A pearl in the Oyster

Lulu was applying her dark brown mascara which matched her golden brown dyed hair.  She then checks if her beige shirt is neatly tucked into her brown skirt. As she wraps her Italian printed brown scarf around her neck she wonders if she could get cash award.

Lulu was working as a science teacher in a primary school for girls. The teacher, whose students got maximum A grades was to be awarded 1000 Dhs/- at the end of the year. Lulu had always wanted to be a teacher. She had won several awards for her speeches and presentation during her high school and college days. Though inexperienced, getting this job was a piece of cake.

As she walks to school with a branded handbag she thinks, “May be I could be the winner.  Students just love me. I get showered by roses from students every day. I am sure they should have done well in exams. Thanks to computerization of exams, we can have unbiased report. “

She meets Mubeena, the other science teacher on her way.  Covered from head to toe in dark colored Abhaya , Mubeena greets, “Assalam alikum”.  Lulu returns greeting, “walikum salam dear.”  Mubeena was also selected along with Lulu to work as science teacher. Lulu had never seen Mubeena with any makeup except some moisturizer during winter; neither was she interested in shoe or handbag sale. She had had same handbag for last one year!

Lulu, “ Excited about award?”

Mubeena, “ Not really.  I just wish they didn’t have to hand awards on a holiday .I had to postpone my trip to visit my grandparents due to this. “

After few minutes of socializing with other teachers at school, principle ascended the stage and announced. “ Bismillah hirrahman Nirraheem. Allahu akbar, It had been great year.  Thanks to Allah, and then to your efforts our school is one of the most sought of school in this area.  As an encouragement and to inspire teachers we will be awarding 1000 Dhs/- to teacher who helped maximum number of grade 5 students excel with A grade.  This year we were surprised to see a new inexperienced teacher help 90% of her students get A grade. Mubeena please come up to collect your award.”

Everybody seemed shocked.  Mubeena appeared most shocked.  Having handed award to Mubeena on stage; Principal takes out paper and announces, “We had asked grade 5 students to comment on every teacher who had taught them. These are remarks about Mubeena.

‘Madam made scary water cycle friendly with a drawing. ‘

‘New text book appears like old story book…. Thanks to madam. ‘

‘I never knew growing plants could be so much fun. Now I have my own herb garden at home!’

‘Stable, neutral and unstable state is an absolute must for an artist. Now I know why my clay models toppled. Center of gravity is to be blamed..’…..

These are just some of the comments.”

Principal addresses Mubeena, “Several parents were surprised to see their kids excel in science and wanted me to thank you on their behalf. What prompted you to become a teacher?”

Mubeena, “Well… I loved science and I loved to teach.  I didn’t want kids to just memorize few definitions to score well in exam. I wanted them to remember what I taught and apply it in their life. In this way, I could reap reward in hear after as well. Alhamdulillah, Allah has rewarded me here as well.  May Allah safe guard my intentions and keep them pure.”

Principal proclaimed, “You are an asset to our school. We request you to train our other new faculty members.  Dear teachers, please collect your remark sheet before leaving.”

Lulu was very upset.  Only 40% of her class got A grade.  At the earliest opportunity, she slips away from teachers; collects her remark sheet and rushes home. The question paper was very easy. Now she was most likely to be trained by Mubeena as well. She wondered what could have gone wrong. Her students were so enthusiastic to meet her! She decides to read the remark sheet.

  • Miss lulu is the prettiest teacher around. I like seeing her glossy lips smile. – sarah
  • I like to see her wear rose in her broach. We gifted her roses to see whose rose she selected for the broach. Roses from my garden often adored her.  J – jasmeen
  • She is the only teacher with good fashion sense. Her handbag, belt and scarf always match. I want to dress just like her. – Jameela

“ Ya Allah ! What is this none of the comments refer to what I had taught!!! I had wanted them to be inspired by science not my beauty. After all being beautiful is not a sin.”, Lulu thought.  Half heartedly she continued reading.

  • Artist! Perfect makeup artist. Looks always fresh. – Shaistha
  • Oh she is adorable. She could put models to shame. My father says, she should try her luck in modelling.  – Suzane

Lulu throws the remark sheet away in anger. “What?!! How can my student’s father comment about me? I am here to teach and not to model. “.. Lulu recollected how often she had walked past parents; and how some of the men used to grin at her.  “What a fool I had been? Mubeena is almost as old as me and could be as pretty as me.  Still, all the people appreciate her for her teaching skill overlooking her beauty. We had taught the same subject. We had even given speech to one another and helped one another with the lessons. Then, what happened?”

Lulu recollected Mubeena’s speech on stage, “She had intended to get reward from Allah by teaching. What was the hadith about intention which our Islamic teacher used to say “ She opens the book islamic teacher had gifted her and reads…

Narrated ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab: I heard Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) saying, “The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration was for what he emigrated for.” Sahih al-Bukhari

sprout-leaves-intention

“My intention had been to teach well too. But what am I being appreciated for? Make up, bags and skin. I want to be portrayed by my work not outer cover. How could that be done? Like Mubeena… should I practice hijab?”, she thought. She realized she despised wearing hijab. She loved being fashionable… Alas this required showing off her collection of designer clothes, shoes, jewelry and handbags.  Her well groomed hair and flawless complexion can’t be seen through thick hijab. “Yah Allah! What had been my true intention while taking this job? It wasn’t to glorify my blessed youth.  This had distracted even girls as young as 10 from listening to what I had to teach. ”

Still bit skeptic about hijab..  she turns pages to read about hijab. She read…

And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands or fathers or husbands’ fathers, or their sons or their husbands’ sons, or their brothers or their brothers’ sons or sisters’ sons, or their women, or their slaves, or male attendants who lack vigour, or children who know naught of women’s nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And turn unto Allah together, O believers, in order that ye may succeed. [Quran an-Noor 24:31]

Lulu shivered a bit as she read again, ‘And turn unto Allah together, O believers, in order that ye may succeed.’ It had become clear to her that she had opted vain desires over commandment of Allah. Allah the all Wise knows what’s best for us. The verse was calling her to turn back towards obedience of Allah so that she may succeed. Real Success is attaining safety from Hell in comfort of heaven. With right intention every day activities can turn into pathway to heaven.

