Monday, 14 November 2016

She's My Sister

Photo Courtesy:

By Unknown.

Her cheeks were worn and sunken and her skin hugged her bones. That didn’t stop her though; you could never catch her not reciting Qur’an. Always vigil in her personal prayer room Dad had set up for her. Bowing, prostrating, raising her hands in prayer; that was the way she was from dawn to sunset and back again, boredom was for others.

As for me I craved nothing more than fashion magazines and novels. I treated myself all the time to videos until those trips to the rental place became my trademark. As they say, when something becomes habit people tend to distinguish you by it. I was negligent in my responsibilities and laziness characterized my Salah.

One night, I turned the video off after a marathon three hours of watching. The adhan softly rose in that quiet night. I slipped peacefully into my blanket.

Her voice carried from her prayer room. “Yes? Would you like anything Noorah?”

With a sharp needle she popped my plans. ‘Don’t sleep before you pray Fajr!’

“Agh … there’s still an hour before Fajr, that was only the first Adhaan!”

With those loving pinches of hers, she called me closer. She was always like that, even before the fierce sickness shook her spirit and shut her in bed. ‘Hanan can you come sit beside me.’

I could never refuse any of her requests; you could touch the purity and sincerity. “Yes, Noorah?”

‘Please sit here.’

“OK, I’m sitting. What’s on your mind?”

With the sweetest mono voice she began reciting: {Everyone shall taste death. And only on the Day of Resurrection shall you be paid your wages in full.} [Al-‘Imran 3:185]

{كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ ۗ وَإِنَّمَا تُوَفَّوْنَ أُجُورَكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ} آل عمران: 185

Transliteration: Kullu nafsin thaiqatu almawti wainnamatuwaffawna ojoorakum yawma alqiyamati

She stopped thoughtfully. Then she asked, ‘Do you believe in death?’

“Of course I do.”

‘Do you believe that you shall be responsible for whatever you do, regardless of how small or large?’

“I do, but … Allah is Forgiving and Merciful and I’ve got a long life waiting for me.”

‘Stop it Hanan … aren’t you afraid of death and it’s abruptness? Look at Hind. She was younger than you but she died in a car accident. So did so and so, and so and so. Death is age-blind and your age could never be a measure of when you shall die.’

The darkness of the room filled my skin with fear. “I’m scared of the dark and now you made me scared of death, how am I supposed to go to sleep now. Noorah, I thought you promised you’d go with us on vacation during the summer break.”

Impact her voice broke and her heart quivered. ‘I might be going on a long trip this year Hanan, but somewhere else. Just maybe. All of our lives are in Allah’s hands and we all belong to Him.’

My eyes welled and the tears slipped down both cheeks.

I pondered my sisters grizzly sickness, how the doctors had informed my father privately that there was not much hope that Noorah was going to outlive the disease. She wasn’t told though. Who hinted to her? Or was it that she could sense the truth.

‘What are you thinking about Hanan?’ Her voice was sharp. ‘Do you think I am just saying this because I am sick? Uh – uh. In fact, I may live longer than people who are not sick. And you Hanan, how long are you going to live? Twenty years, maybe? Forty? Then what?’ Through the dark she reached for my hand and squeezed gently.

‘There’s no difference between us; we’re all going to leave this world to live in Paradise or agonize in Hell. Listen to the words of Allah: {And whoever is removed away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise, he indeed is successful.} [Al-‘Imran 3:185]

{فَمَن زُحْزِحَ عَنِ النَّارِ وَأُدْخِلَ الْجَنَّةَ فَقَدْ فَازَ} آل عمران: 185

Transliteration: faman zuhziha AAani alnnari waodkhila aljannata faqad faza

I left my sister’s room dazed, her words ringing in my ears: May Allah guide you Hanan – don’t forget your prayer.

Eight O’clock in the morning. Pounding on my door, I don’t usually wake up at this time. Crying… Confusion… O Allah, what happened?

Noorah’s condition became critical after Fajr, they took her immediately to the hospital … Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji‘un.

There wasn’t going to be any trips this summer. It was written that I would spend the summer at home. After an eternity…

It was one O’clock in the afternoon. Mother phoned the hospital. ‘Yes. You can come and see her now.’ Dad’s voice had changed, mother could sense something had gone deathly wrong. We left immediately.

Where was that avenue I used to travel and thought was so short? Why was it so long now, so very long. Where was the cherished crowd and traffic that would give me a chance to gaze left and right. Everyone just move out of our way. Mother was shaking her head in her hands – crying – as she made dua’ for her Noorah.

We arrived at the hospitals main entrance.

One man was moaning, another was involved in an accident and a third’s eyes were iced, you couldn’t tell if he was alive or dead.

We skipped stairs to Noorahs floor. She was in intensive care.

The nurse approached us. ‘Let me take you to her.’ As we walked down the aisles the nurse went on expressing how sweet a girl Noorah was. She reassured Mother somewhat that Noorah’s condition had gotten better than what it was in the morning.

‘Sorry. No more than one visitor at a time.’ This was the intensive care unit. Through the small window in the door and past the flurry of white robes I caught my sisters eyes. Mother was standing beside her. After two minutes, mother came out unable to control her crying.

