|Posted by ustazwahid on July 14, 2012 at 11:55 AM||comments (18)|
Ummi, where’s my mujaahid’s beret?” Affif finally asked his mother after searching everywhere for Ashraff’s beret. He called it a mujaahid’s beret after watching a mujaahid wearing it in a documentary program about the tragedy of the Bosnians. It was big for him but he liked to wear his father’s beret whenever they wanted to eat together. He told his mother that it made him “a big man” like one of those mujaahideen. “Didn’t you leave it on the bookshelf last night, honey?” Shafikah saw her son entering his room to look for it at the place she had just mentioned.
Shafikah waited but her son still did not show up in the kitchen. “Affif, have you found it? Dinner’s getting cold now.”
“In a minute, Ummi.”
“What’s keeping him now?” Shafikah murmured to herself. She decided to find out what was going on.
There he was on his bed holding Ashraff’s photo. Their eyes met when she reached his bed.
“Today’s the day, right, Ummi?”
Shafikah looked sadly into her son’s eyes. She nodded and whispered, “Yes.” The day was April 10th 2001.
“You were in my room today, Ummi?” His voice was soft.
Shafikah was there earlier and she was looking at the photo herself, but she forgot to put it back on the night table near Affif’s bed. Instead, she had misplaced it on the bookshelf, next to his father’s beret.
“Do you miss Daddy, Ummi?” Affif inquired when Shafikah did not answer his previous question.
Sitting on his bed, she looked at her son lovingly. “I have you, honey.” Her eyes glistened with tears.
“But do you, Ummi? Do you miss Daddy?” Affif’s face was sad.
“I do and you know that, sweetie.” Affif placed the photo back on the table and hugged his mother. Shafikah wiped away a silent tear.
Pulling himself apart from the warmth of her embrace, Affif sat cross-legged on the bed facing his mother.
“Today’s Daddy’s birthday…” He paused. His voice was soft. “…and his death day.” He remembered this date very well. As young as he was, he was very attentive to people’s feelings and what happened around him, especially anything having to do with the two of them.
They looked into each other’s eyes trying to soothe the sad feeling that suddenly engulfed them. Noticing the calmness in his mother’s face, Affif said, “We must not be unhappy, right, Ummi? Daddy was a good man and he was lucky because Allah Ta’ala loved him. He chose to meet Daddy before meeting us.”
With a heavy sigh, Shafikah spoke, “Oh…Affif! Allah Ta’ala gave Ummi and Daddy a special gift when He gave us you. Alhamdulillah!” Small beads of tears rolled down her cheeks.
Affif wiped away the tears and smiled to cheer her up. Shafikah took his small hands, kissed them and gently placed them on his lap. She held his face in her hands, kissed his forehead and the tip of his nose.
“I love you, Ummi! Dinner’s getting cold now!” Affif told her with a smile and got off the bed.
Affif headed for the door.
“I love you too Muhammad Affif bin Muhammad Ashraff.”
Affif turned around and smiled widely. It was Ashraff’s smile on his small face.
Ashraff had wanted to name their son Muhammad Qutb after the name of a great Muslim thinker, Sayyid Qutb, whom he admired so much. However, Shafikah thought it was too classical for a boy in the nineties. They finally agreed to name him Muhammad Affif. It was the name of a brother whom Ashraff had adored and respected just like his real brother. He was an Imam who died a few months before Affif was born.
They had been reading the story of Caliph Umar and Affif drifted off to sleep when the story ended. He was now fast asleep on the couch with his head on his mother’s lap. Shafikah smiled at her sleeping son. How small and young he was, yet how alike the two of them were. Masha Allah! Seeing him in her life was like having him back all over again. Subhan Allah! He was right in saying that she would never feel alone in her life without him. Because she never had been alone ever since he left her and their son. A three-year-old Affif was sleeping next to Ashraff when he finally left them forever. Today would be exactly six years that he was no longer in her life.
