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Monday 23rd of May 2022
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Family 4 .Rihab could not answer. Her sister's affection increased her agony. Hasanat said to her, "Please Rihab, be kind to me, I am your sister, I cannot bear to see you crying..." At last Rihab stopped and threw her head on her sister's shoulder. Hasan

CHAPTER FOUR


 

Rihab could not answer. Her sister's affection increased her agony. Hasanat said to her, "Please Rihab, be kind to me, I am your sister, I cannot bear to see you crying..." At last Rihab stopped and threw her head on her sister's shoulder. Hasanat spoke kindly to her to calm her down. She saw the letter with the address of Rihab's friend on the table. She thought, that perhaps it had something to do with Rihab's sadness. She said to her, "Did your letter bring bad news? What nice handwriting! I don't think that it's writer could hurt others, your friend has good taste in friends."

Rihab could not keep silent any longer. She burst into tears saying, "I am a criminal, I am unjust, I do not deserve your love."

Hasanat thought that Rihab was referring to those days when she was unfriendly. She said, "Forget it dear sister. You are now on your way to perfection. You need to take just one more step and then you will be better than I. The one who repents is as pure as the one without sin."

Rihab asked, "Am I worthy of God's forgiveness?" Hasanat said, "Yes. Prophetic narration states that, "However many sins a person commits, then he/she repents, God will forgive him/her. God loves those who repent." God not only forgives you, He also loves you and He is happy with your repentance. Imam Al-Sadiq (a) says: "God rejoices at the repentance of His slaves as one rejoices at finding something lost." The Qur'anic verse says:

"Surely Allah loves those who turn much to (Him), and He loves those who purify themselves."  (Surah Al-Baqarah: 222).

Then how can you doubt God's acceptance of your repentance when you obey His orders?"

 

Rihab became quiet, she considered her sister's great help to her, and listened attentively, forgetting her own problematic situation. She said, "What step do you mean?"

Hasanat said, "I mean the head cover, the decent hijab. You believe in the Qur'an, don't you? Haven't you read those verses about Hijab in Surah Al-Nur? You know the Qur'an is the message from Heaven. It is for us to regulate our lives by and to achieve happiness here and in the hereafter."

 

Hasant's words were effective enough to awaken Rihab and make her feel her painful situation. She was quite sure that the Qur'an is the message from Heaven, but how could she achieve such faith? Rihab was sure that Hasanat would not help her, if she had known the truth (about the false letters). Yet Hasanat continued talking about the decent clothes and the social benefits of keeping a woman's body, properly covered. Rihab wanted to know more about the hijab. She was thinking of wearing it herself. After listening to her sister she said, "Isn't the hijab an old Persian tradition ?” Hasanat said, "Not at all. The Qur'anic verses about hijab were revealed years prior to the conquest of Persia. It was before any contact with its people. Anyway the hijab recommended by Islam is quite different from the traditional Persian one. The hijab is just a protection as a shelter, not a curtain or barrier that prevents woman from performing her role. The ancient Persian kept women behind the veil. You can be sure if you read the Qur'anic verses in Surah Al-Nur: 30-31, which say:

 

“Say to the believing men that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts; "

And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof, and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms, and not display their ornaments except to their husbands or their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands, or their sons….”

 

"So why are women believers ordered to cast down their looks if they are separated from society and social performance of their role in life? A man is ordered to cast down his looks, which means there is a woman near him, and women are ordered to do that also, which means there is a man near them. Hence in order not to create sexual and social choas or stir up the feelings of both sexes, the religion of Islam has ordered the decent covering of women as a means for their protection. Preventing woman from performing her role in society or keeping her behind a curtain could cause a lot of psychological and mental disorders. With the decent covering, it is quite possible for a woman to perform her role, side by side with the men. The hijab prevents lots of social problems and disasters that are to be found in societies where there are no limits placed upon the mixing of men and women." Hasanat stopped talking for a while. She waited for her sister to voice her own opinion. Rihab said, "Some say that the 'hijab' is something which came from the monks. It is an image of austerity and a denial of life’s pleasures.”

'Woman is a part of man's enjoyment, hence man has imposed the hijab on her to comply with the difficult life he has experienced."

 

Hasanat rejected the idea, saying, "I am sorry to say that you have listened to a lot of distorted information concerning the Islamic decent dress. Islam has never denied the human being, life's pleasures, and has never called people to monasticism or the non-enjoyment of life. On the contrary, Islam wants man to enjoy life. Once the Prophet (s) saw a man in dirty clothes with untidy hair and a rough appearance, he said to him, "Religion is to enjoy life." What the Prophet meant is that life's bounties are created for the sake of man. Imam Ali (a) says: "God is Beauty, He loves the beautiful." Imam Al-Sadiq (a) says, "God has bestowed on you His bounties, do not hide them."

When he was asked, how, he answered, "Each of you must be clean and with good perfume. His home must be bright and his walls white, his clothes clean. This will increase his earnings."

