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Trump’s running mate says UK could be ‘first Islamist country’ with nuclear weapons

The Guardian World news: Islam - 16 July, 2024 - 08:55

JD Vance’s criticism of Labour comes after David Lammy tried to build bridges with vice-presidential nominee

Donald Trump’s vice-presidential pick, JD Vance, said the UK could become the first “truly Islamist country that will get a nuclear weapon” after Labour won the election, it can be revealed.

Vance, the junior senator of Ohio and author of the memoir Hillbilly Elegy, was speaking at a conference for US Conservatives when he made the comments.

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Why Your Kids Should Not Be Huffadh

Muslim Matters - 16 July, 2024 - 03:39

While I do not want to discourage the memorization of the Qur’an in general, we need to talk about the many Muslims who misunderstand the importance and function of memorizing the Qur’an.

First of all, if you want to be a seeker of knowledge or a scholar, then you either must be a hafidh or be working towards being one. The Qur’an is the key to all knowledge. At the very least be consistently working towards it if you are not already one.

But if your intention is not to become a seeker of knowledge or a scholar, then it is different. Memorizing the Qur’an is not obligatory, but learning theology, fiqh, tasawwuf, and tajwid to the extent you can recite the Fatihah properly is. If you do not understand enough of Islam to have correct belief, protect yourself from doubts, fulfill obligations in worship and society, avoid sins, and maintain a relationship and connection with Allah then memorizing the Qur’an is a secondary endeavour, and to prioritize it before the others is a serious miscalculation of direction.

As for those parents who force their kids into completing hifdh programs, take heed. It is not obligatory for your kid to be hafidh, but it is obligatory for you to impart the aforementioned obligatory Islamic knowledge unto them, whether it be from yourself (if you are learned) or by signing your kid up for classes. If you make your kid memorize the Qur’an but they don’t have sufficient knowledge to understand it and contextualize it, they don’t receive the necessary tarbiyah to absorb it into their character, they have to go through oppression and suffering at your hands or their teachers’ to complete their hifdh, or your intention is corrupt and you are just putting your kid through hell so you can brag about it to your friends, then you are just placing the burden of proof on your child. At any moment they can implode and all that Qur’an in their heart will be a proof against them on the Last Day.

And they do implode. There is a reason I wrote this post. I’m tired of seeing and hearing about huffadh leaving Islam, forgetting all their Qur’an, turning to sin, and grossly misunderstanding the religion. Stop treating the hifdh of the Qur’an like a replacement for a strong Islamic Education. And if it wasn’t clear already then reading a translation is not even close to enough. Most mosques have hifdh programs and nothing else in terms of structured Islamic education for children.

As for the hafidh: Please note that your hifdh has not made you into a seeker of knowledge. You will not truly understand the Qur’an until you learn other Islamic sciences too. Don’t be in a rush to teach or do da’wah just because you’ve done your hifdh. People will praise you and the ignorant will come to you thinking you are a ‘Shaykh’. Don’t let your nafs fall for it. There is a reason the majority of the fuqaha (The Hanafis, Malikis and Shafiis) preferred the more knowledgeable in fiqh to lead the prayer over the ‘most read’.

Hifdh without Arabic is pointless. Arabic alone applied to understand the Qur’an without obligatory (and further) knowledge from the scholarly tradition often leads to misguidance. Recitation of the Qur’an without the rules of the Qurra is not giving the Qur’an its due right. At least ensure that you know how to recite the Qur’an well in one riwayah e.g. Hafs.

Just like a seeker of knowledge, mind your intentions. Its a great blessing and act of worship to memorize the Qur’an. Don’t do it to be known as the ‘qari’ or the ‘hafidh’. Don’t let it all go to waste. Remember, the ‘people of the Qur’an’ are not necessarily those who have memorized it, they are those who also understand it, are companions of it, understand it, teach it and act upon it.

