hema’s sphere

do you believe in second chances?

Posted by hema on August 8, 2007

1.farah walks into the coffee shop, one of her old haunts, cautiously. she doesn’t really come here anymore, but is desperate for a quick coffee fix before work. as she feared, she bumps into an old friend. colin is pleasant enough, talking about old times and the way they used to hang out. he manages to get in a sly comment about the way she is dressed now, assuming her husband makes her wear ‘that thing’ on her head. when she tells him she is not married yet, he of course assumes it must be her father. if he only knew how much her parents were opposed to it at first, thinking she would never find a decent job, although alhamdulilah they were coming round now.

before she leaves, colin invites her to the party he is throwing at his flat the following weekend. smiling politely, farah tells him she doesn’t attend such gathering anymore, due to religious reasons. colin smiles wearily and rolls his eyes in an obvious way, as if to say “yet another bible bashing type”. as she walks out of the door, farah smiles to herself, thinking of the complete sense of peace she feels after a sincere and heartfelt prayer, and comparing it to the roller-coaster of emotions and ultimate feeling of despair, after a “fun” night out.

as he watches her leave, colin can’t help noticing how much more serene and calm farah looks now compared to her mood swings in the old times. he is left with a nagging feeling inside him, and he is not quite sure why. however, he soon immerses himself in plans for his party and the uncomfortable sensation is placed at the back of his mind.

years later, as colin sits in the masjid after saying his shahada, he still attributes his journey from darkness to light to the sinking, nagging feeling he experienced that day.

2. visiting times are finally over, and as malika finally lies down to rest her eyes, she steals one final glance at her baby boy. she reaches out to stroke his hair, as if to check he is actually real. closing her eyes, memories of the past soon come flooding back, despite her efforts to repress them.she sees an image of herself sprawled on the floor and wanting to die rather than put up with another day like this.waking with a start, she reminds herself that, through the mercy of Allah, that life is no longer hers.

her eyes fill with tears as she remembers the expression of real concern on Omar’s face during their first meeting. she remembers how he listened in sympathetic silence to her horrific story, although he had not experienced the pain and turmoil of divorce himself. not once did he judge her or assume she did not work hard enough to keep her marriage going, as so many people often did.

she remembers as well, the simple wedding affair she had opted for this time around. simple yet filled with so much blessing. as she had looked around at the smiling faces of her loved ones, she had made a vow to herself to put her past behind her and give everything she had to make her second marriage work. while other girls her age often complained and were unwilling to compromise over small matters, malika knew the value of a successful marriage.

3. jason sat in the noisy classroom, waiting for the lesson to start. as his classmates threw paper aeroplanes and chatted casually, he took out his notepad and reviewed the notes from the previous lesson. somebody poked him gently, hoping he would join in the fun, but jason knew he had to take his education seriously. he knew this would probably be the last chance he would get to pursue his dream of becoming an aeronautical engineer.at 23, he was the oldest student in the class, and he had not forgotten the hours of arguments and guilt trips his father had laid on him for not taking over the family business.

the family business. the reason he had not pursued his education in the first place, despite the promising grades and encouragement from his teachers that he could enter any field he chose. and now, with only days to go before the final exams, jason was set to attend one of the best universities in the country, a world apart from the life his father had mapped out for him. but he would never forget the struggle he faced to get where he was.

4. jessicca breathes heavily,feeling as if she has run a marathon, although in reality she walked casually and deliberately to the rec where she had been arrested for the first time at sixteen. in her hand, she holds a can of fuel, ready to cause some serious damage in the hope that she can burn off some of her anger. she has nothing to lose anyway, now that she had been expelled from the only school in the district that would take her. not that she cared, it had been a waste of time anyway. all her teachers expected her to fail and were waiting for the opportunity to have her out of their lives, so they could focus on the nice, pleasant kids who did not answer back.

although.. there had been that one lesson.

