When time seemingly stood still, Allah nurtured us all in different ways

Compiled by Zahra Venkat

This article is part of Arriqaaq Magazine - Unfurl

Time, a precious  commodity, a blessing we have been advised to make  use of, before it slips through our fingers; rarely do we not ask for just a little more. However, when a small  virus found its way into our midst, it perhaps  felt like we were suddenly jolted awake from a random  stupor, with a lot of time at hand and not much to do,  until we began to look closely.

When the world thought that time itself had stood still, many of us had entirely different perspectives, and experiences! A collection of mini-stories awaits you in the following pages, from the eyes of 'everyday' people, stories that are sure to tug on your heart strings, make you sit up and open your mind to see the sprinkles of barakah Allah had placed in our lives, specifically in our TIME.

The experiences of time, as it unfurled itself, in the lives of a student, a revert, a mumpreneur, a mother, a wife, a husband and little children.

POEM - by Aiasha Sadaf Malik

3:00 AM Conversations -  Zahra Shahid

"Ya Nafs ! how haven’t you understood that happiness lies in pleasing Allah?"

This question used to be a frequent guest in my mind, and metaphorically speaking, in the pre-Covid-19 era, I was in complete darkness burdened by the mundane loads of this dunya. Then, in the corona-gripped world, Allah sent me His ray of light in the month of Ramadan, and like a sharp intruder into my black world, it was blinding initially, but it was also as if my soul inherently recognized it as the Divine Hidayah, and here I was, gifted with these 2 special, unique elements – hidayah and lockdown – and they blended into a fantastical concoction, resulting in a new me.

Undoubtedly, the Qur'an became a cure for the disease in my heart I didn’t even know I had. There was an unspoken competition that began as well, where every Friday my mom and I would try to recite Surah al Kahf before the other could! This legacy that was born in 2020 Ramadan continues till this day. What a beautiful thing to share between us.

However, the best experience of Ramadan 2020 (or of my life thus far!), was the blessing of my 3 A.M.conversations with Allah, tahajjud. I had the conviction that Ar-Rahmaan will forgive me, and He will heal my heart and everything that was broken within me.

It was in these '3 A.M. conversations' with Al-Ghafoor, wherein I realised that true happiness is found in pleasing Allah, alone.

It was these ‘3 A.M. conversations’ that helped me bloom, healing my scars.

It was at these ‘3 A.M. conversations’ that my nafs finally, found peace. Alhamdulillah ala kulli haal.

Nurturing Young Minds -  Juwaeriah Siddiqui (Mother, Mompreneur)

As humans, we like to think that time stood still during the pandemic! However I’d argue that it is not time that changes, rather it is our perception of time that changes based on priorities and societal norms. When everything around us was inaccessible, we were challenged to re-evaluate our life.

The pandemic and the subsequent lockdown period taught me to form closer boundaries around mychildren, and in turn their learning magnified. The value that I drew out of the time changed, not time by itself. I loved teaching my children at home, but life as a business owner though, took an all-new route.

Being a nurturer of the Arabic language in young hearts and minds, my business model of motivating children to love the Arabic language was based on human interaction. And when that aspect was challenged, as a business, we decided to take that leap of faith and have a session online anyway. It was a success! All from the comfort of home - so  different from what was the "norm"!

Time did not change; rather, our mental blocks were challenged, allowing more people to accept this change and grow with us. We drew bigger boundaries around our traditional group meetings. While we spent only 30 minutes singing rhymes and reading Arabic literature, we gained more in terms of the barakah in our time; we were able to appreciate more of what we have and how many more people we could connect with, through this shift in perception. Alhamdulillah ala kulli haal.

Juwaeriah is a young mom and an Arabic Language enthusiast looking to instil the love of Arabic in young minds from an early age, using innovative methods of teaching. Learn more about her brainchild ARABICALLY here: Arabically – A platform to celebrate and inspire the love of Arabic

Crossing Oceans - Samaa D. (Revert, Daughter)

It was the month of May 2020 when amidst a chilling pandemic that swept the world (by the permission of Allah), I started pondering upon my own situation - when and how will I be able to free myself from the difficult circumstances owing to living with my non Muslim family which I had been bearing since 7 long years. It was still emotionally, mentally and physically a drain upon me. And so it was during the pandemic lockdown, when Allah caused the world to stand still, that I made a decision of moving out, as I decided to fight for my deen, to be able to practice freely; even ifthat meant crossing oceans and traveling to a whole another continent. At a time when people were longing to be home, I longed to be closer to Allah.

After a brief waiting period, lots of dua, I prayed Salatul Istikharah, chose between two countries to settle in, finally opted for one and moved there. While I do miss my family, hearing the azaan, masaajid and Islamic centers conveniently located around me, at the end of the day when I can practice Islam and pray in peace, I find relief even in  my solitude. Throughout my journey, I have learnt a valuable lesson, that when we freely leave everything in the Hands of Allah, He will surely make a way out for us, and the help of Allah will surely come to those who remain patient in times of adversity, even if the circumstances seem stifling to us at that given time.