Shafikah was gently pulling Affif into her arms to settle him in his bed when the phone rang. She looked at the clock. It was ten o’clock. Only one person would be calling her this late on this special day. She picked up the phone and greeted the caller.
“Assalamualaikum, Abang Yusuff.”
“Waalaikumussalam. How did you know it was me, Sis?” He was a little surprised.
Not wanting to tell him that she had guessed why her brother had called, Shafikah replied, “I just knew.”
Shafikah’s older brother, Yusuff, had been her sole protector since she came to Bloomingdale about twelve years ago to pursue her degree in Journalism. They had been very close since they were small. She was the only daughter in the family. Their eldest and youngest brothers nicknamed them “the twins”. Yusuff resided in the city after completing his business studies at Southern Illinois University. He now owned a wellknown food store in Bloomingdale, the only kind that supplied a variety of Asian and other halal food products. Yusuff’s wife, Fatima, was a graduate in Education. She had been a teacher at Bloomingdale Islamic School since its establishment the previous year – Fall 2000. Before that she had homeschooled her two children after quitting her teaching job at the Islamic Center in Bloomingdale.
Yusuff sensed a little sadness in his sister’s voice. He had called for the reason that Shafikah might have guessed. He wanted to see if she was all right. He felt bad for not calling sooner, but he was out of town for the last two days. Nevertheless, he did not forget what the day was.
“My little mujaahid is fast asleep?” Yusuff made an effort to sound cheery.
“Miles away in a sweet dream, insha Allah.” Shafikah laughed a little. However, there was a crack in her voice when she continued,”He remembered today too…as young as he is.”
“And you, my dear one?” Yusuff’s voice was gentle. “How are you?” He realized he did not have to bring up the subject. His sister had just brought it up. He knew his sister was a strong person emotionally, but even he himself was missing his late brother-in-law, especially on this day.
“Alhamdulillah, I think I’m fine…I have to keep it all together for Afiff,
insha Allah. Kak Fatima called and we talked.”
“I know. She told me.”
“Papa and Mama called too this morning. They sent their salams to you, Abang Yusuff.”
Shafikah knew her brother wanted to know if she was feeling fine. He had been the one accompanying her to the cemetery for the last five years.
“You went to visit him today?”
“Tomorrow, insha Allah. Kak Fatima will take care of my morning class.”
“Want me to come?”
“It’s okay. I need to see him alone. You are not hurt that I turned down your offer, are you?” A flicker of a smile appeared on Shafikah’s face.
“I understand. Just give me a call tomorrow if you changed your mind.”
“Okay, insha Allah. Sorry I didn’t ask about your trip. How was it?”
“The trip was slow. Still snowing up north, but all went great, alhamdulillah.”
So much had happened during the last six years of Shafikah’s life with her son. After ‘losing’ Ashraff, she kept herself occupied with working and raising Affif, as well as learning more about Islam. She wanted to make sure she had deep Islamic knowledge to fulfill Ashraff’s wish for their son to be a well-brought up Muslim. She also never stopped writing and was an active freelance writer. It was something she loved and would always do in her life. Journalism was the catalyst that had brought her and Ashraff together. Then, more than a year ago, she completed her second degree in Islamic studies through a distance learning education program. It took her about three years to complete it. She had to do it - for herself, Ashraff, Affif and the Muslims in Bloomingdale.
Shafikah felt blessed to have this family by her side through the years. They had been a great support in her life, especially after Ashraff was gone.