it had been taken by a substitute teacher she had never seen before. he had treated jessica which such respect, and she had really wanted to achieve something that lesson. on her way out, she couldn’t help but say a quick ‘thank you’ to the teacher, explaining sheepishly that she wasn’t used to being treated in such a mature manner. the teacher looked confused, so jessicca explained about her violent past, although she had not wanted to, for the fear that she would receive the same suspicious and wary look she had grown accustomed to. but the teacher simply replied”i knew about that” as he walked away.

all of a sudden, jessicca is reminded of the feeling of hope she had experienced that day, of a chance at a better life. she realises then that it is up to her, and nobody else, to change the way her life was turning out. she takes one sweeping look at the rec, and turns to walk away.

as she turns, however, she is met with the glaring lights and bitter siren of the police car. almost like a reflex, she looks up at the old cottage, and sees the stony face of the same old man who made the life altering phone call the last time. it was as though he had been waiting at the window all this time, expecting her to come back to make the same fatal mistake.

only this time, as the two policemen draw closer, jessicca does not try to run away. she walks towards them bravely, knowing she has nothing to hide.

5. anjum pushes the pram down the narrow street, focusing on the smile of her baby girl and trying to ignore the whispers and pointing she has to endure every day on the way to the masjid. she knows she does not have to go, but she tries to go as often as possible for the maghrib salah, as she loves to hear the recitation out loud. she loves the feeling of standing side by side with her sisters, and feeling that she is united with them, even if it is just for a few, sweet moments. she knows that they cannot be focusing on her ugly past, and reminding her of her mistakes with their looks.

as she enters the masjid, she finds the ikama is being performed, so quickly grabs a hijaab from her bag and hastily slips to the back to join the line of worshippers. after the prayer, she checks on little aysha, who is sleeping soundly. as anjum looks up, she notices a group of sisters staring at her accusingly, their hostile faces looking almost surreal in their beautiful, black hijaabs. she takes her own hijaab off quickly, realising that this is what is causing the problem. she has heard the comments before- how dare such a”loose”woman adorn herself with such a respectable symbol? the group of girls look satisfied at her decision, and their eyes follow her as she steers the pram outside, grateful for the fresh air.

as she begins her journey back home, she almost stumbles at the shock of what she sees. adeel emerges from the brothers’ entrance, smiling and shaking hands as he bids farewell to his friends. as their eyes lock, she recalls the first time they met. she had been blown away at her feelings, and wanted nothing more then to spend every waking minute with him. a month later her little dream world had been shattered, as her parents were informed of their love affair. instead of enduring their wrath, anjum had decided to run away with adeel.

she had endured a few blissful weeks of his company, before the arguments began. anjum had wanted to get married, but adeel said it was just a certificate and they had plenty of time for that. at the same time, she noticed that adeel was very traditional at heart, and seemed to have lost respect for her since the decision to run away. he seemed to think a girl like her had no morals. everytime she ventured out without him, he became jealous and eventually he forbade her from going out without him.

that’s when she knew she had made a big mistake. she left him that night and went back to her parents, who welcomed her back lovingly and helped her to build her life again, and taught her about the mercy of Allah. she realised that all along, she could have gone to them for help instead of assuming the worst of them.

as she looked at Adeel’s face now, dramatically altered by his long beard, she realised that he had also changed his ways and built his life again, and she was glad for him. she couldn’t help but feel, though, as she looked at the smiling faces surrounding him, that his mistake had been forgiven so much more readily then hers. although in the eyes of Allah, their sins carried equal weight, and their repentance had an equal chance of being accepted.

before she began her journey home, anjum took the hijaab from her bag and placed it firmly back on her head. with her head held high, she walked down the street, realising finally that it was only Allah that she wanted to please, and only Allah that could truly understand her need.

this post goes out to all the people who are never given a second chance, and for anyone who has made something of their lives, against all odds.


30 Responses to “do you believe in second chances?”

  1. liya101 said

    That’s so great, I feel proud for all the people you mention, fictional or not! This is my favourite post from all your entries so far 😀 Thank you for reminding me to believe in second chances.

