Chronicles Of Abu And Jalila In The Month Of Shaban
Imam Bashir stood up and faced the congregation, after reciting a long verse, during the early Morning Prayer (Fajr). He told them forthrightly that, "Shaban is the month which heralds Ramadan, the Holy month of fasting. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) spends almost all his time in worship. Therefore, “as an Imam (leader), I’m touting all of you as expectedly devout Muslims; I believe you’ll start mirroring the righteous deeds to be done”?
The youth in the mosque looked despondent and oft disarrayed. They peeked at each other, because what had caused this emotional guilt remains anonymous. As for the grown men, they knew what it's all about, so they suggested to the Imam that they had envisioned outsourcing this year's Tafsir (interpretation of the Qur'an) to a prolific scholar from a nearby town who, has had his Islamic studies in Egypt and Timbuktu.
In furtherance of his message to the vibrant but unmarried youth, he introduced them to some of the virtuous deeds which they should consistently partake in, even if it’s small, and the sinful actions they’re expected to eschew themselves therefrom, no matter how small that is.
Abu is one of the youth who keeps badgering the Imams or anybody who mounts the podium to preach Allah’s Qalam (word). He’s a smart jobless university graduate and has completed National Service four years ago, as a teacher, in a typical village called Nata, many miles away from his hometown. He gets everybody grouching with his penchant interjections whenever preaching is pretty underway, unless he isn’t in the mosque. Everybody knew how voracious he is, pertaining to his knowledge of Islam and other religious affairs.
Hence, he rather takes the class back in his quest of putting the Imams on their feet to explicate the Qur’an to those without the courage of asking thought provoking questions. But today, Abu of all people is muzzled – wonders shall never end.
It’s of this that a voice was heard from the women's court of the Mosque. It was a soothing voice extending the Islamic greeting; "Salaam alaykum" (Peace be unto you) Jamaa (congregation). All responded, “wa alaykum salaam” (And unto you, Peace). She hastened to enquire, “Imam, is it appropriate or sunatic (the accepted way of Muhammad [pbuh]) to continue dating or be doing some kitchen and bed chores to a man whom you aren't married to, in this month of Shaban and the soon to come Ramadan?” As though dating is accepted in Islam.
The question was a bit taunting, since he (Imam) has once reprimanded the congregation to be wary of the new bizarre trend– courtship! That said, it’s the first time he's heard such a pronouncement from the women's court. Hitherto that day, sex related questions were being asked by the energetic men who always sit at the last row. Her friends only break into laughter because they thought the Imam would’ve let go of such a demented question. Surprisingly, he joyfully started answering her with reference to Quran 32.17: “And don't go near fornication; surely, it’s an indecency and evil way”. After a thorough explanation, the questioner got the import of the answer. She ceded inwardly, and while whimpering she glaringly raised her index finger up to the sky; “oh Allah, forgive me of my trespassing. Amen”. Unfortunately, all her colleagues in the Mosque at that time were in the game of courtship, but they’re very insensitive about its peril. Jalila was the only lady among them who was petrified and ashamed of that diabolic life.
From no where, Abu yelled, as usual. Ah, he has spoken, the old man whispered from the front row. “Imam, so what if the lovers have seen each other's parents, but money has been the stumbling block for the knot not being tied”? The Imam didn't mince words; he further elucidated, “the best thing for the man who bears the heavy load was to have contracted the Nikah (marriage), and then plead to pay for the dowry and other related stuffs later. What they’re doing can never be classified as ‘makruh’ (discouraged) but it’s strictly haram (prohibited) per the Islamic ruling.
The Imam, in so doing, told him that these are some of the problems institutional failure have given rise to. Previously, wealthy Muslims sponsor marriages whenever they see that a God fearing gent or lady is of age, to forestall any looming challenges of going contrary to Allah’s decree. Now, all that is done is dashing out ticket for Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah), at the expense of the lingering notion of seeing God fearing young men and women committing illicit sex, and building not social amenities for the society.