 

Hasanat went on, "Three women complained to the Prophet (s). One of them said, "My husband does not eat meat." The second said, "My husband does not use perfume." The third said, "My husband does not touch me." The Prophet (s) was sad. He went to the Mosque, got on the pulpit and said, "Some of my companions do not eat meat, or use perfume or enjoy a relationship with their women. Yet I eat meat, use perfume and enjoy my women. Anyone who does not follow my course, has nothing to do with me." The Prophet (s) used to keep his hair tidy. He looked in a water pot in place of a mirror before he met his companions. He used to say: God loves His slave to look neat and beautiful in front of his companions." Thus you see that Islam does not order monasticism or the denial of life's pleasures. Hijab bears no relation to such claims, as Islam is against monastic ideas. I'll give you a book about chastity, its positive and negative aspects. You can also learn more about the decent covering and the harmfulness of nakedness. Anyway I have a surprise for you. I have prepared an Islamic suit (hijab) for you, when you are ready you can have it. I hope f won't have to wait long,"

 

On hearing such words, Rihab grew calm again. Hasanat talked about other things and then left her sister's room. Rihab noticed that her sister gazed at the letter on her desk before she left. Hasanat returned to her room. She threw herself on a chair and murmured, "I'm sure I know the handwriting on that letter! It is familiar to me! It looks like Mustafa's handwriting. I remember his words in a book he gave to his sister as a present. Yes, I still have the book I borrowed from Zainab."

 

She got up and went to the bookshelves to look for it. She soon found it. She opened it and looked carefully at the handwriting. She fell on to a nearby chair saying, "Oh my God! It is the same handwriting! Could it be so similar? How could that have happened? What has Mustafa to do with Rihab's friend? Oh no! Surely, I am wrong!

Many people's handwriting looks the same. Anyway, what does it mean? Has the letter anything to do with Rihab's pain and sufferings? Yet, I cannot imagine Mustafa's insincerity! Why should I?" She took a book and sat reading, but couldn't take in a word. Her thoughts were busy with the letter, the handwriting.. She tried to sleep but failed. She kept thinking and thinking. She spent nearly three hours in her room, then Rihab came. She was happy to have her company, so that she would not have black thoughts.

 

Rihab stood near her and said, "I have come to ask for", "What...?" said Hasanat. "I would like the Islamic suit that you have prepared for me. I have decided to wear the decent covering from today." Hasanat's face brightened. She got up, kissed her and went to her cupboard. She got the Islamic Hijab and gave it happily to her. Rihab took it with many thanks. She said, "I will always use it. I hope, you won't ever leave me dear sister."

Hasanat was bewildered at her sister's words. She said, "How could I do that? Why do you say such a thing. This will never happen whatever the reason be." Rihab said, "Even if you discover something about my past?" Hasanat answered firmly, "Whatever I learn about your past, won't change me as long as you are clean and pure now." But Rihab persisted, "Even if I did you some wrong?" Hasanat said, "Even so. I am happy with your return to Islamic values. This equals all the wrongs of the past. You are my beloved sister, how can I hate you?" "I do hope so" said Rihab "Yet I am not worthy of your love. Anyway thanks a lot." She left the room with tears in her eyes.

 

Hasanat was amazed at her behavior and the letter and the handwriting. Rihab sat thinking in her room. She made up her mind to end the shameful game. She was ready to face the result whatever it might be. She took up her pen and wrote a new page in her new life. She began to write to Mustafa:

 

 

In the Name of God

To Mr. Mustafa

I do not know where to begin. I am quite ashamed of what I am going to write. In fact I am newly born with your help. You have given me lessons, making me believe that shame is less harmful than hell. To feel shame in this world is easier for me than to feel it in front of God, the Almighty. That is why I am writing this letter. I will confess the bare truth, that I (Rihab) have lied for a long time. My confession, here is an indication about my repentance to God, for all my sins. The truth is that Oh! I am sure you will be horrified. You will scorn me and hate me. The important thing is that I am doing my duty to please God, you and my conscience. I have suffered a lot. I do confess that it is I, not Hasanat who wrote to you all those letters. Hasanat could never write such letters. She is a good believer and does not have such doubts about her faith as I had. She is an angel, a beautiful saint. How could she write what I had written? It is I who was lost in the world of deviation and misguidance. Satan controlled me and tempted me until I was tarnished by all of the devils, and all good disappeared from me. I was jealous and remorseless, hence I wrote to you under her name, I thought I could spoil the engagement and be sure of bringing sadness to my sister. I went far into deviation and wrote what I wanted. I even gave you a different address so that your letter might not get to Hasanat. Through your letters, the cloud of deviation was removed from my eyes. I drew nearer step by step, to the righteous road. My conscience awakened and hurt me. I tried to stop and withdraw from your life, but I was in need of your advice and knowledge, so I continued the dangerous game. I turned towards the source of light that you sent me. I noticed Hasanat's great sufferings because she didn't hear a word from you. I felt sad for her. You do not know how gentle she is! I tried to destroy her future, yet she was happy whenever she saw me read a book that could bring me to the right path. She rejoiced at my return to faith. She never knew that my return was at the expense of her happiness. I do not praise her because she is my sister. She is my sister, but I used to hate her. I never knew her value. Now I have come to know the reality and she is worthy of all praise. Recently I sent you her photo, but you never confessed her beauty because you did not want to praise her. She, you thought, doubted her religion. Your photo as well is still with me. I do not know how to give it to her. I think that now you will curse me and you would be within your rights to do so, this is the painful truth. You once asked me, how I got my religious books, and I never answered you. What could I say? In fact, I borrowed them from Hasanat. She allowed me to use her library whenever I liked. Oh, how I hate myself for my shameful conduct. Perhaps this confession will put me at ease for a while and give me some rest. All that matters to me now is God's forgiveness. I wonder will He ever forgive me! You may get this letter while you are doing your final exams and getting ready for your return home. Anyway I hope you will write to Hasanat before you come back. At least she should get one letter from you. You can hate me as much as you like but I do apologize again and I really wish you every happiness.