He may not be in her life anymore, physically, but a big part of who she was now, was in fact Ashraff. Although the time they spent together was short, her life with him had taught her much about this life and eventually the journey to the next life. She knew that it was something that all Muslims would have to endure to prepare them for the precious and invaluable reward – a meeting with Allah (s.w.t.) in Jannah!
|Posted by ustazwahid on July 14, 2012 at 11:50 AM||comments (342)|
“Assalamualaikum dwellers of the graves.” Shafikah whispered as she neared the graveyard and continued. “Assalaamu ‘alaikum ahl al-diyaar min al-mu’mineen wa’l-muslimeen, Insha Allah bikum laahiqoon, as’al Allaaha lana wa lakum al-‘aafiyah (peace be upon you O people of the dwellings, believers and Muslims, Insha Allah we will join you, I ask Allah (s.w.t.) to keep us and you safe and sound).”
The morning was beautiful. It was not cold though a thin layer of snow covered the ground. Spring had just begun. The trees were still bare though, but soon green leaves would be crowning the trees all over Bloomingdale and other parts of southwest Indiana. The surrounding was quiet. The peaceful air seemed to envelop her to pacify what she was feeling inside.
Her heart was filled with love, sadness and longing for the person she was visiting. About seven steps before the intended spot, she stopped. She looked around. It was peaceful and quiet. She saw an old woman kneeling by a tombstone of her loved one reading verses from the Qu’ran in her hands. A question popped in her mind. “Would I still be here to visit you at that age?” She turned towards her direction and started walking.
“Assalamualaikum, Ashraff.” Shafikah whispered and her eyes were fixed on the clean spot in front of her. She was calm. No tears, just, peace inside her. She was amazed at how neat and clean the place was even though she and the family rarely came to visit. She wanted to come more often but her obligations as a mother, a teacher and a writer took much of her time. Anyway he was with her anywhere she was. She just knew this always. Ashraff even prayed for that during his last days…
Ashraff and Shafikah had just finished Isha’ prayer together. She was amazed at his sudden strength at every prayer time. He reminded her that Rasulullah (s.a.w.), during his last days before his death, still led prayers even though he was sick.
Still sitting on his praying mat, Ashraff turned around. As always, Shafikah approached him to kiss his hands. When she looked up to him, he held her hands in his. Looking deep into her eyes, he smiled and spoke to her.
"I love you and that little guy in the next room. Don’t ever forget that.”
Shafikah looked into his eyes and smiled. “I won’t, insha Allah.”
Still holding her hands in his, he gently placed them on their touching knees. He seemed calm and peaceful.
“Insha Allah, you are not going to be alone, Shafikah.” Ashraff paused and smiled lovingly at his wife. “Insha Allah, one day, you’ll meet a good man…perhaps a much better Muslim man than I am…and insha Allah, Affif too will have a brother or a sister…or more.”
“Ashraff, no… don’t say…” Her eyes were full with tears. Ashraff put his finger to her mouth to interrupt her. She did not expect him to talk about this. Not that soon anyway.
Ashraff continued. “You will love them and tell them about how much we helped each other grow as Muslims…and how much we loved each other in Allah Ta’ala.” He paused. His eyes were glistening with tears as he continued in a whisper, “…and how I hurt you…but Allah the Almighty has kept us together even after all these…alhamdulillah.”
Shafikah was looking into his eyes trying to capture the way he looked at her and never wanting to lose it. “I pray that every time you miss me or think of me, Allah Ta’ala will make you feel my presence. After all, as long as you both love Him, He won’t let you both feel alone. Be close to Allah Ta’ala always… that way you will have peace…’real’ happiness in Him. Remember always… HasbunAllah wa ni’mal wakil (Allah (s.w.t.) (Alone) is Sufficient for us and He is the Best Disposer of affairs (for us))."
Shafikah fell into his arms sobbing. Ashraff held back the tears as much as he could and a painful smile appeared on his face. It was not the pain from his sickness. It was the pain from thinking about Shafikah and their son living without him.
She gently ran her fingers over the stone engraved with Ashraff’s name, dates of birth and death while kneeling close to it. She took a small book from her bag. Settling herself comfortably beside him, she began reading the small book in her hand. The late morning breeze touched her cheeks while she was softly reciting the beautiful Qur’anic verses.
