Part 248

Granada was beautiful and historical, with the pinnacle being the Alhambra palace. It wasn’t only a single palace but a palace, fortress and compound in one. It belonged to the muslim leaders before being conquered by Catholics. We toured the various palaces and gardens, taking in the beautiful scenery and view of the entire city spread out before us from the top of the powder tower or bell tower. It was beautiful and historical, reportedly built according to the description of jannah. It had lots of inscriptions like La ghaliba illallah with fountains and lush green gardens spread out everywhere. The Generalife which were the gardens adjacent to the Alhambra were stunning, a true architectural masterpiece. It was a series of large gardens with water features and plants everywhere. The sights and sounds were mesmerising and I could have spent hours there. We did spend quite a bit of time at the Alhambra and Generalife which took up most of our first day, after which we simply relaxed in our hotel rooms.

The second day we took another walk at Carrera del Darro, one of the most scenic walks in Granada, to the right of the river Darro. It was also quite a romantic walk and Humi wisely walked ahead of us with Numair, leaving us to stroll along behind hand in hand and just soak up the ambience of the place. It was crossed by two brick and stone bridge and ran between the river, the forest of Alhambra and the Almanzora. It was an old street dating from the seventeenth century and had many old buildings from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries including old Arab houses. It was also near Plaza Nueva, the oldest square in Granada, in the middle of the city. There were a lot of restaurants there so we stopped by to have a meal and just relax for a while.

And of course we visited the old Arab neighbourhoods of Albaycin and Sacromonte. It was like stepping into a different world, like stepping back in time. They were old districts with quaint, narrow streets lined with old, white Arab houses. We could see the Alhambra palace from there and from the most famous viewing point in Granada as well, the Mirador de San Nicholas. The views from there were panoramic, with the Alhambra and Generalife face to face, the city at it’s feet and the magnificent Sierra Nevada, the ski resort behind.

Scromonte was more diverse with Arabs, Jews, Spaniards and gypsies all living together. There were the usual houses and then there were the caves. I kid you not. They were proper caves designed as houses. We would have loved to stay there for the full historical experience but they had their music and dances going on so we didn’t.

On the third day Numair got sick so Humi refused to go anywhere but she insisted that we should carry on without her. Since we were in a pretty safe part of Granada we didn’t have any qualms about leaving her on her own. Grabbing the opportunity I told Ahmed, “let’s go to Sierra Nevada!”

We had only seen the ski resort from the viewing point of Mirador de San Nicholas. It was much more than just a ski resort though. It was a mountain range consisting of several small villages nestled in the hillsides which we could explore and take scenic pictures of. Since Humi and Numair weren’t with us we could hike everywhere and explore things more extensively. The villages were so quaint and historical and the views from the top were breathtaking! And of course, making the most of this opportunity to do whatever I wanted to do without limitations I suggested going to the Los Cahorros gorge. It had hanging bridges over the gorge, gorgeous rock pools where I unfortunately could not swim due to purdah reasons, waterfalls and tunnels to explore. It was an awesome, adrenaline filled day, just the kind I loved and we were exhausted but jubilant by the time we went back.

The next few days we relaxed and explored Granada at a more leisurely pace before moving on to Cordoba…

***

Cordoba… the Islamic capital of Andalus and the largest city in the world a thousand years ago…a beacon of light and development when Europe was still steeped in the dark ages…it had a whole lot of Islamic history as well. The grand masjid, though now turned into a cathedral was huge and magnificent, one of the most beautiful examples of Spanish Islamic architecture. It still had the old mihraab facing the qiblah. There could be no finer symbol of this golden age than the forest of columns and horseshoe arches that greet you upon entry, with their two-tone brick and stone pattern. There were 850 columns in total, and the effect of the sunlight that filtered through the hall was unforgettable, as was the Mihrab with its gilded calligraphy.

We took a walk along the Calleja de Las Flores, a narrow street full of pretty patios with pretty colourful flowers in flower pots which honoured the old Islamic tradition of patios set by the rulers of olden times to provide shade from the burning sun.

Behind the grand masjid or mezquita as it was called, was the Alcazar or Royal Palace though it wasn’t grand or anything, more like a fortress. The gardens were the highlight here, lush and sprawling with bright bursts of colour.

We took a walk along the Roman bridge at sunset, where we had the breathtaking view of the mezquita bathed in orange light against the evening sky. It was an ancient bridge-turned-walkway with historical significance.

The Calahorra tower was a fortification built in the time of the muslims as well. There was a nice museum there which told about the history of Cordoba under Muslim rule.

Then we went to Madina al Zahra…the forgotten city. It was built by the Muslim ruler AbdurRahman al Nasir and was the administrative capital of Andalus but only stood for sixty-five years before being abandoned and forgotten till 1911. It had been restored now even though not to its former glory but we took a walk through it nonetheless.

Our last stop of the country was in Barcelona. We spent a few days touring the city, walking along its promenade, going to the beach, visiting the urban market of La Boqueria and Park Guell, where we had panoramic views of the city from the parks terrace.

After spending a few weeks touring the beautiful country of Spain we were ready to move on…

***

I knocked on the door, my heart beating fast in anticipation. The wait was pure agony of suspense and I was hopping from foot to foot in my impatience…then the door opened and I found myself face to face with him. And as his face went from confusion to shock to complete disbelief a huge smile broke out across my face.

Home. I was home.


Apologies again for the long delay. Where time goes these days I don’t know. One week seems like three or four days man! And twice a week seems like every other day so you can’t blame me for not being able to post so often😉 ok jokes aside, I do try my best to post on schedule but life gets in the way sometimes. So bear with me, enjoy this post and drop me your feedbacks!

xxx


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Open Letter to the Terrorist

THOUGHTS INTO WORDS

You wanted to harm us but you sent our martyrs to eternal success instead

You wanted to weaken us but you made us stronger instead

You wanted to obliterate us but you were the means of so many people entering our beautiful religion

You wanted to divide us and show the world your hatred so that others can follow in your footsteps but you united muslims and non muslims across the globe who showed us the true meaning of compassion, empathy and solidarity

You wanted to terrify us into leaving our mosques and stop praying but you made our faith unshakable, made us practice our religion more resolutely and made our mosques fill up to the brim instead

You wanted to spread hate and division but all you managed to spread is love and unity

So thank you

Thank you for everything you didn’t accomplish and everything you had no…

View original post 176 more words

New Zealand, we are with you…

Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh…

Sorry for the delayed post…

Honestly speaking, I haven’t written a single word of the next post. My mind is consumed by the tragedy that has hit our ummah…the New Zealand shooting.

The news of the attack on Friday shook me to the core. Then I made the mistake of watching the graphic video in which the sicko murderer live-streamed himself shooting people in the masjid (I strongly urge everyone NOT to watch that or share it. Delete it. Make it non existent because his purpose was to blast it to the world and inspire others to follow his footsteps. On his fb account which has now been removed he was actually hailed as a hero and given the Nazi salute. That is almost as depressing as the shooting itself. So please, don’t make his agenda succeed but do the opposite instead.) That video messed with my head. I could not think about anything else the whole day and till now it haunts me. How can a person, a human being so calmly walk into a place of worship and kill other human beings so casually?? How can he murder dozens of people in cold blood and not feel an ounce of remorse over it?? Didn’t he think that they were people like himself! No matter how people look from the outside we all bleed red. We are all Humans! Where has humanity gone? Are we really living in such a sick, cruel world?? Those questions continued to pound in my head…and then today I came across this…

This was created by a non Muslim. This touched me so much. So we are not completely lost after all. Humanity is not completely lost. There are good humans out there just like there are bad ones. New Zealands community has been amazing, with muslims and non muslims alike offering shows of support and solidarity. This is what we need. More love and unity and less hate and division in this world.

