My Mother Was An Inspiration



I hear a loud and vibrant chant from the dining table where a group of 15 or more mid-teenagers congregate four times a week for their ‘Islamiat’ classes.

These kinds of students have been flocking for almost a decade at the residence where I stay in order to prepare for their final O-Level Examination. They are tutored, examined, and made to revise and practice every minute detail of the syllabus. They have to attempt questions from previous examinations as well as anticipated questions in the forthcoming test. The teaching goes beyond books, notes and lectures where the practicality and application of the beliefs are applied and proven. In some cases, individual counselling is provided for students and their parents who are seeking guidance.

This started off as a feeble attempt to better understand the religion. With time, patience, hard work and dedication, the tutor was able to capture and captivate the hearts, minds and souls of several hundred young adults, their parents and even their grandparents! And from the results that pour in, it shows.

Born into a minority sect of Islam, she struggled in accepting the beliefs and practices of those following it. She questioned, cross-questioned and cross-examined every ritual and ceremony that took place in their places of worship. She would spend endless hours in gaining answers from her father and then turning to Allah over and over again. She would pray and fast as the way of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) and his Companions and would make special efforts in gaining more knowledge of the Deen from practicing friends and their families.

The year she turned 18, her father gifted her a three-volume set of A. Yusuf Ali’s translation of the Holy Quran. She would reading this guidance for many years on, passing the inspiration to the generations following her.

I had always admired my mother from a young age. Being the eldest and only daughter for the first seven years, I would be the dog’s tail attached around my mother, especially when she would be working in the kitchen or managing and organizing the home for guests. I was there at her beck and call and learnt how she would be cleaning the meats before cooking, chopping vegetables and preparing the meal in the pot. Then there were the finer etiquettes that a young lady was required to have – laying the table, handling cutlery and crockery and serving the guests. After numerous rounds of serving friends and well-wishers through umpteen rounds of breaking and damaging fine china, my mother had declared me fit enough to handle the guests and kitchen on my own.

It was during those years and subsequently after that I learnt of a secret she had well-kept from me. In the hours that I was in the school, on the days my timetable did not have an ‘Islamic Studies’ class scheduled, my mother would slide my textbook off the shelf to read and gain knowledge from those enlightened pages. When my siblings and I would return from school, she would be eager to sit with us and learn what we had learnt that day by asking a million questions as a five-year old does! When we would have to learn some Ayats (Verses) from the Quran or a Dua (Prayer), she would make sure she kept herself free and would memorise them along with us.

Year upon year, she would be reading those ‘Islamic Studies’ textbooks and had almost a photographic memory by the end of the eighth level! I only got wind of this when I would question her on some issue and her response would be that I read it from a certain textbook. Many a times we would playfully argue regarding a matter and she would say: “Have you already forgotten? It is in YOUR textbook!”

It was a day in 1997 when my sister came complaining to my mother about the teacher discussing a certain topic in her ‘Islamiat’ class that was totally uncalled for. This angered my mother greatly and she had decided to visit the principal as soon as she could. The principal, of British origin, was a level-headed lady and was kind enough to listen to my mother’s point of view and thereby learn of the correct way of the religion. She immediately offered my mother to teach the same from the next academic year as she did receive a few other complaints regarding the current teacher and found my mother’s knowledge to be stronger and more practical.

My mother refused immediately and suggested that she should find someone who is more well-versed in the religion and more importantly, with the method of teaching and syllabus as she had no experience. The principal was firm in her belief and assured my mother that she would be willing to help her at any point in time and so would the other teachers, so she should go home, consult the family and return for the following academic year shortly.

The first year was the most difficult for her, I remember. She had about three to four grades to teach with a couple of sections that totalled to almost one hundred students. They were groups of girls and boys, anywhere from between 13 years of age to 17 with raging hormones and innumerable questions at the drop of a hat. The principal’s reassurances and the help from her colleagues is what kept her going. Late night assignment and homework checking was another factor that brought up her confidence and love for the subject. Her passion and drive to improve herself for her students grew further through the months and years she taught at the school.