Related:

[Man2Man Podcast] Sweetness and Success with the Qur’an

[Podcast] Raising Children As Huffadh | Sh Fatima Barkatullah

The post Why Your Kids Should Not Be Huffadh appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Muslims aren’t single-issue voters. Gaza was a lightning rod for their disaffection | Kenan Malik

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 July, 2024 - 08:00

A drift from Labour has been as much about domestic issues as sectarian politics

Should we celebrate or fear the “Muslim vote”? The success of independent candidates running on pro-Palestinian tickets, four of whom were elected, overturning huge Labour majorities, has led to a debate about the role of Muslims in British politics.

On the one side are radical Islamic groups, including the Muslim Vote (TMV), a coalition of organisations seeking to maximise Muslim electoral impact. “Through the grace of the Almighty,” it proclaimed after the election, Muslims had sent “the main political parties a message” that “in Muslim-heavy areas your majorities will be under threat”.

Do you have an opinion on the issues raised in this article? If you would like to submit a letter of up to 250 words to be considered for publication, email it to us at observer.letters@observer.co.uk

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Cancer, Mum, & Me: A Story of Hardship and Ease

Muslim Matters - 14 July, 2024 - 00:12

 “Verily with hardship comes ease.” (94:5) We’ve all heard or read this verse multiple times in our lives – I had, too. But I truly felt and experienced the meaning of the “ease” with the “difficulty” last year when I became pregnant… and three months later, found out that my Mum’s cancer had returned.

My Mum had been diagnosed with endometrial cancer a few years ago. The exhaustion from the early morning runs to the hospital, staying there the whole day, and returning home shattered, only to repeat the same routine all over again, day after day, still hadn’t truly left me. Allah had other plans for Mum and me.

Mum’s cancer had definitely come back. The pain in her back was from a 4 cm lump pressing into her bladder and kidneys. Alhamdulillah, the kidneys were working fine, but a major surgery had to be performed to remove the lump and reconstruct the bladder and urethra as soon as possible. 

This time, the train journeys felt so much longer. Walking from platform to platform with my painful pelvic girdle pain was a struggle. Nor was  the physical element of it all that got to me most, although it was certainly the most difficult. Emotionally, I felt overwhelmed, frustrated, upset, and guilty. I felt so guilty for having all these emotions! If I was so tired, how would this affect my baby? You shouldn’t be crying, I used to tell myself, it’s not good for your baby.

The weeks went by with Mum’s appointments and my own midwife appointments in unison; finally, the night before the surgery arrived. I wiped down my mother’s body using the wipes they had given to us, hiding back my tears and keeping up the brave face she needed to see. I kept praying: Ya Allah, please make her get through this again. Please allow her to meet my baby.

We both woke up before the alarm went off. I gave Mum two Fortisips to drink, we prayed Fajr and then headed to the hospital. I told Mum to lie down on her hospital bed so that she could rest, and I took pictures of her for memories, in case something bad happened. The doctors came in and explained the details of the surgery. Unlike last time, this was a longer talk. It would take 45 minutes for the anaesthetic to begin working, and the surgery could take up to 8 hours. My body froze; why would it take so long? I wondered. But I couldn’t show my concern; I had to be strong for Mum. There was also the risk that Mum wouldn’t make it; but of course this was the best hospital in Europe, they reassured us, and we had nothing to worry about.

Last time, I stayed beside Mum as she lay on the bed, holding her hand until the anaesthetic kicked in. This time I knew I wouldn’t be able to, and so did Mum. It would be too difficult for me and we had to think about the baby. I hugged her and sobbed while she walked with the nurses and left to face the third biggest surgery of her life. Once she was gone I fell apart. If I wasn’t pregnant, I would have been able to handle it this time too, I thought. I could have gone inside with her, and sat next to her for those 45 minutes before she fell unconscious. All these guilt-stricken thoughts were running through my mind, accompanied by uncontrollable tears.

After a few complications during the surgery, Mum was taken to the ICU where she spent the next 3 days. Then she was transferred to the High Dependency Unit for a further 5 days, after which she was admitted onto the ward. Her recovery in hospital was rough, like last time, but in those difficult moments, Allah always sent help. I knew that He was truly looking out for us; ‘the ease with the difficulty’. 

