The night is cold, rain pelting against the small windows, filling strategically placed pots to overflowing, candlelight flickering and dancing against whitewashed walls worn to gray. I sit wrapped in the blanket my husband bought me the second day we were in Yemen, listening to the symphony of water, light and darkness as it surrounds me, seeping through my fleece armor, providing the song for my thoughts to hum along with.
In Islaam, we are commanded to keep the ties of kinship, to hold tightly to family connections as much as we are able. Within three years of moving to Yemen, I have lost my eldest sister and father, each moving beyond my grasp, slipping away even as I strove to hold onto them ever more tightly. My remaining siblings are travelling their own paths, the effort to keep in touch with me not important enough for them to keep up with. I understand, as I have always chosen my own way, and this path that I am taking to gaining knowledge seems strange to them, foreign, extreme. To me, it is the only way, a blessing from Allaah that I cannot turn away from.
For ten years this is what we focus on: our growing family, our studies, implementing and spreading the knowledge we have gained in any way we are able, and simply living day to day. Then, due to a series of events beyond our control, we are suddenly thrown back into the clamor and chaos of life back in the States. It suddenly becomes possible to renew ties of kinship, to make connections that previously were broken become joined, allowing the electricity to finally hum through them.
June has been a time of connecting for me. My sister and her daughter are visiting from Colorado, our second time together since our return. We are enjoying times of quiet conversation, evening walks, and fun with all the children together. Last week a conference was held in Kansas City, Missouri, bringing Muslims from different places and walks of life together to seek knowledge. I was asked to speak, and was blessed with meeting students from my online classes in person, putting faces to the words across the screen. And, one day last week, I was finally able to meet the sister of my heart who lives in Madina and who had previously only been a smile in my inbox, sharing so many ideas, dreams and aspirations through our lengthy and frequent emails.
I spend the second day of the conference waiting, knowing that she and her family got in late the night before after a long transcontinental flight. Every time the door opens, though, I look, and wonder if it will be her. Finally, my daughter Juwairiyah comes in and says, “Ummi, you have to come outside.” I rush out and see a newcomer, and know it has to be her. In seconds we are holding each other, thanking Allaah for bringing us together in body as He has blessed our hearts to come together so many months before.
The next few days are times of silence and laughter, speaking and listening, sharing and spending time together. The day she is leaving, we sit side by side watching our children sliding down the steps of the house we are staying in. “I’m sliding down on my back!” says one girl. “I’m sliding down on my stomach!” says another.
“I’m sliding down on my armpit!” says a third. We turn and look at each other, identical looks on our faces and suddenly we know for sure that this friendship and sisterhood is for real. I think back to those rainy nights of solitude, and rejoice in the fact that there is a time for this, and a time for that, and in the knowledge that each thing happens in its own time, its own place.
I am reminded of the many narrations from the Prophet Muhammad, may Allaah’s praise and salutations be upon him, in which he mentions good companionship- both its signs, and its blessings.
… Anas bin Malik related that a man was with the Prophet, may Allaah’s praise and salutations be upon him, when another man passed by and the former said, “Oh Messenger of Allaah! I love this man (for Allaah’s sake).” The Messenger of Allaah asked, “Have you informed him?” He said, “No.” The Messenger of Allaah then said, “Tell him (that you love him).” So he went up to the man and said to him, “I love you for the sake of Allaah,” and the other replied, “May Allaah, for Whose sake you love me, love you.”[Abu Daawud].
… Abu Musa reported Allaah’s Messenger, may Allaah’s praise and salutations be upon him, as saying: A believer is like a brick for another believer, the one supporting the other. …[Sahih Muslim]
… Narrated Abu Hurayrah: The Prophet, may Allaah’s praise and salutations be upon him, said: The believer is the believer’s mirror, and the believer is the believer’s brother who guards him against loss and protects him when he is absent. …[Abu Daawud]
I thank Allaah for the blessings of this month, for the love and strength of sisterhood, and for allowing these connections to be made.