Aisha desperately wanted children and had tests galore but they could find nothing that would prevent her from conceiving. She used to cry when her period came and then she would calmly accept it. I was with her one day in the mosque when a well-meaning sister told her about the possibilities for adoption, and afterwards she told me that she felt upset as she really hadn’t yet given up the notion of having one of her own inshallah.
My eldest daughter sometimes spent a night with her and her husband and they became a real aunty and uncle to her. She and her husband were the first of all our friends to have a computer and my daughter loved not only the computer itself, but also the swivel chair that went with the computer table! I still have the computer generated book mark she made for me. Aisha loved order and had a set routine in which she did all her housework. She used to say “I wonder how I will be if Allah gives me a child because then all my routine will have to change!” She was a spotless housekeeper and loved frills and doilies, and soaps and pot pourries and all things nice and perfumed and feminine! She often came up with ideas of things to make to sell at bazaars for money for charity. At one time it was scrunchies and all of our daughters got scrunchies for their hair. Another time she made these little cotton balls of lavender and hung them on clothes hangers to hang in the cupboards to make your clothes smell nice. I used one as a mobile over my son’s cot! Another of her crazes was frilly long pants for girls to wear under dresses, which were so popular it seemed as if every little girl I knew wore them. And at every event Aisha was the one in the midst of organising and doing things whether it was making tea, serving, selling whatever, she was an activist.
I remember once she came to stay during Ramadan, and I had gone for a nap and woke up totally disorientated panicking and exclaiming that I was so late going to pick my daughter up from school. Aisha was quietly sitting reading the Qur’an and looked at me as if I’d lost my head. I remember thinking ‘silly woman… doesn’t understand’, until I found my bearings and realised it was far too early to collect my daughter, and when I told her what I had been thinking, she laughed over me thinking SHE was the silly one!
They had moved around a lot when she was growing up, and when she met a new sister, and asked them where they came from, she invariably had lived in that particular place for a while. She told me once that anyone would think she was just making it up!
But what I remember most about Aisha was the fact that her deen (religion) always came first in her life. She went through a stage once, where she would lie in bed at night panicking that each breath she took would be her last, and feeling that she wasn’t prepared for death. Every morning after Fajir and every afternoon after Asr prayer, she said her “dhikr” These were authentic duas that the prophet Muhammad (SAWS) used to say, and at first she read them from a piece of paper where she had compiled them all, and then she recited them from memory. It didn’t matter where she was, in someone’s else’s home or in the park, she would quietly sit at one side and say her “dhikr”. And no matter where we went – be it for a picnic in the park or a get-together in someone’s home, she would take a paper or a book out of her bag and read an Islamic reminder to remember Allah in the hope that He would remember us in a group that was better than ours. We used to call her “Halaqa Aisha”. I remember the pieces of paper sellotaped to her kitchen cupboards with the Arabic vocabulary she was trying to learn.
‘I love you for the sake of Allah’. The first person to ever say that to me was Aisha (rahimahallah) and I remember feeling quite miffed and thinking “Am I THAT bad that she can’t love me for myself, and can only love me for the sake of Allah?” Little did I know then the hadith about the shade of Allah on the Day of Judgement covering two people who have loved each other for the sake of Allah. And am I the only one that gets totally tongue twisted in the reply coming out with “and I love you for He who....” I mean “And for He who loves you.....” so that I usually end up with “Oh I love you for His sake too!” The real beautiful reply is “May He, for whom you have loved me, love you.”