It has been three years, since I spoke with her, she has not called and neither have I. I do recall vaguely that she had made a brief call to give her condolences over the phone at Tariq’s death three years ago.
The phone is ringing, and she picks up. I say “I am calling to get your mother’s address as I would like to invite you and your mother to my daughter’s wedding”. There is bored silence at the other end and then lacadaisically she gives me the address. Her voice non committal, no felicitations expressed for the upcoming joyous event, no condolence for my sons demise, no questions as to how I am holding up.
I recall many years ago she had said, “ I am your sister.” My thought processes are interrupted by her comment “ I don’t think my mother would like to come, She is upset about her last contact with our mutual relatives, who are also going to be at the wedding”
I say” there has been a lot of water under the bridge, since then. Those individuals have apologized to your mother, my mother is dead as is my son, perhaps you can forgive and try to move forward?”
She proceeds to tell me that she want’s me to intervene on her behalf to get some jewelry left to her and me by one of our mutual relatives. Being caught up in the crossfire of inheritance laws and disagreement in the relatives the process of distribution of the jewelry has been slow.
Suddenly I feel I am talking to a stranger, I find myself distanced from this woman who had reassured me many times, long time ago that since I had no sister, she was going to be my sister.
She continues to harp on getting her trinkets and asks me why don’t I intervene.
I try to tell her that in my current frame of mind, material items are not important any more, and that’ she is welcome to have my share also if that makes her happy.
She persists and I reiterate to her that I do not have the emotional reserve for this kind of intervening and pursuit of material goods, and that it is least important to me at this time.
Her final sentence cuts the last chord of respect, friendship and compassion that I had felt for her in the past because I realize that she has no concept or compassion of what I have experienced with my mothers and my sons death and is either unable or unwilling to try and even understand my stance.
She says” Well you said we should move on, why aren’t you moving on”
I feel the callousness of her remarks go through me like a knife goes through flesh. I realize with a certainty that either I have changed significantly or she had always been callous and I was in Ghafla and had never seen her for who she was.
In trying to fulfill my Haqooq el Ebaad, I feel I am swimming in a swamp, at every corner some relative in the form of an alligator either snaps at me or takes a bite out of me; the swamp water itself is murky with hidden agendas.
I am tired and I want to get out of the swamp. All my various relatives hiding in the rushes startle me and dissuade me from my goal; They have no support to offer. And yet I know that I cannot turn my back on them, for one of the most stern tests that Allah SWT puts us through in this life is to learn how to get along with each other.
As I review Surah Baqara and read with dismay the commandments of Allah of how I have to treat my relatives, irrespective of how they treat me, I struggle with the reality of doing so.
As I see through their envy, their ghafla, there politics, their greed, and their strange and usual priorities, I wonder if I will have the strength and the determination to continue to swim in the swamp and reach my destination unharmed and without harming someone.
I too was once one of them, and yet now I find myself far removed, from them. I am swimming in the swamp of Huqooq el Ebaad with only one agenda: to get to the other side without disobeying Allah SWT in the arena of his commandments that pertain to the Huqooq el ebaad. Please keep me in your prayers.