Her health and the never-ending workload five years later, made her decide to tutor from home where she could manage fewer students whom she could pick and choose herself. The group was small initially – four to six in the first year to a double group of the same in the following year. Word got out amongst the students with whom she had coached and started spreading in the schools they studied and amongst their siblings. Mothers would be discussing when they would meet and would pass on her contact information. They too, felt comfortable enough to talk to her and would either call or visit her after her classes for their own counselling. In this way, their respective children had become more focused and better able to comprehend the lessons thereafter.

Sadly, in May 2011, she decided to close her tuitions with the batch that had just completed their term with her. She said she was “tired” and that she “had completed my (her) work”. She had asked her students to distribute the notes they had, as opposed to her recollecting them at the end of the year as was her practice. She wished for the other students to gain knowledge about Islam as much as all her other batches had, in years gone by.

It was two days after her birthday in August 2011 that she slept a peaceful sleep, only to never wake up.

As I sit in that same dining room receiving her former students and their parents who come to offer their condolences, I still feel her presence and can remember those lessons she would be preparing with me before teaching them.

That lady was my mother, Niamet Hashambhoy Khalid, more popularly known as Mrs. Niamet.

A Woman of Substance (A True Story)


“Confront the dark parts of yourself and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.” (August Wilson)

She might not be the wealthiest, the most famous or the most influential woman. However, she is an inspiration to all the women out there. In these times, when the ‘weaker’ gender in our country is forced to sell her body to earn a living, Nazeeran Begum refused to give in. To the eyes of a casual observer, she might appear as another housemaid, dusting off dirt and cleaning up the mess created by other people. But in her own life, she cleaned up the mess that her family had created and dusted off the dirt of despair from her shoulder to move on in life. She mustered all her leftover courage and decided to nurture it even in the darkest of times to help her gain a new life.

Nazeeran Begum’s humility can make anyone mindful of one’s own attitude. She has a very strong Punjabi accent but replies ‘Walaikum Assalam’ as properly as any Arab would. She does not sit on the couch. Instead, she chooses to settle down on the floor cushion. “These couches and chairs make people lazy, and I need my strength – can’t afford old age, you know,” she remarks at the shiny, wooden furniture. She is always clad in her white Chaddar (a traditional long piece of cloth) with silver embroidery, unravelling from many corners now, and a clean lawn suit. Along with her little black pouch for keeping her bus fare, she carries a bag of clothes wherever she goes.

Her problems in life started quite early – she was only nine years old, when her mother died. “I belonged to a rich family back in Rajanpur, my village in Dera Ghazi Khan. My father was a Zameendar (landlord) and remarried after my mother’s death. The stepmother was not a surprise at all. She kept my father drunk and her sons, my half brothers, took over the property. The beginning of my sorrows were triggered when my father died. I was twenty years old then,” she tells. She wipes off her tears and bravely tells how she denied all the urges to cut her wrists or to drink poison. Nazeeran Begum has always been a devout Muslim and believes that it is a sin to commit suicide. She was then forced to marry a farmer who used to work in her father’s fields. He was a compulsive gambler and married Nazeeran for money. When her step brothers took everything, her husband beat her and locked her in a room. “Things got worse when I got pregnant; I had twins – a girl and a boy,” she adds somberly.

Her baby girl was taken away by her husband, who sold her for a mere amount of five thousand. According to Nazeeran Begum, that was the worst day of her life. But even that incident didn’t break her spirits; she worked untiringly in the fields, carried manure, reared cattle and raised a son on her own. Although she was illiterate, she managed to get her son admitted in a school. Her husband mostly came home drunk and hit her with anything he found. After twenty years of her marriage, her husband came home one night and divorced her. “He was drunk and had lost all of his senses. He threw me out and locked the door behind me. I stayed up all night for him to come out the next day, but there was nothing left for me. I was divorced. My son refused to leave with me,” she laments.

At that point, when Nazeeran had nowhere to go, no place to hide and her clothes were tattered and torn, her old neighbour, who knew Nazeeran before marriage, took her into her own house. Both of them left Rajanpur and came to Karachi. They resided there in the little huts underneath the pulls with snake charmers. Nazeeran puts her hands over her ears to express her utmost disgust regarding those initial days. She started working as a housemaid, commonly known as a Masi in Karachi. “I was determined to earn Rizq-e-Halal. I never went for any illegitimate means of earning money. Many women, who lived in the huts near mine, were involved in prostitution and smuggling, but I never supported the idea of selling my flesh to anyone,” she states boldly. “The primary reason was my faith in Allah (swt). I had enough stamina to cling onto my religion even during those times.”

