Monday, April 23, 2012

Timeless Gift (chapter 5)

Ever since the meeting in April during Ramadhan, Ashraff had kept in touch with Yusuff every now and then. Their meeting at the mosque was “a blessed meeting” according to Ashraff. He had grown to care for Yusuff and his family. Yusuff felt the same connection with him. They had invited him to spend Eid in Bloomingdale. Ashraff had to turn down the invitation. He had already made plans to celebrate it in London – the place where he reverted to Islam the previous Ramadhan. He wanted to be with his family on his second Eid. ~ In early summer, June ’90, after a recommendation letter from Ashraff, Shafikah was hired to work part time at the Bloomingdale Chronicle. However, two weeks later she received a call from her friend, Jameelah, a Muslim African American who lived in the neighboring town. They were course mates at IUPU. Jameelah’s family owned a small publishing company and was starting a new Muslim magazine. They wanted her to be one of the editors. Shafikah did not want to let Ashraff down by leaving the job at Bloomingdale chronicle, but at the same time she felt a strong obligation to work at the Muslim magazine. After doing istikharah prayer, seeking Allah’s (s.w.t.) guidance in making the right decision, and discussing with her brother and sister-in-law, she made up her mind to quit the job at the local papers. Ashraff called Bloomingdale Chronicle to speak to Shafikah and ask how she was doing, but was informed that she had quit. So, he called her at home in the evening to speak to her. Unfortunately, she was having a meeting about the premier edition of the magazine. “Brother Ashraff, my sister’s still worried that she has let you down.” “Tell her to stop worrying. I’m happy for her, alhamdulillah! I think she made a wise decision, brother Yusuff.” “I think she looks up to you as a mentor in some ways.” Ashraff laughed. “I’m flattered to be a mentor to a cub magazine editor…a Muslim editor. Insha Allah, I will help her in anyway I could. But from the look at things right now, I think your sister is going to do well, insha Allah.” “I hope so too, insha Allah. I know she loves writing. It’s been her strong interest…her passion I‘d say, since she was in school.” Yusuff explained to Ashraff about Shafikah’s involvement in writing at school, and later at the college, that led her to study Journalism. Ashraff was pleased to hear it. “How’s the family anyway?” Ashraff changed the subject. He noticed he had asked too much about Yusuff’s sister. “Umar is active as usual. Insha Allah, we’re going to have an addition to the family…say in about seven months or so…a brother or a sister for Umar.” “Masha Allah! Congratulations, brother Yusuff. Two good news in one day. Alhamdulillah!” “Well, there’s the third one.” Yusuff added eagerly. “More?” “Yes. The committee members of the Islamic Center have agreed to open another Islamic class for the children to add to the present one. Fatima and Shafikah might be involved in it too.” “Masha Allah! You’ve all really been blessed by Allah Ta’ala. Alhamdulillah. Thank you for sharing the good news with me.” Yusuff and Ashraff realized their growing friendship had become stronger by the day. It was the bond of Muslim brotherhood that pulled them together. “Who else to share the good news of Muslim achievements, if not with one’s own brothers and sisters in Islam!” “Alhamdulillah.” Ashraff felt touched by Yusuff’s comment. “Alhamdulillah.” “I hope with this Islamic class, your sister won’t have too much on her plate. After all, she’s a newly appointed editor.” “I’ll make sure to pass that advice to your student…I mean the cub Muslim editor...” They both laughed. “Do so! Please send my regards and salams to her and sister Fatima too.” “Insha Allah, I will, brother Ashraff.”

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Timeless Gift (chapter 4)

Chapter 4

Yusuff was fixing Umar’s toy when he heard a knock at the door. It was Ashraff. He arrived an hour before iftar. Yusuff invited him in. They talked about Ashraff’s visit to the town. Suddenly Umar tugged at Ashraff’s pants. The little boy wanted to show him his fire truck. Ashraff gave his attention to the boy and played along. Yusuff watched them with a smile. Later, they broke the fast with some dates and drinks. Before eating the main food, Yusuff led Maghrib prayer in congregation.
Ashraff studied the food in front of him. “I ate Malaysian food once…a couple of years ago in Kuala Lumpur. Kind of spicy I think, but delicious! Masha Allah!”
“You are welcome to try every one of these. The ladies specially prepared them for you…the guest!” Yusuff smiled. Ashraff returned the smile and glanced at the women happily.
“He’s right brother Ashraff, help yourself, please,” Fatima added.
They talked about Malaysia and places Ashraff had been to for his assignments as a journalist. He was in Malaysia for two days in 1985 after covering a story in Singapore. Yusuff mentioned that Shafikah was graduating in Journalism that spring. Ashraff was surprised she had not mentioned it when they met at the library of the Islamic Center’s. He had told her he was a journalist when he introduced himself.
“Congratulations, Sister Shafikah!”
“Thank you, insha Allah, if everything goes well.”
“So, what’s your big plan after graduation? Leaving for home to be a reporter or a writer, perhaps?”
Yusuff and Fatima looked at Shafikah with a smile. They knew this was a decision she had been trying to make since finishing her internship in the fall.
“I still have this semester to complete, but yes, I have that in my plan, insha Allah.”
“You could stay here for a while and seek for a part time job at the local paper to get more hands-on experience. It would be good for your reśumé later, insha Allah,” Ashraff suggested.
Shafikah turned to look at her brother who then raised his eyebrows as if waiting for Shafikah’s response to the suggestion.
She turned to face Ashraff. “I’ve also thought about that, Brother Ashraff, but really I haven’t made my final decision.”
“I know someone at the local paper here. If you decided to stay and work here for a while, I could help. Just don’t hesitate to ask.” Ashraff explained that his old friend worked as an editor at the Bloomingdale Chronicle.
“Thank you, jazak Allahu khairan.”
“Wa anti kathaalik.” He gave her a friendly smile.
After dinner, the women left Yusuff and Ashraff alone. They were discussing the lecture tapes he was looking for at the Islamic Center. Later, they all left for tarawih prayer.
After the tarawih prayer, Yusuff invited Ashraff for another iftar since the next day would be his last day in Bloomingdale to finish his work. However, he had already accepted the Imam’s invitation. He told Yusuff that they might meet again at the Islamic Center tomorrow night. He planned to leave for Indianapolis after tarawih prayer.
Ashraff walked Yusuff to the car to say goodbye. The ladies were already waiting at the car.
“I guess this is goodbye, then… just in case I don’t get to see all of you here tomorrow night. Thank you for everything, alhamdulillah. I really had a great time at your home tonight. It’s a pleasure meeting your lovely family, Brother Yusuff. I won’t forget this.”
“We’ll keep in touch, insha Allah.”
“That would be great, insha Allah.”
Fatima was already at the back seat of the car holding the sleeping Umar.
Shafikah opened the car door to the front seat. “Take care of your iman, Brother Ashraff.”
“Insha Allah. Make du’as for me too Sister Shafikah…we’re in a great month right now.” He smiled at her.
“Insha Allah, I will. As salam alaikum.”
Yusuff met Ashraff after his last tarawih prayer at the mosque. He sent his salams to Fatima and Shafikah. He reminded Yusuff to tell Shafikah again about his offer to help her.