Awards

Blog Tour Award: On Creative Process

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Alhamdulillah! I consider myself so privileged to have been nominated for the Blog Tour Award by our dearest Story Teller. Thank you so much. You’re indeed one of my favourite bloggers 🙂

RULES:
Pass on the tour on up to four other bloggers. Give them the rules and a Specific Monday to post. Answer your questions about your creative process which lets other bloggers and visitors know what inspires you to do what you do. Compose a one-time post on a Specific Monday (date given from your nominator)

Ummm.. I must admit I am guilty of missing the Monday I was allotted. It completely slipped off my mind until a few days back when I remembered that I have to respond to my nomination. So am a week late and will accept any punishment allotted by my nominator ((holding ears))!

THE QUESTIONS…and my answers !

1. What am I working on at the moment?
As of now, I am working on a partly insprired and partly fictional series called as “The Flip Side”. The concept behind this is how many belonging to the muslim society, act as a barrier for some who wish to be practising. How not only non-muslims, but even muslims equate “being practising” to “being extremist”. The effect such an attitude has on the practising ones (especially the youth).

2. How does my work differ from other’s in my genre?

Aha! Sounds like I must advertise myself. Well, honestly, I have no idea. I haven’t categorized my blog belonging to any genre yet. Even though I started with the motive of writing my personal experiences but as time passed I also started posting fiction, stories of other muslims, inspirational events, islamic posts etc.

The background is always Islam and through my blogs I try to reflect on our link with our Maker.  Alhamdulillah, nevertheless there are so many bloggers who write on similar lines and I believe all of us just intend to touch the heart of that one soul who is in need of some motivation or inspiration.

3. Why do I write and create what I do?

Haha. I just realised (once again) that I speak too much and end up blabbering off the topic. I answered this in the previous question.

To help and inspire a few. Even if one soul is soothed, my purpose is accomplished. Also, whatever I write is usually something that has been on my mind for some reason or the other- either it is making me happy or something is disturbing me. So I frame a tale around it and pen it 🙂

4. How does my writing and creative process work?

From the things I hear and read about Islam. Certain good things that Qur’an and Sunnahs preach..and certain biddahs, matters of ignorance and popular unislamic cultural practices that have seeped in and disturb me. Inspirations and real life learnings. Things that make me question, “why?”  and Everything that help me pave a way to Allah.

Now, it is my turn to nominate up to four bloggers for this award. Here we go-

1) The Revert Miyabhai: : my friend, love of my life and sister ❤

2) Hoor_ain : undoubtedly one of the best bloggers I have come across. My habibty and sister through all ups and downs :-*

3) Bilal Vohra: because this blog is amazing and deals with food! 🙂

4) Noorjaved91: a beautiful and inspiring blog. A blog which will bring you a step closer to Allah. Alhamdulillah. 😀

The Monday for submission is April 14th. Or you may submit whenever you want! Haha.

Looking forward to your replies. Do notify me!

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The flip side

The Flip Side- Story 2

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “O young people! Let those of you who afford marriage get married as it will help them lower their gaze and protect their chastity. And for those who don’t afford it, they may fast for it will curb the sexual desire.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim from Ibn Mas’ud)

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My wife and I always thought that we were immensely lucky to have Mahad as our child. Obedient, sincere, loving, and kind. Alhamdulillah, we really don’t know what we did different from other parents. Yes, our son is very different. The coolness of our eyes.

After his birth, there’s not been a day that we haven’t lived for him. What clothes he would wear, which school he would go to, which friends and family he would hang around with, the co-curriculum that he would take up, it would all have to be the best. Alhamdulillah and we indeed gave him the best. He also never failed us. As he grew, our wall shelves started expanding to accommodate his trophies and certificates. He gave us all reasons to expand our chest and walk proudly.

Of course, every child has his days of disobedience. During college days, Mahad became very fast friends with one Junaid. A good lad Junaid was but was not focused about life at all. How could he be focused when all he would do was to spend hours in masjid with clerics and spend time in these matters. Of course I know it is important to be in deen and learn but what would a person feed himself if not work hard to earn? Somehow, he influenced Mahad a lot. At one point Mahad started ignoring his education completely to be with him and would nonchalantly speak, read and think about Islam. Every alternate weekend he would go out for dawah activity and the most embarrassing moments would be when he would start speaking of Islam before our friends! He wouldn’t realise that he was getting too extreme. He started wearing Sunnah clothing, grew beard, barely managed to secure a first class and worse was he gave up the lucrative job in bank! AllahuAkbar. All these years we educated him was a waste!