Shaban is twenty-three days old, and we're still sharing the bed together. Things have really changed. Two years ago he would have allowed me to go to my mother’s place. Then after Ramadan, I’ll return to my love, Abu. It beseems things are getting worse, nowadays. He hasn't said anything to me because, he hasn’t been employed yet, and our marital ambition isn’t inching to fruition. Last night, he nearly got me pregnant! What would I do if that had happened? What’s the way forward? That was Jalila being introspective. Oops, the Imam’s message has resonated and conscientized me; it has really got me thinking! Jalila gathered some few clothes of hers and vamoosed Abu's single room. She told her mother that she has yearned spending this year’s fasting at a friend’s place. Mustn’t this have raised eye brawls? Aren’t our parents validating fornication instead of marriage? The mother has okayed her illegal relationship with Abu, but frowns on them getting wedded, legally at a low price. Fornication has been brought to our doorstep while marriage is nowhere closer to our nose!
So she left to Sadia’s apartment. That town is known as an Islamic friendly environment; offering religious tolerance to any pious person. One can learn, practice and freely propagate his religion without dissention from other adherents, friends and family.
After assisting the Imam to teach the young children at the Mosque, Abu resorted to home. Jalila. Jalila. No answer. Where is she? He called her many times but to no avail. He went out and bought for himself a mouth-watering spaghetti at the kiosk adjacent to his place of residence. There, he engaged Zainab, the vendor. He narrated his plight to her. She said, ‘Jalila sneaks at the least chance she gets anytime you leave to Mosque. She’s seeing someone, please trust me. Even though my eyes adore you for good reasons, I didn’t want to tell you. Perchance, you may take that approach as insidious. I’m grateful you’ve seen it yourself. Glory be to Allah, the Greatest”. That notwithstanding, Abu knew what she was insinuating, so he didn't give credence to her libellous comments.
He had a call from Jalila before he would lay his head at rest. She lamented about the precarious web they're caught in following the portents of Imam Bashir's message. Listening to the jibber-jabber of Jalila masquerading herself like the virgin Marry, Abu puffed. When he asked if she would be returning after Ramadan, she didn't utter a word; she ended the call abruptly. He phoned her scathingly, but she didn't bother to answer any of the calls.
Abu got upset, thinking of the possible means of battling with his sexual libido. Now that Jalila has left, who’s there to help? He can't stay without a woman. He went back to the beautiful vendor whom he had had a chat a while ago. Another lasting conversation also ensued. It was never a surprise when she quickly ‘gave in’ for Abu, due to how she first made a spurious hint about the innocent Jalila. It’s like Abu has been granted a full flirtatious scholarship, so he took advantage of the opportunity.
They went home together immediately she closed around 11:40am. That evening, she slept at Abu’s place. And the next morning, she packed most of her belongings and self-settled with him. Eventually, they abandoned all the verboten acts of Allah; neither giving reverence to Shaban nor the long awaited Ramadan. An amorous relationship, indeed! When Ramadan approached, Abu increased his level of iman (faith). He took part in any seemingly rewarding activity. However, he slicks; nobody knows how fallen he’s to the Glory of the Lord, when he gets to home. One major factor why the congregation couldn’t have monitored Abu’s hidden character is because of Muslims being the minority in that town. Although Abu is earmarked becoming a well-respected Sheikh, nobody thought Satan could fiddle with his feelings.
Jalila started observing prayers at the Central Mosque, her new location. She vowed not to return to her hometown until she has attained a certain level of piety. She did so to subvert any inconveniently sordidness Abu could dart to her. She's seen more happily in the month of Ramadan like never before. Hopefully, her repentance (tawbah) was accepted by Allah and she became pious thenceforth. She reads the Qur'an, and joined the Muslim women’s movement which visit poorly established hospitals, and dilapidated prisons to share the word of Allah with them and offer provisions to relief the inmates and those hospitalized. To the amazement of many, Jalila started teaching the young kids the little information she acquired - both social issues and religious related.
A day after the month of fasting, she phoned him just to make a reservation for Eidul Fitr, but Abu denied all her requests and told her that they're no more in a relationship. And that he had rescinded his ideal of marrying her. He said, “I’ve already channelled this message to my family, so there's nothing like "We". Jalila painstakingly wished him well, if only he could enter Paradise with his newly found love, and his stinky wretched concupiscent demeanour.
