This morning, Sulaiman had just woken up to rumination of Imam Ibn Hazm’s statement which he read in the book the night before, ‘Love is neither disapproved by religion nor prohibited by law for every heart is in Allah’s hands. Love is not about physical attraction but it starts with it. Love just happens; it is natural.’ Has he fallen in love at first sight? – this was the question he kept asking himself as he started his day delightfully.
Just as the occasional weekdays routine, he has prepared and ready to leave for the class. He swung his bag upon his right shoulder and picked up his silvery wristwatch from the reading table. About to fasten it around his left-hand wrist, he remembered his resolution to always do everything from the right-hand except things of filth, so he switched to the right-hand wrist and buckled the wristwatch. This novel act was intended to be emulated when he read one of the hadith narrated by ‘Aisha that the Prophet used to like to start from the right side on wearing shoes, combing his hair and cleaning or washing and on doing anything else. With vivid discernment, he had related this action to other acts of the Prophet regarding right-hand; sleeping on the right side, eating with the right hand, counting tasbeeh with the right fingers, performing ablution from the right-hand side, placing the right arm on the left arm during solat and many more. All that was reported to be done with the left hand only are touching filth and privates, he had concluded after consulting a few mu’alimun (knowledgeable persons).
Finally, he stared at himself from the standing mirror while he creamed and combed his beard. Amusingly, he got satisfied with his own look and smiled, muttering “Alhamdulillah!”
Leaving the house, he murmured the adhkar, “bismillaahi, tawakkaltu ‘alallaahi, wa laa hawla wa laa quwwata ‘ illaa billaah (In the Name of Allah, I have placed my trust in Allah, there is no might and no power except by Allah).” And he placed his earpiece inside his ears, listening to the recitation of the Holy Qur’an as he jollied down the road. Ever since childhood, the custom of looking good and neat had been inculcated into him by his mother. Cleanliness is godliness, he would always remember… His jollity was cut short and immediately replaced with somewhat of fright when he saw the two hijab sisters sprinting towards his direction as he was about to enter the school’s gate. Quickly, he stood aside to avoid collision and faced away, pretending to be pressing his smartphone. They passed and he wondered. About to turn to watch and discern what the hurrying was all about, he was hurriedly greeted by the second sister. He startled.
“As-salaamu’alykum warahmatullah brother, please where can we buy drawing sheets?”
“Have you checked those stalls?” Shyly, he pointed, “and that shop over there? It must surely be there.”
“Thanks! Thanks!…” She bolted away to meet her friend.
More students ran in the same direction; from their attitude, one didn’t need to think for a second before knowing they were freshers. Engineer Philip must be at it again, managing students like soldiers. He was a retired military man and a dictator, also well principled. His classes were always prompt and he expected every student to be prompt as well. Any defect in an individual’s assignment, attendance, practicals and tests would undoubtedly lead to carryover. Unannounced was always his test and he would never give room for injustice no matter how trivial it seemed. From his name, many would believe he was a Christian but the truth was, he didn’t believe in any religion, but accepted God’s existence. He had never lectured Sulaiman before and he did pray their path never cross but someday, it would.
Unanticipatedly, Taahir jumped on his back, wrapping his arms around his neck. He almost slumped.
“Subhanallah!” He exclaimed, groaningly.
He released and stared at him with close scrutiny. “I reserve my comment boy. Let’s move, I was called the lecturer has just entered the class.”
Taahir’s left arm still wrapped around his shoulder, they scrambled to Lecture Room 4. Fortunately at the back, few benches were still left unoccupied and they hurried to take the nearest bench to the front. The lecturer continued with his lecture uninterruptedly and for some moments, they both listened attentively,
“… the dots on these transformer symbols indicate the phase relationship between the input and output signal. On this first symbol, the primary and secondary windings are wound in the same direction. That is, the input signal is in phase with the output signal. But here, they are wound in the opposite direction. That is, the input signal is 180 degree out of phase with the output signal. Then it’s no more a transformer but an inverter…”
The attention interrupted by Taahir as he leaned towards his friend and whispered, “you look different today.”
“How different? This is how I always look.” He also whispered.
“Yes I know, but you still look different! Extraordinarily handsome.” Taahir smirked and pulled his beard “see your greasy beard…”
Sulaiman nudged his hand away.
A few mechatronics students rushed into their classroom to join the lecture and a young man whisked towards them. They adjusted on the seat, creating a space for the guy to sit. They exchanged handshakes and he introduced himself to them as Yusuf.
Taahir teased, “a new wristwatch, and for the first time, you aren’t wearing leather slippers. Your face also looks brighter.”
“He might have found joy on this campus. Freshers are around, unusually packed with enough girls. So, almost everyone finds the joy these days.” Yusuf interfered with an unconcerned demeanour.
Sulaiman grinned, “I only like to look good. Please Taahir, you’re distracting me from the lecture.”
“Abeg let’s talk, the lecturer won’t mind. And this isn’t the first time you’ll be taught electrical symbols. Confess, it’s because of that hijab sister right?” He winked.