Later, as she was placing the little book back into her bag, she saw the old woman leaving the cemetery. They glanced at each another and exchanged smile. Then, Shafikah was alone with him.
“Our little guy is bigger now, alhamdulillah. I didn’t tell him I was coming here. Or else, he would make me bring him here too.” She weakly smiled and paused. She could picture Ashraff smiling at her words. Taking a deep breath, Shafikah continued.
“He’s a very bright and smart kid. SubhanAllah! You would be proud of him… I know you do see him some how, sometimes.”
Shafikah looked intently at his name on the white stone of his grave.
“I’m not sure why I came. Last year, I thought I would skip it this year since Affif needs me but…here I am...again.” Shafikah let go a small sigh.
“I know that I can be strong and live without you, Ashraff. Insha Allah, I can. Abang Yusuff and Kak Fatima have been so great to me…and Affif…he’s just so wonderful, subhanAllah…” She paused and, with a longing expression on her face, continued in a whisper, “…but I’ll miss you forever.”
Shafikah felt a sudden surge of emotion. She quickly took another deep breath. She tried her best to stay composed as she had promised herself. She did not want to drop a tear there.
“It seems like only days ago you were entrusted to me by Allah Ta’ala. Then, the ‘amanah’ was lifted from me when you returned to Him…but, there will always be a part of me that just won’t leave you. A part of who I am now… is you Ashraff.”
Shafikah didn’t say much after that, but looked at the grave intently. Sitting next to his grave, she felt their closeness at that moment. But, she could not trespass the barrier set between his and her worlds. Only the Almighty Allah (s.w.t.) knew when they would be together again in one world. Until that time came, she could only pray that he was “treated” well in the other world. She remembered the lecture given at the mosque:
“One’s good or bad deeds are his/her companion in the grave…your salat, your fast, your dhikr…”
She just wanted to be near him for a while before facing another day without him. Her past when she first came to the town and their past together flooded her mind as she recalled her life for the past twelve years. It was all coming back to her…her life before him, the life they shared, and her life without him.
WITH PERMISION FROM WRITER ZAIPAH IBRAHIM
|Posted by ustazwahid on July 14, 2012 at 11:45 AM||comments (320)|
1990 was Shafikah’s final year at IUPU - Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis. Shafikah had been contemplating working in Bloomingdale, the town where her brother and his family resided. Her plan was to get some additional experience in journalism before leaving the town for good. However, Allah (s.w.t.) gave her more than what she had bargained for.
Indianapolis Airport in August 1988 was busy, just like the one in L.A thought Shafikah. This one was smaller but still packed with people who were caught up with their own travel arrangements. Shafikah was looking at her watch when a light tap landed on her right shoulder. She quickly turned around and smiled.
“As salaam alaikum, Fikah.” Her brother, Yusuff, greeted her with a big grin.
“Wa alaikum salaam, Abang Yusuff!” She excitedly returned his salaam. She took her brother’s hands to kiss and they hugged. They talked about her long trip and she conveyed salaams from their family and relatives.
“It’s really been a while since we last met. You look…” Yusuff quickly took two steps backward and studied his little sister. “…different!” He smiled at her.
“No, I don’t! Not that much different!” Shafikah immediately gave Yusuff a light punch on his left arm. She rearranged her light blue flowery satin scarf. It was fully covering her hair and flowing onto her chest. She wore it differently the last time he saw her – not exactly covering the whole hair, letting the bang showing on her forehead and tying the scarf at the back of her neck, thus leaving the front of her neck and chest uncovered by it. That was a year and a half ago, not long after his marriage to Fatima. Yusuff had come home to introduce his wife to his family, and to meet his wife’s families and relatives for the first time.
“Well, I’m not going to comment on that yet…but one thing remains the same…still as perky as ever! Now, let’s go get your stuff and leave this place! Umar Hafzi is waiting for you.”
