All posts by Haadiya

Ramadan Kareem

Can you’ll believe this is the fourth Ramadan of Being Muslim!😊 it’s been quite a journey but one thing that hasn’t changed through the years is this post. I know I post this every year but it’s so comprehensive it covers everything so for my reminder and yours I’ll post it again.

وَذَكِّرۡ فَإِنَّ ٱلذِّكۡرَىٰ تَنفَعُ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِینَ

And remind, for verily the reminder benefits the believers.

[Surah Adh-Dhariyat, Ayah 55]


Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wabarakatuh…

Hope everyone is well. The blessed month of Ramadan is 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.”
(Ahmed)

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.”
(Baihaqi)

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.”
(Baihaqi)

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.”
(Tirmidhi)

– 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.”
(Baihaqi)

– 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.”

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.

Hadhrat Mujaddid Alfe thaani Rahmatullah Alayh has written in his maktoobat,

“The one whose Ramadan passes un planned and doesn’t value it then his whole year will pass same way unplanned. and the one who values and spends his Ramadan in an organised manner his whole year too will pass in the same way.”

Also through narrations from Ahadith we learn that our timetable (ibadah) of Ramadanul Mubarak effects the whole year. The way one spends Ramadan similar will be the year, thus value every moment of Ramadan and spend it totally in our rectification, worry of Aakhirah, and connecting with Allah Ta’ala.

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!

Haadiya xxx

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Part 259

Asma foi was a tall, plump woman who greeted us with a big smile of welcome then set about making us comfortable and bringing us refreshments even though we protested that we didn’t want anything because we had come straight after breakfast. I looked at her bustling around and shot Ahmed an amused smile.

“That’s daddy to the T.”

Humi and Ahmed both laughed. Asma foi resembled her brother in looks as well. I could tell they were family by looking at them. When she finally came and sat with us, after placing a tray of refreshments on the low coffee table between us, she smiled around at us.

“How you all? Imtiaz told me you’ll are here but you never showed up till now.” Her arched brows demanded an explanation.

“Sorry foi, we kept meaning to come but things kept coming up,” Ahmed said. Humi and I nodded in agreement.

“Well, never mind that now. How you’ll been? You looking well, Ahmed. I must say marriage agrees with you.” We laughed then she turned to Humi.

“And you, Humaira? How you been, ma? I heard what happened with you and that haraami rubbish husband of yours. It’s why I always say we must stick to our own jaath (kind). Can’t trust these lot, you know. What what they can do to us, ey. Not worth spoiling our lives over them.” From the corner of my eyes I saw Humi’s face set in mutinous lines. Asma foi must have seen it as well because she hurried to add, “oh well, all that’s in the past now. Nothing we can do to change it. But you’re still such a pretty young girl, Humaira. You’ll easily find another husband. Infact there must be some right here in Manchester, Ahmed might even know some of them…”

“I am not interested in getting married again,” Humi said flatly.

“Ya, no need to jump into it, of course. Whenever you’re ready, ma.”

Humi simply nodded briefly and turned her attention to Numair. Ahmed and I picked up the thread of conversation and talked to her about different things. She was a nice person, even carried Numair and cooed over him and said he was such a handsome little boy. Humi was quieter after their exchange but she did relax a bit when she saw Asma foi playing so nicely with Numair.

After a while we left, promising to come back again before we left. Asma foi insisted on giving us dawat though, so we agreed to eat dinner at her house on Sunday.

“She’s a nice person,” I commented as we left.

“Yeah, she’s okay,” Humi replied abstractedly. I glanced at her to find her looking out of the car window, lost in thought. She was quiet all the way home and disappeared into her room as soon as we got there, only coming out at lunch time.

Since it was jumuah I took a nice bath and wore a nice dress, applied perfume and prayed Surah Kahf and a bit of my daily portion before lunch. Jumuah lunch was the best. Nana was home and nani usually went all out, making her delicious dhall and rice with potato fry, paapar, kachumar and achaar..all the typical side things to go with. Dessert was caramel pudding which we loved, including Numair who slurped some up with relish. Humi was quieter than usual all through lunch as well and afterwards when Ahmed and I asked her if she wanted to come with us she declined and disappeared into her room again. I looked at Ahmed worriedly.

“Maybe I should find out what’s bothering her.”

Ahmed shook his head. “Give her her space for now. If she’s still like this at night then you can go talk to her.”

I agreed and left it at that.

Ahmed and I spent the afternoon out, touring some other places in Manchester, doing a spot of shopping and stopping for coffee at a lovely little cafe when we were done. We came home in time to pray asr and a little while later the men left for maghrib. I looked at Humi’s closed door and debated whether to go in or not. There wasn’t much time till supper… then I heard a crash and a couple of loud oaths that had me knocking on the door worriedly.

“Come in!”

“You okay??” I asked, popping my head in warily.

“Ya, I’m fine…no, actually I’m not and this Numair doesn’t wanna sit still! Can you take him for a while please?”

“Sure…come, Numi bear!” I cooed, picking up the baby fussing on the carpet and giving him a smacking kiss.

“Numi? No thanks! Humi is enough!” I heard Humi grumbling as I shut the door behind me. I chuckled and took Numair to my room where I handed him my tasseled handbag to distract him while I prayed maghrib, then sat and played with him till Ahmed came.

“Look at you two,” he said, raising his eyebrows at the comical sight we made, Numair pulling at tufts of my hair till they stuck out in all directions then shoving some in his mouth. I laughed and disentangled myself from him then plopped him in his mama’s arms while I shook my hair back and tied it back again neatly.

“Where’s his mum?”

“Still moping in her room. I’m not kidding,” I added when I saw his look, “she even got annoyed with Numair so I took him away. Or she asked me to take him away, rather. There’s definitely something bugging her and I’m finding out what after supper.”

“Uh oh,” Ahmed muttered, seeing the determined glint in my eyes, “here comes the freight train.”

“What do you mean by that…?”

“Nothing!” Ahmed grinned and slipped out of the room with Numair.

Humi was so quiet and preoccupied at dinner that even nani noticed and kept flicking worried glances at her. She opened her mouth a couple of times to say something then shut it again.

“What’s wrong with her?” She asked as soon as Humi had disappeared again.

“I have no idea but I’m gonna get to the bottom of it,” I replied, quickly clearing and washing up so I could go to her.

While Ahmed entertained Numair I knocked on Humi’s door. I heard a muted, “come in, Faz,” and slipped inside, closing the door behind me.

“How did you know it was me?”

Humi rolled her eyes. “Who else would come knocking to interrogate me?”

“I didn’t come to…okay, fine, I did,” I sighed, “so what’s wrong?”

“Nothing.”

“Really, Humi???”

“Ugh, I don’t know! I don’t know how to explain it!”

“Your mood soured after visiting your foi. Was it what she said?”

“That too, yeah. Everything. I guess it’s been building up for a long while now.”

“What’s been building up?”

“I envy you,” Humi said suddenly. I started, not expecting to hear that, “and I envy this large, happy family you have. Look at your parents, your family life. So stable and happy. Your nana and nani. So happy and clearly in love even after all these years…decades! Your cousins and family back home…Aliyah and them. You’re all so close…one big, happy family. I don’t have that,” her voice had lowered to a whisper, “I’m just a messed up girl coming from a dysfunctional family…a dad who’s too busy making money to see what’s happening at home. A mother who belittles and controls us all. You wouldn’t understand how it feels to be brought up in that…that mess! Or maybe you would. Six months in that house and you ran for your life. I spent my whole life there! Is it any wonder that I turned out so messed up then!”

“You didn’t,” I protested, “you’re alright, Humi. One mistake doesn’t make you messed up. It happens. Everyone makes mistakes.”

“It’s not only about Mickey. It’s me! Look at you and look at me. You’re so happy and bubbly and confident and no wonder, because you’ve had such a wonderful, stable family and life. No wonder Ahmed fell for you. You’re everything he needed after running from that mess. You know he didn’t come back even once after he left for his studies? He only came back after completing all his studies, over here then in Pakistan. And then a short while later he married you. I don’t blame him for running away. I would have run too if I’d had the chance,” Humi sighed long and deep, looking so small and lost that I just wanted to hug her and tell her it will all be okay in the end. “You’re so lucky to have such a wonderful family. The amount of love I’ve gotten from your nani I haven’t gotten in my life. If I could stay here permanently I would,” she smiled a bit, “so yeah. Guess I was just feeling sorry for myself today. I’m all alone, you know. It’s just me and Numair. How will I bring him up on my own, I don’t know. Without a father and a messed up mum. I hope he doesn’t turn out to be as messed up as me.”

I went and sat next to her, pulling her into a hug this time. “You’re not alone. You have your brother and you have me, your sister. And now you have nani and you have Numair. And most of all, you have yourself and this life that Allah has given you. Don’t waste it moping over the past, Humi. Bury the past and look towards the future. You can build up your own future and be as happy as any of us. You just have to have the determination to rise above it all and come out stronger. I know you can do it,” I smiled encouragingly at her and was rewarded with an answering smile and a glimmer of hope in her eyes.

The conversation with Humi made me realise how much we took for granted. Parents. Family. Relatives. The safe haven they provided for us throughout our lives. We didn’t realise how important it really was, how all the small things added up to be great, significant things…how it was the fabric of family woven tightly around us that made us who we were…that if even one thread had to unravel we wouldn’t be who we are today. Ask a person who doesn’t have family and loved ones how it really feels to be alone. But we don’t realise and we spoil this beautiful blessing by petty quarrels and fights, allowing shaytaan to sow the seeds of disunity amongst us. Family ties are so important to maintain that its importance has come in several ahadeeth;

The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever would like his rizq (provision) to be increased and his life to be extended, should uphold the ties of kinship.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 5986 and Muslim, 2557).

