The Blue Sky Tag

The Blue Sky Tag

I had the pleasure (and challenge) of being nominated for the Blue Sky Tag by The Scottish Muslimah. I have only been at this blog for a very short period, but have followed her blog from the start. I find her to be very thoughtful and thought provoking.  Please do follow if you do not already.Anyway, as part of the rules I have been given 11 questions to answer:

 1.  Do you prefer hot or cold weather? Hot by far is more enjoyable. I get to take my time and I get to love the billowing folds of an extra wide abaya, and appreciate those gentle breezes that come just at the time when I sigh that it is so very very hot today!

2. What are you most afraid of?  I shudder to think of being 30,000 feet above the ground moving at the speed of 700-800 miles per hour in a metal container piloted by another human being with what(?) on his/her mind? I thank Allah for allowing me to endure this in order to make hajj, and ever since that maiden voyage whenever I think of it I automatically beg Allah for  peace of mind should He put me in that position again. ameen (Please make dua for your chicken sister!)

3. What is your favourite animal?  The cat.  Its purr is so very comforting, and the fur is pleasing to the touch.  It is graceful yet comical.  My best choice for company when no humans are available

4.What is your favourite smell? Mmmmmm lavender by far.

5.Are you an early bird or a night owl? Early bird. Our blessings are with work done after fajr. (see question 9.)

6.How many people have seen you cry?  The two younger girls when I was so very sad that I could not visit my mother. But in time Allah in His infinite mercy allowed her to come and live with us. Alhamdu lillahi.  Most other times in my life tears have been between me and my Lord. (except when we watch paulie- see number 8)

7.When was the last time you laughed until it hurt and what made you laugh?   I was riding with my husband and eating blue berry cookies with our coffee. He had given me his uneaten cookie and I finished it.  Well he did not mean that I was supposed to EAT it, just HOLD it so he could make a turn.  What a joke! Sorry….didn’t he know I was the cookie monster? Of course that was the last one and the store was a long way back. Needless to say now all uneaten snacks go on the lap, not to the spouse/ cookie monster.  I’m still chuckling now!

8.What book or film made you cry the most?  Kiddie movie Paulie.  It was about a parrot who could talk., but could not fly.  He was given to a little girl with a speech impediment. Even though the little girl, Marie was talking with the help of the bird, her dad didn’t like him, so they got rid of Paulie. The entire movie was about Paulie’s determination to get back to his friend. He overcame his fear of flying to get back to Marie.  By the time he did find her she had grown into an adult with a daughter of her own. I was just so touched by the determination of this little bird to reach his goal, and his success at the end that little tears had to come.

9.What is your favourite time of day?  Tahujjud until sunrise.  The house is peaceful, the neighbors are quiet. There is no need for verbal conversation.  Time to pray, reflect, ask forgiveness.  This is time to get my next ayat to memorize for the day, and then plan what has to be done that day. Is it just me, or do the birds really sing subhan Allah until the sun starts to rise? I swear  I hear them a little at first when it is still dark then they increase in volume by the time fajr is well in.  Then just as the sun is about to rise they quiet down  until it is all the way up. After sunrise just a few have a little more to say.

10.If you could have any career or job you wanted, what would it be? Dream job: CEO of Justice Incorporated. By the Grace of Allah and with the Permission of Allah al Fattah, al Adl:  We Collect taxes from the very rich and distribute it to the less fortunate.  We provide shelter for those in need worldwide (translators available), and healthy wholesome food for the hungry that is collected from the excesses of the lavish.  We rescue non combatant men, women and children from war torn areas and war torn households (after necessary mediation) and resettle them in peaceful, safe environments.  No room in the cities? No problem, we have funds from the very wealthy that is more than enough to BUILD cities in that space that we pass as we drive through the countryside.  We negotiate the return of native lands to their rightful owners, and still leave the new “immigrants” with enough land to occupy.  We provide salaries to teachers so that everyone in need of education, be it deeni, elementary, or collegiate can get the necessary education to pursue the life of his or her dreams. (applications are available in every language, and are accepted at all times)  Our Senior  Citizen department handles secure and respectful location services for the elderly so that they can enjoy their years in an environment of dignity that is rightfully theirs after lives of service to their families and communities. (all applications are given the utmost priority.) The Sijjin Department works to free those who are incarcerated unjustly; either political prisoners or those whose incarceration serves the purpose of an elite few.  Our legal team is ready to be of service. Operators are working 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Again translators are available for every human language. If there is some issue that we have not addressed, as I am sure there must be, feel free to contact us on our toll free line.  Although we will  do our level best to alleviate the harms of every nation it is understood that  perfect societies only do exist in jennah, but as Muminaat our job is to stand for justice in this dunya.  Ameen Allahumma Ameen.

