All posts by Haadiya

Part 275

What a world of difference there was between my leaving PE and returning once again. I had left happy, whole, secure in my life and marriage; I returned broken, incomplete, my dreams and illusions shattered…a mere shell of my former self.

It seemed like half of PE had turned up to welcome me. My inlaws were there, mummy, daddy, Humi and Numair. My parents were there with Han, Hamza and Safiyyah, and Adnaan, Sumi and their tiny bundle of joy, Hafsa. My aunts, uncles and cousins were all there as well and I spotted Zee as she rushed over to me. They were all hugging me, murmuring condolences and expressing their happiness at seeing me again. I barely registered any of it, replying automatically when it was required of me. Mummy and daddy saw how I was and finally steered me out of there.

I was quiet on the ride home. It was weird going to my parents house instead of my own house. It was crushing being on my own like a single woman again, after being attached to another person for so long. Now that the adrenaline rush was gone I felt empty and devoid of strength. I stumbled as I was going up the stairs and mummy and Han quickly rushed over to me and helped me up and into my room. I collapsed on my bed and stared listlessly at the ceiling above me. I could feel mummy’s and Han’s worried gazes on me, hear their whispers as they discussed me but I was too numb to care.

“Fazila,” mummy began gently, “do you want to freshen up then come down and eat? I’ve made your favourite pasta for you.”

I raised my head slightly and tried to smile at her. “Later, mummy. I’ll just rest for a while first.”

They nodded and backed out of the room, carefully shutting the door behind them. I curled up into a ball and rolled over onto my side, shutting my eyes tightly to block out the images beginning to haunt me.

Ahmed…where are you, Ahmed? What’s happening to you right now? Are you okay or lying in a ditch somewhere…

No! I clapped my hands to my head to block out the unwanted thoughts and twisted around, jumping to my feet. Maybe a shower would do me good after all.

I managed to eat a bit of the pasta that mummy had prepared so lovingly for me. It was good to be back amongst family. At least I didn’t feel quite so alone despite the gaping hole in my heart. Their chatter managed to distract me somewhat, something I knew they were doing on purpose.

“Fazila, eat some more,” mummy said after I’d pushed my plate away.

“No, mummy, I’m full, jazakillah,” I said.

“But you’ve barely eaten…” mummy started protesting.

Daddy placed his hand on mummy’s arm. “It’s okay, Rabia. She’ll eat later when she’s hungry again.”

I nodded and rose to my feet. “I’ll just go rest in my room for a bit.”

“Have you seen her, Faruk? She’s skin and bones! I bet she hasn’t eaten properly in weeks…!”

“I know, Rabia, but we can’t force her. She’ll slowly start eating again, InshaAllah…”

Their worried voices faded as I walked away to my room again. I lay down on my bed and willed sleep to come and after a while the blessed oblivion finally shut me off from the world and it’s bitter reality.



***



The days dragged and blended together simultaneously. I had absolutely nothing to do except sit around and it was driving me crazy, especially after my crazy activity in Iraq. People kept popping in to offer support. Han and Zee came by everyday and Amira and Aliyah kept popping in every few days. Sumi was also in and out of our house and strangely it was her baby Hafsa who gave me the most comfort. The first time Sumi dumped her in my arms and walked away I stared at the little human and wondered what to do with her. Within half an hour I was totally mesmerised by her and when Sumi and Han came back it was to see me laughing at the baby’s adorable gurgling sounds. It was a sight so welcome to them that they made me their unofficial baby sitter and kept dumping their kids by me one after the other. Zee found out about it and also started bringing Laaibah and Zaid around to distract me with their chatter.

The first week after I came back I flat out refused to leave the house. I just wanted to be left alone even though my thoughts and worries haunted me most then. My family, however, were just as stubborn as me and in the second week they forced me out of the house. They took me to the mall a couple of times even though I hated the crowds and refused to go back after that. They took me to the parks and beach which was much better as the nature soothed my soul and made me calmer. The ocean, in particular, was a therapy of sorts for me. I could drown myself in the sound of the waves, drown out my thoughts and simply FEEL. I would sit there for hours doing nothing but stare at the waves, losing track of time till someone came along and dragged me back home.

The nights were the worst for me. Without the buffer of family and distractions that filled my days my thoughts came back to haunt me viciously. I had nightmares almost every night and woke up screaming and drenched in sweat. I would wake up screaming and crying to find myself in mummy’s arms, her soothing voice filling my ears as she rocked me to and fro.

“You don’t have to come,” I told her one night, seeing her exhausted, worry-ravaged face, “I can wake up by myself and then I usually make wudhu and pray Quran or Salah or make dua. You don’t have to interrupt your sleep for me.”

“Do you think I can sleep peacefully while hearing my daughter screaming away?” Mummy replied, “I’m here for you, sweetie. I can sleep with you if you want.”

I shook my head instantly. “No, no, I’ll be fine, don’t worry,” I tried to muster up a smile to reassure her though I wasn’t doing a good enough job of it judging by the worried lines still marring her face.

I got up and immersed myself in ibadah as I always did when I was woken up by nightmares. Turning to Allah calmed me down because I knew that He was the only one who knew the condition of my heart and the trauma I was going through. He was the only one I could pour my heart out to and know that He truly understood. And He was the only one who could calm the frantic beating of my heart and soothe the tortures of my soul.

Even though I had things to distract and occupy me through the days I barely ate and barely slept and both had a negative impact on my body. I could tell mummy and daddy were really worried so for their benefit I tried to force food down my throat but for some reason it just didn’t stay down. I would repeatedly get up midway through my meals and rush to the toilet only to empty the contents of my stomach. My body was thin and gaunt and some days I barely had enough energy to get up and down the stairs as well. My parents were worried sick and I could tell it was taking a toll on them as well. I suppose things had to come to a head some day and they did. I had just walked into the kitchen one day when I suddenly felt faint. The last thing I remembered was daddy’s arms coming up to catch me before everything went black.

When I woke up I found myself in a doctor’s office, several worried faces peering down at me. I groaned and tried to sit up.

“What happened?”

“You fainted, that’s what happened,” mummy replied.

“Oh…I don’t need a doctor though, I’m fine,” I said.

The doctor, a middle aged woman with a friendly face smiled at me. “Let’s just do a few tests, okay, then you can go home. You look a bit down so we’ll just take a few tests to clear everything up.”

I gave in since I had no choice in the matter. I had urine and blood tests done then waited in the waiting room till the doctor called us in again. To our surprise the doctor was smiling instead of looking worried.

“Good news!” She beamed, “this explains a lot of what you told me, Mrs. Bhayat.” She turned to me then, “congratulations, Mrs. Cassim. You’re pregnant!”

For the second time that day I fainted.

Part 274

My return to the land of the living…or land of the conscious, I should say…was not pleasant at all. Infact it was excruciatingly painful. I first became aware of an intense throbbing pain in my head. I groaned and clumsily maneuvered my hands to clutch at my head. I remained like that for a few moments before I tried to open my eyes.

Nothing.

Total blackness.

I gingerly removed a hand from my head and reached out to fumble for the lamp switch that must be within reach.

My hand encountered cold earth instead.

At the same time I became aware of a number of things. My niqaab was over my face and blocking my eyes which was why I couldn’t see anything. I was lying in a very uncomfortable position and was all tangled up in a lot of clothing. And I was not sleeping in my bed. I was not even inside a house, let alone a bed.

I yanked off my niqaab and raised myself to an awkward crouching-sitting position, wincing at a fresh wave of throbbing pain. The cool night air hit my face and cleared the rest of my mind. And the memories came flooding back.

Ahmed!!!

Untangling myself hastily I stood up then braced my hand on the wall next to me as a wave of dizziness hit me. My vision was blurry and even blinking several times didn’t clear it completely. Glancing around I realised I was in an alleyway of some sort…alone. There was no one else in sight. Ahmed and Ilyas were gone.

There were a lot of things I wanted to do in that moment and they all came back to one thing; find Ahmed. To that end I made my way slowly to the end of the alley and looked at the road on both sides. It was empty and at a glance showed no signs of which direction Ahmed could have been taken in. Fumbling for my handbag I pulled out my phone n squinted at the time; three twenty a.m. That and the fact that I felt like my head was being split in half decided my immediate course of action for me. I couldn’t do anything at this time and in this condition. The best thing I could do right now was go home, take some medicine and sleep.

The walk back home was slow and painful. Luckily we hadn’t gone far to eat so I didn’t have that far to walk. And another stroke of good luck was that I’d locked up the house so I had the keys. If I hadn’t had that I didn’t know what I would have done. I silently made shukr to Allah as I finally stumbled into the house, locked it behind me and dragged myself to my room. Rummaging around in my suitcase produced a box of painkillers and I gratefully swallowed a couple with a bottle of water on my bedside table. Then, removing my abaya and scarf I crawled between the cool sheets and closed my eyes exhaustedly.

Sleep took long to come. Despite my throbbing head images and scenarios kept haunting me and worry and barely leashed panic made it almost impossible to fall asleep. I finally prayed fajr at the beginning time and then fell into a fitful sleep.

