Zainab bint Muhammed ﷺ

Nabi ﷺ said something to the effect, glad tidings to those of you whose first child is female. In a time where having a daughter was looked down upon, Nabi ﷺ gave glad tidings to the ones whose first child is female. 

Nabi ﷺ had four daughters and until I joined the Ummah Heart classes, my knowledge on them was very basic. Through these classes, Zainab, Ruqayyah, Umme Kulthoom and Fatima R.A. became a part of my life and their stories are ones I think of every single day. 

Zainab is Nabi’s ﷺ eldest daughter. Zainab comes from the words “zain” which means beauty and “ab” which means father. We don’t know the description of how she looks but from this meaning, we learn that she was the beauty of her father. Zainab R.A. was married to Abu Al-Aas Ibn Rabi and their love story is quite possibly my favourite. It all started when Abu Al-Aas came to Nabi ﷺ and asked for her hand, Nabi ﷺ went to her and asked “What about Abu Al-Aas?” to which she blushed like a red rose and remained silent. Khadeejah R.A. gave Zainab R.A. her own necklace as a wedding gift. They get married. 

Nabi ﷺ gets nabuwwat, she accepts Islam while Abu Al-Aas does not. She asks him “won’t you accept Islam for me?” He says no. They remain together. They have two children, Ali and Umaymah. It is time to migrate, her entire family’s leaving, she asks again “won’t you accept Islam for me?” He says no. She stays in Makkah with him and their children. It is time for badr, he fights on the side of the kuffar and gets captured, Zainab R.A. sends her necklace as ransom, Nabi ﷺ sees the necklace, cries and says “how desperate is the love of my daughter for her husband that she sends the necklace of her mother”, sets Abu Al-Aas free and sends back the necklace of Khadeejah R.A. but also tells Abu Al-Aas that revelation has come down and a muslim women is not allowed to be married to a non-muslim man so he needs to send Zainab R.A. home and to tell Zainab R.A. to never part with the necklace of her mother. 

Zainab R.A. is waiting outside her home for him, she opens her arms to embrace but he steps away from her and tells her what Nabi ﷺ said and she asks again “won’t you accept Islam for me?” He says no. As she is leaving, an enemy of Islam shoots her with an arrow and she falls off her conveyance. She remains in Makkah while Hind (the wife of Abu Sufyaan) nurses her back to health. As she leaves again, she tells Abu Al-Aas “I will never get married, I will wait my entire life for you and I will make dua that you accept Islam”. In the Qur’aan, love is translated as a commitment. 

Years pass and one day Abu Al-Aas comes knocking at the door to seek shelter from the muslims who were after him. He explains that he was away on business and came through muslim territory. She allows him inside and then goes straight to Nabi ﷺ and tells Nabi ﷺ what happened. Nabi ﷺ tells her that if she offers him protection, no one can harm him. Zainab R.A. announces that Abu Al-Aas is under her protection. She then tells him that he is free to leave. She asks him once again “won’t you accept Islam?” He doesn’t say anything and runs back to Makkah. When he reaches Makkah, he concludes his business dealings and then says “I testify in the shade of the Ka’bah, Ash-hadu Allah Ilaha Ilaha Illallah, Wa Ash-hadu Anna Muhammedur Rasoolullah, now leave me alone and let me go back to my family, I am going back to my Zainab.” He runs back to Madinah, goes in front of his father-in-law Nabi ﷺ and says “Oh Nabi of Allah, I have accepted Islam, Ash-hadu Allah Ilaha Ilaha Illallah, Wa Ash-hadu Anna Muhammedur Rasoolullah, please can I marry Zainab again?” Nabi ﷺ holds out his hand and says “Welcome oh Abu Al-Aas, but like how we asked her the first time, we need to ask her permission again.” Nabi ﷺ takes his hand and goes to Zainab R.A.’s house. She opens the door and sees her father with Abu Al-Aas R.A. but this time, she doesn’t know what to, she remains silent. Nabi ﷺ says to her “Oh my daughter Zainab, what about Abu Al-Aas for you?” The narration says that just as her cheeks turned red as a young girl, her cheeks turned red as a rose as an older woman. She remains silent and her nikaah is performed again with Abu Al-Aas.

