JazakAllahuKheiran :)

I invited myself over to a friend’s house yesterday.  Normally I invite people over to my house instead, but since we’ve been without a housekeeper for the past three weeks, I don’t think any of my friends would appreciate an afternoon in the sty with tea and- well, that’s it.  Tea.  Because I don’t have cookies and there’s nothing made for lunch.

So MayG let me invite myself over.  And she very patiently waited for me to arrive two hours late after I was delayed by urgent work.  She sent me very detailed directions to her house.

(I buckled Musfira into her seat and started driving towards her part of town.  Five minutes into the drive, I noticed some alerts on my phone.)

I needed to go north on this road, take this exit, and then look for that building with the thing on it.  I had a google map point as well, which is fantastically useful.

(I’m in a Whatsapp group called- of course- Brain Surgery News.   It’s a small family group where my sister- who is in Singapore for neurosurgery right now- shares updates about what’s going on.  There were 29 notifications.)

So I started driving and skimmed through the messages when I stopped at a traffic light.

(My sister is allergic to the materials they could have used to fix the aneurysm in her brain.)

 And then I realized I had starting driving towards the wrong city.

(The aneurysm is too wide for the second option, coiling)

So I turned around and headed the other way, but I got stuck in Deira traffic because I hadn’t accounted for the time of day.  But when does Deira NOT have traffic, really.

(The third option is to open up her brain and manually put a titanium clip on the swollen vessel.  Which is behind her left eye.  Which she may lose sight in.)

I worked my way through Deira and got myself going in the right direction.  When I was finally five minutes away from her house, I drove right past the exit.

(But losing sight in one eye is a small price to pay to keep your brain from exploding. So Alhamdulillah.)

I made a U-turn using the next exit, except it wasn’t a U-turn.  It pointed me back in the direction of home again.

(The surgery has been delayed until the doctors are sure they’ve picked the right course of action.  Owl is being tested to see whether her form of EDS- a connective tissue disorder that we both have- is the kind that makes your veins fragile.  That’ll take another week to come in.)

I made another U-turn, and got myself pointed in the right direction to make a second pass at the correct exit.

(They also need to see if she’s allergic to titanium, because again- you can’t install things in someone’s brain that their body is going to have a problem with.)

I nearly missed it again.  I swung my car into the exit ramp at the last possible moment, grateful that traffic was light and there were very little cars on the road.

(They would have to break her skull.)

I finally found the building.  Musfira and I located the entrance, pushed the button for the ‘alligator,’ went upstairs and then rang the bell for MayG’s flat.

Breakfast was lovely.  It was served the moment I arrived- at nearly noon- as all breakfasts should be.  We had eggs and toast and chicken and nutella and juice and tea and cake.  Musfira and her four year old played beautifully together, we chatted about random interesting things, and just as I finished my last piece of toast (this was the one propping all that nutella up) MayG suddenly said, “Hey, you want to paint with me?



MayG  printed out some Arabic calligraphy using a machine that cut the art into adhesive vinyl.  Then she painstakingly removed the excess vinyl around all… err.. most of the little fathas, dammas, kasras, and other little wiggly bits that go around Arabic script.  Then she transferred them to watercolor paper and handed me a brush.

 (She had asked me if there was anything I wanted to paint in particular.)

To say that I enjoyed the painting wouldn’t even begin to do justice to how I felt.  I felt renewed by the painting.  I felt freed by the painting- even if it was for a little while- from the non-stop worry, fear, pain, and anxiety that had pounding on my brain the entire drive down.  I dipped the brush in water, I touched it gently to a deep, uncomplicated blue.  I dabbed the thick, textured paper and watched the paper soak up varying shades depending on wet the brush was, how long the brush had already been on the paper, and how quickly I moved the brush from one place to another.

It was soothing- not only in the action of painting itself- but in reading and re-reading the words I was painting around.

(On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear. Stroke, stroke, dip.  On no soul. Stroke, stroke.  No burden greater.  Dip, dip- stroke. On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear.)

I painted for Owlie-bird, who is floating in fluorescent white medical limbo somewhere in Singapore.  The course of treatment is unclear, the risks are scary, and the waiting is hard and scary, but InshaAllah, she’ll be fine.  Allah said so.

(If she dies as a Muslim, Alhamdulillah.)

I wish I could get it to her now because I want to frame it and prop it up next to her hospital bed, not because my untrained, unstructured, and uncomplicated blue watercolor is beautiful, but because Allah’s promise is beautiful.

(If she survives and lives as a Muslim, Alhamdulillah.)

I’m pretty sure I thanked MayG three or four times before leaving.  I was hoping to convey just the right sort of thanks- one where you’re insanely grateful but not hoping to show your insanity.  I don’t know if I succeeded.  But I thanked her.

And now, I’m going to thank her again.

