Sunday, 30 September 2012


                Zainab closed the notebook in front of her. She felt a little drained. She had been sitting on the hard wooden chair for over an hour. She looked at the defaced picture on the notebook she had borrowed. She felt a little disgusted at the sight. She knew why Fareedah had defaced the picture. Though the picture was defaced with blue ink it was palpable it was a man in the picture because of the Abiola babes’ football club’s jersey that was visible. Fareedah had defaced the picture because that was the right thing to do according to Islamic principles. There were many Ahadith that talked on the prohibitions as regards picture making and images of animate objects in general. Zainab recalled one of the hadith on prohibition of picture making.
Narrated Said bin Abu Al Hasan
While I was with Ibn 'Abbas a man came and said, "O father of 'Abbas! My sustenance is from my manual profession and I make these pictures."Ibn 'Abbas said, "I will tell you only what I heard from Allah's Apostle. I heard him saying, 'Whoever makes a picture will be punished by Allah till he puts life in it, and he will never be able to put life in it.' "Hearing this, that man heaved a sigh and his face turned pale. Ibn 'Abbas said to him, "What a pity! If you insist on making pictures I advise you to make pictures of trees and any other unanimated objects."(Sahih Bukhari)

Zainab particularly liked the hadith amongst all other Ahadith that cited the prohibition of images because of the approach Ibn ‘Abass used in correcting the man. She liked the fact that Ibn Abass understood the plight of the man and he helped him in finding a Halaal substitute. Zainab noticed Fareedah missed a spot in the face so she helped to deface the image completely by shading the spot Fareedah missed. Zainab preferred to buy books that had no images on their front cover. She felt defacing your books did not make you natty.
                Fareedah was in her sophomore year in the notorious department of Chemistry, well by most students’ verdict it was. Zainab was in her penultimate year in the department of Botany. She was retaking a course in Organic Chemistry which students from her department had to borrowed from Fareedah’s department. Zainab could not really understand why she was retaking the course for the second time. It was no news amongst students that there was an invisible conflict between Fareedah and Zainab’s department. Many students in Fareedah’s department often failed the organic chemistry course. There was another course which was also borrowed by Chemistry students from Zainab’s department. It was a course on Taxonomy. In turn many students from Fareedah’s department also had problems with that course. They either failed it or their result was not released, in the end the upshot was the same – the course had to be retaken. Zainab knew her case was one of being the grass in a fight that involved two elephants. She hated being the grass and so did Fareedah. She too was a victim of Zainab’s department. The rift between the two ladies department did not stop them from being roommates and most importantly very good friends. 
                Zainab yawned and stretched her limb on the chair. She liked reading in her Faculty’s mosque. Though it was a make shift mosque. The floors was bare earth but it was fenced with sheets of tarpaulin. It served many purposes apart from its primary purpose of a place observing the obligatory prayers which included being a good reading spot for Zainab. By location it was truly the central mosque since it was at the center of the institution. The mid-semester test was coming up in a few days’ time and Zainab had not really had time to attend classes. It was difficult to attend another class especially when it was from a lower level. Time-tables where not permanently fixed and sometimes it clashed with some courses she was taking at her own level. She had borrowed Fareedah’s note to catch up. She hoped that this time around Fareedah’s department would grant her freedom. Drawing lines and circles and arrows and letters in the name of reaction mechanisms was not her idea of fun.
‘Salaam alaykum, Marie curie’, Fareedah said as she entered the mosque.
‘Walaykum salaam’ came Zainab’s reply indolently.
‘By the way I am no Marie Curie, I’m a Botanist not a Chemist’, Zainab added. This time her voice was crisp.
‘Botanist or herbalist?’, Fareedah said teasingly as she moved towards the desk where her friend sat.
‘Na you sabi,’ came Zainab’s reply.
 Suddenly a lady clad in a stripped tight long sleeve turtle neck top with an orange pair of pants came into the mosque. She had on a small transparent white scarf on her head which only covered half of her head making it look like a convertible.
‘Salaam alaykum please where can I get some water for ablution?, came the tiny voice from the lady, as she looked at Fareedah. Fareedah turned away in disgust and mumbled ‘walaykum salaam’ in a diminutive voice that the lady couldn’t hear. Fareedah snubbed the lady. The lady feeling embarrassed left the mosque in a flash.
‘Ukty Zainab did U see that? ‘
‘Can you imagine someone coming to the mosque dressed  like that….’.
