Monday, January 14, 2013

Short Story : Making Amends (Part 4)

While I was standing outside, Aminah came to join me. "Ready to go?" She asked. "Yeah, I guess.." I replied. Once in the car I extended my hand towards the radio and asked "Do you mind if I switch this on?" "Actually I hoping to listen to some Quran on our way home, I hope that is okay with you."
"Oh umm why? I mean listening to a little music doesn't turn you into a non - Muslim you know..."
Aminah smiled and replied, " Indeed it doesn't but listening to 10 minutes of the Quran attentively will earn us alot of reward from Allah swt Insha'Allah, that won't happen if we spend this time listening to music. Wouldn't you agree Noura?"
"Yeah... you're right. If possible can you put on something that has the translation too along with the recitation? I find it easier to concentrate on."
"Oh sure."
So the next 10 minutes were spent listening to the Quran. As the recitor's voice rang in my ears I just closed my eyes and tried to concentrate as hard as I could. I tried to think of nothing else. I didn't notice we had reached Aminah's apartment till the car stopped.
"We're here. " she said gently.
"I wasn't sleeping, I was too busy listening to the recitation." I smiled at her.
Aminah and Omer had rented a small apartment 15 minutes away from where my parents lived. Aminah's apartment was the one of the third floor.
When Aminah unlocked the door for us we both walked into a well lit apartment with lots of windows on either side and a small balcony. The house was void of a lot of decoration but it still looked homely and welcoming and I could easily tell that Aminah had been hard at work to make it comfortable and inviting , she always had a knack for such things. While I was the one who went for furniture catalogues and tried to copy the look shown in the picture.

 Aminah and I spent the rest of the day indoors and Aminah cooked us both an amazing lunch. I found myself enjoying Aminah's company and surprisingly our conversation was devoid of the usual "religion talk" that had caused me on several occasions in the past to leave the room or get into another argument with Aminah.Even then I saw in Aminah a keen desire to follow the Islamic rules and principals in whatever she did. She would try to smile as often as she could and didn't swear at anyone in fact she replaced the usual curse words in her speech with "AllahuAkbar" or "SubhanAllah". Yes yes , I know I making my sister sound like a saint and believe me its not like that but from her behavior all I could notice were good things, things that made my heart warm up to her again, things that made me want to reach out and hug my sister and apologize but I just couldn't bring myself to it.

In the evening Omer returned home from work and I left the two to themselves. I decided to visit an old friend from school. It had been ages since I met my friend Susan. She had been me and Aminah's best friend back when we were in school. Susan had invited me to meet her at one of the most famous cafes in town. I easily found the way to the cafe and got us a table and waited for Susan to arrive. Susan wasn't Muslim but this fact made little difference to me even then and it made little difference now. All that mattered was the Susan was a good friend . Susan walked into the cafe 10 minutes later and we immediately started catching up on each other's lives. Susan wasn't married yet and wasn't dating anyone either. She talked on and on about how she really wanted to meet someone who understood her and respected her. The way she spoke made me feel as if she had been hurt by someone in the past but she wouldn't say who.

Susan suggested we go clubbing, I tried to make an excuse but ended up going along with her. The noise in the club was deafening and I started to feel uncomfortable. Susan offered to by us drinks and I politely told her I didn't drink to which she replied; "You Muslims don't know how to lighten up and have fun. God! everything is such a matter of life and death with you people!" I just laughed the comment off but in all honesty it hurt me that my own best friend should say that about my beliefs. I watched as Susan had one drink to many and was literally throwing herself at men in a desperate attempt to be liked by them. I felt pity for her. Every so often she would turn to me and show a thumbs up sign and say: "I'm having so much fun!" "Woohoo!"

 Who was Susan kidding? She wasn't enjoying herself, it was clear that she came out here often convincing herself that the end to all of life's problems lay in a bottle of alcohol and a sleazy boyfriend. When really it wasn't. I suddenly began to feel really uncomfortable and pulled Susan to the side and told her: "We're going home now Susan!" Susan shrugged her arm out of my grip and shouted back. "What are you? My mom? Go  home to your lousy Muslim friends why don't you?"

 She continued to drink and lose control over herself, till finally she collapsed on the floor. I helped her get on her feet and helped get outside the club it was difficult hailing a taxi when you're trying to keep your best friend from falling at the same time but I managed to find one and the cab driver helped me get Susan into the backseat. It upset me further that a strange man should  touch her and she remained oblivious to the fact.

Susan managed to mutter her address to the cab driver and the rest of the drive was spent with Susan drooling on my shoulder and whispering utter gibberish in my ear. No wonder Aminah didn't talk to her anymore , I should have listened! I mentally scolded myself.

I manged to find the house keys in Susan's purse and let us in. I sat Susan in  her bed and she immediately went to sleep. I left her there and caught the bus back to Aminah's place. It was 12 30 am when I got to her place. I rang the bell and Omer opened the door for me. "Is everything alright Noura?" He asked and looked genuinely concerned. "We were worried about you."
"Yes I am fine , thanks for asking. I just umm ended up in a bit of situation.... a friend needed my help. Sorry to have worried you two"
 "Oh no its fine as long as you're safe Alhamdulillah." With that he walked away and I went into the guest room. I lay in bed thinking over and over again over what had happened that night. Is this the liberation and happiness Susan spoke of? If so then I wanted none of it! I couldn't get over the look that Susan gave me: her eyes were glazed over and her mouth curved into a stupid grin. The men were taking full advantage of her being drunk, fooling around with her, I don't even want to explain.

