Soon after the burial process, Ruqaiyyah started comprehending what to do with her children and herself. She was living in a house with a family who made her life a lot more worse and difficult, piling up the list of miseries she was already going through.
She started her day with Fajr and they started theirs with music. Each family would compete with each other on whose radio would be the loudest. The ladies of the house used to sit and have chit-chat sessions in the evenings. Whenever Ruqaiyyah passed by them, they would giggle and pass comments, only to make her feel worse.
Finally the eldest brother of Abu baker came up to her and told, “Abu baker has passed away and this has certainly grieved every one of us. However, fact of the matter is, we believe that you staying in this house with your 8 children makes no sense. Please move out anywhere you want as soon as possible.”
Ruqaiyyah gave an impending dismayed look at him and then told in a firm tone, “I shall think about it”.
The next day, she visited her parents who were also living in a deprived condition. She went there and told her parents what Abu baker’s elder brother had to say. Her parents, who were equally poor but had a very high self-esteem in the society, looked at their daughter and told, “Do not fear and stay strong. Abu baker has left for you and your children a room in the house, which you have full rights upon as any other family member according to the Shariah. So, go back and tell him that you will not leave or give up on your right and that they have no legal authority to ask you to do so.”
She went back the same day and spoke to her brother-in-law with full confidence. She looked him in the eye and told firmly, “Indeed this is your house, but this is the house of Abu baker too and his children and his wife certainly have the right to live as much as your children and your wife. You demand us to be homeless but we are not going to throw away our rights. No one from my family is leaving this place, hope I’ve made myself clear”, and she walked away, making him stand there stunned by the strength of her words.
As months passed by, Ruqaiyyah’s eldest son was given an opportunity by one of his maternal uncle to work in Dubai. Ruqaiyyah was extremely relieved as this could help their income and living. She encouraged her son to go off for work at a very young age of 15. She asked him to stay strong. She also asked him to ensure that he uses only halal sources of income and never delves into anything which could get him closer to haram or anything that would take him away from Allah . He obediently accepted his mother’s words and realized his responsibility as the eldest son.
During this time, her in-laws would be extremely partial and mistreat her children, thinking they could make her leave the house if they treated her badly. Her daughters would get very annoyed and used to ask their mother, “Why don’t you answer back when they do that to you”? She would smile back at her children and reply, “I will let Allah reply back to them, we humans can only say a few words but when the justice of Allah comes down, there is no escape for the oppressor.”
Their house used to celebrate grand parties and birthdays while the orphaned children would peep from their doors and watch the delicious food being served. They would come back to the room and plead with their mother, telling her that they want to eat too, but their mother would convince them by saying, “This rice water with pickle is the best of all the foods” and thereafter, the children would quietly eat it with heavy hearts.
One day, her 4th son who was just 8 years old came to his mother and told, “Why don’t you borrow some money so we can have enjoyable food for a day at least”. His mother took him to the room where her other children were playing and told her children to listen to her very carefully. She said, “No matter where you go and what circumstance you find yourself in, if a time comes that you have to die starving or borrow money, then prefer death than debt as indeed Allah will never forgive the one who takes money and forgets to return it to its owner at its due time. Hence, always remember, we should stay away from such situations than to risk our hereafter.”
“I realized when my mom was telling me this story, that 40 years back, my grandmother was one of the most wisest women who knew how she had to attain Jannah and she also knew that she shouldn’t compromise anything for the hereafter. Her words got engraved deeply in my heart and I knew once and for all that I wanted to strive in order to have that strength and firmness as she had as a Muslimah.”
To be continued…