11.If you were in a room with Donald Trump what would you say to him? So glad you are not God.

Co-Wife Club- Surah Yasin

Co-Wife Club- Surah Yasin

“Be mindful of what lies ahead”….. Maryam pondered these words and considered what she had sent forward by way of deeds.  She thought of those things she had left behind.  By “things” she meant feelings that were hurt, people who were disappointed, friends who were let down.  One in particular was Tahira.

Maryam should have seen it coming, but as their relationship just happened, she “rolled with the flow”.  It was becoming more and more apparent that her husband, Habib,  was growing restless. He began hinting about taking another wife.  At the same time she met a sister, Tahira, who had just moved to the area and complained that she did not have any friends.  Being the outgoing person that she was, it was easy for Maryam to invite Tahira over regularly.  For the next two months Tahira spent most weekends at their home, and became very comfortable with them as a family.  Maryam could not deny the feeling of friendship that was growing between herself and Tahira.

Okay, so they were getting married, fine.  How did they all end up in the same house?! Maryam saw it coming, but it was never discussed outright. Right before Tahira and Habib left town to get married, Maryam was moving to another house just because their lease was over, and Maryam wanted more space than they had in the little apartment.

When Tahira and Habib returned from their honeymoon to Maryam’s house, Tahira was not just a visitor. Tahira would STAY there in her own room!  It was not too much of an adjustment, since they had been constant companions prior to the marriage.  But now that Tahira was a wife, she took more control over the running of the house.  She claimed the kitchen, which came with no opposition from Maryam, who was more comfortable with the “wardrobe management”.  (She made their clothes) Also Maryam did the food shopping.

Every morning after fajr salah the two sisters sat down to read surah Yasin. Each one took half and read in Arabic.  It seemed no matter how difficult the living situation became, praying and reading made the discomfort easier to bear.  Maryam did not dislike her sister Tahira, but she felt over time that each of their marriages did not have the full potential because of the lack of privacy.  Tahira, on the other hand depended on Maryam for support in how to deal with their husband.  Her insistence that everything in the home be “in its place” made the husband feel like he lived in a museum.  Although he liked the idea that Tahira cooked delicious meals he still sometimes wanted Maryam’s basic spaghetti.

The two sisters were seen in public at events like weddings and sister gatherings and classes.  Their beautiful garments were made with the same style, but different colors. They shopped together and went to classes and became known as the “twins”. They even had sisters come to the house for girl parties. It was a special time for the both of them.  Other women looked at them either with admiration or disdain. How they could cope with living in the same house seemed amazing to those looking on.  And since Maryam feared Allah, her family would not be the subject of conversation with other people. Any problem she had would have to be worked out among the three of them.

Maryam was such a helper to Tahira that when Tahira studied for her drivers license, Tahira asked Maryam for help because she was a more patient teacher than their husband.  For all that she did, though Tahira could not understand why sometimes Maryam had a mean face on the mornings that she and Habib decided to sleep in.  And if she had the nerve to show up (come downstairs) in one of his shirts that would just twist the knife!  Tahira reacted to Maryam’s face with stern questioning, which made Maryam guilty and even more sad at the entire situation.

