Habibati Sadeekun… (Beloved Friend)
I’m really starting to worry about Daddy. He had been coming home stressed out everyday all week and he doesn’t seem to be enjoying work as much as he used to either. When he came home last night the table had already been set and Mum’s delicious chicken ukni was sitting perfectly in the middle. The aroma filled the house, making my tummy grumble. Before I knew it, I was already sitting at the table and waiting to dig in. “Wait for your father Nusaybah.”, Mummy scolded as I was just about to pinch a grain of rice from the bowl.
Mum was more of a lioness… She always gave Dad to eat first, then she would dish out for us and then finally scrape the bottom to dish out for herself. The only difference between us and a pride of lions were that we enjoyed sitting to eat together as a family. Last night was different though… Dad said he didn’t want to eat and went straight to bed. Mum followed him into the room to find out what was wrong while I sat awkwardly alone at the table.
I figured he was just not feeling too well, which usually meant that he didn’t have an appetite and could only eat soup, which meant that there was more food for me! A loud grumble in my tummy gave me permission to dig in while the adults were away. A nagging feeling kept telling me to go and find out what was going on, but I was too hungry to bother listening to it. Mum hadn’t come back out the room and when I was done eating, there was nothing holding me back from being the investigator that I usually am.
I tried to hear what Dad and Mummy were saying but the only part that I could actually hear was, “He said that if this continues he will have to let me go because he hired me in the first place so that these things wouldn’t happen.”
I gasped in horror when I heard that. I couldn’t imagine Dad being jobless again. I had just started getting used to this comfortable lifestyle where Mum is always at home whenever I need her and if Dad got fired, she would be forced to go to work again. Change… It was happening again. I may have adjusted to the new place, but that still didn’t make me immune to the concept of change.
I needed to know more, so I ‘tuned in’ a little longer…
“But I don’t understand. Have you checked the security footage?”, Mum asked Dad.
“Of course I have, and I’ve watched them over and over again. I just don’t understand how the stock is going missing.”, he told her, sounding so frustrated.
“Do you suppose it’s an inside job then?”
“I don’t know Hasina. Nothing is making sense to me. I’ve tried my best but… I just don’t know. My whole security plan was full proof and since Tariq put so much of money into reinforcing it and it still failed, I feel like I’ve failed. I have this weight on my shoulders like I need to pay him back for all his loss in stock. Although he didn’t say it, I feel like he might be thinking that I’m the one stealing his stock because he made a point of telling me that after putting my security plan into play, more stock has been stolen now than ever before.”, Dad replied.
I’ve never heard my father sound so down in his life before, even when he was jobless. If there was one thing Dad wasn’t, it would be a thief. I could just kill that boss of his for saying that about my father. How dare he?!
“You know Hasina… I’d rather be jobless than be accused of stealing. If he didn’t indirectly call me a thief, and I wasn’t so desperate to prove my innocence, I would’ve resigned already. I’ve been going through hell this whole week.”, Dad went on to say.
While Mum comforted him, I went to my room, worried, scared and angry all at the same time. I grabbed my phone to message Tasneem. She usually knew what to say in order to calm me down and make me think for a second.
Me: Nemo! I think Dad might get fired. I feel like I’ve just been punched in the gut.
Tas: What?! But why?!
Me: It sounds like there has been some stealing going on at work and Dad is being blamed for it.
Tas: Are you serious? Of all people, they blame your Dad? He frights to get involved in interest out of fear of going to war with Allah and His angels and you telling me they think he stole something. I’m sorry but that is ridiculous.
Me: Exactly! That’s why we need to do something…
Tas: Besides making Dua, what can we do Nusaybah?
Me: I don’t know… Investigate.
Tas: I know your intentions are good but I’m sure the last thing your father needs right now is to hear his boss tell him that his daughter is a thief too.
Me: I don’t understand. We’d be there to help FIND the thief.
Tas: Say you go there to investigate and it just so happens that on that same day, stock goes missing again. Who you think the boss is going to blame next?
Tas: Sometimes its just better to leave it to the grown ups Nusaybah. Don’t interfere unless you are asked to. For now just go and pray that Allah (S.W.T) sets things straight and clears your Dads good name.
Tasneem had a point and although going there felt like an itch that I really needed to scratch, I didn’t want to jeopardise Dad’s job any further.
Me: Alright fine. I’ll listen to you… For now.
Tas: Good. Now stop eavesdropping you bum. How many times do I need to tell you? Allah says: “O you who believe! Avoid much of suspicion for indeed some suspicion is sinful, and DO NOT SPY on one another.” [Sûrah al-Hujurât: 12]
A Hadith came to mind when she said that.
Narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever speaks of a dream that he did not actually see will be ordered [on the Day of Judgement] to tie two grains of barley together, and he will never be able to do so. Whoever listens in on other people’s conversations when they do not like that will have molten lead poured into his ears on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever makes an image will be punished and will be ordered to breath life into it, and he will not be able to do so.” [Al-Bukhaari (7042)]
Me: Alright fine Apa Tasneem. I’m going to get going. I have school in the morning. Jazak-Allah and Love you sis!
Yes Sadeekun… School.
I hadn’t told you but I had applied for a job at a new primary school that was opening up just outside town and Alhumdulilah I got it and I’ve been working there since the beginning of February.
You might be wondering how someone like me could get a job like that. I asked myself that same question the day I got a phonecall to come in for an interview. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing because even while applying, I knew it was just a shot in the dark.
I was so nervous Sadeekun. I had never been to an interview before. I must’ve went through my entire cupboard looking for something appropriate for such an occasion. I just couldn’t decide so I sent like a dozen outfit options to Tasneem, who I knew I could count on to pick out the best of them.
“None of these are you. Wear something you will be comfortable in that doesn’t make you compromise your modest Islamic way of dressing. You don’t want to false advertise do you? Walk in there giving them a what-you-see-is-what-you-get attitude. “, she encouraged me.
The next day when I was seated in the principle’s office while he went through my CV, I tried not to twiddle my thumbs while sitting in silence. “So… If I may ask, do you always dress this way?”, he asked me. My heart started racing, not knowing what to say.
“Don’t worry, it won’t affect the outcome of this interview. I’m just curious to know more. I usually only get to see Muslims dressed in this manner during you’lls fasting month. Ramadan? Is it?”, he said.
I let out a small sigh of relief before answering him, “Correct. And yes, I do dress this way most of the time, unless I’m home with family. It’s sad that many Muslims forsake and neglect the teachings of our religion throughout the year but change starts with me right?”, I replied confidently.
“True. I admire the Muslim dress code. I know of some women who dress immodestly all week but show up at church on sunday wearing skirts and hats. The least I can do is grow my girls up knowing right from wrong otherwise this world is headed for disaster.”, he continued. I just nodded my head and smiled, waiting for him to start the interview.
After asking me a few questions about myself, I finally found the guts to ask him the question that had been on my mind from the minute I got the phonecall, “If you don’t mind me asking, how come this post hasn’t been taken by someone qualified already?”
“Aah… Well, to put it short, People with experience were not qualified and people with qualifications didn’t want to settle for this salary.”, he said before closing my file, looking at me and continuing to explain, “As you know, this school is just starting out. We don’t have that many kids enrolled as yet, so at the moment, the salary isn’t extravagant. However, as word gets out and things start picking up, of course, so will the salary.”
“I see. That is understandable. Well for me, I see this as an opportunity to gain some experience as well as a means of getting that little extra cash to cover my small time expenses. I love teaching so this would be a wonderful opportunity. So I am in if you are willing to hire me for the job.”, I told him.
“I like your enthusiasm Miss Ebrahim. I’d like to discuss it with the board and get back to you by the end of the week.”, he said.
I thanked him, smiled and left, making a small Dua in my heart that it would all work out.
**End Of Flashback**
After all the sulking for so long, who would’ve thought I would be here right now hey Sadeekun? It just makes me so grateful for my parents. To think, all this was Allah’s plan. After Sayfullah had left my life, Mum’s frustrations with me grew to such an extent that she decided to make a life changing decision for me, which in the end resulted in me getting this job Alhumdulilah.
“It’s time you forget about this Sayfullah fellow and start focusing on something worth your time. I’m enrolling you to start a course next semester. Here are the forms… Have a look at them and tell me what you want to do.”, Mum told me, handing me a few sheets of papers.
I don’t even know how we were going to afford it but Mum was persistent. I won’t lie… I was excited. So many girls from school were studying and going to campus and I was beginning to feel left out.
I scanned carefully through all the courses but nothing jumped out at me. After spending an hour trying to decide, I had given up. I couldn’t make a decision because I honestly couldn’t decide which course I would be better at. I knew I was good at a couple of things, but what made it harder to come to a decision was not knowing what would pay more.
Just then there was a tiny knock at the door. It was Muskaan…
“Hey! What’s up?!”, I smiled, looking at her green gorgeous eyes.
“I have a HUGE problem.”, she told me like a big girl. I couldn’t believe she was turning 8 this year. It feels like just earlier today that we moved here and she was this little 4 year old girl who spoke to me by building little sentences. Now she’s so big that she actually has problems.