So my lovely readers, pray. Pray for the victims and their grieving loved ones that they’ve left behind. And more importantly, take lesson from this. This should not be a temporary thing where we mourn for one week then its forgotten and we carry on with our lives. We should take this opportunity to better ourselves and become even better and stronger muslims. We should take this opportunity to unite even more and show the world that love will overpower hate any day. And we should realise that death can come at any moment and prepare for our own deaths and increase our a’maal to build our hereafter. I end with our universal greeting… wassalaam. Peace be on all of you xxx

P.S. I’ll try and post the new post as soon as I can inshaAllah

Part 247

We only spent a few days in Seville since there wasnt much to see and do there. The Islamic history also wasn’t as much but it was a beautiful city nonetheless.

We started our days with traditional breakfast in nearby local restaurants. Toasted baguette with a mug of hot coffee was so delicious and filling.

We went to see the Real Alcazar, the royal palace that was originally Islamic before the Christians gained control of it. We got our tickets and walked all over the terraces, going from courtyard to courtyard and surrounding ourselves in the lush greenery of the sprawling gardens.

At night we went to the Triana neighbourhood with its epic views over the city and its traditional streets. We went on Isabel II Bridge as well, quite a romantic and charming experience. We also went there during the day for a plesant riverside walk.

The next day we went to visit the Metropol Parasol, an enormous wooden structure in the old quarter of Seville. It’s apparently the largest wooden structure in the world. It was nice to walk to the top and enjoy the views of the city from there and the views at sunset were just gorgeous!

We also went to see the Giralda tower which was originally a minaret in olden times. Ahmed and I climbed all the way till the top though Humi declined and chose to sit outside and wait for us instead. The climb was worth it because we got to see the breathtaking views from on top and I got to snap pictures with the new camera Ahmed had gifted me a few days ago. The unusual part about the tower was that there were ramps leading to the top instead of the usual stairway. This, as we learned, was so that the muazzin who gave the adhaan could ride his horse to the top instead of climbing. Fascinating, right!

We also went to visit the Plaza de España situated in the Maria Luisa park. It had other squares and nice spots for walking around and relaxing as well. The park was lovely and pleasant with paths weaving around lush green lawns and ornamental ponds and tiled fountains dotting the paths. The body of the park was a large botanical garden.

After a few days we moved on to the coast… to Cadiz.

It was a beautiful coastal town. There wasn’t much to see apart from the lovely beaches and some museums and castles for the historic experience but the beach was more than enough for us so we ended up staying for a few days there, strolling along the promenade, relaxing at the quieter beaches where I could also take quick dips and enjoying the fresh and varied seafood cuisine.

From there we went to Gibraltar, a British Territory bang in the middle of Spain. Well, not in the middle…more like in a corner of Spain. This was a place loaded with history and beautiful and scenic on top of it.

We stayed at the Rock Hotel which, as the name suggested, was right on the Rock of Gibraltar itself. The rock was massive, a huge thing jutting out in the middle of the city. There were several ways to go up; hike up, for the very fit ones, which we were not. Drive up the narrow winding roads, for the experienced ones with a car which we didn’t have. Or go up by cable car, the safest option. That’s what we chose. The views on the way up and right at the top were stunning, blue water stretching out for as far as we could see. Reminded me of the Table Mountain, kind of. There were lots of monkeys at the top and not as cute and innocent as they looked! We had been warned that they were sly, quick things who could make off with our things in a flash so we should be careful. That was something we saw firsthand when we were nicely strolling along and admiring the views. We suddenly heard a yell. A woman was shouting and waving her arms about at a monkey who quickly scampered off, a peach handbag in hand.

“My bag! He got my bag! Someone get him!” She screamed. No one could do anything though because the animal was fast. He was gone in a flash, leaving the poor woman crying and wringing her hands in despair. After that we kept a death grip on our bags and belongings, even keeping an eye out so that the monkeys couldn’t pick our pockets.

The food and especially the traditional English afternoon tea at the Rock Hotel was lovely and we enjoyed it on the terrace overlooking the sea, munching on fresh, hot scones slathered in clotted cream and jam, slices of cake and sandwiches cut in small symmetrical triangles, and washing it down with hot, sweet tea.

There wasn’t that much to do in Gibraltar as well. We visited the Ibrahim al Ibrahim masjid, the moorish castle with the imposing tower of homage and went to the botanical gardens and a few other spots but apart from that we relaxed at the beaches which were of course lovely.

After a few days we moved on to Malaga, another beautiful coastal town with history. I especially loved visiting the old castles and seeing how the people of the past lived. Those times were so dangerous, with threats of attack and invasion hanging over their heads at all times. So their entire upbringing was different. Where we gave our children toys and balls to play with they gave their children bows and arrows and spears to learn. Where we made our children ride toy cars and bikes they made their children ride horses. The children grew up, not pampered and soft like us but hardened warriors who learnt how to defend themselves and their families from a young age. How strong, how brave they must have been and how weak they would find us if they had to come see us today!

The old Muslim castle of Al Cazaba was one such wonder. Powerfully built, it could be seen from miles and was huge and impressive. It had two sets of walls protecting the inner and outer citadel. The outer citadel contained the palace’s stunning gardens with fountains and gateways which the arabs built out of old Roman columns. Within the second set of walls was the palace and dwellings spread across three peaceful courtyard gardens.

Likewise was the Castillo de Gibralfaro, another imposing castle which looked even more warlike with lookout towers and ramparts. This castle was the scene of the pivotal siege in 1487, when the Muslims were finally forced to surrender their rule in Spain. They held out for three months in this castle before surrendering when they ran out of food. It was sad to imagine what could have been if Muslims were still ruling Spain and the Iberian peninsula and what it is now. How tolerant the muslims were when they ruled, where Jews and Christians also lived peacefully and safely without fear of their lives…and how conditions changed when Catholics snatched power from the muslims and rose to power, where muslims and Jews alike were forced to renounce their faith and accept Catholicism or be forced into slavery or exiled. Where is this history when muslims are maligned from all directions and painted as cruel murderers!

We visited the museum and market as well, though I rather missed the bright souqs of Egypt and Morocco! This was also nice though and we got some lovely fresh fruit, cheese, bread and honey.

We visited the Parque de Malaga…sounds posh right! However say it in English and it’s a park. Plain and simple. It was lovely and cool though under the broad, lush fronds of the towering palm trees and we had a lovely picnic there.

We also visited the museum of the famous artist Picasso since Malaga was his birth place. I wasn’t really the artsy sort and some of the paintings looked downright ugly to me but Humi was so she was much more interested in the displays. The only art I appreciated was food! I mean, at least it wasn’t something we could just look at but do nothing else with, right! At least we could enjoy it and savour it to the fullest and get some benefit out of it. So Humi enjoyed her artwork and I enjoyed my food, of which there was quite a mouthwatering variety. I’d never had as much seafood as I was having now but it was just so delicious that I could never tire of it!

The other thing I was crazy about was…no guesses here…the beaches! Of course! Luckily Humi and Ahmed shared my passion here so we took out special time to visit the beaches of Malaga as well. One of them, El Pedregalejo, was especially stunning and it was in one of the more trendy neighbourhoods which had some lovely restaurants as well so it was a real win-win for us.