The Messenger of Allah S.A.W also said, “The one who maintains a relationship with his relatives only because they maintain a relationship with him is not truly upholding the ties of kinship. The one who truly upholds those ties is the one who does so even if they break off the relationship.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 5645).

A man said to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), “I have relatives with whom I try to keep in touch, but they cut me off. I treat them well, but they abuse me. I am patient and kind towards them, but they insult me.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “If you are as you say, then it is as if you are putting hot dust in their mouths. Allaah will continue to support you as long as you continue to do that.” (Reported by Muslim with commentary by al-Nawawi, 16/115).

And finally, the warnings for breaking those ties had also appeared in ahadeeth;

Jubair b. Mut’im reported on the authority of his father that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: The severer would not enter Paradise. Ibn Umar said that Sufyan (explained it as): One who severs the tie of kinship would not enter Paradise.

I planned to call my family that night and let them know how much they meant to me, then went down and hugged nani tightly.

“Uff! What’s wrong that you squashing me like this?”

“Nothing. I just love you, nani,” I grinned and kissed her on her cheek. She beamed happily at this impulsive gesture and I smiled back, feeling light and buoyant.

Alhamdulillah for all the small blessings in our lives that turned out to be such great blessings…


Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh…

Last post before ramadhan so I touched on one very important topic…maintaining family ties. Let’s forgive, let go of grudges and enter this beloved month with clean hearts. Keeping grudges is not worth it when we dont know if every moment will be our last. Rather forgive for the pleasure of Allah and earn jannah in return InshaAllah…

See you’ll after ramadhan inshaAllah. Remember me in your duas and forgive me for any shortcomings❤

Much love,

Haadiya xxx

Part 258

“Mum insists that you all should have a meal with us one day so which day is most convenient for you?”

“Tell your mum not to trouble herself, Khads. I’ll just pop in one day for tea.”

“Don’t be silly. If I tell her that she’ll come smack you one over your head. Now discuss with your family and let me know which day best suits you all, yeah?”

I agreed to let her know then hung up and went to look for nani.

In the end we decided to go for dinner on Thursday, which was two days from now, to give Aunt Safiyyah time to prepare. I told Khads and she said her mum was very pleased that we’d accepted the dawat and they were looking forward to seeing us and no, I absolutely should not make anything as they had more than enough hands to make everything. I laughed and told her I’d see her on Thursday then!

***

“What kind of people are they?” Humi asked nervously as we drove to Aunt Safiyyah’s house.

I smiled reassuringly at her. “Very friendly and welcoming. They’re arabs, Humi, and I haven’t seen anyone more welcoming than arabs, as I’m sure you’ve also seen in Egypt and Morocco.”

Humi nodded. That she knew. “Don’t worry, you’ll be okay,” I added, “and you won’t be alone. Nani and I will be right there.”

Humi raised her eyebrows at me. “Nani yes but you? With the way you keep chattering to your friends? You’ll even forget I’m there.”

I laughed. “I know I talk a lot but come on. You’ve met Asiyah and Khadija, you know how friendly they are. They’ll make you feel at home.”

Humi was feeling strange and sometimes uncomfortable since we’d come to UK. I could understand and sympathise with her. It couldn’t be easy stuck in a strange country with only your brother and sister inlaw, both of who knew the place and people. It was different in the other countries we visited since we all were tourists there and explored and discovered things together. Here she felt like the only stranger. I was surprised she hadn’t gone to stay at her foi’s house since she did have that family here but she’d refused to go there.

“I barely know them. I must have last met them like ten years ago when they came to S.A. and even then I didn’t have much to talk about with them. I’d rather stay here. Your nani is more like family to me than my own family. I’ll go meet Asma foi, of course, but I’d rather stay here.”

She wasn’t the only one who still had to go meet Asma Foi. Ahmed and I had to go meet her as well, something I should have thought of as soon as we arrived. I made a mental note to mention it to Ahmed as soon as we got home.

Aunt Safiyyah welcomed us warmly, her round face wreathed in a wide smile as always. She greeted nani, got introduced to Humi then turned to me.

“Fazila, habibti! So nice to see you! Couldn’t even come meet me, huh, till I invited you over!”

I laughed and winced guiltily. “So sorry, khalto. I’ve been meaning to come but you invited me over before I could. How are you? I’ve missed you so much!”

“I’ve missed you too, habibti. Manchester has been very quiet since you left,” she laughed.

Khadija and another young woman were standing behind her. I greeted Khads and she grinned then turned to the woman next to her. “This is Hannah, Yusha’s wife. Hannah, this is Fazila. ‘Nuff said!”

I was puzzled till Hannah laughed and came forward to hug me. “Oh yes, the famous Fazila. I’ve heard so much about you I feel like I’ve known you forever.”

“Good things, I hope,” I joked.

Hannah was very pretty with a fair complexion and lovely green eyes, and so petite that the top of her head only came till my nose. I remember Khads telling me when Yusha got married that he had married an English girl, a revert. She had joked that she was half the size of Yusha but she had straightened him out proper. Maybe half was an exaggeration though, because Yusha was tall but not that tall. I wondered how she’d straightened out Yusha because she was so soft spoken and sweet and nice that I couldn’t imagine her straightening anyone out. She was also very friendly and she and I were talking like old friends in no time. Asiyah also arrived with Sa’ad and we all sat in the lounge nearer to the kitchen while the men sat in the front room. Humi also relaxed and joined in the conversation despite her reservations earlier on. I was glad about that. Numair was kept occupied by the other kids; Sa’ad, Abbas and Hannah’s daughter Ahlaam.

“That’s a beautiful name, Ahlaam,” I said, smiling at the gorgeous little girl. With her light blond hair and hazel eyes she was a perfect mixture of Hannah and Yusha.

Talking of Yusha…I did a double take when I saw him. I didn’t even recognise him at first. I was still picturing the old Yusha in my head; tall and lanky without an ounce of fat on his body. So when I saw him and his slightly familiar face finally registered in my head my mouth dropped open under my niqaab. He had almost tripled in girth and his once long, narrow face was now round…with a double chin to boot! Not that I was checking him out, mind you! He had suddenly appeared in the kitchen where Khads and I were helping her mum dish out food. I had glanced up, glanced back down, registered who it was in my mind, snapped my head up again, done a double take, realised I was staring and jerked my gaze away hastily. I nudged Khadija who was standing next to me.

“Is that Yusha???” I whispered.

She looked up and laughed. “Yup! Can’t believe it, can you?”

“My word, he’s gone huge!” I blurted out without thinking. I had also forgotten to lower my voice unfortunately. Yusha, who was talking to Aunt Safiyyah, heard me and whirled around.

“Faz??? Is that you???”

Crap! How do I get myself out of this one? I nudged Khadija again, hard. Luckily she got the message.

“Yeah, Yusha, it’s her. You can’t see her face anyways so stop staring and scat!”

“So I can’t look at her but she can look at me??” Yusha demanded, coming closer instead of leaving, “I heard your comment, Faz. You were checking me out, huh?”

“No, of course not,” I mumbled, keeping my gaze averted, “I only happened to notice it’s you. Almost didn’t recognise you.”

“Even I wouldn’t recognise him if I were you,” Khadija interjected, “his sweet tooth finally clapped back at him. It’s Hannah and I who’ve given birth but it’s Yusha who looks pregnant,” she chortled.

Yusha glared at his sister. “Shut up, twat!”

“Well, I’m right, innit? Hannah is quarter your size. You better watch your weight before you start looking like her father instead of her husband!”

That was true. Now I realised why Khadija had told me when they got married that Hannah was half his size. Hannah was so tiny she probably got swallowed up by his now bulky frame. I felt sorry for him though, especially when I saw his hands clench tightly at his sides, the veins popping out, a sure sign of anger. I nudged Khadija again but this time it was to save him, not myself.

“Leave him alone now,” I whispered.

The good part was that Yusha’s anger made him beat a hasty retreat from the kitchen, which saved me from more awkward encounters. Aunt Safiyyah bent a reproving look at Khadija.

“Don’t keep picking on him, he doesn’t like it.”

“Someone has to tell him like it is before he blows up even more,” Khadija retorted. Aunt Safiyyah left it then and I changed the topic to a more pleasant one.

***

Dinner was simply delicious, a mixture of Arab and English cuisine. There was maraq for starters, a delicious lamb broth soup served with slices of lemon, Khadija’s delicious roast chicken with potato wedges, a delicately spiced and fragrant rice topped with tender lamb meat called haneeth, ogda which was some kind of stew and was served with khobz (flatbread) and cottage pie which was made by Hannah.

“How do you find the food, Hannah?” I asked her between mouthfuls, “not too spicy for you?”

“It’s different,” Hannah replied, smiling, “but I’ve gotten used to it I guess. Now I find English food bland!”

“Next you should try Indian food. A step up in the spicy scale,” I said with a wink.

“Yeah, remember that rice dish Aunt Hafsa made all those years ago? Which one was it? It looked kind of like this,” Asiyah indicated to the haneeth, “but the chicken and rice was all mixed up. It was so spicy but so tasty I ate it for three consecutive days!” Asiyah licked her lips at the memory.

“Biryani?” I asked.

“Yeah, I think so. Can’t remember the name clearly now. Tastiest rice dish I’ve ever had though,” Asiyah smiled at nani who beamed at her in return.

Dessert was basbousa…I beamed at Aunt Safiyyah when she said she’d made it especially for me because she knew how I much I loved it…and pavlova, sweet and decadent with softly whipped cream and an abundance of sweet fruits and tart berries. It was all so delicious that we ate till we were ready to burst at the seams…well, I ate that much anyways. I actually groaned and rubbed my stomach when I stood up to leave some time later. It had been a wonderful dawat and we’d all enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. I hugged Aunt Safiyyah and Hannah and thanked them profusely for everything. Little Ahlaam, who had just started walking, toddled up to me and I swept her up in my arms and gave her a big hug and kiss as well. She pulled my nose in return and laughed at me.