She sobs as she prays, “Forgive me for my ignorance.  Yah Muhaymin (Guardian of faith) save me from getting eluded from purpose of life – to please you. My remark sheet at school has opened my eyes. It has made me fear the day when we’ll be handed book of deeds.  I beg of You  to save me from being amidst those who are handed their book of deeds on their left hand.  Guide me Yah Hadi  (Guider) to be amidst those who show their book deeds proudly to others on the day of reckoning.  Help me adhere to Your commands. Ameen.”

She hears her phone beep. Mubeena had sent her message. “ Join me for Lunch at home. Your presence would increase my happiness double fold.”  Lulu searches for her mother’s jilbab (long covering coat) to wear on her way to Mubeena’s home.

Of all the precious stones pearls are most likely to get tarnished when left exposed. We women are like pearls. our veils would serve us as oysters serve the pearl. Remain precious.

Prepublished in 1newleaf.

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HELP ME

Hurray, summer holidays are here. Yes it is very hot, but with the schools closed its time for fun for kids. It’s time for seasonal evening fun fares and summer activities. Roller coasters, giant wheels and merry go rounds are sure inviting. And of course, it’s time for our yummy fruits and ice-creams. At one such temporary summer fair, children were running around with sugar candies. Some were spell bound watching a parade. And then there was this naughty eight year old throwing a tantrum. He was shouting at the top of his voice, “I want Falooda.” Sweet kind lady tries her best to calm him down. “Dear Akhil, my sweety, you are still on antibiotics. I am afraid you’ll start coughing again.” Akhil frowns back and shouts at the top of his voice, “I have been drinking hot water for weeks. I don’t have fever now. I have taken all bitter medicines, now it is time for a treat. I can’t take …” Before he could complete his statement he starts coughing. His mom pours some hot water from the flask and hands it to Akhil to sooth his cough. Akhil pushes it aside and points towards the Falooda stall. Angry mom draws Akhil close to her. Once he stops coughing she takes a deep breath and announces in a stern voice, “Do not interrupt and listen to me carefully. We came here to buy bangles for your aunty. Now, if you promise me not to drink falooda until you get your doctor’s approval, I’ll buy it for you. Otherwise, I won’t wait for your dad to pick us up from here. One more squeak from you and we are leaving in a taxi.” Akhil questions, “when will you call the doctor uncle?” Mom sighs in relief. “First we’ll purchase bangles. Then just before leaving the exhibition I’ll purchase your drink. Then I’ll call the doctor on reaching home. Is it clear?” Akhil agrees. He keeps staring back at falooda stall with a long face as his mom drags him towards bangle stalls.

Akhil hated everything about shopping. As his mom checks the bangles he kept lamenting. “Mama it’s boring. Let’s go to the play area.” His mom replies, “Just few more minutes.” He tries to entertain himself by tossing a few bangles but the shopkeeper won’t allow it. Bored and upset Akhil hugs his mom and pleads, “Can I at least stand outside this crowded shop and look at the things going around? Please.”  His mom denies his request, “You could get lost.” He shrugs his shoulders, rolls his eyes and replies persuading, “I am not a baby. I’ll stay by the shop” His mom smiles and adjusts his hair.  He moves back in denial stating, “mooooommmm..” Then she looks at him with deep thought and says just what he wished to hear, “You may stay outside.” Akhil jumps high shouting ‘ahhhh!’ Just when he is to run out his mom calls him. She looks at him as though she could never see him again and warns, “Please be careful. Don’t stroll away.” Akhil hastely replies, “Okay!”  He runs out.

Now, all he could see was Ice-cream vendors and kids purchasing pop sticks. His thoughts wander back to Falooda. He looks down in disappointment. He sees a beautiful white Persian cat with fluffy tail and blue eyes. He tries to touch it but it runs to a kind man standing few feet away from him. He smiles at Akhil. Akhil smiles back. The handsome hip looking man picks up the cat and walks a few steps towards Akhil. He leans on the wall next to him and asks politely, “Do you love cats? She loves being stroked would you like to pat her?” Akhil quickly moves close to the man and gently strokes the cat. The cat appears to enjoy Akil’s company. The man compliments, “Hey! You are a professional. Cats just seem to love you. You must be Mahir – the talented.” Akhil blushes and replies amidst giggles, “Nah, I’m Akhil. We have lots of cats at my grandma’s place. She too thinks cats love me. Uncle, I’ve never seen such a beautiful cat with a nice fluffy tail.” Akhil’s new found pal raises his eyebrows in astonishment. “Dude, you almost guessed her name too?” Akhil exclaims, “Fluffy?”  His uncle just nods in affirmation. Akhil giggles more. Uncle looks straight into Akhil eyes and says in soft voice. “Fluffy has four little kittens. And, I’m looking for someone to take care of them. Do you know someone who would love to have a kitten?” Akhil opens his eyes wide and questions, “Are they as cute as her?” Cool uncle winks at Akhil and states, “They are cuter!” Akhil questions doubtfully, “Uncle, can I have one kitten?” Uncle stops smiling. He thinks hard for few seconds. Then he questions, “Will you take good care of the kitten?” Akhil nods. Uncle proclaims, “I can’t find a better caretaker for the kitten. Come along and choose a kitten.” Akhil jumps with joy. He peeps into the shop searching for his mom. She was busy checking the bangles. Uncle suggests, “Just surprise your mom with a lovely kitten. She’ll adore it. Let’s be quick. Your kitten is waiting. Hop along.” Uncle wraps fluffy in a dark cloth and starts walking briskly. Akhil joins him.