***

I loved the moments when I first awakened. Those few blissful moments when my mind was clear and the worries hadn’t crowded in yet. Today it didn’t last long. Few moments of blissful oblivion were all I had before the pain and panic crowded in, making me bolt upright in bed then gasp and clutch my head when it pounded in protest. My headache was slightly better than before but my head still throbbed and gingerly feeling the area at the back of my head told me that I had an impressive lump there which was most likely caked in dried blood, judging by the dry matted hair stuck to my scalp. A glance at my pillow confirmed the blood part. Smudges of red were visible against the cream cotton. I hadn’t noticed all this before in my dazed state.

I showered and forced myself to eat something, accompanied by more painkillers before I ventured out again on my search. I thought I’d start at the scene of the crime so to speak. I might find some traces or hints of where they’d been taken.

I soon realised that this was easier said than done. Firstly there was the language barrier and secondly I couldn’t find any witnesses around. I knew there had been people around when it happened but I had no idea who they were and where they’d disappeared to. Finally I went to the police station to lodge an official complaint. Somehow, by finding an officer who knew a bit of english I was able to explain the whole scenario to them. The response wasn’t encouraging at all. As soon as I described the soldiers who’d taken Ahmed and Ilyas their faces changed.

“Military? What problems do they have with the military?”

“My husband doesn’t have any problems with the military. We’re not even from here. We’re tourists,” I replied.

“Maybe the other man…what you say, Ilyas? Maybe he had problems and your husband was involved…”

“That’s not possible. We only came here four days ago and this is our first time in Iraq. We don’t have any problems with anyone,” I reiterated firmly.

“If your husband is innocent he will be released. Don’t worry,” the officer said almost dismissively, turning away to shuffle papers on his desk.

“But can’t you at least find out where he is and why they took him?? I have no idea and I’m going out of my mind with worry here,” I said pleadingly, hoping to bring out the human side of him.

He shot me a sympathetic look. “If we hear anything we’ll be in touch with you. You can leave your name and contact details here. Don’t worry. If he’s innocent he will be released.”

That didn’t sound reassuring at all, especially delivered with that skeptical look on his face. I scribbled down my name and contact details and left before I made a huge fuss and made things worse for myself.

Walking down the road I came to a park of sorts and sat down on the bench despondently. All the optimism I’d woken up with this morning had vanished and I was close to tears.

“Ahmed…Ahmed where are you?” I mumbled, tears slipping from my eyes and soaking into my niqaab. I had no desire to return to an empty house so I sat there for a while then made my way to a secluded spot surrounded by trees and hedges and laid out my travelling musalla. I prayed two rakahs of salatul haajah  (prayer of need) then raised my hands in dua. Succumbing to my tears I sobbed as I asked Allah to return my husband to me. I made dua for both Ilyas and Ahmed, that they were safe and unharmed and would return home soon. I felt calmer after my dua and I walked along, stopping at a small cafe for a light lunch. My head was killing me now so after lunch I headed back to the house to rest.

I decided that I wasn’t going to wait around for the police. We hadn’t booked return tickets yet but I still had a sense of urgency pushing me to do something, anything to get my husband back. I woke up each day filled with optimism, sure that it had just been a misunderstanding and Ahmed would definitely walk through the door at any time. We would laugh over it and I would shout at him for scaring me out of my wits then hug him tightly and never let go. We were mere tourists. We didn’t have any issues with anyone and we weren’t involved with anything or anyone. They would definitely let Ahmed go once they realised that. And in the meantime I would keep looking for him because I simply could not sit around and do nothing all day. There were so many thoughts buzzing around in my head they would drive me mad unless I got up and did something to take my mind off them. So I started by scouting around myself, speaking to people as best as I could, asking relevant questions. I walked. With my still lingering headache I walked up and down for what seemed like hours. I talked to what seemed like hundreds of people…but at the end of each day I was forced to turn back, defeated. No one, it seemed, had seen or heard anything. No one knew anything, no one knew what I was talking about. All I got for my efforts were blank stares and head shakes. And especially when I mentioned who exactly had taken Ahmed and Ilyas their faces changed…less friendly all of a sudden, more suspicious and hostile. And definitely less helpful. This wasn’t an ordinary kidnapping according to them. This was a planned arrest and there was nothing they could do about it.

I was sitting and crying in the house at the end of one day when my dad called. I automatically answered it, too exhausted to think about what I was doing. And it turned out to be a video call.

“Faz? Why you putting the phone on your ear, we wanna see your face!” My sister sang in my ear.

Crap! It was too late to cut the call and I was so tired of battling by myself everyday I allowed them a glimpse into what my life had become.

“Faz?? You crying??? What happened???”

The story spilled out of me in jerky bits, punctuated by sobs and hiccups…and my family’s horrified exclamations.

“When did this happen? Wednesday, you said? And you’re only telling us now?? Why didn’t you call us, Faz??”

“I thought he’ll come back. I thought they’ll let him go once they realise it’s just a misunderstanding. Why aren’t they releasing him, daddy? Why is he still not here?” I sobbed.

“Fazila…I’m coming there. I’ll try and get on the first flight there then we’ll sort something out. Hang in there, bachu, and take care of yourself as well.”

I nodded in relief…relief that was short lived. Daddy couldn’t get a Visa in such a short time. He called me again two days later, frustrated that it would take at least two months to obtain a Visa.

“You can’t stay there for so long. You have to come back home,” he told me.

I flatly refused. “I am not going anywhere without Ahmed,” I said.

“Fazila, you cannot do anything more. Your father inlaw and I have both applied for visas and we’ll go there as soon as possible to look for Ahmed. And in the meantime we’ll try and find ways to find out what’s going on. But you can’t do anything else there. You have to come back.”

I still refused. “I’m staying here till Ahmed comes back. He’ll come back, you’ll see. I’ll stay here until then,” I insisted.

I would not be swayed from my decision by anyone. I continued searching for Ahmed while my dad and father inlaw both directed me on what to do and where to go. My days were spent searching for Ahmed. My nights were spent tossing restlessly in bed and crying on the musalla at tahajjud. I could barely eat or sleep. My longing for Ahmed was a tangible ache that ate away at my insides every moment of the day. I’d never been separated from him for so long before and it felt like a crucial limb of mine had been hacked off. I was running purely on adrenaline and I would have continued doing so if my visa hadn’t come close to expiring. I sat and looked at it one day. Three days. That’s all I had before I had to leave this country…and Ahmed.

“Ya Allah, return Ahmed to me before I’m forced to leave,” I cried.

In the end daddy booked my ticket back home. I couldn’t do it, couldn’t take steps away from Ahmed but I had no choice.

It was with a heart weighted down by pain and gut wrenching grief and a body gaunt and wracked with sorrow that I boarded the plane back home.


Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh…

So sorry for disappearing on you’ll like this. I checked my last post the other day and I was shocked to see I’d last posted on 26th December!😱 Where does the time go?? With the new year comes new responsibilities, new routines. Time just slips away in all the hustle and bustle till weeks seem like mere days. So my heartfelt apologies for keeping you’ll waiting and jazakillah khair for all the comments and thoughts. Keep me in your duas please!

Disclaimer: Women must always travel travel distances with a mahram male as they are not allowed to travel over 80kms without a mahram.

Haadiya xxx

Part 273

“Ilyas? Bru! Howzit, man! Long time no hear!”

I slowly surfaced from a deep sleep to find the room still pitch black. A bleary, one eyed squint at my phone revealed that it was still eleven-fifty p.m. I frowned, shook my head to clear it, switched on the lamp then looked over at Ahmed. Who was he talking to at almost midnight??

………

“What? You managed to get the visas? Subhanallah, bru! What lekker timing! Guess where I am… In Jordan… Ya, your neighbour Jordan!”

………

“No, no, there’s no need. We’ll just fly down, it will be much quicker!”

………

“Okay, let me just discuss this with my vrou first then I’ll get back to you, right? This your number? Right then I’ll call you on this. Salaams!”

“Who on earth was that?” I asked sleepily when he cut the call.

“My former madrassah classmate. Ilyas.”

“What did he say? Sounded like you were planning a trip with him.”

To my surprise Ahmed flushed slightly. “Ya well…you sure you don’t wanna discuss this tomorrow? It’s late now.”

I gave him a look which said, you think I’ll sleep NOW with this suspense hanging over my head???

Ahmed sighed and sat down. “I thought not. Okay, sit up and let me fill you in…

“Ilyas is my old madrassah classmate and friend like I said,” he began after a pause, “he’s from Iraq. He went back after we graduated and I lost touch with him after a while. Then when we went to UK now I suddenly bumped into him. He had come to meet your nana and I happened to be there. So we caught up after that and he started telling me about Iraq and it made me want to visit the place. It’s a place rich in history, you know. And even though it’s been through war and all they’re going through a peaceful phase now so they do allow people in, even though they’re very strict. It comes with its risks of course so I wouldn’t have thought of going there if it wasn’t for Ilyas. But he’ll be there, he said we can stay with him and he’ll take us around and I thought, why not…” he shrugged and looked at me expectantly.