  2. […] Five wonderful, short stories, written by sister Hema – a must read! this post goes out to all the people who are never given a second chance, and for anyone who has made something of their lives, against all odds. Powered by Gregarious (21) […]

  3. Assalamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah
    I pray that you are in the best of health & imaan.
    This is a short message to notify you that this entry has been selected for publishing on IJTEMA, a venture to highlight the best of the Muslim blogosphere.
    To find out more about IJTEMA, and how you can further contribute, please click here.
    May Allah bless you for your noble efforts.

  4. Saabirah said

    What a fantastic post masha’Allah. Really touching.

  5. Hafsa said

    Such inspiring stories!

    The ONE line that touched me the most:

    his mistake had been forgiven so much more readily then hers. although in the eyes of Allah, their sins carried equal weight, and their repentance had an equal chance of being accepted.

  6. Umm Yusuf said

    Mash’Allah sister, beautiful! 😀 I believe in second chances…….I have to in order to stay sane. I loved the stories, very touching, real and powerful.

    Jazak Allahu Khairan sis!

  7. mishymoshy said

    I like the first one the best but they’re all good! Is this what you’ve been doing with your free time? I think you should pout some more of your creative writing up here 🙂

    Btw I forgot I had all 3 Hannibal books (I refuse to acknowledge Hannibal Risings existence) and don’t you worry, the first, Red Dragon will be in your possession soon…just don’t get any chocolate on it.

  8. Shahrzad said

    I really believe in second chance. But i dont go the way i went before. I have same goal but i change the road. 😛

  9. hema said

    liya-“I feel proud for all the people you mention, fictional or not!”
    all of the stories are based on real events, although i’ve changed some of the circumstances, and of course the names. i’ve also changed some of the endings to reflect what i wanted to happen, or what i’m still hoping will happen. i just think that, as long as you have hope, then anything is possible.
    umm yusuf and shahrzad- i’m glad:)

    saabirah- i don’t even think you’ll remember, but the last story is party based on someting you told me about one of your friends in college, about how she wasn’t allowed to forget her past even though she was married to someone else now. it never left me, that sense of how unfair it was.
    hafsah- i know what you mean about that line. and i’ve found it’s usually women that make it hard for other women. it’s just really sad.

    mishy- i think farah’s situation is the one i can relate to the most. i remember i used to hate going back to my hometown after wearing hijaab. i knew how they thought- i wasan “ok” Muslim at school because i didn’t make a big deal about religion in the way i dressed and acted. i think i’ve grown up just as much as i they now though. and i think it’s useful to remember that your words and behaviour can have an effect on people, even if you don’t always get to see the effect.

  10. mcpagal said

    I love every one of these stories – well done, mashallah!

    The thing about second chances as well, is that you wouldn’t appreciate it going well if you hadn’t had it hard the first time round.

  11. S said

    When I saw the title I thought this post was going to be about giving others a second chance but after readon it, the main thing I took away from it was giving yourself a second chance. I think not giving others a second chance is mainly detrimental to relationships while not giving yourself a second chance is mainly detrimental to your own self. It takes a big heart to give others second chances while it takes courage to give yourself a second chance – but for both it takes faith and trust in Allah Who can turn things around beyond our imaginations.

  12. hema said

    The thing about second chances as well, is that you wouldn’t appreciate it going well if you hadn’t had it hard the first time round

    I think not giving others a second chance is mainly detrimental to relationships while not giving yourself a second chance is mainly detrimental to your own self

    i couldn’t have said it better if i tried. thanks for your comments xx

  13. ymiss said

    So much hope…thanks hema a truly inspiring read

  14. samia said

    firstly mash’Allah. Im so glad you decided to do it, it was truely inspiring to read, i really liked the way you had made it in different stories… i think i related most to the last one, but liked them all.
    somewhat as S said, it is mostly ourselves that we hesitate to give second chances, because it truley takes great courage. and in order to give oursleves a second chance we have to find the believes in- and the hopes for succes before we even dare, as failure is always feared. while we instead should embrace life again scared or not, just ‘go’ for whatever we fear the most and then we shall overcome it and alllow ourself the second chance.
    i find it easier to forgive others and give them a second chance as you can never know what is in their heart and you therefor have to excuse them, while when it comes to myself, i find it much harder to forgive.

    this post really made me think. thanks babe.
    talk soon.