“Tell me about it sister! Welcome to the big world with big problems.”, I gestured for her to come inside.
After Ridwaan was sent away to study because of that fight he had with Imraan all those years ago, Muskaan usually comes to me if she needs help with anything that her Mum can’t help her with. A lot of her school work mainly since her Dad is at work most of the time and her Mum isn’t from South Africa, so she doesn’t quite get some of the things that kids these days have to do at school.
“Ok… So let’s hear it.” I waited for Muskaan to share her problem with me.
“I have an exam tomorrow.” She told me.
“What?! In grade one?! And writing exams?!” I couldn’t believe it. This was crazy. When I was in grade one, writing the daily news and colouring inside the lines were the biggest worries I had. I don’t think I ever stressed about writing an exam until I was in grade 2. Or maybe I did have to write exams but they were just too traumatic, so my brain blocked it out.
“I have to learn everything. The hard one is ‘more than’ and ‘less than’ ones. I get confused with which one to use..” She complained.
“Oh honey that’s simple… Just remember that the crocodile always eats the food that is more.” I told her.
“What?” She looked confused.
“Ok see…”, I used my hand to make a snapping crocodile and Mums cupcakes as the sum, “Let’s try the first one. Say you have 3 cupcakes on this side and 5 cupcakes on that side. This is a greedy crocodile, he always wants to eat the bigger amount of food. So… Which one is more? 3 cupcakes or 5 cupcakes?”
Muskaan was quick to reply, “Obviously 5.”
“Yes that’s right! Good job … So now comes the hard part, drawing the crocodile eating the cupcake. Remember to always draw his mouth open on the the side of the bigger number so that he can munch them up.” I explained and she seemed to get it right off the bat.
“Oooh. That’s easy now.” She said, wanting to move on to the next thing.
Muskaan and I spent an hour going over her work and she knew everything in no time. On her way home I gave her another cupcake, “Here you go my little crocodile.”. She giggled, “I wish you were my teacher. Its easy when you teached it to me.”
“Not teached… Taught.” I smiled, knowing exactly what course I wanted to do now.
**End Of Flashback**
That wasn’t the only big decision that Muskaan helped me make though. She just kept popping up at all the right times, another one of The Almighty’s master plans.
In a way, you could say I met Tasneem because of her. She was at our house one day, telling us how excited she was to have finished her part two in madressah and was moving on to Quran. Mum seemed more excited than she was…
“That’s wonderful Muskaan! I remember when Nusaybah was your age and starting Quran too. It was such a special moment for me. I’m sure your Mummy must be so proud.”, Mum told Muskaan.
She nodded excitedly, “Uh Huh! I wonder how many days it can take until I finish the whole Quran.”
Mum chuckled, “Well… Just make Dua that you get to finish it in the first place. Not many people actually get down to finishing it.”
I knew Mum was hinting at me. I kinda felt so ashamed for not yet having a single Quran to my name as yet.
Later Raeesa came downstairs and could see that something was bugging me. “What’s wrong?”, she asked, grabbing some fruit to make a salad. She was always on a mission to make something yum.
“Well… I’ve been thinking. I want to finish my Quran but the problem is, I have nobody to correct me in case I am reading or pronouncing wrong. Its been a while since I actually read Quran. To be honest, besides a Yaseen now and then and my short surahs, I haven’t read any other part of the Quran ever since primary school. I feel so ashamed now that I’m thinking about it.”, I confessed to her.
“Masha-Allah… That’s so wonderful Nusaybah. You’re never too old to complete it and who knows, maybe you could even make it a daily routine?”, she happily encouraged.
“Hmm…”, I looked down, still not being able to find a solution to my problem.
“Perhaps you could set aside half an hour a day to go to the madressah at the masjid? I’m pretty sure Apa Feroza wouldn’t mind listening to you. There are two girls from our Taaleem group that go there who are about your age too, so you won’t have to feel awkward being there or anything like that.”, Raeesa suggested.
As much as I really wanted to go, I didn’t know what to go there and say. I don’t even know who Apa Feroza is. I couldn’t bring myself to going, I was just too shy and embarrassed I guess. I’m not a very fast reader, infact, I read slower than Muskaan.
A few days later, Raeesa decided to invite me along to Taaleem. I wasn’t too keen on going because I knew that lectures usually had no effect on me. It might make me feel guilty for a little while, but once I reach home, everything would go back to normal.