For a few moments I was lost for words. I mean, Iraq? I’d never in my dreams also thought of visiting the place and yes, it may be rich in history and quite interesting to go around and see everything but still, the risks, the instability, the sudden flare ups…was it worth going despite all that?

Ahmed saw the doubt in my face and hastened to reassure me further. In the end I told him I’ll need to sleep over it even though my mind was no closer to being made up the next day than the night before. What decided it for me was Ahmed’s face. As I looked at his barely suppressed excitement, his eagerness, I knew I had to do this…for him. How many times had he given in to my wishes? He’d even agreed to go to “stinky” India for me. I couldn’t refuse him this. And we should be fine, I thought, my optimism reasserting itself, people like Ilyas lived there and they were fine. Nothing could happen to us except what was in our taqdeer. We could get shot dead in our own hometown so I didn’t see why I was fearing the what-ifs here. Let’s go for it, Bismillah! I thought and ran to tell Ahmed.

Things moved very fast after that. Unbeknown to me, Ilyas had been working on our visas for months now, since our visit to UK and Ahmed’s chat with him. This hadn’t just been a “come over if you can” call, it had been a “your visas are done, now you can come” call. Despite Ahmed’s refusal Ilyas even insisted on driving all the way across the border to pick us up by car. He came the next day, stayed overnight and we left with him the day after. The border crossing took long but we were able to get through alhamdulillah.

Baghdad was beautiful! And since Ilyas was a local and knew the place in and out he was able to take us to different places that we wouldn’t have been able to find or go on our own. We had to be careful of course and there were checkpoints and military presence everywhere. We had to travel with all our documents and produce them whenever asked for, sometimes multiple times in a day. We could not mistake it for other peaceful countries we’d visited but our visit was still enjoyable, especially since Ilyas went out of his way to make it so.

Ilyas, despite his cheerful,carefree demeanour, had lost his entire family in a bomb blast some years back. I was shocked and saddened when Ahmed told me but in awe of his Imaan at the same time. Losing his family had made him realise that life is so short and temporary we couldn’t waste it in futile things. It had also taught him the power of taqdeer. He was a mujahid and had participated in wars yet emerged unscathed. His family had been sleeping peacefully in one of the safer areas of Baghdad and a single bomb blast had killed all of them. We don’t plan our lives, he told Ahmed. Allah has already planned our lives for us. What we need to do is make the most of it and above all, trust Allah in whatever He does. Trust in His plans for us even though they don’t make sense at that time. Tawakkul and tafweedh (handing over matters to Allah Ta’ala) got him through his days and it had made him develop a calm, almost surreal persona. He opened his house to us without hesitation and we could make ourselves right at home. He was so respectful of my purdah and never spoke to me directly. He would always cough or clear his throat or knock before entering his own house so if I wasn’t covered up I could quickly do so, which made it easier for me to relax and be free.

We were planning to spend a week in Baghdad then Ilyas would take us to Basra which was a few hours drive away.

A few days into our visit we went out to eat at night. The night was calm, the weather was beautiful, warm but with a slight breeze cooling us down. We had a lovely Iraqi dinner, succulent fish with lovely sides and Iraqi bread. We really stuffed ourselves and afterwards Ahmed suggested going for a walk before we went home again.

Once we left the vicinity of the restaurant there were not many people around. Few cars driving past at intervals, a few people walking around…it was mostly quiet and peaceful. That’s what I remembered the most about that night. The peace, the serenity. The calm before the storm.

Ahmed and Ilyas were walking ahead, talking to each other. I was trailing along behind, humming to myself and just looking around idly.

I felt them before I saw them. The shift in the air, the sudden charge like static…and then there they were. A whole group of soldiers carrying deadly looking rifles. They descended on us from all sides, much like bees descending on honey. And the calm of the night was shattered as shouts erupted into the night, foreign guttural sounds mixing with English. I felt like I was separated from my body, watching the scene unfolding before like me like an idle bystander. My mind would not, could not comprehend the sudden horror and violence even as it turned  sickly physical…until I saw Ahmed get clubbed over the head with the butt of a rifle. I went mad at the sight, my own rage unleashing with sudden ferocity. Like a mad woman I attacked them, screaming over and over again, “let him go! Don’t hit him, let him go! LET HIM GO, I SAID!!!”

I felt myself being pulled from behind and I screamed and writhed wildly, clawing at my unseen attacker. I heard a muffled curse then felt blinding pain explode behind my eyes before everything went black.

Part 272

“Errr…why?” Ahmed asked, confusion evident in his voice.

Humi shrugged. “Just. I’m tired I guess. The travelling bug that bit me is long gone,” she smiled slightly, “I’m missing home now. I wanna go back and settle down with Numair…”

“Hmmm…okay, fair enough. Faz and I will drop you off then carry on…”

“No need to do that,” Humi interrupted, “you’ll are supposed to leave tomorrow anyways so carry on. I’ll stay back few days then go back home.”

“You can’t stay by yourself…” Ahmed began.

Humi rolled her eyes. “Please Ahmed, I’m not a kid. I can handle myself for a few days and one single flight. Just book me a direct flight so I don’t have any stop overs.”

Ahmed reluctantly gave in after Humi would not be budged and made all the necessary arrangements for her.

“You’ll stay with mummy and daddy?” I asked her later on as the thought struck me.

Humi winced. “Not if I can help it. I’d rather rent a flat. I was hoping I can find one on short notice, otherwise I’ll have to ask daddy to help out.”

“You can stay at my house till you find a place of your own,” I offered.

Humi flashed me a grateful, relieved smile. “Thanks, Faz. That’s a good idea. I think I’ll do that.”

Our last day in Madinah and especially our last salaami was so heartbreaking. I was crying as I left the masjid for the last time, making fervent dua that Allah brings me back again and again to this beloved place. My eyes clung to the green dome as I slowly walked out of the courtyard, craning my head as I tried to keep it in sight for as long as I could.

Nana and nani were also leaving on the same day but on a different flight. After bidding them a tearful farewell as well Ahmed and I left for the airport. I actually envied Humi for being able to stay on in Madinah for a few more days and part of me wished I could stay back with her. We were headed for Jordan for a few days though we hadn’t decided on where to go from there.

Jordan was beautiful and despite it feeling weird to not have Humi and Numair around, I enjoyed our time there. For the first time on this whole trip it was just the two of us and we made the most of it. It was like another honeymoon all over again. Late nights, quiet, lazy mornings, long walks and romantic dinners…Ahmed also went all out and it made our days there magical. We grew so close together, almost inseparable, barely apart for even an hour at a time.

Time flew as it always does when we’re having a great time and soon it was time for us to plan our next move.

“India,” I said with a grin, scanning through the countries on google maps.

Ahmed made a face. “Why India of all the places?”

“Why? Must be nice, neh. I’ve never been so it will be a different experience.”

“Well, I’ve been there and let me tell you, it stinks!” Ahmed took the phone from me and started scanning the countries himself, “maybe Thailand. Or Malaysia…Singapore…”

“Wait a minute. Who said India stinks?” I raised my eyebrows at him and took my phone back, “Aliyah and them went just last year and she said it was beautiful!”

“I’ve been there myself so I would know…”

“But I also wanna go there and see for myself,” I pouted, “will you deprive me of seeing my mother country just because you say it stinks?”

Ahmed burst out laughing. “Mother country? Your mother was born in S.A so that’s your mother country.”

“Fine, my ancestral country,” I said, still pouting, “I want to experience it and I thought this whole trip was about experiencing different things…”

“Fine, we’ll go. Stop looking at me like that,” Ahmed said with a sigh of resignation.

I hid my grin of victory and smiled demurely at him instead. “Great. So that’s our next stop?”

“Yeah, I guess. Let me look it up first.”

“Okay, while you do that I’m going for coffee downstairs. Unless you wanna come with me?”

Ahmed shook his head and waved me away. “Nah, you go ahead. I’ll do some research.” He threw my phone at me which I deftly catched and pulled out his laptop. By the time I left the room he was already engrossed in whatever he was looking at.

I sat in the cafe, sipping coffee and making some calls. I called mum and Han and them since I hadn’t spoken to them in a while. Then I called Zee and caught up with her which took a good thirty minutes of excited chatter interspersed with bursts of laughter. I was glad I had taken a corner table otherwise people would be wondering if I’d lost my mind! Then I even called Khadija and Asiyah, both of whom were at the same place so I could talk to them at the same time. By that time my third cup of coffee was gone along with a huge slice of cake and the crowd in the cafe had started to dwindle.

When I got back to the room Ahmed was smiling. “I guess India doesn’t sound so bad after all. I found some nice places we could go to. Come and see.”

We browsed through sites, seeing different places. Ahmed was right, some of them were beautiful! Southern India looked really scenic and so did northern Kashmir. I oohed and aahed over pictures of Goa and Kerala.

“Look, gorgeous beaches! We have to go there!”

A few minutes later I came across pictures of Kashmir and was left wonderstruck.

“I’d love to go to Kashmir,” I said wistfully, “it looks so gorgeous!”