Shafikah was all excited at the mention of her six-month-old nephew whom she had never met. “I can’t wait to see him and Kak Fatima. Let’s go….lead the way, bro!”
“Fikah?” Fatima called Shafikah when she noticed that her sister-in-law was lost in thought. They were cleaning the table after iftar. Yusuff was looking after the two-and-a-half-year-old Umar Hafzi in the living room.
“Earth to Shafikah…” She joked and finally caught Shafikah’s attention.
“Uh-huh…oh, I’m sorry, I was just thinking….this might be my last Ramadhan here with you, Abang Yusuff and little Umar. How fast time has gone by …it’s been two years…well, almost!” There was a little sadness in her voice.
“I know…it is, especially when you’re not looking at the clock… counting the minutes and the seconds…” Fatima made a small laugh, trying to cheer her up. She glanced at Shafikah and caught her half smiling. Fatima detected a little sadness in her sister-in-law’s voice and wondered. “You’re not happy to go home...for good? Are you sad?”
“I’m not sad…well maybe a little…I’ve grown attached to this place. It’s just that…this place…all that has happened to me here, living with you and Abang Yusuff has changed my life. I guess I grew up more here in two years than I did twenty years living at home…masha Allah! I wonder how Mama and Papa will react when they see me.” Shafikah ended with a wondering look.
Living with her brother and sister-in-law in a non-Muslim land had made Shafikah see how beautiful Islam was. The Muslims tried hard to hold on to their faith and really put the teachings of Islam into practice in their daily lives. It was a gift that she doubted she would have experienced and felt, living in her own home in a Muslim country. In fact, the experience had made her feel she had taken for granted being born a Muslim.
“They’ll be just as happy and grateful as I am right now to have you as my sister!” Fatima made another effort to cheer her up.
“And you’re partly responsible for that positive change. Alhamdulillah!”
“Alhamdulillah. I’ve also learned some things from you…and Yusuff. Allah Ta’ala has made us learn something from each other I believe…here.”
“I still remember the first time Abang Yusuff came home during the summer break after a year studying here. I was still in high school…in form four, I think. The family and I thought he had changed a lot! We were all so surprised. I even teased him by calling him Brother “Ustaz”…he tried to talk some sense into me about being a better Muslim girl…but I was too stubborn back then…kind of a rebellious daughter and sister… too much affection got to my head…I was like a spoiled princess in the family, you know!” They both laughed at what Shafikah had just said.
Living with Fatima had taught Shafikah one thing in general about being a Muslim. “I guess I took the fact that I was born Muslim for granted…never really realized how many converts…or should I say reverts….there are. How much these reverts struggle to find “the true path”. Living in a non-Muslim country and trying to stand up for my religion has opened my eyes about the true meaning of life. I really need this wake up call. Alhamdulillah, I’m grateful to Allah Ta’ala and thanks to you too Kak Fatima. You’ve made me see how much of a struggle becoming a Muslim is. In the end, at least you know, insha Allah, you will get to heaven and all the struggle of finding the right religion will pay off…insha Allah.” Shafikah smiled at her sister-in-law.
They sat around the table for a glass of water. Both were reminiscing the past, as if trying to capture and to share every unforgettable moment of their past lives. They had never talked about this side of each other before.
“When I first met your brother, the only thing we shared was our nationality – Malaysians! He was sitting at the da’wah table in the student center…and this Chinese girl…that was me…and her friend stopped by his table. He smilingly and politely gave us a couple of pamphlets about Islam. We didn’t stay for long and left. It took me a year later to accept Islam as my religion. But I believed that what I saw and learned that day marked the beginning of my soul searching. Alhamdulillah for the hidayah and taufiq from Allah Ta’ala.”
Shafikah remembered the first time she had learned about her sister-in-law’s pain and difficulties after her conversion to Islam. Her family had disowned her. Her marriage to Yusuff had made it worse. However, the birth of Umar Hafzi was the beginning of her reunion with her family. Even though the strain in their relationship was still there, at least now, Fatima and her family were communicating.