This session was held at Apa Feroza’s house. Apa welcomed me personally as she did everyone else and I sat quietly in the corner, not knowing how this all worked. Some ladies read a Yaseen and others read zikr on a tasbeeh while waiting for everyone else to arrive. After everyone was there and seated, I thought Apa would stand up and talk, but instead, a young girl got up and began…
I’m pretty sure all you sisters must have heard the beautiful and famous story of how Umar (R.A) came to accept Islam.
Umar ibn Al Khattab, a man known for determination and his anger, made a sudden decision of killing the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wa alihi wassalam). Even though Islam was slowly entering his heart; the hatred he had for the new religion still existed. So on that day he just decided that he was going kill the Messenger of Allah.
On his way he ran into Na’im ibn Abdullah (Radiallahu Anhu) who began to talk to him. When Na’im found out that ‘Umar (RA) wanted to kill the Prophet; he told ‘Umar that maybe he should speak with his sister first, pointing out that she too had accepted Islam.
When he came near his sister’s house he heard the recitation of the Qur’an. Upon entering he asked his sister and her husband Said ibn Zaid (Radiallahu Anhu) “Have you left the faith of your forefathers?”. He then began to attack his sister and her husband. Seeing the blood of his sister; he had began feeling guilty. He apologized to his sister and her husband, and requested to read the words of the Qur’an. His sister said, “You are not clean, go wash your self.”, which he then did. When reading the verses of Surah Ta ha; Islam began to enter his heart again.
Now ‘Umar ibn Al Khattab returned on his plan to visit the Prophet. While he made the stop at his sister’s house; Na’im ibn Abdullah went and warned the Prophet and his companions of ‘Umar’s intentions. When ‘Umar got to the house-sword in hand. The warrior Hamza ibn Abdul Mutallib (Radiallahu Anhu) said, “I will kill him with his own sword.” The Prophet(Sallallahu alayhi wa alihi wassalam) told him, “No, go hide.” When ‘Umar entered the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wa alihi wassalam) grabbed ‘Umar by the collar and shook him; then asked him, “O Ibn Al Khattab, Why have you not accepted Islam?” ‘Umar ibn Al Khattab (Radiallahu Anhu)responded:
أشهد أن لا إله إلاَّ الله و أشهد أن محمدا رسول الله
“I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”
If a few verses of Qur’an were enough to change the heart of someone who was once a strong and powerful enemy of Islam into a pious and righteous Sahaba who went on to be one of the great Caliphs of Islam, imagine what could happen for us by reading the entire Quran.
I’d like to read a story that my Mother used to read to me as a little girl…
An old man lived on a farm in the mountains with his young grandson. Each morning he was up early sitting at the kitchen table reading his Quran.
His grandson wanted to be just like him and tried to imitate him in every way he could. One day the grandson asked, “Nana, I try to read the Quran just like you but I don’t understand it, and what I do understand I forget as soon as I close the book. What good does reading the Quran do?”
The Grandfather quietly turned from putting coal in the stove and replied, “Take this coal basket down to the river and bring me back a basket of water.” The boy did as he was told, but all the water leaked out before he got back to the house. The grandfather laughed and said, “You’ll have to move a little faster next time,” and sent him back to the river with the basket to try again.
This time the boy ran faster, but again the basket was empty before he returned home. Out of breath, he told his grandfather that it was impossible to carry water in a basket, and he went to get a bucket instead.
The old man said, “I don’t want a bucket of water; I want a basket of water. You’re just not trying hard enough,” and he went out of the door to watch the boy try again.
At this point, the boy knew it was impossible, but he wanted to show his grandfather that even if he ran as fast as he could, the water would leak out before he got back o the house.
The boy again dipped the basket into river and ran hard, but when he reached his grandfather the basket was again empty.
Out of breath, he said, “See Nana, it’s useless!”
“So you think it is useless?” The old man said, “Look at the basket.”
The boy looked at the basket and for the first time realized that the basket was different. It had been transformed from a dirty old coal basket and was now clean, inside and out.
“Son, that’s what happens when you read the Quran. You might not understand or remember everything, but when you read it, you will be changed, inside and out. That is the work of God in our lives.”
Not everyone understands Arabic, or like me, is still learning and gets frustrated when they don’t understand every single thing. But that’s okay. Even reading a little bit of Qur’an washes away our sins and cleanses us spiritually. Learning Qur’an also adds barakah to our lives. It’s one of the blessing that Allah gave us. After reading a little bit of Qur’an I always feel a little more peaceful and ready to be productive. Once the heart is clean, the body will follow with minimum effort In-Sha-Allah.