‘You may enter and say Salam to her on condition that you do not speak too long,’ they told me. ‘Two minutes should be enough.’

“How are you Noorah? You were fine last night sister, what happened?”

We held hands, she squeezed harmlessly. ‘Even now, Alhamdulillah, I’m doing fine.’

“Alhamdulillah … but … your hands are so cold.”

I sat on her bedside and rested my fingers on her knee. She jerked it away. “Sorry … did I hurt you?”

“No, it is just that I remembered Allah’s words: {And leg will be joined with another leg (shrouded)} [Al-Qiyama 75:29]

{وَالْتَفَّتِ السَّاقُ بِالسَّاقِ} القيامة: 29

Transliteration: Wailtaffati alssaqu bialssaqi

… Hanan pray for me. I may be meeting the first day of the hearafter very soon. It is a long journey and I haven’t prepared enough good deeds in my suitcase.”

A tear escaped my eye and ran down my cheek at her words. I cried and she joined me. The room blurred away and left us – two sisters – to cry together. Rivulets of tears splashed down on my sister’s palm which I held with both hands. Dad was now becoming more worried about me. I’ve never cried like that before.

At home and upstairs in my room, I watched the sun pass away with a sorrowful day. Silence mingled in our corridors. A cousin came in my room, another. The visitors were many and all the voices from downstairs stirred together. Only one thing was clear at that point … Noorah had died!

I stopped distinguishing who came and who went. I couldn’t remember what they said. O Allah, where was I? What was going on? I couldn’t even cry anymore.

Later that week they told me what had happened. Dad had taken my hand to say goodbye to my sister for the last time, I had kissed Noorah’s head.

I remember only one thing though, seeing her spread on that bed, the bed that she was going to die on. I remembered the verse she recited: {And leg will be joined with another leg (shrouded)} [Al-Qiyama 75:29]

{وَالْتَفَّتِ السَّاقُ بِالسَّاقِ} القيامة: 29

Transliteration: Wailtaffati alssaqu bialssaqi

And I knew too well the truth of the next verse: {The drive will be, on that Day, to your Lord (Allah)!} [Al-Qiyama 75:30]

{إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ يَوْمَئِذٍ الْمَسَاقُ} القيامة: 30

Transliteration: Ila rabbika yawmaithin almasaqu

I tiptoed into her prayer room that night. Staring at the quiet dressers and silenced mirrors, I treasured who it was that had shared my mother’s stomach with me. Noorah was my twin sister.

I remembered who I had swapped sorrows with. Who had comforted my rainy days. I remembered who had prayed for my guidance and who had spent so many tears for so many long nights telling me about death and accountability. May Allah save us all.

Tonight is Noorah’s first night that she shall spend in her tomb. O Allah, have mercy on her and illumine her grave. This was her Qur’an, her prayer mat and …and this was the spring rose-colored dress that she told me she would hide until she got married, the dress she wanted to keep just for her husband.

I remembered my sister and cried over all the days that I had lost. I prayed to Allah to have mercy on me, accept me and forgive me. I prayed to Allah to keep her firm in her grave as she always liked to mention in her supplications.

At that moment, I stopped. I asked myself: what if it was I who had died? Where would I be moving on to? Fear pressed me and the tears began all over again.

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar…

The first adhan rose softly from the Masjid, how beautiful it sounded this time. I felt calm and relaxed as I repeated the Muadhdhins call. I wrapped the shawl around my shoulders and stood to pray Fajr. I prayed as if it was my last prayer, a farewell prayer, just like Noorah had done yesterday. It had been her last Fajr.

Now and insha’ Allah for the rest of my life, if I awake in the mornings I do not count on being alive by evening, and in the evening I do not count on being alive by morning.

We are all going on Noorah’s journey – what have we prepared for it?

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Okoa Ganze Program

Bismillah Ar-Rahmani Ar-Rahim

Food stuffs

Alhamdulillah, thumma Alhamdulillah. On the 13th of November 2016, we managed to pay the residents of Ganze area a graceful visit. In such a dry torment of a place, families lie to their children with empty promises, people starve as their hope drifts away with the willowing dry winds, fathers watch their animals shrink away in the agony of death, living them with nothing to feed their homes, their families, their Hope. This is why we do it. Together with Mombasa Yetu Group (MYG) in conjunction with Pwani University Muslim Student Association (PUMSA), we were able to organize a humble donation of family size food parcels to the families of Ganze area in this hour of Dire need.
Searching for water...

We would like to give our sincere gratitude and appreciation firstly to the Mombasa Yetu Group for their hand in this outreach, the committed members of Angles of Hope and every other person who put in their thought and effort in making this program a successful one. Indeed does Allah love those who give from what He has given them. May Allah bless all of you in multitudes, Ameen.
Fairing the scales

This is the power of the ummah when we come together for like the droplets of water in the ocean, together, We are powerful…and together We can be the Change, and leave a little bit of Hope, everywhere we go, In Shaa Allah.

