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A light for those who can see

21 May, 2012

By Nabila Habib (Khabrein.Info)

I had a strange experience some time back. I had gone to a friend’s place when her son was called to the other room because his tutor had arrived. My friend told me that she was relieved because her son had finally got a very good tutor. Some of my neighbours were also looking for a good home tutor so I enquired about her son’s tutor. If he was good, then I could suggest him to teach some kids in my building, too.

My friend said, “She is a very fine girl. She lives nearby and is very punctual and strict with my son. Now I am hopeful now his grades will improve.”

So this was a girl. I was surprised because though girls do a lot of tutoring, they hardly ever take up home tutoring jobs.
“Is she a student herself?” I asked about the tutor.
“Oh no! She is a married woman,” my friend replied.

Now I was filled with curiosity. A student going to people’s home to teach kids is rare, a married woman doing so was a novelty to me. I requested my friend to let me meet her son’s tutor. When one hour of some strict tutoring was over, I was invited to meet the woman who had piqued my curiosity.

I had not expected her to look like this. She looked like a young student fresh into college – just like any other Jamia student on her way to college. She had on a shirt of the latest design, cotton slacks that are so much in vogue and that go as churidaars, lace-edged cotton dupatta and matching danglers in her ears.
We got talking. And then she told me about herself.

Her name was Shama. She was married two years back to a hardware engineer working in Dell. The couple fell in love and Shama, who was called something else in her maidenhood, converted from Hinduism to adopt Islam. She said that she offered namaz five times daily and yes, she keeps Ramadan fasts. Her parents had been very offended with her conversion and her mother, who had had any soft feelings for our religious beliefs, had vowed never to talk to her daughter again. Shama was boycotted by everyone of her community because she was a matter of great disgrace for her prosperous family members. Only her brother would consent to chat with her online sometimes.

“I would get very depressed at home after my marriage. We shifted to Shaheen Bagh and there was no one to talk to. I would sit before the computer and surf net all day. A maid comes to do the household work and my husband would be gone to his office. I had nothing to do. So I decided to start teaching kids. I have always loved children, so this diversion helps me pass my time,” Shama smiled.

“Do you also contribute in your household expenses with your earnings?” I asked.

“No! My husband earns enough. Whatever I earn I spend in buying tidbits – like my earrings!” Her laugh was very honest. “I also teach in Shaheen Public school. I don’t take money for that. It might help me in my hereafter…,” she said softly.

“Doesn’t your husband mind you going to homes to teach kids?”
“No, he is very understanding. He knows how lonely it gets for me. But yes, he is very strict about the timings. I have to be home before Maghreb prayers and I do not go anywhere without informing him,” she chattered on.

“Why don’t you join some full-time work? You can earn better and you will not have to go to a number of homes,” I suggested.
“I cannot. All my certificates are with my parents and I cannot apply anywhere unless they give them back. But they will not do so, they are very angry…even after two years,” her eyes grew sad. Then she brightened and added, “But this is for good. I will not teach so many kids for long. When my responsibilities increase in near future, then I will be occupied all the time,” she said with a pregnant smile and I got her meaning.

Then she got up and carefully wrapped her huge dupatta over her head and all around her. Now she was no more the carefree college girl chatting away with her earing dancing about her cheeks. Out of my friend’s house stepped a Muslim woman in whose appearance no believer could find fault with.

I could not help having a novel sense of being thoroughly charmed and ashamed at the same time. Here was a woman who had adopted our faith only two years back and she was doing all she could to wash away her sins and prepare for the hereafter. She had no illusions about her faith and no pious pretense.

It is said that it is the sunnah that wins over the hearts of people, and not the fard in Islam. It was the disposition, good character and personality of our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) that the Almighty had presented to us to follow as examples. How many among us Muslims are able to be true to our sunnah?

I say I was ashamed because one a similar couple, where the wife was a new convert to Islam, had come looking for a flat when my father had just completed the construction of our house. But they were turned away because my father did not want trouble in our house because of a new convert. I feel it was our duty to show our best hospitality to the one who had just accepted Allah’s words. Instead we turned her away. I thought of this incident when I saw Shama and felt the warmth with which she met me. I hope had half as good an impression as she made on me.

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