Ahmed laughed. “India is huge, my dear. You can’t be all over the place at once. Let’s see what we can manage.”

By the time we finished discussing our plans it was late so we closed the laptop and went for supper, intending to finalise our plans and book the following day.

However, late that night Ahmed got a call that would change everything.


DISCLAIMER:- It is NOT permissible for women to travel without a mahram so please don’t pull a Humi move and always travel safar distances (80kms or more) with a mahram male🙂

Part 271

I hated hospitals.

The bright, fluorescent lights that hit me in the eyes, the clinical smell of bleach and medicine that seemed to cling everywhere, the stark, colourless surroundings and above all, the vivid smell of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of the uncertain… It seemed etched on the faces of everyone milling around, both patients and their family members.

I glanced at Ahmed as we waited in the waiting area. Humi was inside with the doctor and Numair. We hadn’t informed nana and nani since there seemed no point in waking them up. Once we found out how serious it was we could let them know.

I recited Surahs and duas softly as I paced, unable to sit still with the fear clawing in me. The minutes seemed to drag by, making it seem like hours before a pale Humi finally appeared.

“What’s wrong?” I was at her side in an instant, scanning her face anxiously, “what did the doctor say?”

Humi looked from me to Ahmed, who had also joined us, with tired eyes. “He said he passed out because of dehydration. He said I should have brought him in earlier but I had no idea. Just yesterday he was fine!”

“He’s awake?” Ahmed asked.

“Yeah, he came round as soon as I put him down…but he looks so weak and frail! He’s just lying there, not crying or anything,” Humi’s eyes filled suddenly with tears.

“Let’s go see him. Are we allowed to go in?” I asked.

“The doctor said he needs to be admitted. Let me go see what’s happening. Maybe you can see him after he’s put in the ward.”

Humi disappeared again and we waited till she came back to say that Numair had been admitted. We followed her to a nearby private ward where Numair was. The doctor and a nurse was with him when we entered though my eyes immediately flew to Numair. He looked so frail and tiny in the large bed, poor darling. I immediately went to fuss over him while Ahmed spoke to the doctor in arabic since the doctor was more fluent at that than English. The doctor spoke to him, rattled off what sounded like instructions to the nurse then left.

“What did he say?” I asked Ahmed.

“He’s quite severely dehydrated so they’ll have to put him on the drip and keep him for at least one night and monitor him. He was asking how we let it get this far but I didn’t even know he was getting dehydrated. Did you?” He directed the question at Humi.

Humi shook her head, looking stricken. “He seemed more sleepy and lethargic than usual…he wasn’t running around like always but I thought maybe he’s coming down with the flu or something. He’s been having diarrhoea but no vomiting so I didn’t even think he could be getting dehydrated. Not this fast and with so little warning!” She seemed ready to cry as she looked at her son lying there listlessly. I put my arm around her, giving her a comforting squeeze.

“Don’t worry, Humi, it happens. Don’t beat yourself up over it. He’ll be back to normal in no time, InshaAllah.”

Humi nodded distractedly, her eyes never leaving Numair.

Ahmed and I were both prepared to spend the night there but Humi refused.

“I’ll be here, that’s enough. No need for us all to hang around and deprive ourselves of sleep. You’ll go and sleep and come back in the morning.”

The nurse also said only Humi could stay there full time so reluctantly Ahmed and I left and went back to the hotel. It was already two in the morning by the time we got into bed and we both knocked out immediately.

In the morning nana and nani were in an uproar on hearing the news so after gobbling down a quick breakfast we all went to the hospital.

Numair was better compared to the night before alhamdulillah but he was still hooked up to the drip and would need to be kept in for observation. This time I took over at his bedside and forced Humi to go back to the hotel with Ahmed, nana and nani to freshen up, eat something and get some rest.

“Don’t come back until you’ve slept for a few hours,” I told her sternly, “he’s in good hands so don’t worry.” I doubted she would listen though.

Numair was more alert and fidgety this morning. He got tired of lying on the bed and cried to be picked up so I carefully picked him up and put him on my lap. I cuddled him and read him a story from my phone, making funny faces to make him laugh. When he finally got tired he curled himself against me and fell asleep. I rocked him, humming softly to him until he was fast asleep then carefully put him back on the bed.

“You are good with him,” the nurse commented in heavily accented english, smiling at me, “you have children?”

I smiled back and shook my head. “Not yet. InshaAllah one day.”

“InshaAllah, InshaAllah! Allahu akbar!” She lifted her index finger while she said it enthusiastically. Such few words but with such a large impact. Allahu akbar. Allah is the greatest. And what can be difficult or impossible for such a great Allah?

“Definitely, Allahu akbar,” I responded, smiling widely.

Humi came back in a few hours just as I had suspected but at least she looked better and more well rested than before.

“How is he?” She asked as soon as she entered.

“Very good, alhamdulillah. Sleeping for the past hour,” I replied cheerfully.

Humi stayed there for the rest of the day while the rest of us alternated in coming and going. By evening Numair was better but the doctor still wanted to keep him another night just to be on the safe side. Ahmed and I offered to sleep with him so Humi could get some sleep at the hotel but she adamantly refused and sent us back once again.

By the following day Numair was almost back to himself and made a huge fuss at being kept confined to the bed. By lunch time the doctor removed the drip and by evening he was ready to be discharged, much to our relief. The doctor warned Humi though that she would still need to monitor him carefully and keep giving him fluids and just take it easy with him. It was hot even in Madinah and kids got dehydrated really quickly as we’d all learned.

Humi was quiet that night, almost withdrawn even though Numair was playing around normally.

“What’s up?” I asked her after supper.

“I need to talk to you and Ahmed,” she replied.

I furrowed my brow in puzzlement. “Okay,” I said as I waved Ahmed over.

“What’s up?” Ahmed mirrored my question as he walked up to us.

Humi was quiet for a while. “I’m thinking of extending my stay here by a few days,” she said finally, “I don’t feel like travelling while Numair is still not a hundred percent.”

Ahmed and I exchanged a glance. “Err, sure. We’ll extend a few days then,” Ahmed said.

Humi shook her head. “Not you’ll. You’ll carry on the way you’ve planned. I’ll stay back with Numair.”

“Don’t be silly,” Ahmed and I said immediately, “we can’t leave you alone here. We’ll all stay on for a few more days.”

Humi shook her head. “You don’t understand. I don’t wanna carry on with you guys.” She paused, “I wanna go back home.”

Part 270

They say Your fragrance is scattered delicately here
I felt Your blessed presence like You were always near
I remember the first glimpse of Your blessed home
The cool breeze of Madinah the mesmerising dome

Tears filled my eyes as I walked closer
The fragrance of riyaadh ul jannah embraced my heart

From that moment onwards I knew
From Madinah I could never be apart

I Wasnt worthy of being so close
Tears in my eyes and a heart full of remorse

Eyes lowered in shame and lips whispering your name

Assalaaatu wassalaamu alayka ya Rasool’Allah
Here I am standing before you
Thinking this moment is too blessed to be true

But beautiful moments turn into memories I knew
Soon it would be time to leave the only place that I knew

So I slowly prostrated, bowed down and cried
It felt like all the bad things within me had died

My heart was now pure so I placed it on that ground
As I left this heart of mine there I heard heartbeats of a delicate sound

Now nothing wordly will affect me, no one will hurt me here
Whenever I cry it will be a repentful tear

Ya Rasool’Allah, please call me back one day

I do not know how to stop these tears

This painful separation is equivalent to endless years

I need the breeze of Madinah to brush against my face
I want to sit where I can see the Dome
I’m in love with that blessed place

Madinah Madinah Madinah, my heart yearns for you
Madinah Madinah Madinah my love for you is true

[By Poetry competition runner-up Saima Kauser- The Prophetic Way]

Al Madinatul Munawwarah…

The city of peace…

Our hearts beat frantically in anticipation as we drew closer to Masjidun Nabawi…durood poured from our lips as our eyes strained for the first glimpse of the green dome…the very air crackled with unspoken eagerness as the bus wound through the streets of Madinah, bringing us closer with each second that passed…

And when the driver turned the final curve and the green dome rose before us in all its splendour we collectively drew in sharp breaths, our eyes clinging to it as our hearts melted at the closeness to our beloved Nabi (S.A.W)…

None of us spoke until the driver pulled up outside Pullman Zamzam, lost in our own little trance. The whole atmosphere was just so different. Where Makkah was buzzing with activity Madinah was the epitome of peace and serenity.

Pullman was on the opposite side of where we usually stayed and I had initially protested when Ahmed had booked us this side but I changed my mind when I glimpsed the green dome from our rooms.

“We can see the Gumbad (dome) from here!” I exclaimed in excitement.

“Now you see why I booked us this side,” Ahmed smirked knowingly as he came into the room.

It was quite a walk from here to the ladies side, which is why I had initially protested as well, but the view of the blessed dome more than made up for that. Plus Pullman had shuttle buses going out every hour that transported women to the ladies side so even if we didn’t want to walk we were sorted.