I have also come to realize that there is no right or wrong time, Allah's plan is always perfect, and He places us in various situations to test us, to make us stronger, to nurture us through it all, until finally we emerge from it, even more grateful to our Rabb.

Alhamdulillah ala kulli haal.

Mending Hearts - Umm N

As a mother of a toddler and currently an expectant mom, the ‘Covid Lockdown’ seemed daunting at first. However, now, due to the “new normal” conditions, and with the “luxury time” stripped away, I somehow had more time to introspect and reflect upon my life, way more than before.

As a wife though, the lockdown came as a beautifully wrapped gift from Allah to me, as it gave my husband and I ample time to spend with each other, something I had been yearning for, since long. Fulfilling family duties seemed wholeheartedly rewarding, as my husband was also home more hours in a day. It was so rewarding to see him spend time at home with our toddler, as with his normal routine, this seemed to be a distant dream. Although the pandemic placed us in a difficult position financially; what we did have was much more valuable to us and that is having complete trust in Allah and the certainty that He will provide for us if our intentions are purified for His Sake.

The beginning of the lockdown was a little tough but eventually we both learned to give in and work harder for our marriage during the precious amount of time we had been provided during the lockdown. Yes, indeed time is a provision from Allah, one that we so often take for granted. As a relatively young family, our time together had always been so constricted, so when during the lockdown Ramadan my spouse and I prayed together, stayed up for qiyam-ul-layl together, enjoyed iftar together, played with our daughter together, cooked together, Alhamdulillah, it all seemed surreal, coolness of eyes indeed.

We learned to let go of our fears about the future, especially during such times when everything seems unsure, with the certainty that Allah, our Rabb, had complete control over all of our lives, and we have now witnessed this fact in absolute truth.

Alhamdulillah ala kulli haal.

Coffee & Co. - Abu Aadam

My day has been starting slowly, in a very relaxed manner; as opposed to having to rush out the door to commute to work! I am served piping hot coffee to awaken my senses by my wife, as I am reminded how blessed I am that she makes the best coffee in the world! While I sit at my desk, in my room, a year since I began working from home, a year since the lockdown, and I reflect upon the year that was entirely novel (pun intended) - all I can say is Alhamdulillah. I don't believe I could have ever, even for a second, imagined that I'd get to spend as much time as I wanted, with my family, or that I would be working from home for this long!

When the masaajid closed, I was forced to introspect deeply on whether the 12 PM meeting was more important or the call to success. Though I missed being at the congregational prayers, I was happy to have a mini masjid at my own home, Alhamdulillah, and even happier when Ramadan was spent with my family praying behind me as the Imaam of the house.

Of course, for the very first time since starting a family, I am now also a witness to the efforts of the “Rabbatul bayt” and all of the little things that go behind keeping my home a home, along with the important realization that the question I used to casually ask my wife - "What did you do all day?"- is now redundant, and one I'd dare not ask again, pandemic or no pandemic!

I sometimes wonder how I will be able to get back to the old way of working from an office, and not being able to kiss my children whenever I feel like, or being served coffee and warm meals during the day and the beautiful company of my family throughout the day.Yes, I admit I'm now quite spoiled, Alhamdulillah ala kulli haal.


Pandemic or no pandemic - a believer always looks for something to say Alhamdulillah for!

These were just a few of the many diverse stories and experiences people have had in the past year. Narratives of how, from each of their varied perspectives they saw their time unfurled to showcase little blessings amid some big, unprecedented changes, be it emotionally, spiritually, financially, moving countries or just connecting with their families.

But in the middle of all of these changes, were our children, who found themselves, quite literally, coming to terms with life head-on. However, perhaps in their own innocent way, they showed us all how to adapt and grow, as well as how to have good thoughts and expectations from Allah.

When asked what has been their happiest and saddest memory of the past year, this is what few of our kids had to say:

“I was happiest spending time at home with my baby sister due to distance learning, I love staying home all day and playing with her. But my saddest memory of this pandemic is losing my Nana (grandfather) due to covid. I’m sad that he’s no longer around and I won’t ever be able to meet him.” - Huda, 9 yrs
“I miss meeting my friends and playing with them; I also feel bad that I never even got to meet my new classteachers or classmates, so this was the saddest for me, but I enjoyed not having to wake up early and going to school on the bus! I also felt happiest to spend more time with my family, especially my father!” – Sarah, 9 yrs
“I was sad about having to leave school, but now because I am at home all day, I got more time to listen to Qur’an and I love to study at home with my mother teaching me.” – Iman, 8 yrs
“I loved having baba home and that I could stay home all day too. I am sad about the virus because we cannot go out without mask and I cannot meet my friends at school.” – Aadam, 6 yrs

Alhamdulillah ala kulli haal, indeed!