They were still engrossed in their conversation when Yusuff popped his head through the door to the kitchen.
“Excuse me my ladies, I hate to bug, but let’s get going.”
The women laughed at him and left the kitchen. It was 10th April 1990, the fourteenth day of fasting for the Muslims all over the world. The night was the 15th Ramadhan night. And like the previous nights, they were leaving for tarawih prayer at the Islamic Center.
After the tarawih prayer, the Imam’s wife reminded Shafikah and Fatima about the second family gathering for iftar that weekend. They agreed to come and promised to invite more families to attend. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door to the women’s praying section. It was Yusuff, signaling them to leave.
Yusuff was talking to a man by their car as Shafikah and Fatima were approaching. They could not tell who it was, but Shafikah thought the man looked familiar. He seemed to have just finished the tarawih prayer there too. Yusuff excused himself and walked towards the women. He handed Umar to his wife. “I offered this brother a ride, but I will drop you ladies home first. Umar is asleep anyway.”
The women took the backseat. As the car was pulling out of the driveway of the Islamic Center, Yusuff introduced the man to his sister and wife. His name was Muhammad Ashraff Matthew. He nodded slightly to his left as a sign of courtesy. Shafikah, who was sitting behind the driver’s seat, was surprised to see his face and so was he. He quickly glanced back for confirmation.
“Oh! Sister, so that was you this afternoon?”
Concealing her surprise on meeting him again, Shafikah answered. “Yes, that was me.”
“You’ve met my sister, Brother Ashraff?”
“We met at the library of the Islamic Center this afternoon. I was looking for some books and asking her about the latest lecture tapes…”
“…which, unfortunately, I couldn’t get for you. Someone had already checked them out…” Shafikah felt sorry for Ashraff as she recalled him looking so hopeful of getting those tapes from the library.
“Perhaps I have some at home that you might be interested in,” Yusuff suggested. The men continued talking about the tapes. Yusuff invited Ashraff for iftar at their house for the next day.
After putting Umar to bed, the women sat on the couch, folding some laundry while waiting for Yusuff. Shafikah told Fatima about her meeting with Ashraff at the library. She had planned to tell her brother and Fatima about Ashraff.
“It must have slipped my mind.”
Both smiled at her forgetfulness.
“I was going to ask if Abang Yusuff could lend him some tapes. I did ask for his contact info so that Abang Yusuff could get in touch with him about the tapes. Now I think it’s all taken care of, alhamdulillah!
“He seems like a good brother…reminds me of myself when I was a new Muslim a few years ago. I also went to the library of the Islamic Center to find materials on Islam.”
Shafikah said she and Ashraff talked a little about the Muslim families in Bloomingdale. He had told her about his short trip to this town. “He came here this morning…a journalist on assignment…”
Fatima interrupted with a surprised look. “Did you just say a journalist, Fikah?” She stopped folding a shirt and waited for Shafikah's answer.
“Yes, a journalist.” Shafikah replied short, but the thrill in her voice was too obvious to Fatima's ears.
Fatima smiled, noting Shafikah's excitement at the word “journalist”. With a teasing smile, she said, “Perhaps there’s something special Allah Ta’ala has in store for you, Sis. This is, after all, a blessed month, Ramadhan. Have you made the decision yet? Or, perhaps you can get some advice from the pro, insha Allah!”
Shafikah smiled sheepishly at Fatima. “Perhaps, Kak Fatima...insha Allah.” Then, with a thoughtful look she added,“I wonder if he’s been a Muslim for a some time already. He seems to know much about Islam, but still in quest of knowledge.”
“Well, aren’t we all supposed to, my dear...as Muslims?”
Shafikah smiled, nodding in agreement, but her smiling face slowly turned pensive.