What followed were ten days of pure bliss. Our days didn’t have the same hype they had in Makkah but were filled with calm ibadah. In Makkah we had tawaafs to perform which we could do at any time of the day or night. Here salaami (going to Nabi S.A.W’s grave to make salaam to him) was limited to three times a day and we didn’t go at all of those times as well. We made salaami once a day then filled our days with other ibadah, mainly praying durood. I loved praying Hizbul Azam with its collection of different durood and my small copy of Fadhaile Durood especially came in handy since it mentioned different duroods with their virtues. We loved sitting in the courtyard of Masjidun Nabawi and just staring at the green dome as we prayed durood as well. Humi especially loved that since Numair could play around freely while we sat there. The sense of closeness we experienced with Nabi S.A.W while looking at the green dome was overwhelming but it still didn’t prepare us for the beauty of actually going infront of him to make salaam.

Salaami was an experience in itself. Done the wrong way, as I sadly noticed many people doing, it became a mindless ritual, a whirling carousel of people who shouted out loud salaams, pushed and shoved each other to try and get close to the metal barrier that enclosed the blessed grave, elbowed people aside to quickly pray Salah while others tried not to stamp on them and were rushed off by the guards when they thought they’d spend sufficient time there.

They say knowledge is power and I saw firsthand why. Many of the people didn’t know the correct way of making salaam or the proper aadaab of such a blessed place. I saw people more interested in trying to peer through the metal barrier, hoping to get a glimpse of the grave inside than in making salaam. I saw people holding up mobile phones and trying to take close up pictures and videos of the metal barrier. The true awe and respect of the place was gone. At that time I was truly grateful I had read up on all this before coming. My Fadhaile Hajj was even now in my bag where detailed explanations on the correct way of making salaami were mentioned. Going with knowledge to such blessed places was a thousand times better than going without knowledge or an idea of what to do and how to go about doing it.

Trying to find peace in that chaos was a challenge but I tried my best not to get caught up in the crowds. From the time the guards let us through and I caught sight of the metal barrier I was overwhelmed by strong feelings of love and awe. Tears blurred my eyes as they clung lovingly to the place where my beloved Nabi (S.A.W) was buried and durood poured from my lips. I tried to block out the noise of the crowd and concentrate on praying durood and salaam. Instead of pushing through the crowd I let myself be carried by it till I reached the thigh-high barrier placed before the metal barrier. Then, placing my hands on the short barrier I lowered my head and poured my heart into making salaam to my beloved Nabi S.A.W.

What do you say to the one who had spent his life crying for you, praying for you, worrying about you even though he had never laid eyes on you? What paltry words of appreciation do you offer to the one who loved you more than your parents even though he didn’t know you? How do you repay such deep, profound love with mere words? Words could not do justice to the emotions clamouring inside me but I tried. I passed salaam to my beloved Nabi S.A.W and his two companions, Abu Bakr R.A. and Umar R.A. Raising my hands I made dua to Allah with the waseelah of Nabi S.A.W, pouring my heart out in that dua. So much to say, so much to ask for at this opportune time that however lengthy the dua it fell short.

Trying to pray Salah on the green carpet was more tricky with the crush of people around but I managed to pray two rakahs alhamdulillah, making dua afterwards that just as Allah granted me the opportunity to step into this piece of jannah in this world, so should He make me enter jannah as my final abode after death.

Our days flew by in the blink of an eye and before we knew it a week had passed.

“Only three days left,” I said with a sigh as we settled down to sleep that night, “don’t know where the time’s going.”

“Hmm, it’s going too fast,” Ahmed agreed, wrapping his arm around me from behind, “makes us wish we’d booked for a month instead neh.”

“Yeah man. Maybe we can extend,” I said eagerly.

Ahmed chuckled. “Too late for that now. Our other tickets are already booked. We’ll come back for longer next time InshaAllah.”

We were just drifting off to sleep when we heard a scream.

“Numair! Numair!”

I bolted up in bed and looked at Ahmed with wide eyes just as Humi banged on the connecting door between our rooms.

“Ahmed! Ahmed, open! Numair’s not waking up!!!”


Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh…

It’s been loooong!!!

My apologies for disappearing so suddenly and for so long. My writing vibe had gone off somewhere and didn’t want to come back. Jazakillah khair to my faithful readers though, for not giving up on me and checking up on me. Your comments were what brought me back lol. I felt guilty for leaving you’ll hanging so I forced myself to write this post and hey, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be😉 so maybe my writing vibe was just buried deep down somewhere and writing this post brought it back up.

Anyways, this is the final leg of the journey so it will be quite a roller coaster ride so buckle up and hang in there 😜 I will try and post regularly from now InshaAllah…

Duas,

Haadiya xxx

Short Break

Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh…

Hope everyone is well on this lovely day of jumuah…

Sorry for the very irregular posting. I have certain things on my plate right now so my mind isn’t really on writing. I feel I’m not doing justice to what I write and I hate churning out whatever just for the sake of it so I’ve decided to go on a short, indefinite break. When I come back I’ll start posting regularly again InshaAllah. Until then stay tuned and prepare for me to rock your boats when I come back😉

Love and duas,

Haadiya xxx

Part 269

Our week in Al Quds flew by in the blink of an eye and before we knew it we were packing to leave again. Our leaving was bittersweet. On one hand we were sad to leave this blessed land and on the other hand we were excited to be going to an even more blessed land.

We were visiting the Holy lands after two years. We hadn’t been back after doing our hajj soon after marriage and it seemed like ages ago so our excitement was mounting as the time of departure drew close. We were going to Makkah first then to Madinah as nana suggested. He told us that one alim had mentioned that it was better to go to Makkah first to cleanse ourselves of our sins then do the ziyarah of our Nabi S.A.W in that pure state.

Our plane landed in Jeddah at night. By the time we checked out, caught a taxi and reached Makkah we were tired out so we went straight to sleep, intending to do our umrah the next day.

Tahajjud in Makkah…how do I explain it? The streets buzzing with people already flowing towards the Haram, the azaan being called out so melodiously. The anwaaraat of the place as we blended into the crowds, labbaik flowing from our lips as we moved eagerly towards the Haram, our eyes and hearts yearning to see the blessed Ka’bah once more. We entered Masjidul Haraam with eyes lowered until we reached a place where we could see the Ka’bah uninterrupted. At the first glance of the Ka’bah whatever duas a person made was accepted so we moved to a place where we wouldn’t be interrupted then slowly raised our eyes.

My eyes immediately began overflowing as they landed on the blessed Ka’bah, bathed in noor (light), looking so magnificent it took my breath away. No matter how many times I’d seen it before the first glance was always mesmerising. Duas flowed from my lips as tears flowed from my eyes. Around me everyone else was also making dua in states of high emotion.

Eventually we moved down to the mataaf to make tawaaf. We moved as a group since the mataaf was quite full and we could get lost easily in the crowds. We made sure to stay on the outer edge of the mataaf to avoid the crush of people. Making tawaaf with concentration and without bumping as much as possible into strange men and women was much better than trying to get as close as possible to the Ka’bah. I kept my eyes down as I moved around the Ka’bah, my hand clasped tightly in Ahmed’s, glancing from time to time at the Ka’batullah. I avoided looking around me and concentrated on praying continuously as this was one of the times duas were certainly accepted.

After our tawaaf was done we found a suitable spot to pray our two rakahs of tawaaf then moved to Mount Safaa to start our sa’ee. Here also duas were accepted so again I concentrated on praying continuously and avoided talking or looking around.

Our umrah was done in a short period of time then we prayed fajr and then returned to our hotel to cut/shave our hair and come out of ihraam.

We were spending nine days in Makkah and we made the most of them. As Ahmed said, we had seen the dunya already; now was the time to disassociate ourselves from dunya and concentrate on Allah and our akhirah. We didn’t do any shopping at all because we’d done enough of that already. And shopping malls in Makkah were such that we could lose track of time. Some of them actually transmitted the azaan and Salah through speakers and people prayed behind the Imaam of the Haram right there in the malls. I felt that all the blessings were lost that way. People got so engrossed in dunya they forgot they were in the haram and hours would be wasted that way. So we boycotted all shopping malls except when we went to eat or popped into Bin Dawood for some necessities. We spent as much time as we could in the Haram.

Even in the Haram itself I felt sad when I looked at people. It was as though the greatness and importance of the place didn’t register fully in people’s minds. I saw people sitting infront of Ka’batullah but busy on their phones; taking selfies, making video calls to their relatives to show them the Ka’bah or just making idle chit chat. People sitting around talking to each other instead of looking at Ka’batullah or making some other ibadah. Some prayed a bit of quran then placed it on the carpet and started doing other things. The respect, the sanctity of the place was lost in peoples minds. Before, like a hundred or even fifty years ago, fewer people used to come to perform Hajj or Umrah but the few who did come realised the importance of the place and made the most of it, earning as many rewards as they could for the akhirah. Nowadays many more people were able to come but the importance of the journey was lost. It was taken more as a holiday than an act of worship. My heart burned when I looked at people in their different forms of negligence and I had an overpowering urge to go up to them and say, “do you know how lucky you are that Allah has invited you to this place out of the billions of people in this world? Do you realise the significance of being here? Do you know how many rewards and blessings Allah is showering on this place? Come, let me tell you;

Ibn Abbaas R.A reports that Nabi S.A.W said, “One hundred and twenty mercies descend on the Ka’bah every day and night; sixty for those performing tawaaf, forty for those performing Salah and twenty for those merely looking at the Ka’bah.