We had a lovely few days in Malaga before moving on to Granada…

Part 246

I know, I know, I’d gone totally AWOL. The past few days have been so hectic and these posts need time and research. I’m a perfectionist so I refuse to post till it’s just right and I’m happy with it lol. So here it is, a nice long post to make up for the delay. I can’t promise when the next post will be. Might be before Monday if I have enough time or on Monday inshaAllah.

Enjoy and drop me your feedbacks. A lot of the readers have gone silent🤔 I love interacting with you’ll so come on, start commenting and make the comments section lively again!😁

xxx


He was a young Berber warrior, a new convert to islam and a freed slave who led the Muslim army comprising of three hundred Arabs and ten thousand Berber converts to Islam across the narrow stretch of water that separated Africa from Europe.

He was Tariq Ibn Ziyaad.

“Burn your boats,” said Tariq Ibn Ziyaad while addressing his small army after entering Spain through sea in 711 A.D. The order was instantly followed by his forces despite a huge army of opponents ready to attack them.

“My Dear brothers, we are here to spread the message of Allah. Now, the enemy is in front of you and the sea behind. You fight for His cause. Either you will be victorious or martyred. There is no third choice. All means of escape have been destroyed,” he thundered while addressing his forces before the battle began. The victory of Islam following the acts of valor, as well as piety, was imminent.

The army of Tariq crossed the stretch of water and Ianded at the opposite rocky area that till today carries his name, Jabal Tariq (Gibraltar).

King Roderic of Spain amassed a large force of 100,000 fighters against the Muslims. Tariq wrote to Musa Ibn Nusayr, the ameer of Ifriqiyah (Africa) for reinforcements and received 5000 cavalry men under the command of Tarif Ibn Malik (after whom Tarifa is named in Spain).

The two armies met in the Valley of Bekka, near Sidonia. The battle continued for eight days and ended in the sweeping defeat of the Visigoths who lived there. This was the decisive battle that opened the gates of Andalus for the Muslims.

The defeated Spanish army retreated towards Toledo. Tariq Ibn Ziyad divided his troop into four regiments for a hot pursuit. One regiment marched towards Cordoba and subdued it. The second captured Murcia and the third advanced towards Zaragoza. Tariq himself moved swiftly towards Toledo. The city surrendered without resistance. King Roderic’s rule came to an end in Spain.

Upon hearing the grand victory, Commander Musa Ibn Nusayr rushed to Spain with another large force of 18,000. The two generals occupied more than two-thirds of the Iberian Peninsula In rapid succession, Zaragoza, Barcelona and Portugal fell one after another. Later, the Pyrenees was crossed and Lyons in France was occupied. Spain remained under Muslim rule for more than 750 years, from 711 to 1492. In its swiftness of execution and completeness of success, Tariq’s expedition into Spain holds a unique place in the medieval military annals of the world.

Muslim rule was a major boon to local residents. No properties or estates were confiscated. Instead, the Muslims introduced an intelligent system of taxation, which soon brought prosperity to the peninsula and made it a model country in the West. The Christians had their own judges to settle their disputes. All communities had equal opportunities for entry into the public services. The Jews and the peasants in Spain received the Muslim armies with open arms. The serfdoms that prevailed were abolished and fair wages were instituted. Taxes were reduced to a fifth of the produce. Anyone who accepted Islam was relieved of his slavery. A large number of Spaniards embraced Islam to escape the oppression of their masters. The religious minorities, the Jews and the Christians, received the protection of the state and were allowed participation at the highest levels of the government.

As result of Muslim rule, Spain became a beacon of art, science and culture for Europe. Mosques, palaces, gardens, hospitals and libraries were built. Canals were repaired and new ones were dug. New crops were introduced from other parts of the Muslim empire and agricultural production increased. Andalus, as Spain was called by Muslims, became the granary of the West. Manufacturing was encouraged and the silk and brocade work of the peninsula became well known in the trading centers of the world. Cities increased in size and prospered.

Cordoba, the capital, became the premier city of Europe and by the 10th century, had over one million inhabitants. A Christian historian writes: “The Moors (Muslims) organized that wonderful kingdom of Cordova, which was the marvel of the Middle Ages, and which, when all Europe was plunged in barbaric ignorance and strife, alone held the torch of learning and civilization bright and shining before the Western world.”

Caliph Walid bin Abdul Malik invited Musa bin Nusair and Tariq bin Ziyad to Damascus. But when they reached the capital, the caliph was on his death bed. He honored them lavishly but he passed away soon after. Caliph Sulaiman succeeded him in Feb. 715 and he turned against the two commanders and deprived them of all amenities. Tariq died in Damascus in 720 in anonymity.

(Source: Arab News)

First on our agenda was Andalusia, a mere fraction of the former Islamic state of Andalus. It was like a big province in the south of Spain, closest to Morocco and with the most Islamic history. We landed in Seville, the capital city at night and went straight to our apartments.

After refreshing ourselves and grabbing supper at a nearby restaurant we chilled in our apartment again. I took this opportunity to make some much overdue calls.

We’d been so busy going around that I hadn’t properly talked to family and friends in ages! I kept getting messages saying I’d forgotten everyone so today was a good day to catch up and prove everyone wrong.

I started with my parents of course.

“Fazila! Nice to see your face again man, I’d forgotten what you look like!” Adnaan joked, peering over mum and dad’s shoulders.

I stuck my tongue out at him. “Same here, big bro. Not one phone call from you as well and I don’t know when’s the last time you even texted!”

“Ya because some people are too busy to talk to family now.”

“Oh please, stop making excuses! If you don’t call you can’t know whether I’m too busy or not!”

“Children, stop arguing,” mum said sternly. We immediately shut up out of habit then looked at each other and laughed.

“Faaaazzz! Finally seeing your face. Where you lost?” Han’s face suddenly popped up in front of the screen.

“She’s too busy touring the world to remember us,” Adnaan put in with a smirk. I shot them both a look.

“Shut it, both of you. Han, show me my niece,” and then I awwwwwed and oohed and aahed over my gorgeous niece who seemed to have grown wings in the past few weeks. She looked at me disinterestedly while I talked to her then wriggled out of her mother’s arms and was away like a bullet.

“Yoh, look at her go!” I said, laughing as I watched her crawl away.

“She can’t sit still now. I’m literally behind her whole day!” Han said with a sigh.

“So how’s things?” Dad asked.

“Lekker man! Though it’s like a whirlwind but it’s awesome! Now I realise how small our little corner is because it’s such a big world out here!” I said enthusiastically.

“You haven’t even seen the rest of the world!” Han chuckled.

“Nana is asking when you guys going to England,” mum put in.

I grinned. “That’s a secret, tell him.”

“You have to let them know, you can’t just pitch up. They’re old now,” mum said with a frown.

“We ourselves don’t know when we’re moving on. We never have our days set, we just take each day as it comes,” I said with a shrug, “and besides, we’re family. We’ll make ourselves at home there and sort ourselves out. It’s not like nana and nani have to run behind us. Chill mum,” I said with a grin.

I spoke to them for a while before hanging up with promises to call back soon. And then came the time for the less anticipated call.

“Do we have to?” Humi grumbled.

“Yeah, we have to keep in touch. They’re your parents,” I said gently.

Humi scowled. “They’ll just spoil my mood for nothing. Especially mummy.”

“Maybe she won’t this time. The time and distance may have made her introspect and soften up,” I said more positively than I felt.

