My childhood friend, ‘B’, just gave birth to her first child, Ibrahim, this morning. She is the first person that I’ve grown up that has performed this miracle. Though, I shouldn’t be shocked (I’ve had 9 months to get used to the idea), I am.
B and I have been friends almost all of our lives, having met through our parents at the age of 5 or 6. We’ve seen each other go through every stage of life, so far. B was the first to get married at 18 and I was her friend, sister, maid of honor all rolled-into-one. She doesn’t have a sister, so she’s always been the third sibling to my sister and I. Our personalities and lives (like most sisters) are vastly different. During our college years, she was setting up house and I was partying and rebelling against my parents. She married the only guy she’s ever been with and I can barely hold down a relationship. There are times where I have been insanely jealous of her life. She’s never known what it’s like to be lonely since she got married at such a young age and she genuinely has the happiest marriage that I know of. But, she is aware of this and grateful for it and although we can’t always relate to each others lives, we’ve managed to keep our friendship alive and kicking through the last 15+ years.
Along with a generally happy disposition, she has tremendous faith, which as of late, I don’t seem to have much of. Islam is a passionate religion and while I’ve grown up in a typical Muslim household, somewhere along the line my faith has wavered. I believe in Allah and am not thinking of changing my religion or anything along those lines but there are many things that I have been taught that I don’t believe in or find contradictory. But this method of living hasn’t proven to be very helpful to my soul or conscience and I’ve been giving second thoughts about my negligent attitude towards Islam; and in the middle of my wavering faith came B’s son, Ibrahim.
B and her husband have always been very pious Muslims but over the last few years, her husband has been more in touch with his faith than ever. B doesn’t wear a hijab (knocking the stereotype that a pious Muslimah must wear a Hijab) but she does dress modestly, pray, fast, eat halal and has never touched alcohol. She’s also well-dressed, modern and a working woman. But more so than all of these things, she has always genuinly been an awesome human being. B. completed Umrah Hajj (A religious pilgrimage) just before her second trimester, and while I admired her for it, I also scoffed at it. My inner Muslimah knew it was a brave and wonderful thing to do, but the superficial persona that had possessed me over the last couple of years deemed it unnecessary.
Ibrahim was born in the last week of the holy month, Ramadan, on one of the most important nights of the Muslim calendar, Lailatul Quadr. Lailatul Quadr is a day of forgiveness and remembrance as its the day the Holy Qua ran was sent to the world. And I hardly think it is a mere coincidence that Ibrahim arrived on this holy day–a full 13 days earlier than his due date.
My questions regarding Islam have been mostly about how far does one have to go to be considered a good Muslim? My other issue has been regarding the fact that many Muslims believe Islam to be superior than all other beliefs ( although most religions feel this way about their own kind). But what I’ve been taught and grew up believing as a Muslim is that we all believe in one God, we just address Him differently. And in the process of criticizing my own kind, I seemed to have forgotten this core part of my belief.
But sometimes a small miracle can do a lot to change one’s mind and that’s what my new nephew Ibrahim is to me; a small miracle. When I got the news this morning that he arrived, I was stunned and there was this other indescribable emotion that crept up on me. I was genuinely worried for my childhood friend–neither of us had either experienced the type of pain and anguish becoming a mother brings on. I hoped in my heart that everything would turn out right and it did and once I learned that both B. and Ibrahim were alright, the significance of his birth on my life dawned on me. It was God’s way of sending a message: You might be rebelling against me in spirit, but you still hold me in your heart and here’s a little reminder as to why you love me so much.
Thank you Ibrahim for bringing your mother such joy, for making me an aunt, for reminding me exactly who I am and what I believe in and for arriving at such a crucial moment in my life.