Ataa R.A said, “Looking at the Ka’bah is a form of ibadah. The person who looks at the Ka’bah is similar in rank to the one who remains in ibadah all night and who fasts during the day and who fights in the way of Allah and who turns to Allah in repentance.”

Abu Saaib Madani R.A said, “whoever looks at the Ka’bah with complete faith his sins shall fall off from him as leaves from a tree and the person who sits in the masjid merely looking at the Ka’bah without performing Salah or tawaaf is better than that person who remains in his home busy with nafl prayers and does not look at the Ka’bah.”

If merely looking at the Ka’bah can bring so many rewards then imagine how many more rewards a person could get by praying Salah or making tawaaf. And even if a person didn’t want to make any ibadah he could earn rewards by simply looking at the Ka’bah instead of wasting time on other things. Allah has made it so easy for us to earn thousands and millions of rewards in such a blessed place but unfortunately people do not realise it in their heedlessness and so don’t strive to make the most out of their trip.

Anas ibn Maalik R.A reports that Nabi S.A.W said, “the salah which a person performs in his house is one Salah, his salah in the local masjid is equal to twenty-five salahs, his Salah in the jaame masjid is rewarded to the extent of five hundred salah, his salah in Masjidul Aqsa is rewarded to the extent of fifty thousand salahs, his Salah in Masjidun Nabawi is rewarded to the extent of fifty thousand salahs and his Salah in the the holy house of Makkah is rewarded to the extent of one hundred thousand salahs.” (Ibn Majah)

Hasan Basri R.A used to say, “fasting in Makkah for one day is equal to fasting one hundred thousand times elsewhere, to give one dirham in charity there is equal to giving one hundred thousand dirhams elsewhere. Infact every good deed performed there shall be as if one hundred thousand had been performed elsewhere.”

And similarly, sins committed in Makkah were much more severe than sins committed elsewhere so we had to keep ourselves away from sinning and try to earn as many rewards as possible.

Our days in Makkah were unforgettable. Waking up for tahajjud every day, going to the Haram, making tawaafs, praying Salah or Quran or just sitting and making zikr while looking at the Ka’batullah…praying salahs behind the imaams of the Haram and getting lost in their beautiful, melodious recitations…lifting our hands and pouring our hearts to Allah and feeling the connection to our Rabb. It was a place where it was just us and our Rabb. Everyone else faded into the background, everyone else came second. It was a place where black hearts were cleansed of sins, where broken hearts were mended, where hopeless hearts were filled with the bright light of Imaan. A place where bonds of dunya fell away and bonds to Allah were formed and strengthened. A place where the servants of Allah, lost and wandering in the darkness of this world discovered the true path once more. A place where the servant of Allah finally found what he was seeking his whole life.

However, it was easy to get caught up in the fever of worship and lose sight of some important things. Ahmed pointed them out to me on the first day.

“Most important of all, protect your gaze,” he told me seriously. Ahmed had always been very particular in protecting his gaze from haraam and in these blessed places he became even more particular. “Over here there’s men and women everywhere. We’ll find beautiful women and handsome men everywhere we look. We have to guard our gaze before it leads us to sin. So always, always keep your gaze lowered.”

He was right. It was difficult, in the crowds, to always keep our gazes averted but in a way that was a test in itself. I’d heard of people committing zina even in these Mubarak lands and it all started with the gaze. If we lowered our gaze for the pleasure of Allah Allah would grant us such sweetness of Imaan that we would experience the sweetness of it in our hearts.

I also avoided going to the Haram for Salah if it became late because then the crowds surging towards the masjid were large n it was easy to get crushed between strange men. It was more rewardable for a woman to pray Salah in the hotel room than push through crowds. And same with touching the Ka’bah. I really wanted to touch the ghilaaf (covering) of the Ka’bah and make dua but I only got one chance in all my nine days there, and that too Ahmed took me when it was quieter. I didn’t manage to pray Salah in the hateem at all much to my disappointment but Ahmed consoled me.

“Touching the ghilaaf, kissing the hajare aswad, praying in the hateem are all rewardable acts but not fardh, whereas bumping into strange men when you can avoid it and pushing through crowds and risking hurting someone in the process is haraam so we have to get our priorities straight,” he said, “too many people force their way to these places and think they’ve done something good but they’ve actually earned the displeasure of Allah in the process. Allah knows our intentions so we’ll intend to do these acts of worship but if we can’t then Allah will still reward us for them because He knows why we couldn’t do them.”

That consoled me and after that I was much more aware of myself and my actions while in this Mubarak place.

After our too-short stay in Makkah we left for Madinah with tears flowing down our cheeks as we bid farewell to Ka’batullah with heavy hearts…


Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh…

Hope everyone is well on this blessed day of Jumuah. I know I went into bayan mode on this post lol but like I wrote about Faz, my heart also burns when I see people disregarding such blessed places and being so heedless of the rewards so I thought if I can educate people and bring about awareness this way then it would be good alhamdulillah. May Allah take us back again and again InshaAllah❤

Haadiya xxx

Part 268

It was our last night in Turkey. We sat on the balcony of our sea facing apartment, the cool, salty breeze washing over our faces. Numair was wobbling around, taking his first, unsure steps. I grinned at a proud Humi.

“Mark the date and place. One day you can bring him back and tell him, “this is where you took your very first steps.””

“Yeah, nothing simple and ordinary for my extraordinary son,” Humi grinned.

“Eh, look at her. When it comes to her son she turns into a poet,” Ahmed chuckled. Humi shot him a dirty look which made him laugh more.

“Go make some coffee, Fazzu,” nana said, leaning back and stretching out his legs.

“Yeah good idea. Make mine strong and sweet,” Nani chimed in.

“Nana, you should be telling Ahmed that, not me,” I replied. Turning to Ahmed I inclined my head towards the kitchen, “come on, babe.” Ahmed came up behind me as I walked inside and began making the coffee while I pulled out cups and saucers, setting them on a tray. Ahmed made the best coffee according to me, even though it wasn’t the same without our trusty coffee maker. He was very particular about his coffee and carried his pack of good quality coffee with him wherever he went. I inhaled deeply as the mouthwatering aroma of freshly made coffee filled the small kitchen. I turned to find Ahmed smiling at me.

“You were supposed to make it,” he said.

“Why should I snatch the honour of making it from the expert?” I replied, grinning at him.

Ahmed smiled and poured out the coffee. “At least she gives me credit for one thing,” he joked.

I shoved him playfully. “Hey! I give you credit for a lot of things, you know that.”

“Uhuh. Like what?” Ahmed propped his hands on his hips and grinned at me, eyebrows raised.

I shook my head. “Stop fishing for compliments, mister. The coffee’s getting cold. Let’s take it outside.”

“Some people are too hard to please,” Ahmed muttered as he hefted up the tray, “bismillah!”

I laughed as I followed him out to the balcony.

“Aahhh! Fazzu is right. Nobody makes coffee like you,” nana said, taking a large sip of the steaming liquid. Ahmed grinned, pleased, as nani echoed the compliment.

“Don’t praise him too much. Just now he won’t fit through the door,” I said.

Ahmed gave me a look. “Oi! Don’t spoil the moment here.”

We laughed and sat sipping on hot coffee, the soothing sound of waves crashing in the distance.

“Off to Al-Quds tomorrow,” nana said, a big smile on his lips.

“Ya, you’ve said that ten times already,” nani replied.

Al Qudsu tunadeeenaaaaa…” nana sang suddenly, his deep voice echoing around us, “Al Qudsu tunaadeeenaaa…Al Qudsu tunaadeeenaaa, Qudsu tunaadee, Qudsu tunaadee, Qudsu tunaadeenaaa…” (Al Quds is calling us)

“Ya Baital Qudsi lana amalun,
sata’oodul Qudsu li ummatina,
wa nutahhiru saahatakal ‘athraa,
wa nanshuru fawqaka raayatana…”
(Oh Jerusalem, you are our hope,
Jerusalem will soon return to our nation,
We will purify your virgin ground,
And will run up on you our flags)

Ahmed and I grinned as we joined in in the beautiful nasheed, our voices blending into each other in a soaring crescendo.

“Abnaa’a Filisteenin sabran,
Fallahu yunaffisu kurbatana
Sa ta’oodu lanaa Qudsun daaran
Wa ta’oodu lanaa Qudsun watanaa
Maa jaa’al lailu bi hurkatihi
Illa wal fajru ataa bisanaah…”
(Have patience sons of Palestine
Allah will relieve our agonies
Jerusalem will return to be our home
And will return to be our country
The dark night will never come
Except the dawn follows it with its brightness)

“Al Qudsu Tunaadeeeenaaaaaaa……”

***

We left early the next morning to catch our flight to Ammaan, Jordan. From Ammaan we had a forty-five minute drive to the King Hussein Bridge which would take us across to Jerusalem. The border was quite full and the security checks were extensive so it took us hours at the border. Maybe because we were all garbed in Islamic clothing we were asked all sorts of questions and at several points. Some of them seemed ridiculous to me but luckily we kept our cool and answered them all calmly. After hours of waiting and questioning we were finally allowed to board a bus which would take us across to the West Bank.