The kittens were not all that close. Now Akhil was back to the falooda shop. Akhil was worried his mom would be angry. He questions, “Uncle, how far are the kittens? My mom will be worried. I need to go back.” Uncle says politely, “we are very close.” Then he shifts Akhil’s focus to falooda. He buys one drink and hands it to Akhil, “It’s the least I can do for offering to take care of a kitten.” Akhil was too tempted to say no. He sips ultra-cold falooda as he walks with the uncle. Then, they stand by a corner as a noisy parade walks through. People were looking at the mascots in the parade. As soon as Akhil completes his drink, his uncle takes him inside a thin path between two closed shops. Akhil raises his voice amidst noise to be heard, “Uncle are kittens here?” Within a blink of an eye someone covers him with a blanket and carries him into a closed shop!

What had just happened? Has Akhil been kidnapped? He struggles hard but can’t break loose. Within seconds he is dropped down. He throws the blanket away and tries to crawl away. But, there is no open door or window. The room was poorly lit. Akhil could hardly see anything. He pulls himself up and runs to the closest wall and bangs on it. He knocks on the walls and shouts as loud as he can only to end up coughing. Cold drink had made his sore throat worst! He just couldn’t be heard. The huge scary looking man who had grabbed him slaps him hard and signals him to be quiet. Akhil moves back in fear. He stumbles and falls down. He turns to see that he has stumbled against an unconscious kid. He lay next to the poor kid, not knowing what to do. He is too scared to shout. He starts feeling strange and was seeing doubles. The huge scary looking man looks at his handsome uncle and comments, “Jay, this boy is cute.” Uncle Jay chuckles, “Sandy, he is also foolish. He didn’t even bother to ask my name. It was very easy fetching him here. I have drugged his drink, he’ll sleep soon.” Akhil realizes why the falooda tasted strange. The drug was overpowering. He snuggles next to the sleeping kid and mourns. Jay picks his cat up and announces Sandy, “It is time for the next catch. Stay by the door.” Sandy nods.

Akhil regrets to have forgotten all about his mom’s warning. His mom had always been right. How mean he had been to her. Still, she was always nice to him. He wonders, what will happen to him. Will he ever meet his mom again? Who could save him now? He recollects a dua his mom used to say, “Hasbi Allaah laa illaha illa huwa ‘alayhi tawwakaltu wa huwa rabb al-‘arsh il-‘azeem 

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“Hasbi Allaah laa illaha illa huwa ‘alayhi tawwakaltu wa huwa rabb al-‘arsh il-‘azeem ”

Only Allah could turn any situation right. He mutters this dua. Once he completes reciting he feels his stomach turn. Now he knew, his medicines and the fallooda were not meant to be eaten together. He vomits. Sandy mistakes it to be cough. Having vomited Akhil feels a bit better. He prays for an opportunity to escape.

He struggles to remain awake in spite of seeing doubles. He didn’t have to wait long. As soon as Sandy opens the door to grab a new kid Akhil quickly breaks free. Sandy and Jay couldn’t risk leaving the new kid free to catch him. Akhil drags himself as far as he can. He tries to attract attention but just can’t call out for help. People were too engrossed in the parade activities to pay attention to a boy in distress.  Being weak he can’t move any further. He could see Jay cutting through the crowd in search of him. Akhil quickly hides behind an advertising banner. He peeps through the hole in the banner to check on Jay.

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Help me

He closes his eyes and prays, “Yah Allah, I am sorry I have been a bad boy. I promise to be good to my parents. Please, please, please take me back to my mom. Only You can help me.” He opens his eyes to see his mom a few stalls away. She was crying and shouting out his name. Not many seemed to notice her amidst the entertainment. She enquired to people as to whether they had seen a small boy. They hadn’t.  Oh! How he wished he could run to her. Alas, he didn’t even have energy to drag himself. The drug was having an effect on him. He tries to shout but all he could hear was a croak. Tears stream down his eyes. He could do nothing. Will it be the last time he’ll ever see her?

Just then he feels a hand on his shoulder. He feels chills run down his spine. He turns around to meet his worst fear. Yes! It was angry Jay. He mumbled, “You naughty brat! Did you really think you had a chance? Had you not vomited you would have slept by now. Now, I’ll make you regret for all that you did.” Akhil feels his head spin. He prays, “Allah save me and make him regret. Let them not do this another child.” Jay, throws a blanket on him to carry him. Akhil is too sleepy to fight. Just as he is about to doze away he hears his father confront Jay, “Hey you, where are you carrying my son?” Akhil is not sure whether it is a dream or truth.

He wakes up a day later to find himself in a hospital. Next to him is his sobbing mom. With a big sigh he utters in relief – Alhamdhulillah. Mom is happy to see Akhil regain conscious and kisses him. Akhil cries and pleads, “I’m sorry mom, I’ll never disobey you.” Mom hugs him and asks him to take rest. Few minutes later his father joins him. Akhil hugs him and thanks him for saving him. Dad shows him a newspaper cutting stating, “ ’A bold boy outwits kidnapers.’ ‘Thanks to a child- City is safe’ ‘Smart kid saves the day’ ‘Notorios Jay and Sandy behind bars” Akhil questions, “what happened to other kids?” Dad assures, “Don’t worry; they are safe with their parents. Oh Akhil! You astonish me. Please, avoid trouble in future. Don’t trust strangers. It’s only by Allah’s mercy that you are here with us.”

He sure had no intention of facing such a situation again.  Be alert!

Published in Muslimahbloggers

THE SHAPES OF EID ACCORDING TO ME

Written by : Saima Khan
Written by : Saima Khan
Celebrate Eid and learn shapes!

