My Beloved Sister

25

We should all love each other and respect each other, if only for the sole purpose to please Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. We are, after all, sisters in Islam.

A cold breath of air hit me as I slid out of the car and balanced my feet on the icy parking lot. Stepping carefully around patches of ice, I clutched on to my shoulder bag, ready and excited for the day that lay ahead of me. I pushed the heavy door to the sisters’ entrance of the mosque and gave salam to the sisters who also just arrived and were slipping their shoes off. I slipped my cold feet out of my blue sailor shoes and tiptoed around the mass of colourful footwear, which was piled and scattered around the bottom of a stairway.

The marble-floored stairs felt cold on my toes and they started to go numb, but no effect did this have on my smile. After a brief walk up the stairway, my feet touched the warm, soft carpet of the classroom and I looked up at the beautiful, calligraphic artistry painted and engraved in the mosque’s majestic dome. I looked down to see the carpet of many prayer mats and suddenly, I felt so thankful for who I was and where I was. A Muslimah in a Mosque – ready and anticipating a day of sitting in the presence of scholars and learning and seeking knowledge. Fulfilling an obligation to seek spiritual knowledge, to become closer to my Creator, to learn about the Prophet Muhammad (sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) – every second was a gem.

The Traditional Halaqa which taught fiqh, seerah, shama’il, tajweed, and held discussions on contemporary issues was a nine-day course, which started at 10 a.m. and lasted until at least 10 p.m. Yes, it was tiring, and sitting on the floor all day for nine continuous days did cause an ache to linger in my legs, but I can’t remember a time when I hadn’t felt so eager. My thirst for more knowledge never felt quenched and there were truly blessed times when I was listening to the Shaykh, may Allah bless him and reward him, when I simply smiled like a dork and whispered to myself ‘subhan’Allah,’ a ‘subhan’Allah’ I felt from the very essence of my soul. I felt so thankful to Allah for being where I was. I was so happy.

Closing my eyes to concentrate on the Imam’s voice or the words during the Adhaan was something I hadn’t done before, but it made me want to rush to the prayer area and praise Allah ta’ala. Inside the flow of the jilbab’s long fabric, I felt safe and completely at peace in being so covered and yet I felt so beautiful. I met some truly amazing sisters who came from various cities around England to attend this Halaqa and benefit from the amazing opportunity.

There was one sister in particular who came to mind. She was the first person who offered salam to me on the first day. She held her hand out and shook my hand before skipping away. I saw her and couldn’t help but feel happy. She had the most genuine smile I had ever seen. I looked for her throughout the first few days of the course but to no avail. Her smiling face was nowhere to be seen. But one day during our lunchtime meal, we were having pizza, and I saw a niqabi walk in and sit opposite me on the floor. She flipped over her niqab and there I saw the same beautiful smile in her eyes and stretched across her face. I learnt she was French and I enjoyed practicing with her. On the last day, the day of her departure, she was smiling through the tears, which were rolling down her face, my beloved sister.

There was one sister, elderly and Mauritian and very interesting to speak with. I often sat next to her and chatted about general things. She seemed interested in my conversation about school and I could always rely on her to sit with and have a general tête-à-tête, which brings a smile to my face even now thinking of it. But one day during our evening meal, she admitted she felt a little bit ill and how she was worried if the cold continued during the night in her Bed and Breakfast room, she might be too ill to come back for another day of lessons. I could see the distress in her face and felt a deep connection and longing to want to help her. Subhan’Allah, after bringing some Lemsip to her that evening, she felt a lot better. But I felt it was my duty to help her. She offered to help me with my French exam revision afterwards and I thank Allah for keeping her in good health, Alhamdulillah! She gave me the biggest hug at the end of the course, my beloved sister.

There was one sister who was a few years older than me and knew my elder sister. She was quiet but I could see she was so devoted to being a good Muslimah. We talked about books and she told me about university life and how having no friends is better than having bad company. She was sweet and funny and always up for a sweet shop shopping-spree in the breaks with me. I felt a love for her I find hard to explain. I wish her all the best even now and she is, and always will be, an inspiration to me. I walked home with her on the last day of the course and as she dropped me off on the corner of my road, my heart pleaded to my Lord as I sent out many prayers for her. She was sincere, real and inspiring, my beloved sister.

There was one sister. She didn’t look older than seventeen years old but I later learned she was nineteen. A fair Oxfordian, she was a reverted Muslimah since September 4th. During lunchtime, I had underestimated the spice in the food and although my Desi tongue could bare the tingle, I still wanted water. ‘Sister, could you pass some water please?’ I asked her.

Her face, shocked and slightly perturbed, needed a few seconds to acknowledge I was speaking to her. She passed the bottle to me as we exchanged smiles and I could tell how I addressed her as ‘sister’ may have made her think. She was beautiful and even though she hadn’t learnt to read Arabic yet, she was so eager to know more, learn more and understand more. She wanted to know if she was doing something correctly, she wanted to be the ideal Muslimah – so badly. Just seeing how dedicated she was in wanting to understand Islam even better made me seriously think about myself and she taught me a lesson without even knowing it. What I remember most about her though is how amazing she looked in Hijab. I pray Allah guides her and blesses her more and more insha’Allah. Ameen. A revert to the truth, my beloved sister.

Every sister I met during the course was amazing and utterly beautiful, even in the long jilbabs and soft pashmina hijabs. Every single girl there was my sister. And I loved her regardless of her skin colour, dedication to Islam or whether she wore Hijab properly or not. I prayed for her. We all believe in no god but Allah. And we all believe that Prophet Muhammad (sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) is the Messenger of Allah. We all believe and we all strive. It’s sometimes easy, and sometimes not, sometimes a little and sometimes a lot. But I love every single sister out there for the sake of Allah. Because being united in this sisterhood is something that makes me smile daily and gives me hope, even if the circumstances may deem otherwise.

My beloved sisters, I love you all for the sake of Allah. You are not alone and never will be – so smile. :)