Crushing My Spite

13 crushing my spite

As I sat at the laptop screen, I could feel my insides burning rapidly, rupturing all emotional stability that I had formed over the years. I could not believe how she could surpass my career success and become the person I have been striving to be since my academic years. I thought it was only me who deserved the position and the stature, as I am by far greater than her! Why?

Maryam obtained the promotion which I had worked so hard to obtain. What did I do to deserve this humiliation? Everyone in the office knew it was me who deserved this position.

After a few minutes of contemplation over the past, I finally decided to turn off the laptop and do my remaining tasks. In a subdued manner, I cooked the meal, spilling the contents from utensils and cutting my finger twice. Why her? This was supposed to be my place.

My constant thinking and lack of food intake led me to a severe migraine that night. I kept tossing and turning in my bed. The next morning, I decided to visit the psychiatrist which my mother had been insisting upon since long. I have been suffering from over-thinking and remain extremely perplexed about ordinary matters of life. Most importantly, it was a chance to escape, as I would not be able to act normally with people around me and remain ill-tempered. I did not tell my family or friends about this visit, as I feared they would laugh at me for visiting a shrink!

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[Reflections] Why I Wear the Hijab

hijab                                                    Image Courtesy www.


I start with His praise for it is Allah (swt) who guides me each day, and His infinite mercy sustains me for my every breath.

Recently, I was asked by somebody to write a piece for Hijab Day about my journey and my experience wearing Hijab. I was thrown into a bit of a dilemma- as this was a case of, “Well I don’t really celebrate any days as such!”; and not wanting to be offensive, as I knew he in his own right was being sincere. I wrote this over night as I decided to go with how I feel. I didn’t think that this is what was wanted out of me, but I have found that I can only find words when I speak from the heart, or I can’t say anything at all. This is what I wrote, but I didn’t give it in as I felt there could not be a competition for what each of us feels.

I don’t need a day to define the Muslimah that lives inside of me.  Every day for me is a Hijab day. Although, we go through our trials, and are in the various stages of life, but I do not call my Hijab a struggle. For me- it is a source of comfort of beauty,  peace, love, and an integral part of Deen. I don’t need days and I don’t need symbols- but I do need Him, His guidance, His mercy, and even, the people He sends as friends, as teachers, and as fellow travellers throughout this journey.

Years ago, somebody told me during that tough phase when I first wore the Hijab- that this is just a sip of the ocean. Truly, I have found that Deen is so much more than that sip. It is the ocean of life; holding onto Deen, and trying not to deviate- is the real challenge.

I come from a secular back ground, where after several years, the smallest insult to my face is that I am insane. I hear stories about my past as if there was never a time of repentance. I am told by near and dear ones that I may not be forgiven. After all, I came into it so late. After all, wasn’t I so terrible? And yes, I was; and yes, I have repented; and yes, it still goes round and round in my head. Could I have been better? Could I not have done more? For me- the depth of my madness is a normal conversation; for me- this is a normal day.

I don’t ask for sympathy for what is the point in asking for it when I look at His mercy, and I know that He chose me- the lowest of all the repentant sinners to be on His path; the one who forgot Him, but was not forgotten by Him. What I do ask for is forgiveness; and that He makes it easy for all of us. This is not a rant nor this is a complaint- this is plainly the lives of many. I am just the same story in another book which can go into volumes. But each of our stories does matter to our own selves.

When Allah (swt) wants to purify a soul, he tests it through trial and tribulation. Every soul goes through this in its own different ways.

So, here we are after each insult that broke us down; you see it only broke us to re-shape us. If you felt torn apart, it was only to weave you into something stronger.

This madness has made me weep; it has made me cry; and it has made me love. If this is what it is, and the end leads to something far better than what my human mind can fathom, then let me live in my madness.

Those who know me have known my story of “love”. So, this is not a speech of grief. This is truly a story of wanting more of that ocean. I turn everything around as this is the way I will fight. You see I love my Rabb.

And I do it for His love. I love my Prophet (sa) and I love my Deen. I find no embarrassment in secular groups to say it.  And because of this love, I also love my sisters for the sake of Allah (swt).

I cannot compare my stories to any struggling Muslimah- as sometimes when I hear others relate their lives- I am humbled by the strength of the women in this Ummah. But our stories don’t end here, do they? We will go back home. and we will struggle, and we will live some more, and that is how we will move each day.

We do what we do with love for the sake of Him; that love for which there are not enough words in the human language to describe.

When you think of who you’re doing it for, it becomes easy to close chapters and lay certain pages of life to rest- knowing deep in your heart- He has other stories for you. Better plans than we can possibly imagine. I am not just speaking about the Hijab. I speak about our way of life. Imagine, the Mercy upon us when we could have been of those unaware.

From the Creator who has written millions of beautiful journeys, you should be assured, He has got yours covered every step of the way.

After all, “Wa Huwa Ala Kulli Shai in Qadeer”.  He is powerful over everything. So, engrave this belief into your soul.

Yes, I know there are days; but just believe each day will be a good day. For even if you have slept with a face soaked in tears, wake up knowing He is still with you.  For He is As-Sami (The All-Hearer); and He does listen to your Dua- the one you made when you felt there was nobody there. And, He is Al-Wadud (The Ever Loving) – the one who loves you the most. He has all the beautiful names that belong to Him.

And, this great entity, Al-Azeem (The Magnificent) chose us to be on His path; always watching over us, protecting us, loving us, guiding His slaves to Jannah; guiding us back to Him.

When you think of all the things you are hit with; when it seems you are flooded; just then, right at that moment, find that knowledge within you; the knowledge that He will never leave you, and it is then you can truly feel this beautiful realization; that feeling which comes from within; when you utter from the depth of your soul, when you cry out and truly mean the words, Alhumdulillahi Rabb il Aalameen. When you know and understand in that moment of relief that all praise truly belongs to Him.

Repentent sinner

Struggling Muslimah



Yes to Honesty!

By Muhammad Arif Sirajudinov – Writer

I was inspired to write this article by a story a friend of mine recently told me. People who acquire some wealth and are no longer satisfied with the car they own tend to get into the habit of selling their old car with the aim to buy a new one. My friend also decided to sell his old car and told me the story of how it happened.

“I headed out to a car market with the aim to sell my iron horse, which had suffered quite a bit due to my travels into mountainous areas. On the way, I was already picturing in my mind the dialogue I will have with my customer and thought that most probably I will have to hide some of the shortcomings of my car, in order to sell it at a better price. Then, suddenly, I heard on the radio the Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa): “The one who deceives is not one of us.” (Abu Dawood) I had heard it before, but had not paid much attention to it… well, I was the sort of person who did not lie to others and lived honestly, or so I thought. However, this time, the words of this Hadeeth went straight to my heart and would not leave me. For the remaining part of my journey, I kept on thinking about these words of the Prophet (sa).

Having arrived at the market, I put a price on the windshield of my car, sat down in a shadowy place and in my mind, went through the upcoming conversation with my customer. “And how about the shortcomings?” the customer will ask me. If I will tell him about all the blemishes, he will, of course, wish to lower the price. And I was already in trouble of not having enough savings to add to the price of the old car, in order to buy a new one.

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Ask the One Who gives everyone

A young lady named Umme-Jaffar was very kind and helpful. She used to give people money with her right hand so that the left hand would not know. For some days, she took the same path. On the way, she used to see two blind men sitting on the road. Both of them used to call out for money. One man used to call out: “O Allah (swt), you are the duamost merciful, please provide me with my livelihood.”

The second blind man said: “O Allah (swt), give me Umme – Jaffar’s left over. Umme-Jaffar listened to whatever the two blind men said. She gave both of them something. The one who was asking from Allah (swt), she gave him two Darham; and the one who was asking for Umme-Jaffar’s leftover, she gave him steamed chicken. The interesting point is that the one, who got chicken, used to sell his chicken to the second blind man in two Darhams. This unusual act went on for a few days.  Then one day, Umme – Jaffar  went to one blind man who asked for Umme – Jaffar’s left over and inquired: ”Did you get a hundred Dinars?”

The blind man got scandalized, and said: ”No. I used to get one steamed chicken which I used to sell over in two Darhams.”