  15. confusedaboutlife said

    I cried so much reading it hema , did you write all of this ? alot of it refelcts my life ….in different ways .. this post realy brought tears to my eyes .

  16. caged_bird said

    JazakAllah khayr for these accounts. Masha’Allah the realism is cutting…..

  17. Sumera said

    I like these stories. They were….poignant 🙂

  18. Haleem said

    I do believe in second chances. Especially since I don’t make a good first impression! 😀

  19. hema said

    i’m glad these stories seemed to have inspired you al, especially you samia, as you gave me the motivation to write them.

    while when it comes to myself, i find it much harder to forgive
    i think it’s healthy to be a little bit harder on yourself than others, but i think there has to come a point when you realise that we are all capable of making mistakes, and you can’t change the past so may as well focus on the future.

  20. samia said

    hema- my sweet friend, did i tell you lately that i love you!

    dont you know the feeling of being to embaressed to ask forgiveness from The One who forgives, with the nagging feeling of not really deserving to be forgiven, knowing that you comitted whatever sin it might have been with the knowledge of your sin being a sin and so a second chance dont feel right to ask for (am i even making sense here,lol) what i mean is, asking people or giving people a second chance might be one thing and that can be hard enough as it is, but when turning to Allah, i find it much harder as i feel unworthy. is it just me!?

    well lets try never be too ignorent to grant others a second chance or even a third and always try our hardest not to judge.

    salaam to all

  21. hema said

    did i tell you lately that i love you!
    jeg elsker ogsa dig:)

    ….with the nagging feeling of not really deserving to be forgiven
    i do understand, but at the same time we should not despair of Allah’s mercy. i love this

    Imâm al-Bukhâri (r) narrated that his companions told him, “Hammâd (ibn Salamah) once visited Sufyân al-Thawri and Sufyân asked him, “Do you really think that Allah could forgive someone like me?” Hammâd said, “If I was to choose between being accountable for my actions by Allah and being held accountable for those actions by my Parents, I’d choose being accountable to Allah for He is more Merciful to me than my Parents.”

  22. Conflictedworld said

    I think sometimes some people don’t really deserve a second chance

  23. Conflictedworld said

    Btw I mean in terms of a violent husband etc… who wants his wife back…. sometimes the wounds never really closed, you can never really forget. the saying is time heals all wounds not necessarily you never really forget sometimes they are just covered but not really healed.Then you have something else happen and then all the wounds you tried to conseal come back and you feel the pain all over again.

  24. faria said

    Salam all

    These are very good stories..thank you hema! I think we all need second chances in our life because after all we are humans and we make lots of mistakes even if we don’t see them..other people do,,without these second chances ,,we wouldn’t even be able to live together as a society or as a family.
    I used to think that some people don’t deserve second chances because I had an experience with a girl..she was so mean when we were at school and I really hated her! but after years..we somehow became close ..I dont really remember how and I noticed that she was so sweet insideand since then we became good friends:)
    So I believe that there is a bit of goodness in every body and we just need a little effort to find it by giving them second chances or even third chances as samia said!

    Nice post ..keep it up Hema

  25. AnonyMouse said

    Sooooooo beautiful, masha’Allah!
    I’m glad I took the time from my English essay and risked my mother’s wrath to read this 😀
    Not only does it help us connect with the type of people like the characters, it’s also a reminder for us to give others second chances!

  26. hema said

    conflicted world, i was waiting for someone to say some people don’t deserve a second chance, and with the violent husband, you couldn’t have chosen a better example. but even then, i think it’s best to try and understand it from his perspective (which is not the same as saying the wife should take him back, that’s a separate issue). i think people with violent tendencies, most of the time, just need the right help to deal with it.
    most people don’t start out wanting to do bad things. it’s circumstances and other peoples’ expectations of them that make them resort to it.

    faria- you know i can relate to that stroy about the girl from school. i think most people, if they get a chance to meet the school bully, would be surprised to see how the had turned out!
    and yep i forgot to mention about the third chance (samia is quite wise isn’t she?:) and even a fourth and fifth chance. i wondered a couple of times this year how man chances a person should have, and i really do think it should be as many as it takes.