Jazakumullah Kheiran. #Angels_of_Hope 

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Allah is Awesome

Chapter One: Perception
Photo Courtesy: Unknown

You know that feeling that comes in to mind when you hear those scary stories of super natural beings that apparently, according to Deen, stay and live along side with you probably reading this with you right now and their family walking around your house with you not having a single clue they are there…and the even more mind boggling fact that they can see you…but you can’t see them? Yeah, just pretend you still are the alpha in this situation, especially if you are reading this at night…alone…

If you are Muslim, you probably know and believe that Allah subhanahu wataala created other super natural beings; angels, demons, jins- related to the demon family, and that they live amongst us, in the same world with their own complete social, political and economical way of life and the unmistakable fact that they can see us, we just can’t see them. If you are not, then, well you probably heard stories about them.

Disclaimer; whilst we are on this topic, Muslims do not keep super natural beings in their back closets or anywhere else for that matter. That action is purely an individual decision and not a requirement from an Islamic perspective. I mean, who would want to nurture a being that’s always yammering with almost silent snake like whispers,‘Bring me bloood’….Duuude.

Anyways, have you ever wondered how it’s possible for this to happen, because you believe Islam to be as true as your body part, so the belief in super natural beings is also just as true? And don’t tell me it’s religion, because Islam itself tells us to ask questions. 

The Mantis Shrimp. Yep, there is your answer. Let me explain. See we have a sleek sight system where our eyes can see the way they do i.e colour, brightness etc, because of majority of factors core amongst them being Rods and Cones. 
Photo Courtesy: TGI

These two are light sensory nerve cells that are laid on the back of the eye, Rods detect the brightness/ the amount of light entering our eyes and the cones detect the color of light. When it’s morning and mum comes in and opens the curtains because you don’t want to wake up, that painful brightness you feel forcing you to cover your head, that’s Rods doing their thing. That’s also when your pupils (the black round dots at the center of your eyes) adjust their diameter to allow lesser light in…and also the reason why you can open your eyes afterwards. 

Cones on the other hand are divided into three, one senses Yellow light, another senses Blue light and the other Red light. So in essence every other color we see is just a combination of the three. When light lands on each, they send out signals to the brain telling it, hey, I just received some blues, a couple of reds and lots of yellows coming up in the system. And the registering of these light now brings the combinations of the colors hence the perception of colors like Green, Purple and so forth are seen.

Now to the Wonder of wonders, the Mantis Shrimp.
Photo Courtesy: Unknown
The mantis shrimp has compound eyes that have sixteen, One Six, color receptors…We only have three! They see Ultra violet (UV), infrared, polarized light, you name it. They can even see Circular Polarized light, which is a type of light no other living thing on earth can see! What does it look like? I don’t know, I cannot describe it to you, nothing can see it. You know what sees circular polarized light? DVD players, only the mantis shrimp sees them better. In short am saying there are colors existing all around us that you cannot even conceptualize…

This is just but an example from the countless of crazy examples out there. But why do I mention it? 

Is it a coincidence that Allah subhanahu wataala tells us He put a veil in our sight so we can’t see all the supernatural beings? Nope, I think our limited cones are part of that answer. Is it a coincidence that we are recommended to give out salaam (greetings) when we enter our homes, even if there is no one there? I don’t think so. Is it a coincidence that one can be possessed by such supernatural beings? I am still working on this one but, since Jins have the ability to shape-shift into different forms of matter i.e energy, and our bodies literally function through electrical pulses (especially motor activities like movement), which is basically still energy. Thus, if they can manipulate energy, what’s to stop them from manipulating us? Dhikr of course but that’s just me, and this is definitely a topic for another day.

 It has been relayed that during medieval times, some people (especially some Prophets) were able to see these beings and even communicate with them. And because we now know that there are other shades of light we cannot perceive with our eyes because of limited color receptors, and also these beings exist in the energy form, maybe, just maybe, people with such incredible ability had a gene mutation that gave them this ability. And because we all come from a common ancestor, Adam aleyhi salaam, through the Awesomeness of Allah subhanahu wataala’s planning, the gene might have stayed recessive in all other people, surfacing only in the chosen few, and becoming less and less more likely to appear in these generations, just like how the Tallness gene slowly disappeared from previous generations up until today. And we all know humans can hear only up to 20,000 Hertz of sound; explains why in Hadith it has mentioned why animals can hear the screams in the graves of sinners and Allah promises to lift all veils on Judgment Day, May Allah protect us, Ameen. It becomes a whole other realm of possibilities with mutation of hair cells in the ears with this one so, yeah. 

I know…it’s like waay out there that last bit, but never forget, Islam is Timeless while Science is Time-bound. These events did happen and science is still trying to keep up, considering all the discoveries it has made lately like how quantum physics says our conscious does not die after death of our bodies, Islam be like, Duuuh. So we just have to wait for it to catch on. For now, we know Islam explains the ‘Why’, Science deals with the ‘How’.

Anyways, so now you know. Just because you can’t see stuff doesn’t mean stuff can’t see you, look again, that is if you have specialized cones to see into other realms lol. And don't freak out when you hear someone answering your greetings in an empty house...ok at least don't forget to breathe 😏. With that I say, Allah is Awesome.