November 9, 2008

Only Allah can judge

'Ok,' I answered quietly into my mobile phone, '6pm, see you there' I ended the call just as my father walked into my bedroom. Flustering over hiding the phone I complained and reminded him that I had a door to knock on. He didnt answer, as usual, wasnt that always the way?

'So im going out later, to meet Farah for a study session insha'allah. Ill be back around 12ish, that ok? I can get her brother to drop me off outside.' He nodded preoccupied with the reason he had come into my room unexpectedly, I pulled him away and asked strongly, 'what are you looking for?' He pushed my hand away, grunted and walked out the room. I have never understood my father, his values, his opinions, his words.. he was never around as a child and even less as I had sprouted into the adult that I now am. I picked up my book bag and headed downstairs.

After kissing my mother goodbye and telling her the same line I had given to my father I stepped out the door. Its amazing when the more you say something that isnt true the more easier it gets to say it. Its also amazing that the more you tell yourself a lie the more you start to believe it yourself.

I eventually arrived outside the coffee shop and waited for the time, I glanced briefly at my watch which flashed 6pm... he were late... he wasnt usually. For that brief second I wandered if we had been found out, my heart raced, my pupils dilated as my mind span. Then I heard someone calling my name from across the street. I looked up to see him waiting for a break in the traffic on the busy London street, he smiled and waved, waiting. Waiting. Then he ran, ran across to me and picked me up in his arms and rested his face against mine. The strands of the edge of my scarf tickled his face, I knew this, he had told me before... but it didnt stop us holding each other afraid it would all finish as quickly as it had started. I pulled away and searched his face for something, anything.. I noticed the familiar nose, the strength of his jaw line, those cheekbones and of course those sea green eyes.

'Wanna grab a coffee?' he asked, which seemed the obvious next step as we were outside the coffee shop. I nodded, as we walked in arm in arm he asked me... 'so how long do I have you?' I smiled 'well I told dad I would be back by 12.. that my friends brother would drop me off, not that he was listening but thats my time and mum was ok with it too.' He nodded his head several times taking in the information, 'so we can just chill out here then, maybe grab a bite to eat down the road. Then we can get the tube back to my place, pick up the car and I can drop you off.' I smiled, always the planner, 'sure, but you will have to drop me a little back from the house.. someone might recognise you' He nodded, looking down at his fingers, I could see the disappointment in his eyes, I reached over and held his hand in mine.. 'it wont be for much longer I promise.' He gave me a little squeeze on my shoulder and softly kissed my temple.

It had been 3 months now since I met Jose, the social network of the century they call it, Facebook. He had added me after apparently noticing my name and seeing the picture on a friends list. We had grew up in the same area of London, although I had moved away just a few years ago before starting my GCSEs. He was 3 years older than me and everything I had always wanted, not just physically but in the way he treated me and protected me. He was adopted by an english family but had researched Islam from an early age after learning about his biological family, this fact rocked my world when he told me. To look into the religion I loved purely because of a mother who had given you away at birth, it proved his maturity to me masha'allah. He was proud to meet me that first time, as nervous as I was, seeing me in hijab and so confident in my deen. We talked about religion and I was with him when he said his shahada officially, I had introduced him to a few brothers from my mosque and he had continued to grow. However, there was always the issue of my family behind the lines, how would they feel about bringing him into our lives? would they welcome him with open arms? or kick him & me out the house. But tonight I was ready, I had arranged to meet him for longer than usual and I was going to meet my mum outside the house when he arrived to drop me off. She was the person who I needed to meet him the most before my father, that would be her decision. She didnt know who he was, had never heard me speak of him nor my relationship with him, it was a tense situation but one that we all had to face.
So we talked, discussed the future and ate, I watched as he picked up his fork and moved it to his mouth. Noted the things I had come to rely on seeing, the things I would worry if I didnt see from time to time when we were together. When we finished eating we moved to a different coffee shop, all the time looking over our shoulder to check we were not being watched. This was the hard part, although I sometimes forgot that I shouldnt be with him and lived life in his shadow, I enjoyed those times the most. We sat on a couch sipping our tea and he quizzed me about my up coming exams and what I intended for the future. All through this time he held my hand and watched it, occassionally looking up at me and reminding me how grateful he was that he had found me.
All too soon it was time to go home, we had been clock watching for the past 30minutes and eventually decided to get moving back to his place to pick up the car. He paid for my tube ride, as usual and the short 10minute ride seemed to take the shortest time when it was usually the longest because we were in a rush to get home, this time we weren't in a rush. I wanted this night to carry on forever, to not go home to face my mum, and to stay with Jose forever.. just us enjoying each others company and making up for lost time. We didnt stay at his place like we normally do, we jumped straight into the car and made our way back to my house, 'are you sure you want to do this tonight? we dont have to rush things.' 'No, I have to do it now... if I dont, I dont know when I will' He understood, and opened his window to let the cool night breeze drift through the car to calm us down.
It was 1130pm when we pulled up outside the house, we had come back early to make sure my mum would be awake and I had phoned her 5minutes before to let her know that I was on my way. As usual she insisted on thanking Farah's brother for dropping me off, and as we pulled up just a little away from our front door I noticed the curtains twitching. I grabbed my bag, hugged him tight and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, just incase this was our last meeting for awhile. We both said a little duaa silently and asked that this meeting worked out ok, I opened my door and walked around to his side. As my mum walked up the road I saw her fixing her hijab and waving at me, I returned the wave and breathed out a long breathe. This was it... she was holding a mug of tea and as soon as I saw her in the soft street light I started what I had planned, 'mum, this is..... ' she dropped her mug and her hand flew to her mouth in shock. 'Adil?' she asked through tearful eyes, 'is that really you?' I didnt have to introduce them. 'Mum,' he said.. the tears starting to flow down his cheeks now... 'my baby boy,' she cried as she pulled him close to her and hung on for what seemed like eternity until I felt her lean out and squeezed my hand with all the affection she can share at that moment in time.
She pulled away... and told him 'when they made me give you up, I never thought I would see you again. Subhanallah' then she hugged him again, 'alhamdulillah,' I heard him whisper as he fiercely held onto the woman who had given him up all those years ago in the midst of an unplanned pregnancy that my mother had told me about when I was 15 and she saw the wild child in me. 'Alhamdulillah,' I said hugging them both, thanking Allah for giving me my brother back.