Written by          : Saima Khan

Illustrator            : Maria Ahmed

 

In this book we see celebration of Eid through eyes of a child. It starts with description of Eid. My 7-year-old son, Zakir, loved reading it with me. Zakir was glued to the book. Later, I was surprised to see Zakir recollect couple of lines from the book. Well, children love rhymes and the language used in this book is rhythmic. The lines he loved are:

“At last, I see the curvy moon!

The celebration will follow soon.”

Even I was able to recollect the excitement on seeing new moon. Author Saima Khan, tactfully incorporated different shapes into the Eid celebration. Even henna designs and soap bubbles are not spared. And what adds sparkle to this book is the way it is illustrated. Children are most likely to try making a copy of the pictures. The images are apt and colorful. Yet, they are simple enough to encourage child to attempt making a copy of it. Small details in the picture made these pictures delightful to explore.  My younger son (3 year old) was happy to spot a cat in these pictures!

By the end, the child is questioned about his/her favorite part of Eid holiday. I am happy to say – my son captured the essence of celebration. This made my day. ❤ This book is exciting to read and would make an ideal gift for children in kindergarten and primary school. I had great time listening to it as my son read it aloud.

For more details, please visit: www.prolancewriting.com/bookstore

 

 

My little fingers

Fingers are blessing

Saturday morning, Sabir is all set to play soccer with his father.  As he relishes last piece of his breakfast pancakes with maple syrup, he hears a thunder. It is followed by the sweet smell of earth greeting the first drizzles of rain. Abba (Father) comforts sad Sabir, “Insha Allah, we will play soccer next Saturday.” Rain picks up pace and few drops of rain splash against Sabir through the window. Sabir wipes his face and shifts away from window. He says, “There is no other option for me.” They notice a broken window shield. Abba announces, “We’ll have to mend it once the rain stops. I’ll check if other sun shades are fine.” As Sabir wonders what to do, Abba leaves to check other rooms.

Few feet away from them Sabir’s Appy (Elder sister), Salma is engrossed in her painting. She sparingly uses her new acrylic paints. She had spent her Eidy(Money gifted to her on the day of Eid) on these colours. She is sure these colors and her new brush strokes would enhance her painting. Their sister, a naughty kindergartener Saba is also silent today! She too was trying her hand in painting. While Salma’s painting looked like a mountain range, Saba’s imitation of Salma’s painting just had brown M, N, W and X. Sabir decides to play with them. He waits for them to complete their work. Salma is no mood to leave her scroll. He spots her dreamily look at her collection of trophies. She had won the painting contest for two successive years. She was confident that she’ll win this year too.

Sabir teases her, “Oh no! Appy, tomorrow you’ll win again! Then we’ll have one more trophy to dust and clean. So sad.” Still dreamy Salma utters, “Insha Allah! Farha has purchased oil paints too. I’m afraid she would do better than me.” Saba giggles as she dips her fingers into the green poster color to paint trees. There was more paint on her than on paper. With brown and green color on face, she looked like a little commando. Impatient Sabir requests, “Please, stop painting Appy. You don’t need to practice. You are sure to win. Let us play hide and seek. “Annoyed Salma questions Sabir, “Why haven’t you left with Abba to play soccer?” Surprised to see Salma so engrossed in her work Sabir exclaims, “Can’t you see, it’s raining cats and dogs?” Salma and Saba look out for the first time.

Saba looks worried. She grabs a wooden ruler which was lying next to her and charges towards the entrance. Sabir asks her, “Where are you going?” Bold Saba announces as she runs, “To save the raining cats from the dogs.” Salma laughs aloud. Salma turns towards Saba to explain that it only means it’s raining heavily. To her horror, she sees Saba slipping down few feet away from her. The rain drizzling from window had found its way into dinning cum living room. Poor Saba had steeped on it. What happened next was more like a scene from a Rugby match. Sabir runs to catch Saba. Salma dives down and catches Saba. Sabir loses balance and falls over them. Salma screams in pain, “Ahhhhhhhh!” Amee and Abba rush in to see Salma’s hand pinned down by Salma and Sabir. Salma tries to get up but couldn’t. She cries in pain, “My hand hurts. I cannot move it.” Amme recites suratul Fatiha and blows on her hand. Abba carefully lifts her and rushes her to the closest hospital.

Continue reading My little fingers

I am a star

Prism and light fascinate kids

Alhamdhulillah. I am glad to share with you a story written for kids. :-D.

I am a Star

Sabir got ready for school in record time today. In a brightly sunlit room, decorated with Lego mechanical cars and a space shuttle, we hear timid Sabir trying out his speech.  It is an important day from him. The 9 year old science wiz wants to present his school in a science exhibition. But first he has to do a presentation on ‘Light’ in order to be selected for the big day. His speech is flawless in front of his only audience – his dearest soccer ball proudly wearing his swimming goggles. But, due to his shy nature giving a speech in front of a panel of judges was a nightmare for Sabir. While he is worrying about this, his elder sister Salma comes into the room.

Sabir is glad to see her. Traditionally elder sisters are called Aap-pa in their culture, but Salma has always been able to make Sabir happy with her presence, so he started calling her Appy. Noticing the band in her hand he says, “So you were finally able to loom the band, it’s very colourful?” Salma’s eyes twinkle with the complement, “Yes Sabir. I got the hang of it in my 4th attempt. I am glad I tried. I hope your presentation is equally colorful.” Then she says, “Abba (Father) and Amme (Mother) have sent me to listen to your speech once before we leave for school. I am all ears, please start.” But just as Sabir stood up to present his speech Saba, Sabir’s 5 year old sister, enters the room. Cute and active Saba is a mini storm packed inside a sweet girl with ever gleaming eyes. She is always eager to learn and looking at her now Sabir is worried she was going to make him lose track of his speech with her interruptions.