    annoymouse- eek, i don’t think i want to be responsible for you delaying your English essay!
    “Not only does it help us connect with the type of people like the characters..”
    that was exactly the point!! i know it’s hard to do sometimes, but i really do think you can understand people better if you try and put yourself in their shoes

  27. Samia said

    Conflictedworld: i think you do state a good point, although i would agree with hema, it is very important to see it from the other persons perspective- however hard it might be.
    i will tell you a personal story about my own father. my parents divorced when i was still a baby- but even in the years after he still made our lives difficult. he was abuessive both physically and mentally to my mum during their marriage and still a bit after it, and then i was next. i’ve been angry at him for the most of my life- but over the years i have tryed following my mothers example and try to forgive him. after all he is a poor person and even such people we should find in our hearts to forgive. i know for a fact that the memories will always be there and the pain will come to the surface many times. but if he truely repends from his actions- shouldnt we forgive and give a second chance. not saying that he should be allowed back to hurt us, but atleast we should give him the benefit of the doubt and allow him to show himself as a better person. i have had many conversations with hema about this, and she always makes me see it from his side- which can be quite difficult at times, but the most important thing is to try to forgive. After all i suffer as much as him by not forgiving him.

    “without these second chances ,,we wouldn’t even be able to live together as a society or as a family” i think this is such a good point. we truely have to look above our own pain or disapointments and forgive and seek forgiveness from the people around us.

    I came to think about a hadith (i think it is) that a friend once told me. it is about a sinfull man, who commits the worst of crimes. he is told to go to a certain mountain to seek forgiveness for his crimes from Allah(swt). only on this mountain will forgiveness be granted. on his way to this mountain he truely repends his crimes and truely beg for mercy. he dies before ever reaching the mountain- but is forgiven because Allah(swt) sees what is in our hearts.
    i think the story goes something like that. and to me it shows that even if we sin and arent able to make it all good again, we shall still be forgiven when we regret and ask for forgiveness.
    i truely believe we need those second, third and as many as it takes chances, regardless our crime.

    my grandmother always says; that if we look at every person around us, and imagine them as babies lying in their mothers arms, and think that this person was once someones beloved baby, it will be easier to find the goodness in them. And we should show them kindness for the sake of the woman who gave birth to them, and remember to love them for the sake of Allah(swt).

    hema, im sorry for taking over this. just got carryed away for a sec. :o)


  28. Conflictedworld said

    Its true sometimes people have reasons to behave the way they do but others are just plain eveil.

    I go to a course on Adab al Mufrad. At the momment we are talking about miantaining kinship. Well one question was posed not sure if it is relvent here but hey. It was about a sister who was sexually abused by her uncle and she wanted to know if she should still have ties with him. The teacher replied that in this case he is meharam her paternal uncle then she still has to cover infront of him and if she thinks that even saying salaam to him will cause him to do the action again then she should not say salaam but she is still has to miantain kinship. In other words be pleasant and behave as you would with a strnager.

    I’m not sure if this means you give the person a second chance as you can never be sure if the abuse might occur again?

  29. hema said

    wow samia, thanks for sharing. your grandmother sounds like a very wise mother mashAllah.

    conflicted world- i feel for the sister, i really do. i’m not trying to suggest that people who have been hurt like that don’t have the right to be hurt and angry. but i hope in time forgiveness is possible. the uncle could have repented for his actions. who knows?
    if i’m reading it correctly, Abu Eeesa’s advice was to treat him like you would treat a stranger. that means she shouldn’t be alone with him, because she shouldn’t put herself in unnecessary danger. of course, the relationship would have to change, but i hope for her sake, rather than his, that she can forgive him in time.

  30. Conflictedworld said

    Well i’m not sure if she acknowldges him really to forgive him but it brings on a lot of issues and no body should have to go through that especially from men who are meant to protect them from harm. Well from what I can gather she nor hates him nor likes him. Just does not want to see him. Allah punishes those who opress others.

    Yes exactly she shouldn’t be alone with him to protect herself.

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