I remember one of those particular moments of ease, or “miracles” as I had now started to call them. Mum was in the High Dependency Unit experiencing bladder contractions. When a friend asked me about Mum’s health, I explained that it was as though Mum was in labour. It all became too much for me, and when I was able to escape to the waiting room, I let out a heartfelt cry, begging for Allah’s help to come now.

We were waiting for Mum’s scan results when I got another message from that same friend who gave me the number of her uncle, a senior urologist. I explained Mum’s situation to him and couldn’t believe it when he told me that he had trained the same surgeon who had performed Mum’s reconstruction surgery! He promised to contact the surgeon immediately to follow up on the scan results. Alhamdulillah, I was updated soon after with the confirmation that there was a minor internal leak in my mum’s bladder, but nothing to worry about. I couldn’t believe it; I had received this information before the doctor in the ward SubhanAllah! “Verily with hardship comes ease.”

After another month in hospital with more difficult moments and even more miracles, Mum was discharged, and we finally made our way back home. I could not thank Allah enough for allowing my Mum to walk into her home without any aid or support. As the weeks at home became months, we got ready for the next chapter in Mum’s life: chemotherapy.

Alhamdulillah last week, Mum completed the first of her chemotherapy sessions. Allah has once again provided us with ease, by making it so that our neighbour is available seven days a week to care for my mum while I am away to have my baby.

I pray that nobody ever has to see their loved ones go through something as scary as cancer. However, if you are ever put in this position, I’d like my story to offer you some hope and comfort. I, and many others in this world are living examples of the way Allah gets you through your most difficult of times. If you are going through a similar test, I want you to firmly believe that He will provide you with openings when you need them the most. He will give you those moments of relief when you feel so helpless and lost. He will look after you, take care of you in such beautiful ways that you will be left in awe. No doubt it will be hard, so so hard, but know that His words are true, “verily with hardship comes ease.”

—————————————————————————————————————————

I’d like to thank Allah  for the moments of ease that He provided for me and the many lessons He taught me over the past six months. I’d like to express my heartfelt gratitude to my family and friends who supported Mum and I in one of the most difficult times of our lives; your Duas, your advice, your visits, your phone calls, your home cooked food and your hospitality helped us get through this ordeal. May Allah bless you all in abundance.

 The journey is not yet over for my Mum as she continues with her radiotherapy. I’d like to request all the readers to keep my Mum in your Duas; may Allah bless our Mothers with long, healthy and peaceful lives, and bless us all with a strong faith to get through all the difficult moments in life. Ameen.

Related:

Difficulties Are Our Biggest Blessings: Notes From A Bereaved Mother With Three Calls From Jannah

Access to Healthcare is a Muslim Issue

The post Cancer, Mum, & Me: A Story of Hardship and Ease appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

‘Afraa’ and Yawm al-Khulayf: A Cinderella Story

Muslim Matters - 11 July, 2024 - 22:01

“Be mindful of Allah, and you will find Him in front of you. Recognize and acknowledge Allah in times of ease and prosperity, and He will remember you in times of adversity. And know that what has passed you by [and you have failed to attain] was not going to befall you, and what has befallen you was not going to pass you by. And know that victory comes with patience, relief with affliction, and hardship with ease.”

— The Prophet ﷺ

Hadith 19, 40 Hadith an-Nawawi

[Adapted from the Brothers’ Grimm’s “Cinderella.”]

She still remembered the day of her mother’s janazah.

The warm spring day mocked the chill of her mothers’ corpse. Instead of the gentle recitation of Qur’an echoing throughout the halls, the apartment reverberated with violent coughs.

The doctors called it “COVID.” The young girl called it a killer.

Ya Binti,” her mother choked. “‘Be mindful of Allah, and you will find Him in front of you…’”

“But what does that mean?” the young girl interrupted. “I thought Allah would never be in front of us.”

“He is—” Her mother gulped in breaths of air shakily, then exhaled it in staccato coughs. “‘With you, wherever you are.’ Have taqwa, and do good deeds, and He will never leave you.”

The girl still didn’t understand. Even more tragically, her mother could offer no explanation before her death. 