I know how hard it is to try and find time to sit down and read Quran everyday, but nobody said finish a whole Quran in a day or even a month. Start small… Even if it be a page or even a single verse a day, and In-Sha-Allah in time you can read more as you go along. I promise you, you will reach a stage where you wouldn’t want to close the Qur’an and you’d just want to keep going despite having other things to do. The Qur’an is overflowing with wisdom and guidance and is only a touch away on our phones and electronics.
This unaltered book is much more than Arabic words. This book is Allah’s words, a blessing, a gift , and something not to miss. Taking a few minutes out of the day to reach up to the beautifully wrapped book on your bookshelf, or downloading an app, is an easy way for us to receive the mercy and guidance from Allah’s book, the Qur’an, to add peace and barakah to our daily lives, and to wash away our sins.
Sadeekun, I was so moved by what she said. What motivated me even more was knowing that my efforts, no matter how small will never go to waste.
After reading a little, I decided to go on over to thank that girl for inspiring me to be a better Muslimah.
“Assalaamu-Alaikum… I’m Nusaybah.”, I whispered, sitting down next to her.
“Wa-Alaikum-Salaam-Wa-Rahmatulah… I’m Tasneem.”, she smiled.
“I just wanted to say Jazak-Allah for what you said back there. I had been thinking about finishing my Qur’an and I guess this was the push I needed to get started. You’re an excellent speaker by the way…”, I told her.
“Masha-Allah that’s wonderful. And Jazak-Allah for the compliment. It was my first time actually. I was a little nervous.”, she blushed, looking so shy.
“Really? Wow… I would’ve never guessed.”
She giggled modestly, then went on to ask if this was my first time at this Taaleem session.
“Jee it is. I didn’t even know much about this group until my sister-in-law brought me here today.”, I replied.
We got chatting and I found myself opening up to her instantly. Her warm and caring nature was so inviting that it had me sharing my struggles of trying not to stray from the straight path. It didn’t take long before I realised how similar our struggles were. She was just better at handling hers and I knew that I could learn a lot from her.
As I left to go back home that day, something in me made me run back inside to get her number so that we could stay in touch. “I’m sorry… I usually don’t do this because it’s awkward.”, I told her as she typed her number in my phone. She chuckled, “No it’s ok. I was actually going to ask you for yours but I chickened out, not wanting you to think I was a stalker or something.”
**End Of Flashback**
Since that day, we’ve kept in touch and as time went on we’ve come to be best friends. More like sisters actually… She’s there whenever I need her, always giving good advice, while on the other hand always coming up with silly ideas on something mischievous to do. Oh wait… That’s actually my role in this sisterhood. Nonetheless… She’s the sister I’ve never had and I wouldn’t trade her for the world!
A Hadith comes to mind:
On the authority of Abu Musa al-Ash’ari رضي الله عنه the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:
“A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume-seller and a blacksmith: The perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might singe your clothes, and at the very least you will breathe in the fumes of the furnace.”
Bukhari and Muslim
Throughout my life I’ve been doing everything I can to try and fit in and be one with the ‘cool’ group, even if it meant disobeying my Lord (Astaghfirullah!). Those friendships never ever worked out for me. In fact, they all backfired. No good ever comes out of displeasing Allah.
On the other hand…
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend.” [Abu Dawood & Tirmidhee]
I am testament to that. Ever since I joined Tasneem, I’ve been reading Quran daily Alhumdulilah, as well as reading my Salaah on time and even making up for the missed ones all those years ago. I’ve even been going to Taaleem every now and then to learn more about our beautiful religion and believe it or not, ever since then, I’ve been seeing Allah’s blessings in everything I do. All praise is due to Him… The Lord of the worlds.
“Do not concern yourself with things about which you have no knowledge. Verily, your hearing, sight, and heart — all of them will be called to account” (Quran 17:36).
“Why do not the believing men and women, whenever such [a rumour] is heard, think the best of one another and say, “This is an obvious falsehood”? … When you take it up with your tongues, uttering with your mouths something of which you have no knowledge, you deem it a light matter. Whereas in the sight of God it is an awful thing!” (Quran 24: 12-15).
“Oh you who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest you harm people unwittingly, and afterwards become full of repentance for what you have done (Quran 49:6).
“O you who believe! Let not some men among you laugh at others; it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former). Nor let some women laugh at others; it may be that the (latter are better than the (former). Nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames. Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed. And those who do not desist are (indeed) doing wrong.
Oh you who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible), for suspicion in some cases is a sin. And spy not on each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? No, you would abhor it…But fear Allah. For Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful” (Quran 49:11-12).
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