On Duaas Coming True

Today is my younger sister’s 17th birthday. This young lady—who is different from me in a lot of ways but nowhere less awesome—has a little story attached to her existence.

For the first decade of my life I was the only daughter and a middle child. I had an older and a younger brother who tormented me to no end. I would weep and keep asking my mother if I could have a sister. She would tell me to pray for one. I don’t remember if I did (I had some foundational Islamic knowledge but didn’t get into practice until I was twelve or so) but man, I wanted that sister. I loved dolls, and I thought how wonderful it would be to have a live doll, a little being to look after and play with. (Nope, I wasn’t objectifying her at all!)

Imagine my thrill when my aunt approaches me one evening with a beaming face. She didn’t even have to tell me the news. I yelped. And then proceeded to have the most enriching experience of my life: helping look after and take care of my baby sister. So what if other kids were gossiping on the phone, going to parties, and shopping? For me, this is where it was at.

Now, when I am being affectionate towards my sister, I call her my duaa. On an occasion or two I have joked about how she wouldn’t be living this awesome life if I hadn’t wanted a sister so badly. But I don’t labor that point, because, well, that would be weird, even a bit Phraoesque.

One of my closest friends once said to me: “I created you out of my thoughts.”  That’s how I feel about the people who are closest to me, and the blessings that have been bestowed upon me. Allah (SWT) took care of me from the very beginning, and I know He continues to take care of me when the things I want come true, regardless of whether or not I explicitly pray for them. If that isn’t evidence of Allah’s mercy, I don’t know what is.


On Angst, Faith, and Family

I came home emotionally raw and weary one day. I thought the house was empty. I called out a big, hearty salaam anyway, the way my mother likes it. Fake it till you make it, like they say.

I went to the room to find my sister studying on the bed. And there was so much bliss in that sight of her sitting there, her books open. I felt like a parched man wandering across the desert who has suddenly come upon a well brimming with clear, cool water.

I was reminded of a scene in the final season of Big Love where Barbara is suffering from a crippling spiritual crisis that strikes at the heart of her polygamist family’s tenets. Things are chilly between her and her husband, and in this scene Bill is pleading with her, asking her what it is she wants. She shakes her head, nearly in tears, paralyzed with the need to be true to her convictions and her loyalties.

“I love my family,” she says. “That’s all I know. I love my family.”

Some days, that truth, that absolute, is so reassuring. It’s the kind of truth a neurotic needs. I put down my handbag and hugged my sister, thinking of Barbara’s words and how Allah has made my family my saving grace, my reprieve from the heaviness of my thoughts.