The child wept and wept. All around her, people told her to rejoice. After all, her mother’s body was washed in the city of the Prophet ﷺ, and laid to rest in Jannatul Baqi.

Despite the blessing of her mother’s final resting place, the young girl couldn’t visit her mother’s grave. Her eyes followed her father when he went, while her small hands clung to the gates. She learned quickly that to weep outside was not allowed, even reprehensible. Crying alone became second nature. Her tears kept her company.

Two more seasons passed until her father married again—a widow who had lost her own husband to the same virus—and he once more became a parent to two stepdaughters. Alas, tragedy had hardened the hearts of the new family rather than softened them.

The stepmother was often silent, except for when she would issue orders. She was a Makkan businesswoman, delighted that she would have more help for her purposes. Soon enough, the girl and her father moved from one holy city to another.

“She puckers her lips like a fish!” her new stepsisters complained about her. “Your mother is dead, just like our father. Enough crying, unless you want us to leave you entirely alone!”

They often accompanied her stepmother to her business, adept in the ways of the market, and left the girl to tend to all of the chores at home. She lived her life covered in dust—be it the stove or the chimney—and so the family called her “‘Afraa’.” Dust-colored.

Wealth flooded into the family, and ‘Afra did her best not to drown. As she worked, she would listen to playlists of Qur’an and hadith. Her mother’s words finally made sense—they were referencing Surah al-Hadid and the collection of Imam al-Nawawi. If only she could learn about other verses and ahadith!

‘Afraa’ prayed for the success of her stepmother’s business, so that her dream of studying at an Islamic university might become a reality. She cleaned and cooked without complaint. Perhaps, one day, she, too, could be busy outside of the four walls of their apartment.

For four years, this was the du’a that frequented her lips. Every tarawih, every tahajjud. The name would change—the Mecca Institute, Al-Azhar, even the Islamic University of Madinah—but the core of her supplication remained: that she wanted to leave behind the dreary dunya in search of the deen.

The ninth day of Dhul Hijjah dawned. The most important day of her life.

In truth, it was the most important day in every Muslim’s life. The majority of the ummah knew it as Arafah—the day where two year’s worth of sins would be forgiven from one day of fasting. The Hujjaj knew it as the day that the Prophet ﷺ equated to Hajj itself.

However, for the women of Makkah, this day was sacred for another reason: they must not let the courtyard of the Kaʿaba be empty. They called it Yawm al-Khulayf. 

The Makkan men left for Arafah, Mina, and Muzdalifah to care for the Hujjaj. Meanwhile, the city’s women and children stayed around the House of Allah. 

‘Afraa’ watched them fill the streets as she wiped her apartment window. There were sprinkles of white among the sea of black; young boys wearing ihram garments while their mothers, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers cloaked themselves in dark abayas. Some were even hostesses for those visiting out of town, and many would later pass out dates to other guests.

A beautiful sight—amatullahs to their Lord and khadimahs to the people.

Her stepsisters and stepmother were following suit. Their gift box business had been a major success during the Hajj season. The women were stuffing a final few boxes with chocolate-covered dates, white ma’moul cookies, stuffed bread, juice, bottles of zamzam, and other surprises for the Hujjaj. Her father, now part of the business’s leadership, was absent from the home to help with the logistics of delivering them.

Her family needed help. ‘Afraa’ quickly scrubbed the window and sat down to join them. The TV blared above them with an aerial view of the Mataf. 

“Labbayk Allahumma labbayk…”

I am here, O Allah, ‘Afraa’ thought. But I wish I was there.

It wouldn’t hurt to ask, would it? She folded the top of the very last box, and whispered to herself: “Bismillah.”

“M-May I come with you?” she asked hesitantly.

One of her stepsisters raised an eyebrow. “Where, Guppy? To the bathroom? I don’t need your help there, but thanks anyway. If you need my help, sorry, but I can’t get dirty before I go to the Mataf.”

The other stepsister laughed. ‘Afraa’ pursed her lips—they were trying to get under her skin, to make her remain trapped inside all day as punishment.