Umme-Jaffar said: ”The one who asks from Allah (swt), I used to give him two Darhams. And I used to give you one steamed chicken in which every day I used to put ten Dinars.”

The blind man started hitting his cranium on the enclosure. He started clamouring badly, and he said: ”O my misfortune. Why did I do that? Oh I got smitten.”

Umme – Jaffar said: ”Hopefully, the one who asked Allah (swt) has achieved whatever he needed. And the one who used to ask people is bereft from everything.”

“Undoubted! The one, who asks from people, gets nothing; and in future, they get ignominy as luck.”

People should ask from Allah (swt) because nowadays people sell their Iman for Dinars and Dirhams.”

The First Step to Heaven

hijabgreenSalams! I am Zamiya, eleven years old. I pour love from my heart and soul into everything I write.

I never thought I would actually cover my head until, what, eighth grade? To me, it seemed like a tiny, unnecessary part of my life, not an actual purpose. My mother wore the headscarf, and at school, hardly any girl was wearing the Hijab. I thought I would stand out, like neon yellow in a darkened background. I never thought it really was obligatory to wear it at all- until the day I found a special book.

Books are important to me. Writing is my heart and soul, and is not a passion, but a mechanism of survival. I needed it in my life- so of course, when I read that particular piece of art, I could not help, but become mesmerized. It told about a seemingly simple girl from the United States of America, who was struggling with keeping her headscarf – covered head high – she was strong, fiery, and fearless in the eyes of God. Along the way, she was faced with uncountable challenges – her scarf had been forcibly removed, Fitnah, discrimination, and a lot more. When I realized how indifferent she was, even with the Hijab – and that putting it on after reaching puberty was necessary.

I finally went up to my mother one fine day, my thoughts clashing with each other. You don’t need to wear it. You look better with your hair all styled up. Don’t do it for yourself or for others; you must look best in the Eyes of Allah (swt). I went up to her as she typed an article and told her my final decision.

“Mom, I have finally decided to wear the Hijab from the first day of school,” I anxiously announced. It turned out that she was overjoyed, gave me a hug, and took the whole family out for lunch the very next day. She styled my Hijab with pretty pins and a cool outfit, and we all went out. Even though my hair fell out quite a bit due to forgetting an under cap, all went well. Since it was my first time trying out the headscarf, I took a Polaroid picture to remember it. I did not wear it for the rest of the summer vacation, though. However, I did keep my promise for the first day of school!

When I went to school on the first day, my specially-bought blue Hijab wrapped around my head and my eyes sparkling with determination, I felt unbeatable – but also a bit nervous. However, it seemed to be totally okay. Loads of girls complimented me on the style and how well it suited me (even though some were plain snarky); the older girls and teachers congratulated me – and three other girls had worn the wonderful headscarf, too! By the end of the day, the three other Hijabis and I were discussing how we decided on wearing the Hijab. My mother took me out as some kind of celebration after school as well.

When I went to school on the first day, my specially-bought blue Hijab wrapped around my head and my eyes sparkling with determination, I felt unbeatable – but also a bit nervous

Now, it has been almost three months since I put on the scarf and strode with pride. I am now encouraging and doing Dawah, representing how a good Muslim girl should behave in public – but at the same time, being the same old silly girl I always was, striving for good grades, crying over anything and being all smiley the next moment, and being just the same person I was. Nothing has changed during this time. I am sure that when I go to non-Muslim countries like the United Kingdom or the States, I will be faced with puzzled looks and fierce remarks. Still, I will never take off my scarf Insha’Allah. Instead, I will show all of them what a Muslim is, and hopefully change the minds of even the most ignorant ones with the help of Allah (swt).

My journey has just begun. I have a lot more to do – to influence the world with my talents, give them my earned knowledge, and much, much more. After all, I am still a little girl who has a lot more to learn about this world. I pray that our Ummah improves more and converts into something legendary- something so extraordinary that generations will praise us and we are in good books everywhere. Wearing the Hijab was only the first step of the stairway to Jannah – and I profusely hope, with all my heart, that I step upon each and every one of them, and that I eventually reach the glowing gates of the ineffably beautiful place all Muslims hope to reach one day: heaven. I will keep on climbing up to the next level of my Iman, Hijab on my head and eyes determined – being the same girl I always was.

Fortitude with Gratitude – Key to a Happy Marital Life

vision for marriageSana and Ali got married three month ago. They were having a life of bliss. For them, marriage was nothing, but a bed of roses.

They were going through the period of dinner invitations. Last invitation was from Ali’s uncle. They were warmly greeted by the family members, and then started a session of talks and discussion about the current scenario of Pakistan. It came to a halt when Hira, Ali’s cousin enquired Sana about her views on marriage and her husband.

Sana smiled generously and said: “People with patience and gratitude are the residents of Jannah.” It was just a blunt statement that she uttered without calculating the pros and cons. She had no idea what will it be bringing for her in near future.

Ali was rude and ruthless in their bedroom where Sana had already dressed up for sleep. He did not talk to her a single word. Banged the bedroom door hard and dozed off.

Pillow absorbed the tears that she shed the whole night. She was depressed and felt disdain.

That sort of reaction, slowly and gradually, became a part of routine. His loving tone, incomparable care and affection, those looks, the sugary mesmerizing words, all praise and appreciation, emotional support just started to vanish in a glimpse.

She could not come out of the shock of his change in behaviour. She started to whine and nag. Being bitter and moody became her traits. She started to miss her daily obligatory prayers.

Time passed and their relationship deteriorated with every single day. Things turned out to be more jumbled up. Finally, she thought of taking advice from her best friend, Annabia. On the other hand, Ali was opting for something that she could not even think of.

She narrated her feelings openly to her. She wept and wept madly. “What has happened to him, why does not he love me anymore, what should I do to have him back?

Annabia was very relaxed. There was not even a single line of disbelief or surprise, or even sympathy on her face. Her reaction was calm. She was enjoying her cup of tea and it blew a big hit to Sana. She almost started to yell and scream.

“Are you listening to me? Do you have any idea how miserable my marriage is going? I will be insane in a few days; I cannot handle it. I want things to be the same as they used to be.”

“I was stupid enough to come to you; you seem to be busy with your cup of tea. You can never imagine my agony.” She was exhausted.

Annabia took a deep sigh and gently touched her hand.

“Just relax,” she softly whispered.

‘But but…” Sana murmured.

“This is all very normal Sana; marriage is not only a bed of roses. Life will not always be full of laughter. It is common to feel neglected, and in the lowest pitch of dismay after few months of marriage. It is not a honeymoon period always. In the start, things are new. Both spouses are emotionally high with their own sets of thoughts and desires. They show their best. Have time to spend time with each other and hang around. But then, there lies a practical life ahead which demands a lot. Both parties have their separate set of responsibilities and expectations to prove up to. Love does not end, but it fades away. In later years of marriage, the partners have to work hard, and invest time and energy to keep the love alive, to let it ignite and blossom. Every marriage has some hiccups: Sabr (patience) and Shukar (thankfulness) are two main weapons of a believer. List down the things that he excels in, you will find yourself way better than thousands of women who are victims of domestic violence, torture, and are nothing more than a sex toy.” She added.

“I had felt the same way. Everyone does, but nobody reacts the way you are doing. It is not the end of the world honey. Things will be fine. Give some space and time. Uplift your faith and things will fall into order very soon. You need to have patience, and this can only be attained by connecting more with Allah (swt), offer night prayers- instead of boiling your head with worries.” She advised Sana to be the way she used to be. ”Instead of expecting him to be the same old person, try yourself to be as energetic, loving and happy. It will be a vicious cycle. Who knows, he might be feeling same the way you are. Men are not vocal about their feelings. They shut themselves up with a board of ‘do not disturb.’”

Sana felt a relief. For then, she had a vision about a strategy, a remedy to follow.  Past flash backs made her heart beat with happiness, and she could not stop herself from smiling. She rushed home where the love of her life resided.

Some known voices caused her feet to numb. She could not breathe for another second. It was as if her body had been paralysed. The exchange of dialogue caused shivers to run down her spine.

Her mother in law was furious and cynical, whereas Ali sounded irritated and said, “I did not choose her, it’s you. I am sick and tired of all this. If you have so many problems with her, I will divorce her.”