The lecturer spotted the disruption and cautioned them. Anxiously, they had to wait until the lecture ended. Finally, the installed automatic bell rang and the lecturer exited, giving them the room to continue their conversation before the next lecturer would arrive.
“Do you mean one of those two hijab sisters in electrical? Which of them?” Yusuf inquired.
“Let’s ask our friend.” Taahir tapped him, “what’s her name?”
“I don’t know.”
“What does she look like?” Yusuf asked, now turned his full attention to them.
“She’s tall and dark… That’s all I know”
“Now, you just admit it!” Yusuf tittered, “but the two girls are tall and dark Sulaiman. Don’t tell me you haven’t looked at the chosen girl in the face.”
Sulaiman smiled amusingly and shook his head.
“My friend is very obedient to his Lord.” Taahir rubbed his back, “he doesn’t look at girls not to talk of in the face.”
“That’s what religious men do but if you intend to marry her, there is nothing wrong.” Said Yusuf, “according to some hadith, you can sneak a look or even look at her appearance. Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allaah narrated that The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘If one of you proposes marriage to a woman, if he can look at her to see that which will encourage him to go ahead and marry her, then let him do so.’ Also, al-Mugheerah ibn Shu’bah narrated that he proposed marriage to a woman, and the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Have you seen her?’ he said, ‘No.’ The Prophet said, ‘Look at her because it is more fitting that love and compatibility be established between you.’ When a woman also came to give herself to The Prophet, he took a close look at her before lowering his gaze when he seemed not interested in her. So akhy, you can look at her!”
“Really? But I’m not sure I’m ready for that.”
“I’m only asking you to try your luck though. The girls are eminent both spiritually and materialistically. Mutmainah and Maymunah. We live in the same area. They’ve been intimate friends since childhood that one would confuse them to be twins. Apart from the same height, they also almost look alike. Mutmainah comes from an average family while Maymunah’s father is very wealthy and she’s the only daughter in her family. I can’t say much about their personal character but I know they are good girls. Just that I don’t think they can marry just anyhow person else you’re one minister’s son at least. You can still try! After this coming lecture, we can go together and take a look.”
“No, no! I’m not… I’m not ready for that please.” He responded conclusively but the fact behind his response was demeaned.
Obviously, Sulaiman was discouraged. What he heard of the girls’ status was filling him with nervous apprehension. His own family was neither rich nor poor. Already, he had behoved himself not worthy of any of them. And above all, at this moment, he didn’t appear to be ready for marriage.
“Bro! No one is ready for marriage, we all still have a lot to accomplish before that but you can start proposing the future now. Looking at a desired girl’s face won’t take you to hellfire, will it? Don’t be an extremist and satisfy your whim even if just for one second.”
“I’m not an extremist! I desire none, not anymore and marriage isn’t what I can propose when I know surely that I’m not ready for it. I have no time for a haram relationship.”
“Just because you aren’t willing to obey Allah in any aspect doesn’t make those adhering an extremist. I hate it when devoted Muslims are called that name. If you can’t do it, then respect those who can. Do not condemn them.”
“I’m not condemning him. I only admire him. Do you know my friend has never touched a girl before? Ever since I knew him, I’ve been thinking of if I can ever walk in his shoe. Man! I can’t. I’m even sure my mum would be the first person to drag me to the hospital to test for impotence.”
“If that’s true, I’m happy for you then. You were taught and you learned!” Said Yusuf, “anyway, if you guys won’t mind, a group of us is planning to tutor the Freshers in some challenging courses. I learned Sulaiman is very good, even in practicals. Remember a hadith where the Prophet, peace be upon him, said ‘For me to walk along with my brother to fulfil his need is more beloved to me than to make I’tikaf in this mosque of mine for a month.’ And this is an act of fulfilling our brethren’s needs, although the tutorial won’t comprise our brethren alone. Hope you’re willing to join us?”
“Gladly!” Said Sulaiman, “one of my role in life is to impart knowledge.”
Yusuf beamed with satisfaction. Actually, he was sent to him and he didn’t know if he would agree to join them. Even though he had a positive conviction that he would because, from Sulaiman’s appearance, he could perceive him to be a better Muslim. And better Muslims would never reject assisting people in such a situation. Yusuf collected his phone to exchange numbers when a message beeped from his mother.
“I think your mother just sent you a message akhy. Take a look at it first.” Yusuf returned his phone.
Sulaiman collected the phone and read his mother’s message asking him to join her on WhatsApp for chats as soon as possible.
“I’m sorry, I need to chat with my mum immediately. Taahir, please give bro Yusuf my number.” He said while connecting his phone’s data.
“Mama’s boy! But if it’s emergency, your mother would have called instead. Tell me the truth,” Taahir moved closer to him and whispered, “the message wasn’t really from your mum.”
He stared at his friend, “It’s really from my mother. She couldn’t call because she can’t talk but chat only!”
Taahir and Yusuf exchanged a confusing look, Sulaiman watched them and smiled as he surrendered his attention onto his smartphone.