Habib decided to let Tahira go, but Maryam begged him not to let it go that far.  She really did feel like she needed to take care of Tahira, who was 6 years her junior.  What a dilemma. Two sisters who need each other but not having a true sense of what would best allow each to blossom.  Maryam thought that by moving into her own house Tahira would have a chance at a relationship with their husband that was sincere, and not governed by what was acceptable to the whole. She  for one was ready to take up her relationship where it left off before they shared one house.

She did see her husband every day, but it was a lukewarm sight.  She dared not to run and hug him, because then Tahira would feel it necessary to do the same, and then she may even hug for longer.  Rather than have to face that, Maryam would choose to do nothing, but remember the days of happy home comings. If the two sisters were out together and the husband called Maryam, she felt it necessary to give the phone to Tahira. She would then say the required salaam and yes, we’re fine.  How awkward…

Maryam was wrong about many things.  She did not understand that Tahira needed to live as a group to feel validated and necessary.  She liked being part of a family. She liked telling Maryam and Habib how to dress and eat and just everything to do. It did not occur to her that her insistence that Maryam be happy with everything that came with sharing a husband made an unbearable burden on her sister. Tahira did not understand that when she complained about her husband that she was also complaining about Maryam’s husband, and therefore Maryam had to put a correction on it.  It was not taking sides as Tahira would accuse her of doing.  Maryam’s role as a Muslimah was obedience to Allah, which meant obedience to her husband and guarding his back.

Yes, Maryam did appreciate the kindnesses that were given like the dua that Tahira insisted that they read together after fajr to help Maryam cope, and the fact that they read Sura Yasin every day together. She appreciated the cup of tea that was offered as she sat at the sewing machine to make their next outfit for the upcoming event. She appreciated the companion in travel to visit non-Muslim family.  She did like having her around.  Why couldn’t they just get some space?  Apparently with Tahira and their friendship it was all or nothing at all.  Maryam did not get that memo.

Maryam did eventually move to her own house and even though the two sisters made a try at contacting each other, it became very clear after a month that things had changed completely. Maryam got the privacy she so wanted, but suddenly it felt like excommunication. There was no turning back.

Now here she sits years later with Sura Yasin open to this ayat. “Beware of what is before you and what is past so that you may be treated with kindness.” She can only beg Allah to forgive her past petty jealousies and times of impatience.   Maryam also made a dua that Allah forgive their short comings, accept their best intentions, and grant them reward for each letter they read together despite their differences, ameen.

 

 

Co-wife Club- the Phone call

Co-wife Club- the Phone call

Maryam was busy as usual with school work when her phone rang.  The call was from a former co-wife. This was a bit unusual so she took the call.

“As Salaamu alaikum, sis! This is a pleasant surprise.  How are you?”  The answer came as a shock.

“I’m calling to tell you that your ex, brother Dawud just passed away last night,” came the voice on the other end.  Amina was the elder of the two wives when they were both married to brother Dawud, and Maryam always liked and respected her.  Now that the both of them were in new marriages they were friendly when the met in public and still felt a bond of sorts.

Amina had been in touch with their former in-laws, and had known of the illness.  Maryam, on the other hand, had completely dropped out of the “family” circuit. And that was best, because she had stayed married to Dawud many years longer than Amina, and had even gone through another two shared marriages after that. Yes, she was sad in a way, but no tears came.  Rather a general overall sadness at the finality of death.

Even after the marriage had seemed to just fade into nonexistence, there was a familiarity in Maryam’s mind that could have been understood to be love.  Amina didn’t stay on the phone much after delivering the news, but she promised to keep Maryam informed.  Her mind raced….. should she try to go to the janaza?  What would she say to the non-Muslim family  who had become so used to her presence at the family reunions, and holiday gatherings?  What about the Muslims who did not know or who would have found it hard to believe that they had actually divorced? Not those two who seemed so right for each other.  Not those two who showed people how to live with two women in the very same house for ten years?