Assalam o alikum Appy and Bhai (That’s Sabir)”, shouts Saba as she runs in. Sabir waits for her to sit down. Instead, she turns to Salma and exclaims, “You have just two ears, yet you say you are all ears!” Salma smiles and replies, “Walikumassalam Saba, It meant I am eager to listen.” Saba raises her hand to Sabir’s ear and adds, “I am also all ears.” Sabir catches her hand in mid air, leads her to a chair and gets her more or less seated.

Sabir deliberately starts with, “Lend me your ears.” Saba covers her ears in shock. Sabir and Salma have a hearty laugh. Sabir removes Saba’s hand from her ears and says, “It means – Listen to me attentively” and he continues with his speech, “Light is a form of energy. It travels in form of waves. Speed of light is 2.9*108 meters per second. A Light Year is 9.4 *1015 meters. That’s 6 million miles.” Using a transparent, translucent and opaque glass pieces he explains different phenomena of light. Finally, with a prism in hand Sabir explains about Dispersion – Separation of light. Saba looks at dispersed light from prism and exclaims, “Rainbow!” Sabir happily explains, “Yes Saba, rainbow is splitting of light by water droplets.” Saba hugs him cajolingly and requests, “Can I have this rainbow maker. Pleeeeease” Sabir replies, “You may have it after the presentation. Just lend it to me when I need it later.”

Salma applauds Sabir, “Allah o Akbar.” Being still nervous, Sabir confesses, “I am scarred of presenting anything in front of judges. So, I’ve teamed up with Abid. He has agreed to help me when I’m tongue tied. I just hope he doesn’t forget the points.” Salma consoles, “In sha Allah, you both will do fine. Keep trying, someday you’ll overcome your fear.” They hear Ammee call, “Hurry up children. You don’t want to be late to school.”

Salma and Saba had returned from school before Sabir. The home is filled with smells of freshly baked chocolate cake. Ammee has baked it especially as a reward for Sabir. Salma tries to decorate the cake as they wait for Sabir in their cozy living room decorated in shades of pastels. Shortly Sabir arrives with a long face. As Ammee helps Salma with the frosting, she greets Sabir with a warm smile, “Assalamalikum.” Saba descends from the table, where she had been admiring the cake, and pounces on Sabir questioning eagerly, “Bhai, did you speak about all ears in your school? Did you bring back that triangle rainbow maker?” Sabir said in a broken voice, “Walikum Salam.” Sensing the pain in his voice Ammee comes closer to Sabir and asks gently, “Dear, was the presentation not good enough?” Sabir broke into tears as he replied, “It was great but…” Ammee hugs sobbing Sabir and signals Salma to fetch a glass of water. Everybody waits patiently for Sabir to calm down. A couple of minutes later, Ammee gets Sabir seated down and hands him a glass of water. Sabir sips from the glass and finally the whole story pours out of him, “Presentation was in the last period. I didn’t say a word. Abid did the whole presentation himself with my notes and samples. He was applauded and praised.” Everybody was stunned. Even Saba was silent.

Saba kneels down next to Sabir. She raises her head and stares at Sabir with big eyes ready to cry. Then she slowly utters in a heavy voice, “Does this mean I won’t get the rainbow maker ?” Sabir just could not prevent himself from laughing. Salma hands Saba her knitted bracelet saying, “This rainbow bracelet doesn’t need light for colours. It is better than that rainbow maker.” Saba is delighted. Ammee kisses Sabir and says, “Oh dear! Abid is a good boy too, I don’t know what happened.” Sabir sighs; “Now the opportunity to represent my school in the exhibition is lost.” Ammee tries to cheer him up, “You took effort to learn about light. Knowledge is valuable.” Sabir smiles halfheartedly.

That day, after magrib prayer, Amme took them to terrace. It was quite and very dark outside, except for the sky. It grabbed everybody’s attention. Though there was no moon, thousands of stars were gleaming down at them. Few minutes later, Ammee asked them, “What do you guys see?”

Saba draws patterns in sky connecting stars and says, “I see a donut and an ice cream!”. Everyone smiles. Salma teases her, “Wasn’t that messy cake good enough for your sweet tooth?” Saba grins.

Salma then looks at sky and proclaims: “Allah is The Perfectionist. The Splendid”

Sabir recollects: “I have just learnt that these stars are massive fire balls. Most are bigger than our Sun too and are far far away. Yet, now they appear to be here just for me.”

Ammee complimented, “Well said kids. Yes Sabir, stars are there for a reason. Like Saba, people have made patterns out of group of stars and remembered their position. They saw a little more than a donut though.” They all giggle.

Ammee continues, “For centuries these constellates – group of stars, served as a guide for travelers by night. Kids, can you name a star?”

Saba points finger at one of them and proclaims: “I name this one Saba.”

As Sabir laughs he names another star: “Sun”.

Saba: “Sun is also a star!”

Salma: “It’s our closest star.”

Ammee looks at surprised Saba and says “Most of the stars are not even named. They are too many to be named.”

Then she turns towards Sabir and asks, “Sabir, How long does it take for sunlight to reach earth?”

Sabir says in a jiffy- “8.4 minutes”

Well pleased Ammee continues “Very good. Some of the stars here are hundreds of light years away. This means, what we see now is what they had been hundreds of years ago. Some are already dead. Yet we see them shine from here!”

Sabir: “Still their light serves a purpose. Allah-o-Akbar!”

Ammee comes close to Sabir and says softly, “Likewise, even if you are not selected for a contest you served your purpose.”

Surprised, Sabir quickly asks: “How?”

Ammee “Allah knows, you taught Abid about light. In sha Allah every time Abid speaks about light you will be rewarded too. For this reason, winning shouldn’t be your first priority. ‘Spreading knowledge’ which Allah has blessed you with should be your goal. You may not be recognized now, but your work would speak for itself later.”