We started feeling apprehensive that he was getting in touch with the wrong sort of people. We were hoping that he is away from extremists and terrorist organizations. His activities seemed completely dubious. No matter how much we explained, he wouldn’t listen. He turned a deaf ear to our warnings, consoling, threats or pleadings.

– “Allah chose me to be a muslim”, he said, “I have to perform my obligations.”

Our child was brainwashed into believing that this is Islam! There was a society we had to live in and it demands certain etiquettes. Sure Islam doesn’t ask you to live against the society and abandon it! Are his mother and I not muslims? Or is he into the wrong notion that all this makes him a better muslim us! Allah knows what is in our hearts and our struggles.

He started a small business in textiles and soon after that he came to me one day saying, “Dad I want to get married.”

Marriage! Was he kidding me? He was barely 24. He had a long way to go.

-“you’re too young to marry Mahad. Concentrate on your career now.”

– “but dad, I am ready to get married and Islam permits me to. Rather it encourages me to. “, Mahad snapped back

It was getting on my nerves. I had borne his stubbornness for too long now. He was ruining his life! Why was he not getting it?

-“Mahad, how will you feed your family? You barely earn enough to sustain for yourself. Look at your friends, they are all working and rising in their respective fields. Build your career now son. There’s a time for everything. Go have fun, make money and enjoy life a little. This is all fanatism. Please stop it.”

Alhamdulillah, he did not argue any further. Had he ignored me then, he wouldn’t be what he is today. He worked hard and his business flourished. If he works a little harder he will sure make even more. Of course marriage will come after that. Alhamdulillah, business and work also kept him busy enough to improve him. Now he is much better. Doesn’t get time to visit masjid all the time. Tries to make it for Jumu’ah prayer with me. I am sure Allah understands, He is the Most Kind and Benevolent.

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He travels a lot these days, meets people of all cultures for work purposes. I feel so proud to see him participating in programs and parties. Initially he used to crib about music, alcohol and haram conversation but it is okay when you yourself don’t drink! Thankfully, he is getting comfortable with his female colleagues too and is responding kindly unlike his earlier awkwardness! Islam is meant to be easy, not to burden you after all. Alhamdulillah, he is where he deserves to be. A boy of such intelligence quotient deserves to be even better placed. Being moderate muslim is the key. It is impossible to live as an extremist.

Alhamdulillah, we will start seeing girls for him soon. An old colleague had once sent proposal for his daughter. Masha’allah, what a beautiful girl. Air Hostess in a top airlines, earns well and is very humble too. Family is well to do and famous in our locality. I tried speaking to Mahad about her but he denied. Says he wants someone pious. In shaa Allah he will agree soon for her. They have their entire life to improve upon deen.

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I see Junaid once in a while outside the masjid and pity him. Heard he is a Deputy Manager in a Government Office. Often on weekends I still see him distributing pamphlets and knocking door to door to give dawah! His face has become absolutely dry and tanned, the charm is lost. Looks sleep deprived and skinny. Got married 7 years back at 24 and already has 2 kids! AllahuAkbar, I wonder how he feeds them with his meagre Government employment salary. I once saw him with his family sitting by the creek and playing with kids. Alhamdulillah, Allah grants these merciful moments to them also. I know it is short lived happiness. I see his wife clad in a plain abaya and hijab; his kids having the most basic brand of toys and wonder what will he do when she will demand that pretty jewellery or the kids will require better bats!

I wish Junaid had used the time of his youth for something better than wasting it learning about deen. Youth is for earning and settling yourself, of course you have the rest of your life to learn and spread deen! Isn’t it? I thank Allah for saving my son. Alhamdulillah.

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The Prophet (saw) advised to: “Take benefit of five before five: Your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied, and your life before your death
(Narrated by Ibn Abbas and reported by Al Hakim)

# A Fictional Tale

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The flip side

The Flip Side: Story 1

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Our Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم saidEach of you is the mirror of his brother, so if he sees any fault in him he should wipe it away.” –

[Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1286]
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My WhatsApp has been buzzing since two hours. I try ignoring it at first, reading a message or two once in a while and then flinging the phone on the other side of the bed. I toss and turn to make vain attempts to fall asleep but how could I? Those vibrations felt like loud knocks. Loud knocks of reminders on my heart’s door. Knocks that I could not ignore.

I block her. Silence. Peace. Finally she shut up. She is Asma- a revert to Islam. Asma, my friend and now, also my sister in Islam. I don’t wish to see her anymore, I don’t wish to hear a word from her. Why you ask? because she doesn’t understand me. Yes, I took my hijab off. But does she really believe it has been an easy decision for me? I fought. I fought really hard for five long years, against my mother, against my family and the entire society.