Fatima chuckled, slightly shaking her head at the curious look on her young sister-in-law’s face. “Insha Allah, we’ll know more about our new Brother Ashraff tomorrow, my dear Sister Shafikah!”
WITH PERMISION FROM WRITER ZAIPAH IBRAHIM
|Posted by ustazwahid on July 14, 2012 at 11:40 AM||comments (3)|
Timeless Gift (chapter 5)Ever since the meeting in April during Ramadhan, Ashraff had kept in touch with Yusuff every now and then. Their meeting at the mosque was “a blessed meeting” according to Ashraff. He had grown to care for Yusuff and his family. Yusuff felt the same connection with him. They had invited him to spend Eid in Bloomingdale. Ashraff had to turn down the invitation. He had already made plans to celebrate it in London – the place where he reverted to Islam the previous Ramadhan. He wanted to be with his family on his second Eid.~In early summer, June ’90, after a recommendation letter from Ashraff, Shafikah was hired to work part time at the Bloomingdale Chronicle. However, two weeks later she received a call from her friend, Jameelah, a Muslim African American who lived in the neighboring town. They were course mates at IUPU. Jameelah’s family owned a small publishing company and was starting a new Muslim magazine. They wanted her to be one of the editors. Shafikah did not want to let Ashraff down by leaving the job at Bloomingdale chronicle, but at the same time she felt a strong obligation to work at the Muslim magazine. After doing istikharah prayer, seeking Allah’s (s.w.t.) guidance in making the right decision, and discussing with her brother and sister-in-law, she made up her mind to quit the job at the local papers. Ashraff called Bloomingdale Chronicle to speak to Shafikah and ask how she was doing, but was informed that she had quit. So, he called her at home in the evening to speak to her. Unfortunately, she was having a meeting about the premier edition of the magazine.“Brother Ashraff, my sister’s still worried that she has let you down.” “Tell her to stop worrying. I’m happy for her, alhamdulillah! I think she made a wise decision, brother Yusuff.”“I think she looks up to you as a mentor in some ways.” Ashraff laughed. “I’m flattered to be a mentor to a cub magazine editor…a Muslim editor. Insha Allah, I will help her in anyway I could. But from the look at things right now, I think your sister is going to do well, insha Allah.”“I hope so too, insha Allah. I know she loves writing. It’s been her strong interest…her passion I‘d say, since she was in school.” Yusuff explained to Ashraff about Shafikah’s involvement in writing at school, and later at the college, that led her to study Journalism. Ashraff was pleased to hear it. “How’s the family anyway?” Ashraff changed the subject. He noticed he had asked too much about Yusuff’s sister.“Umar is active as usual. Insha Allah, we’re going to have an addition to the family…say in about seven months or so…a brother or a sister for Umar.”“Masha Allah! Congratulations, brother Yusuff. Two good news in one day. Alhamdulillah!”“Well, there’s the third one.” Yusuff added eagerly.“More?”“Yes. The committee members of the Islamic Center have agreed to open another Islamic class for the children to add to the present one. Fatima and Shafikah might be involved in it too.”“Masha Allah! You’ve all really been blessed by Allah Ta’ala. Alhamdulillah. Thank you for sharing the good news with me.”Yusuff and Ashraff realized their growing friendship had become stronger by the day. It was the bond of Muslim brotherhood that pulled them together.“Who else to share the good news of Muslim achievements, if not with one’s own brothers and sisters in Islam!”“Alhamdulillah.” Ashraff felt touched by Yusuff’s comment.“Alhamdulillah.”“I hope with this Islamic class, your sister won’t have too much on her plate. After all, she’s a newly appointed editor.”“I’ll make sure to pass that advice to your student…I mean the cub Muslim editor...” They both laughed.“Do so! Please send my regards and salams to her and sister Fatima too.”“Insha Allah, I will, brother Ashraff.”
