For Part I, click here
Zahwa only knew the basics of Islam. She never concerned herself with seeking any Islamic knowledge. What always mattered to her was this dunya. She never thought about her aakhirah. But now, whatever Sarah said made her realize that she had to strive to please her Creator, the All Forgiving and All Merciful. The goal was clear, but the plan was impending.
Zahwa had always been mesmerized by stories. It was the best way to explain anything to her. Sarah knew this very well. She smiled to herself. She knew exactly where to start.
Sarah gave Zahwa a number of audio lectures which were about the stories of all the Prophets. Her first step was to make Zahwa develop an interest in Islam. Sarah’s attempt worked. Zahwa was dazzled by the lives of the prophets. She listened to them one after the other, wanting to know more about their lives, the favors of Allah upon them, their persistence and perseverance. Sarah wanted to maintain Zahwa’s connection with stories. After the lives of the prophets, Sarah moved on to the lives of the Sahabas .
Zahwa was captivated. The love of the Sahabas for the Prophet, their obedience and love for Allah and the Muslims made her cry. How she wished she could emulate at least some of their traits!
Sarah stepped up her plan to lay the foundations of Islam to Zahwa. She moved onto ahadith. Sarah had always loved the simplicity and the manner in which the ahadith had been arranged in Riyad as Saliheen under different headings. She thought it would be best for Zahwa to start with it. But she did not want Zahwa to simply read it like any other book without understanding. She wanted her to know the details and the lessons she could derive from each hadith mentioned in the book. This would take time but Sarah felt that it would be a very solid foundation to start with. She wanted to implement her plan at the earliest.
‘Walaikumsalaam Sarah! How are you?’
‘Alhamdulillah! Zahwa, can you spare an hour daily for some Islamic studies with me? I was thinking we could study a really good hadith book together and help each other out..’
‘Hmmmm….. How do you plan to go about it?’
‘We will assign 1 hadith to each of us. We will look up for commentaries from various authentic sources, compile them and bring it the next day. We will then try to understand those ahadith based on the commentaries. We will also maintain a book to jot down major lessons drawn from the ahadith and discuss practical ways to make these ahadith a part of our lives, in sha Allah’
Zahwa loved the idea! She always had an eye for research and compiling notes. Directing her passion towards studying Islam filled her with excitement. She couldn’t wait to begin.
This plan was a turning point in both Zahwa and Sarah’s life. For Zahwa, it worked to get her closer to Islam and to Allah . She began to see everything in life in a new light. Now, she saw hope for herself through the darkness that had engulfed her. As for Sarah, she loved Zahwa dearly and it always broke her heart to see her distancing herself away from Islam. But now, Zahwa was very enthusiastic and interested in learning about her religion and always sought ways to seek the happiness of Allah .
Zahwa was changing. She began to distance herself slowly but steadily from all those things that made her stray away from the right path, including her friends who only called her to haraam activities. She knew that they would pass sarcastic and hurtful comments when they saw these changes in her. What surprised her was that she didn’t really care about what they would say! All she wished for was Allah’s pleasure.
Sarah took Zahwa to every halaqah she went to. Zahwa herself was always on the lookout for such gatherings of knowledge. Seeing her interest in attending such gatherings, Sarah enrolled her into the ‘Aqeedah and tafsir classes that she took at her local Islamic center.
Zahwa loved going to these new classes. It was easy for her to understand the concepts of Tawheed and ‘Aqeedah. The lives of the prophets, the sahabas and the ahadith that she was learning had served their purpose.
The tafseer classes began to build Zahwa’s connection with the Qur’an. She was mesmerized by the depth of Allah’s words. The impact it had on her was astonishing. Every ayah seemed to talk to her. Every ayah made her cry.
“And We have certainly made the Qur’an easy for remembrance, so is there any who will remember?” (Surah Al-Qamar(54):17)
“How could I have turned my back on these ayah?”, she thought to herself and was ashamed. All the degrees and laurels that she had amassed were of no use when she couldn’t understand what her Creator was telling her. Why had she not directed her capabilities to seek Islamic knowledge too? Why had she wasted so much of her valuable life involving in activities that only drew the wrath of Allah ? The questions were endless and the regret was deep.
Months passed into years. Sarah and Zahwa’s bond grew strong. How could it not, when the foundation was purely Islam!
Zahwa began to find answers to all the questions in her life. Her past had made her tread on the right path. It always reminded her about how miserable and worthless her life was without the remembrance and obedience to Allah . It made her strong, always reminding her to be on the straight path. If it was not for her past, she would have never renewed her relation with Sarah. But all of this was possible only because of the Mercy of Allah . It reminded her of the ayah,
“So remember Me; I will remember you…” (Surah Al-Baqarah (2):152)
It maybe that Allah made Zahwa drink the bitter medicine of sins to cure her from the fatal disease of sins!
Dear brothers and sisters in Islam, Zahwa’s (name changed) story is not fictional. Zahwa wants us to know that it is possible to change and rectify our lives; it just requires an effort from our end. It is never too late to emerge from the depths of the darkness of our sins and bask in the Mercy of Allah .
It is never too late to emerge from the depths of the darkness of our sins and bask in the Mercy of Allah.
Zahwa’s journey to being a practicing Muslimah is not an easy one. Her past is constantly hurled at her. She is ridiculed and insulted by her near and dear ones, yet she continues to strive in the path of Allah . After embarking on this journey, she is filled with tranquility and peace, which she says she never felt before.
“……unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.”(Surah Ar-Ra’d(13):28)
It has been 5 long years. Zahwa is a changed person now. Her nights are spent in the prayers and her day with seeking knowledge of Allah (currently a student at IOU). She is fearful of Allah’s punishment, yet hopes for His mercy. She prays that Allah blesses her with a long life to make up for all the missed time to serve the deen of Allah . She meets every hardship with a smile, looking at it as a means of purification. Sarah continues to help Zahwa in this journey with unwavering zeal and enthusiasm.
There is an astonishing difference that can be seen in Zahwa. The cloud of recklessness and grief that enveloped her is nowhere to be seen. She radiates warmth and love; is serene and dignified now. She is humble, yet strong. She is not wavering in her decisions when it is in accordance with the Sunnah and the book of Allah . Zahwa lives her life purely seeking the pleasure of Allah and Allah has blessed her for it.
For me, Zahwa’s life is the perfect example of:
“….For indeed, Allah sends astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills……” (Surah Fatir(35):8)
Zahwa’s life makes me realize that Allah never forsakes the one who turn towards Him. But Zahwa is too humble to acknowledge it, fearing that such a thought (that Allah might have forgiven her) may fill her with pride and conceit. She fears it may make her slip from the right path. But for me, as a person who has always seen Zahwa, I can see that she has been blessed. Her life is filled with small miracles which I never expect could happen. Her life was previously filled with darkness and grief. But now, it is different. Her life is full of barakah.
Zahwa made a sincere attempt to rectify herself. She still cries on reading the verses describing the inhabitants of paradise. She yearns to be one of them but is afraid that her sins might form a barrier. So she strives incessantly. She strives to be one among those who will see Allah . This is her goal. Her dunya revolves around fulfilling her goal set in the Aakhirah.
I leave you with one question Zahwa repeatedly asks herself:
If the answer is no, then wake up. The clock is ticking…..