They lived happily together for a year in Madinah. But after a year of being together, as a result of her injuries, she passed away. On the day she passed away, Madinah was dark, Abu Al-Aas R.A. would not stop crying. Nabi ﷺ looked at her and his face went pale because her death reminded him of Khadeejah R.A. Nabi ﷺ performed her janazah and placed her into her final resting place. 

Every time, Nabi ﷺ would see Abu Al-Aas, he looked grief-stricken. Nabi ﷺ would ask him “Oh Abu Al-Aas, what is wrong?” He would say “I miss my Zainab.” Not long after, Abu Al-Aas passed away. It is possible that he passed away because of heartache. 

Since hearing this story, I have not been able to stop thinking of it. It brings tears to my eyes every time I read my notes and I make dua that all of us are blessed with a love as strong as Zainab and Abu Al-Aas R.A. 

Sacrifice

With the days of hajj upon us, I’ve been thinking a lot about sacrifice as this is what Eid-ul-Adha is about. Currently, our lives are full of sacrifice. We sacrifice seeing our family, our friends, going out and having fun. We have given up a lot of things today so that we may be able to enjoy our lives when all of this is over. 

Which is why I am so angry. There are medical professionals in hospitals sacrificing, there are teachers in schools sacrificing, there are learners going to school sacrificing, there are breadwinners going to work sacrificing, so what makes you special that you can go out with friends, not wear a mask, joke about this virus? Do you not understand the severity of the situation? Do you not understand that you are risking lives? You may not fear for your own life but what about your grandparents who live with you? Is this how you repay your parents who have taken care of you their entire lives? 

In the early days of this pandemic, I was nonchalant. I had hope that this would all end soon. But it’s the 28th of July, numbers are rising and some people are saying we still haven’t reached our peak. I am now stressed and fearful and I constantly worry about my family members who HAVE to go out.

The reality of our situation is that when someone passes away and fifteen people attend the janazah, it is said “wow, that’s a good crowd”. A fifteen people crowd is a good thing. It is reported by Abdullah ibn Abbas (R.A.): I heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ say, “A Muslim man does not die while forty men, who do not associate partners with Allah, pray over him but that Allah will accept their intercession for him.” We live in a time where forty people praying your janazah isn’t a likely occurrence. (Note, I am in no way qualified to interpret this hadeeth according to current times, but recently, this is a hadeeth I think about a lot and I’m just pointing it out, Allah Ta’alah knows best. May Allah grant all those who have passed away the highest of stages in Jannah and may Allah make their qabrs from amongst the gardens of Jannah.)

The reality of our situation is that we have not eaten meals with our families. I live opposite my uncle (in the same yard as him and his family) and I can not remember the last time we even had a cup of tea together. We see each other with masks on and we live in the same yard. 

I get that everyone is going out because they are fed up of staying at home and that it’s difficult. Legally, you’re allowed to go out. But you’re only supposed to go out with your household. This means you are only allowed to eat at a restaurant with the people who live with you and no one else. I’ve seen people making jokes about having eid in a taxi with your family but the reason taxis are allowed full occupancy is because people NEED it. Don’t speak from your point of privilege as everyone doesn’t have the luxury of having their own personal mode of transport and these people need a taxi to go to work so they can earn a living. Using the taxi example isn’t justifiable for your behaviour.

Any time, I’ve left my house, I’ve been uncomfortable. I’ve been scared. I’ve sanitised my hands at least ten times in store and I’ve come home and sanitised every grocery item I bought. I hate feeling this way but as a “half glass full person”, I believe that this too shall pass.

So Tawakkaltu alAllah. Tawakkul means to have trust in Allah’s plan, to place complete reliance on Allah alone.

Nabi ﷺ said (something to the effect): “Put your faith in Allah, but tie your camel.”

Tirmidhi

Tie your camel by wearing a mask, following social distancing, taking vitamins and doing everything that you can do to protect yourself. Then, put all of your faith in Allah. 

May Allah protect all of us.

A day in the life of an online Witsie

Semester two has just begun. Normally, when we go back to campus, it’s after a long winter break, it’s after making lots of memories with friends, maybe it’s even after a trip to the ocean, the Kruger National Park or even overseas. The point is, when we get back to campus, we’re geared up for semester two and we’re ready to give it our all. 

However, this time, it’s after a one week break, we did not get to make any memories with our friends and inter-provincial travel for leisure purposes still isn’t allowed. Much has changed. 