When Nazeeran Begum earned enough money, she moved out of that hut to a decent, rented quarter in Shah Faisal Colony. She started selling undergarments, socks and handkerchiefs, too, for extra money. “Working in different households meant interaction with all sorts of people. I started socializing. I met many poor women like me. Since I had to look after myself only, I began saving a lot. I progressed onto selling fabric, but at the same time, I did not stop my cleaning business either,” she says.

“I met several women in my new neighborhood, who were living hand-to-mouth and worked extra hours like me to earn a living. That was the time when I started collecting Zakat, in order to buy sewing machines for those women, so that they could start a new business for earning more,” tells Nazeeran. Her fabrics business was doing well – she earned enough to buy a small quarter of her own in Bakhtawar Goth.

“I have started looking after girls, who are either turned out of their houses or divorced, just like me. I teach them sewing and cleaning, so that they do not go for illicit means to earn bread and butter. It’s for my daughter I lost once,” she pauses and starts weeping for the first time during the conversation.

Beaten, torn down, driven out of house, once stranded on the streets, harassed by snake charmers and bereaved of her own children and father’s property, Nazeeran now lives in a house of her own and has a stall at Erum Centre, where she sells fabrics. She not only brought herself out of darkness but also illuminated the lives of many women like her. She is the living example of courage, hope and faith. However, most importantly, she is a perfect example of a woman, who never compromised her self-respect, honour and dignity for the sake of money. Nazeeran dedicates her life to her lost daughter, whom she hopes to meet in Jannah.

Give Like There is No Tomorrow

Vol 6 - Issue 1 Greatest FitnahsBy Umm Yusuf

“Ammi, I can’t find my Nikes,” said my teenaged brother, looking for his shoes while getting ready for school.

“Oh those? I gave them to Saqib yesterday,” replied our mom referring to the boy who cleans the house.

“What?” shrieked my brother. “But they were in great shape.”

“Exactly,” said mom.

“By no means shall you attain Al-Birr (piety, righteousness, etc., it means here Allah’s Reward, i.e. Paradise), unless you spend (in Allah’s Cause) of that which you love; and whatever of good you spend, Allah knows it well.” (Ale-Imran 3-92)

This is just one example of our conversations as we grew up with parents who gave and gave some more. They gave money, food, clothing, time, attention and they gave us a sense of purpose.

Growing up in Dubai, we rarely saw beggars on the streets like we did on summer vacations in Karachi, but that did not prevent our parents from finding opportunities to give. My mother used to make scrumptious Biryani with ice cold Lassi for the construction workers at work in the blazing Middle East heat. The way our parents treated the women who used to clean our home or work in my father’s office was exemplary; they never raised their voice nor insulted them in any way.

They never went to the hoity-toity parties or mingled only with the upper strata of society even when they had the opportunity to do so. They kept themselves firmly grounded with giving the Haqq (right) of relatives, neighbors, travellers and those in need.

Even though my father returned to Allah (swt) in 2000, we pray that the seeds he sowed of helping others become a Sadaqah-e-Jariya for him (Ameen). For my mother, I pray she is given a long and healthy life so she can continue her legacy of giving.

To this day, I can hardly count the times my mother actually shopped for herself. When she gets a new outfit as a gift from someone, she takes out one to give away from her closet. She doesn’t wait for them to get tattered and stained before they are passed on. I can’t recall a time when my mom has gotten jewellery made for herself. But I can enumerate dozens of instances where she has helped others by selling her jewellery for the less fortunate.

She sacrifices her comforts so that she can help someone get an education, assist an orphanage, get someone married or start a small business. And she encourages us to follow suit.

When she visits me in America, she hardly buys anything for herself. The sleekest handbag and the most comfortable shoes cannot entice her enough when she would rather purchase stuff for the deserving kids on her list.

She doesn’t buy for the kids who already travel the world and have more toys than they can remember. She buys for those who treasure the one thing she gets for them. I know how much she dislikes taking a hand trolley while travelling, but since the new luggage restrictions, she takes a hand trolley full of our hand-me-downs in good condition that she can distribute in Pakistan.