November 6, 2008

Outside in the cold

As I sat outside the mosque I wondered what I was doing here, was it because I wanted to be here? because I felt I should be here? or just because I had nothing else to do? I knew it wasnt the last option because there were other things I could think of to be doing at the moment than sitting outside the mosque on the cold cement steps while the snow started to fall, waiting for the door to be opened. Was it because I felt I should be here? hmm... maybe so, just because its a place of worship. But I never once felt like I should be in church! so whats different? I was a woman, it had been decreed that the best place for me to pray was at home but woe betide anyone who tried to stop me worshipping at the mosque. It wasnt jummah, it wasnt even close to time to pray. So I returned to the initial question, why was I here? That was something I had to dig deep to answer. I hugged my legs to my chest to warm my body, not once giving in to go and sit and wait in my car parked just over there.

I sat, and I waited. I clock watched. I sighed. I asked myself the same question over and over. I was grateful for wearing my long socks that came up past my knees underneath the long skirt that trailed the floor as I walked. I looked out for people who might be able to let me into the building. I noticed people walking past me on their way to the shopping mall across the road. I noticed them noticing me.

I stood up and tried the door once more, it was still locked. I thought I saw a flicker of a shadow, but I think it was my own. I sat down again, contemplating how much longer to wait. I decided a time and told him upstairs. I bargained with my creator, can you believe it? but it made me feel better, a little more in control of the things I have no control over.

In the distant I heard a click, then I felt a movement. A blast of warm air from the door behind me. I thanked the brother and walked into the mosque, removed my shoes and sat down. Why was I here? Because I could be! And I prayed for those sisters around the world who could not venture so easily into a mosque to worship their Lord. For physical reasons, health reasons, or for plain stupid reasons.

May he remember us all and how we intented to worship him alone.

November 5, 2008


'When I first met Ethan I knew that he was different, he had passion in his heart about the things that mattered and he had made his decisions in life. He knew what he wanted to do and he was prepared to give up things for it, that was courageous masha'allah. I prayed istikharah for help in this matter and I asked Allah that if things were to go further to make our paths cross. When we bumped into each other at the mosque I took it as a sign, and an even bigger sign when I realised we had been brought together by the one person i look up to the most aside from Abu, Nasser. I knew that if Nasser could be this close to someone he was special so I decided to mention it to him the night that Ethan came around for the iftar. I asked him to keep my identity quiet because I wanted to see if Ethan thought the same way, I wanted to get to know him a little better outside of pretences and situations. And I have done, and today he proved to me that he thought more of our relationship by protecting me when I needed it, when I wanted it'

Nasser punched me in the arm and frowned 'no biggy, nothing I couldnt handle,' I told him quietly not wanting to interrupt Sadia. At that moment she looked up for the first time since she had come down the stairs, straight at me, my heart pounded and I blushed. She looked back down at her hands and carried on, 'I know there is still so much that I need to know about him, but from the things I already know I know he will make a good husband. I know he will look after me, ask for my opinions, talk to me as an equal and give me what I want. I havent found that yet in a guy who also had Islam so close to him, masha'allah. I want to find out more about him, the things that make him the person that he is, but I want to do it right. So I talked to Abu and Ummi about it and they were all for it. Im sorry I didnt tell you how I was doing this, but I thought you would talk me out of it and demand things to be done a little more properly. I have kept this as halal as possible, Im sorry Ethan for not telling you about it either but I just needed to see those things for myself in natural surroundings and I pray that you all understand.' Aisha put her hand over her daughters and smiled, her dad looked at me and asked 'so now we all know why, is this something that you want to progress with Ethan?' I didnt know what to say, of course I did but how do I say yes without sounding too eager? Would she take me warts and all? then I reminded myself that I had talked to Nasser about my past and if he didnt approve we wouldnt be here now. So I said all I could think to say 'insha'allah' everyone smiled and I breathed a sigh of relief. I sat further back into the chair as people talked and congratulated me, they shook my hand, slapped me on the back, handed me some sparkling juice, but all I could do was watch her as she smiled shyly to the floor. She looked up at me and caught my eye, the connection was there, I had felt it all those times before and now I knew the connection was going to go further I felt much better for following my gut feelings.
This was it, this was my life now and I was totally grateful, alhamdulillah