Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
Did you ever have to choose between what you want and want you need? Did you ever feel like a thousand butterflies were let loose in your stomach when finally voicing a decision, not knowing which way it could take you? Like you were diving headlong off a cliff.
I was at the edge of that cliff now. Looking into a pair of emerald eyes that were beholding me with great speculation and were frustratingly unreadable.
I’ll never forget that night… the night they took Zain away. Our front yard was strewn with police cars, their red and blue lights flooding our neighbourhood and signalling the end of our privacy, the end of my boring life. If only I knew that boring meant life was normal. Our house was flooded with FBI agents who left nothing unturned, ripping away my laptop and phone as I screamed. I hang my head in shame as I recall that for a few moments, my horror and pain over losing my gadgets was more intense than the horror and pain of watching the FBI agents drag away my beloved brother’s limp body.
Have you not seen those who have taken their nafs as their Ilaah (diety) other than Allah?- Qur’an
Dad did buy me a laptop again and an Ipad but I knew that everything I typed or watched or did on it, was monitored. We use our phones so carelessly, sometimes taking out pictures that we won’t show anyone else , thinking it’s safe but do we know that smartphones have a database where all pictures and videos captured on it, are stored, even if we delete it. If only we paid heed to the Hadith of RasulAllah SAW , regarding picture making. Some of us may protest that digital pictures are okay BUT let’s ask ourselves, can we imagine that if our Nabi SAW was living amongst us today , would he have ever taken a selfie? Would he be happy with the self ‘worshipping’ we got going on?
Back to Zain, my irritating older brother. Zain, if I only knew that my days with you were numbered, I would have not fought with you, okay I lie, I would have but it would have been with less aggression and fewer times. I would have hugged you more, thanked you every time you did something for me and not acted like you owed me.
When you changed, I would have been your support instead of mocking you and tearing you down. I wouldn’t have told you to stop hanging with those weirdos Victor and the umm not so weird Sulaiman…
Instead my heart only shifted after he was taken away. The first time I read a full day’s worth of salaah, I cried. It felt better than when I climbed the Matterhorn.
I was still not in fulltime scarf but I was trying to get there and it was getting harder and harder.
I close my eyes and I recall standing in-front of the mirror and pulling on a scarf, covering my lovely hair which looked fab with turquoise strikes and I almost pulled it off again when I felt my granny’s soft hands gently holding it in place. Zain came and stood next to the both of us and he had the biggest smile and a look of pride in his eyes. It gave me all the courage I needed.
But it wasn’t some of my mates who didn’t know how to handle me after I began changing or the random strangers with their ‘terrorist’ comments or the people who knew who my brother was and made me run all the way home, sweating and crying but it was the look of disgust and anger on my very own parents face when they saw me in a hijab for the first time, that weakened my resolve.
One night, the silence in the house was so strong ,it was like a blanket smothering me and although I promised myself to try and give up getting onto my phone everytime I was bored, I found myself surfing. I reasoned that it was okay because I was just going to surf things related to Deen and once again… I found myself googling my brother’s name, just to get some info on his whereabouts. Sometimes this would leave me feeling sick because for every one person that believed what he did was right , he had 900 believing he was scum and the things they said about him, shook me up. Trying to defend him online was like trying to halt a tsunami with a spade.
Why didn’t I turn to zikr, remembering Allah as my comfort?
Certainly the solace of the heart lies in the zikr of Allah- Qur’an
I found this interesting blog, where a lady was documenting all the sacrifices she and her husband had made for Deen. The story of how she met her husband was so romantic, I wanted a nikah like hers. Perhaps then, this struggle to be good wouldn’t be a struggle anymore. I would have someone in my corner, working with me to Jannah. This loneliness would evaporate.
As I went further into the back archives of the blog, I found that I could actually become her watsapp contact! Wow!
But she wanted to chat to people who were only sincere and serious about making a change.
That’s what I wanted.
There was a link to a magazine and a contact form. Super!
I filled in all my details, hungry to read more and more.
The next day, I woke up with my phone in my hand. I had fallen asleep surfing.
But after a long time, I was happy. I had a purpose. I put on my scarf with confidence.
The weeks flew by and my exams were coming up, inbetween studying and communicating on the online forums with others who were so encouraging and motivational, that I felt I had found my lost tribe. I wasn’t so alone in this world anymore. I had brothers and sisters all over ,working together, hand in hand, okay online, for a greater goal.
One day I was in the cafeteria and this girl, who I had never seen before came up to me. She was striking in her bright blue hijab, she smiled at me and I smiled back.
“Hey, asalamu alaikum, mind if I sit here? I’m new and you’re a friendly face” She said
“Sure no problem, welcome to the hellhole.”
We both laughed. I knew that I had found a friend for life. Wearing the hijab would be easier when you have a friend who doesn’t feel like you’re way too radical because of it.
“I’m Suhailah.” She said extending a manicured hand
Nabi SAW has said- Solitude is better than bad company.
One day, after another fight with my parents earlier that morning, Suhailah saw my red rimmed eyes and asked what was wrong.
“It’s my parents, I can’t take it at home. You’d think they were born here in America, it’s like they hate Islam and everything it stands for. On the streets, at school, everywhere I go, I have to get flak for my dressing, for praying, even in my own home! You’d think they would be happy they have a kid who doesn’t club or pub but no ways…” I hiccupped, breaking into fresh tears.
“shh…don’t cry ukhthi (sister) …tell you what? What if you could leave all this behind and start afresh where it’s all Muslims, everything you do,you’d be supported and have plenty of like minded people with you? I could join you after a while and in the process you can avenge those who took away your brother and destroyed your family, you already have met so many comrades online, it’s like having an international family”
My heart soared at the possibility. I’d love to go, I’d love to get at those who took away the one who shared the same womb as me.
“Why don’t you join ISIS Nadia?”
To be continued…
The above was written after much deliberation and thought. Based on real life events.