***

We were staying in Jerusalem, in a hotel close to Masjidul Aqsa. After having a light breakfast we went to Masjidul Aqsa. It wasn’t just the masjid but the whole compound around it that was called Al Aqsa. There was the famous gold domed Dome of the Rock, the silver-black domed Masjidul Qibli/Qibli Mosque which is famously known as Masjidul Aqsa, an area on one side known as the Marwan Musalla and the wall of the Buraq on the opposite side.

From the moment we entered Al Aqsa the peace and tranquillity that surrounded us was indescribable. So much of barakaat and anwaaraat in this Mubarak place subhanallah! Praying in the masjid was an amazing experience and it wasn’t crowded like Makkah and Madinah so we had a wonderful experience throughout our stay in Jerusalem. There were so many ahaadeeth detailing the virtues of this blessed place;

Abu Hurayrah (ra) relates that the Prophet (saw) said, “Do not undertake a journey to visit any Mosque, but three: this Mosque of mine, the Mosque of al-Haram and the Mosque of Aqsa.” (Sahih Muslim)

Abu Darda (ra) relates that the Prophet (saw) said, “A prayer in Makkah (Ka’bah) is worth 1000,000 times (reward), a prayer in my Masjid (Madinah) is worth 1,000 times, and a prayer in Al-Aqsa Sanctuary is worth 500 times more reward than anywhere else. [Bayhaqi]

Abu Dharr (may Allaah be pleased with him) said, “We were discussing when we were with the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), which is better, the Mosque of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) or Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem). The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “One prayer in my mosque is better than four prayers offered there (in Bayt al-Maqdis), and what a good place of prayer it is. Soon there will come a time when, if a man has a piece of land the size of a horse’s rope from which he can see Bayt al-Maqdis, that will be better for him than the whole world.” [Al-Haakim, 4/509]

Nana, with his usual extensive knowledge in Islamic history, expounded on the history of Al-Quds for us one day;

This Mubarak place was forgotten, laid to waste before Nabi S.A.W came. Nabi S.A.W revived the spirituality of this place infront of the sahabah, leading to Umar R.A finally liberating it in his khilafah, without shedding blood and with the guarantee of protection for the lives, property and places of worship of others within the city for whoever wished to remain there. As Umar’s R.A personality and characteristics closely resembled and matched those of the liberator of Jerusalem foretold within scriptures, the people of the city were quick to embrace and accept his rule.

The muslims lost Al Aqsa to the crusaders in 1099 A.D in one of the darkest and bloodiest days in its history. When the crusaders entered Jerusalem Muslims took refuge in Masjidul Aqsa. The crusaders followed them in there and brutally massacred thousands of muslims inside. They turned the city into a bloodbath.

Eighty-eight years later a noble warrior by the name of Salahuddin Ayyubi managed to reclaim Al Quds for the muslims. His reclamation of Jerusalem and Masjidul Aqsa was reminiscent of Umar ibn Khattab’s liberation five centuries earlier and a stark contrast to the crusaders’ actions just a generation prior. Where they displayed cruelty and barbarity in it’s most brutal form, he showed justice and compassion in it’s most beautiful form. Like Umar ibn Khattab Salahuddin Ayyubi did not allow a massacre of civilians or soldiers and after reclaiming Masjidul Aqsa he also used his own hands to clean the blessed land and famously sprinkled rose water throughout the masjid. He allowed the crusaders to leave after paying a stipulated ransom but also allowed many to leave without paying any ransom at all.

Stephenson mentioned, “Salahuddin opened the door for a full day for the disabled and poor to leave without paying ransom.

One historian reported British historian Mill as saying, “a number of Christians sought refuge in Antakya after leaving Jerusalem but the Christian ruler of Antakya expelled them. They were left to wander throughout the muslim countries where they were hospitably received.

Mill also reported that when patriarch Stanley, whom he portrayed as being without conscience, left Jerusalem and took with him his huge sums of money and hoarded valuables without spending them to ransom the poor Christians, Salahuddin was advised to confiscate his wealth and devote it to the welfare of muslims. Salahuddin refused to do so and said, “I will take from him no more than ten dinars of ransom for I must not oppress or betray him.” Commenting on the event Stanley Lee Paul argued that it came to a point where a muslim sultan taught a priest a lesson in charity and goodness.

Like a muslim poet once said;

When we took the land we did justice
But when you took over you shed blood
You deemed permissible the killing of captives
While we dealt with them like our own relatives
Suffice it to highlight this difference
And a vessel filters what it contains.

The Muslims once again had unhindered control of Jerusalem and Masjidul Aqsa for a significant period of time…approximately eight centuries…and their rule was characterized by peace, justice and prosperity, with Masjidul Aqsa becoming a great centre of learning with scholars from all over the world travelling to study and teach within its blessed precincts. Throughout almost this entire period, the Christians and Jews were provided safety and protection, and their rights were respected as People of the Book.

However all this changed with the emergence of the Zionist movement in Europe with the aim of creating a Jewish state on Muslim Palestinian land. This movement was supported by the British and further strengthened during World War One when the British captured Jerusalem, ending centuries of muslim rule.

Fast forward to 1947, the UN general assembly recommended having a Jewish state in 54% of Palestinian land. The native Palestinians obviously rejected this proposal.

In 1948, after a war and numerous massacres and atrocities committed by the Zionists, the Jews established Israel on 78% of Palestinian land and captured approximately 85% of Jerusalem.

After that the situation continued to deteriorate till today, with the Israelis continuing to capture and control more and more land, suppressing and oppressing the Palestinians to try and force them to leave. Israel systematically denies access to Masjidul Aqsa to most Palestinians, has permitted excavation works to be carried out under Masjidul Aqsa damaging the foundations of Masjidul Aqsa, and has permitted Jews to enter Masjidul Aqsa during certain times on most days (despite this being contrary to traditional Rabbinical law for fear of disrespecting such sacred land). In addition to this, Israel maintains a security force on Masjidul Aqsa permanently despite numerous appeals by the Supreme Muslim Council…and yet still fails to prevent Zionist extremists causing damage to Masjidul Aqsa.

Interestingly, the UN Security Council has passed more than 20 resolutions condemning Israel’s annexation of Old Jerusalem, and Israel has been the most frequently condemned state by the UN in its history.

***

We fell in love with Jerusalem and its locals. They were so friendly, so warm and welcoming. Someone had told us to stay at a local Palestinian hotel and buy from local shops to support the locals with the intention of sadaqah because things were really tough for them with ongoing restrictions. Yet despite living in such harsh and threatening conditions the Palestinians were some of the warmest and most welcoming people we had ever met. We, with all our luxuries and comforts, complained of the slightest of hardships we faced; yet here were people living in conditions that we could not even imagine living under but they never complained and they never thought of moving away to a better place. Al Quds was in their blood, this land was theirs and they would fight for it till their last breath. Such strength and fortitude Allah had given them MashaAllah. They got so happy at seeing us visit them and a couple of them even invited us over for meals. Simple meals, not over the top and showy like we did but served with so much of love and happiness. We could and did learn a lot from them and our week flew by so very fast…

Part 267

“If we open Constantinople we shall realise the hadith of the Nabi of Allah and one of his miracles. We shall deserve the appreciation mentioned in the hadith. So inform our soldiers, one by one, that the glorious victory we shall achieve shall consolidate the status and honour of islam. Each soldier should place the instructions of our noble shariah before his eyes. He should not violate them. Let them avoid churches and temples and not touch them. They should leave the monks alone as well as the weak and the elderly who do not fight.”

These were Sultan Muhammad al Faatih’s words before he and his army conquered Constantinople. He did what no other leader of another faith did. He treated friends and foes with the same justice and compassion…to the extent that he left the residents of Constantinople shocked speechless because never before had they witnessed such fairness and justice. He showed the true essence of Islam which is now maligned by the west and called barbaric and cruel!

Our week in Istanbul was filled with lessons and a wonderful enlightenment of Islamic history. Nana kept telling us snippets of Ottoman history as we went around. He had come to Turkey once before, years ago but he was familiar with the places and was the one telling us where to go.

We went to the Suleymaniye Masjid on one of the days. Built by Sultan Suleyman, known as Suleyman the Great, who took the Ottoman empire to it’s very peak. Every sultan had a masjid built in his name so that he would be remembered after he was gone. Sultan Suleyman wanted a unique masjid built in his name so he called the master architect of the time whose name was Sinaan. He told him to build a masjid that would leave a message to the world. Sinaan said, “no problem.” However, the sultan had another request. He wanted Sinaan to build him a masjid which resembled the Hagia Sophia. To his shock Sinaan refused. When the Sultan asked him why he was refusing he said, “the Hagia Sophia has too many mistakes in it. I’ll never spoil my masterpiece like that.”