“I like this. Being away from everyone I know, being in a completely different place with different people. No one knows my history, no one knows ME. It’s just so refreshing. I’ve cut off every single person from my old life except you two. Now you want me to open that can of worms again.” Humi looked annoyed with that idea…and something else…something that looked like fear.

“Come on. It won’t be that bad. You have to face your monsters sometimes, it’s actually better for your healing process and gives you closure as well. And with your parents, even if they’re the same you must keep in touch. Even if it’s just for two minutes. At least you’ll have done your duty.”

I dialled daddy’s Skype amidst Humi’s grumbles about bossy people which was definitely aimed at me. Ahmed was just smiling and shaking his head.

Luckily daddy answered on the third ring. “Humaira, Ahmed, Fazila. Nice to see you’ll. It’s been long,” he said, a big smile stretching across his face.

“How you, daddy? How’s things?” I asked after the formalities were over.

“Good, good, shukar. Quiet of course, without you’ll but we okay. And you’ll? How’s the travels? Where you now?”

“Spain,” Humi replied.

“Oh, nice. Been there once, long time ago. Which town, Madrid?”

“No, Seville.”

“Aah, nice. And where’s my grandson? Haven’t seen him as well in long. He must be so big now.”

“He’s sleeping…” Humi began then she seemed to change her mind, “let me check if he’s awake.”

He was, Alhamdulillah. Humi brought him in front of the screen, cradling him protectively in her arms. Daddy’s face genuinely lit up.

“Oh my. He’s so mashaAllah. Bring him closer, let me look at him nicely.”

They stared at each other in fascination, grandfather and grandson while we looked at both of them in amusement and pride. Humi was smiling as well when she saw the silent exchange going on before her. Then Numair let out a loud gurgle, breaking into a huge toothless grin and the spell was broken. Daddy laughed and touched the screen gently.

“He’s beautiful. He has your eyes, Humi, and Ahmed’s and your mother’s dimples. That reminds me, let me call your mother and Dalia. They’ll love to see you’ll as well.”

The mention of mummy darkened the mood. Daddy also noticed it and maybe that’s why he decided to share his other unpleasant news as well.

“And also…Mikaeel came to see me. He wanted to know where you and Numair were. Demanded to know infact.”

“Tell him to go to hell!” Humi spat out. Her arms tightened instinctively around Numair, who let out a squeak of protest.

“I told him I didn’t know and I’ll never tell him anyways so he must never come back. He shouted and threatened for a bit but when I didn’t budge he left, saying he’ll hire detectives to track you down because you can’t take his son from him. Empty threats I’m sure,” he added reassuringly, seeing Humi’s thunderous scowl, “you need bucks for that and I doubt he has that much. Anyways, let me call mummy. Wait,” he heaved himself up from the chair and walked out.

“I’ll die before I give my son to that bas****!” Humi said angrily, still clutching her son protectively.

“You don’t worry about that. Like daddy said he won’t be able to do that so there’s nothing to worry about,” Ahmed tried to reassure her.

Mummy and Dalia came then, right in time to see Humi still scowling darkly.

“Is this how you greet me, Humaira? After so long as well?” Mummy asked, raising her thin, shaped eyebrows.

“I was thinking about something else,” Humi mumbled quickly, “how you? And Daals? Howzit?” Her expression lightened when she saw her younger sister whose eyes were on Numair.

“He’s so gorgeous! And he’s gone so big and chubby! When I saw him he was so tiny!” She exclaimed excitedly.

“He’s a fatty bom bom,” Ahmed put in with a huge grin. Humi elbowed him hard and he burst out laughing.

“Yeah, he’s almost four months now,” Humi replied.

“You so far away. Not fair! I want to play with him!” Dalia pouted.

We laughed. “Oi Daals. Can’t even say salaam to your bhai huh!” Ahmed said.

Dalia grinned. “You look just the same. No big deal!”

“Oh, that’s how it is huh. Fine, I’m gonna eat all your nice lindt chocolates, wait.”

“Hey! Faz, post them to me before this greedy pig eats them all!” Dalia shot back.

Mum was quiet while we joked around with Dalia. Then she spoke up, her eyes on Numair.

“He looks a bit dark. Don’t take him out in the sun too much, Humaira. Keep him inside more.”

“He’s half black mummy, what do you expect??” Humi shot back.

“I know that! No need to rub it in. I’m just saying he looks a bit burnt and it’s hot there now so be careful!”

“Don’t worry, I make him wear a hat always,” Humi muttered in response, her scowl back.

“Ahmed, how you doing? You looking so mashaAllah now, your stomach is also coming out. You must be active there also, do something even if you are retired now. Don’t just sit and eat all day.”

Ahmed grinned, not the least bit offended. “Yes, ma’am. These two make me run around and carry all their million shopping bags so I’m active, don’t worry.”

“And you, Fazila? How you?” She asked, turning to look at me directly. I literally jumped, I was so not expecting her to address me directly.

“I’m well alhamdulillah,” I replied automatically, “and how you? You’re looking well.”

“I look after myself that’s why. Mustn’t let go otherwise you’ll age faster than your years. So how come you’re not getting pregnant now? Too busy travelling to think about having a baby?”

That stung. Ahmed jumped in before I could say anything. “That’s not nice, mummy. It’s not in our control.”

“I know, but come on Ahmed, some people don’t want the trouble of a baby while having a nice holiday. If Fazila falls pregnant it will be the end of your holiday and you know it. That’s why I’m just asking.”

“I’m ready to have a baby whenever Allah gives me. Make dua for us mummy,” I said, refusing to let the hurt overpower me. People will always talk and say the most thoughtless and hurtful things to us. However, how we responded to it was our choice. We could control whether we let their negativity affect us or let it slide and only absorb the positive aspects of life. I refused to let the negativity of one woman spoil the best days of my life.

The talk was mundane after that. After a while mummy left us so we could chat a bit more with Dalia before hanging up. We promised to keep her updated and send lots of pics. Ahmed felt so sorry for her at seeing her sad face that he said he would have fetched her to us if she didn’t have school.

“You see why I didn’t wanna phone her. She spoilt both our moods,” Humi said after we had hung up. I shook my head and smiled and said the same things I was thinking to her.

“People will always talk but we shouldn’t let it affect us. We have the power over that so we should try to do that much at least. We both need to grow a thick skin my dear, because we both will face lots of hurtful comments in our lives.”

“Hear, hear, Doctor Fazila!” Ahmed said with a mock salute. We laughed and that lightened the mood. Then there was Numair, babbling away happily, totally unaffected by any negativity in his life. He made us laugh as well.

So that was that! Social calls taken care of we could now concentrate again on exploring and creating more memories…

Part 245

Rabat, Fes, Tangier…

Those were the last three towns on our agenda.

Rabat, the bustling capital city of Morocco was beautiful with its mix of modern and historical sights. The beaches were just lovely, the ocean soothing…something I could never tire of.

Fes was more historical. We loved the historic beauty of it so much that we ended up staying there for a few days instead of just a day trip like we had originally intended. The ancient masjids, the Medina, the old buildings and architecture…it had a charm of it’s own.

And Tangier was another lovely coastal town with gorgeous beaches and other attractions. Called the gateway to Africa, it was a busy and colourful town.

We walked around cobbled paths of the Kasbah, admiring the scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.

We visited the Grand Socco where we walked along the narrow cobbled paths and visited the market stalls where we bought dates, dried fruit and other stuff, then relaxed over refreshing orange juice and fresh mint tea, idly watching the people pass by.

