Stories of getting betrayed by loved ones are very popular. Each one of us will be able to recall at least one person who deeply hurt us, but we never expected him (or her) to. But has the converse ever happened? That you get warmth and affection from a source you least expected?
Come on. Think harder. I am sure you must have come across that one stranger who helped you without demanding any return. A kind word that soothed, or a generous smile that healed. An acknowledgement of your hard work or a good pat to do better next time.
Just as I write this, comes in my mind my ex-househelp. Let’s address her as Suman. It was way back in 2014, when I was living alone in a city, had newly started practising Islam and was struggling emotionally. A revert sister, after having read my blog, had come to visit me for a short period as my guest. Let’s address her as Aminah. I don’t know how I struck a warm chord with Suman back then. She was a non-Muslim, and a victim of domestic violence. We often sat together for a cup of tea on weekends when I was not rushing to my workplace. Sometimes we discussed Islam, sometimes her hardships and sometimes thoughts of a hopeful future.
I introduced Aminah, as my ‘elder sister’ to her. So, when I was not around these two would spend sometime together at home. Just the day before Aminah was supposed to leave, Suman insisted that we do not make anything for supper that night. That evening, she came down all the way from her home and handed us a delicious meal of spiced okra (bhindi masala) and Bajra rotis. I remember the first thoughts we had when we opened her container. We were doubtful as to why would she be so warm towards us? It was a gesture too kind for someone who washes dishes in other’s homes. Now when I look back, it makes me realise that kindness and affection have no barriers. Four years and her generosity has stayed.
Recently, my mother in law and I were sitting together. It took me a while to get comfortable around her. Even now, it is perhaps 70% comfort, the remaining will take a few more years I guess. That’s how it is with mother in laws and daughter in laws (Speaking of kind and good women with Taqwa). They are two women from different backgrounds, lifestyle and for us even different culture. She comes from a North Indian state wherein I am from the East Coast. It took me some efforts to be able to understand her over these two years and I am sure, there has been a lot of efforts from her end too.
So, this fine day, she asks me about my parents’ well-being. Whether they are fine and comfortable at their places. How they are managing their things alone etc. My parents have two daughters and as happens in such cases, they’re living alone after both of us got married. Then my mother in law (Ammi) says something beautiful:
-“In future, when you want to look after your parents, never assume that Ammi will object to it or dislike it. I would rather be happy and supportive. You can keep them at your house, if it is difficult then you may keep them in my house too. I will truly enjoy their company and have tea with them in evenings. Never think twice about my opinion or the society. Rather, I will be very proud of you and present this as an example to everyone on how daughters can also look after parents. Irrespective of whether they become Muslims or not, you should bring them to you.”
It choked me. I am a very nonchalant person. It is rare that I am unable to hold my emotions before people. But it was one of those rare moments. It is hard to explain anyone my rapport with my parents. It is definitely not smooth but again, affection and concern exists. It is often that I worry about their oldage, which will be dawning soon on them. These words coming from my mother in law, shed a 100 bricks from the heart. I guess, it changed my way of looking at her forever and definitely raised her status in my heart.
I’ve always had in my mind to write a post on how she and I developed a good rapport despite the many differences we have in our lives. But, I shall do it only after I complete four to five years of my wedding (In Sha Allah) because I want to observe how she and I evolve over the years. In India, this relationship perhaps has more intricacies than the husband-wife relationship. Needs careful planning, observation and patience. And, it is not possible unless both are willing to strike an accord.
Words heal. Just as words harm. Around us, we will find several people whom we can ease merely by spending some positive time with them. Or maybe by lending a ear. A kind gesture can make someone’s day. Does not take much. We women, need to get over topics that include clothes, gatherings, food or television. Let us be beneficial women. Let people around us benefit from us. Remind them of Allah and show them the way to lead a life that pleases Allah. A life that is closely connected to the Qur’an. How else will the society change for the better unless women take charge of it?
“So remind, if the reminder should benefit.” [Qur’an, 87:9]
Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him speak good or else keep silent …”
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) commanded us to control our tongues in more than one hadeeth, such as that narrated by al-Tirmidhi from ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Amir (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, what is salvation?’ He said, ‘Control your tongue, keep to your house and weep over your sin.’” Classed as saheeh (authentic) by al-Albani.