She took her prayer mat, story book and Aki Ola’s mathematics text book to keep her sharpness in calculation and reading alive, and left to the mosque to offer the late afternoon prayer (Asr). She had no one to help further her education, after having completed senor high with distinction. Jalila despaired when she got to the mosque, but later when the kids came for studies they made her feel venerated just by calling her mother, teacher and sister.
Then, at a call from the mosque’s chairman, she was bided to meet the executives of the mosque, in the evening before Isha (the fifth Islamic daily prayer). Through that, she hobnobbed with the prominent men of the mosque. Praises were lavished on her for dedicating such previous time to child education in the mosque. Jalila was astounded; never did she believe Allah could have shaded her to this stage. Before the meeting came to an end, Mr. Alhassan told her that he wants to sponsor her to the university to study Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and social science in Cairo, Egypt. So she should go get her parents informed.
Jalila and her family acquiesced this enviable initiative and, in three years, she became the first ever female Muslim scholar in that enclave. Remember, the Imams at her permanent place of residence had no such credential to their credit. She’s now many steps ahead of Imam Bashir, Abu and all her co-equals. None of them was Islamically educated like she became. Jalila rebranded the services she renders to the kids. It turned to a community brainstorming and counselling centre where, the youth in the town were given first-hand information about sex and career guidance for all religious adherents. She endeavoured as much that her past experience with Abu would never surface between any of the growing girls and boys, in future. It was as a result of this initiative that the revolutionary Jalila coached and mentored so many youth to stardom, coupled with impeccable God consciousness which she instilled in them.
Jalila returned to her homeland after a successful marriage with Alhaji Latif, so that she will visit the extended family, Imam Bashir and all those she missed. Interestingly, she saw Zainab carrying Abu’s four 7-year-old son and pregnant, too. Abu lousily and insolently said, as a sign of show off and jealousy, because he thought he met the hopeless Jalila; “I just got married last year, it was magnificent and my wife is looking adorable, as you can you see”. Jalila knowing that such a marriage was a gunshot one, she only nodded the head and left.
In the evening, at the mosque’s conference room where deliberations are held, Imam Bashir announced to the Jamaa that the young female scholar he had said would be hosting the interfaith radio talk show for them is back from Egypt. She has a scholarly degree in Fiqh and PhD in counselling. “Let us all give her a standing ovation, and welcome her to the high table with a lot of takbir (Allahu Akbar, God is the Greatest)”.
All of them turned their heads facing the entrance, what they saw was the embellished Dr. Jalila with an Arabia accent of magniloquence and an immaculate sense of veiling herself. She walked modestly to join the high table. The auditorium was brimmed with incantations of Alhamdulillah (all praises to Allah). Then, Dr. Jalila walked to the podium to deliver a speech of acceptance. She heart-warmingly premised her speech on (Qur’an 49:11) which reads; O you who believe! let not (one) people laugh at (another) people perchance they may be better than they, nor let women (laugh) at (other) women, perchance they may be better than they; and do not find fault with your own people nor call one another by nicknames; evil is a bad name after faith, and whoever does not turn, these it is that are the unjust.
Those who bowed their head in shame did. Those who wanted to lean on a mentor were inspired. As well as the shameless ‘born ones’ but not married female colleagues of hers were there, too. Unfortunately, Abu couldn’t live to his Islamic aspirations, though he’s working as a Recovery Officer, in the Rural Community Bank.
Imagine how the Ramadan reflection from a seemingly superficially versed, Imam Bashir, changed Jalila’s life all over. She lived the life that all chaste Muslim women are expected by Allah to espouse. It is said of the days of old: “where you stand when you're old, shows where you stood during your youthful age”.
Let’s put our legs into Jalila’s shoes so that we would repent sincerely in this month of Shaban before the fasting season, and remain steadfast and pious on the straight path. We may not know when death would knock on our doors.
NB: No matter who stands in front of you to preach, listen to him attentively. Don’t be more concern about his academic excellence, but be bothered about what he says God has enjoined on you.
Never allow any marriage proposal to stampede your level of thinking or ideals, as a Muslim. You're not a slave to any man!
~ Abdur Rahman Odoi Anum Pobee
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."
Reproduction is authorised provided the author's permission is granted.