It is a happy sad feeling to see Asma. I was around when she was new to Islam. I taught her how to wear the hijab and gifted her some too. Today she is at home, striving to convince her parents about her reversion. It is a rough ride she says, and that won’t make her disobey Allah subhanah wa ta’ala ever in-shaa-Allah. Amidst all this, relatives have slowly abandoned her. Her parents are adjusting to this decision of hers. Some think that she is mad, some say that she has terrorist connections and to some she needs counselling. Indeed it is very painful to see yourself gradually being left out, but the only consolation is that one expects to be rewarded in the end.

Her messages hurt me. I know it is her right as a muslim.

– ” I feel bad for you Aabidah. Please don’t do this. Wear your hijab. I won’t ask you why you took it off because no reason is sufficient to disobey Allah.”

Asma, you saw me struggle when you were with me. My mother was never happy with my hijab. You are strong Asma, to stand against your family and I am weak. Everytime I wore the hijab, my mother would scorn. For five years there was constant nagging, yelling and wailing at my home. Every time there was a marriage invitation, my own mother and aunts would taunt me that I PRETEND to be pious, that I am a show off. Who will marry a girl like me, they said! Show a little hair , wear a little make up!

The pious brother that I wanted to marry, they refused to let me marry him! Why? Because he was of a different sect. “Sect”! Does our Noble Qur’an even mention which sect Islam is for? This is how humans have made Islam today. Now my mother gets proposals from all rich men, clean shaven, in suits and some even don’t know how to pray or read arabic. Oh yes, they are from the same sect!

I was fighting alone here. Nobody was ever happy with me. My mother showed me what a bad muslim I was everytime I disobeyed her. Yes, I knew from within that Allah subhanah wa ta’ala is whom we must obey first but it is easier said than done. At one point the road travelled came to a dead end. My mother was always angry and unhappy, my aunts were always taunting, relatives kept inviting marriage proposals from non practising brothers.

You know my dreams of a sunnah wedding but here I am awaiting a grand Indian wedding very soon. There will be music, expensive jewellery, dance, inter mixing of sexes and lot of pomp-n-show. Amongst all this I will stand there, drifting away from Allah azza wajal.

– “you must be feeling happy and proud when people admire your beautiful hair and compliment you for how beautiful you look.”

It pierces my heart. Every compliment makes me feel naked. Everytime I am presented before a family, I feel like a mannequin exhibit in a shop to flaunt beauty, clothes and money. I am reduced to a woman this society expects me to be. I am no longer the woman Islam wanted to protect and nurture.

I wailed. I was crying in my salah. For hours in my sujood I begged for mercy, I begged for ease. I tried till I choked. I gave up Asma. I fell weak. I know I have disappointed you but I have disappointed myself too. I disobeyed our Creator. It was not an overnight decision. It was a five year long struggle. I was drained emotionally. You don’t understand Asma and you never will. I still love you and will always make duaa for you as you face your jihad for your hijab. I hope you never fall weak as me.

I do fear the Day of Resurrection. The day Allah subhanah wa ta’ala will ask me and I shall but be a loser that day. My nights are sleepless thinking what if I don’t wake up. My mother smiles, my mother loves me… Amongst all this she is the only one who is happy.

– ” …and that day nobody will be faithful to you except your deeds for Allah subhanah wa ta’ala. They are your key to Jannah. Your mother also will abandon you Aabidah. It will be only you and Allah..

Shiver runs down my spine. I close my eyes to your reminders. My heart still carries guilt. Allah still is there in my heart. I laugh at myself when I give this excuse. I am ashamed.

-“… I love my family enough to bear all this just hoping to bring them on this path too. Love is not when you disobey Allah for them Aabidah. Walk the path of jannah my sister.. please..”

That was your last message.

Are you sure you want to block Asma, my phone asks.

Yes.

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#an inspired tale

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Awards

LIEBSTER AWARD

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Wooohoooooooo! Another Liebster 🙂 Though officially I am no more qualified for Liebster awards (since it is for those who have lesser then 200 followers), yet since I love being nominated I will gladly accept this nomination from brother Bilal. His is a delicious blog dedicated entirely to food and carries so much goodness (or foodness)! Please do visit his blog here. Thank  you for nominating me. I am humbled 🙂

The rules for this award are as follows:

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Time to answer questions asked to me-

1)What’s your first reaction on being nominated?

Yipee! Liebster again 😀

2) How long have you been blogging and why?

Ummm..7 months. Just like that.

3) How do you motivate yourself to continue your blog?

9 out of 10days I am going through writer’s block. Alhamdulillah, that 1 day when I suddenly get a good story, inspiration or experience to write about!

