DaysOfTaqwa: Rebirth Chapter XIII

Chapter 13: A Time for Reflection

Ramadan, Day 11
The following days progressed wonderfully for Naasir. He went to bed every day looking forward to his routine for the next day. He looked forward to making Sahur and Iftar (whenever he could) with Ummu Sulaym and Nusrah.
They were actually teaching him how to prepare some dishes and he even felt confident making some of them. That morning he had asked Ummu Sulaym to go back and lie down while he and Nusrah held the fort in the kitchen.
After taking a bite of efo elegusi paired with Semo, Ummu Sulaym high-fived him.
“Naasir olowo shibi. I’m impressed, Maa shaa Allah!”
Naasir beamed with pride. “Alhamdulillah. Jazaakumullahu khayran ma.”
“Hmm, he didn’t do it on his own o ehen. I supervised and averted disaster by controlling the condiments. And I saved the Semo from lumps.” Nusrah grumbled goodnaturedly.
“Hmm ojowu. You are jealous of your brother. Oya, take your own high five too.”
Ummu Sulaym high-fived Nusrah as well. “Seriously Naasir, it’s not perfect but it’s very good. If you keep practising no woman go do shakara for you in the kitchen ojere.
They laughed it off and finished Sahur. Naasir even promised to make the welcome home dinner/iftaar for their dad in the evening since Ummu Sulaym would be returning home late from the hospital.
“Sure, why not? Busrah you both should make your dad’s favourite. I think we still have some smoked turkey leftover from yesterday’s community iftaar. Naasir buy some juice when you are coming back from Quran class.”
Nusrah nodded. “Asaro. Got it.”
“Thanks for the meal, the both of you. Baarakallahu feekum. Now I am going to rest a little, I’ve got a long day at the hospital today.”
Ummu Sulaym left them both to clear the dishes.
“Ace, haven’t you noticed Ummu Sulaym seems happier now?” Nusrah asked him later as they washed the dishes.
“I have.” Naasir agreed.
Since the apology, they had developed a tentative rapport. It wasn’t hard really. She was such an easygoing person and he realised he had been missing out on a lot all these years. In truth, he was also happier now. He no longer had to hold himself back around her. Holding a grudge truly was exhausting.
“You know it’s partly because of you. I mean how you’ve changed towards her.” Nusrah nudged him in the side.
“I am happier as well. I should have listened to you Nusrah. Countless times you told me to accept the olive branch she repeatedly extended and I refused. I regret that, wallahi.”
Nusrah waved her hand dismissively. “Forget about that. What’s important is that you have finally made the right decision.”
“You’re right of course. You know I’m actually nervous about dad’s return.”
“I can imagine. Don’t worry you’ll do well. Just let me know how it goes okay?”
“I will.”
Naasir mostly looked forward to reciting Qur’an after Subh. He had also taken to reading the English translations alongside his tilawah.
Today he reached Surah Takwir and he couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe and reverence. He was struck by the vivid imagery and the intense emotion conveyed in the words. The verses spoke of the Day of Judgment, a day when the sun will be darkened, the stars will fall, and the mountains will be moved from their places.
It was a powerful reminder that this life is not eternal and that we will all be held accountable for our actions in the hereafter.
Naasir was especially shaken to the core by verses 10 to 14:
…and when the records ˹of deeds˺ are laid open,
and when the sky is stripped away,
and when the Hellfire is fiercely flared up,
and when Paradise is brought near—
˹on that Day˺ each soul will know what ˹deeds˺ it has brought along…
He wouldn’t have been able to stop the tears even if he wanted to.
The verses were a sobering reminder that our actions in this world have consequences that will follow us into the next.
What has my soul brought forth for my sojourn in the afterlife? I have done too many horrible things, Yaa Allah, please forgive me. Erase my past deeds and help me to be better. Cloak me with your mercy on the day of Judgement.
Yet amidst the warnings of punishment, there was also a message of hope and mercy. The Surah reminded him that Allah is the Most Merciful and that He is always ready to forgive those who turn to Him in repentance. It was a comforting thought, and it gave him the strength to strive for righteousness and to seek forgiveness for his shortcomings:
Surely this ˹Quran˺ is only a reminder to the whole world—
to whoever of you wills to take the Straight Way.