Sabir felt the weight of failure lift from his heart slowly. He felt like a star shinning high in the sky. Now he was glad that Abid managed to do well and sincerely hoped that he would do even better in his next presentation.

Salma: “Subahan Allah. This vast sky and shining stars show greatness of its Creator – Allah.”

They hear the phone ring and rush down stairs. Sabir picks the phone; it was Abid, “Assalam Alaikum.” “Walikumsalam”. “Sabir, it was great presenting before judges. I just couldn’t stop myself. I was stunned by the applause. Then I remembered you. I told everyone you did the entire research. We searched for you. But, you had already left. I think I offended you. I’m sorry. I should have let you present too.” Unable to control his excitement Abid continues, not giving Sabir a chance to speak, “Here is the great news for you. We are both selected for the exhibition” Sabir utters Alhamdhullillah under his breath, he is smiling now. Abid tells him excitedly “Our next topic is – Stars. I insist you start the speech next time. Start with the dua, ‘Rabb-ishrah-li-sadri, wayassir-li ‘amri, Wah-lul ‘uqdatam-min-li-saani, Yaf-qahuuqawlii’. This will make it easy for you. You will do great in sha Allah” Sabir replies with a big smile, “Sure Abid, we will shine like stars.”

Prism and light fascinate kids
A child preparing for a presentation
Facing rejection in a tender age
Shine like a star.

It was printed in Muslimaat magazine, Issue 5. This edition had much to ponder upon. The glossy pages had enough to occupy our thoughts and prevent us from slipping into sins. I would have to admit each and every page of the magazine was written with passion and touched the the heart. I am humbled to see my article amidst such outstanding articles. I hope the magazine continues to spread the light of Islam. Aameen.

 

KILL THE ZOMBIE

backbiting is contagious

The aroma of biryani Abida had cooked overpowered the smell of room freshener. She inspects her flat one last time before she dresses up in one of her fine clothes. It was a special day. Her college friend was going to meet her for the first time since Abida had got married. Well, she hardly had any visitors she knew.  She wanted to impress her friend. “I hope Sadaf is not taken a back by the building’s location”, she thought.

As she waited she heard the phone ring. “Sadaf should be close by. May be she forgot the flat number.” Much to her disappointment, it wasn’t Sadaf. She hears nagging Rashma crying aloud, “Hallo Abida. You won’t believe what happened?” Abida knew now Rashma would treat her like a dump yard of emotions and there is nothing much she could do to console her. She replies politely, “Hi Rashma. Oh dear, no matter what it is don’t take it to your heart. I am sure things would turn around for better.” Amidst sob’s Rashma utters, “As usual my husband forgot all about me. He had…” Just then she heard a bell. Delighted to find a reason to escape Abida quickly interrupts, “I was expecting my friend. I have to attend her. I feel sad to leave you in your distress. I am sure your hubby will cheer you up. Bye” She cuts the call and rushes to the door.

The friends were glad to meet one another. Abida felt as though she was meeting her long lost sister! Abida did her best to make her friend feel like a queen! Sadaf and Abida spoke for hours about their days together on college. It was time for lunch. Sadaf was impressed by Abida’s culinary skills. “Abida, you could be a chef at a five star hotel. I just can’t have enough of the biriyani you cooked. You should share this recipe with me.” Abida gladly agrees. Sadaf wonders, “Abida I knew you couldn’t make tea and was happy to dress in casualwear. Now you have changed a lot. You look prettier in our silk robes and jewels. And the food you cook is divine. Your husband is a lucky man. Tell me the secret behind this transformation. Is it love?” Abida blushes and then replies honestly, “OH dear! Love is just a small part. Almost every weekend I have guests visiting us. We can’t afford to dine them out every week end. Inevitably I learnt to be a better host. So far I was only catering my hubby’s friends and family. You are the first person whom I had been acquainted with to come to my home. So, I was really eager to make this day special.”

The conversation seemed to change gloomy. Sadaf was too concerned about Abia’s tiring life. “It should have been tough catering to so many guests. A young couple needs to go out and have fun more often. You were pampered like no other girl at your parents’ home. I am sure your hubby should be helping you with the chores.” Abida opens her heart out, “The only help he does is to invite.” Sadaf gasps, “Oh my God! You should hate being treated as a servant.” Abida argues, “It’s not all that bad. You know I enjoy having company. I love having guests around. Well, until…” Abida wishes she hadn’t uttered more. It was too late. She recollected a heart breaking incident which occurred about a month ago. Sadaf urged her to continue, “Until what? Tell me. You would feel better.” Abida could not hold herself back, “well, one of hubby’s cousins had stayed over during holidays. We planned to go on a picnic next day. I had worked hard and took best care of the guest. Then I also cooked and packed for the picnic. I was last to sleep and first to wake up. I was very tired and fell asleep in the car. I could partly hear everything they spoke. My hubby called me lazy. He said I sleep all day. I hoped his cousin would defend me. Instead, he was feeling pity for my hubby. Would he do the same if his BIL said this about his sis. I came back and confronted my hubby? He was unapologetic.” With this Abida broke into tears. Sadaf handed her a tissue. She said, “That should have hurt a bit.” Abida snaps, “A bit? It felt as though he was tearing my clothes and was exposing me. Aren’t husband and wife meant to be like clothes to one another? Shouldn’t they protect, complement and save one another from evil. Now, I wonder what else had he been telling about me to his relatives. I strain so much to please him and what to do I get in return?”

They are your garments and Ye are their garments
Quran 2:187 Surah Al baqra 187

Sadaf starts a new chapter, “You had earlier told your hubby is very loving. Someone should have pushed him to turn like this. Is she your MIL?” “Oh no, she is such a darling. There are few differences in way we see things. That’s normal. Let’s speak about something else.” Sadaf agreed. She focused on Abida’s home. “Your house is well kept but it is not in prime location. What kind of neighbours do you have? The smell of fish on the way to your flat was hard to bear.”  Abida’s turns defensive again, “Well my hubby is saving to buy a better car. Once, he saves enough we will shift to a better location. Hey! That same neighbor also taught me to make biriyani. It’s not her fault that our kitchens face corridor.” Sadaf pities her, “It’s sad to see you adjust so much. How selfish of your hubby to leave you here so that he may enjoy luxuries. You should have been stern. If he doesn’t care for his newly wed wife, do you think he’ll care for you few years from now? Your parent always kept your preferences above theirs. It should be tough for you to live like this.” One thing led to other Abida was spilling beans out. When Sadaf left, she felt depressed and somehow oppressed. Lively home seemed devastated. Nothing seems right. She wonders why she ever married. The couple fought by evening and her young hubby went alone to meet his friends! She thought, “Now he’ll go and blabber everything to his friends.”

Things looked better again. Her hubby and she missed each other’s pleasant company. In no time, the conflict was pushed aside. She wonders why she ever fought with such a loving husband. A week later she receives call from her mom. Her mom was very upset. On questioning she reveals, “Does Ahmed take good care of you dear?” “He is very good to me.” “I know everything dear. You stay in a crappy place to save money. You work hard to please his guests and end up being called lazy. Your MIL and you have differences. And …” Abida is stunned to hear all this. She had only spoken to her friend about these things and they were not exactly said like this. She quickly comforts her mom, Continue reading KILL THE ZOMBIE

Fatima, the maid

Written by Honeybee

fatima the maidWhenever I remember the story of Fatimah, my eyes become moist and heart softens. This is because she reminds me about Allah. About Allah being the best of providers. After knowing her story, I kept wondering how Allah planned for her. Whatever was her decreed portion of rizq, nobody could take it even if all efforts were made. What was meant for her remained hers.

It so happened that in one of the hot summer months, Annua was desperately looking for a part time maid as her old maid had left. Alone with a small baby in the house, it was difficult to manage all the work. She caught hold of all the maid adverts. They were around fifteen maid contacts. She called each one of them. Some refused as they had other work. Some wanted extra money because her house was a little off the main road and they would have to walk down more in the scorching summer heat. She gave them the option of cooler working hours but nothing helped. Some agreed to come but finally did not turn up. She was sort of frustrated. Only one girl out of so many agreed to come without any hassle or negotiation. The best part was that she did come. She was Fatimah, a hijabi girl!

Allah provides all.
Quran 11:6

I am not trying to say that a maid and a spouse have anything in common but does not the same thing happen when looking for a spouse? Even a hundred number of proposals will not work for silly reasons but when the decreed spouse arrives, things move surprisingly fast and smooth as a knife will move through butter. Oh again an analogy! But please do not mistake the knife for the wife.

Annua was happy that finally she had a maid. The maid became busy with the house work and Annua with hers. Sometime later she could hear the vacuum cleaner and with it Fatimah’s angry voice. Fatimah was angry with the fact that she will have to clean the dust bag before proceeding because it was full and Annua had not made sure that the old maid emptied it timely. Annua was annoyed by this attitude but let her finish the work. When she was leaving, Annua gave her the money and asked her not to come again. Fatimah asked her the reason. She told her that it was her rude behavior. Fatimah mumbled something, sort of agreeing with the objection and slowly walked away.

Annua’s search started again but no success. Then one fine day, Fatimah called her and asked if she could send her friend for work. Annua recalled the ayah where Allah tells us that we may dislike a thing which is good for us. Her heart melted and she asked her to come.

Disliking a beneficial thing;
Quran 2:216

Fatimah worked for a few months but her rough behavior now and then continued. But one thing Annua admitted that Fatimah was the only maid she had who used to offer her salah without fail in her house. A couple of months later she needed Fatimah to work for more hours but she could not. Hence Annua had to change the maid.

During this time whatever happened with Fatimah brought tears to my eyes. One day she came and knocked the door. Annua was surprised to see her. She had come to give her the new mobile number. Why? Because she had been kidnapped by a man in his car on the pretext of giving work in his house. He robbed her old mobile along with her cash savings and a gold chain (in short all her savings). He left her luckily untouched, in some remote area from where she somehow managed to reach her house.

Even before Annua could stop thinking about Fatimah’s over deal, the other maid left. It was searching time again! Who says there are no jobs? By that time she had received several other mail adverts. She called a number on one of the slips and guess what? She could hear Fatimah’s voice on the other side. She was saying, “Madam it is me.” Annua said, “I called somebody looking for work, did u put a slip in my house.” She said, “My friend might have put it when doing it for herself.” And I am sure you know what happened next. Fatimah was back in her house doing the chores and left her thinking about how Allah has written down our source of rizq. All other girls were blocked to make way for Fatimah because Allah had written her rizq in Annua’s house. She was such a sweet maid thereafter and worked for her till she left to her hometown.

I can never forget about her because she reminds me about how Allah cares for us and plans for each one of us. We only have to keep our duty to Him.

He provides from where we donot expect
Surah Attalaq verse 2 and 3

Sometimes I wonder what Allah is asking for is too little from us as compared to the blessings He is showering on us day in and day out. Still we are disobedient and on top of that we complain!

May Allah give us the wisdom and strength to live our lives only for His pleasure.

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honeybee.weblog@gmail.com

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Precious Five

precious 5

Silence in the hospital was broken by cries of pain; deep unbearable pain. Rehma was brought to the  hospital in labor. The pain was unbearable. Her husband wiped sweat off her forehead as she waited to be admitted.  Doctor examined her and was quick to take her to the  labor ward.  The baby would be here any minute. Any minute? It seemed like ages.

