I sat in my weekly study circle the other day, and had a blast from the past moment. I thumbed through the book we were studying, and couldn’t help but be blown away for a few minutes. I was holding in my hand a well-worn family treasure, and I was the lucky one who owned it now. Even though I didn’t think I deserved it, I was blown away with Allah’s mercy on me that it now lay in my hands.
This was the book that I read growing up as a teenager. The book that my sisters studied while they sat with my mom in self-imposed family time. The book that my brother wrapped with a brown paper bag and wrote on in his beautiful Arabic writing, with a typo that still designs the cover. That my sister graffitied with her name. That my mom stamped with her side notes, written in her tiny, unclear handwriting. That my father thumbed through endlessly, lovingly.
As I sit here, I remember the last time it was given to me. I had moved out to my own place and left behind a wealth of books in my parents’ storage attic, too lazy to bring it down. While shopping in my father’s bookcase, he sat there and happily gave me book after book, so sure that he was fulfilling me and egging me on to read more in Arabic. He handed me this book, Mukhtasar Minhaj al Qasideen, the book that I loved reading in the past, but had not read in a long while. It was the book that my mother studied endlessly, and that my siblings had marked with their own marks.At that moment, my mom put her foot down, “No, I still read that book.” I recall how happy I was when Baba slipped it into my hands and said, “It’s ok, Fatima will read it.”
I cried the day in my study circle when I remembered this memory. For over two years the book sat on my shelf, unread, unused. How selfish of me. But subhanaAllah, here I am, two years later, finally using it, thinking of him and making dua’a for him. I love how Allah’s plans for the future play out in our past. Perhaps we can’t see the reason for something, only to be surprised by it slapping us in our face many years later.
Fatima lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and three little musketeers.