“I asked you not to give her leniency, but no, you were the one running after her. Taking notes from her and pleasing her. And what did she do? She disrespected you in front of your family by saying she is patient enough. She is living a terrible life with you and you being the lucky one must thank Allah (swt) for such a beauty queen in your life.” The words were flooded with sarcasm.

Ali said in a hurtful tone, “Do not keep reminding me about it, I wish you never heard her saying this to Hira. I will find a way soon.” he left by saying this.

Sana rushed to her room. She made ablution, and went straight in prostration (Sujood) and sobbed bitterly. This was  the first time that she asked Allah (swt) for help. She felt so light after communicating with the Lord of the worlds.

Now, she  needed to be a person of her words. Her formula of life became patience and gratitude.

We will face every sort of people in life; we cannot change them, but can make our roots of faith strong to encounter such facets.


Beyond imagination is the love of Allah (swt)- 2

keep-calm-because-allah-loves-you-2Continued from here

10:30 a.m. April 7th 2013

It was not that she had never been insulted before. Being a house help, she was used to people looking down at her. It was not that she had never been insulted because of money. It was always money which made her beg in front of people- people she worked hard for. She had been insulted all her life by them just because she asked for some extra money to pay for some tuition fees or an unexpected medical expense.

But it was different this time.

This time, it was Amir who insulted her.

This time, it was Amir who insulted her because of money.

Money she had borrowed from him some months ago. She never thought of it as a debt. It was her son’s money. She deserved to spend it. She never thought he would ask for it. And in such a way!

“I want my money back!” he frowned with not even a sprinkle of recognition in his eyes, “You said you’d give it back in two months. It has been four already. I’ve been very patient.  But now I need the money.”

“I….I’ll see what I can do……” was all she could mutter.

Why did Allah (swt) make her suffer in the hands of her own flesh? Were her life-long sufferings not enough?

The way Amir looked at her was still alive in her mind. She just couldn’t shake the image off. How can he be so cruel to his own mother? It was so hard for her to accept that fact.

11:30 a.m. March 15th 2013

“Assalamu alaikum.”

“Wa alaikum asalam Farri, How are you?”

“Alhumdulillah Bhai. I’ve made the envelopes as you told me to. I had been so busy with the kids’ exams that I just couldn’t do it before.”

“Oh, it’s ok Farri. I know it must be real hard with kids and all. Take your time. Once you’ll start this, everything will just fall into a routine and it won’t be hard every month. I really appreciate you doing this.”

“Oh Bhai, please don’t say it like this. I’m doing it for Allah (swt) and I’ll get the reward from Him Insha’Allah.”

“Let me know when you plan to deliver these envelopes.”

“Sure, Insha’Allah in a week.”

“Allah Hafiz.”

“Allah hafiz.”

11:00 a.m. April 7th 2013

She had been crying since morning. She was tired. She had to look for a way to return the money to her son. She just wouldn’t allow anyone to look down upon her even if it was her son. She had too much self-respect to allow that to happen. She opened her locker. She had been saving money for a bad time. She never knew her bad time was around the corner. She counted out the cash. It was only 4500. She had to return ten thousand! Where will she get the remaining money from? She just didn’t have the strength to think about it. Suddenly, she made a decision. She had a small pendant left of her jewellery. She had given whatever she had to her daughters and daughter in law. She was saving this pendant as it was very dear to her………the only gift left of her husband. But, the task was more important. She hurriedly went to the jewellery store in the market near her house. It was closed. Who opens a store at eleven a.m.? In her hurry, she didn’t even look at the time.

Clumsily, she walked back home. Everything was going wrong that day.

“Allah (swt) just does not care what happens to me. He just cares about the people who do big things in His way. I’m such a sinner, why would He waste His precious time on me?”

She just couldn’t stop herself from thinking.

9:00 a.m. April 7th 2013

“Assalamu alaikum Bhai, I’m going with Ahmer today to distribute the envelopes so thought I should let you know.”

“Wa alaikumasalam. You still didn’t? I thought you made the envelopes 15-fifteen days ago.”

“Yes Bhai, but Ahmer couldn’t find the time before today.”

“Hmm……I’ve already sent the next installment of the money. Make sure you don’t delay it this time.”

“No Bhai, this is my first time so I’m taking Ahmer along as he knows all the addresses. Once I know the addresses, I’ll do it alone next time.”

11:15 a.m. April 7th 2013

As she returned home to her room, she realized she only had few hours left before her son returned. She had to have the money before that. She just didn’t know what to do. Her eyes kept coming back to the prayer mat folded on the table.

“How can I ask Him? Why would he care?”

“But do you have anyone else to turn to?” someone pleaded inside her.

“I need the money now. How can He help now? I just don’t see any way.”

“Why don’t you just submit yourself? Put your worries in His hands and sit back.” The voice spoke again, but this time with determination.

She stood up and put her head on the floor crying hysterically.

“You know I have nowhere to go. You know I never asked anyone else for help. You know very well if You won’t help me, I’ll be helpless.”

She was just crying her heart out.

“I have no one else but You, Ya Rabbi. Don’t leave me now. I know I have sinned a lot and I’m not a very loyal servant to You, but still I am Your servant. You have to help me. I need You.”

She didn’t know what she was saying. She just wept uncontrollably in front of her Lord.

She was so absorbed in her conversation with her Allah (swt) that she did not hear the doorbell. It was when her grandson came running into the room saying someone had come to meet her. Then she raised her head from the floor.

11:30 a.m. April 7th 2013

“Assalamu alaikum auntie, how are you?”

“Wa alaikum assalam Farzana Beta, it’s been a long time since I last saw you.”

“Yes auntie, it’s been a long time. Were you crying? Your face looks so puffy?”

“I was just resting. Amir’s son told me that you had come. I didn’t even hear the doorbell.”

After twenty minutes, and a cup of tea, Farzana stood up to leave. She handed an envelope to her whispering, “Bhai sent this auntie. He had been planning this for about six months but it took so long to actually happen. He’ll send this every month from now.”

She started to show her disapproval, but Farzana just pressed her hand lovingly.

“Aren’t we your children auntie? Don’t you have any rights over us? Just take this as our mother. Please. You’ll make us very happy if you take this from us.”

12:00 p.m. April 7th 2013

Her hands were trembling as she opened the envelope in the privacy of her room. It was 10-ten thousand rupees,  exactly ten thousand. The same amount she needed. The same amount she had been begging Allah (swt) for. He did listen. He did care. He did answer. She was overwhelmed with emotions.

“Ya Rabbi, You helped me from a way that I never thought existed. I was so foolish to think so low of You. You are the owner of the heavens and the Earth and You love me. How could I think you’d leave me when I make Dua to you.” She was in Sujud again begging for His forgiveness for thinking Allah (swt) would not answer her Dua. Then, out of nowhere, a thought struck her mind! Wasn’t she upset? Didn’t she cry that morning? Didn’t she make Dua for the money? But Farzana said they had been planning to give this for six months. Had Allah (swt) heard her Dua even before she uttered it? Did Allah (swt) love her so much that even when she didn’t know she would need the money, he had started planning how she’d get the money? Can there be anyone else but Allah (swt) to love her? She had attained peace. She had found the greatest friend.

Happily Ever After

wedding-ringsShe couldn’t see clearly through the thin film of tears, but she could make out her trembling hands; tremors running throughout her body. She had never felt like that before- not like that, but maybe similar. Flash backs from the past. And she was back at the assembly hall… assembly hall? Students standing in rows properly arranged as ever. Recognition dawned on her then. It was the assembly hall of her primary school when she was nine. She was confused though, why this memory? When the door beside the stage opened with a bang, bright light flooding through the doors, the brightest she had ever seen. What was that? Or .. who was that? She felt its sacredness in her heart. Was that an angel? Or Jesus?

Jesus? She snapped back to reality. She had dismissed that episode back then. . But then, that memory felt as real as ever. Maybe, it really was an unearthly entity. A moan escaped her lips.

The feeling was overwhelming. She could hardly keep herself together. All she wanted to do was to burst into tears and cry her heart out. When she heard the words again,

“There is no God but Allah, And Muhammad (sa) is His Messenger.”