Maryam  went to call just a few people who knew her and the former husband.  Her intention was to have them make dua, as they lived too far away to come to the janaza. She did not feel like talking, though, as the reality set in. There would be no accidental run-ins that would reveal the feelings of one to the other. Since this new marriage Maryam dreaded a chance meeting that might betray her true emotional state.  And now there would be no accidental anything. Was that a relief?

She still was not sure about the janaza, but was leaning away from going.  That other sister may be there and she may make a scene.  The last wife, the one who had shared living space for ten years was still very angry that Maryam had decided to move into her own house(?).  As uncomfortable as it was living together, it was harder to maintain the semblance of friendship after Maryam moved into her own house.  Actually she thought the space would allow each to grow with their respective marriage. They seemed to work well living together until Dawud lost his job and the sisters had to find work to pay bills and buy food.  Now there was “time by default” as Maryam called it in her mind.  She was relieved when Zainab drove away for her day shift.  The house was then all hers and Dawud’s. Likewise, Zainab felt a sense of calm as Maryam got ready for her second shift at the Census.  They both wondered when and how the brother would find work, but neither one wanted to upset the apple cart and be the “bad guy”, so things just went on and on until Maryam finally could not take the pressure.  How long was she going to see herself and the other sister work and wait on the promise of a major project that is “sure to pay off”?

Memories of the funny times and the sad times  went through Maryam’s mind for the rest of the day.  She made strong dua for his forgiveness and otherwise kept quiet about it. Since she was no longer the wife she did not have the right to “condolence” calls.

As it turned out, the janaza was held in a town more than two hours drive away, which was not feasible for Maryam to get to. Later that night Amina called to fill her in on the events of the day.  There had been many people there, and even “that one”.  Amina found out that she had been visiting Brother Dawud up until his passing.  So she got to see him last.  Maryam wanted to get an attitude but she kept it to herself. She knew they had broken up after she got her own house, but she did not know they maintained contact.? There would be many things that she would not know, and Maryam had to make up her mind that it’s okay. Having been the first wife in this case had given her the advantage  in many family decisions, and she had her husbands trust and confidence. That could have disadvantages, though, as when he talked about whether or not to marry someone else, Maryam had to put on her big girl pants and advise as an objective outsider.

Maryam spent the day of the janaza  away from the glances and whispers of  people who mean well, but can’t help but wonder at the outcome of such a long marriage. She was glad to be out of the view of people who take account of each glance and word spoken and gesture between herself and her former co-wife turned enemy through no fault of her own, and despite her attempts at apologies. She talked to Allah and begged forgiveness for her lack of patience with the financial and emotional shortcomings.

She looked at her new situation and realized the goodness that lay before her, and was content to let the past stay there.

One Year Ago

One Year Ago

It’s been one year since my mother passed away. It should have been a very very sad time, but oddly it was not. This had been the sign from me once again that Allah truly hears the call of the caller when he is calling.

I had been raised by my father’s cousin who did not have any other children. She had been on point with her duties as a single mother, but minus the outward shows of affection.  As a teen I decided to leave the small college town of Ithaca,  New York and live with my natural mother in the city of Philadelphia. I was greeted with her disappointment that I left the home intended for my upbringing.  Never the less I stayed on in Philadelphia with family until my shahaadah a couple years later.  All this time I was still in touch with my “mother”. She also left New York  and returned to her childhood home in South Carolina. I maintained contact and  continued to visit over the years, although never as frequent as she would prefer, and I was often reminded of that.

As she got older and less mobile she still insisted on remaining in her  home on her family property “alone and independent”.  I offered to move there to care for her, but was always told to just come and visit. There were few conversations about Islam, as it was viewed as “that stuff you are doing”.Whenever I was questioned about Islam in her presence I gladly told all that I could, with the intention that she hear it also. I read Qur’an out loud with her in the room.  It all seemed to fall on deaf ears.  I still wanted her to understand the beauty of what I lived.  I was constant in salaat, and was respectful at all times with the intention that she see that Islam teaches us to be very polite. I gave her pictures with Allah’s names.She did say she liked that. The name al-Mujeeb was still on her coffee table the last time I was in the house.( Al Mujeeb is the One Who Answers Prayers.)

