Mishma clicked the bell switch. The door was opened by Anika’s mother, Mrs. Sakina.

Assalamu alaikum, Aunty. How are you doing? Are your knees still in pain?’ asked Mishma as Sakina let her in.

Wa’alaikumussalam, dear. It’s much better now, thank you. My dear child, you’re always so caring. And that girl –’ shot Mrs. Sakina at her daughter, ‘is always on the laptop.’

‘Mom! What have I done now?’ asked a confused Anika.

‘Oh never mind. The noodles I made for you are stone cold by now!’

‘I’m so sorry, I totally forgot.’

Mrs. Sakina left the room with a snort. Anika shrugged at Mishma, who smiled and said, ‘So! Assalamu ‘alaikum.’

Walaikumussalam, so nice of you to come.’

‘No problem. As a matter of fact, there’s an Islamic lecture about an hour from now, at Lubaba’s place. It’s on the fiqh of menstruation. I’m glad they are doing it, it’s so important. You wanna come?’

There was a note of accusation in Mishma’s tone. She had always tried to bring Anika a bit more in touch with Islam. It’s true that she would pray five times, fast in Ramadan and wear hijab. But that was probably all. She had met Anika during their degree classes together, and since then she had tried to persuade and coax her to be more active, to attend these halaqas, but she would seldom come.

Once in a while, she would give Sarah Islamic books, but she wasn’t sure she read them at all. Now that she was doing her PhD in anthropology, whenever Mishma would visit her, she would always find her on the laptop studying, with books spread all around her, and her fingers stained with ink.

‘I’m sorry, I can’t come, I’ve got a lot of work to do. But let’s first have some of that noodles, or my mom would never forgive me,’ said Anika with a grin.

Mishma sighed. She really wanted Anika to become more practicing. Sure, she had a very high IQ, but it was a pity she didn’t use it for the sake of Allah, the One Who gave it to her.

Mishma stepped out of the spacious drawing room of Labiba’s house. The lecture had been awesome. It answered many of her questions on menstruation. But it also raised some new questions, which the ustadha couldn’t answer, but promised to look up for her.

‘It’s high time I get a good book on the topic,’ she thought. She remembered there was a good Islamic bookshop nearby. She checked her purse to make sure she had enough money, then headed there.

On entering the shop, a smile came on her lips. So many amazing books! The smell was intoxicating. I wish I had enough money to buy them all, she thought. After some search, she found what she was looking for, a book titled Fiqh of Menstruation – A Detailed Guide. Perfect! There was also a Q&A section at the back.

I hope it’s authentic, she thought. She checked for the author’s name on the front page, but it wasn’t mentioned there. Browsing through the book, she found the name written at the very back, with a small biography:

About the author: Ustadha Anika bint Abdul Hameed, a Bangladeshi, was born in 1982. She has done a PhD in Islamic Revealed Knowledge from the Madinah International University, Malaysia, through their distance-learning program. She is currently pursuing a second PhD in Applied Anthropology . . .

And it went on. But Mishma was too dumbfounded to read further. She was staring in space. Then her eyes focused on the book cover on which her eyes had fixed: Avoid much assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. [Quran, 49:12]

* Taste the real sweetness of prayer by learning Arabic with Understand Quran Academy.

Tabassum Mosleh




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