And there was a silent explosion. All control broke and she fell into prostration;  the tears dripping faster than ever. She cried so much that she was tied up in hiccups.

She had lost the track of time by the moment she could gather herself again. When she got up, she finally became aware of the other people around. Her sisters, her friends in Islam. The sister after whom she had repeated Shahadah came into view. She had the sweetest smile playing through her lips and her eyes were wet. And, then was getting embraced by every sister in the mosque.

Oh, how her Lord has blessed her! A giggle of pure joy escaped her mouth before she knew. She covered her mouth realizing that she was sitting there for her Nikah. She had never been happier. It was the happiness that she had never really experienced before. She caught herself sighing out of happiness. She had been blessed with Islam, a whole bunch of sisters to help her, and a pious and righteous husband. She felt like the luckiest and the happiest person on the earth.

She looked back at the sisters who escorted her out- they were still giving her Duas. After the greeting, she turned towards the road. She could see him standing by the car, waiting for her. Her heart swelled with love that He had brought her to this day, and she could feel great days to come. She had finally found Him and she was ready to start her journey with her righteous man- the journey of getting closer to Allah (swt).  . Her story had a happily-ever-after that not even fairy tales ever had. Breathing in the air of determination, she started moving towards the car.

And my Dua was Accepted…

Dua was Accepted“Mother’s Dua has been accepted!” My children’s energetic loud voice woke me up from my sleep.

We were residents in UAE. My husband and I were working as teachers in a school, when that school’s principle fired both of us, due to his personal enmity with us.

Ramadan was going on. Our visa was going to expire after two months; therefore, we tried hard to find another job but in vain. My three little children were in primary and the two older ones were studying in secondary schools. Residential problem, rent for the house, children’s school fees and grocery money was urgently needed; we were running out of savings and were greatly depressed. All our emergency funds were coming to an end. I told my children to stay calm and pray to Allah (swt) with a pure heart and strong belief.

Allah (swt) had accepted my prayer word to word.

After a few days, my husband’s friend came to our house and said that he has been called in Sharjah for a job interview in a school – he was going to leave for Sharjah. My husband’s friend asked my husband to accompany him. My husband refused, as there was no reason for him to go. However, his friend insisted, terming that as an important visit. When I learned about this, I told my husband to go. Then my husband told his friend that he was ready to go with him. I spoke my heart out: “May Allah (swt) make them ask you to start your job there from the very next day.”

My husband and his friend took off for Sharjah together. As it was the month of Ramadan, I fell asleep during the day and when I woke up, it was nearly Maghrib time. I came to know that my husband had returned from the trip, and as soon as I entered the room, my husband repeated the same sentence that I said before he was leaving, “May Allah (swt) make them ask you to start your job there from the very next day.” My husband said that the school’s interviewer had offered him a job there and then.

I doubted, whether it was real or a dream, because I was awakened by my children’s cheers, “Mother’s prayer is accepted!” But, Alhumdulillah, it was real.

My husband said that the school’s interviewer had offered him a job there and then.

No doubt, my Allah (swt) had accepted my Dua that was prayed with a pure heart. Allah (swt) had accepted my prayer word to word. I could not control my tears, and I bowed in front of Allah (swt) thanking Him for His help.

Although many years have passed since that event, but even today my heart gets filled with gratitude to Allah (swt), because I had prayed to Him (swt) with a pure heart and strong faith. My Allah (swt) answered my sincere prayer positively, Alhumdulillah!

[Winning Story] An Escapist’s Version of Reality

Winning story of the 3rd Annual Short Story Writing Competition organized by Hiba

10 escapist version of realityI vividly remember the disastrous day my mom forced an Abaya on me. I was an extremely outgoing girl, the very opposite of what my mom wanted me to be. My life revolved around partying, hanging out with school friends, and especially socializing around the many social networking sites on the World Wide Web. One of my closest friends was an emerging musician, and although I did not have a knack for music, she was my source for the latest gossip relating to our school’s social scene.

It was after a parent-teacher meeting at school that my mom became adamant upon having me wear an Abaya: by hook or by crook. In normal circumstances, I would surely not have given in to her way, but back then, I knew that I had lost my ground as my teacher had informed her about all my ‘extra-curricular activities’. My mother was furious. However, it was not her anger that struck me the most; it was the fact that I had betrayed her trust that caused her to hurt most, and that made me reflect upon my character and the path of disloyalty I was treading.

The initial few days of being shrouded in an Abaya were quite miserable. The many times that I would run a critical gaze down my Abaya-donned body made me deeply regret my agreement to have it as an identity for the rest of my life.

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Stories from the Quran 1: The Believer in Pharaoh’s House

The Background

Long ago, in the land of Egypt lived a man known as Pharaoh, who disobeyed all of Allah’s (swt) commands; so much so that he started to call himself God. Allah (swt) sent Moosa (as) with the message of Tawheed, to warn Pharaoh to return to worshipping Allah (swt). We enter this story to see a battle between truth and falsehood being played out by a person from Pharaoh’s family. This believer is eloquent; he tries to show people that the truth will always prevail. He presents logical opinions; while reminding Pharaoh, Haman and Korah that the life of comfort and authority that they are enjoying, will come to an end. They will suffer a punishment from Allah (swt) like others have experienced before them.

The Elements in the Story


The Characters

Believer: He is the person who is a part of Pharaoh’s household, who has embraced the message of Moosa (as), but has kept it secret.

Pharaoh: The king of Egypt who calls himself God; he and Moosa (as) grew up together in the palace.

Haman: A verse in Surah Ghafir represents Haman as a person who Pharaoh trusts; He is also in charge of building projects in Egypt, which is why he is asked to build a tower that reaches the Heavens.

Korah: He is a rich person from the Banu Israel and becomes arrogant due to his wealth and position in Pharaoh’s court. He is also present during this debate.

The Setting

“And indeed we sent Moosa with Our Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), and a manifest authority…” (Ghafir 40:23-24) So Moosa (as) comes to Pharaoh’s court with the intention of guiding his childhood friend toward Allah (swt). Moosa (as) has the people and the court in awe since he has the power of truth. However, with the entire court, all the elite, the magicians and the common people are watching these three deny Allah (swt) and call Moosa (as) a sorcerer- just to safeguard their position for they felt the truth threatened Pharaoh, Haman and Korah!

“…to Pharaoh, Hâmân and Qârûn (Korah), but they called (him): A sorcerer, a liar!” (Ghafir 40:24)

The Plot

The people are not convinced by what Pharaoh says. They are starting to believe in Moosa (as). Hence, like any other tyrant, Pharaoh ordered, “then, when He brought them the Truth from us, they said: “Kill the sons of those who believe with Him and let their women live”, but the plots of disbelievers are nothing but errors!” (Ghafir 40:25)

The magicians recognized the truth and are killed; now Pharaoh is threatening to kill anyone else who sides with Moosa (as). Recall this was the same plan that had been used when Moosa (as) was a baby, but Allah (swt) is the best of planners and He saved Moosa (as).

The Story

So Pharaoh tells the people to let him take care of the problem. And that he is going to do what is best for them.