Bear in mind that the Hagia Sophia was built by Constantine with the might of the Roman Empire. It must have taken them 20-30 years to put it up. It was a masterpiece of the time and this was what Sinaan was criticising. Intrigued the Sultan asked him to point out the mistakes in Hagia Sophia. And he did. But the Sultan also was stubborn. He insisted that he only wanted a masjid like the Hagia Sophia. Sinaan too was stubborn. He refused and they had a heated argument before the Sultan, being the ameer, commanded Sinaan to put up the masjid in ten years.

Ten years passed then people came to the Sultan and told him, “Sinaan will never put up your masjid because ten years have passed but not a rock has been moved out of place.”

In anger the Sultan called Sinaan and confronted him. Sinaan stubbornly reiterated that he will never build such a flawed masjid. Again they had a heated exchange then in anger Sinaan said, “fine! If you insist I will put up the masjid in three months!” Everyone around him burst out laughing and called him deluded for ever thinking he’ll be able to complete such a grand masjid in a mere three months.

However, Sinaan kept his word. In three months he had the entire masjid put up and in such a way that he fixed all the flaws that were present in the Hagia Sophia.

Some of the unique architectural details that he put in his masjid were;

The sound system. They didn’t have microphones transmitting the voice throughout the masjid in that time. Sinaan made such openings in the walls that the sound of a person speaking anywhere in the masjid could be heard throughout the interior of the masjid.

In that time they didn’t have electric lighting system so they used candles. Candles attract insects so to prevent the masjid being filled with buzzing insects flying around he put ostrich eggs filled with a certain itr (scent) after every six candles, to repel insects.

Burning candles also made wax fall and thus mess the floors. To prevent that Sinaan built the walls and windows at such angles that the airflow would blow all the wax from the candles in a certain direction, where it would fall on strategically placed ledges. They would then gather all the wax and make ink out of them.

And the crowning touch of his skill became apparent centuries later. In 1950 one of the locking bricks of the masjid, on which the carrying weight of the masjid rested, came out. If it wasn’t put back in properly it could bring the whole masjid down. However, no one knew how to put it back. As they struggled to find a solution they found a piece of paper hidden in the crevice. It was in old ottoman turkish. When it was translated it read;

“If you have found this paper it means one of the locking bricks came out and you have no idea how to put it back. This is what you have to do…” followed by detailed instructions on how to put the brick back.

Subhanallah! No wonder Nabi S.A.W had once mentioned in a hadith that these people will build unique masaajid.

We went to visit several masaajid in Istanbul. The Sultan Ahmed masjid, commonly known as the Blue mosque. Unfortunately the puppet Mustafa Kamal had secularised thousands of masaajid, turning them to museums. It made us so sad to see holy places of worship now being viewed as tourist attractions…muslims and non muslims walking in with shoes, their hair uncovered…talking and laughing without the least bit of respect. It was the worst sort of crime.

“He’s called Ataturk (the father of turks) but he was a big shaytaan,” Ahmed said in anger when we left one of the masjids.

Nana nodded gravely. “The ottoman empire was one of the superpowers of the world at one point. The non muslims couldn’t stand to see islam flourishing so they tried their utmost to bring it down. After over a hundred years of plotting and planning they finally managed to bring down the khilafah. The created the entire World War One with the intention of bringing down the khilafah. And when the muslim world was caught up in all this turmoil they brought in their ‘hero’; Mustafa Kamal. He was part of the group called The Young Turks. Jews, all of them. While the world wars were going on the people of Turkey were also caught up in this fear; that will they be able to save Turkey? Mustafa Kamal joined the army. He went for a small battle and won. Then he won the second battle. And the third. And suddenly he was the hero of Turkey. Which was precisely what the British and Americans wanted. They let him win to pave the way for him. After all these ‘victories’ he was made the leader of the army. If you lead the army you lead the state. So soon the khalifah was put on the side and told, “you run the islamic affairs and I will run the matters of the state.” Then a time came when the khalifah was locked up on charges of fraud. He passed away in prison and Mustafa Kamal took over, with people idolising him to such an extent that they were one short step away from calling him God. The only people who protested his rule were the ulama so one by one he had them assassinated.

“The first thing he did was ban all the Arabic script. Ottoman language was written in Arabic letters. He changed it to Latin letters. He banned the islamic calendar. He banned the azaan in arabic so the azaan had to be called out in Turkish. He even tried to ban salah in Arabic but the imaams couldn’t manage to pray Salah in Turkish so he was forced to bring back Arabic for that. He banned the learning of the Quran and banned islam to the extent that no one was allowed to even say the word Allah!

“Perhaps the most devastating of all was that he made Turkey naked. He hated the islamic dress so he passed the edict that all islamic dress had to be removed and western dressing implemented. Then he went one step further. He wanted to ban the trousers for women, expose them totally. But how do you convince women who have never exposed their bodies to suddenly start doing so? To implement this he banned all madrassahs and said Islamic studies will be taught at schools only. But schools had uniforms. No head scarves, no trousers. Mothers thought, my little girl is small so it’s okay if I don’t make her wear trousers yet. But a girl who grows up with her legs bared will not be able to wear pants when she grows older. She’ll find it too stifling. So over the next generation Mustafa Kamal made Turkey naked,” nana sighed, “look around you. It makes me so sad to see the state of people now and know who their ancestors were. I feel like telling them, “look how hard your ancestors fought for islam! Go back to that! Go back to the original deen and leave this dunya for the kuffaar.”

“For every Firaun Allah creates a Musa,” Ahmed said softly, “don’t worry, nana. Look at Erdogan. He’s trying to bring islam in slowly. Allah will never let his deen die out, inshaAllah.”

Nana smiled slowly, “you’re right, beta. This applies to us all. We’re all flag bearers of deen. The responsibility of living as true muslims and propagating this deen has been put on all of our shoulders. We must remember this responsibility at all times and not let the glamour of this world blind us to our reality. Our time of rest and relaxing will come after we die…in jannah. But for as long as we are alive we must strive for our deen as much as we can.”

Nana’s words really hit home. The world was all around us. Travelling, seeing the beauty of the earth, sightseeing…all of it dazzled us until we forgot our true purpose in life.

There was nothing wrong in travelling and seeing the world. But we had to put deen first. We had to know our priorities.

That trip shifted something in all of us. It’s like we were reinvigorated, our purpose renewed. Ahmed and I started making more effort in our deen. We started waking up for tahajjud again, praying Salah and Quran together. We started making taleem everyday. And we made sure our Salah and other ibadah came first, no matter how many things we had planned for the day.

The actual museums were lovely as well. Topkapi museum had the original possessions of Nabi S.A.W and Faatima R.A… it was in a chamber called the sacred chamber. The hair of Nabi S.A.W, the shawl of Faatima R.A…the noor in there was just different subhanallah!

Then there was another museum called panorama 1453. Not a well known museum but luckily nana knew about it so he took us there. The battle scenes depicted within were so realistic it felt like we on at the actual battle site where the battle for Constantinople took place. They even had the original cannon which blew the hole through which the conquest took place. It was amazing subhanallah.

We learned so much in our short stay that part of us didn’t want to leave…

***

After a week in Istanbul we moved down south to Antalya. Nestled along the Turkish Riviera along the Mediterranean coastline it was a beautiful, scenic town with gorgeous beaches and lush green mountains with ancient ruins.

Kaleiçi, the old quarter, took us back in time with its narrow, mazelike streets and old ottoman mansions. Here we could witness the traditional and contemporary Turkish life.

We went sightseeing on some days, visiting scenic spots like the Duden waterfalls. The upper duden was set in a scenic little gorge. We packed a picnic basket and had a lovely picnic there with the water cascading infront of us with a thunderous sound. Ahmed, Humi and I ventured to the cave behind the waterfalls as well. From there we could see the waterfalls from a completely different angle and the view took our breath away. Water cascading down infront of us like a shimmering curtain, spraying us with a fine mist, the thundering sound echoing in the small cave.

We visited the old marina with its quaint little cafes and narrow winding streets. We relaxed there over coffee and Turkish sweets while seeing the boats drift by.

A couple of days we simply relaxed at the beach, soaking up the sun and sand. Nana and nani also came, looking so cute in large sun hats, sitting on loungers on a quieter part of the beach.

It was a beautiful trip and one I enjoyed more than my European tour. Europe was beautiful, with its breathtaking scenery and gorgeous beaches and waters…and yet, Turkey had been so much more fulfilling somehow. It was also a tourist destination, with tourist attractions and all…but it had the advantage of being rich in islamic history. That tipped the scale in its favour and I enjoyed it so much more because of that. I’d become so entranced by the snippets of history that nana had told us that I was already intending on reading up more about our forefathers who fought so much for our deen. And now that I knew the difference I wanted to explore more Islamic lands…learn more history…

Ahmed seemed to share my thoughts and that set us on a totally different course than what we’d originally intended…