November 03, 2005
~*Sister Aishah's Journey Continues...Eid in Egypt 2005*~
In the name of Allah, the Most-Merciful, the All-Compassionate November 3, 2005 Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatuallahi wa Barakatuhu! Like small children afraid to fall asleep in fear of missing something, my husband and I sat awake the entire night chatting, snacking, and just plain giddy with excitement knowing that in the morning it would be Eid! Al-hamdulillah! Not wanting to disturb our sleeping mom (well, his mom and my mil, but I've just taken to calling her mom!), my husband and I retired to our room which was nice, because his computer is set up at a small desk against the wall just to the right of the entrance, and beside the desk there is one of those tri-folded mattresses that we use for just sitting or taking a nap sometimes. Between the mat and the computer desk sits a small table onto which I had put out a tray of sweets and hot tea, and there we sat as the grandfather clock in the front room chimed away the hours until fajr. Logging into the messenger program on my laptop, it was really nice to find stateside friends online! There is a 7-hour time difference between Egypt and the U.S., so while it might have been like, 2:00 in the morning here in Egypt, it was only 7:00 pm there, and everyone was finishing their last iftar and praying Isha. The larger part of those wee morning hours was spent between two messenger chat sessions. The first session with a dear, dear friend in Washington, D.C., who was with me on the day that I met my husband in 2003. She and I had not had an opportunity to speak with one another in quite some time, and by the end of our chat, when I scrolled up to the top of the message screen to check the starting time of our conversation, and then scrolled back down to see the end time, I was amazed to find that we had been online together for two-and-a-half hours!! Subhan'Allah! *checks numb fingertips* The second chat was with another dear friend in Falls Church, Virginia. Al-hamdulillah, I met this sister after first embracing Islam and when I was living in KSA last year she and her husband came to Mecca for Umrah and she brought a large envelope full of mail from my P.O. box in D.C., and Al-hamdulillah, unbeknownst to me, the envelope contained two items that were of the highest importance! What a surprise and blessing! *smile* So, Al-hamdulillah, it was nice chatting with her on eve of Eid while she switched back and forth between the chat window and final preparations for her family's last iftar of Ramadan 2005. It was such fun! And her son, Ibrahim, who is so young but for some reason seems to remember me so well from our first meeting, subhan'Allah, messaged me a *hug*. Al-hamdulillah, that was so nice! Alas, the adhan for fajr finally sounded and shutting down our computers, we took a long stretch and prepared for salat. There wouldn't be much time after fajr until the Eid prayer scheduled for 6:40 am! I was thankful at the time that the Eid prayer was so early because after staying awake all night I was ready for a nap, but I settled instead for a steaming cup of coffee (which I had abstained from the entire month of Ramadan!!), and then set about trying to decide what to wear. You know women, even if we have a plan the night before it can be shot full of holes the next day if the wind blows just a little bit in the opposite direction! laughs@self!!! I had taken to heart the sunnah of wearing something nice to attend the Eid prayer, and upon presenting myself to mom, I was greeted with a smile of approval. Al-hamdulillah! My husband and I made our way to the masjid following the sound of the takbir's, masha'Allah. On arriving at the masjid my husband left my side to join the brothers and I set about in search of a familiar face or two that I could sit with amongst the sisters. However, it seemed that we had arrived a little late and I was stuck in an over-flow section outside the masjid, whereupon I did not find a single familiar face! Add to that the fact that I was surprised to find myself in, like, the 2% of sisters wearing a less than ordinary jelbab, making me feel oddly out of place, and yet sad a little bit as I then considered that some perhaps had worn their best, even if it was a warm-up suit or jeans with sneakers; and making a place for myself to sit down, I made a silent dua. After the Eid prayer the Imam gave a short talk and when it was finished, I stood by the wall of the passageway set up for the overflow, silently hoping to spot any one of the sisters I had met during the Taraweeh prayers. Just as I found my husband, my eyes also fell on the smiling face of Maha. Al-hamdulillah! I gave a wave to my husband, with an extended index finger to let him know I would be there in a minute, and I crossed through the street to greet my friend. Al-hamdulillah, I felt so much better having met at least one other person that I knew to which I could extend an enthusiastic, "Eid Mubarak!" As I finally rejoined my husband with the intention of heading back to our apartment, I reached out to his arm, stopping him from moving forward, and pleaded, "Mustafa, can we please walk back a different way than we came?" I had read that this was also a sunnah for after the Eid prayer, and telling him so, he smiled in agreement, thanked me for reminding him, and off we went in the opposite direction. Al-hamdulillah. We got home and mom was in the kitchen preparing fish and shrimp for our Eid feast. My husband headed in to the bedroom post-haste for a good, long nap. *smile* Ah, if sleep had only been so kind to me! But for some reason it continued to elude me altogether, so I occupied myself in the kitchen area where, against one wall there is a small sofa facing where mom was busy with her preparations. I sat with my laptop reading and answering mail but stood from time-to-time to let her show me how she was doing something. She enjoyed that...and even though it was in our pantomimed form of communication (since my Arabic is still pretty limited), as she finally finished her tasks, I understood it when she conveyed to me that in her heart I was like a daughter, next to her Lula. Al-hamdulillah. Al-hamdulillah that Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala brought my husband and I to Egypt; Al-hamdulillah that the 19-years that she had spent taking suhoor, fasting and breaking her fast alone...were over. I can't tell you how many times over the past few days the thought of this gentle, kind and gracious woman going through so much alone for so long, just filled my heart to over-flowing, and sent tears silently streaming down my