“Pharaoh said: Leave me to kill Moosa, and let him call his Lord! I fear that He may change your religion, or that He may cause mischief to appear in the land! Moosa said: Verily, I seek refuge in My Lord and your Lord from every arrogant who believes not in the Day of Reckoning!” (Ghafir 40:26-27)

At this point when everyone is quiet, the hero of our story starts his speech. He wants to convince the people that murdering someone just because of their belief in one God is preposterous. “And a believing man of Pharaoh’s family, who hid his faith said: Would you kill a man because he says: My Lord is Allah, and he has come to you with clear signs from your Lord? And if he is a liar, upon him will be (the sin of) his lie; but if he is telling the truth, then some of that (calamity) wherewith he threatens you will befall on you….” (Ghafir 40:28)

What a beautiful argument he puts forth. If Moosa is telling the truth, then you should believe in him or else the punishment will destroy you. But if he is not, then the sin is his alone, he will bear all the consequences. He is guiding them to a win/win situation with a warning, “Allah guides not one who is a Musrif (a polytheist, or a murderer who shed blood without a right, or those who commit great sins, oppressor, transgressor), a liar.” (Ghafir 40:28)

Now, he reminds the people and the court that should Allah’s (swt) wrath befall them when none can save them? Thus, they should be thankful to Allah (swt). “O my people! Yours is the kingdom this day, you are uppermost in the land. But who will save us from the Torment of Allah, should it befall us?”(Ghafir 40:29)

Pharaoh sees that this man is changing people’s minds and hearts, he interjects trying to brainwash the people, “Pharaoh said: “I show you only that which I see (correct), and I guide you only to the path of right policy!” (Ghafir 40:29)

The man reminds the people of the Prophets that have come before Moosa (as), he reminds them of Nuh (as) and Yusuf (as). “And he who believed said: O my people! Verily, I fear for you a fate like that day (of disaster) of the Confederates (of old)!” (Ghafir 40:30)

Well, Pharaoh cannot let someone steal the limelight, he uses drama, creates doubt. “And Pharaoh said: O Haman! Build me a tower that I may arrive at the ways. The ways of the heavens, and I may look upon the God of Moosa but verily, I think him to be a liar.” (Ghafir 40:36-37) This is Pharaoh’s plan to convince people he is fair, he is willing to test Moosa’s (as) claim. He even claims that Moosa (as) is a liar, but he, Pharaoh, is still giving him a chance. Satan has influenced Pharaoh, so he thinks he is taking steps to maintain peace and help others. He is blinded by his pride.

The Conclusion

Faced with such stupidity and arrogance, the believer has no choice but to make a final plea to Pharaoh, the noblemen and the people.

“And the man who believed said: O my people! Follow me; I will guide you to the way of right conduct.O my people! Truly, this life of the world is nothing but a (quick passing) enjoyment, and verily, the Hereafter that is the home that will remain forever…And O my people! How is it that I call you to salvation while you call me to the Fire…And you will remember what I am telling you, and my affair I leave it to Allah. Verily, Allah is the All-Seer of (His) slaves.” (Ghafir 40:39-44)

The believer directly challenges Pharaoh by saying that he is the one who is guiding them towards salvation, not Pharaoh. The argument is now over, he has declared the truth and it is up to each individual to decide which path he wants to follow.

The Moral

  • The believer at first hid his faith because the environment was hostile, so we can hide our faith – it is alright not to say anything because he was weak initially and the people around him could cause him harm. But when it came down to injustice of murdering Moosa (as), he spoke up.
  • Allah (swt) shows us that belief and disbelief are not inherited. Sometimes people judge another person based on their family, which is not fair; we are only responsible for what we do.
  • Allah (swt) will not guide the one who transgresses and is a liar. Allah (swt) guides the truthful – because they do not lie to themselves and the pious– because they do not exceed their boundaries.
  • There is no one other than Allah (swt) who will protect us. We cannot protect ourselves nor can anyone else.
  • Why mention Yusuf (as), when you are in the field of Dawah? Talk to people so that they can relate. Bring them to a common point to grab their attention. However, always state the truth.
  • Shaytan beautified Pharaoh’s sins for him, made it acceptable to him, and convinced him that he was just. Remember Shaytan beautifies/adorns evil deeds/sins so we don’t even realize what we are doing is wrong.
  • A Daee must be kind and caring- not expecting anything for delivering the message.

(Adapted with permission for “Hiba” by Tasneem Vali.)

Love or Loss?

steppingstonesIt was around 11:00 p.m. and she was running on the road in an unknown direction. The streets were covered with fog and there was complete silence, with the exception of her loud cries. She was screaming for help as if burning in scorching heat. People are always afraid of going near the fire but she was experiencing blaze with soaring intensity. Her heart was beating so fast that she felt it will burst out if she ran for another minute. Suddenly a car stopped on the adjacent lane and called her “Sara”. She turned back and recognized that it was Hannah. Out of exhaustion and fear she instantly fell on the ground and lost her consciousness. The last words on her mind were from the Quran:

“(Shaitan) said: Because You have sent me astray, surely I will sit in wait against them (human beings) on Your Straight Path. Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, and You will not find most of them as thankful ones.” (Al-Araf 7: 16-17)

Few Days Back . . .

Sara was late for the Islamic Conference and it was raining unexpectedly. “Can’t you wake up early? Is it necessary for you to always get late?” she said to herself and went out of the house. “Oh Allah (swt) help me in reaching safely there!”

While she was thinking her phone rang, “Sara where are you girl?” Nageen inquired.

“I am stuck in rain. Can you please send someone to come and pick me?” she said.

“Yeah sure I am sending Hannah, just wait there alright?” Nageen replied.

“Yep I am waiting.” said Sara.

She was now standing on the road corner under a shade when someone called her from backside,

“Hey Sara, what happened?” said Faraj. “Were you not supposed to be at the convention by now?” he inquired.

“Yeah I am waiting for Hannah.”

“Hmm, alright. But listen I am also going there so why don’t you join me?”

Sara waited for a second and realized that it was raining heavily. She was thinking what to say and just then someone whispered to her, “Sara you are already late and why disturb Hannah? She will have to leave all her work to come and pick you. Faraj’s offer isn’t really bad. Come on it’s just a 15-fifteen minutes drive.”

“Hmm yeah right!” she thought and sat in Faraj’s car. Then she called Hannah and told her not to come.

Sara and Faraj were volunteers at a non-profit organization which arranges lectures of renowned Islamic scholars in USA. They met for the first time a month ago at the annual meeting of volunteers. Although there was complete segregation between men and women but in order to resolve some technical issues in the ladies’ hall, Sara had to call Faraj and then they both arranged another room for the girls. There they had very limited conversation regarding work. They next met at a shopping mall and again had some formal exchange of greetings. Now almost two weeks later she was sitting in his car “accidently”.

The convention proved to be very successful and the audience immensely appreciated the managing team. When Sara reached home it was around 7:00 p.m. She prayed and then rested. Later in night, she woke up to check the convention response on their Facebook page. As soon as she logged in she saw a friend’s request. She opened the notification and to her surprise it was Faraj. She thought for a while and then someone whispered to her, “Yeah that’s really good that you avoid accepting friend requests from “brothers” but come on its Faraj! Remember he gave you lift today in the morning? It is inappropriate to reject his request. Don’t forget his favour…Yeah?” And she clicked “Accept”!

“And come not near to adultery. Verily, it is a Fahishah (i.e. anything that transgresses its limits (a great sin)) and an evil way (that leads one to Hell unless Allah forgives him).” (Al-Isra 17:32)

Few Days Later…

Sara was doing some of her college assignments late night. Her Facebook account was logged in and suddenly a conversation window popped up. It was Faraj.


“Asalaamu ‘alaikum.”

“Oh lol Wa alaikum salaam.”

“So how you are doing?”

“I am good and how are you?”

“Yeah fine. Actually very tired just got back from a party :D”

“Ohk so you do party?”

“Lol yeah what’s so shocking about it?”

“Nahh I was just saying….”

Out of the blue, Sara realized that it was a useless conversation. She shut down the window and continued with her work. Faraj also did not say anything. But then after a while the window popped up again.

“Hey sorry I got a call. . . so how about Sunday?”

“This Sunday?”

“Nahh next month’s fifth Sunday :P”

“Lol hmm nothing special . . . why?”

“I am having a party at my place . . . you know I have cleared my exams”

“Congratulations . . . that’s good news. Which course?”

“Business Management. So are you coming?”

“Hmm I’ll tell you about it…”

“Don’t worry I’ll send you my car :P”

“Haha nah that’s not an issue. Actually that day my father left early and I could not bear the risk of driving in such an intense weather.”

“Yeah I can understand. Alright I gotta go now. Talk to you later and yes be there Sunday 8pm. I’ll text you my address send me your number. Okay bye.”

Sara did not know what trigged her and she just wrote her number in the conversation window.

Next day in the morning, Faraj called her and explained the address. Although she was still undecided whether to go or not, she noted down the address and promised him to be there.

On Sunday evening, she received a text message while sleeping. “Hey I’ll be waiting for you . . . do come.”

Someone whispered to her “Oh he is being so nice and look how rude you are. Can’t you attend a simple party in return of his favour? Now don’t come up with a lame excuse that it’s not good. Just don’t drink and dance there. Attend the party for him and come back!”

“Yeah . . . it’s just a party! What’s the big deal?” she talked to herself. “Yes I will come.” she replied.

