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Behind the Kitchen Walls – Her sanctity, her listener, her keeper of secrets – By Mumtaz Moosa

AMINA’S POINT OF VIEW

On day two of Ramadhaan, I made a point of connecting to my creator. I have enlisted Taskeen’s help, and each day after she completes practising her Dhor, we read the English translation of what she has recited. I was so amazed by the gems the Qur’an holds.

Growing up, we read the Qur’an in Arabic without any understanding, and on enquiring about why we couldn’t read the Qur’an in English, we were usually told it was not done that way. Today I realise that it was also meant to be read in English to allow us to understand the lessons and history of Islam.

Surah An’nisa inspired me as I learnt about the rights of women and orphans. Islam has liberated women; whilst culture and some traditions united us, they left us feeling unworthy. Learning about the mercy and blessings Allah bestows upon women gave me a whole new perspective.

As the day progressed, I was reminded we were invited to iftaar at my mother’s. That meant getting there early to assist, or all hell would break loose. I entered the kitchen to my mother, sighing and admonishing Taskeen, “Taskeen, did your mother not teach you anything about work in the kitchen? My poor Aadam, you must be starving him.”

I stood shocked and utterly disgusted. My mother had praised Taskeen when Aadam introduced her to the family. She was proud that Taskeen was a doctor and that she was a hafeedha – a female who had memorised the Qur’an and studied further to be an aalimah. But as soon as the ink on the nikah papers had dried, my mother changed her tune.

I wanted to stand up to my mother and ask her what the big issue was, but Taskeen, who had spotted me, shook her head as she read my mind. Instead, she remained quiet and followed my mother’s instructions and requests. I was tasked with setting the table, and as I went about it, I realised how sickened I was with my mother’s double standards regarding Taskeen.

The iftaar was less stressful, and we shared many old memories and laughed together. Just as men began to prepare for the Esha prayer at the masjid, Aadam surprised us as he broke the news that he and Taskeen were pregnant. They had found out earlier in the day and had waited to surprise us all.

The room was filled with celebration as the couple were congratulated and hugged. The family were ecstatic, and my father grinned like a Cheshire cat, knowing he would be a grandfather. My mother was quiet, and as soon as the men had left, she turned on Taskeen, scolding her, “How can you be so irresponsible and bring news like that to my house? Don’t you know my Amina is trying to have a baby? Must you always upstage her?”

“That’s it, Mum. What is your problem? I can’t take this any more. I really can’t,” I exploded.

“Your double standards are driving me insane, especially as you always complained about how Dad’s mother treated you. You’re doing the same thing to Taskeen.” The words seemed to have no bounds as I stood there seething at my mother’s insensitivity and callousness.

“I am happy for my brother and Taskeen. I’ve accepted that I will be a mother if Allah wills it, and I am grateful and proud to have a niece or nephew who I can spoil rotten.”

My mother stood staring at me angrily, but I could not be stopped. “Is that the reason you mistreat Taskeen? I apologise, Mum, but I can no longer stand by and watch you treat her unfairly.”

Upset that I had stood up to her, my mother asked us both to leave. I grabbed Taskeen’s arm, and we left without saying a word.

RAMADAN TIP:
Your words and how you use them can harm or heal. So use them with good effect, as you will be held accountable for the pain or joy you bring with them. Be kind and understand that anger is from Shaytaan.

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