“No,” ‘Afraa’ replied patiently. “To the Mataf.

“Depends. Did you finish everything we asked you to?”

“Yes.”

“Really? Iftar, even?”

“In the fridge, marinating.”

Her second stepsister scoffed. “Surprised you didn’t order in. What about our Eid dresses?”

“Steamed.”

“Not ironed?”

“It would destroy the material.”

“Thank you for being so thoughtful. For once.” Then she shrugged. “Clean up after the mess you made here, then ask Mama. If you’re not too late.”

‘Afraa’ nearly tripped over her abaya to dart for the broom. Stray dust was quickly swept, broken cookies found their way into the dustbin, and torn wrappers were replaced. She cleaned so thoroughly that one would’ve never guessed that the women had spent their afternoon packing dozens of boxes.

She was out of breath by the time she went to address her stepmother. “I wanted—I wanted to join you today… for Yawm al-Khulayf. All the chores… are finished. Can I come with you, please, and help distribute these blessed boxes?”

Her stepmother regarded her the same way she would with a cleaner on the street. She clucked her tongue, and went to inspect the apartment. Her eyes darted over each room, her fingers traced over every piece of furniture. ‘Afraa’ had never known her to be this thorough.

“Well done, ‘Afraa’,” she finally said. “I can see that you’ve worked hard.”

‘Afraa’ nodded earnestly.

“In fact, I believe that you kept everything so clean that you even kept the family gifts out of sight.”

Gifts?

“Is that the case?”

The stepsisters covered their mouths with their hands. ‘Afraa’s heart sank. She had never been tasked with finding gifts for the family.

“I didn’t…” she stammered. “I don’t have the money.”

“Oh! Not a problem.” Her stepmother dove a hand into her gemstone-encrusted purse, and flicked a few riyals towards ‘Afraa’. “This should be enough. Girls—tell your stepsister thank you.”

Thank you, ‘Afraa’!” they responded with voices that dripped with a falsetto glaze. 

“In fact… why don’t you keep a box for yourself?” one of them asked.

The other grinned maliciously. “Oh, yes! That’ll be our gift to you. Since you’ll be working so hard for the rest of the day.”

Her stepmother smiled, and her two daughters affixed themselves to either side of her. Then they bid ‘Afraa’ salam, and, boxes in their manicured hands, left her entirely alone.

The unfairness of it all weighed on ‘Afraa’s shoulders, crushing her until her legs gave in, and she sank to the floor. The TV was the only thing louder than her sobs.

“Labbayka laa sharika laka labbayk!”

I’m fasting, she repeated in her mind. I’m fasting, I’m fasting. I can’t let them take the reward of fasting from me too!

“Innalhamda, wan-ni’mata ;aka wa’l mulk!”

Her hands were shaking with anger, but she refused to let them close into fists around the riyals—after all, they showed illustrations of Masjid al-Nabawi and Masjid al-Aqsa. 

Wait, she thought. Riyals. They expect me to go out and spend this money. Who said I couldn’t go to the Mataf on the way!

“Laa sharika lak!”

Despite her excitement, she took great care in making her wudhu, drying herself off completely before she put on a clean black abaya. It would just be a quick detour. She wouldn’t perform umrah on a day like today. Just tawaf and she’d be done! 

‘Afraa’ had her whole path mapped out, marked in her mind just as the name on her sandals were. It was an effort to stop her stepsisters, notorious for taking her things, from taking her shoes as well. “‘Afraa’ Al-Nawari,” they read. 

Then she stuffed the gift box into her drawstring bag. Should she be delayed in getting back, at least she would have a date to break her fast.

Taxis were lining up by the stores outside of her apartment. In fact, ‘Afraa’ could still see her stepfamily struggling to flag a taxi for themselves. She ducked out of sight. How would she avoid seeing them? The crowd was large, of course, but what if she accidentally ran into them in the Mataf?

“5 riyals!” a shopkeeper boomed. “Eid special. Khimar, hijab, niqab.”