This became a regular pattern. Sara was amazed as to how in a few days she had come so close to Faraj. Initially she was just trying to return his favour which gradually turned into friendship.

This became a regular pattern. Sara was amazed as to how in a few days she had come so close to Faraj. Initially she was just trying to return his favour which gradually turned into friendship. She was always attracted to Muslims and tried to make friends in her community only. Therefore she had very few friends, but they were all trustworthy. However, Faraj was slightly different. She knew that he was gaining more importance than just a friend. Sara felt something in her heart “Maybe its love…” someone whispered. She smiled to herself and then went to sleep.

Sara belonged to a family where parents communicate all the religious obligations while leaving rest on the experiences of their children. She was brought up with Islamic values while also enjoying the freedom of choice. From day one, she knew that her relationship with Faraj was highly inappropriate in the religious context but she was continuing it, assuming that it was no big thing. On the other end, Faraj was an Asian, pursuing professional education in America. His family was by-the-way Muslim and had a huge architecture business in their hometown. Belonging to such a background, money and values were never his problems. He was actually very “different”’ in his routine life and he joined the conventions only on the emphasis of some fellows belonging to his district back home. He was not at all religious and that was pretty evident from his ways and attitude. But at the same time he knew that living alone in USA can be very challenging if he does not have good terms with the Muslim community. Hence he chose to volunteer for the Islamic organization.

Days turned into months and now it was the best time for Faraj to extend his relationship with Sara. By now he had gained her confidence and knew that she was blindly in love with him. When he finally proposed to her, she was overwhelmed with happiness and instantly accepted him as her future husband.

One day Faraj called her in the morning:

“Free tonight?”

“Yes what’s the plan?”

“That’s a surprise! Get ready at 9:00 am sharp. And yeah dress your best; you are going to remember this night forever.”

“Haha sure!”

“And O Adam! Dwell you and your wife in Paradise, and eat thereof as you both wish, but approach not this tree otherwise you both will be of the Zalimun (unjust and wrong-doers).

Then Shaitan (Satan) whispered suggestions to them both in order to uncover that which was hidden from them of their private parts (before); he said: Your Lord did not forbid you this tree save you should become angels or become of the immortals.” (Al-Araf 7:19-20)

Sara listened to the whispers of Shaitan and came nearer to the greatest sin with every coming day she was spending with Faraj. She knew that even coming near to adultery was strictly forbidden by Allah (swt) but Shaitan told her that it was no big deal and that she will end up with a caring and loving husband. Doesn’t she already want that?

Clock hits 9:00 p.m. and Faraj was standing outside her home. She came out telling her mom that she is going with a friend of Hannah to attend a party.

They drove over to Salman’s house, who was Faraj’s best friend. In the midst of dance and music, Salman came and informed Sara that Faraj isn’t feeling well.

“He is having a severe headache; please just go and check him.” Sara got quite alarmed. She immediately went upstairs into Salman’s room where Faraj was standing near the window. One can only imagine what might have happened next… It’s only important to know that Sara managed to run out in the nick of time.

Hannah saw her running on the road. She called her name but Sara fell on the ground unconscious. Hannah took her to the hospital where doctors examined her and concluded that she has just experienced a great shock. Hannah felt relaxed to know that she will be fine by the next morning. She dropped Sara at her home.

“And We send down from the Quran that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe (in Islamic Monotheism and act on it) and it increases the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers) nothing but loss. And when We bestow Our Grace on man (the disbeliever), he turns away and becomes arrogant, far away from the Right Path. And when evil touches him he is in great despair.” (Al-Isra 17:82-83)

Why has he forbidden unnecessary conversations between men and women? Simply because they hurt a lot and leave an everlasting scar on our lives. It seems something very attractive and begins with innocence, giggles and loving emotions but ends on heart breaks and severe sins.

Next day when Hannah went to see Sara, she came to know the entire story. Sara told her how she met Faraj and how slowly and gradually she started loving him. Hannah was stunned to find out that so much was happening in her friend’s life and she knew nothing. After listening to Sara, she tried to console her and said: “Do you know why Allah (swt) has asked us to not even go near these relationships? Why has he forbidden unnecessary conversations between men and women? Simply because they hurt a lot and leave an everlasting scar on our lives. It seems something very attractive and begins with innocence, giggles and loving emotions but ends on heart breaks and severe sins. Allah (swt) wants to save us from the extreme humiliation that human beings suffer as a result of shamelessness. Salat and Hijab aren’t enough to protect ourselves from Fitnah these days. We actually need to take extra precautions to avoid falling prey to the Shaitan. So now repent from the depth of your heart and believe that Allah (swt) is Ar-Rahman. He will surely forgive you”.

“They said: Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves. If You forgive us not, and bestow not upon us Your Mercy, we shall certainly be of the losers.” (Al-Araf 7:23)

The Blue Coat


It was the first time our eyes met. The morning was quite and cold though it is already February in this part of the world. Thanks to the heavy showers the previous night, the day looked more like the pre-dawn of a day in December.

In the courtyard, stood a boy, tall with an enchanting air around him. Dancing in his large eyes was sheer mischief. His complexion the blend of golden yellow and pink. It was love at first sight for myself and him. “What is your name sweetheart?” He spellbound me with a shy glimpse while his fingers were busy twisting a corner of his T-shirt.

I had joined this preschool as a teacher, just two months ago. I was battling to understand the minds of these tiny creatures. The Child Psychology theories I have learnt confused me and left me to despair in my own quarters. I had begun to wander between the gaps of the ideals and the realities.

As the day broke, I would catch a glimpse of children as they entered the class room just like pretty rose buds tumbling down from a basket. Some days I would hold a child by the shoulder and whisper with all smiles, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”

We all love children because children are the mirrors from which we see our past- a time which cannot be seen.

Children change the way you look at the world at large. They are the softer side of great blunders. A child’s smile can send bouquets of love even when the earth is hit by thousands of earth quakes.

The boundless love for children gave room for a stern policy to stem out in me, not to thrash any child ever in my life.

That was the time when my family was busily engrossed in finding me a counterpart – Mr. Right.

Whenever my feelings got wounded, my abode of consolation were my school children. Leaving home and family behind, I was lost in the world of shades and fragrance for hours and hours of infinite time.

At the school, we had twenty small wonders. Each one was a separate universe, yet Ahmad was exceptional.

Witty and quick to grasp, he was way ahead of others. He kept all the others under him exactly like an efficient politician who manages his mob. I liked Ahmad a lot yet I was so careful not to show my soft spot for him in open. I treated him like I would care for any child in school.

When the children fought, making every minute of my life miserable, sometimes made me despair why this not be my last day at school. Many a time, the cause of conflict would be half an eaten eraser or a faded wrapper of a chocolate. I would smile exhaustingly within, thinking about the fights waiting in the future when these children grow into adulthood.

At times Ahmad would show hostile and antagonistic behaviour when he was emotionally disturbed. He would be called ‘Ahmaaaaaaaaad…..’ Sometimes sweetly by a voice with the blend of love, occasionally in a more firm tone followed by a stern look. He would calm down.

Some days, Ahmad would bring me blossoms of fresh and fragrant Jasmine buds which were yet to open eyes. Half eaten Guavas, old perfume bottles, broken toy cars something or other would adorn my table at least a day or two in a week. During meal time, a piece of sandwich bitten on all sides or a handful of noodles would be forced into my mouth by little fingers.

That day still lives in me. It was drizzling and the sky was purplish…time for creative skills. The classroom walls smelt of a new aroma. Walls stood elite with the new turquoise blue paint.

‘Now look here …..Sweethearts, I am going to give you all crayons and white paper. What are you going to draw?’ I was encouraging the little wonders to give shape and colours to their dreams.

‘Miss, I will draw my home’

‘Miss I am going to Draw Aero plane’

‘Shall I draw my Daddy’?

‘Miss my hand is hurting Miss  …’

I was listening to each and every child. ‘wow, very good, beautiful…

Okay, just wait a second and draw, then your hand won’t ache.’

I was becoming a little exhausted and worn out.

The numb headache I was having from the morning was getting onto my nerves. That evening was scheduled for one of the most eligible bachelors coming to see me and I was stressed beyond words. I came out of the class room to the adjoining hall in the intention of having two pain killers.