“She likes you,” Hannah said with a surprised smile, “usually she never goes by anyone and cries if anyone picks her up.”

“What can I say, no one can resist my charms,” I said with a wink.

“Not no one, just babies,” Asiyah grinned, “you have a special talent with them MashaAllah.”

I laughed then reluctantly handed over Ahlaam to her mum and we left.

Ahmed pulled me aside as I was about to climb into the car. “How about taking a walk instead?” He inclined his head, his teeth flashing white in the semi-darkness.

“Uhmm, sure.” I told nani and them to carry on without us then turned back to Ahmed. We started walking at a leisurely pace. It was cold, especially at night and I shivered, pulling my coat tighter around me. Luckily it wasn’t raining tonight. I’d been hoping to see some snow while I was here but the snow hadn’t made an appearance yet. Since the street was pretty much deserted Ahmed wrapped his arm around me and pulled me close to his side which immediately made me feel warmer. We talked about general things for a few minutes then Ahmed suddenly changed the topic.

“Did you see Yusha?”

I shot him a look from the corner of my eye. “Yeah. Almost didn’t recognise him though!”

“Yeah, I also didn’t till he spoke to me. Shooh, that’s some transformation. Wonder how that happened.”

“The usual way…eating too much and too often,” I grinned, “I didn’t expect him to get so big though. He always had a sweet tooth but he never seemed to put on any weight while I was here so this was quite a shock.”

“Did you talk to him?”

I sighed and rolled my eyes. “Noo, Ahmeeeed,” I said in a long-suffering tone.

Ahmed laughed and squeezed me slightly. “Just asking.”

“Uhuh. And what if I said yes?”

“Then I would have started my lecture again,” Ahmed’s teeth flashed again in a grin.

“Oh no! Now I’m doubly happy I barely talked to him…”

“Barely? You said you didn’t talk to him at all.”

“I said a few words to him since he appeared in the kitchen and addressed me directly. Do you want to know exactly what I said? Let me recall it for you word for word…”

“Okay, okay, I get the point,” Ahmed muttered. Now it was my turn to laugh at his disgruntled tone.

“What are the plans for tomorrow?” Ahmed asked in another abrupt change of topic. Not that I minded this one.

“We need to go meet Asma foi. You haven’t even reminded me so far. And Humi said she’ll go but she also hasn’t been. We’ll have to go tomorrow otherwise she’ll feel so bad.”

“Yeah, I was gonna tell you but it kept slipping my mind. Okay, then. Tomorrow first thing in the morning.”

“Which means after ten,” I caught his raised eyebrows and repeated myself for emphasis, “after ten, Ahmed, so don’t even think of waking me up earlier than that.”

“It’s your nana and nani who send me to wake you up. They said you’ll get old fast with the way you sleep.”

I rolled my eyes. “Then you sleep in with me. If you’re also sleeping they can’t send you to wake me up. Problem solved.”

“But I can’t always sleep for so long.”

“Try it, Ahmed, and see how good you feel afterwards,” I grinned.

“But…”

I placed a gloved hand against his lips. “No buts.”

“The things we do to please our wives!” Ahmed sighed dramatically from behind my hand.

I laughed and hummed cheerfully all the way home.

 

Haneeth
Ogda
Basbousa
Pavlova

Part 257

Khadija arrived to pick me up promptly at eleven. Luckily I was ready this time, even after whipping up a few batches of cookies for the kids at the orphanage. I didn’t know how many kids there were now or their ages or gender so I’d ended up making roughly fifty small goodie bags for them, filling them with assorted candy and some cookies. Couldn’t go wrong with sweets, could I!

“Something smells good!” Khadija said, sniffing appreciatively as I dumped the large bag in her back seat, “what’s that?”

“Some goodie bags I made for the kids,” I replied. I caught sight of the adorable baby staring wide eyed at me from his car seat and my “awwwww!” was probably heard all the way down the street, “look at him! He’s gone so big, MashaAllah! Can I carry him?” I was already rounding the car to get to him when Khadija yelled, “not now, man! We’re already late! You can smother him all you want when we get there but for now get in!”

I grumbled a bit but climbed in the front seat, buckling myself in. I couldn’t resist twisting around and cooing at Abbas, though he was looking at me in confusion, probably because he couldn’t see my face at all.

“He’s looking at me like I’m an alien,” I chuckled, “I’ll have to play with him when he can see my face.”

“Won’t make much of a difference,” Khadija commented then yelped when I smacked her smartly on the back of her head, “do you want me to crash this car??”

“You brought it on yourself with your wise-ass remarks,” I replied, grinning, “where’s Asiyah? I thought we’ll go together.”

“Uhmm, nah, she had some work to do so she said she’ll meet us there.”

Ten minutes later I was looking at the old brick facade of the orphanage with a huge smile on my face. Khadija laughed at my excitement then led me in. The place was unusually quiet and deserted.

“Where’s everyone?”

“Must be out back. Let’s see.” Khadija continued to lead me forward while I looked around me with nostalgic eyes, memories playing in my head. I barely noticed where she was leading me as well till she reached the common room. She rapped twice on the door then waited, grinning at me. I raised my eyebrows at her and was about to ask her why we were knocking and waiting here when the door flew open. My eyes widened as Khadija swiftly stepped behind me and pushed me in to a chorus of, “Welcome back, Miss Fazila!”

The large room was done up in colourful ribbons and balloons, with a sign in the middle proclaiming, “Welcome back, Miss Fazila. We missed you!” also in bold, colourful letters. Gathered around it were all the children, looking at us with wide smiles on their faces. Behind them stood the adults; Dora, Asiyah, Mishka, Soraya, Sarah and a couple of other ladies whom I didn’t recognise. All wearing matching smiles of welcome. My hands flew to my mouth and tears sprang to my eyes as I took in the touching scene before me.

“You guys…I don’t know what to say…” I was laughing through my tears and suddenly I found myself crushed in warm embraces as everyone pushed forward to hug me.

“Wow, you’re wearing niqaab now. Remove it, we also wanna see your face!” Mishka demanded.

I glanced around first to see if there were any men around…and that’s when I spotted him. Steve, looking the same as ever as he stood up and came forward, smiling.

“Fazila, how nice to see you again! Well, not that I can see you now but yeah, nice to meet you. How have you been?”

And now came the difficult part. Chatterbox me, who used to chat by the dozen with everyone before now had to draw back and treat them like the strangers they rightly were.

Keeping my gaze carefully averted I softly replied, “I’m well alhamdulillah and yourself?”

He got the message, alhamdulillah. With a brief, “good good, can’t complain, alhamdulillah. Enjoy your visit, right. I’ll see you around,” he was gone. I breathed a sigh of relief and untied my niqaab, smiling around at everyone.

“If I didn’t see it with my own eyes, I’d never have believed it!” Soraya said, coming forward to peer at me, “chatty, talkative Fazila now so quiet and reserved! How did this happen??”

I laughed. “I’m still the same old me, silly. I’m just trying to follow Islam as best as I can, as difficult as it is sometimes. But alhamdulillah Steve…sorry, Solly understood. Now, how have you all been? I can’t believe you did all this for me! Jazakillah, all of you. Dora, thank you so much!” I beamed at the older lady who was beaming back at me fondly, “and introduce me to your new teachers, please. I haven’t met you two,” I said, smiling at the two new faces.

“This is Ammarah. She started teaching here a couple of years back,” Soraya indicated to a pretty girl in hijab, “and this is Raeesah. My sister…and Sulaiman’s wife!” She dropped the bombshell casually but she was grinning at me as she did so.

“Wait…what???” I stared at the girl standing next to Soraya, who resembled her slightly, “our Solly?? I mean, not our Solly,” I blushed slightly, “but this Solly? Steve???”

“Yes, Fazila, Steve, Sulaiman, our very own orphanage Solly,” Soraya replied, laughing. They were all laughing at my obvious shock.

“When did this happen? None of you even told me anything!” I especially glared at Khadija and Asiyah as the main offenders.

“Chill, Faz. They got engaged at around the same time you got married. Infact you were busy honeymooning in…where was it? Puerto Rico?”

“Costa Rica.”

“Yeah, Costa Rica, when they got engaged…and married. It was such a whirlwind engagement as well. They got married within a week of being engaged, so we thought we’ll tell you everything after you come back to earth,” Asiyah grinned, “and then it somehow just slipped our minds. Sorry.”

I humphed. “Such an important event and no one even bothered to inform me,” then I grinned, “congratulations, Raeesah. You got yourself a wonderful husband, alhamdulillah. Remember, Soraya, how I kept telling him to get married but he kept refusing. Then he told us that story about himself…” I stopped abruptly and shot a quick look at Reesah, wondering whether she knew about it or not.

“His previous marriage? Yeah, Rae knows all about it, don’t worry. He kept saying he’ll never marry again, remember? But he changed his mind pretty quick when he saw Rae,” Soraya chuckled, “I convinced Rae to teach here and she finally agreed. I took her over to meet Sulaiman and that’s it. Love at first sight, man! I’ve never seen Sulaiman so tongue tied. He barely said anything the whole time, kept staring at Rae. And she was no better,” she nudged Rae, “till I started feeling like a third wheel there so I got up and said, “when you two are done discussing marriage and the number of babies you’re gonna have, you can discuss your teaching and work something out. I’m done here, bye!” and I walked out.

We all burst out laughing. Soraya was so outspoken she even put me to shame at times!