But you cannot will ˹to do so˺, except by the Will of Allah, the Lord of all worlds.
Naasir was reminded of the fleeting nature of this life, and of the importance of living each day with purpose and intention. Above all, it reminded him of the immense mercy and forgiveness of Allah, and of the importance of seeking His guidance and protection in all his actions.
He raised his hands in du’a and prayed:
“I am honoured that You opened my eyes and heart and inspired me to toe this path. Yaa Allah, continue to guide me along the Straight Way. Do not make me falter. Grant me strength. Place me in the midst of good companions that would remind me of You…”
Naasir and Bushrah assisted Ummu Twins every other day, and today they were scheduled to go over there.
Naasir mostly looked forward to this because it meant he got to spend more time with Bushrah.
Maybe it was too soon but he had never felt this way about anyone before – the light fluttering of his heart whenever he caught sight of her, even from afar. Just like he could tell Nusrah apart from other niqabites, he was fairly confident that he could Bushrah apart from other hijabites.
He enjoyed listening to her talk. She was smart, funny and honest too, rarely mincing words.
It was for this reason that Naasir was looking forward to the hour after his sessions at Lend A Hand.
After finishing his chores for Ummu Twins, Naasir currently waited for Bushrah, who was distracting the kids while UmmuTwins finished up her adire order. She custom-made adire materials for clients, most of them sourced by Bushrah. It wasn’t much but it put food on her table.
As Naasir discreetly watched Bushrah, he noted how patient she was with the kids.
They were all laughing at something and Naasir could swear that Bushrah was glowing. It was as if she radiated a light that drew everyone around her in. Himself most of all.
However, it wasn’t just her physical beauty that drew him to her. There was something about the way she moved, the way she laughed, and the way she talked, that struck a chord in him.
Her selfless nature and kind heart reminded him of his mum but there was something else. Something he couldn’t explain…
Suddenly, the twins began pointing at him and giggling.
He was surprised. Had he been so lost in thought that he had somehow missed something?
Bushrah sent the kids to play and came over to him.
“Why did you guys stop?” Naasir inquired.
Bushrah stood so only her side profile was visible to him.
“Naasir, don’t take this the wrong way, but you can’t keep staring at me like that.” Her voice was matter-of-fact, not accusing in any way.
God! He had slipped up and she’d caught him. Now would be a good time for the ground to open up and swallow him.
He fixed his gaze on a spot on the floor. “What?”
“You were staring. Even the kids noticed, that’s why they were giggling.” She sighed. “And it’s embarrassing for me too.” She finished gently.
Yeah, tell me about it.
“I-I’m sorry I made you feel uncomfortable, but to be honest I can’t help it. I like what I see.”
Bushrah gasped before huffing out a breath.
“I suppose I should be flattered, still you can’t keep staring like that. In Islam, only the first unintentional look is forgiven.”
She proceeded to explain to him how lowering one’s gaze is a commandment from Allah and reciting the verse from Surah al-Noor:
Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things) and the hadith: The Messenger of Allaah (Peace & Blessings of Allaah be upon Him) said: “O Ali, do not follow a glance with another, for you will be forgiven for the first, but not for the second.”
The puzzle pieces began to fit. No wonder, Bushrah never looked him in the eye whenever they spoke. She had never for once looked straight at him. He understood perfectly now and with that understanding came a sense of dread.
He had committed a sin, unknowingly yes, but a sin nonetheless.
Subhnallah, Astaghfirullah. I didn’t know. I’m sorry. I hope Allah will overlook this for me.” Naasir was rambling, he knew, however, he wanted some kind of reassurance.
“Allah’s mercy overshadows His wrath. When we seek forgiveness after erring, and repent with the intention to not go back to that sin, then Allah will surely have mercy on His slave.”
Naasir felt a little bit better.
“I promise. No more staring at you or any other non-mahram.”
Bushrah smiled. “May Allah ease your task. Baarakallahu feek.”
All the way back home, Naasir kept his gaze fixed on the ground.
© Hafsah bint Nurein

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