Suddenly I saw a shadowy little creature standing by the wall absorbed in something. My eyes grew large and I stepped closer. Oh my God. Ahmad was scribbling something on the freshly painted wall.

‘You little rascal, what are you doing? Wait I will teach you a good lesson!’

A monster within me ripped open and dragged Ahmad by his shoulder. It slapped him across his cheeks. Twisted were his pinkish earlobes. It got hold of his ears and dragged him and made him sit on a chair. As the momentum grew meek, suddenly I realized his eyes did not shed even a single teardrop.

Was I acting brutish? I thought for a second and then I started to feel guilty and was blue. Ahmad stood there still like a shadow of a tree in the noon. I felt that he was more hurt by the embarrassment caused in front of the class than anything else. I could plainly see his terribly knocked ego.

Ahmad did not raise his head afterwards. Next day…The whole week…. Children greeted me every morning. I was waiting, clad in my blue attire, Ahmad did not turn up nor his jasmine buds. The urge was pushing me to visit him. I walked towards his home that weekend. Padlocked was the gate and a neighbour came to my rescue. He told in a voice that was edgy, that Ahmad was admitted to the hospital.

I hurried to the hospital to spot Ahmad as beaming as ever in the children’s ward. ‘Miss, do not give my colour box to anyone… I am going to draw this Doctor Uncle now‘… Ahmad raised his hand stuck to a cannula. He was bubbling with little talks endless and infinite as his dreams.

‘Ahmad talks nothing but about you and his school’. Ahmad’s mother stopped for a while to converse. He was infected with Dengue and according to his mother; fortunately he was out of the danger and would be discharged within a day or two. As I kept the teddy bear next to him and his favourite chocolate in his hand, I did not have even a stroke of thought that it was the last time I am seeing him all alive.

The news broke on a day in mild summer, while I was demonstrating to children how to crush the tissue into small purple balls and then to paste them on the drawn brinjal.

‘Little Ahmad passed away’ Innalillah (We all return to God). Ahmad had left us for good. I was unconsciously drawn to the walls where Ahmed carved his last scribble. I ran my fingers over the painting with my heart becoming heavy. A scribble of a person. I could not make out whether it is a woman or a man. But the person was wearing something in blue- a blue coat. Smiling was a crooked heart next to it, scribbled in red. I could not take it any more.

I collapsed down, with every bit of my heart broken. Within my heart a sparrow fell right down from the sky, dead. ‘Ahmad, will you ever forgive me?‘

I broke sobbing, drops of tears drenching my blue coat…

A True Friend (Part 1)


It was a boring Wednesday morning; we were waiting for our teacher Ms. Fatima. I was looking outside the window. My eye caught the sight of a bird sitting on the window sill, singing. “Ms. Fatima never comes late,” I thought to myself, “she’s always on time.” The class was really noisy; boys were in the back making paper planes, trying to make them fly. In another corner girls were gossiping, I wasn’t very fond of gossiping but when I got bored I sometimes joined in. Ten minutes passed and Ms. Fatima hadn’t arrived. I had my ‘iPod Touch’ hidden in my pocket and was listening to my favourite music. Suddenly, the door opened, in came Ms. Fatima followed by a girl. Her height was normal, she was skinny, had a fair complexion and rosy cheeks; she was also wearing a Hijab. The girls in the corner were giggling at the sight of her. I thought she looked ridiculous. Ms. Fatima introduced her to us, her name was Mawada, and she had come from Saudi Arabia. After introducing her, Ms. Fatima sent her to sit with me, as the seat adjacent to me was empty. As she was coming to her seat, I cast a nasty glance towards her but in return she just smiled at me. I felt really weird sitting next to the ‘Hijabi’ girl. All the teachers were rather impressed with her and why wouldn’t they be – she knew all the answers. It was as if she had memorized the course books.

Two days had passed since the ‘Hijabi’ girl joined our school. No one talked to her, people would call her Rag head and Hijabi girl because of her Hijab, but it had no effect on her – she was just the same. Although she sat next to me, I never talked to her, because I knew if I did, people would make fun of me. It’s Friday, Mawada sat on her usual seat and for the first time she said ‘Salam’ to me. Not meeting her eyes, I replied with a ‘hi’ in a soft voice, so that no one could hear. I then turned towards my friend Farasha and started talking about the new outfit I saw at the mall. From the corner of my eye, I could see that Mawada was smiling and reading her book.

After school, I was waiting for my car. My mum said she might be busy today, and if she couldn’t make it, I should take the bus. So I waited and went to sit on the bench. To my surprise, I saw Mawada sitting waiting for her car, too. She was reading as usual. When I went closer to her, she looked up and smiled. I smiled back, because I knew no one was looking. I asked her about the school, and she said she liked it. She wasn’t rude at all, after what I had done to her. “She’s not that bad,” I thought. We heard a honk. It was Mawada’s car, which her mum was driving. She was a tall lady and Mawada was a carbon copy of her mother. Her mother was also wearing a Hijab. Mawada asked me, how I was going home, and I told her that I would take the bus. She offered me to come to her house. I couldn’t refuse, so I took up the offer. Mawada’s mum said Salam to me and I replied to it.

We reached Mawada’s house in twenty minutes, and she took me upstairs to her room. It was an airy room, the walls were coloured lilac. There were no music CDs, posters, magazines or movies… nothing. How did this girl survive? I started to feel suffocated. All I could see were huge bookshelves loaded with books. “No wonder she knew the answers to everything,” I thought. Mawada began telling me the importance of Salah, which wasn’t very interesting. I told her that I had to go. She remained silent, and we went downstairs. She said Salam and I came out of her house. My house was walking distance from her place. I reached home and let myself in. Mum was home. I kissed her said hi to my sister and went to my room. I switched on the radio, my favourite music was on, and I started doing my homework. I got bored, so I slammed the books shut. I opened the computer, checked my e-mails and my MSN, Farasha was online. We started chatting. I told her about the new cell phone my father was going to get me, and that I was really excited. My other friends came online too and joined the conversation. “This is fun!” I thought. As I was enjoying the chat with my friends, Mum called me for dinner and told me that Dad was home. I got so angry, because I didn’t want to leave the deep conversation. I closed the computer, slammed my bedroom door and went downstairs. After dinner, we always had a family talk, so everyone was talking. My dad didn’t say anything about the cell phone. I made a sad face, and when my dad saw me, he told me to close my eyes. I did so, and the next thing I knew there was a big black box on the table. Dad had bought me a Blackberry; I was so happy I jumped out of joy and hugged him. After fiddling with my new cell phone, I watched my favourite TV show and went to bed.

At school, Mawada was really happy. She said Salam to me and I replied. I started talking to her, she was friendly. She was good at everything: studies, sports, art, projects and everything else! She helped me, too, and I started getting good grades, people started calling me ‘nerdy birdie’, but I didn’t care, as long as my parents were happy and so was I. I started to change but not much. I still used to go to parties and listen to music. I now liked talking to this girl and began spending more time with her. Mawada used to tell all the girls not to wear tight clothes, not to gossip, not make fun of others and not to talk to boys, but they just made fun of her and walked away. I told her that no one was going to listen, and it was such a silly thing she had done. She told me that our Prophet (sa) was pelted with stones, when he was spreading the message of Islam, and it’s obligatory on us, too. She also said, “Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me.” I was dumbfounded at her courage – they had just made fun of her and she didn’t care. As I started hanging out with her, she told me more and more about Islam. I was born Muslim but my parents were not religious. I really liked the things she said – it was as if she was a permanent magnet and I a soft iron; I was attracted to the things she said. I told my parents the things she told me and they also were surprised. Mawada became one of my good friends. I learned a lot from her, she also took me to her Quran class. I liked it but I still couldn’t change, because I feared my friends would leave me.

Mawada said that the next time we meet, she’ll give me a book on the life of our Prophet Muhammad (sa). A couple of days passed, and I saw that Mawada wasn’t coming to school. She had never been absent and was always on time. “Maybe she’s sick,” I thought. Mawada was absent for a week. She also didn’t come on Monday. I didn’t have her number; otherwise, I would have called her. I went to the staff room to get my note book from Ms. Hafsa and I overheard Ms. Fatima and Ms. Zainab talking about Mawada. I could see that Ms. Fatima had tears in her eyes and said that she was really sad, when Mawada’s mother called and told her that her daughter had leukemia and was on remission. Ms. Fatima said that her chemo had caused infection and Mawada was admitted to Al-Shifa Hospital.