Then three years ago I married a man whom my mother considered the worst person in the world, and she had no problem letting me know her opinion:

Mom: He just wants you to take care of those children.(That’s marriage. We help each other)

Husband:  How can you really do anything for her in two days a month? You are on the highway almost as long as the time you get to visit.  (Well, she just likes to see me.)

Mom: What kind of man is that who won’t let you come here to help me like you been doin’? (Repeat line one- he just wants you to take care of those kids.)

 

Husband: What if something happens to her?

Mom: You need to get away from that and just keep taking care of yourself.

Husband: How can you help her from way up here? (security question- now I’m worried about her at night in the dark country alone in a little house…and her sister did get attacked in that area years ago…)

Stress was building and tears were flowing but only on the rug.  Oh Allah…. Ya Rabb….. All I knew was that I needed to take care of this lady who just could not care for herself, and who did not want to live with me, but now wanted me to come to a place in the country with no other Muslims for miles (one hour drive in both directions). At this point let me add that this “home” was to be inherited by cousins  of mine because as previously stated, she was my father’s cousin.  Nothing on paper. And the one thing that will bring out the worst with many families is money and property.  Needless to say, when the inevitable happens I’m out in the cold if I’m still there. I needed this man to allow me space in his house for my mother.  Month after month passed. Her condition worsened.  I visited by train this time, but only for a day.  What could I do? She  still did not want to come back with me and I still could not broach the subject of wills and inheritance, so leaving the new family to come south was not an option.

I just continued to pray and do what I could do for her from a distance, which was very stressful.  I heard Muhammad as Shareef talk about dua and the six duas for the year. Taking care of mother was number one. She had been in and out of the hospital, then nursing homes. The one niece who was helping regularly was getting tired. The other family was busy.  Neighbors were few.  She still insisted that she could stay home. Alone.

Then Allah opened the gates. A cousin offered to bring her from a nursing home to Philadelphia on the train.  At the same time my husband was saying I could just go on and move there, but to that I said, “No, bring her here”.  In four days she was at the train station.  This was not the outspoken woman I knew from childhood.  Most of the rough edges had given in to time and battling dementia.  What was left was the manners she had taught me.  Plus the class.  My husband showed her the respect due to a parent, and most of all the children who she said were wasting my time were actually her new best friends! One in particular, the middle girl, became her personal nurse and companion.  Each morning before leaving for school she gave mom her hug, and upon coming back she headed straight for her room to say hi, and to check on her.  Often times I would see them engaging in coloring or my (then first grade) daughter reading to her, or just taking a nap wrapped in each other’s arms.

Now this man who was the worst ever became “a good man” after seeing how he helped her down the stairs, talked to her regularly, and especially saw to it that she had her favorite vanilla ice cream!

I played Qur’an and read stories of the prophets in her room to her and the children. My mother seemed to perk up when she heard familiar names of prophets.  I heard the words “I love you” and “Do you love me?” for the first time in my life during these four short months before she passed.  It was with pleasure that I took care of her as best as I could, not being medically trained. She told me  I was doing good.  First time for that one, too.  So when I asked her to repeat a “prayer” for me she was glad to, and so repeated the shahaadah.

She lay resting one night but was breathing heavily.  As my husband left the room she squeezed his hand and continued to just lay quietly.  I left the room to tell him something, and called the nurse to see why she was breathing heavily.  When the nurse arrived my husband went with him to her room, and then came to tell me she was gone. Suddenly, at midnight while the girls were sleeping.  They took her body away in an hour.  For some reason my daughter did not go into her room that next morning to say good morning.  When she came home we told her that the angels took Grandmom Julia away. She was okay with that.  Who would get mad at an angel?