cheeks again and again. (Of course family visits from time-to-time, and calls regularly, but you know what I mean…it's not the same as having someone to share your day-to-day, life's-ups-and-downs kind of things with; having someone else to cook for or share a meal with. How many meals did she eat alone? How many nights did she sleep alone; wake up alone…that's what I mean.) Nineteen years worth…may Allah subhanaahu wa ta'ala continue to shower her with mercy and grant her the highest place in Jannah! Amin. Al-hamdulillah, after a nice seafood dinner I was able to settle down for a much needed nap. I awoke to pray Maghrib with my husband and fell immediately back into bed only to re-awaken a short time later to learn that guests had come and gone, and that my husband had offered my salaams and Eid greetings in my absence, explaining that I had been awake for two days! We rounded out the day in the sitting room with hot tea and more of the cookies that my husband's brother had sent from Cairo, and finally exhausted out of conversation, we all decided to turn in for the night. But the best surprise was yet to come! There were two things missing from my Eid celebration...hearing from my daughter Hanane (who had spent all of Ramadan in Morocco with her family), and my sister Samera back in Saudi Arabia. Then just before fajr the phone rang. I answered quickly on the second ring with a muffled, "Assalamu Alaikum." And there it was, one of the missing voices of my Eid holiday, my sister Samera, exclaiming, "Aishah! I recognized your voice! Aishah! Aishah! Eid Mubarak! I miss you so much! Aishah, how are you!" Subhan'Allah. Al-hamdulillah. Allah-Akbar! What a nice time to receive her call, too, when everyone else was asleep and it was just the two of us! And what wonderful news her call delivered! Just before I had left for Hajj back in January, Samera and Gedy and I had spent a few days in Riyadh visiting family. During our stay we spent two nights with Samera's brother, his wife and their little girl. I was collecting dua requests at the time, and Al-hamdulillah I hear from dua requestor's every-now-and-then letting me know that their dua request has been answered. This is always fantastic news, but in the case of Samera's sister-in-law, Amal, it was absolutely incredible news!! Amal's dua request was with regard to pregnancy. Not only did she wish to become pregnant, no, that wasn't enough, this new baby needed to be a boy. I promised to make the request on her behalf at Arafat, and, Al-hamdulillah I was able to keep that commitment. Wallahi, what came to my ears in Samera's phone call to me was the biggest surprise! Nine months after Hajj...dear Amal did, indeed deliver a baby boy! Allah Akbar! Allah Akbar! This was the most overwhelmingly joyful news!!! I am still dazed thinking about it even now! Samera had called from her home, so I didn't get to talk to mom or any of the other family but she promised to call back later in the evening when she would be visiting everyone. Of course, I spent the whole day in anticipation of that call, and when it came, my mother-in-law answered the phone. I could tell she was talking to Samera. When the two of them finished their little chat, I took the call in another room, and Samera immediately put mom on the phone. Subhan'Allah hearing her voice was a blessing in and of itself, and although I couldn't understand a lot of what she was saying, I figured out she was insisting I try to come for Umrah so she could see me. Next on the line came Maha. I have thought of her so often since I left Taif. She used to walk me through the house every time she bought something new to seek my approval. We would approach the new object and she would say, "Beautiful?" To which I would reply with an enthusiastic, "Masha'Allah!" or a flat-out "La, la, la, la, la!" (No, no, no, no, no!) Wallahi, if I said "No" that thing was gone the next day! So after saying Assalamu Alaikum and Eid Mubarak I said, "Maha beautiful?" And she burst into laughter. It made my heart smile to hear her laugh again! Last came my sweet daughter, Gedy (Samera and I have joint custody *lol*). *smile* Gedy learned a few phrases of English while I was with them, her favorite being, "I love you." So after exchanging salaams, I said, "I love you!" and the next thing Samera was back on the line telling me that Gedy had fled from the room in tears. I could just see those beautiful brown eyes flooding over as Samera's words registered. Samera used to jokingly say that she knew Gedy loved me more...(which, of course isn't true!), but I'd rather say that the love between the three of us is pretty special all around. And that was about the last of the cell phone time Samera could use, so we made our parting duas and ended our call. My dearest Hanane...I am still missing to hear your voice or to even see your smiley face lit up on the messenger. I just pray all is well and that you are safe and happy; Love, Mum. I pray each person reading had a blessed Eid holiday, even if it was just in getting to share a chat online, or to wear something nice; to visit the masjid for the Eid prayer and hear the echo of the takbir's, or to hug someone, share a recipe, or sit around a table filled with warm food; to take a nap, entertain a guest or two (even if only in spirit, *lol*), enjoy a cup of tea and a plate of sweets, or just hear the voice of someone special calling from afar. There are so many blessings to be found in the *little* things in life. Ma'Salaama, ~Aishah ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Ya Allah, You are the embodiment of forgiveness, You love to forgive, Please disregard my shortcomings, O Forgiver, Ghafoor, the Forgiving Lord. Oh Allah, make it easy for me to do good and help me avoid the bad in all situations. Oh Allah, grant me success in all of my affairs in this life and the Next. Please increase me in knowledge and bless me with excellent teachers. Ya Allah, let me die in the highest state of Iman. Oh Allah, bless this Ummah, guide us, and unite our hearts. Ya Allah, lift my heart, relieve my burdens, and make me of those who put their full trust in You for all of their affairs. Oh Allah, please bless me with the opportunity to see many more Ramadans and Eids, and to perform much better worship of You than I have done this year and in the past. Amin. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Copyright © 2005, Aishah Schwartz Permission is granted to circulate among private individuals and groups, to post on Internet sites and to publish in full text and subject title in not-for-profit publications. Contact author for all other rights, which are reserved.