(to be continued tomorrow)

Yet Another Migration

road-201x288By Iqra Asad – Medical student, Lahore

Life is a bridge spanning two eternities—voyaging from one to another; we cannot turn back. We are merely nomads, trudging a treacherous path, taking our homes with us, for no earthly place is our eternal abode. From joy to sorrow, from youth to adulthood, from thoughtlessness to wisdom, from life to death; each migration is a world in its entirety. Each migration is steeped in its own uncertainty. The heart longs to go back, the feet go on, for no force can swim against the current of time. We must go wherever it takes us. From one migration to another, on and on, until we are swept into the boundless ocean of the eternity to come, where our weary souls find rest.

I sang of leaves, of leaves of gold, and leaves of gold there grew:

Of wind I sang, a wind there came and in the branches blew.

…But if of ships I now should sing, what ship would come to me,

What ship would bear me ever back across so wide a Sea?

There was a time I, too, believed that there was a way back. That going onward was a matter of choice. That one could flee from the mists of the unknown into the soothing world of all things familiar. Ah, what a fool I was. Life is a strict teacher; it gives the test first and the lesson afterward. And so I learned that at every new port, there is no ship to take you back. You must travel on to seas uncharted. The sea of your passing becomes a sea once known, enshrined in the hallowed halls of memory, one you can recall but not relive. The path onward is steeped in doubt and imbued with excitement. Fear is coupled with anticipation. Remorse blends with wonder. It is a tumultuous ride; once you are on it, there is no telling where it will go. It is taxing but rewarding, daunting but impelling. Weak hearts perceive nothing but the hardship and misery; the strong sense the challenge and the adventure. It took many migrations to strengthen this flimsy heart of mine.

I was still gullible, still swayed by fear and doubt, still susceptible to the winds of change, when she came to me. God breathed the soul of a lily into her rosy cheeks and set the spine of a soldier in her unbending back. Small, sheltered and vulnerable, a tiny bundle of life, I never dreamed that my little bead would grow into a luminous pearl. You know how they say that so-and-so was born with a silver spoon in his mouth? She was born with the feather of intellect in her hair, my lovely little daughter.

Having migrated into motherhood, I assumed all my major travels lay behind me. Little did I know the paths I would tread with my Saria. The paths of experience that intertwined her migrations with mine, until they seemed almost my own.

She did not know migrations were the stuff of life until she experienced her first physical one.

“Mommy, will there be McDonald’s in Pakistan?”

“Yes, Saria.”

“And Pizza Hut?”

“Of course, dear.”

“And school? And TV? And chocolate?” The list went on and on.

“Saria, it’s just like America. You were born there.”

“When we’ll come back I’ll tell all my friends!” The little face glowed with childish certainty. She had not the faintest idea that there would be no going back.

“Mommy, it’s all dirty. I don’t like this country.”

“It’s not that bad, even though it’s not as developed as America, you know.”

“They should tidy it up more.” Settling into the new house, meeting the whole family for the first time, studying in a new school, training her palate to an entirely new cuisine; there was a multitude of new experiences for Saria.

“Mommy, it’s Red Colour Day at school.”

“They didn’t send a note, darling.”

“Not this one. My real school. The one in America.”

“Saria.” I took her hands in mine, pulled her close. “This is your real school.” She stared at me uncomprehendingly for a moment, then drew back roughly and shrieked, “No, it’s not! It’s not, it’s not, it’s not!”


“We’re not staying here! I can’t live here! I can’t!”

Can’t. Won’t. Isn’t. Not. Bitter words of revolt punctuated her speech in the days to come. It took a long time for acceptance to sink in, and that, too, riddled with grief. It was her first brush with reality. It readied her for all the journeys life would lay at her feet in the years to come.

“Mama.” Saria had shed her American skin and slithered quietly into a native one over the years. “Look at this.” Her fingers caressed the material of a pair of shorts she had unearthed from the depths of her closet. “I can’t believe I used to wear shorts. Mama, can you believe, I used to wander around the house in a vest sometimes.”

“That was a sleeveless shirt.”

“It was almost a vest. Mama, I used to have arm-wrestling matches with the boys in my class. Imagine!”

“You were in primary school.”

She sighed. “Water fights. I can’t have those anymore. I can’t run. I can’t shout. I can’t…Mama, I can’t do anything now.”


“I’m suffocating.” She clutched her head. “I’m trapped in this ridiculously huge cage. I want to be free again.”

I sat down on the bed next to her and ran my fingers through her hair. “Saria, I can’t run either.”

“Only because you’d trip over your own feet!”

“Really?” I tugged at her sleeve. “Let’s see it then, my girl.” Saria sat up straight. “Last one to the gate is a rotten egg!”

We rushed through the house in one blur of motion. Saria beat me to it. She clutched her side, panting. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes were shining.

“You still have to take me to buy a new dress!”

“Oh, I thought there was nothing you could do now?”

Saria smiled.

She was a born philosopher, she of the feather of intellect. With the years her theories evolved from childish prattle to actual sense. Sometimes she surprised me with her thoughts.

“Mama,” she would say, in tones suggesting she was talking of the market rates of celery, “You know what I think about suicide?”

“No,” I would reply.

“I think people take their own lives because they don’t want to move on, and they keep trying to go back.”

“Back where?”

“Into the past.”

“I thought it was because they couldn’t see a way out.”

“That too. There’s always a way, though it isn’t necessarily out. There’s no such thing as ‘having no choice’. There’s always a choice. Even if it’s between braving it out and killing yourself.” She lapsed into silence.

“What are you thinking?”

“That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?”


“Letting go.” She moved her head away. “It’s hard. Letting go of the past. Accepting that you can’t get it back again.”


“That’s it, isn’t it?” Her eyes were filled with tears now. “We had to let go of Ami.”

“Saria.” It was a sigh. “She is in a much better place than we are now.”

“I know.” She looked straight at me. “But that doesn’t make it any easier, does it? She’s not coming back. We’re not getting her back again. She was my only living grandmother.” Her voice broke.

I had to speak evenly so my voice didn’t follow suit. “Saria…one day…”

“I know, I know, we’ll see her again. That’s nice and all, but that doesn’t make it stop hurting.”

I did not say anything. It is hard for the one who migrates, and it is hard for those who are left behind.

“Mama,” Saria went on. “I used to think moving here from America was hard. But Mama…Ami told me, when Pakistan was made, and she migrated to it with her family, they had to leave all their things behind. Everything they knew. Their house. Their furniture. Their belongings. Their relatives. They had to let go of so much. When they reached Pakistan, they didn’t go straight into a new house like we did when we came here. They had to wait while everything was sorted out. It wasn’t easy. It couldn’t have been…” I did not interrupt her. “Mama, just think, if they hadn’t migrated here, we wouldn’t be here. We could be anywhere. Mama, if they had been killed on the way, you and I wouldn’t even exist!”

“Don’t say that.”

“Just think about it. It’s enough to give you the shivers.”

“It would. My little girl can’t even bear to part with her Barbie dolls.”

“Mama, that was ages ago.”

Was it ages? Even ages seem to pass by in the blink of an eye. Time is a torrent, and it carries you along so fast you hardly get time to latch onto anything before it has slipped out of your hands. Saria, my Saria, is leaving me now. She will leave me and enter a new life, a new home, a new family, a new existence. She is borne away from me on the tides of matrimony. The house will ring with her laughter no more. No more will she pinch my cheeks and tease me in that characteristic way of hers. It is…yet another migration. A migration to top all migrations, a migration that seeds so many more. And so on the cycle will continue, every new path leading on to so many more, paths upon paths, twisting and turning out of sight. This is the road that has been, is, and will be, trodden by humanity into the mists of infinity, until all the drops coalesce and flow into the eternal destination, beyond which there are no more migrations.

This short story was one of the finalists in A Life-Changing Experience, a story-writing competition organized by Hiba Magazine