“We did discuss marriage,” Raeesa put in then, grinning, “though it wasn’t easy once my parents found out. My parents blew a fuse of course,” she rolled her eyes, “here I was, almost thirty and unmarried because they said I was just too fussy and turned down all the good proposals. Then I come home with a goro (white man) and say I want to marry him. And my parents are traditional Indians. They were not happy at all. Soraya’s big mouth actually came in handy that day,” she chuckled.

“Yeah, I told them to stop being so narrow minded and look at the bigger picture. Their daughter was happy and she was marrying a good, kindhearted muslim, not some drug dealer off the street. Wasn’t that more important than caste or race or whatever? It got them thinking at least. And Rae had to be all dramatic here and threaten to elope with him…but they came around in the end. And here she is, two years later, happy as a lark and with a baby on the way,” she patted her sister’s stomach affectionately. That piece of news was apparently a surprise to everyone because there was a round of congratulations and hugs again. Finally Dora cleared her throat.

“If you guys are done yapping these kids are also waiting for your attention.”

“Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry,” I exclaimed, turning to the kids guiltily, “how are you all? I’ve missed you all so much!” I hugged them and kissed them then handed out the goodie bags to them, seeing their faces light up with joy. There were some old faces, though they’d changed and grown with time of course; some new faces whom I’d never seen before; and some old faces were missing, having moved on from the orphanage and made their own way through life. Omar and AbdurRaheem, my two favourite hifz students had been sponsored to study at Darul Uloom Bury and were becoming alims, much to my happiness and joy.

“And Brianna? Where is she?”

“Here,” a voice said shyly from behind me. I whirled around and my eyes widened when they landed on a beautiful girl of around sixteen or seventeen, her vibrant red hair hidden under a floral hijab, her deep blue eyes still as gorgeous as ever. She had grown into a beautiful young girl and the smile stretched on my face as I looked at her, feeling something like maternal pride in my heart.

“My word, Bri. Look at you, so beautiful and all grown up now! Come here to mummy Fazila!” We laughed and hugged each other tightly. I noticed that she wasn’t limping and dragging her leg behind her anymore like she used to do but was infact walking normally like the rest of us. I touched her leg and looked at her questioningly. In response she smiled and lifted her pants to expose a metal prosthetic leg underneath.

“You had your leg amputated?”

She nodded. “It started giving me problems so I had to. This is better though, in a way. Less painful,” she smiled.

She was such a positive, happy girl that I was left in awe of her. Gone was the small, insecure, painfully shy girl. In it’s place was a confident, self assured teenager who made me laugh as she narrated stories of the kids at the orphanage. I learnt that she was teaching them now, having finished her own schooling till matric or O’levels as they had here. She had finished much sooner than other kids due to her intelligence. She had actually received a scholarship to the University of Manchester and was now studying to become a teacher and teaching the kids here in her free time.

“She is such an asset to this place,” Dora confided to me later on, “she’s like my own daughter now and helps me so much with the kids. I don’t know what I’d do without her.”

I had a wonderful time with the kids. We laughed and talked and ate all the party snacks that everyone had brought. Sa’ad was also there, playing with the kids and Abbas was crawling around trying to keep up with them. He was such a gorgeous child and I enjoyed playing with him as well. It was also lovely catching up with the adults. Mishka and Soraya were the same and we had a blast reminiscing about our previous days here. Soraya still had the videos of those days, including the one where the kids made us their captives and had us performing the silliest tasks for them. We watched it again and laughed till our sides hurt.

“You two tied to each other and running laps is the funniest,” I laughed, wiping tears of mirth from my eyes as I watched them trying to hobble-run and ending up rolling on the ground more than once. Then the scene changed, to me laughing and dropping my head on the table, only to land with a splat! in a bowl full of cereal and milk. Then it was their turn to laugh at me while I feigned indignance and tried not to laugh as well.

Sarah, Mus’ab’s wife, was much friendlier than before and even apologised to me about her rude behaviour all those years back.

“Jealousy makes us do the stupidest things,” she said wryly, shaking her head, “I still cringe when I think about how I behaved with you that time. Musa also told me off and told me it’s not on, you know. I really am sorry about that.”

“Don’t worry, if that was Ahmed in Mus’ab’s place my green dragon would also have reared it’s head,” I laughed.

“I’m glad you understand. You really are a lovely person,” she said, leaning forward to give me a quick hug.

Raeesa echoed that sentiment when I spoke to her as well a while later. “I’m glad Solly found you,” I said, smiling at her, “I had no idea he’d lost his family, you know, and I kept teasing him about finding a wife. Then one day he told us everything. I felt so terrible! He looked so lost and lonely, you know. He couldn’t imagine moving past such a huge tragedy but I kept making dua he finds such happiness that he heals from his losses. And he found that in you. I can’t tell you how happy I am for both of you. He looks so happy and contented now alhamdulillah.”

“That’s so sweet of you, Fazila. Sulaiman has spoken of you before and he always says you’re such a lovely person in and out. And now that I’ve met you I understand why he speaks so highly of you. You are a lovely person. It’s a pity you live so far away otherwise we could have been such good friends!”

“I know, right!” I sighed with a smile, “I do miss this place a lot. It’s like my second home.”

“Just one question…Solly???”

I burst out laughing. “Only I call him that, I know. I always laugh that it’s an Indian thing, shortening every Sulaiman’s name to Solly or Suli.”

“I’m an Indian but I’ve never heard of that before. Well, not that I’ve known a Sulaiman before this one so…” she smiled and shrugged, “I must try and call him that though. Solly…I like it!”

Now I knew why Khadija had told me to keep my afternoon free. With all the talking and laughing and catching up, by the time we got ready to leave it was already asr time. Zul and Ahmed had also come by briefly. I showed Ahmed around while Zul was with Asiyah and Sa’ad.

“Missing the place, are we?” Ahmed teased as I took him around while relaying old memories of the place as well.

“Of course, man. So many memories of this place.”

“Yeah, here’s where you sang that nasheed, ‘Allah made everything’,” Ahmed grinned as he pushed open a door, “you must sing it again for me now.”

I shoved him. “You were laughing at me that day. Don’t pretend you enjoyed my singing!”

“I did actually. All the hand-flapping and dancing around the room. Best show of my life!” Ahmed laughed then dodged the punch I aimed at him.

We finally left after promising to come back and visit them again, InshaAllah…


Shooh! I’ve probably written more in the past week than I have in months!😨🤣 enjoy it while this writing bug is on me😉 and drop me your feedbacks like always!

Much love,

Haadiya xxx

Part 256

We got home at around zuhr time just as nani and Humi also pulled in.

“Ooh, busy shopping up a storm huh! Didn’t even offer to take me with,” I pouted, eyeing the bags in their hands.

“Psshhtt, like you would have left Ahmed and accompanied us. You two were busy making goo goo eyes at each other whole morning,” Humi raised her eyebrows at me.

“Ya, you two never offered to take us with also,” nani put in.

“Oh, believe me nani, you wouldn’t wanna go anywhere with them. They would have scarred you for life with their besharamness,” Humi said.

I rolled my eyes. “Excuse me! You’ve been with all throughout hols and here you are, not scarred at all. And is besharamness even a word?”

“Leave them, they have to make babies for us,” nani said and with that she swished away, leaving us staring after her open-mouthed. Ahmed recovered first and guffawed.

“Nani is too much, kassam. Come along princess, let’s start the baby-making process now,” he teased with a wink in Humi’s direction. Humi ewwwwwed and made puking motions as we walked off, laughing.

***

Lunch was leftover rice and chicken from the day before since we’d all spent the morning out and had no time to cook. After lunch Humi was sitting on one side in the kitchen, trying to feed Numair a little bit of porridge, one small spoonful at a time. She had started him on solids about a week back and he seemed to be liking his new diet though it did take him quite long to eat. Nani and I were clearing and washing up when Ahmed walked in.

“Nani,” he said with a serious face. We all looked at him questioningly, “this house is lacking in some serious barkat these days. No burfee, no aloo parathas. My poor stomach is miserable and only you know how to put it out of its misery.”

I rolled my eyes. I knew exactly why he was remembering burfee and aloo paratha now! To my surprise nani burst out laughing. Putting down the food she was emptying into a small pot she walked over to him and pinched his cheeks, even though she had to reach up quite a bit to do it.

“Ahmed, Ahmed! Remembering the good old days, are we! How you used to come and say that to me all those years ago. Then your nana would say, “look how much he’s lissing for your food bicharo. Make some for him now.” And you both would enjoy. Your nana would laugh and say, “Ahmed ka naam aur hamara kaam.” Ey, those days. I am so happy you married my granddaughter. I always liked you but I couldn’t talk to you because of purdah. But now you really are my poiro and I can love you and spoil you nicely!”

“Don’t spoil him too much, nani. Look, his head is already getting so big like a big laddoo. Just now you’ll have to take that big needle of yours and pop it,” I said.

Ahmed smirked at me. “Don’t be jealous now. I was here before you.”

“No, you weren’t…”

“Yes, I was. I came to UK before you. I got to know nana and nani before you came. This was like my second home until you came. Then nana for some reason kicked me out and disowned me. All because of you,” he frowned at me in mock affront.

“What’s all this about kicking out and disowning?” Nana walked in at that point. He raised his eyebrows at Ahmed questioningly, not seeing Humi who was sitting out of his sight.

“Ahmed’s saying you disowned him after I came to UK. Tell him that’s not true.”

“He just stopped calling him over so much…because of you. He was very protective over you, Fazzu,” nani put in, laughing.

“And do you blame me for being like that? I knew how boys reacted to her…including Ahmed here,” he nodded towards Ahmed. Ahmed looked like a kid who was caught with his hand in the candy jar.

“What do you mean, nana?” He asked cautiously.

“You don’t remember the time you came here to give me a kitab and heard Fazila reading Qur’an? That look on your face…you became an aashiq of her voice then, just like her father became with her mother. That was exactly history repeating itself for me. Faruk got so impressed with my Rabia reciting Qur’an that he came back in two days sharp with a proposal. I thought you might do the same but you didn’t. But there was something there, neh?” His gaze probed at Ahmed who had actually gone red.

“Maybe he didn’t get so impressed like you thought, that’s why he didn’t come with a proposal,” I laughed, trying to lighten the moment.

“Oh, he definitely got impressed. He went into like a trance. I had to call his name so many times before he heard me then he told me, “she’s praying so wow.” He actually said that to me so he can’t even deny it now.”

I burst out laughing again, finding this whole thing hilarious. And the best part of it was Ahmed’s face!

“Errr, jee, I was impressed, nana. I might have even come with a proposal if it was possible for me to.”

“Why wasn’t it possible? I knew there was something going on between you two. Should have just made it halal.”

“Dad wouldn’t have allowed it and I wasn’t earning to support both of us then. It was tough but my hands were tied, so to speak. And there was nothing going on between us, really,” he shot me a quick look, “we only used to talk from time to time…not so much also.”

“But it was enough to develop some feelings there, neh?”

“Errrr, yeah,” Ahmed shifted awkwardly on his feet while I pressed back, trying to make myself invisible so his attention wouldn’t suddenly focus on me.

Nana smiled suddenly. “Never mind, that’s all in the past now. You both made tawbah and Allah brought you back together in a halal way alhamdulillah. No need to keep bringing up those days now. Rather concentrate on the halal story you have now. Now, I also heard the word aloo paratha back there…” he looked meaningfully at nani.

“Ya, you were just waiting for the opportunity, neh. I bet you sent Ahmed to ask for aloo paratha so you can also have some,” nani replied smartly.

“No, that I didn’t do. But if you’re going to make for Ahmed may as well make extra so we all can have. Aloo paratha and tea sounds lekker for supper, jaanu. You know no one can make aloo paratha like you so you can’t blame me for wanting some made by your own hands,” he winked at nani.

“Aww awwwww, look at nani blushing!” I chuckled, seeing nani go red. Nani shushed us and disappeared into the pantry. Nana grinned and turned to go.

“Oh, by the way, Ahmed,” he added, turning back in the doorway, “I knew there wasn’t anything serious going on between you and Fazila, otherwise I wouldn’t have just banned you from this house, I would have kicked you all the way back to PE! So count yourself lucky that you were sensible so I only banned you from this house, boy!” And with that he walked off.

Humi, who had been quiet till now, burst out laughing. “Finally someone managed to shut you up proper, Ahmed! The last time you looked like this was the time you were eight and you raided dad’s cupboard to find those chocolates he’d bought from Dubai and hidden at the back. Remember how you found them and you were nicely eating one, thinking you’ll take some and put the rest back and no one would know, and dad caught you. The tongue lashing you got that day and the way you looked, so guilty and gobsmacked, is how you’re looking now! I wish I could have recorded all this. Would have been classic!”

“This is what happens when you marry your ustadhs granddaughter,” Ahmed joked. We all laughed then, even Numair, who joined in with his own gurgle-laugh.

“Aloo paratha it is for supper, then,” nani said, coming out of the pantry, “you going somewhere in the afternoon, Faz?”

“We don’t have any plans yet…why?”

“You can help me make the parathas then, so you can make for Ahmed at home as well. Must feed men what they like, you know, then they’ll be your gulams for life. Ahmed, shoo now. You not supposed to hear all this,” she said, pointing at the door with her welan.

Ahmed laughed and held up his hands. “I’m leaving!” As he passed me he leaned down and whispered, “you heard. Learn how to make aloo paratha and burfee and keep making for me then I’ll be your gulam for life,” he winked at me and sauntered off.

“And burfee for dessert, nani?” I asked, already salivating over nani’s hot, fresh burfee.

“You want to make that today? Won’t you be full from the paratha? Rather make the burfee tomorrow,” nani replied.

“Okay, tomorrow then, inshaAllah.”

***

The parathas were simply divine! They got wiped in no time, washed down with hot, sweet tea. Even Humi, who had never tasted them before, was impressed and wanted to learn how to make them from nani. We were so full afterwards that I was glad we had decided to make burfee another day. It would have been a shame to only be able to eat a little since burfee was meant to be indulged in fully!

We were all sitting in the lounge infront of an old fashioned roaring fire after supper, tired and replete, when my phone beeped. Khadija.

Salaams, what you doing tomorrow?

Wslm, nothing planned yet. Why?

Okay, cool. I thought we can visit the orphanage at around eleven. How does that sound?

I smiled. I’d been wanting to visit the orphanage since I’d come so this sounded like a great idea. Sounds great, I’ll be ready, inshaAllah. You’ll pick me up?

Yup, I’ll come just before eleven so be ready. And don’t plan anything for the afternoon incase our visit gets extended.

Okay, I’ll let Ahmed know. See you tomorrow then. Salaams.

I updated Ahmed who nodded. “Sure, you can go. Maybe I’ll pop by with Zul afterwards, see the place as well.

I asked Humi if she wanted to join us but she shook her head. “I can’t stay for long with Numair but you can take me another day for a short visit.”

“No problem.”

I was almost bouncing in my excitement when we went up to sleep. Ahmed laughed at me.

“Look at you, like you’re going to visit the queen!”

“Even better, I’m going to visit my kids! Though they’ll have gone so big now. I can’t wait to meet them all, especially Brianna!”

“Come sleep now or else you won’t be able to wake up on time tomorrow.”

I went to sleep with a smile on my face.

Part 255

After touring campus we just drove around a bit. Ahmed showed me some of his hangout spots, like a park nearby where he and his buddies used to play football every week, a fast food joint which sold the most delicious food and had an adjoining lounge where they used to do hookah before he changed and stopped all that, a place where they used to go bowling…and a very familiar lake where I made him stop so we could come out and walk for a bit.

“No nightclubs or bars on that list?” I asked him as we walked on the grass towards the lake.

“Couple of clubs,” Ahmed replied, looking embarrassed, “no bars of course. I’ve never touched alcohol or drugs alhamdulillah. I knew my limits even back then.”

“But you went partying with all those nanga nanga chics?” I asked, unable to keep the jealousy from my voice.

Ahmed smiled and wrapped an arm around me, drawing me close. “Can I tell you something?”

“Mhmmm…”

“I don’t remember any of their faces or bodies. Not a single one. When I made tawbah Allah erased those memories from my mind alhamdulillah. I do remember what I did but I don’t dwell on it and never on the actual details. So it’s only you, babe. And no one can compare to your beauty so you can stop feeling jealous or insecure,” he lifted my niqaab and pinched my nose lightly, smiling down at me.

“Now I’m not,” I grinned and leaned up to kiss him gratefully. Turning back I lifted my face to the crisp wind and breathed in deeply, “I love this place. It was my happy place, where I used to come whenever I felt stressed out or sad or whatever.”

“I know,” Ahmed grinned, “it was my favourite place as well, for the same reasons.”

“You know? How?” I turned to look at him enquiringly. In response he led me forward to a tree on the banks of the lake. It was bare now but in summer it would cast a lovely shade where we could sit and look out over the water.

“Remember this tree?”

“Uhmm, I used to sit under it a lot…but I don’t remember meeting you here.”

“That’s because you didn’t meet me or even see me. But I saw you. This place is one I can’t forget because this is where I fell in love with you.”

I was staring at him open mouthed. “How?” Something was niggling me at the back of my mind. I think he’d told me this before…but I couldn’t remember the exact story so I wanted to hear it again.

“I used to come here to think, to clear my mind. At that time I remember I was very conflicted over you. On one hand I was very attracted to you, in and out, and on the other hand I knew it was haraam and I had to stay away from you no matter how much I wanted to spend time with you and get to know you better. So I was walking along and giving myself a nice, long lecture etc etc when I heard the most beautiful sound. At first I thought it was someone singing…then as I came closer I realised it was someone reciting Qur’an. I was blown away…I’d never heard anything like it before. I didn’t want to interrupt the person reciting so I slowly crept forward and peeped around that tree there,” he pointed out another tree further along, “and that’s when I saw you. And somehow I was not surprised. It just seemed so fitting, you here, reciting the Qur’an. I can’t explain it…but anyways that whole big lecture I gave myself just moments before flew right out of my mind,” he smiled wryly at me, “and that’s when I fell for you…so hard that I still haven’t recovered,” his smile widened.

“Wait…was I praying Surah Ar-Rahmaan that day?”

“Yup.”

“Oh so you’ve told me this before. Not in this much detail but you did mention that it was Surah Ar-Rahmaan that made you fall for me…making history repeat itself like my parents,” I smiled back at him.

“But you know,” Ahmed began, turning serious, “I thought it was love I felt that day. I thought I’d fallen in love with you and from then onwards I loved you, which is why I was heartbroken when I did end things between us. But now I realise that that wasn’t love. Not even close. This, what I feel for you now…this is love. This is so intense and so pure and a thousand times deeper than that ‘love’. That was just scratching the surface, really. I didn’t know you, not really, so how could I claim to love you? And that wasn’t from Allah, it was haraam love so it was from shaytaan so how can such ‘love’ ever compare to this love? Now I realise that that was simply infatuation, fuelled by shaytaan to make it look more rosy than it was. This is true love…and wallah that can never compare to this. I wish I could make people realise this. True love only begins after marriage!”

