She entered her home after a tiring day at college, went straight to her mother’s room. “Assalam o alaikum!” she said. Her mother looked away. Taken aback, she went closer to her and asked, what had she been up to. Her mother glared at her, head to toe. The look on her mother’s face was familiar; it tore her apart. She was not sure what had disappointed her mother yet again, her Khimar or her newfound struggle of not watching the television at all.
Finally, her mother spoke in one of those bitter tones, which drained Rumaisa emotionally. She had been struggling against those taunts for years now. First, they had been about appearance and weight loss and now about her head covering and modesty. “You… you look so weird! You… I don’t get it…Uff! Just look at yourself.” She felt pathetic; the expressions on her mother’s face were of disgust and contempt. Controlling her tears, she smiled and went out of her mother’s room.
In her room, her sanctuary, she hurried to offer Dhuhr, as it was getting late. While praying, her insides shrieked out. She couldn’t focus on the meaning of the Salah; all she could do was to prolong her Sajdah (prostration) and cry her heart out. When she was done, she sat on the sofa and wept; she wept and her whole body jerked; her heart was beating violently against her ribs. She was fighting a war within herself. She tried to digest the frustration that encompassed her; the Hadeeth of a mother’s exalted status and the verses from Surah Luqman loomed large over her head. It was these reminders that acted as a shield and she controlled her panic.
Rumaisa, especially after rectifying her habits according to Islam, naturally expected love and support from her parents. But the way her parents were reacting to her change (that she thought they had wanted from her) was wreaking havoc on her soul. It had now become a routine that her mother nailed a critical remark at her appearance, her manners and her excitement for learning Islam, listening to lectures and reading the Tafseer at home. Her mother would often be harsh in her tone, leaving Rumaisa with no option but to alienate. There had been times, when Rumaisa reacted, because she could not hold back her emotions. She needed unconditional support; she yearned for the sweetness in her mother’s tone, a connection through touch and some long over-due hugs. She craved for appreciation; she waited for the day her mother would say “Masha’Allah” on her transformations. Alas! All her mother did was calling her names and taunting her. The words from her mother were like a sword; it took so much effort to stay composed.
Rumaisa knew in her heart that she lacked, when it came to tolerance, especially with her mother. Her weak areas needed a dire Akhlaaq crash course, but the routine interactions with her mother de-motivated her. Instead of boosting her morale, she felt completely broken inside. There were days when her countenance revealed all the frustration that had piled up inside her. On other days, she complained to Allah (swt) that her mother was being unfair to her. However, she relieved herself with constant Duas. She knew that she couldn’t please her Rabb without obeying her parents; she realized the grave consequences of answering back to her parents. Long ago, she had learnt that best way to make her parents happy was to learn and live by Allah’s (swt) laws. She had rightly learnt that the best possible way to implement Allah’s (swt) commands regarding parents was to seek knowledge of the Deen and practice before preaching.
Her past haunted her; her shortcomings would make her hopeless at times, but the contentment that she felt in knowing that she was connecting to Allah (swt) healed her. On the most challenging of days, when Rumaisa went to her mother’s room to sit and talk to her, her mother would casually ignore her. She would be busy in watching operas or fashion shows on the television. Rumaisa’s mother was conscious about not only how she looked but also how her daughter looked. Her heart had perhaps been hardened by the constant exposure to fashion magazines and the culture-obsessed company she was in. Rumaisa used to cry in dark, worrying about her family’s perceptions; she also wanted them to rise free of cultural shackles and be healed by the true form of Deen. The sickening atmosphere of the society she lived in with loud music, uncovered ladies, intermingling of males and females and the lavish parties gnawed at her heart. Allah’s (swt) word – the Quran – was the medicine for her. It gave her unmatched hope, and the examples of Allah’s (swt) beloved prophets fastened her drive to improve; improve spiritually.
She learnt to focus on the essence of worship – Dua! In her Duas, she invoked Allah (swt); she supplicated with Ism-e-Azam. She had faith that Allah (swt) will accept her Duas one day. In her heart, she knew that her transformation was for the sake of Allah (swt) only. She knew that if she became an ideal Muslimah, she will be a Sadaqha-e-Jariyah for her parents. She reminded this motive to herself every time her mother’s disapproval left her in an emotional upheaval; she reminded herself that Jannah lies under her mother’s feet, and she needs to struggle even more to balance her relationship with her parents. Allah (swt) has promised rewards and only He, the Almighty, fulfills all His promises. He tests us and has equipped us with the Prophet’s (sa) example; He has provided us with resources to cope with calamities, and they are the Quran and Ahadeeth.
Rumaisa’s mother loved her. The cultured-Muslim society she lived in was ruining the family setup and was creating so many differences. The hyped communication gap existed because of a lack of understanding and acceptance. The elders had a responsibility not only to preach and practice Islam but also support children and understand that change takes time and is one of the toughest tasks. It takes a long time to break the enslaving old habits, which for years had kept them far away from Allah (swt).
Today Rumaisa continues to wage war against her Nafs and has her highs and lows. On days, when she accompanies her mother to shopping or is open to social discussions, her mother is comparatively balanced in her communication. However, whenever Rumaisa slips, her mother is ready with a bunch of poisonous taunts, which pinprick Rumaisa’s motivation to improve. All she wants is her mother’s unconditional warmth and her undying support, especially during this phase.
Rumaisa has pasted a poster on her wall, still reminding herself of her weaknesses:
“Say ‘Alhamdulilah’ for even the bad. As hard it might be to believe, it could have been much worse.” (Khadim ul Quran)