MayG, thank you.  Really, very very much.  For tea and cookies and company and calligraphy and paint and green masala chicken and qeema and gajar halwa and poking out all those little sticky vinyl bits with a pin.  And for listening and hearing and giving me emotional sanctuary in your beautiful home for the better part of the afternoon.

On No Soul

Thank you for making me a larger, prettier version of the same calligraphy that I painted for my sister.

Your decorations are awesome, and you are one of the most creative people that I know, MashaAllah.  I left your house feeling calmer, clearer, and less likely to miss my exits because I was crying- which is what I had been doing on the way to your house.  I was also crying while you were printing things out with your magical cutting machine, and I would also like to thank you for either not noticing or not letting on that you had noticed.

“Whosoever relieves from a believer some grief pertaining to this world, Allah will relieve from him some grief pertaining to the Hereafter.”  Hadith Source Here

May Allah bless you and forgive your sins, and return the kindness you showed me thousands of times over with His mercy towards you and your family.

May Allah relieve the distress of Muslims all over the world, wherever they are, whatever their source of distress.

Ya Allah, please bring my sister home safely.



Abez is a 50% white, 50% Pakistani, and 100% Muslim. She is also chronically ill and terminally awesome. She is the ever-lovin Momma of: - Khalid, a special little boy with autism - Iman, a special little girl with especially big hair -Musfira, an especially devious baby Spoiler, Abez is also Zeba Khan on Muslimmatters.org.

  1. Not a loser

    Asalaamualaikum sister you r sooooo…………. an inspiration nd i mean it these r not just words may Allah cure your sister completely nd ease ur sorrows AAMEEN nd i cant express it firstly i am weak at expressing nd secondly i am feeling short of words i just imagine nd request u to imagine dat i am giving u biggest of my hugs

  2. mayG

    Uff Allah! Abez!!!! you made me cry!
    Praying so hard for your sister.. Ya Allah please let her come back home, healing and recovering aameen!

    If anything I have been wanting to thank YOU.. that night when you whatsapped, it was minutes after I wrapped up a heart to heart with Allah feeling not too great about my Imaan levels, I prayed Allah ta’ala make me do things that would please you..
    SubhanAllah He could’ve chosen any way to send comfort your way but Allah chose me, He put comfort in that sheet of paper, that box of watercolors, that experience AND He chose me as the means to have the comforts reach you :’) its none of my doing. I am so grateful and so honored that Allah heard my dua! May He be raazi and pleased with me, you and our loved ones always, aameen.

    I just feel bad about how difficult it got for you to get here, please don’t let that stop you from considering our next arty party.. I promise I’m probably just 20 minutes away from your place on a good day.. I’ve even figured what our next project can be 🙂

    big hugs and lots of dua’as

  3. Nasreen

    Assalamalaikum Abez! First of all I have to say im a big fan of your blog MASHALLAH! You are an amazing writer, and a super strong person MASHALLAH! A lot of your posts give me motivation and inspiration. May ALLAH s.w.t bless you and your writing.

    When you wrote about going to Chicago for a diagnosis, then it totally clicked. I realized that you’re Zeba, Zarina’s sister. Sorry I don’t mean to sound like a creep. I remember you guys from Mather’s Ummah Club, I was a freshman when Tahseen, Zarina, Saba, were all seniors in Ummah Club. I probably met you a few times-Qiyam-ul Layl at Tahseen’s house and I think Tahseen’s graduation party.

    I just wanted to let you know your advice and positivity left a huge impact on my life, and I will keep you guys in my duas. Zarina has been such a strong person, she never let anything get to her, I hope and pray that ALLAH s.w.t grants her such a complete cure that leaves no illness behind. I know it sounds cliche, but every pain and difficulty is a purification for us.

    May ALLAH s.w.t expedite things for her, and grant her a super speedy recovery INSHALLAH AMEEN! Dont worry, for all affairs are in ALLAH s.w.t’s hand, he doesnt let us down, he is just testing us. N sorry if I sounded like a weirdo, I was just taking a walk down memory lane.

    Often in life we meet people and dont realize the impact we have on them, but I grew up in a moderately religious family and Saba, Tahseen, Zarina, and all the Ummah Club girls all made an impact on my life and the lives of many others.

    *and they helped me understand Islam more and brought me closer to the deen, sorry I realized I didnt clarify that.