When she observes that my kids are not playing with one of their toys for a while, I see her smile. I know she has already thought of a deserving recipient.

Her generosity doesn’t take a vacation when she does. If she can’t find someone hungry on the streets in suburban America, she cooks her favorite meal and sells it at the Masjid donating all proceeds to the House of Allah (swt).

I have a treasure chest of fond childhood memories, but some of the gems that outshine the fun vacations, parties and shopping trips are how our mom used to take those kids out to eat KFC who never ate out, and how she took us to visit the seamstress for lunch to enjoy her simple Mooli Paratha as opposed to five star hotel banquets.

If she gets an unexpected sum of money from an investment, her brain starts churning ideas – not on what designer outfit she can splurge on, but how she can help someone needy. Unfortunately, there have been people who have told her, “You give too much. You need to save some for yourself.” But she has full Tawakkal and belief that wealth does not decrease by giving. Her conviction in the Barakah that charity brings is so inspiring that it brings tears to one’s eyes.

And she does this all so secretly. It was important for us, her children, to know so that we can learn the value of giving to others. But other than that, she didn’t do it to get an award at a fancy fundraising gala, or praise from those around us. She is an inspiration as an unsung hero who desires appreciation from Allah (swt) Alone.

“They give food, out of love for Him (Allah), to the poor, the orphan, and the slave, saying: We feed you only for Allah’s pleasure – we desire from you neither reward nor thanks.” (Al-Insan 76:8-9)

I am deliberately writing under a pen name so that she doesn’t get upset with me and frets that her years of sacrifice can border on Riya or showing off. She doesn’t need to see praise of her work on the pages of a magazine.

But I think it’s an important story to tell because as life comes full circle, as a mother myself, I now wonder if my kids are even hearing what I keep saying all day. Moms need to know that yes, our little sponges absorb everything. They retain it better when they “see” something being done as opposed to just hearing someone nag them about it.

If my siblings and I can do even a tiny fraction of what our parents have done, I hope it is accepted by Allah (swt) as our small contribution in continuing their legacy of giving out of what you love, finding opportunities to give, give to the most deserving and continue giving like there is no tomorrow.


golagandaBy Ayesha Pervez – an English Literature graduate from the University of Karachi who has completed courses in short-fiction and journalism from Harvard University.

I lay bruised, my temples throbbing, the steel pot with which I was struck still spinning noisily next to me.

My seething abuser stared at me with monstrous eyes, as he wiped sweat off his forehead.

“Nimra!” he bellowed. “Get me water and turn on the TV!”

My eyes turned to the line of faces staring at me from across the room. Five dark and dirty figures stood against the wall, looking at me with terrified, wet eyes. It was not an unusual occurrence, yet every time, it shook them. One of the dirty figures, the second eldest and the darkest, shivered momentarily and then moved to the water cooler in the corner of the room.

In the next few minutes, the small quarter filled with the loud beats of Hindi movie songs.  I got to my feet and, picking up the pot, made my way into the small pantry. Filling it with water, I placed it on the burner.

Two little hands curled around my leg. “Rasheed, my Babaa, my Shehzada (prince),” I cooed, picking up my youngest child – and the only son.

“Maa, why didn’t you bring his cigarettes today?” Zunera asked me, as she joined me in the pantry. She curled one hand around Rasheed’s dimpled brown leg and curved an arm around my waist.

“It’s okay, Zuni. I felt like giving him a piece of my mind today, the loafer!”

“Shh, Maa – he might hear you.”

“Now, take Rasheed to the toilet; he hasn’t gone for some time now. Quick, take him; otherwise you’ll be wiping it up, if he lets go here.”

As Zunera took the toddler away, I waited in anticipation for the water to boil. I am addicted to tea. I have it when I am happy, angry or sad. It instantly makes me feel better.  Why am I not crying? Because abuse, both oral and physical, is something I am used to.  Every evening, when I return home from work, I am expected to bring half a pack of cigarettes for him, which I do most of the time. But on days, when I don’t have the money or use the spare change to buy a treat from the market for the children, then it means a couple of abusive words or even battering. Today, after I had cleared the dinner plates, Sabir asked me for his pack as usual.

“I didn’t have the money today,” I replied calmly.