And of course there was the food. I took Ahmed and Humi especially to the cafes and restaurants to sample their goodies and enjoy the views.… olives…harissa…delicately flavoured fish…tagine…ending off with desserts like créme brulee and fresh strawberries topped with mixed nuts and a honey flavoured sauce. I was sure I’d put on a tonne of weight by the time we went back home!

We did a day trip to Chefchaouen one day. Called the blue city it looked ancient and exotic at the same time, with streets of picturesque blue and white houses, blue walled narrow pathways with colourful trinkets and bags hanging on the stalls. We wandered around the Medina, had a delicious lunch then hiked to the Rif mountains. We couldn’t hike all the way because of Numair and Humi, who was huffing and puffing in no time, but we reached high enough to take in some gorgeous views and snap dozens of pictures. The entire blue and white town lay spread out before us like a canvas. It was so amazing!

We wanted to go further on to Akchour but Numair started fussing so we left it. We went to see the small waterfalls in Chefchaouen where local ladies, wrapped in bright skirts washed their laundry and kids splashed around in the water. We chilled there for a while, dipping our feet in the water and sipping on fresh mint tea. Numair seemed to like the falls as well as he quietened down and started watching the scene before him with bright eyes. Ahmed took him and dipped his legs in the water. His eyes popped wide open then he let out a loud shriek of shock. Humi jumped up on hearing it, scowling at Ahmed.

“He’s a tiny baby, how can you put him in the water like that?? He’ll fall sick like that! Give him to me!”

Ahmed burst out laughing. “Let the laaitie have fun, man. He’ll get used to it just now.”

Sure enough he did, calming down and even splashing the water with his chubby little legs.

“He’ll toughen him up,” I laughed, seeing Humi’s resigned face, “mothers are always softer and more cautious with their kids.”

“Ya, he’s like a father to Numair. I’m glad. At least Numair will grow up with a male figure in his life.”

A father. The word stabbed me deeper than it should have. It was true. Ahmed was so good with Numair and the two were so close already that they were more like father and son. I could tell that having Numair around made Ahmed long for a child of his own even more, though he never said it out loud. It just made me feel worse than I already did though I knew it shouldn’t.

“He’ll have a male figure if you get married again,” I said to Humi, trying to change the topic and get hold of my emotions.

Humi’s face darkened. “Never!” She spat, “never again will I put myself in such a position again, where a man can use me, play with my emotions then walk away like nothing happened!”

“But not every man is like that…” I began.

“Oh spare me Faz. I don’t wanna hear it!” Humi started splashing her legs in the water vigorously, causing water to splash everywhere, some even on Numair who gave a squeak of protest.

“Now look who’s wetting Numair!” Ahmed laughed, turning to look at us. He saw Humi’s dark frown and moved his gaze to me questioningly. I shrugged. Ahmed raised his eyebrows but turned back to Numair without saying anything.

We prayed asr and maghrib then went back to Tangier. Last few days left in this beautiful country before we moved on…to another continent.

Part 244

By the time Humi and I reached Marwa’s house her front room was almost full. Ladies of all different ages were sitting on the carpet, with two ladies in front. The talim was similar to our own, with the two ladies taking turns in reading out ahadeeth from Riyadhus Saaliheen and another Arabic kitab. But then, after I thought the talim was over, Marwa stood up and made her way over to the front.

“We have two very lovely guests amongst us, all the way from South Africa. One of them is a mu’allimah so I thought we can give her a chance to speak today and we can benefit from her as well inshaAllah. Fazila, can you come say a few things please” she said in arabic. She tried to speak fus’hah for my benefit so I understood what she was saying. Before I could really register the words though everyone had turned to look at us and Marwa was waving me forward. I started to shake my head frantically. I didn’t have anything to say on the spur of moment and that too in Arabic! However Marwa and the other ladies didn’t take no for an answer and soon I found myself sitting in front, facing this room full of strange women and scrambling around in my mind for something to say.

In the end it was my knowledge of Riyadhus Saaliheen, made more fresh by teaching it for a while, that saved me. I spoke on ikhlaas, the importance of having sincerity in all our actions. I quoted the Hadith,

Umar ibn Al-Khattab reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

إِنَّمَا الْأَعْمَالُ بِالنِّيَّةِ وَإِنَّمَا لِامْرِئٍ مَا نَوَى فَمَنْ كَانَتْ هِجْرَتُهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ فَهِجْرَتُهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَمَنْ كَانَتْ هِجْرَتُهُ لِدُنْيَا يُصِيبُهَا أَوْ امْرَأَةٍ يَتَزَوَّجُهَا فَهِجْرَتُهُ إِلَى مَا هَاجَرَ إِلَيْهِ

Verily, deeds are only with intentions. Verily, every person will have only what they intended. Whoever emigrated to Allah and His Messenger, then his emigration is for Allah and His Messenger. Whoever emigrated to get something in the world or to marry a woman, then his emigration is for whatever he emigrated for.

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 54, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

How the hijrah (migration), one of the highest forms of worship in that time, was also not accepted in the case of the sahabi mentioned in the Hadith, simply because he did not intend the pleasure of Allah and His Nabi when migrating but he did it to marry a certain woman.

I spoke on tawbah, repenting to Allah before death overcame us and it was too late. I quoted the Hadith,

وعن أبي حمزة أنس بن مالك الأنصارى خادم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، رضي الله عنه قال‏:‏ قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏:‏ ‏”‏ لله أفرح بتوبة عبده من أحدكم سقط على بعيره وقد أضله في أرض فلاة ‏”‏ ‏(‏‏(‏متفق عليه‏)‏‏)‏‏.‏

وفى رواية لمسلم‏:‏ لله أشد فرحا بتوبة عبده حين يتوب إليه من أحدكم كان على راحلته بأرض فلاة، فانفلتت منه وعليها طعامه وشرابه فأيس منها، فأتى شجرة فاضطجع في ظلها، وقد أيس من راحلته، فبينما هو كذلك إذا هو بها، قائمة عنده ، فأخذ بخطامها ثم قال من شدة الفرح‏:‏ اللهم أنت عبدي وأنا ربك، أخطأ من شدة الفرح‏”‏‏.‏

Anas bin Malik Al-Ansari (MayAllah be pleased with him) the servant of the Messenger of Allah narrated:

Messenger of Allah S.A.W said, “Verily, Allah is more delighted with the repentance of His slave than a person who lost his camel in a desert land and then finds it (unexpectedly)”.

[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

In another version of Muslim, he said: “Verily, Allah is more pleased with the repentance of His slave than a person who has his camel in a waterless desert carrying his provision of food and drink and it is lost. He, having lost all hopes (to get that back), lies down in shade and is disappointed about his camel; when all of a sudden he finds that camel standing before him. He takes hold of its reins and then out of boundless joy blurts out: ‘O Allah, You are my slave and I am Your Rabb’.He commits this mistake out of extreme joy.”

I mentioned other general ahadeeth in Arabic that came to mind. It wasn’t as easy to speak since I had to speak in Arabic and I wasn’t so fluent in it. I stammered and hesitated but managed to get my point across Alhamdulillah and the local sisters didn’t laugh at me but were infact full of praises when I finished.

“Make sure you pass the message to my husband through Hassan that my Arabic is just fine,” I said to Marwa jokingly later on, “he always laughs at my Arabic.”