We really went from leaving early in the morning for campus to waking up at whatever time we want to do our lectures that were uploaded. We went from buying a coffee from Okoa to making coffee at home. We went from chilling with our friends on lawns to trying to find a convenient time for everyone to video call. We went from wearing outfits that we picked out the night before to wearing sweatpants and a hoodie or even simply, pjs. 

I miss campus. More than I ever have. A day in the life of an online Witsie isn’t ideal. It entails doing at least double the work that you would have done at campus without any of the perks that the campus life holds. The best part of campus life is your friends, it’s playing foosball between lectures at DJ du Plesis, walking to the JK for zohr (and sometimes asr), studying in the library together, leaving campus to go out to eat, playing card games on lawns, greeting about twenty people on your way to a lecture after lunch and even being in lectures together. It’s discovering new places on campus as Wits really is a world of its own. It’s stressing about tests and freezing in Flower Hall while you write Test 2. It’s even struggling to find parking (speaking of parking, @ Wits please refund us for our parking this year).

I wake up every day, make coffee and start doing my lectures. The campus groups on WhatsApp talk the whole day. I get emails about resources being uploaded every hour. I download lecture slides and video lectures and I try to make sense of it all. I do tutorials on my laptop, I never thought I’d miss going for tutorials because the thought of having to sit in a classroom with twenty other people and get taught by someone who’s just a year above us for a whole hour was enough for me to scream. A day in the life of an online Wits isn’t the greatest. But while, it isn’t the greatest, I feel thankful.

I feel thankful that I get to watch lectures and do assignments and finish the year. I feel thankful that my lecturers try and give us the same standard of education that we would have gotten face-to-face. I feel thankful that I still get to see my friends even if it’s only on a video call. I feel thankful that while this pandemic has taken away so many of the simple pleasures of my life, it has not taken away my education.

We may not have gotten the chance to make the memories that we normally would’ve made but we have made memories that most people won’t ever make in their lifetime (I mean, we’re living through a historical event). We’re going to get to tell our kids “if I stayed home for months, you can stay home for one night and spend time with your family”. It may feel like change is all around us but we must remember that change is part of life and that this too shall pass. 

Twenty One

Today, I am 21 years or 7,671 days old. The total number of candles on all my birthday cakes so far is 231. My heart has beaten approximately 767,102,970 times in total. The moon has orbited the earth 280 times since I was born. When I were born there were approximately 6,082,273,879 other people alive on Earth. There are now about 7,690,932,747 people alive. (Check out https://you.regettingold.com

As I sit under my purple blanket at 2:43 am writing this, I feel so so so special and so loved and simply, so blessed. My heart feels so full and I haven’t felt this happy since lockdown began. I feel like I’m on cloud nine. 

Here’s twenty one things I need to say to myself 

  1. You are so blessed so always appreciate everything that you have and be thankful to the Being who has blessed you with more than you deserve.
  2. You are beautiful. And I don’t mean in the way you look because there’s so much more to you than what’s on the outside. The beauty lies in every kind word you speak, every time you make someone smile and every vibe you give off. So be kind and be light because everyone needs sunshine in their lives.
  3. Do not be scared. Don’t be scared of failure, of trying new things, of saying no to anything you don’t want to do and of change. Your opportunities are endless so be unafraid and grab them while you can.
  4. Your family will make you insanely angry and insanely happy at times, remember to love them in both of these moments. Always remember that there is no problem that is too big that your family can’t solve.
  5. The kitchen is therapeutic. Baking and cooking can be lots of fun. Stop fighting the fact that the boys don’t help in the kitchen and just enjoy it. But promise yourself that you will make sure that you teach both, your daughter and your son, to fry an egg, bake a cake and clear the supper table.
  6. Collect moments, not things. Spend money on experiences and good food not on expensive perfumes or shoes.
  7. Sometimes the most unexpected people take the most space in your heart. Don’t judge people on pre-conceived notions because you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you get to know them.
  8. Let go of things. Everything has its own time. Like you let go of your Justin Bieber phase and your black boots from Cotton On, let go of anything that doesn’t make you happy, even people. It will get replaced with something better, it always does.
  9. Don’t ever worry about what people say. They will always talk so just ignore them. Focus on the people who matter in your life because their opinion actually matters.
  10. Whenever you do anything in life, make sure it’s only for the pleasure of Allah. Only with this intention, will you attain success.
  11. Do not worry about the future. What was written has been written by the greatest of writers so just relax.
  12. You’re a work in progress. Constantly try to be better. Try to be better than you were yesterday and try to be better than you are today. Try to be a better daughter, grand-daughter, sister, niece, cousin and friend. Try to be a better person.
  13. “There are people who are always in love with the sky, no matter the weather. One day you will find someone who’ll love you the same way.”
  14. There is so much of the world that you need to see, work hard so that you can constantly breathe the fresh air of new places.
  15. You have some very special people in your life who you get to call your friends. They’re from madrassah, high school and campus, even random functions and they hold a very big piece of your heart. Don’t ever take them for granted.
  16. Stand firm in your beliefs.
  17. Please buy flowers. Lots and lots of flowers and buy them often for no reason.
  18. Learn to look at the camera Radhiyyah, please man, it’s really not that difficult to smile nicely. Also, don’t do that thing with your eyes.
  19. Have patience. Good things take time. Don’t rush things, just go with the flow.
  20. Stop overthinking. It’s not that deep, you’re just being dumb.
  21. Be unapologetically you. Always be genuine in who you are. There’s no one better that you can be.