‘Afraa’ couldn’t believe that mere moments ago, she had been crying. Now, she was smiling ear to ear. As she tied the new niqab around her nose, relief washed over her. She raised her hand confidently to the street under a new visage of anonymity, and a taxi came almost immediately. The fare was cheap, much less than it should’ve been on a day like this. And for the driver to only take one lady? She felt like a princess in her own private carriage. As if Allah ﷻ was looking out for her, ‘Afraa’, specifically.

Her stomach bubbled with excitement as the minarets came closer into view. The white marble around the extension was gleaming with sunlight. The sky was bright, and the ground was dark from the shadows of women in black abayas approaching the Ka’aba.

She thanked the driver and trailed behind a few other sisters. As she approached the archway, their animated conversations became hushed whispers, until they finally fell silent.

‘Afraa’ mimicked them. She gathered all the words of her du’a inside of her head, tried to separate them like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that had to come together somehow. But at the sight of the Ka’aba, her du’as spilled out, raw and sincere.

“Ya Maani’,” she whispered. “Remove all the barriers between me and my dream.”

It was glorious. The radiance of the gold gilded threads shone brightly against the ebony cloth. If tawaf was not a requirement, ‘Afraa’ imagined that people would simply stand there in awe. Just as she was doing now, and right after Dhuhr, when the sun was right in the center of the sky. The intensity of the heat did nothing to lessen the sense of humility that filled the believers’ hearts at the sight of the Ka’bah.

‘Afraa’ had no time to lose. Quickly, she maneuvered her way through the crowd. Languages  flooded her ears, coming from all sides. Some she recognized—different flavors of Arabic, with their geems and dropped qafs—and unfamiliar tongues entirely. The one common ripple throughout were the prophetic supplications they were all taught to repeat.

‘Afraa’ removed her shoes, placed them in her bag, and began her tawaf. She said the kalimah, salawat, and istighfar for her first three rounds. She made duʿa for the ummah during her fourth round, for her family in the fifth. She prayed for her dunya in the sixth and her akhirah in the seventh. 

At each passing of the Black Stone, she lifted her palms, kissing her fingertips before her hands returned  to her sides once more. When the Yemeni corner came into view, she repeated: “Our Lord, grant us goodness in this life, and goodness in the next.” The words lingered on her tongue, her heart beating in time with the supplications.

Occasionally, ‘Afraa’s gaze was torn away from the Ka’aba to look all around her. Yes, it was all women and children, in black and white—but their skins were all the colors in between. Not all the women of Makkah were Saudi Arabian; some were students that came from abroad, and others had immigrated from countries far away. The sight was almost as beautiful as the Ka’aba itself.

Seven. ‘Afraa’ pulled herself away, ushered by a guard to pray two raka’at at an unoccupied space. She repeated her du’a once more after her taslim, this time, with more conviction, and…

And a man in front of her collapsed.

Others came to his assistance. Fortunately, one man had caught him, and the other was fanning his face. Yet another was calling for help.

‘Afraa’s hands shook again. Is he fasting, or just dehydrated?

In the end, she decided that it didn’t matter—either outcome required that he have food and water. Hurriedly, she reached for the gift box inside of her bag, struggling to pull it out the rest of her belongings. Her sandal straps clung to the box’s handles, and it flopped out of her bag when she tried to separate them.

Brother!” she called out to the shouting man. “Here! There’s water here. Let him have it.”

He accepted it graciously, even as others were asking if they could help. A new sort of crowd began to congest the area as they gathered around the fallen man. To her dismay, just a few meters away, ‘Afraa’ could see her stepmother and stepsisters looking curiously towards her.

She panicked. Would they recognize her eyes? She ran like the men at Sa’i did, not stopping until she could sit down in another taxi. The sun was much lower in the sky now. How long had her tawaf taken? It only felt like a few minutes…

When she reached to grab her phone from her bag, the clock stared back at her. An hour, gone. Worse, one of her sandals had disappeared. Her cheeks flushed with more heat. In the rush to leave, she had forgotten to collect it!

“The shops,” ‘Afraa’ told the driver.

“Which ones?” he asked.

She sighed in frustration. “Any of them!”

