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My Fair Lady.

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As salaamu alaii kumm wa rahmatullah wa barakath,

The title of the post is inspired from an erstwhile (1913) English play and later Hollywood movie (1938) of the same name but believe me, after having read the story which I’m sharing with you today, I couldn’t come up with a better title than this, rest assured, the only similarity is in the titles and nothing else. 

Set in the Arab lands, the story talks about love post marriage, the narrator is Hadrath Sharih (rh) wherein he relates to Hadrath Sho’bi (rh) an account of his marriage to one Zainab (rh) of the Banu Tamim clan, I could only get one reference but if I get more, I’ll update the post insha-Allah.

“A happy man marries the woman he loves, a happier man loves the woman he marries” ~ Susan Douglas

The story begins:

Hadrath Sho’bi (rh) says, “Sharih once met me and said, “O’ Sho’bi, marry the women of the Banu Tamim, I have found them to be very intelligent.” Sho’bi asked, “What sign of intelligence did you see in them?”

Sharih explained thus: 

“While returning from a funeral in the afternoon, I happened to pass through their colony. At the door of one house I saw an old woman, and with her a beautiful girl. I went towards them and asked for water, although I was not thirsty. The old woman asked, “What would you like to drink?” I replied, “Whatever is available.” The old lady said to the girl, “Go and get some milk, this man appears to be a stranger to me.” I asked, “Who is this girl?” She replied “She is Zainab, of the Banu Tamim clan.” I asked, “Is she free or engaged?” She replied, “She is free.”

I’m drenched in the flood,

which has yet to come.

I’m tied up in the prison,

which has yet to exist.

Not having played the game of chess,

I’m already the checkmate.

Not having tasted even a single cup of your wine,

I’m already drunk.

Not having entered

the battlefield,

I’m already wounded and slain.

I no longer know the difference

between image and reality.

Like the shadow

I am

and 

I am not.

I offered, “Please give her in marriage to me.” She said, “If you are her peer”.

Hearing this, I came home and tried to enjoy my customary siesta, but then, sleep evaded me.

Desire for your face,

would split the hardest stone.

Life takes wings and soars,

in my joy of having you.

Fire becomes like water,

My reason is destroyed.

And imagining you,

kills any hope of sleep.

When I had offered my Zuhr (afternoon) prayers I sought the help of my brethren, who were respectable people. Among them were Hadrath Alqama (rh), Hadrath Aswad, Hadrath Musayyab and Hadrath Musa bin Arfata. With them I set out to meet her paternal uncle.

Her uncle came and asked me, ‘O Abu Umayya, what have you come for?” I said, “Your niece, Zainab.” He said, “She has no objection.” So I offered as before and said, “Marry her to me.”

I then married her, but then people told me about the hardness of the hearts of the Banu Tamim. I was remorseful about having married a girl of the Banu Tamim. I was having second thoughts but I decided to keep her with me, and see if I liked her.

Hadrath Sharih continues: “O’ Sho’bi! If you had only seen me then! Her lady relatives came to give her gifts and sent her to me and then the first thing she said to me was, “It is the custom of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) that when a woman comes to her husband for the first time, he offers two rakaat of prayer and seeks good in her from Allah, and His refuge from the evil in her.”

So I offered the prayer behind me she also prayed.

When we had completed our prayers, her maid servant came and gave me a bed sheet dyed in saffron and took my clothes. When we were alone, I tried to hold her hand, but she said, “O’ Abu Umayya, keep sitting as you are. All praises be to Allah, I glorify Him and seek His help, and invoke Allah’s blessings upon Mohammad (peace be upon him) and his offspring. I am (still) a stranger to you and I also know nothing about your manners. So please tell me what you like, so that I take care to do that and refrain from what you stop me from.” She said further, “There were many proposals for you in your tribe, just as there were proposals for me, in mine. But this was Allah’s decision that has now been taken, and I have become yours. 

Therefore fulfill Allah’s command that:

“Therefore either keep with you in a good manner or leave with kindness.”

(Al Baqara, verse no. 229).

I repeat the same, and seek Allah’s pardon for you.