4) Top 5 things on your bucket-list ?

As of now there’s just multiple things leading to one goal- set my life as a muslimah! :-/  In Shaa Allah.

5) How do you connect to the one in mirror?

Very well. She has been with me through all my ups and downs! 😀

6) Your idea of relaxation?

Sleep, then eat, then sleep, eat and sleep.

7) Top 3 things you want to do if the world wasn’t noticing?

Sleep all day, chat all day and watch YouTube. Actually, simply waste my days.

And I am too lazy to nominate now.. and sleepy as always. Here is the link to my previous Liebster where I had nominates fellow bloggers and awaiting replies 🙂

Thank you.

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5 days, 5 photos, 5 stories

FIVE DAYS CHALLENGE- DAY 5

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It was the happiest day of my life when Ammi Abba brought Aamir home. That’s all I ever wanted – a little brother. I was 6 and for all I knew he was the apple of my eye. For hours together I would sit beside him and cuddle him or simply stare at him whilst he was in his peaceful deep slumber. Alhamdulillah! Since then, all my duaas were always directed towards him.

I enjoyed doing things for him. To bathe him, powder him, clothe him, feed him and till date he is my baby brother. He is going to come to meet me today from Leeds and I can’t stop smiling.

Aamir had a hard time as a kid. When he was 4, he had trouble learning and memorizing like other kids. Often he would come back from school either scolded by teacher for being inattentive, or by being bullied by peers. When he told his teacher he cannot see and text gets blurred, we got his eyes tested. Everything turned out to normal. We thought he was making up stories.

At nights he would coherently sob and would beg not to go to school. My heart would go for him when I saw my parents sending him to school day after day. So oft he would remaim distressed with comments about his illegible handwriting and wrong spellings. Never could he complete his papers. So much that even mother had given up on the harsh words from teachers and neighbours. It was only after 2 years when we first heard about dyslexia. When we researched about the symptoms, we realised that Aamir possibly is going through the same. Examination affirmed that.

We knew he was different but that didn’t make him any less special. We realised that we could not let him go through this struggle alone. With patience and some brain racking, ammi, abba and I came up with some ideas to make learning easy for Aamir. Alhamdulillah, little do we realise the blessings hidden behind every pain.

Soon we were trying so many alternate learning methods. We made colourful graphics, Sand trays, paper cuttings etc. Alhamdulillah, our evenings were spent learning and teaching each other in all fun methods! Verily with hardship comes ease. The four of us were bonded closer than ever.

I can still reflect upon those moments wherein we sat by the fireplace, sipping soup and laughing away as Aamir would show us his tactics and skills! The rhymes that he learnt, the special friends that he made. How with love I would cuddle him to sleep…. how I didn’t realise when he grew up into a fine young man we are so proud of. With love and affection, one can attain feat over the highest mountains.

Aamir started doing better as he grew. Time and trials made us better equipped. We started understanding him and recognising his skills. More than anything else we could see his softness and kindness. It was indeed Allah’s hidden blessings. When we started off, we had no aim ahead except to please Allah subhanah wa ta’ala and strive for jannah but today we can see the outcome.

Aamir is 41 now. A successful lawyer, married to a beautiful lady and with a lovely daughter! He is the perfect son to my parents and the most generous brother. Alhamdulillah, a very caring human too. As for me, I started a school for dyslexic children. I started it to tell the world that they too are special amanah of Allah subhanah wa ta’ala. They too deserve the best.

Alhamdulillah, indeed every person who comes in your life has a purpose. For me, my life’s lesson was my own brother.. Aamir.

#a fictional tale

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I wish to thank sister fatmawaty who has selected me to participate in this “Five Days Challenge”. I’m supposed to post a picture each for five days and write a story keeping the picture as the theme. It may be a fiction or non fiction of any length. Each day I also have to nominate a fellow blogger to participate in this 5 days challenge.

My nominee for today is sisterofislam30. There is no compulsion for you to accept it but it is a fun activity and will get your brains racking! So go for it :-*

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my journey as a revert muslimah

I Finally wore the hijab

This is an old blog post of mine which I deleted by mistake today. Hence, reblogging it!

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Till 6 months back, never in my wildest dream had I thought this day would come in my life. Not had the remotest thought of becoming a hijabi had crossed my mind. Suddenly my life flipped, my faith was squeezed to be tested and my complete thought process was shaken. Of all the events that have happened with me in my road of reversion, yesterday was the most eventful day till now. Alhamdulillah. I do not know what more awaits.

I have been wanting to adorn a Hijab since about 3 months. Back then, at home, with my parents I had just made up a firm decision and established regular Salahs Alhamdulillah! My heart was very vulnerable and crumpled. I was weak to plan my future or even think about it. All I had was  my faith on Allah swt today. I had the desire to become a perfect Muslimah. The kind of woman Allah swt wants me to be (Insha’Allah) and how would I be that without becoming a hijabi first!

Hiding in my room, secretly I used to watch videos of my sisters in Islam giving tutorials of how to wear a headscarf. But how should I start it? I couldn’t wear it while I was with my parents. I couldn’t wear it when I was with my friends. A few months back I came to Bangalore to look for a job. I stayed with my friend Sharron for the entire month of Ramadhan.Though I revealed my reversion to her and she accepted it well Alhamdulillah, I could not tell her I wanted to wear the headscarf. I don’t know whether I was merely scared or awkward or was worried that she would be embarrassed to hang around with me or her family would make fun of me. Perhaps, I wanted to give her some time to get used to my reversion and prayers first and then show her how seriously into it I was. For many, even today the hijab is a sign of oppression and I was already answering a curious Sharron many things about why I chose to become a muslim.

In my mind, I set a date for myself. The day I join my workplace, I will start wearing a hijab. It will be a new place and new people. I will be staying separately with new people. Therefore, nobody will know about my past. Finally in I secured a job in an organization. I even purchased 6 new scarves to be draped around as my hijab. They are the most precious things I have bought till date.

As the date came closer, I started getting anxious. I used to debate for long in my own head why I should be wearing it and why I should not. There were nights when I used to sleep convinced that it really will not be a big deal once I do it and the next morning I used to wake up sweating with nervousness that how will I do it? What if I am shunned by everyone in office? Days flew by. I got a call from the office to report a couple of days before the joining date for some documentation formalities.

The night before that I had been thinking how I should be executing this idea. Which hijab should I be wearing? Should I be wearing? I was very scared. “tomorrow is the day”. I could feel my heartbeats. They have never been so fast and loud! “just do it”.. inspired and encouraged, I woke up the next day. I left from Sharron’s home without a hijab, draped it around my head as I waited for the bus. I draped it casually for the first day, just covering my head with a shawl and wrapped it around my neck. Maybe I would do it more conservatively after my office people get used to it. I was scared. I have never been so scared. When I boarded the bus, I sat quietly, looking at no one. As I walked towards my office my nervousness increased. How would they react? I wasn’t dressed that way when I went for the interview. I avoided eye contact with anyone on my way. I walked towards the lift, went in…head covered…didn’t look at people..could feel some stares and glances.

Finally the lift hit my office’s floor. I got off the lift..I could see the watchman through the glass door. He looked and smiled. He saw me with the headscarf. He was normal. Phew! I started walking towards the lift and to my utter dismay I saw 4 more girls standing there filling up some formalities. They were new joinees too!! I thought I was the only one. I was standing behind them and I do not know what went into me. I had to spend my entire year with them! What would my impression be? The first time they look at me and I present myself this way what will they think of me? In a matter of two seconds before they could turn and see me, something awful overpowered me- my hands went straight up and pulled my headscarf down from my head. It looked like a normal scarf draped around my neck now. They turned. We greeted. My heart was pounding from what just happened in the last thirty seconds.

The next 2 hours that I spent in the office with them completing all formalities, I could not believe what had happened. I was in dismay, shock and extreme guilt. That 1 minute had I tried and held on to my nafs I would have been sitting there with my hijab on. They were new people!!! Why did I bother? What made me do this? They were sweet, normal and really nice. The Associate who guided us with the paper work was also very humble, kind and patient. I knew from within that they really wouldn’t have made a fuss if I wore it. It would have been easy that day. How would I ever wear it again now that they know I am not a Hijabi from the start?

I came back home in extreme pain. I had disappointed Allah swt. I was ashamed of my act. I could not think of anything else that day. The thought of being a non-hijabi again for my tenure in this office was paining me. I failed. I messaged my friend Shanaya ..”I could not do it”and I related the entire incident to her

“what made you pull it down?”, she asked

-“I don’t know!”, I said

-“it’s not too late yet. Try again on Monday. It wouldn’t matter to them. The more you delay, the tougher it will get”

Did I really have another chance? I had convinced myself that there was no point anymore. Over the weekend I started thinking about it again. This time my fear had multiplied itself. Would I make a fool of myself? Somewhere down the line, I had shattered my faith on myself. I was weak and I will again pull it down, I thought.

talk to Allah(swt) constantly and seek his guidance. He will make it easy for you to wear your crown, i.e your hijab, tomorrow”, my friend Haseena told me.

Talk to Allah”…I kept asking for courage all day. The night before was a sleepless night. I woke up every now and then and saw the clock. The morning was coming. I had to leave for office at 8:15am to reach on time by 8:45am. I woke up at 6:45am. What would my flat-mate and her mother think? I was planning to leave before they wake up but her mother woke up at 8am. All the while as I was getting ready for my office I was in two minds. Should I or should I not? I sat in my room alone, holding my scarf. It was soft and blue, matching my kurta that I was wearing. Did I really have to wear it to prove my faith to Allah? I almost ended up convincing myself that Allah understands, he is very kind, I don’t have to wear it. I will carry on like this and it is fine. I am a good person, am I not?

I almost gave it up when I felt my heart crumple. How would I ever face myself after this day? With what face would I go to pray the next time? I imagined two scenarios – how I would be at the end of the day if I did it and how I would be if I do not. I grabbed my scarf, my pins and rushed to the washroom. I stood right in front of my mirror and draped it around myself however I could and pinned it up.

I stood there looking aghast at my reflection. There was another person looking at me in the mirror! Am I going to be her for the rest of my life? Is this the new me? I kept staring and my eyes became moist. I held the door’s knob and my hands were shaking. I was trembling. Once I open this door, I face the world now. Just then I heard my roommates mom outside. The first person I had to face.

I still had time to open my scarf. It was 8:25am already. I was getting late. “open the door Mahdiya. For Allah… just do it this one time”. That was it. Without giving myself one more second to think about it, I pulled the door open, grabbed my bag and rushed out of the house without looking at anyone. Her mom saw me and I could feel her freeze suddenly while working, I could see my roommate suddenly stopping with her jaws dropped at the hallway when I rushed out. My breakfast lay prepared in the kitchen but I couldn’t gather the courage to stay in that house for another moment.

I ran down the stairs and came on the street. It was drizzling. I opened my umbrella, trying to screen myself from the people. I kept walking for another 5minutes. The panic was easing off. My mind stopped thinking.  People didn’t bother. Okay, so at least on the streets it seemed normal. I stopped a shared cab service to board, the driver did look at me like an alien for a second but as long as he doesn’t refuse to drop me till my destination I was fine with me. Everything was normal here too. I was relatively calmer now. However, I could not trust myself. I had pulled it down in the last minute two days back.

I entered my office premises. Everyone was again normal. I didn’t look like an alien that means. People seem more normal than I thought.

The lift. I didn’t look at anyone. Just pressed the 6thfloor button and waited. Finally the big moment. “OPEN IT… OPEN IT”…. Slowly and steadily, I walked towards my office. The watchman looked and smiled again. That smile was such a big relief. “He doesn’t think I am any different from yesterday as I am today !”

I was asked to sit in a cabin, where other new joinees were waiting too, until we are escorted inside by the HR. I could see a bit of them through the door. I took a deep breath, “this is it Mahdiya, do it and you are through”. I opened the door, greeted the girls with a big confident smile and sat beside them! There were three girls there. One of them was new. Sunakshi greeting back without reacting (one down) , Soumi was a little stunned, her eyes popped out and got stuck on me but she eventually eased down and smiled ..hahaha..(two down) and the new girl also greeted me back. There were 8 other new joinees waiting in other cabins! Things eased down so much Alhamdulillah!! Things were easier to face now. Nobody even reacted much! Even if I am scorned by the rest of office, I knew at least the new joinees are my friends. We started talking and chatting and all my fears were gone in thin air. I became my ownself again. I kept thanking Allah deep in my heart. I had done it! I finally sat before people in my hijab. Nobody questioned, nobody looked back or stared aghast!

We soon entered the office and Alhamdulillah during our orientation and training session everyone has been very humble, kind and polite to me just as they are with others. We learnt, laughed and chatted. I made friends with all the 12 joinees and everytime I went to the washroom I saw her in the mirror. I smile at her, as if she is a different person. I tell her it is slipping from there and that it could be better next time. I tell her she is looking beautiful and so different. Once, one of the trainees asked me “are you a Bengali muslim or a non-bengali muslim”

Those words were dew drops to my ears…I look like a muslim, I thought. Now when anyone sees me, they will know that I am a muslim now. I do not have to hide my identity anymore. My voice choked and I fumbled out something to answer her back. It really doesn’t matter what I said I was, as long as she says I am a muslim ❤ I spent 10 hours in my hijab that day in my office. I came back home proudly yesterday and smiled at my flatmate as she opened the door, she smiled back.

My heart has been beating loud and happy since yesterday Alhamdulillah. Today morning I was so excited to choose a hijab to match my dress. I wore it again, took a photo of me this time. As I walked down to my office today, I saw another muslimah wearing a hijab above her kurta and pants. In India, you either see women in burqua or without any hijab. Just the headscarf over normal loose clothing are an extremely rare sight. I stealthily looked at her and caught her glancing at me too 😉 the second time she looked, I smiled back and she gave an equally broad smile as if we have always known each other. It was the warmest smile of my life. It was smile from a muslimah acknowledging our sisterhood as an ummah.

Preserving this warmth in my heart I continued walking to experience another beautiful day as a hijabi….

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5 days, 5 photos, 5 stories

FIVE DAYS CHALLENGE- DAY 4

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“Ma, I have become a muslim”.

I said it. I didn’t have the courage to look at her. My gaze remained low as my mother expressed her anger, anxiety, fears and sorrow. I knew she is in pain but it was a part of me that I had to tell her. She deserved to know it.

There were desires I carried. Desire to pray all five times, to wear a hijab, to learn arabic, to marry a practising muslim and of all to be what I want in front of the world. Today was my first step towards it. I know she is hurt, I know she is sad and I know that this anger is merely a cloak over her worry of her daughter being in the ‘tabooed community’. Despite all that, it is my faith and she deserves to know it.

Days passed, I kept making duaa and she kept watching me. Indeed Allah is the source of peace, He only is As Salam. As days passed her heart eased but the fear remained. The fear that her daughter might land amongst the wrong people. Sigh. Patience and prayer, I remembered.

Amidst all this, I had my friend Habeeba with me. We clicked like bomb from the day we met. Knowledgeable, pious and practising , Alhamdulillah. In spite of being 5 years younger than me, she was my companion for Allah’s pleasure. Not a day went by when we didn’t meet. Quietly after her school would be over, we would sit by the creek and speak for hours! We shared love for our deen and in very less time we knew everything about each other- about our families, hobbies, love, habits, routines etc etc. The day Habeeba would be late in arriving from school, I would worry whether she was alright and Alhamdulillah the relief when I saw her hopping to reach here!

One of the sweetest things that she did for me was to leave a small note every morning on my window sil en route her walk to school. The note had beautiful messages about Islam. Everyday when I woke up, I rushed to find the note and cherished the message always.

Things were fine and at home we were at ease until one day my mother came to me and lovingly held my hands.

– “My baby Monica, you must know that I care for you and no matter what you choose to be, I will always love you the most. I understand that you have chosen Islam for yourself and we cannot take it out from your heart. Monica, I have no problem if you wish to pray, wear hijab or read to gain Islamic knowledge but you have to be careful honey. We cannot trust strangers.”

Strangers?

– “baby, I am speaking of your new friend. Your father and I see you with her all day. The entire afternoon you are with her and all evening you are with her. We don’t know who she is, her background and how her family is.

Have you noticed that you have not spoken to your own cousins since 8months! Also the time you promised to meet your childhood friends -Sheetal and Ashna- at home, Habeeba turned up at home because you didn’t go to meet her! You kept your friends waiting in the hall for 2hours whilst you went to ‘attend her for a while’.

You wish to learn about Islam, we will provide you all books that you want but you must stop speaking to her. Excess of anything is not good.”

Saying this, my mother left the room. I realised that my response was not awaited. A part of me was happy that my mother has accepted me as a muslim but on the other side, I imagined how I would tell Habeeba about it. Our hearts had connected and it would be heartbreaking for her. But alas! It was my mother’s command. I was a muslim now and a muslim must obey every command of his mother (except that which is shirk).

I wanted to meet her one last time. To ensure a proper closure to our friendship. Tears dripped down our lids as I narrated the incident. I was sure Habeeba would help me obey my mother and of course she would be even happier to know that mother was slowly accepted my deen. Alhamdulillah, such a beautiful opportunity to introduce my deen to her by showing obedience. Maybe it was a golden opportunity by Allah azza wajal.

Habeeba gave me a last hug and we both made dua to meet in jannat-ul-firdous, in-shaa-Allah.

The next few days things got better between mother and me. My mother got some Islamic books for me and to my surprise even asked me about Islam. What our Prophet salallahu alayhi wasallam taught and what does the Qur’an say! Those were beautiful days. I would not get tired telling her alhamdulillah. Slowly my mother and I started bonding over religion. My hopes grew that in shaa Allah one day my mother would enter the folds of Islam.

A week or so later, when I woke up I saw the same small note on my window. Apprehensively I pulled it and started reading.

“Monica habibty, I miss you so much. I am afraid you might loose Islam and leave it. I need to meet you. Please tell me when you can meet.”