“No, no, your Arabic is so nice! I wish you were staying for longer, then I would have made you speak every week at talim!” Marwa exclaimed.

I laughed and hugged her spontaneously, bringing a smile to her face.

***

We did several day trips from Marrakech to nearby ports and cities.

We visited Essaouira one day, leaving at eight a.m for a three hour journey to the beautiful coastal city. We went to the beach of course, one of the most beautiful beaches in Morocco with its sandy shores and blue waters. We also visited the place where they produced argan oil and began the elaborate process of making argan creams out of it. Of course we had to buy some since where else could we find such natural authentic argan oil products?

We enjoyed a lunch of fresh fish, wandered around a bit in the old Medina till it was time to go back.

***

A few days later we were ready to move on. Humi and I went to visit Marwa before we left. It was a bittersweet moment; a part of me wanted to stay for longer and enjoy this city more and another part of me was eager to see more new terrain. Marwa hugged Humi and I, smothered Numair in kisses and exchanged numbers with us, promising to keep in touch and making us promise to be back soon inshaAllah. As a parting gift she gave us an elaborately wrapped parcel. Me being me couldn’t wait and opened it right there.

“Baklava! Marwa you know me too well. The way to my heart is through my stomach!” I laughed, already drooling at the lavish array of sweet meats nestled in delicate tissue.

“Yeah, I saw that when you came to eat,” Marwa laughed in response.

We left then, back to our apartment so we could finish packing and be on our way…

***

We moved north to Casablanca, reportedly the largest city in Morocco. Since it was a coastal city it made sense to stay on the beach, right? Ahmed knew me so well there that he booked two cozy apartments for us in Ain Diab. It was beautiful and relaxing and since it wasn’t holiday season the beach was quiet which was perfect for us. We did a bit…okay, more than a bit…of shopping at the huge Morocco Mall and even went to Sindibad theme park for some adrenaline-filled rides. That was my idea. I loved the outdoors which obviously included theme parks.

“This wife of yours hasn’t outgrown her childhood,” Humi commented to Ahmed.

Ahmed laughed. “Careful, she’ll make you like her in no time. The things I’ve done after marriage I’ve never done in my whole life!”

“Uh uh. Not me. No ways am I going on those death machines,” Humi said emphatically, clutching Numair closer to her like a shield.

In the end, with a lot of persuasion I managed to take her while Ahmed held Numair. I took her on the roller coaster where she screamed all the way till the end. Ahmed laughed at her as we got off and she stumbled her way over to him with a dazed look on her face.

“How was it?” He laughed.

Humi groaned and clutched her stomach. “Never again! First and last time I swear!”

“Don’t swear too fast. You might end up going again,” Ahmed grinned.

After that Ahmed and I went. I loved going with him because if I did feel a bit dizzy I could lean against him or hide my face against his shoulder. Ahmed typically wasn’t scared at all. Infact he actually looked bored on some of the scary rides!

“Can you at least look like you’re enjoying yourself?” I asked him in exasperation after one ride.

“Those are child’s toys. Where’s the fun in that?” Ahmed grinned and actually faked a yawn. I lightly punched him on his arm.

“You looked like Mr. Bean back there,” I jerked my thumb at the ride, “about to fall asleep mid-ride!”

Ahmed looked at me with raised eyebrows. “Since when do you watch Mr. Bean?”

I laughed. “I watched it long time back. Before we got married. It was a clip where he went on a roller coaster…everyone was screaming and he dozed off!”

Ahmed laughed. “Poor dude. Now I know how he feels.” He saw my not-so-amused look and laughed again. “You want me to enjoy myself? Then let’s go on this one!”

Ab meri maut(now I’m dead),” I muttered as he pulled me along to one of the deathliest rides ever! We sat down and belted ourselves in and I prepared to scream till my throat was hoarse…then was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed myself. I laugh-screamed instead! And at least Ahmed was also laughing by the end of it…


Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh…

Just a point I thought I’ll mention. I don’t think the theme park I mentioned is as grand as I wrote or has as many rides lol…a fact I found out AFTER I’d already written about it so I left it...

Other than that hope you’ll are enjoying the posts! Enjoy and drop me your feedbacks!

xxx

Part 243

Morocco. Another beautiful country with it’s own unique heritage and culture. We went to Marrakech first, to Medina, the old city. Again we rented two apartments at Humi’s insistence. I must say that this agreement worked out in mine and Ahmed’s favour though.

For the first time in our marriage…apart from our honeymoon and the time we’d had before rukhsati…we had so much of time to ourselves. Away from family, work and other obligations we could really spend quality time together. Lazy mornings spent in bed, long walks together, quiet evenings spent just relaxing and chatting, our bond grew stronger than ever. Humi was there as well but this arrangement gave us the privacy and time I’d craved throughout our marriage and I was grateful to her for being thoughtful enough to suggest it.

And another thing we took up…a shared hobby. I’d read somewhere that it was important for couples to find shared interests and we found ours in…kitabs.

Ahmed and I had both put our deeni uloom (knowledge) on the back burner in favour of worldly pursuits. That’s one thing no one should ever do. Deen always comes first. No matter where we are or what we’re doing our top priority should be putting Allah and the akhirah first. Ahmed had slacked because of his work and I’d slacked because of my studies. We both needed to come back to it so we started taking out time everyday. We started slow, one kitab at a time. Reading, translating, refreshing our memories with the beautiful Arabic words. Ahmed had gotten an offer to translate and research kitabs, gather information together from different kitabs and write it all down for some alims, for a fee. He agreed and we did it together.

“I missed this,” Ahmed said one evening, “work just doesn’t contain this level of satisfaction after doing it.”

“Yup, you’re right. This is the main thing,” I nodded.

Work and pleasure. That’s what this whole trip was. I took therapy consults online as well so between that, touring whatever city we were in and taking out time for our deeni work our days were full. And of course we had those lazy days where we lounged around and did nothing because what kind of holiday would it be if we didn’t relax and unwind???

Marrakech was beautiful, a real mix between the old and new, ancient and modern. We stayed in Medina which made the whole experience more authentic, so to speak. We toured all the alleyways and souqs, wandering around the narrow paths which, though dimly lit, were illuminated by the vibrant colours of dyed cloth, scented spices and candle-lit lamps. We bought and sipped on delicious fresh fruit juices along the way. And their mint and berber teas were just divine! It was a way to socialise as well, sitting in the small cafes, sipping on tea and chatting to the locals around. They were quite friendly and talkative. There was a bit of a language barrier since they didn’t speak much English and their Arabic was so different that even Ahmed looked lost, but we still managed to communicate with them at least!

Once we stumbled across Jemaa el-fnaa Square at dusk and loved the experience so much that it became a ritual for us. We would sit in the small cafes or restaurants, drinking Moroccan tea, drinking in the gorgeous sight of the sun setting in all it’s red-gold splendour and watching the square come alive around us. Once the sun set the music started so we left but the sunsets were worth watching and we could never tire of the sight.

During one of those outings Humi and I applied henna, the most intricately woven patterns we’d ever seen. A local woman applied it and we loved it so much we left with a firm intention of coming back before we left Marrakech.

All wasn’t sunshine and roses though. We’d been warned about pickpockets and petty thieves but coming from a country like South Africa we thought we were so streetwise that no one would be able to rob us. Hah! On the fourth day we were nicely strolling along when all of a sudden I felt a sharp tug and my handbag was gone. I whirled around to see a teenage owe making off with it.

“Hey! He took my handbag!” I yelled.