Unlike her first pregnancy this pregnancy had been tough. It was not the pregnancy symptoms which made her life tough. It was cough. Yes!  Cough.  Being pregnant she wasn’t prescribed strong medicines and it made things worst.

She had promised herself that she would take great care of her unborn child. She had planned a list of things to do once she was pregnant.

  • Go on a morning walk.
  • Pray more voluntary prayers
  • Recite Quran daily after fajr
  • Eat healthy balanced food. (no junk)
  • Spend more time with elder son, helping him memorize

Alas, now she could do none of it with her deep coughs. While walking -Where could she vomit? Forget the nafil (voluntary) prayers,  she found it difficult to utter surat ul fatiha (opening chapter of quran) in fard (obligatory prayer).  Getting something on the plate for her family to eat was her biggest challenge of the day. And her poor son, she could do nothing more than to smile with difficulty.  This adversity could purify her – this was her only consolation.

desert flower

Cough would start somewhere deep within and wouldn’t stop until she had very hot water!  This cough wouldn’t let her sleep or eat well. It made sure that she vomited what little she ate. And at its peak won’t let Rehma utter a word. Due to this she didn’t even go out. It always occupied her thoughts and made her sad.

Continue reading Precious Five

Lucky me!

 “If the Son of Adam had a valley of gold, then he would still like to have a second . And nothing fills his mouth but dust, Allah turns to whoever repents.” 

Naima had just returned from school. Her long face and a lifeless salam spoke 1000 words to her mother. “what’s wrong Naima?” asked her mom. “Nothing Ammi”, responded Naima. Few minutes later Ammi got her favorite snacks and chocolate milk. Normally easily pleaseable Naima hardly noticed her plate.

Ammi asks softly, “Did you forget to take your assignment to school?” Naima now in all tears,“I don’t want to go school.” Ammi questions, “why?” “Ammi all girls have fancy gadgets and latest cell phones. They speak about it all day. No matter how much I ask, you won’t get me any of those?” Ammi replies, “There is no need for these. We have a phone they can use it to call you. With that stuff you will be lost in games and useless jokes. Your time is better spent without that fancy stuff.” Naima bursts out, “I feel primitive belonging to Stone Age. I feel ashamed to be amidst my friends. Their parents pamper them as though they are princesses. I think they are special. How lucky are they? And here I am…” She stops abruptly.

Ammi was upset too. She silently left to kitchen. Few minutes later Ammi calls out. “Naima, would you like to have avocado kheer?” Naima can’t prevent herself from smiling. She had a big sweet tooth. Ammi announces, “you would have to help me cook it today.” Naima gladly agrees.

Continue reading Lucky me!

FEBRUARY FEVER

Don't celebrate these

FEBRUARY FEVER

On Sunday Feb 15th, Farha was sitting alone on her hostel bed with a diary on her hand. She was reading her diary with whom she shared things she wouldn’t say  to anyone else.

Feb 1: Dear Diary, It would be my first Valentine’s day in the college. Girls are buzzing about it. Now is the time to shine.  I hope I’m popular too. I guess – there is no fun in the college without some attention.

Feb 2: OMG. Some of the girls made most of the week end – did shopping and went parlour.  They look so special. Beep beep –  I’m lagging.   Next year I’ll be prepared.

Feb 5: Pretty Rehana confines her fears to me.  She is scared no boy would give her a card or a rose. She scares me of, what will happen of me?

Feb 7: Week end – Postponed my trip to home. Now I can shop high heels, fancy mobile accessories and other cool stuff with friends.

Feb 8: LOL. What has Rehana done to her hair?!! Is it a Rainbow or did she get stuck by a lightning. If I was a boy I would run away from her. My heels and accessories are in no match to other’s attires. Do they book these dresses before actresses even try them on?

Feb 10: I should have seen the beauty contest coming – will it be Sara or Rashma who would get maximum roses?  Hope at least some sweetie spares me a card.

Feb 12: Caught by seniors – Such a waste of time; Hours spent wrapping gifts for their valentine! Gifts for their mom dad uncle and aunts too! Why? May be they hope this will make their parents overlook the expenditure on their BF. Or, is it mere guilt?

Feb 13: All my roommates are sending friendly messages to boys on WhatsApp!  The boys were first to attract them with jokes and other silky messages. I would never give my number to any boy. Too shy for that!

Feb 14: SOS SOS… The day is her -CAN’T decide what to wear. Every colour dress has a meaning.   Traffic signs are so much easier to remember. I hope what I select gives no special signal. Rehana in Green! – Is she that desperate? Even rose colour means something! I just don’t want red – don’t wish to break anyone’s heart.

Feb 15: ________________

Farah’s face is red and swollen. Few hours of tears would make any one red. She picks up her pen and writes, “Who knew Rehana would win the contest? Roses of different colour- more vibrant than her hair adore her table now . She has pasted all her heart shaped cards on her closet. The teddy bears look cute on her bed. Dear Diary, Anyone can easily count all the stuff I got – Zero. Am I not pretty or friendly? Then why am I not a part of group lunch parties my friends are in even on Sunday? These girls didn’t even bother to say me a bye. So we are back again as best friends my ever reliable diary! You shall always remain my best friend. Well, my only friend.” Farha drops her pen down and starts crying again.

FEB FEVER ROSE

She hears her name being called. “Farha, Farha, where are you?” Before she could rise up her lecturer Dr. Yasmin enters into the room. “Yah Allah. Did a bee sting your face? What have you made of yourself? You just missed a call from your parents. Weren’t you lost in your thoughts to hear the announcement?  I guess your mobile is silent too.“ Farha quickly closes her diary and wipes her tears. Too late, it was as though Dr. Yasmin could see through her.  The strict lecturer was standing next to her inspecting her room. There were valentines gifts all around except in her place. Next to her was her gaudy diary and on the  floor was a shoe box with untouched flashy heels.

Continue reading FEBRUARY FEVER