration behind this topic. See cuz, I do listen to your “lectures”😜

Right, that’s all folks! I’m off now…


Part 107-ZEENAT

Apologies my lovelies for the super delayed post…but well,it’s a super long post so hopefully that will make up for the delay😉

My face was still burning with embarrassment after cutting the call with Faz. That crazy girl! I was going to kill her if I ever laid my hands on her! Putting me on the spot like that! And the worst part was that she was completely on point with whatever she had said and that only made me more embarrassed. I just hoped Bashir hadn’t taken her seriously.

“That friend of yours is crazy!” Bashir laughed, mirroring my thoughts.

“Yes, she is,” I replied, rolling my eyes and striving to sound casual.

“Was she right, though?” Bashir asked softly. I raised my eyes to see him looking at me so intensely it took my breath away.

“Uhmmm…” I squirmed, wondering what to say. Yes?? Or lie and say no when there was a possibility that he did like me back as well??

“Why don’t you tell me everything?” I asked instead, “it seems like I don’t know a lot of things.”

“Okay, sure,” Bashir shifted on the bed and his thigh brushed against mine. I sucked in my breath then hoped he hadn’t noticed my reaction.

“Where do you want me to start?”

“From the beginning, please. From the day my father approached you.”

Bashir nodded and started relating the events leading up to the wedding to me. I listened in disbelief and growing anger as he went on. Anger at my father for duping Bashir and for not telling me the whole truth. Why, though?? He had actually gone about it the RIGHT way so why hadn’t he told me anything?? Why had he let me continue thinking that Bashir was only marrying me for the business?? And because of HIS silence and lack of communication I had made Bashir pay. I had made him pay when it hadn’t been his fault in the first place…when he had been as innocent as me in this whole issue.

Guilt slammed into me hard and fast as I heard how Bashir had pinned all his hopes on this marriage after his last one had failed miserably. A huge lump formed and grew in my throat as I thought of my pathetic treatment of him all along. Tears of shame, of guilt and self-loathing rolled down my cheeks as I put myself in his shoes; as I imagined him coming home day after day to a silent house and cold wife; as I thought of him trying again and again to break the walls of ice surrounding me and me refuting him on each turn; as I thought of myself shutting the door in his face night after night as though he was an intruder in his own house; and yet he kept trying. He had no idea why I was behaving that way and he knew he hadn’t done anything to deserve such treatment, yet he still kept trying to win me over. And not once had he lost his cool with me, till I had deliberately goaded him into losing his temper on the last day. Any other man would have lost his cool a long time ago and might have either walked out on me or forced me to bend to his will, but Bashir did neither of those things. He wanted me to soften of my own will and in turn how did I repay him? By behaving worse with him with each day that passed!

By the time Bashir finished his narration I was weeping into my hands, too ashamed to lift my gaze to meet his. I didn’t know how he could still like and want me after all I had put him through!

“Zeenat, don’t cry. Please don’t cry,” Bashir whispered, placing his hand on my shoulder, “look at me, please.”

I only shook my head and cried harder.


I finally raised tear drenched eyes to his. He touched his fingers gently to my cheeks, wiping away my tears.

“I’m sorry for making you cry. I was only trying to be honest with you.”

“There’s no need for you to be sorry. I’m the one who should be apologising for putting you through hell for so many months,” I said, drawing a shaky breath.

“You don’t need to apologise for anything, Zeenat. I blame your father for everything, not you. You were forced to marry me so you obviously wouldn’t take it with a smile.”

“But still…I should have told you why I’m behaving like that, not bottled it up and carried it around with me. We could have saved months of misery if only I’d been open with you from the start.”

“Don’t think about all that now,” Bashir replied, “leave the past in the past. It’s over. Let’s look at the future now. Are you willing to start over with me?”

I nodded emphatically. I opened my mouth then shut it again. Should I say it? Nah, how I can be so open already….aah, what the heck! Just say it! You can practice being honest from now…

“Faz was right, you know. I have already developed a crush on you so yes, I’m willing to take the risk with you…” and then I went beet-red, unable to believe that I had actually said that!

Bashir’s exclamation of joy echoed throughout the room before a sharp tug on my upper arms propelled me forward, sending me sprawling across his chest. I raised my gaze slowly to his face, caught sight of his wide smile and laughing eyes and forgot to breathe.

“I’ve been waiting all my life for you to say that,” he grinned impishly, “well, actually, I’m still waiting for the ‘L’ word but this is a good start.”

“I’m sure I’ll manage that soon enough,” I said demurely, trying to keep my face straight.

“So…shall we start over?” He whispered.

I nodded happily.

“Would you like to spend the night with me, Zeenat?”

“Yes!” I replied unhesitatingly, loving the way my name rolled off his tongue like a caress.

“Let’s go then, shall we?” He slowly let go of me and stood up, holding out his hand. I grasped it then gasped as he tugged on it again and in one smooth motion swung me up in his arms.

“Put me down! You’ll fall down!” I exclaimed. I was no light weight and I thought he knew that.

Bashir simply laughed. “You don’t see me falling over, do you?” He started walking towards his room…OUR room..carrying me easily. The last time I had been carried was as a child. It felt weird. And nice. He must be working out a lot to be able to carry me with such ease, I mused.

Bashir set me down gently on the bed and we made ourselves comfortable again before starting up a new conversation. We were so caught up in each other that we completely forgot about eating dinner…till Bashir’s stomach growled loudly. I immediately stopped talking and clapped my hand to my mouth.