I felt sad for Habeeba. I know she had other muslim friends, I know she had a muslim mother who loved her so much but I know she loved me too and we spent a lot of time together everyday for a year! I understood it will take time for her to accept this change but I was bound by my promise to my mother. My mother might not know but Allah azza wajal is watching and it is my test whether I disobey my mother or not.

To keep Habeeba’s heart however I kept a small note .

-“dear Habeeba, please help me obey my mother. She might not like it if I communicate with you. Don’t make it difficult for me. I shall not reply after this since such notes are also a part of communication and my mother doesn’t want me to speak to you. My imaan is strong dearest, I won’t leave Islam ever in-shaa-Allah. It is difficult but we must strive and expect rewards from Allah alone.”

I don’t know how her innocent heart absorbed that message. A few weeks later I again found a note saying she is missing me and wants to meet. My heart clumped and I hid her note under my mattress. The next day too I found a similar note. I asked Allah to ease her heart, I asked Allah to remove the loneliness that she felt with her friends in school and I asked Allah to guide me to the right only, and I asked Him to soothe the fear of my mother.

The days that followed, I found a small note everyday but this time they were not personal messages, rather only messages of Islam. Sometimes duaas, sometimes sunnah, sometimes cuttings of islamic articles. It felt even worse to know that Habeeba still isn’t over me. Worse even, that months after months she has so many sisters around to share her deen, yet her heart was with me. I couldn’t understand how I must tell her to stop putting the notes for I feared that it is disobedience. Everyday in the morning I would rush out of fear to take the note and hide it hurriedly.

This continued for two months. How I wish Habeeba and I could control our nafs. I was alone but I was striving to please my family. She was alone but I couldn’t help her except to make duaa.

Yesterday when I went to look for the note it wasn’t there. For a moment I felt happy for Habeeba. Perhaps she is trying to get over me. Perhaps she is understanding that we must not attach our hearts so much to anything in this dunya. Perhaps she is consoling herself that sometimes Allah takes away the things we love to give us better. Maybe a good sister she is with now.

– “are you looking for this Monica?”. I turned and was horrified to find her holding the note.

SUNNAHS….., it read

-“love, from Habeeba Khan”, my mother read aloud. Saying this my mother shifted my mattress to reveal a pile of notes. She was not angry, she was hurt. Her eyes had tears and she seemed very disappointed. My eyes couldn’t meet hers. Worse, that she left me without saying a word.

I followed my mother, hoping to get one more chance but trust one broken is lost forever. I found her sobbing.

-“mother.. I am sorry.”

-“for the first time I saw you lying. All these months when you told me about Islam I really trusted you. I believed you when you said that people might be wrong but Islam is not. Today, my daughter who never lied to me, has lied after she became a muslim. Were we not peaceful with you? Did we not let you be a muslim or did we make it too hard for you to practise Islam that you had to lie to me to speak to Habeeba. Monica, I was worried for you. I saw you speaking to strangers just to speak about Islam and so I used to come to you to share your thoughts but I think you value her too much. You didn’t value the faith I had on you.”

I kept staring aghast. The pain in my mother’s eyes could not be compensated for with the world. How a small, innocent gesture of love led to my mother mis-trusting the muslim in me. I was caught disobeying her. I was ashamed.

Yesterday, I did something I should have done long back. Indeed excess of anything is not good and today I realised it applies to friendship too. It was my fault too that I did not give Habeeba space and time to make new friends. Just as I had distanced from my friends and family. A bond which when twitched, stopped us from ibadah, because all we did was to miss each other and think of how to stay in touch.
I remembered the verses where hazrat Sulaiman(as) turned away from his horses when the love for them distracted him from his salah.

My love for Habeeba made me hurt my mother, it shattered the faith a mother had on her daughter and above all it shattered the belief a non-believer had on a believer. As of now, perhaps this small innocent act distanced my mother from Islam. Not one happy glance has she bestowed on me since yesterday. Oh mother! how I want you back. Will my mother ever trust my words when I speak to her about Islam? Will she place her faith on me again? Will my mother ever accept Islam? Allah only knows. Some things are best left on Qadr.

I closed the window that day. Forever.

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#an inspired tale

I wish to thank sister fatmawaty who has selected me to participate in this “Five Days Challenge”. I’m supposed to post a picture each for five days and write a story keeping the picture as the theme. It may be a fiction or non fiction of any length. Each day I also have to nominate a fellow blogger to participate in this 5 days challenge.

My nominee for today is Shaqeena Raheem. There is no compulsion for you to accept it but it is a fun activity and will get your brains racking! So go for it :-*

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