‘She could not even cover her hair properly….’
‘and is it the right time to observe Solatul-Asr….’
‘… in less than hour the sun would soon set’.
‘Ehnnn,  it is truly the end of time. People don’t have taqwa. Can you imagine….’
‘Fareedah!’ Zainab said in a husky voice. She breathed in and out and mumbled some words as she shook her head.  Fareedah could read Zainab’s lips. She had made the dua to be said when one was getting irate. Zainab had sought refuge in Allah from Shaytan the accursed one.
‘Fareedah Olaide’ Zainab said calmly this time around. Fareedah looked surprised. It was only on very bizarre for Zainab to call her full name.
‘Fareedah, how soon you forget. Don’t you know that lady was just like you’. Zainab said turning her position in the hard chair in such a way that she could look at Fareedah properly straight in the eye.
‘Just like me?...’
‘How?.... in what way…?’, Zainab asked looking befuddled.
‘Yes, just like you’ Zainab said even more confidently corroborating her statement.
‘Don’t you remember when we first met. Then, you were in the pre-degree science program. It was at the Sisters’ seminar event and you came in looking like you were a contestant for MBGN. There was no available space to sit and you were feeling awkward already because of the way people stared at you. Even though it was a female only event. You still got that look that you were not welcomed…’ Zainab said
‘I was not welcomed, didn’t you see their eyes? I was petrified. It was as if they wanted to devour me. I had never felt so scared in my life. It felt like I was an outcast. I wished the floor would open and swallow me that day. I felt I was in the wrong place.’ Fareedah added
‘I know, roomie. I really understood how you felt but then do you remember I came to you, held you by your shoulders which if my memory doesn’t fail me was bare and guided you to a seat at the back.’, Zainab continued as she zipped  up the sleeves  on the left hand of her Jilbaab.
‘I was so surprised that anyone there could be so kind to me and that is why I am so glad that you’re my roomie. You’re so bea-you-tiful...’ Fareedah interrupted.
‘Bea-you-tiful? What does that mean?’, Zainab queried.
‘It means you’ve got a beautiful character.’ Fareedah riposted.
‘May Allah make me better than you say I am and forgive me for what you don’t know about me,’ Zainab said as she blushed. She had tried to conceal it but it was apparent.
‘Fareedah, if you remember that day, I didn’t condemn your dressing contrary I praised you for attending the event. Most pre-degree science students hardly attend religious events. The excitement of being in a higher institution gets into their head. They have forgotten that their names are only written in pencil and it could be erased easily, they are  not fully fledged students of the University yet. But there you were that day attending an Islamic event. I really admired that about you.’ , Zainab said as she rested her chin on her hands. Her elbows rested on her laps and her hands where in a lock. Her posture provided a good support for her chin to rest comfortably on of the back her hands.
‘I was so surprised you treated me that way, you’re different….’,Fareedah said as she rolled out a  mat on the bare earth.
‘I’m not different, I was just practicing what Islam taught me’, Zainab interrupted.
‘Do you remember the hadith, in Sahih Bukhari that the Rasul said…’
‘Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam’, the two ladies said in unison.
‘The best among you are the best in character ' , Zainab concluded.
‘Now, Fareedah I want you to reflect on what happened some moments ago. Look at that lady that came into the mosque and also look at yourself a few years ago when you came into that hall during the Sisters’ seminar. Is there any nexus? ’ Zainab catechized.
‘Yes, I was just like her’, Fareedah replied soberly,  as she looked down, staring at the design on the mat she sat. She could not look at  Zainab in the eyes.
‘Fareedah, do you remember how you whined so much about the way you were treated that day by most of the sisters at the event and now look at what you did to that lady who wanted to come and observe Solah’ , Zainab  continued.
‘Do you know the verse that scares me most in the Qur’an?’ Zainab asked. It was a rhetoric question but then someone had to break the silence.
‘What verse is that?’, Fareedah asked raising up her face to look at Zainab.
‘The first verse of Suratul Muhammad…’
‘Allah says: ‘Those who reject Allah and hinder (men) from the Path of Allah. He will render their deeds vain’
‘I don’t want to be the one to hinder people from Allah’s path, I don’t want to be the one to stop people from becoming better Muslims because of the way I treat them. I don’t want my deeds to be lost, or to be in vain. Look at the Seerah, a lot of people accepted Islam because of Rasul’s character. He did not have to convince them in believing in Allah. His character was enough.’ Zainab said with so much verve.