I soon fell asleep but was awoken with a start when I heard the call to prayer being recited outside my door. At first I couldn't understand what was happening and I just sat up in bed. Then Aminah gently knocked at my door and peeped in, "Oh Masha'Allah, youre awake, would you like to join us for fajr jamah?"
"Oh... umm what should I wear I can't come out in my pajamas?"
"Wait, I'll get you my prayer outfit wear that, Insha'Allah"
She came back with a baby pink abayah with a matching pink hijaab. I quickly wore that I joined Omer and Aminah. Omer led the prayer and recited beautifully. I hadn't woken up for fajr in ages and standing shoulder to shoulder with my sister I felt refreshed, relaxed and calm. In sujood it felt as if time had stopped and placing my head on the ground all the worries it seemed had been erased from my mind.

Later, all of us had breakfast together and Omer left for work. I was contemplating on whether to head back to bed when the doorbell rang and a group of boys and girls led by their mothers walked through the door. The children were hardly a little older then 5 and all had a copy of the Quran in their hands. Aminah ushered them all into the living room and everyone sat on the floor. I stood from a distance watching them. Aminah was teaching them to read the Quran. She was good with the children keeping them engaged throughout the length of the class and generous with praise for all of them. Once the class was over it was story time and Aminah narrated a story from the Quran from a colorful storybook.

After the children had left, I asked, "When did you start teaching?" "About 6 months ago Alhamdulillah." She replied with a smile. "Wow , that is really nice Masha'Allah, but don't these kids have school in the morning?"
"No, they are being homeschooled."
"I see."

Aminah went into the study and I followed her. Walking into the room I was surprised to see that she had converted the room into her work station . There were clothing racks on one side of the room and many cardboard boxes placed against the walls. one of the walls was painted a deep purple and "Hayaat" was written on it with pink.
"Have you started designing clothes again?" I asked.
"Yeah, I have but its only on order and I mostly make abayahs and sometimes evening dresses, Alhamdulillah, I have a few regular costumers."
"You never told me! This is great!"
"You never asked." She replied with a half smile and turned around and started looking for something.
I felt a little a little pin had been struck in my heart but I didn't retaliate. If I were in Aminah's place I too would not have wanted share the changes in my life with an older sister who was constantly arguing with me.
"How is the business going so far?"
"Its slow but can't complain Alhamdulillah, it keeps me occupied."
"Humm, so have you ever thought of having an exhibition or something, you know just to market your business venture?"
"Yeah, I have had two up till now and the third one is today."
"Oh, wow.... uhhh you need any help?"
"Yes actually... it would be great if you could help out, Insha'Allah"

As it turned out, Aminah had recieved her first big order from a client . She was not only given the task of designing her nikkah outfit but the outfits for the bride's 2 sisters and close friends on top of that she had to design the bride's abayahs. The rest of the day was spent making preparations and I was happy to make arrangements for tea for the afternoon event.

At 3 o clock sharp women started to arrive at the apartment. I was introduced to sister Emily. Sister Emily had recently reverted to Islam and was due to get married by the end of the month. She wasn't your average bride having pre wedding jitters and worrying about the last minute shopping. She was calm and composed. She was more concerned about Aminah having to do all the work but Aminah assured her that it wasn't a problem and that she could handle it.

Half an hour later all the guests had arrived and sister Emily tried on her wedding dress for the first time. I don't think I have seen a prettier bride. She looked stunning in her cream coloured gown. Aminah fussed about her checking and rechecking to see if the fitting was right. After the fitting had been done Aminah stood up to make an announcement and all the chattering in the room suddenly stopped. She spoke:

"Assalamalikum, Peace be upon you all. Thank you so much all of you for coming today. It really means a lot to me that you could do this for Emily. Indeed Emily , is the same loving and caring person you know but over the last few years it has been no secret that she has undergone a transformation, embraced a new religion and is about to embrace the responsibility of being a wife, God willing Insha'Allah. I think I won't be exaggerating if I said that the biggest hurdle must have been to accept the Islamic dress code or Hijaab. I can imagine many questions come to your minds regarding the choice of clothes us Muslim women choose to wear. It may appear weird and sometimes absurd why a woman would choose to cover herself from head to toe living in a society where she has all the freedom she needs to be able to decide for herself how she should dress as she has the freedom to make a decision in other important aspects concerning her life. It seems even more absurd when its a sweltering 100 degrees outside and yet she remains covered! So me and Emily have put together some commonly asked questions regarding the Hijaab and Primarily Islam to help you understand the philosophy behind many Muslim Women's choice around the world...."

As I sat there listening to Aminah and Emily speak, I suddenly realized that my in my never ending quest to attain a comfortable life for myself and become the bold and confident woman I always wanted to be , I given in to the irrational fears and procrastination of my ownself. The mark of a confident woman is not that she gives in to the pressures of society and forsakes her values just to be accepted by others.  I felt ashamed for all those times people had mocked my religious views in front of me and I stood there and pretended not to care, till eventually I didn't care to follow them myself. I felt aloof and uncertain about what I believed in many a times.

Suddenly , it felt as if my little bubble that I been inside for the longest time had burst  My own insecurities and doubts seemed to be staring me in the face and I was beginning to understand what had brought me home in the first place: a desperate need to connect myself with my faith, my family and above all seek redemption for  my selfish behavior.

(Stay tuned for part 5! Insha'Allah :)  )


  1. AMAZING MASHA'ALLAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i cant wait for more!!!!! insha'Allah!

    1. Jazakillah khair ukhti :) It makes me really happy to see that you are enjoying reading my posts
      Whatever is khair in these posts is from Allah swt alone and mistakes are from me and Shaitan.
      Remember me in your prayers....
      Loads of Love