I nodded. Every haraam relationship was like that. People said they needed to get to know a person before they married him/her but you can never know a person’s true colours before marriage. So many people dated for years before they got married yet after marriage they realised how that person was in a way they never did before marriage. It’s all a trap of shaytaan, to get people to commit zina. It shows a lack of tawakkul in us since it means we feel that we know better than our Rabb. Allah tells us, do things the halal way and I shall place blessings and love in your marriage. We say, no that’s not how it works, especially in today’s times so I’ll do things my way instead, in a way I see fit. Do we wonder then, how come so many marriages are lacking in blessings, love and unity these days?

If we want true happiness and contentment in our lives we need to set aside our own wants and desires for the pleasure of Allah…we need to submit to the will of Allah and make our way His way. Then we’ll see how everything just falls into place inshaAllah…

Part 254

The familiar buildings of the University of Manchester loomed before us…old brick buildings interspaced by green lawns, tall trees, paved paths and stone benches. I stared at the familiar tall arch before me, assailed by nostalgia. Old memories played out before me. Ten years ago I stood at this same place and looked around me with awe and nervousness, a stranger in an unfamiliar land, a teenager treading on new ground on her way through life. How different life had been back then. How far I had come since then. I glanced at Ahmed to find him looking around with the same nostalgic look on his face. Grinning I linked my arm through his and said, “lead the way.”

We really were walking down memory lane today. Our memories were carved in every corner and wall of campus and it was where our story had started…and ended.

Luckily for us it was Christmas break at campus so it was mostly empty and we could walk around freely.

“That’s where I saw you first,” Ahmed said, pointing ahead of us as we came to a path, “screaming behind me and making me wonder who was making all that noise!”

“Imaamah dude!” I said, laughing, “that’s what I called you because you just weren’t listening to me!”

“Maybe calling my name would have worked?” Ahmed asked, raising his eyebrows at me.

“Ya but for some reason this just came out. And it did make you turn, neh? Though you looked down and didn’t say a word to me the whole time! I even told Khads that it was the first conversation I had with someone where I did all the talking. All you did was nod away like Noddy!” I giggled.

“I was rendered speechless by your beauty,” Ahmed said solemnly.

“Awww, that’s so sweet…”

“Or maybe I’d just become deaf from all that screeching you did so my brain had switched off.”

I turned and punched him on the arm. “You just had to spoil the romantic moment, didn’t you!”

“This is where I met Yusha and Khads,” I said when we were walking towards my lecture hall, “well, I met Yusha inside during lecture but this is where he introduced himself afterwards and I met Khads then…what?” I asked when I noticed the look Ahmed was giving me.

“Why do you remember the exact place you met Yusha, huh? Is it that important to you?” Ahmed raised his brows at me.

“Of course not, silly. I was just mentioning it by the way. But I met Khads here so yeah it’s important.”

“I wonder if you remember where you saw me first…”

“Of course I do. It was in the library. You came with Zul and I was so surprised to see you dressed like that. First time I was seeing anyone dressed in kurta and imaamah you know. You zipped in and out though. The way you walk when you want to avoid certain places but you have no choice but to go there,” I laughed.

“And I made you curious, hmm? You were checking me out, hmm?” Ahmed smirked.

I rolled my eyes. “Psshhtt, you wish. I was checking Zul out. I’m joking, I’m joking!” I laughed when Ahmed narrowed his eyes at me.

“Here’s where Zul and I always used to sit. Our favourite place,” Ahmed flopped down on the grass and stretched out, looking up at the sky with a sigh, “so many memories of this place…”

“Yeah, I always knew where to find you. You two were always here. Remember when I came to give you burfee my nani made for you. How happy you got. I got to see those gorgeous dimples in full force that day,” I tapped his cheek teasingly.

“Yeah and you were definitely checking me out that day. Don’t deny it!” Ahmed was smirking again.

“I was just seeing how much burfee you were eating,” I protested but my cheeks turned pink.

“Don’t lie, you’re blushing. Hoooo!” Ahmed whistled while I turned even redder and shushed him.

“And the other time you snuck aloo paratha for me. I swear it was only aloo paratha but it meant so much to me! My first gift I ever got from you,” Ahmed grinned at me.

I laughed. “Glad you remember that! And remember how jealous you got that time when Yusha came to get me to go shopping? You were scowling so much I was wondering what your deal was!”

“Well, I thought he was your boyfriend! He came to get you to go choose some suit for him…a suit! And the way you were talking and laughing with him…and going shopping with him alone…”

“We were not gonna go alone. See, that’s why you must ask before assuming the worst! It was me, Khads and him and he told me to help him pick out a suit for him so I agreed. Bas! And I told you the next day, neh, that I don’t date. Your mood improved after that,” I chuckled.

“Yup! I was impressed. So much that after you went I told Zul I wanna marry you.”

“Wait, what???” I ground to a halt and stared at him. He nodded with a smirk, “then why didn’t you??? We could have saved ourselves so many years of heartache!”

“Would you have agreed?”

“Uhmm, I don’t know…but I’d definitely have considered it! You could have tried at least!”

“I couldn’t,” he blew out his breath and stared straight ahead, “dad had sent me to study and that’s all he wanted me to do. He would never have provided for me financially if I got married because he wanted me to establish myself first before marrying…and I didn’t have the money or the time to provide for us myself. So I couldn’t. My hands were tied so to speak.”

I nodded. “This was our taqdeer…how it was supposed to play out for us. Alhamdulillah.”

“And here’s where you almost got raped,” our mood turned somber as we approached the sports centre, “those morons. If I have to see them even today I’ll give them a worse beating than I did that day…”

“Relax, it’s in the past. Leave it there,” I rubbed his arm soothingly and turned him around so he couldn’t see the place anymore, “although I wouldn’t mind shooting them myself for coming after you next. They almost killed you!” I shuddered as I remembered that fateful day in the alley where those thugs had stabbed Ahmed. He had almost died…all for some petty revenge. His scar still existed as a reminder of that day, a vivid line curving on his chest. I didn’t realise that I was rubbing that spot on his chest till he moved my hand away gently.

“It’s in the past. Leave it there,” he repeated my words to me in the same soothing tone. I nodded and we walked away from there, burying the memories again where they belonged.

“Aaand here’s where you broke my heart,” I waved at the area where Ahmed had delivered his final speech and blow on the day of my graduation. A day that had started off full of hope and happiness and ended off with crushing despair and heartbreak.

“Where I broke both our hearts,” Ahmed said grimly. He shoved his hands in his pockets and stared at the grassy area, his mouth compressed as he probably played out the memories in his head as well, “darkest day of my life, wallah. I thought I’d lost you for good,” he removed a hand from his pocket and wrapped his arm around me, holding me tightly to him.

“Same. Plus I thought you didn’t like me or want to marry me so I was completely crushed. But later on Zul explained why you did what you did and that made me feel a bit better. From then on I was just making dua that if it was khair Allah would bring you back to me. And he did alhamdulillah.”

“Ya, he found me crying…”

“You were crying??”

“Ya, after smashing my fists into that wall over there and cursing myself multiple times for being so stupid,” Ahmed smiled wryly at me, “Zul found me like that and got worried of course. I told him everything…and I quoted my favourite quote to him, “if you love someone let them go, for if they return they were always yours and if they don’t they never were.” He didn’t get it at first. Told me to stop being such an idiot and just marry you and make it halal. I told him why that wouldn’t work. How could a relationship which started off on haraam ever be blessed? No, I had to pay for my mistakes by letting you go. Hardest thing I ever did in my life but I knew it was the right thing to do. And Allah rewarded me for my sacrifice by returning you to me in a halal way alhamdulillah.” He turned me fully into his arms. We remained like that for a while, secure in each other’s embrace while the memories surrounded us. If we had known that day what we knew now we would have been celebrating instead. We would have bid each other farewell willingly, knowing it would be temporary and we would be reunited in the end. But we hadn’t known…and that was the crux of it all. Our test lay in us not knowing what the future held. Would we do the right thing and leave our fate in Allah’s hands or would we take our future in our hands and shape it the way we wanted to, whether it pleased Allah or not. But when we left our fate in Allah’s hands Allah rewarded us by giving us what we wanted all along, just in a much better and halal way. And even if He hadn’t given us our hearts desires in this world He would have definitely rewarded us for it in the hereafter. That was the benefit of having Imaan. A mu’min’s affairs are all good, whether he can see it or not, alhamdulillah.

Allah truly worked in mysterious ways…we just had to place our trust in Him and allow Him to lead us on this path called life, for we could only see where we were at that moment whereas He could see our path all the way till the end. Like how a child laughs when his parents throw him in the air because he fully trusts that they will catch him before he falls, so do we have to trust our Rabb for He is always there to catch us before we fall. He will never leave us alone…we just have to realise that and trust Him fully…

Part 253

The loud ringing of my phone brought me out of a deep slumber. Scrambling blindly for the phone I swiped it and held it to my ear, only to hear a loud burst of laughter emit from it.

“I don’t wanna see your ear, silly. Hold the phone up!”

“Of all the times to make a video call! Waking me up and all. Who phones at this time anyways??” I grumbled, squinting blearily at the screen.

Zee and Laaibah were laughing away. “It’s ten o’clock already, you wanna sleep the whole morning? And look at yourself! You look like a witch with all your hair sticking out like that! You must be giving Ahmed nightmares after waking up every morning!” Zee chortled.

“You look like a hedgehog Aunt Faz!” Laaibah put in, giggling.

“Gee, thanks,” I replied drily, “and it’s only eight o’clock here, plus I’m on hols so no phoning before ten! Maybe I must just switch off my phone from now.”

“Alright, alright, grumpy pants! Now that you’re already awake and seeing two such lovely faces,” she pointed to herself and her daughter. Just then Zaid ran up and squashed himself between them, grinning at me widely, “or three lovely faces now, smile!”

I looked at three faces wearing cheesy grins and my own face curved into a smile.

“That’s better! So how’s your hols going? You’ve forgotten me these days so I have to keep remembering you,” Zee pouted.

“Hey, I keep texting you so how have I forgotten you? And hols are good, alhamdulillah. Especially now that we’re here…so many people to catch up with. Haven’t seen everyone in long so it’s awesome!” I grinned.

“Awww yeah, old memories. So are you and Ahmed walking down memory lane? You know, here’s where we fell in love…here’s where we had our first kiss…” Zee smirked at me.

“Astaghfirullah, we weren’t so haraami okay! We didn’t touch and all, we were shareef and only used to smile at each other from far…when he wasn’t looking down, that is,” I replied demurely.

“Yeah, right! You and shareef! Now Ahmed I can understand but you?? There must be a place somewhere in Manchester where you jumped on him and stole his innocence. Come on, admit it now…”

“Excuse me!” I began.

“Who did Aunt Faz jump on? And what did she steal? I thought stealing is haraam,” Laaibah interrupted, looking at me wide eyed like I’d just grown a pair of horns.

“Your mother is talking rubbish. I didn’t do anything like that,” I replied, narrowing my eyes at Zee who was laughing away.

“Yeah, Aunt Faz is a good girl. She doesn’t do bad things,” the little girl nodded seriously.

“Good girwww,” Zaid repeated, clapping his hands.

“Of course I am. At least you know that Laaibuu. You must teach your mummy that now,” I smirked at Zee.

I chatted to Zee for a while. She was going to Cape Town in a few days with Bashir and her parents, to see Faaiza who was married there and have a holiday at the same time. They were all looking forward to it though Zee said she was exhausted from running behind two excited, hyper kids constantly. Laaibah was very calm but she had become hyper in her excitement and Zaid…that laaitie was a little missile all the time. He made his mother run so much behind him that she swore she was never having anymore. Two was more than enough, she kept saying. She said she made dua Allah grants me and other women out there who wanted kids, children instead.

“Did Zee phone?” Ahmed asked, popping his head into the room after I’d hung up.

I laughed. “Yeah.”

“No wonder it sounded like a fish market in here. You two can make more noise than a room full of women,” he chuckled.

Yeah, like you and Zul,” I raised my eyebrows at him with a smirk.

“No ways man! Not even close. Anyways, come down now. Your nani is wondering if you’re hibernating up here for the whole of winter or what.”

“Tell her I’m coming in ten,” I heaved myself to my feet and went to the bathroom to shower and get ready.

***

Breakfast was nani’s scrumptious scones with cream and strawberry jam and pancakes with syrup and nutella. We dived in enthusiastically, even Numair, who got fed some by nani and totally loved it, demanding for more with his mouth wide open till Humi finally took him and stuck his bottle in his mouth. Nani laughed.

“He’s going to become a foodie like his mamie here,” she nudged me with her elbow.

“Then you’ll go places, my boy,” I grinned at him and reached over to pinch his nose. That led to him letting go of his bottle and crying while arching his back and latching onto my shirt with one little fist till I finally picked him up and settled him against me. I gave him his bottle and ate with one hand then played with him for a bit, pinching his nose then squealing when he pinched mine in return. He especially loved it when I rubbed my nose in his stomach and laughed loudly with his adorable baby laugh, making us laugh as well. Finally he got tired and Humi disappeared to bath him and put him to sleep.

“You’ve always been good with babies,” nani said with a fond smile, “from the time you were here, with Imaan’s kids.”

“I love them and they love me,” I grinned at her.

“Are you ready to have your own, beti?”

The smile faded from my face. “Yes,” I said quietly, “I’ve been ready for so long now but nothing’s happening. Maybe there’s something wrong with me.” It was the first time I was voicing this fear of mine that grew within me each month when my periods came. I raised tear-filled eyes to nani then struggled not to break down when she came by me and wrapped me in her warm embrace.

“There’s nothing wrong with you, beti. It happens with many people. I’ve heard of people getting pregnant after ten, fifteen years also. You haven’t been married so long now so don’t worry and take all this out of your mind. And remember, it is Allah who gives when He wants to give. Don’t keep making fikr and enjoy your holidays. What is Ahmed saying about this?”

“Same as you.”

“Ya see, it’s not something you make fikr of so soon. You are young and healthy and you have time. Allah will give you so many when He feels you’re ready inshaAllah then you’ll have a houseful of noisy kids and you’ll wish for these days again so make the most of this time and freedom while you have it.”

Uhmmm, I wasn’t too sure about the “so many” part but it made me smile as I nodded at nani’s wise words of advice. The last part especially resonated with me. So many times we don’t appreciate where we are in life because we’ve always set our sights on more. More wealth, more kids, more happiness, more of everything. Our eyes are so trained in the future that we forget to enjoy the present we are in. Then when that future does come, which doesn’t always turn out the way we want it to, we look back at these very days and realise how much we had even then…but we didn’t enjoy it because we were too busy focusing on the future. So the happiest, most content person is one who’s neither stuck in the past, because he can’t change it, nor in the future, because he can’t see it and he leaves it in Allah’s hands, and he lives fully in the moment. That was something we all had to aspire towards.

That thought remained though, niggling at the back of my mind…

After we had cleared away the breakfast we relaxed for a while. Ahmed and I wanted to tour Manchester a bit today. We asked Humi if she wanted to come with. To our surprise she refused.

“Nah, I’ll pass. I’m going out with nani as soon as Numair wakes up.”

“With nani?” Ahmed and I said at the same time.

Humi laughed. “Why you’ll looking so surprised? She asked me yesterday if I wanted to go shopping and see some places today. She said she can take me if I want and I agreed. Your nani is strong mashaAllah. She still drives as well. I was so surprised!”

I laughed as well. “Yup, that’s nani. Nana told her to slow down now but she just can’t. I’m just surprised you’d choose to go with an old woman. So many people find that boring though I myself never get bored with her around.”

“Nah, man, even I can never! She’s such an amazing woman, Faz! You’re so lucky to have a nani like her. If you think of it I’m a total stranger to her but the way she’s taken to me and Numair is just amazing. I feel closer to her than I’ve felt to anyone in years and that includes my own parents. Infact I don’t think I’ve ever felt this close to my mum in my life. You know, I told her everything, Faz, about Mickey and my messed up life. Everything. And not once did she judge me or look down on me. She only sympathised and hugged me tightly and told me I’m so strong to go through all that and be where I am today. You know, no one’s ever told me that before! I’ve always thought I’ve been used and abused. I’ve always felt worthless and cheap. She made me feel good for the first time in a long, long time. I wish I could package her and take her home with me!”

I laughed, my eyes misty. “I wish, man. I keep telling them to move back to S.A. but they like it here. But yeah, nani’s amazing like that mashaAllah. And I’m glad you’ve connected with her. She has this way of making people laugh and feel better.”

“That’s where you got your psych talent from,” Humi raised her eyebrows at me. We laughed then Ahmed and I went to get ready…

Confessions…

Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh…

Hope everyone is doing well.

I know everyone must be thinking where I’ve disappeared to. Well, I have a confession to make about that…

The thing is…I have a terrible memory🙈 so terrible that I’ve forgotten what I wrote in my earlier posts. Unbelievable right??🤦🏻‍♀️ Now I want to write about the good old days but I can’t cause I dont remember so many details! So I’m re-reading my own blog again😳😂 some of the things I wrote back than, ay! *cringe* but yeah…please bear with me while I take this trip down memory lane before I make my characters walk down it. And if you’ll have any duas or amals to improve memory please pass them along! My memory is like a sieve and it’s SO annoying! Make dua for me and my memory…

Much love,

Haadiya xxx

Part 252

Khadija was looking at me in utter disbelief.

“Nooo! No way!” She said, shaking her head. Turning accusing eyes onto Asiyah she demanded, “who is she??”

“Who do you think it looks like?” Asiyah raised her eyebrows questioningly.

“It looks like Faz. But it can’t be her. Who are you, really??” She demanded, turning back to me.

“Last I checked I was Fazila Bhayat,” I deadpanned.

“Really, Khads! She’s right before your eyes! Who else can she be??”

“But…I messaged her just before lunch. She told me she’s in Spain!” Khads burst out, looking completely confused.

I was struggling to hold on to my laughter at this point. She was right about that. She’d texted asking how I was and what I was up to and I’d mistakenly clicked on her chat so I couldn’t back out without answering, since she was online and obviously waiting for an answer. I didn’t tell her I was in Spain but I’d sent her a pic of Barcelona captioned, ‘Barcelona😍’ and sighed with relief when she drew the obvious though wrong conclusion. Well, no wonder she was looking at me like she was seeing a ghost!

“Message her again and ask her where she is,” I suggested.

She actually did that, whipping out her phone and typing out a quick message, still darting suspicious glances at me while doing so. My phone beeped in my bag and I removed it and typed back, “right here, darling. Looking at your gorgeous face!” I saw her face go from disbelief to shock and turned my phone around for her to see the messages from my phone…for added proof. And still she stood there, looking at me like she was seeing a ghost!

“Someone’s a little slow on the uptake today,” Asiyah chortled, nudging Khadija. I laughed and walked up to her to hug her. And only then did it seem to register to her.

“Silly! So you lied to me and told me you were in Spain when all the time you were right here!”

“I didn’t lie to you. I only sent you that pic. You made your own conclusions,” I chuckled.

“Still! You were right here and you couldn’t tell me??”

“She’s here and you know now. Isn’t that what matters?” Asiyah was rolling her eyes. Khadija laughed.

“Yeah, you’re right. So glad to see you, Faz!” She hugged me again, a bit too enthusiastically this time, leaving me gasping for breath. “How are you? When did you come?”