WITH PERMISION FROM WRITER ZAIPAH IBRAHIM
|Posted by ustazwahid on July 14, 2012 at 11:30 AM||comments (30)|
Timeless Gift (chapter 4)
Yusuff was fixing Umar’s toy when he heard a knock at the door. It was Ashraff. He arrived an hour before iftar. Yusuff invited him in. They talked about Ashraff’s visit to the town. Suddenly Umar tugged at Ashraff’s pants. The little boy wanted to show him his fire truck. Ashraff gave his attention to the boy and played along. Yusuff watched them with a smile. Later, they broke the fast with some dates and drinks. Before eating the main food, Yusuff led Maghrib prayer in congregation.
Ashraff studied the food in front of him. “I ate Malaysian food once…a couple of years ago in Kuala Lumpur. Kind of spicy I think, but delicious! Masha Allah!”
“You are welcome to try every one of these. The ladies specially prepared them for you…the guest!” Yusuff smiled. Ashraff returned the smile and glanced at the women happily.
“He’s right brother Ashraff, help yourself, please,” Fatima added.
They talked about Malaysia and places Ashraff had been to for his assignments as a journalist. He was in Malaysia for two days in 1985 after covering a story in Singapore. Yusuff mentioned that Shafikah was graduating in Journalism that spring. Ashraff was surprised she had not mentioned it when they met at the library of the Islamic Center’s. He had told her he was a journalist when he introduced himself.
“Congratulations, Sister Shafikah!”
“Thank you, insha Allah, if everything goes well.”
“So, what’s your big plan after graduation? Leaving for home to be a reporter or a writer, perhaps?”
Yusuff and Fatima looked at Shafikah with a smile. They knew this was a decision she had been trying to make since finishing her internship in the fall.
“I still have this semester to complete, but yes, I have that in my plan, insha Allah.”
“You could stay here for a while and seek for a part time job at the local paper to get more hands-on experience. It would be good for your reśumé later, insha Allah,” Ashraff suggested.
Shafikah turned to look at her brother who then raised his eyebrows as if waiting for Shafikah’s response to the suggestion.
She turned to face Ashraff. “I’ve also thought about that, Brother Ashraff, but really I haven’t made my final decision.”
“I know someone at the local paper here. If you decided to stay and work here for a while, I could help. Just don’t hesitate to ask.” Ashraff explained that his old friend worked as an editor at the Bloomingdale Chronicle.
“Thank you, jazak Allahu khairan.”
“Wa anti kathaalik.” He gave her a friendly smile.
After dinner, the women left Yusuff and Ashraff alone. They were discussing the lecture tapes he was looking for at the Islamic Center. Later, they all left for tarawih prayer.
After the tarawih prayer, Yusuff invited Ashraff for another iftar since the next day would be his last day in Bloomingdale to finish his work. However, he had already accepted the Imam’s invitation. He told Yusuff that they might meet again at the Islamic Center tomorrow night. He planned to leave for Indianapolis after tarawih prayer.
Ashraff walked Yusuff to the car to say goodbye. The ladies were already waiting at the car.
“I guess this is goodbye, then… just in case I don’t get to see all of you here tomorrow night. Thank you for everything, alhamdulillah. I really had a great time at your home tonight. It’s a pleasure meeting your lovely family, Brother Yusuff. I won’t forget this.”
“We’ll keep in touch, insha Allah.”
“That would be great, insha Allah.”
Fatima was already at the back seat of the car holding the sleeping Umar.
Shafikah opened the car door to the front seat. “Take care of your iman, Brother Ashraff.”
“Insha Allah. Make du’as for me too Sister Shafikah…we’re in a great month right now.” He smiled at her.
“Insha Allah, I will. As salam alaikum.”
Yusuff met Ashraff after his last tarawih prayer at the mosque. He sent his salams to Fatima and Shafikah. He reminded Yusuff to tell Shafikah again about his offer to help her.
Posted by- Polaris Writerat9:56 PM