“Why did you not take it from your Bajis (employers)?” Sabir asked, his anger rising.

“Because it’s not nice to take money from them every other day.”

“I don’t care, whether it is nice or not. Why didn’t you get it?”

“You should also find some work now; then you can smoke as many packs as you like,” I retorted with a sudden burst of courage.

“Don’t you speak to me like that, you evil woman!” he spat, and then I watched as he backed into the kitchen, picked a steel pot from the bench and flung it at me.

As I poured the tea into a cup, I thought of the time, when my husband took a second wife, a few years ago. The girl, half my years, was quiet by nature. When he brought her from the village to live in the city with me and my children, I screamed at her and tried to make her life hell. But the poor thing never complained to Sabir, or he surely would have beaten me black and blue, in aspirations of becoming a hero in his new and young wife’s eyes. She passed away due to severe blood loss in her first delivery. At the time, I’ll admit that I was not too saddened by her death. But I often wish now that she hadn’t died. Had she lived, he would have divided some of his wrath and violent lovemaking between the two of us, and that would have spared me from the grueling activity at least some of the time.

Sabir is the reason I love working. Despite the fact that I work as a maid, sweeping and mopping rich folks’ bungalows, being away from home gives me immense relief from not having to see my husband’s despicable face for a large part of the day.

To be honest, he isn’t always abusive. Sabir is often found in a lively mood, when he plays with his favourite child, Rasheed, or when he watches his favourite actress dancing on TV. After the film ended, Sabir lifted the snoring toddler wrapped around his stomach and went to his usual place on the floor mattress, right next to the pedestal fan. There, father wrapped himself and son under a summer quilt and drifted into immediate and peaceful sleep. Five slim bodies lay some distance away, covered head to toe with a stained bed sheet, their small abdomens slowly rising and falling.

Although I wake the earliest, I am always the last to sleep. It is difficult to sleep, while our one-room quarter is filled with booming music and the incessant giggling of the girls, while they play with their shabbily dressed dolls. My daughters, although in the majority, are placid in their activity, whereas my son roams about as if he were the king, loud and pompous. Whoever said majority is power knew nothing.

So now, when the room is as silent as an empty cave, I realize that I have waited the entire day for this time. And so, making my way to the other side of the room from where Sabir lies against the moaning fan, I nearly trip over Rasheed’s dinky but upon lying am instantly captivated by slumber.

In the dark of the night – when my sleep is at its most intense – I hear a child bellowing madly. At first, I am almost too dead to care – but when the cries begin to echo off the walls, I gather all my energy to crawl towards Rasheed and drag him back to my side. Then, as I nurse him, the two of us are once again fast asleep.

I wake to the rooster’s crow at six in the morning and begin preparing potato curry and flat bread for the afternoon lunch. Then, I sip my tea by the single window in our quarter and watch the sun rise, throwing a loud splash of rust against the pale sky. Before leaving, I take one look at my children, who are beginning to shift and turn, reacting to the brightening of the room by the sun’s light.

At my first house, which belongs to a benign lady called Samar, I was dusting the dressing table, when I saw a new bottle among all the others that I was accustomed to see every day. It was shaped like a duck but with a longer neck.

“This is new, right, Baji? But why is it shaped like a duck?”

My Baji laughed, as she slipped a boot on her toddler’s foot. “That’s not supposed to be like a duck, Sanjeeda; it’s like a swan, which is a more beautiful bird.”

“Oh, is it new? I just saw it today.”

“Yes, your sir got it for me on our anniversary yesterday.”


“We were married on the same date as yesterday four years ago, so we celebrate it every year,” Baji replied, fishing around in her purse.

“You get gifts for those days? You’re lucky, Baji,” I said.

My Baji stared at me with sympathetic eyes. “Is that a bruise on your head?”

I remained silent.

“It’s your husband again, isn’t it? Oh, why must you poor women put up with it?”

“It’s not—”

“And don’t try to defend him, as you always do, Sanjeeda. Oh dear – it looks horrible, let me get you some ointment.”

“What can I do, Baji? We are so weak in front of these brutes.”

“Must one suffer such atrocities? Stand up for yourself, Sanjeeda,” she shouted from her bathroom. I heard bottles being moved around and a cabinet door being shut; then, Baji emerged from the bathroom. “You only get one life to live. Now, take this and rub it on that bruise.”

“You’re really nice, Baji.”

“Do you need money?”

“No, Baji.”

At this point the toddler began to move restlessly inside his cot, holding his hands up and making a face, as if about to cry.

“Well, keep this money, all right? And just get done with the cleaning. I have an appointment to keep.” She thrust a single note in my hand and picked up the child.

My feelings for this Baji are torn between adoration and envy. She has a nice life, lives in a nice house, owns wonderful crockery and perfumes and has a loving, generous husband who, it seems, never laid a finger on her.

I gingerly felt the blue bump on my temple, as I walked to the next house, which stood three units down the same street. I was not looking forward to it. The miserable old woman in this house is jealous of her daughter-in-law but, unable to do anything, vents her anger out on me.

As I walked, lost in thoughts, a car jerked to a stop beside me, and a dark, moustached face popped out of the window. “Hop in, Sanjeeda, you’ll get tired walking,” he said, baring large teeth.

“You, rascal! Why don’t you give my husband a ride sometime, eh?”

“Come on, I know you don’t love him, let me buy you a cold drink.”

Seizing a stone off the ground, I threw it with all my might at the car. The impact seemed to make a minuscule dent on the rear door.

“Have your way!” he shouted and sped away.

Car drivers, like this one, tease and offer rides to us, maids, on our way home. They often spy on us and find out about our dwellings and family members. Some of the maids I know even have risky affairs with them, while many others, like me, remain wary.

At dusk, when I reached the market of my area, I saw a man selling Gola Gandas amidst shabbily dressed, barefoot children. Many of these children had luckily attained some coins for a treat. Sweat flecked my forehead, and I realized that summer had come in full swing. I fingered the corner of my Dupatta, where I had folded the note Baji had given me. I knew I could get cigarettes with it. I knew I could get sponge cake for the children. But today I wanted to think for myself – for my parched throat, for the sweat I had produced, while wiping stained floors.

I unfolded the corner of my Dupatta and handed the note to the seller.

The lanky man looked at me. “You can afford the one with fruits and cream with that note, do you want that?”

“Yes, make me the best stick you can with this money.”

Sanjeeda: A female name, meaning sadness, sober. 

Gola ganda: In its most basic form, it is crushed ice mixed with coloured Sherbets (essences).

This short story was submitted as part of “She’s an Inspiration” short-story-writing competition organized by Hiba Magazine.

Legacy of a Mominah


The daughter of a friend of mine, a stunning green-eyed 27-year-old, died on the 2nd of Ramadan. My sons were in the Masjid, attending the translation and Taraweeh session of her brother-in-law. They told me later that when he reached the Ayahs 156-7 of Surah Al-Baqarah: “Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: ‘Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return. They are those, on whom are the Salawat (i.e., blessings, etc.) (i.e., who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided-ones” – at that precise moment, he received a text message stating that his sister-in-law had breathed her last.

Rohma, the grandchild of Dr. Israr Ahmed, had felt pangs of a stomach ache just a month earlier and had a persistent cough. A CT scan revealed lymphoma that was ravaging her entire body. After two failed attempts, the doctors decided to operate upon her yet again to do a biopsy for obtaining a detailed picture, so they could immediately start chemotherapy.

She dropped her three princesses – four-and-a-half year old Maryam, two-and-a-half year old Hajra and nine month old baby Safia – at her mother’s house and went with her husband and mother-in-law (who was also her Khala) to the hospital. Khala advised her to pray Zuhr and Asr together, because they weren’t sure how long the procedure would last. Rohma prayed with such humility and presence that even the nurses couldn’t help being moved. Before they wheeled her away, she said the Kalimah, proclaiming the oneness of Allah (swt) and testifying to the apostleship of Muhammad (saw).

Her condition began to worsen after the surgery – she had to be put on the ventilator.
Her mother and Khala kept a constant vigil by her side, reciting the Quran to her seemingly lifeless form. She was heavily sedated and no movement was detected in her body. However, one day, as her mother read Surah Rahman to her, tears started rolling off Rohma’s eyes. Her lips started moving soundlessly in perfect synchronization with the revealed words. Even though tubes protruded from her nose and mouth, she finished the Surah in a silent yet powerful confirmation of her faith. After ten days on the life support, the soul left her body for its eternal abode.