“Oops! I totally forgot about eating!” I exclaimed, turning red in embarrassment, “why didn’t you say anything?”

“Because I forgot as well!” He laughed.

We made our way into the kitchen at close to midnight and whipped up coffee and a light snack for us. We carried the tray back to our room and snuggled up in bed, wrapping our hands around the steaming mugs and chatting late into the night. There was so much to talk about! We opened up fully to each other and explored each other’s lives and experiences through our narrations. Bashir even told me about Laila and his disastrous marriage. He kept his face and expression carefully blank as he spoke but I could sense the emotions buried underneath and I was able to guess exactly what he had gone through. I felt fury and anger rise up in me as I thought of that conniving witch and I clenched my hands, longing to punch her solidly in her fake, plastic face! And yet, if she hadn’t made a mess of her marriage Bashir wouldn’t have become mine. So she did me a favour after all!

“I’m sorry you had to go through all that,” I whispered, touching his face.

“If I didn’t go through it I wouldn’t have gotten you,” he smiled as though reading my thoughts, “so there was a silver lining in that cloud.”

We talked till the sky lightened outside and the time for fajr set in. Then we prayed salah together and snuggled up in bed again. Resting my head on his chest, feeling his strong heartbeat under my cheek, I felt a sense of peace and contentment descend on me, as though I had finally come home. I wished that I had known about this bliss and contentment from the beginning; then I wouldn’t have wasted months trying to push it away and denying myself the pleasure of loving this amazing man…

Things only got better as the days went by. Bashir and I spent as much time together as we could, to make up for the time we had lost. I went out of my way to be a model wife to him to atone for my previous coldness towards him and he reciprocated the attempts fully. Like one day I woke up to a tantalising aroma wafting into the room. I got up and slipped on my robe before padding towards the kitchen. Then I stopped and stared, a sense of deja vu filling me as my eyes landed on Bashir, an apron tied around his waist, flipping pancakes onto a plate next to him. He turned on hearing me approach and his face broke into a smile.

“I found out your favourite food, chocolate pancakes. So I thought I’ll surprise you with breakfast today,” he quoted his words from before, a twinkle in his eyes.

This time I didn’t hesitate. I took a running leap towards him and threw my arms around him, causing him to stumble backwards and making us land on the floor in a heap of tangled limbs.

I smiled down at him and leaned forward, planting kisses on his lips, cheeks and nose. “,” I said between kisses, “” I ended the sentence with a loud smack on his smiling lips.

“I really should surprise you like this more often,” Bashir commented with a grin, “you actually said the ‘L’ word to me!”

“Which you haven’t yet replied to,” I pointed out, pouting at him.

“I will reply in my own way. First let me up,” Bashir replied with a mischievous grin.

I got up slowly, eyeing him suspiciously. “How?”

Bashir slowly advanced towards me, a gleam in his eyes. I started backing up, looking at him warily. He stalked me step for step as I walked backwards from the kirchen to the lounge, till the back of my knees hit the sofa unexpectedly, causing me to fall backwards onto it.

Then he pounced! Landing on top of me lightly, he pinned my arms to my side with his arms and lowered his head. I caught a glimpse of his grin before he started tickling me. With his nose! At first it wasn’t so bad because he was tickling me on my chest where I wasn’t so ticklish. But just as I started grinning smugly at his failed attempt he moved lower…onto my stomach! Now my stomach was so ticklish it was a no-go area. You did NOT go there unless you wanted to end up with a bloody nose! I squealed and wriggled with all my might to get away from him but he had me pinned well under him.

“Noo…enough…please…enough…” I gasped after a while of this torture.

Bashir lifted his head slightly. “Say you love me again!” He commanded, starting to lower his head again.

“I love you! I love you, now get off me!”

Grinning, he jumped up fluidly. “I love you too, my pineapple!”

“Pineapple?” I sat up and scowled at him in mock affront.

“Yeah. All prickly and sharp on the outside but once I peeled away the cover the inside was so juicy and sweet,” he smirked at me.

I stared at him open mouthed, for once at a loss of words.

“Close your mouth or else the flies will get in,” reaching down, Bashir pinched my nose lightly then sauntered away, a satisfied smile on his face. I stared after him and shook my head. This man was incorrigible!

“Come have your pancakes, they’re getting cold!” Bashir called out from the kitchen.

“Coming!” I stood up and made my way to the kitchen, a smile still playing on my lips…

A couple of weeks later, as Bashir and I were getting ready for bed, Bashir turned to me.

“Are you going to shower as well?” He asked.

“Nah, I’m so tired. I think I’ll just bath tomorrow,” I replied. I waited for him to go in the bathroom before I changed into my pjs but he seemed to be doing something on his phone and taking ages to go. I was wodering if I should just go in the bathroom before him when he lifted his head and caught my eyes on him.

“You want something?”

“Nah, I’m fine. Just wondering when you’re going to have your shower,” I grinned.

“Oh, I’m going,” he looked at me then, pursing his lips contemplatively, “can I ask you something?”

“Yeah, sure…” I smiled at him.

“But only if you promise to be open with me.”

“I promise,” I said unhesitatingly. Bashir and I had promised to be open with each other always so I was sticking to that promise.

Big mistake! Always find out what exactly they’re making you promise for before committing yourself. I found that out the minute Bashir asked his question.

Oh, crap! How do I get myself out of this one???

Living life cloaked in modesty and islamic principles…