Time waits for no one. It flies past us and we get left behind. Don’t get left behind. To me, right now, twenty one looks daunting but it shouldn’t be. The sky isn’t the limit, it’s our point of view so what are we going to do with all this future?

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away

I am really starting to feel this lockdown now. I miss my friends, my family, campus and being able to drive. I miss going shopping, sunsets at the Pan, eating out and wearing pretty clothes. The lockdown has left me wondering when our lives will go back to normal, though I do think that we need to decide what version of normal we want to go back to.

If you ever find yourself asking me what I want to do with my life, my answer will always be that I want to travel. I want to make tawaaf around the Ka’bah, convey my salaams to Nabi ﷺ in the Raudah, stand in Al Aqsa, immerse myself in islamic history in Istanbul and eat home food in Surat. I want to be young and in love in New York City, I want to see the cherry blossoms in Japan and I want to play Mario Kart in Tokyo and I want to watch the Eiffel Tower light up. The point is, I want to see every corner of the world. I have, for as long as I can remember, been obsessed with the idea of breathing the fresh air of new places.

Today, I came across the quote “life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away” and it made me stop stressing about the future (when will I get to travel again?) and reflect on all the moments that have taken my breath away. So, here are some moments that are worth mentioning:

1. The first time that I saw the Ka’bah. I was eleven. It was the most surreal moment and I honestly couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

2. Seeing the Taj Mahal. I know Shah Jahan could’ve spent all the resources that he used for the Taj Mahal to do something better, like building a university for example, but wow, the Taj Mahal was full of wonder and splendour. It was absolutely magnificent.

3. The Hagia Sophia. It was so beautiful, I wanted to cry. There really is some sort of magic in Istanbul because every where I went, it felt like a dream. I was only seeing things that I had read about, seen in movies or dreamt about.

4. Any of the waterfalls in Kruger. Every time, we go on holiday to Kruger, we go to the falls and every single time, I am blown away by it and all I can think is: “So which of the favours of your lord will you deny?”

5. Driving along Chapman’s Peak. The highlight of going to Cape Town is always driving along Chapman’s Peak because the view is mind-blowing.

6. Siphiwe Tshabalala’s opening goal at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. For someone who barely watches soccer, that goal is something I can clearly remember. It was a jummah, my family and I were watching the match on tv and the next thing we hear is “TSHABALALA! GOAL BAFANA BAFANA! GOAL FOR SOUTH AFRICA! GOAL FOR ALL AFRICA!”

7. When the person started engraving South Africa on the 2019 Rugby World Cup trophy before time was even up.

8. Every single time I watch a sunset.

9. Patting lion cubs at Lion Park.

10. Snorkelling in Ushaka. I have always loved the ocean and I am fascinated by the mysteries that it holds. So, when I got a chance to snorkel at Ushaka, I jumped at it. Since then, I have an absolute longing to do it again so the next time I’m in Durban, we go ✈.

Here’s to hoping that the good times return soon because this time I know just how much I have to be grateful for.