Fareedah looked at Zainab in awe. She did not know which one made her marvel at Zainab, the content of what she was saying to her or the fact that Zainab had the potential to become a great orator, She imagined Zainab giving them a lecture during a Sisters seminar event rather than having a male lecturer after all the sisters’ seminar was a female only event.
‘Walahi, I have never thought of that ayah like that’, Fareedah said looking stupefied.
‘May Allah forgive me, I hope I get a second chance’, Fareedah added.
‘Don’t worry Inshaa Allah you would get a second chance’. Zainab said as she handed over Fareedah’s organic chemistry note.
‘By the way, next time just buy a book with no image on the front cover’ Zainab added.
‘I wanted too it’s just that you can hardly find any books with no images on the front cover,’ Fareedah retorted.
‘I think I know what gift I would get for you for Eid’, Zainab said smiling. The Eid-ul-adha festival was around the corner. Zainab had concluded that she would give Fareedah a copy of the book ENJOY YOUR LIFE by Dr. Muhammad Al-Arifi’. It was an excellent book on good character.
‘What are you going to give me? Please tell me?’ Fareedah implored.
‘That is for me to know and for you to find out’, Zainab replied in a girlish way.
‘Haa Ukty Zainab, even with your Jilbaab you are still fun to be with, you’re truly different’,
‘Is there any place in the Qur’an and Sunnah where one should not be fun to be with as long as one does not exceed the limits…’ Zainab said,
‘I don’t know why people always have the feeling that once you dress in a way that shows you’re a Muslim you’re tantamount to being dreary’ Zainab continued.
‘Abeg, don’t dull me’ Zainab concluded as the two ladies left the mosque.
                Fareedah gazed at her reflection in the mirror as she used a pin to hold her hijab. She recalled how she often stood in front of the mirror admiring her body. She would pose in all form of postures and ponder if she had the right statistics for a super model. Back then she was so full of herself but here she was now, all covered. She was grateful that Allah used Zainab’s character to make her become a better person. She felt guilty as the thought of the lady she had snubbed in the mosque some days ago in the mosque came to her. She wished she would have a second chance so she could make it up to her. Zainab squeaked as the pin pricked her thumb. There was no one to ask her what happened. Zainab had an early morning lecture so Fareedah was left all alone. The prick wasn’t deep since no blood came out.  Fareedah looked at the mirror and made the dua when one looked in the mirror. She liked saying the dua because it linked one’s looks to one’s character. She wondered if all the beautiful women in the world said that dua when they looked in the mirror maybe they would both be bea-you-tiful and beautiful. ‘How wonderful that would be?’, Fareedah thought. But she knew better. It was intermittent to see a physically beautiful woman with beautiful character.
‘Salaam alaykum, sister, why don’t you come sit with me’ Fareedah said. She shifted her position on the seat to provide space for a lady standing beside her. The lady was wearing a tank top with a skirt which barely covered her knees. Flabbergasted the lady turned to look at who had said the Teslim to her. She could not believe it when she saw it was the same person who had treated her like she was the most sinful person on earth. Even someone that stood nearby was surprised at the scene. Fareedah had spotted the lady earlier as she came into the lecture hall. She felt hopeful and smiled on seeing her. She didn’t know her second chance would come so soon.  The class was a faculty course. She realized that the lady must be in the same faculty as she was but because of the large class she had not known her before.
‘Salaam alaykum,’ Fareedah repeated this time stretching out her hands towards the lady.
‘Walaykum salaam,’, the lady replied as she slipped into the space Fareedah had provided for her still surprised at the kind gesture she was receiving from Fareedah.
‘I’m really sorry about last time, Please forgive me. my name is Fareedah, What’s yours?’
‘I think I’m about to be punked’, the lady muttered. Hoping Fareedah wouldn’t hear.
‘Memunah but people call me Sade’, came the reply from the lady as Fareedah released her grip. Letting go off Memunah’s hand.
The lecturer came in a few moments later. The din in the hall came to a halt as everybody tried to settle down.
‘By the way you’re not about to get punked, after all this is not M-T-V and I prefer  the name Memunah. It’s a nice name.’ Fareedah whispered in such a way that she was sure Memunah would hear. Memunah turned to look at Fareedah and smiled.
‘Apology accepted’, Memunah said as her smiled widened. No doubt today would be a day she would always remember.
Fareedah felt happy within. She was glad her second chance had a good start. Truly Memunah was just like her.

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