  4. Abez

    MayG: Looks like Allah let us be a help for each other- which is what Muslim sisters are supposed to be doing in the first place, Alhamdulillah. 🙂 I am definitely looking forward to our next arty party- what do you have in mind? 🙂

    Nasreen: SubhanAllah- I’m not creeped out, I’m amazed! The internet is such a huge place, and the Ummah club was such a long time ago, and you still managed to put two and two together! That’s awesome, Alhamdulillah. 🙂

    Alhamdulillah, I’m glad Zarina & Co. made a difference in your life, and may Allah reward them & give them a share in whatever good they spread while increasing the reward for those doing the good as well. I’m grateful to be helping in any way I can- we all need as much sawaab as possible- and I’m so glad you commented- what a lovely blast from the past! -kapow!-

  5. Tayyaba

    May Allah swt take away all ill health and worry from you and your family and replace it with all thats good in this world and the aakhirah.Ameen

  6. umm hasna

    Love u sister abez..n love all my lovely Muslim sisters out there.. Alhamdulillah for Islam.. Alhamdulillah for being Muslim.. Alhamdulillah for having such wonderful, inspirational, lovely Muslim sisters.. 🙂

  7. Owl

    I’m just gonna ignore Abez’s lovely blog post, because I dunno vat to say, and am gonna respond to her commenter instead. SORRY SIR. I BLAME THE GERMANS.

    HI NASREEN! Dude. Wow. Subhanallah. That seems a lifetime ago to me, but yeah, I remember. 🙂 Hope you’re doing awesome. Jazakallah for the kind words. It’s always so surprising to find out the impact we have on one another. Glad I didn’t scar you for life! Remember, I wasn’t just in Ummah Club, I was the bouncer! 😀 Pliz to remember me in your duas beti. Tankew muchli.

  8. crayon

    Assalamu Alaikum yous guys…
    just thought id have a read up on ‘what’s happening’ and feel like ive been smacked in the face…
    i know im terrible at keeping in touch but i love you and you are in my thoughts and prayers x

  9. Nasreen

    Assalamalaikum Zarina!

    Lol you’re still hillarious MASHALLAH! Believe me I keep you and your sis in my duas, may ALLAH s.w.t bless you with unlimited khair and allow you guys to continue to be a source of goodness for others. Ameen! Sum ameen!

    Wayakum, yeah you guys definitely made an impact on me and im sure many others. Now my little sister is in High School. which is crazy and she goes to Mather too, unfortunately there is no more Ummah Club =( Its called MSA, and its just an organized jamaat for guys to pray Jummah, they dont pray at ICC anymore, they just pray Jummah in Ms.Dermawan’s empty class.

    It’s pretty sad Ummah club saw its heyday and then it had a steep decline due to lack of clear leadership and membership I guess, but it was DEFINITELY a source of benefit for soooooo many people MASHALLAH!

    ALHAMDULLILAH! im doing good, graduated college a few years back and just working in retail till I can find something in my field, Im a soc major and they never tell you how hard it is to find a job with just a bachelors degree. So just looking for a job, and the husband hunt, thats abt it lol. And “beti”, Im more of an AUNTY now, im 28 lol.

    Alrighty sorry to babble and talk so much, hope yall are doing good and that ALLAH s.w.t blesses you with incredible shifaa with leaves no illness behind. Ameen! Sum ameen!

  10. Owl

    Hi Nasreen. As someone in their 30s, it’s my prerogative to make anyone in their 20s or younger a beti/a. 😀

    Jobs and what to do with your life is something that never really gets 100% decided anyways. I’ve been working for what feels like a million years, and I still think “WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING? DAMN IT, I SHOULD HAVE BEEN A BALLERINA.” Or something. 🙂 But Inshallah you’ll find something soon that fits the needs of now.

    Ummah Club is no more eh? I don’t think I ever went back to visit Mather after I graduated. But then, I did leave the country. I see it whenever I visit Chicago and every time I think “Dang man, if I had a kid in that high school today, I’d be scared.” Being a moral teenager was hard when we were in school. It’s gotta be much worse now. SEE, I AM AN AUNTY. HAW HAI.

    And Jazakallah for the prayers. They’re the best thing anyone can do. Inshallahkhair. 🙂

  11. Nasreen

    Assalamalaikum Zarina,

    Soooo sorry for the late reply, I’ve been caught up with alot of stuff. Lol ur soooo funny. I agree I hope I find a job soon that helps out with the here/now.

    Lol, Mather surprisingly from the inside looks like a suburban high school very similar to Northside College Prep, but remodeling aside, its still overcrowded and ghetto.

    Yup, that moral struggle is definitely tough, whether ur a kid or an adult, different struggles at different ages. But, I do want to add, I know you’re not in h.s. anymore and youre busy with ur life and work and stuff, but youve really made an impact on my life and others, use the blessings ALLAH s.w.t has given you to impact/affect those around you in whatever capacity you can. I’ve always remembered you as tough, no-nonsense, and driven in your beliefs and views, and you have a great sense of humor, please never lose that, thats like your superhero cape lol.

    Wayakum, Ill continue to keep u and ur sis in my duas. May ALLAH s.w.t. bless you and your families. Ameen. Sum ameen!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: