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
“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.