Sharih continued to say: “O’ Sho’bi, she forced me to deliver a speech, that too at such a place! Anyway I too said, “All praises be to Allah! I glorify Him, and seek His help and invoke Allah’s blessings upon the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and his offspring, and after that I say:

“You have said your words. Now if you remain steadfast upon it, it will be good for you, and if you don’t you will be accountable for it. I like all this, and I dislike all that. We are together, don’t seek separation. Whatever good you see, you can adopt it. If you see something bad, conceal it. And I said something else, which I cannot tell you now.

She asked, “Would you like to meet my family?” I said, I wouldn’t like to be bothered by my in-laws. She then asked, “Which are all the neighbors you like, whom you would have me permit into the house, and which are those you dislike and would not have me permit into it?”

I told her whom I liked and disliked.

Sharih continued further: “I spent the best kind of night with her. She continued to live with me, but I found only desirable qualities in her and nothing undesirable. Once when I came back from a meeting of the judicature – this was after a year of our marriage, I found an old woman recommending to her to do certain things and not to do certain other things. I asked her who she was. She told me she was a certain relative, then their session of commands and prohibitions was over and the old lady came to me where I was sitting and greeted me. I replied to the greeting and asked her who she was. She told me about her relation with my in-laws. I said, “May Allah make you a chosen person.”

She asked me how I found my wife. I said, “She is a good wife.”

She said: “There are two states in which a woman is not considered a bad one, when she gives birth to a child, and the other, when she is happy with her husband. If you dislike anything in her, you have the right to admonish her, By Allah, there is nothing worse in men’s houses than a woman full of coquetry.”

Upon that I assured her: “By Allah, she is very respectful and has had a very good upbringing. She has worked hard and made good efforts.” Then the old woman asked, “Would you like your sisters-in-law to visit you?” I said “Yes, they may come whenever they like.” This woman visited me every year and gave me good advice. Zainab stayed with me for twenty years and I never caused her pain, but once, and even then the fault was mine.

“What happened was that I had offered the Sunnat rakat of the Fajr (morning) prayer, and the Mu’azzin had started the iqamat (words recited before the Fard prayer). I was the Imam (leader) of the nearby mosque. Suddenly a scorpion was seen crawling on the ground and I at once crushed it under a vessel and told my wife, “Zainab, don’t leave the vessel till I come.” Sho’bi! I wish you had been there! I came back as soon I had finished leading the prayer. But meanwhile, the scorpion had bitten her. I at once sent for medicine and put in on her finger and started to recite the Quranic Surah, Surah-e-Fatiha and the Mauzatain (the last Surah of the Quran).”

The story ends here abruptly (blog author) but later we find that Sharih has composed couplets about her (translated into English):

I have seen husbands beating their wives

If I beat Zainab, may my right hand be crippled!

Should I beat her without reason?

It will be unjust, to her, who is not guilty,

Zainab is the sun and the other women are the stars,

When the sun rises, the stars disappear!

References and notes:

1. مومن عورتیں اور اسلام میں ان کے کردار

2. The poem ‘I am and I am not’ is from ‘The Love Poems of Rumi’ translated by Deepak Chopra, its a collection of poems of Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi (rahimahullah) – personally speaking, this is a great (though short) collection of poems of the revered saint, a must have.

3. The poem after that is titled ‘And patience flees my heart’ is again by Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi (rahimahullah) and is from the book ‘Love – The Joy That Wounds’ – translated by Elfreda Powell. Published by Souvenir Press.

Wa laii kumm as salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakath

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Author: Salman

Know me by my work.

5 thoughts on “My Fair Lady.

  1. so she died at the end due to the bite?

    • Perhaps yes or perhaps not..no real conclusion given as I said the story ends abruptly although I feel she did pass away (either due to bite or other causes) as Hadrath Shobi says she lived with him for 20 years.

  2. Reblogged this on Towards Falah and commented:
    SubhanAllah, so much in a single story. I’m still thinking about it and I am left wanting to know more about the ‘old woman’ – who was she? Was it Ummul Mu’mineen Aisha (RA)?

    Insha’Allah there are still such beautiful teachers (for sisters) scattered around the world – scattered pearls. Otherwise everything – especially Islamic studies – feels desperately rushed, impersonal, and distant these days. Couple that with sources that are abundant and competing for authenticity with plenty that are distracting, dubious, dishonest and misleading and it makes for a difficult terrain to navigate – to know and choose. Insha’Allah the effort and time it takes to go through it all will be rewarded too.

  3. Is the happiest man, the one who marries the woman he loves, and also loves the woman after he marries her? :)

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