Rihab

 

 

As soon as she finished the letter, Rihab put on her hijab. She hid the letter in her handbag and before she left the house she went to her sister's room. When Hasanat saw her in the decent clothes, she shouted cheerfully, "How lovely you look! Oh look at yourself in the mirror." Rihab said, "Thanks a lot, I have something important to do but I'll be back soon. Wait for me please." She left the house in a hurry and went to the post office. She posted the letter and returned home. She took off her hijab, and went to her sister's room. She decided to confess everything to her. She knew she had caused her a lot of suffering. She was at a loss as to how to start her confession. What could she say? What would her sister say? Surely she would hate and punish her severely. Rihab feared that she might not be able to confess, so she hurried to her sister, whispering to herself, "I should fear nothing. I am doing this to please God." Hasanat was worried at her sister's strange behavior. She was anxious to listen to her. Rihab immediately got Mustafa's photo from her bag and gave it to Hasanat, who was surprised when she turned the photo and read the nice words written by her fiancé. She blushed and then said, "When did this come?" Rihab said, "You can read the date" Hasanat read the date loudly then said, "What? The date is some seven months ago. Where has it been all this time?" Rihab said, "I hid it. I am guilty, I am not worthy of your love!" Hasanat said, "Oh, no, I do not agree with you. Just tell me the story of this picture!" Rihab answered, "Well, I have come to tell you that story, dear Hasanat, and then you will have the right to treat me as cruelly as you wish." She told her all the details, while Hasanat sat listening calmly. She was surprised at her sister's courage in confessing everything. Rihab finished and sat waiting for her sister's final judgement. Hasanat took her in her arms and kissed her warmly saying, "Oh, dear, how great your suffering must have been!" Rihab could not believe her ears. She said, "Is it my suffering? It is you to whom I caused a lot of pain." Hasanat said, "Oh, dear, all my pains are nothing since they have been indirect means of your return to the right path of Islam. I am now twice as happy as I have a righteous sister and a righteous husband."

"Will you forgive me then?" asked Rihab tentatively.

"Of course!" said Hasanat "I'll forget everything and just feel happy with your return to faith and with Mustafa's return from abroad. I shall kiss you to prove that I will always be your loving sister." She kissed her and then looked again at Mustafa's photo.

Rihab said, "Look, how handsome he is!" Hasanat smiled saying, "All that counts is his faith and belief. I never thought of anything except his good conduct."

 

The days passed by and Hasanat was again happy and cheerful. She cherished her sister and cared for her. Three weeks later, the servant brought the two sisters, two letters.

Neither put out her hand to get them, so she put them on the desk and left. The letters were from Mustafa. One was addressed to Hasanat and the other to Rihab. Rihab was scared to open her letter. Hasanat encouraged her saying, "I won't open mine unless you open yours. I think it is a friendly letter.” They opened their letters and each read hers.

Rihab read:

 

 

In the Name of God

To: The Noble Sister Rihab

Assalmnu Alaikum

My letter to you now is a different one. I honor and respect you very much and I think you are a courageous person who managed to defeat the devilish instincts by her own will. You have achieved a record in purifying the self and cleaning the spirit in a way that pleases God. You are blessed by such an experience. As soon as I read your last (first) letter, I considered you to be a sister whose happiness is my happiness and whose hurt is my hurt. Please do not trouble yourself with past incidents and be sure that I do not hate you at all, but respect you and hold you dear'. I hope that Hasanat also has the same feelings since she is, as you say, a good and kind person.

Finally, I wish you all the best.

Mustafa

 

Hasanat's letter was full of words of love and emotion to make up for the long months of suffering. She read her letter and looked now and then at her sister. She feared that she might be hurt by Mustafa's letter. But Rihab's expression showed satisfaction at what she read. When they finished reading their letters, they kissed each other cheerfully. Hasanat said, “He is coming within a couple of weeks." Rihab's comment was, "He will always be welcome."

 

A week later Mustafa's mother phoned the family and promised a visit. The family thought the visit was to prepare for the wedding day, but in fact it was made to propose for Rihab. Mustafa's brother Muhammad had asked for her hand, and soon after, both sisters were married to the two brothers on the same day.

 

THE END

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