Ahmed immediately took off after him but the owe was too fast and he knew the area well. He would have gotten away with it if two local men hadn’t decided to intervene. They both came at him from opposite sides, closing in on him fast. He tried to dodge and slip away but they caught up to him and brought him down. One pinned him down while the other tried to wrestle the bag away from him. At that moment Ahmed joined them and managed to pull the bag free of the thief’s grasp. When Humi and I walked over to them the Moroccan man pinning the thief down was shouting something at him in Arabic while the thief cowered and shook his head and replied pleadingly. Then the other Moroccan man said something else and the first one got up, pulling the owe up with him. He shook him a bit, said something to him threateningly then shoved him away. He immediately fled without looking back.

“He don’t take anything,” the first man said in accented English, turning to us finally.

“Jazakallah. We appreciate it,” Ahmed said to him sincerely.

“Must be careful. Too many thieves around,” the second man said, “you from where?”

“South Africa,” Ahmed said.

“Aah. Very far. You stay where?”

Ahmed told them and they asked more questions and “Aah”ed some more before the first man invited us over for supper to his house. Ahmed tried to decline but he wouldn’t take no for an answer so we ended up following him back to his car even though it was only asr time. The second man left us then and we went with Hassan, the first man, to his house.

It was a lovely house with equally lovely people. Hassan’s wife Marwa was so friendly and jolly that we were soon chatting like old friends. She had six children who all cooed over Numair and carried him off to play with them. Humi was a bit sceptical of letting them take him but Marwa assured her that her oldest daughter, Ayah, was a pro at handling babies, having handled several siblings of her own as well as many cousins and children of family friends.

Marwa wasn’t at all daunted by our unexpected appearance and made us sit in her kitchen to talk while she quickly whipped up some food.

“Don’t make so much, make it simple,” I told her. I guess I expected her to be like us South Africans who can’t be satisfied with less than five different dishes on the table.

“Don’t worry. I make only tagine,” Marwa said.

“Tagine! Marwa, you’re a star!” I cheered. I got up and actually hugged the older woman in my exuberance, making her laugh and Humi give me a weird look. I grinned at them. “I’ve wanted to taste authentic Moroccan tagine for so long so of course I’m happy!”

Marwa smiled. “Very authentic, just the way it’s been passed down from my grandmother and mother. You will be left licking your fingers.”

She was not exaggerating. Her lamb tagine was sweet and sour, flavoured with dates, spices, saffron, dried fruit and nuts. It was served with freshly made bread with sesame seeds sprinkled on top. The different flavours and textures burst on our tongues, making us hum in appreciation. We really did swipe it all, licking our plates clean afterwards. I noted the way she made it and saved her recipe for future use. The best part was, there was no fuss. No running around in a panic wondering what to serve unexpected guests last minute. We also didn’t feel like we were intruding and troubling her because all she made extra was the tagine and bread. The rest was what she had already made for her family, and for dessert she put baklava and other sweet meats that she already had infront of us, and made us their delicious mint tea. I couldn’t help thinking that if only we adopted this simplicity in all our dawats we wouldn’t find it a burden to feed guests, which held such a great reward in Islam.

While chatting we learned that Marwa and the other ladies of the area held their own weekly talim sessions and this week it was at Marwa’s house. She insisted that Humi and I should attend as well. We smiled and nodded, not knowing how binding our nods would turn out to be.

By the time we left it was quite late. We hugged Marwa and thanked her effusively, promising to meet up with her again.

“Don’t forget to come for talim. Ten o’clock Thursday morning,” she called out to us as we left. We nodded and promised to try n come. In the end though, we were left with no choice. And it actually turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip.

***

It was the knock which woke us up on Thursday. I blearily threw on a burkha, padded to the door and opened it a crack, peering out to see who had actually come here. It must be a mistake. No one knew us in this whole strange country. My eyes popped open when they beheld a smiley, cheerful Marwa standing there.

“Salam alaykum. Kef halik? Come, you ready for talim? I come to pick you up!” She cheerfully proclaimed.

Say whaaattt???

Part 242

How could I forget the famous souqs of Cairo! They were what we’d heard a lot about from people back home who had been to Egypt before, and where Humi, Numair, Ahmed and I headed the following day.

We went to Khan al-Khalil, reportedly one of the oldest markets in Cairo or maybe even Egypt. And this was where I saw the genuine Egyptians, the locals at their best. Walking through the narrow paths lined with merchandise of all sorts, crammed into small stalls, seeing the multitude of things being sold in a whirling kaleidoscope of bright colours, hearing the different sounds, from Arabic music to Qur’an in some stalls, to the loud exchange of rapid-fire Arabic, smelling the different scents of itr and bakhoor…it was a real sensory overload.

I tried to converse with the sellers in Arabic. All I got were some blank stares followed by rapid-fire Arabic in the Egyptian dialect which flew right over my head. Humi laughed at my blank face.

“I thought you know Arabic?”

“I do,” I grumbled, “but I know fus’hah which is classical Arabic. These owes speak Egyptian Arabic which I can’t understand at all.”

“Then what’s the point of learning Arabic if you can’t converse with Arabs?” Humi asked with a frown.

“I didn’t learn Arabic to converse, though I do try to do that as well. But I’m more fluent with reading and understanding it that way, which I learnt to understand Qur’an and Hadith and of course to become an alima.”

Ahmed was standing behind us, listening to our exchange. With a hand on my shoulder he moved me aside slightly and stepped in between us smoothly, then proceeded to converse with the same Arabs I couldn’t understand. It wasn’t a swift exchange of the same Arabic dialect but he spoke his fus’hah in a way that they understood…he was way more fluent than me anyways…and managed to grasp what they were saying as well. I was left listening with mouth agape, with Humi smirking and raising her eyebrows at me.

“Show-off,” I muttered to Ahmed when we’d moved on. He laughed and winked at me.

“I had to show you that it wasn’t just the language barrier that stopped you from conversing with them.”

“Ya, how come he could talk to them and you couldn’t?” Humi piped up from his other side. Numair was still fast asleep in the baby-wearing sling she had secured him in.

“Because my Arabic isn’t as good as his, okay!” I threw up my hands in exasperation, “I still need to practice on my spoken Arabic.”

“Finally she admits the truth!” Humi laughed.

“I’ll be happy to teach you, habibti,” Ahmed spoke up with a grin. In response I threw him a dark look and stalked off ahead of them, their laughter trailing behind me.

We bought quite a few things from there, papyruses with duas on them, bakhoor, whose smell I loved, some bottles of itr…well, a lot of bottles actually since Ahmed loved his perfumes and I loved smelling them on him even though I didn’t apply as much myself. I used to apply a lot of perfume before, couldn’t leave the house without applying perfume infact, but then I came across these Hadiths:

The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said, “Any woman who puts on perfume and passes by people so that they can smell her fragrance is a zaaniyah.”
Narrated by Imam Ahmad (19212) and al-Nasaa’i (5126); classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami‘.

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said, “The Messenger of Allah [SAW] said, ‘The perfume for men is that whose scent is apparent while its color is hidden, and the perfume for women is that whose color is apparent, while its scent is hidden.'” (An-Nasa’i)

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah met a woman who was wearing perfume and heading for the mosque. He said: “O slavewoman of the Compeller, where are you headed?” She said: “To the mosque.” He said: “And have you put on perfume for that?” She said: “Yes.” He said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah say: ‘Any woman who puts on perfume then goes out to the mosque, no prayer will be accepted from her until she takes a bath.’” (Ibn Majah)

I’d been so scared of the warnings after that that I’d stopped applying perfume when leaving the house unless I was going to go to a gathering of women directly, without passing any strange men along the way. I now applied perfume only in the house, for my husband, which was the true purpose of me beautifying myself anyways.