“(It will be said to the pious): ‘O (you) the one in (complete) rest and satisfaction! Come back to your Lord, Well-pleased (yourself) and well-pleasing onto Him! Enter you, then, among My honoured slaves, and enter you My Paradise!’” (Al-Fajr 89: 27-30)

Rohma was one of those young people, for whom it can rightly be hoped that they would deserve the honour of being under the shade of Allah’s (swt) grandiose and imperial throne, Insha’Allah, for she, according to a Hadeeth that promises this prize, was raised in complete submission to the will and decree of the Designer of the heavens and the earth. At an age, when teenage girls engage themselves in frivolous activities, she was gaining the understanding of the Deen of Allah (swt). After her marriage to Hafiz Mohsin Mahmood, it seemed like they were made for each other, each excelling the other in virtue and piety. Her husband gave her the impetus to memorize the Word of Allah (swt), and she took to it with a passion and love characteristic of her righteous soul.

She devoted herself completely to being a model wife and ultimate teacher and loving mentor to her little girls. The couple used to spend time listening to each others’ Quran recitation and utilized their time wisely for serving their Master. In contrast to children, who are brought up in a mindless consumption of junk TV, Maryam was being fed the epitome of supreme achievement, the Noble Quran – she knows 16 Surahs by heart and that shows on her intelligent face and in her sparkling eyes. Besides being a fulltime mother, wife and daughter-in-law, Rohma was also assisting her mother in conducting Quran classes, teaching translation, Tafseer and Tajweed.

Although her father is an affluent man, she had no desire for the glint and glamour of this world and hardly ever went to the bazaar. Her unswerving focus was the good pleasure of Allah (swt) and the life of the Hereafter, for which she strove with every ounce of her energy. She had an intense desire for martyrdom, which she confided to her sister just before leaving for the hospital. She knew that the one, who died of a disease related to the stomach, was considered to be a martyr.

Rohma knew the cancer had spread and that she was dying. When people worried about her small girls, she asked them in return if Allah (swt) was not enough for her children and would He not suffice for them?

During Rohma’s brief illness, she saw dreams that held the promise of honour and eternal bliss. She met her deceased grandmother (who was a very righteous woman) in one such vision, wherein she showed her two gardens, one belonging to her and the other to Rohma. She also escorted her to the place, where flowers grew in both their respective Jannahs. After one of her biopsies, she related a near death experience to her grief stricken mother. She said that when her heart had stopped, she had seen five stars of piercing brightness and experienced such an intense feeling of ecstasy that she didn’t want to return to the mundane world. The next thing she saw was doctors bending over her body in their desperate attempt to resuscitate her. This vision was the last thing that she spoke about.

Last Ramadan, this virtuous soul was extremely fortunate to have found the Night of Glory. As she sat in her darkened room doing Ibadah, she saw a radiant light that did not belong to this world, and then her right hand and heart became very heavy, as if angels were greeting her with a warm handshake. Out of her humility and modesty, she did not reveal it to anyone, except her mother – this incident became known only after her death.

The woman, who gave birth to this admirable young lady, Rohma’s kind-hearted mother, is comforted by the fact that she has indeed, Insha‘Allah, fulfilled the purpose of life, which is to please our Lord, the Most High. At Rohma’s funeral, she sat with a saddened face and sinking heart, but there was no wailing and no complaints. Her only utterance was what is pleasing to Allah (swt): “Inna lillahi wa Inna Elaihi Rajioon.”

I still remember the first time I saw Rohma at the occasion of Eid prayer in Bagh-e-Jinnah. “O my God,” I said to myself, “she’s so ravishingly pretty.” That was how Rohma was – beautiful inside and out. May Allah (swt) grant her an elevated rank in Paradise with all her loved ones, Ameen.

Rohma’s small daughters, who were so looking forward to their mother’s return from the hospital, now daily ask their Nano and Dado such heart rending questions as: “Is my mother never coming back? Did my mother die? I also want to die. When will I die?” But at other times, they are consoled by the fact that now they have two mothers: Dado Ammi and Nano Ammi. I pray that these precious girls be granted the good of this world and the next and that their loss is compensated in a way, which cannot be comprehended by us, mortals, Ameen.