“Yesterday. And no one knew we were coming, not even my nana and nani. Where’s your son?” Khadija had also given birth sometime last year, a bit before Imaan.

“Yusha took him with them. His daughter is the same age as my Abbas so they get together a lot for play dates and all.”

“Aah, nice. And how’s your family? Your parents?”

“All well, alhamdulillah. Mama will be so happy to see you. She’s been saying for long that about time you paid us a visit!” Khadija laughed.

“We’ll go see her one of these days inshaAllah…”

It was lovely sitting with my two friends again, catching up like old times. All the bantering, the bickering and cracking lame jokes that still made us laugh till our sides hurt… life had changed, we had evolved but underneath we were still the same old trio who used to rock campus back in those days. We were so busy chatting and laughing that we lost track of the time and Zul had to come tell me that Ahmed thought it’s about time we left now. Luckily I was facing away from him so I could quickly wear my niqaab again. Asiyah and Khadija were looking at me in amusement.

“Forgot you wear niqaab now,” Asiyah commented.

“Yeah and from me also? Come on man, I’m like your brother!” Zul complained good naturedly.

I laughed. “Not islamically you’re not!” Turning to Khadija and Asiyah I promised to make plans with them to meet up again then followed Zul down the stairs. Them two stayed upstairs because they didn’t want to risk bumping into Ahmed!

“So how you doing, Faz? Has my brother been treating you well or should I teach him how to do that?” Zul flexed his hands as he spoke.

I laughed. “Very well alhamdulillah.”

“Are you sure? Tell me if he’s being an ass. I’ll be more than happy to teach him a lesson.” Zul was still flexing his hands, grinning at me with raised eyebrows.

“I’m not gonna give you an excuse to beat him up, thanks!” I promptly replied.

“Aw aww, protective over your husband, are we? Honeymoon phase not worn off yet?”

“Stop troubling my wife, Zul, and go trouble your own,” Ahmed interjected. Taking my hand he made salaam to Zul and led me from the house.

***

“You didn’t have to get so personal with him.”

I turned to look at Ahmed with a frown. “Meaning?”

“Zul. I told you to keep it short, not start chatting to him like old buddies.”

“Chatting to him?? When was I chatting to him like ‘old buddies’? You told me to prank him so I did that!”

“Ya but I told you to keep it short neh. You like adding your masalas to everything,” Ahmed shook his head with a mock grimace. I scowled at him, not finding it funny.

“If I’d kept it short you think he would have believed me?? Oh Zul. You owe my husband money. Pay up or else! He’d have laughed in my face then banged the door shut on it. You tell me how I could have made it believable without speaking like I did!”

“Okay, fine. Maybe the prank wasn’t such a good idea after all. My fault for telling you to go through with that. But afterwards when you came down with Zul? You were talking to him nicely through your purdah, Fadheelah. And you know that’s not correct.”

“I only said a few things,” I said defensively. Ahmed simply looked at me with raised eyebrows, “okay, fine, I wasn’t supposed to talk to him. But what could I have done? I know Zul from that time and I used to talk and joke with him so much back then. That’s why he’s still so free with me. How can I suddenly start ignoring him? It would seem so rude!”

“He would feel bad at first. It’s not easy, I know. But you did it with your cousins, neh? And you were even closer to them than to Zul.”

“It’s still not easy, even with them,” I mumbled. It wasn’t. I’d grown up around them, we were like brothers and sisters. Even now they would come and start talking or pass jokes or comments. To them I was just Faz, their little sister. To me also…I knew they weren’t my mahrams islamically but after a lifetime of treating them as my own brothers…old habits die hard. I still wasn’t perfect in my purdah. I’d cover up but regarding speaking through my niqaab…it was so hard to not speak to them. Everytime I cut them short and walked away I felt so bad…everytime I saw the offended hurt on their faces I felt like a villain. Sometimes I’d end up speaking without realising it till a bit later on. I wasn’t perfect…far from it. I was trying…but it was just so difficult.

“I know it’s hard,” Ahmed said softly, “I was a ladies man myself before I changed. Talking to girls was like talking to boys…there was no right or wrong about it. Apart from the girls I ermm, went out with and all that,” he shot me a quick look, “there were two girls I was really good friends with. We were really tight, the way I am with Zul now. We used to hang out together, share secrets and advice…confide in each other…all that. Then I changed and I had to cut them out as well. It was the hardest thing I did in my life. I could brush off the other girls and simply tell them I didn’t speak to girls anymore. Their anger didn’t faze me. But these two…they were so angry and hurt. One of them wasn’t a Muslim. She just could not understand why I could not talk to them anymore. “What’s the bloody harm in just talking???” She kept yelling, “it’s not like we’ll start sleeping together or stuff!” I tried my best to explain to her, while trying not to look at her and be as brief as possible. She just didn’t get it. She cried, called me all sorts of names and stormed off, still crying. The other girl was a Muslim but she also thought I was being extreme. She told me this isn’t deen, I was being cruel and breaking friendships for no reason. She said I must move with the times, that Islam was a moderate and easy religion and I was just making things difficult for myself. She also told me all kinds of things before storming off. That night I cried myself, Fadheelah. It was so difficult, at that time it didn’t seem like I was doing the right thing. I thought I was being too extreme like Sumi…the girl, said. I questioned myself, I questioned my decision. I cried to Allah and told Him to show me the right way. But the right way didn’t come overnight. It was a long, hard struggle, a path full of thorns and brambles. No one supported my decision, no one told me I was doing the right thing. Everyone just thought I was being extreme and tried to get me to relax. But you can’t relax, Fadheelah. You have to keep striving till you finally see the light at the end of the long, dark tunnel. And when you finally get there, to that light, wallah, the struggle all becomes worth it. When you lower your gaze and walk away for the pleasure of Allah, Allah puts such sweetness of Imaan in your heart you can literally taste the sweetness of it in your heart and on your tongue. And that is the best feeling of all. Then wallahi no one matters…it’s only you and your Allah and that priceless connection between you. Everything else just fades away…”

I was entranced. Ahmed spoke with such passion, like he was experiencing all that. I knew that he had reached that stage…and now Allah had made it so easy for him that no one questioned his decision or criticised him anymore. Everyone just knew that that’s how he was and went out of their way to accommodate him and respect his wishes. I’d read that when Allah loves you He places your love in the hearts of the creation. I saw that with Ahmed, the way people respected him and looked up to him without him having to put on any airs or try to gain popularity. It just came to him. I could only hope to reach his level one day inshaAllah. But I had to persevere and strive for it without slipping back into my rut. I had to face the difficulty now and struggle on…then after all that struggle and difficulty Allah would bring ease. There was no rainbow without the storm. There was no diamond without a whole lot of polish and pressure. Without that it would just have remained a lump of coal. So if I wanted to shine I had to take the heat now.

And then a thought struck me and I frowned.

“What?” Ahmed asked, seeing it.

“Were they tall and beautiful and curvy, those friends of yours?” I was unable to keep the jealousy from my voice.

Ahmed burst out laughing and pulled me into his arms. “Not even close to your beauty,” he murmured, “not that I was noticing such stuff about them. I told you they were just friends. I didn’t look at them that way.”

“A boy and girl can never be just friends!” I said primly.

“Uhuh. And what about Yusha? And Asiyah’s brother…what’s his name again?”

“Mus’ab,” I replied, trying not to laugh, “they were just my friends.”

“But a boy and girl can never be just friends right???”

“Sometimes they can…like in my case. Mus’ab was just a passing acquaintance and Yusha was a friend but I wasn’t that tight with him. I didn’t cry a river when saying bye to him!” I quirked a brow at Ahmed.

“Never mind if you were tight with him or not. I always used to see you with him. I even thought he was your boyfriend at one point!” Now he was the one sounding jealous.

I laughed. “I remember you asking me about that. And I said no, remember?”

“Good. Remember all this if you do meet him. He’s too free with you for comfort.”

“I don’t know if he’s still like that. He’s married now and got a kid as well.”

“As chatty as you both are I don’t trust you two not to start yapping away…ouch!” I had football tackled him onto the mattress and was now punching him and tickling him at the same time. Ahmed tried to wriggle away but I was sitting on him and there was no way he was getting away.

“Say sorry!”

“Aah why should I say sorry. I only said the truth…aaah!”

“Say sorry!”

“No…get off me…umff! Stop!”

“Say sorryyyy!”

“Fine. Sorry. Now get off me, you sadist!”

I laughed and rolled off him. “Sadist? What a baby you are! Nana and nani will wonder what kind torture I’m inflicting on you with the way you’re howling away!”

“I’ll tell nana you assaulted me, wait. And I’ll get my revenge later on,” he sat up and smirked at me.

“Not if I get you first!” With that I threw a cushion smack! into his face and ran off, laughing.


I want to say jazakillah khair to my readers who commented on my last post. They provided me with inspiration for part of this post. The truth is, sometimes we tend to lose sight of our main purpose in trying to spin an interesting story. I’m glad you’ll brought it to my attention, it made me defensive at first but made me introspect later on. But despite that, i just want to clarify some things; this blog is not a fatwa panel. Whatever the characters do does not automatically make it correct. I mean, the writer isn’t perfect, none of us can claim to lead perfect and sin free lives so how can we expect these characters to do every single thing correct? I know blogs and other material we read/watch does have an effect on us but we shouldn’t take them as daleel (proof) or justification of our actions. our lives and actions should be according to the Quran and sunnah,not according to the lives of fictional/non fictional characters. We should be smarter than that. So I WILL try my best to make sure everything is shariah compliant but I’m sure I’ll still make mistakes along the way so take the good and know what to follow and what not to follow.

Enjoy and drop me your feedbacks like always,

Haadiya xxx