At this time one year later I’m just finishing learning sura Waqiah.  When I get to the end portion, the ayats can be translated to mean “Then why do you not (intervene) when (the soul of a dying person) reaches the throat? And you at the moment are looking on. But We are nearer to him than you, but you see not.  Then why do you not if you are exempt from the reckoning and recompense, bring back the soul if you are truthful?  Then if he (the dying person) be of the Muqarrabun (those brought near to Allah) (there is for him) rest and provision and a Garden of delights.  And if he be of those on the right hand, then there is safety and peace for those on the right hand. But if he be of the denying, the erring, then for him is an entertainment with boiling water. And burning in hell fire.  Verily, this! This is an absolute Truth with certainty. So glorify with praises the Name of your Lord, the Most Great. .Sura Waqiah Ayats 83 to the end 96.

What a reminder! I love perfect timings.

Thank you for reading to the end of a quite long story made kind of short.

Cinderella’s Happy Ending

Cinderella’s Happy Ending

This is my take on a writing prompt: Change the ending of the story Cinderella:

Cinderella’s oldest sister, Juliana, felt bad about how they had been treating her. She remembered the lessons their father taught them when they were little about how Allah loves those who are nice to other people. As she stood at the ball and watched that beautiful girl dance with the prince she thought, “I know my sisters and I deserve to be happy, even Cinderella. I hope we all get the husbands of our dreams.” She decided then and there that after the ball, she would be a better Muslim and that included being nicer to Cinderella.

Their middle sister Ariana was not so sure that she was ready to be a better sister, but she always wanted to do what her older sister did. That night when they got home they went to find Cinderella in her small room. Juliana called to her and hugged her close.  “My dear sister Imani, I’m sorry I hurt your feelings since we came here.  Please forgive me for being so mean. I’ll call you your real name Imani from now on.” Of course Cinderella (Imani) said okay. Juliana explained that her and Ariana’s father was a Muslim who taught them the right way, but after he died they did not do what he had taught them. Juliana and Ariana prayed to Allah that He would let them be a big happy family with husbands that would fill them with joy.

Imani (Cinderella) was very delighted that Juliana finally wanted to be nice and have a happy family.  She liked that they prayed to Allah, and remembered that her father had taught her about Allah as well.  She was very young when he died, so he didn’t get to tell her much. As she slept that night she saw her father and her mother in a dream and they told her to be patient with the decree of Allah. They also warned her to give up magic and those who practice magic, meaning her ‘fairy god-mother’. Imani was so happy that her sisters wanted to be friends that she did not mind staying away from the fairy.

Juliana found her little Quran that her father gave her when she was seven.  She opened it and started reading. Ariana tried to stay awake and listen to the words. Their mother noticed the light in their room and came quietly into the room. What a sight! Her oldest daughter was reading Qur’an in the most beautiful voice.  This was the Quran that she had forgotten about long ago.  “How could I have put this book away when it was the words of my Creator?” She asked herself. She thanked Allah for such wonderful daughters.

By the next morning the prince John was going around to find the girl whose foot would fit the glass slipper.  When he got to the house of Juliana, Imani and Ariana the girls were all excited to see what would happen.  As soon as Imani’s foot slipped into the shoe everyone cheered.  The prince John was overjoyed to see such a beautiful and modest girl.  At last he had found the perfect wife after so many years of searching.

Imani insisted that John become a Muslim before they could be married. He went back to the village and looked for his childhood friend, Abdullah. Abdullah had grown into a fine man with many children.  He was happy that the prince John had finally wanted to hear about Islam. They spent the next month reading and talking about the perfect way of life.  Then the prince John declared his acceptance of Islam. When he told his father about Islam, the king was proud of his son.

So Imani married the prince, and soon after that the king died.

The new king, John, declared that Islam was the official religion of the kingdom, and encouraged everyone to accept Islam. His brothers accepted Islam and soon married Imani’s two older sisters, Juliana and Ariana.  The fairy god mother saw how Imani was happy without the help of magic and soon gave it up and learned how to do good work with her own hands. The girls’ mother opened the Quran and spent her days and nights in memorizing the words of her Creator.

Everyone was happy in the palace and in the kingdom.