Miracle after miracle happened on the way. ‘Afraa’ somehow had enough riyals for all the rides she needed. She found gifts for four adults—attar for her father, misk for her stepmother and stepsisters—all at reasonable prices. 

It was a blessing that she’d lost her sandal. Otherwise, she would have just gone to the Clock Tower and gotten gifts there… and she might not have been able to barter with the crowd there!

‘Afraa’ made it home before the rest of her family returned, trickling in just before Maghrib. This suited ‘Afraa’ just fine –  she appreciated the solitude for her to set the table, reciting the du’as that were playing on the television. 

Besides wishing her a happy Eid, her family said nothing to her. Her father, as usual, was absent even when he was present. Meanwhile, her stepmother and stepsisters chose not to be involved with her. Everyone was exhausted from such a busy day. ‘Afraa’ went to sleep, saying alhamdulillah for what she hoped would be a day off.

“’Afraa’. Get dressed.

It was only a few hours past sunrise. Did they all want lunch that early? She rubbed her eyes and drew herself out of bed sluggishly. Only her father had gone to Eid prayer, as they all stayed at home to prepare for guests later.

“Now.”

The glare in her stepmother’s eyes was ominous. ‘Afraa’ swallowed and obeyed. Her mind began racing with explanations as to why she might be in trouble. Was she to be arrested for leaving her sandal in the Mataf? Had the perfume caused some sort of allergic reaction for her stepsisters?

There was simply no way to know, as living with her stepmother often meant living with a spin board of moods—a random roulette of what ‘Afraa’ might receive for the day.

The niqab laid on her nightstand as she prepared herself. It seemed expectant, waiting for her to wear it again before she left. ‘Afraa’ hesitated, holding it as gently in her fingers as she would a baby bird. Memories of her adventure flooded her once more, and a smile flitted across her face. She had felt protected. Devoted. A step above hijab, where she felt more like the Mothers of the Believers that she had grown up around in Madinah.

Her fingers, so careful to pick up the niqab again, tied it once more around her face. It felt familiar and welcome all at once.

She tiptoed quietly into the living room, where her stepfamily had set out a lavish board for their guest.

The man who had collapsed!

‘Afraa’ gulped. The man rose and smiled warmly at her. He had brought his own set of servants with him, and they nodded respectfully in her direction.

“This brother tells us,” her stepmother began tersely, “that he is the son of the dean of the Islamic University of Madinah. And that you left your sandal in the Mataf yesterday. For which, you should apologize profusely—”

The man cleared his throat. “While I realize it is Eid, sister, there is no need to put words in my mouth.”

‘Afraa’s own mouth had dropped. She wasn’t sure who to apologize for—herself for her actions, or her stepmother for her words.

Her stepmother clenched her teeth shut and feigned a smile. The man continued.

“I wanted to thank you personally for such kindness. Everyone around me seemed to freeze, and the lines were backed up for Zamzam. I could not have appreciated your gift more—”

Oh!” one of the stepsisters interrupted. “They’re from our business—”

The man’s servant was less polite than his master, shushing the stepsister before she could continue.

“Yes, I am well aware. I saw your name—‘Afraa al-Nawari—on the sandal, and the business name on the gift box after I had come to consciousness. You see, I was here as a traveler visiting family in Makkah. I went to make tawaf after having just arrived that morning, and my exhaustion caught up to me.”

“I’m… glad to see you well, brother,” ‘Afraa’ responded. “Please, don’t thank me. In fact, I’m sorry for causing you to go through all this trouble.”

“No trouble at all!” he insisted. “It would be rude of me to only offer you your sandal in return. You have displayed a mark of the hadith—do you know it?—sayyidul qawm…”

“Khadimuhum,” she answered quietly. The leader of a people serves them.

“Well done. The mark of ‘ilm is ‘amal. Surely, you must have studied sacred knowledge. I see it reflected in you.”

“No,” she said sadly. “I’ve never studied ‘ilm formally.”

His eyebrows raised. “SubhanAllah.” Then a pause. “… Would you like to?”

Related:

The Six Fasts – A Short Story

The Things He Would Say – [Part 1]

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