We also bought some artifacts after haggling with the sellers over the prices. Humi and I did get a bit carried away with buying stuff till Ahmed finally dragged us out of there. Some of the stuff was so pretty that we decorated our little apartments with them even though we weren’t gonna be there for much longer. In a few days we would be moving on to Alexandria.

***

Alexandria was a lovely coastal town…the key word being coastal here. As much as I loved touring different places I was most at home at the beach and that’s where we’d booked our next apartment. On the corniche. We spent over a week in Alxandria, just touring the whole town, going to see places like old castles and citadels. Not all of it was Islamic history but it was still history nonetheless which was fascinating and interesting. The food was also divine and we all loved it including Numair, who eagerly licked up the tiny morsels his mama sometimes fed him.

“Can you stop giving him everything! He’s not even four months old yet!” Humi said crossly once.

Ahmed laughed. “Don’t be such a spoilsport. Look how much he likes it. Here, kiddo. You want?” He dangled a piece of basbousa infront of Numair’s face and the baby happily gurgled in response. “Come, let’s go eat it outside before your mother puts nazar on us,” Ahmed scooped him up and walked out, basbousa in hand. Humi watched them go and shook her head.

“He’s gonna spoil him rotten.”

“Let him. They both love each other already,” I grinned.

Humi turned to look at me. “I don’t know if it’s my place to ask…but are you still not ready for a baby? I remember last time you told me you don’t want yet.”

I smiled, ignoring the ache in my chest. “That time I wasn’t ready, yeah. Now I am but…” I shrugged, “Allah will give me when the time is best, inshaAllah.”

“Allah works in mysterious ways,” Humi said softly, “don’t worry about it, Faz. If it’s in your taqdeer nothing will stop you from getting a child of your own inshaAllah.”

“InshaAllah,” I smiled, more genuinely this time. I loved how Humi was bringing Allah into her conversations more these days. Before I’d hardly heard her speak of Allah. But after her divorce and especially after giving birth she seemed to be changing. We made talim everyday and that made a huge difference. She was showing a lot more interest in deen now. She’d started praying all her salahs, she had started wearing hijab and decent clothes and she told me to listen to her Qur’an so she could perfect it. Her case reminded me of the saying,

“A calamity that brings you closer to Allah isn’t a calamity, it’s a gift and blessing.”

And turning to Allah gave her inner peace that she hadn’t had before. She was still wounded, she was still doing therapy…I’d hooked her up with one of the best Muslim female therapists I knew of…but she was slowly getting better each day.

After Alexandria was done and toured it was time to move on…to Hurghada.

***

Hurghada was another gorgeous coastal town, this one located on the Red Sea. This was one town where we could kick off our shoes, lay down in the warm sand and soak up the sun or go play in the waves. There were lots of water activities to be done here, which I loved though the ones I could do with niqaab were limited. Still, we made the most of our time there and loved it so much that we ended up staying there longer than in previous towns.

All in all we spent over a month in Egypt, touring smaller towns along the way as well. When it was time to move on we sadly packed our bags and bid farewell to the lovely country of Egypt, fully intending to visit it again sometime in the future.

And now, on to newer pastures…

Part 241

In the burning heat of the sun an army of eight thousand men moves through the desert. At it’s head is one of the blessed Companions of the Noble Prophet S.A.W, Amr ibn Al-Aas R.A. They move with one purpose in mind. Numbers, armies, resistance don’t matter to them. And resistance is what they face, from al sides. First it is the Romans but here the victory is for the Muslims. Onwards they march. The Romans expect them to march directly towards the Babylon fortress but Amr ibn Al-aas R.A. heads westwards and crosses the River Nile. Then, to mislead them even further, he heads southwards in the direction of Faiyum. He approaches it then receives news that the Romans had assembled large forces therein. Amr ibn Al-aas R.A stays in the desert and immediately calls for reinforcements from the Khalifa, Umar R.A. In response Umar R.A sends him reinforcements and a letter, “I have reinforced you with four thousand men, each one thousand under the command of a man who is equivalent to one thousand men.”

Who are these four men? Miqdaad ibn Al-Aswad R.A., Ubadah ibn Al-Saamit R.A., Zubayr ibn Al-Awwaam R.A. and Maslamah ibn Al-Mukhallad R.A.

So, the army became twelve thousand men. True pioneers of deen, each and every one of them. Amr ibn Al-aas R.A. then heads for Babylon fortress. They lay siege to it until the Copts could not bear it anymore. Muqawqis then sends a letter to Amr ibn Al-aas R.A, “you have entered our lands and insist on fighting with us. Now you are surrounded by the River Nile and the Romans will soon overtake you and defeat you. So let us come to an agreement before that happens and you become our captives.”

Amr ibn Al-aas R.A responds, “No agreement can be between us except on three terms; either you accept Islam and become our brothers; or you pay the tribute humbly; or we will strive against you and fight until Allah judges between us and you.”

When the messenger comes back to Muqawqis he asks him, “how are these men?” The messenger replies, “we saw a group of people for whom death is more beloved than life and modesty is more beloved than being derided. None of them has any worldly desire or craving. They sit down on the earth and eat on their mounts. Their leader seems like any ordinary one of them.”

How do you defeat such men, I ask!

In the end Muqawqis refuses the options and no choice is left but to fight.

The fortress is strong, the walls are high and surrounded by water; but what match can it be against warriors who can swim, climb the walls, enter the fortress and open the gates?!

And so the fortress is breached and the land conquered. Muqawqis has to surrender and ask for a peace agreement…but what a conquest it is!

Historians narrate, “where the Egyptians suffered oppression and injustices under the Roman rule, they enjoyed good treatment and freedom under Muslim rule. No matter how far back in history we go we find that the Egyptians have a historical civilisation which the previous conquerors could not easily overcome. But nothing catches the eye as much as the grandsons of the Egyptians who resisted the influence of the Greeks and the Romans, in particular, but adopted the religion, language and civilisation of the victorious Arabs. Thus, Egypt became purely Muslim but under no compulsion or coercion. Rather, the Egyptians converted en masse to the religion of Allah due to the tolerance and good character of the conquerors.”

Again we say…Islam was not conquered by the sword but rather by the sterling character of the Muslims.

Allahu Akbar!

I stood in the courtyard of the Masjid of Amr ibn Al-aas R.A., gazing up at the domes and minarets as my mind played out the history embedded in this place. Misr al-fustaat, it had been called. The city of tents. This was the place where Amr ibn Al-aas R.A. had first erected a tent at the time of the conquest. Islamic history had always fascinated me. What bravery and valour the sahabah had had. And yet they had been so humble. If we even possessed one tenth of their qualities we would be successful in both worlds.

“Let’s go pray,” Ahmed said, coming up to me. I nodded and Humi and I headed towards the female side while Ahmed went to the male section. We prayed then left to visit our next site.


Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh…

I know it’s a very short post compared to my usual posts but I literally went blank after this. I just didn’t know what else to write and my deadline (Thursday) was here. And as my lovely reader veryberry always says, “short, regular posts are better than long, irregular posts.” So I decided to take her advice and post only this much, on time😉

Enjoy and drop me your feedbacks.

xxx

Living life cloaked in modesty and islamic principles…