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Crowned | A Play by Meena Malik – Part 4

Crowned | A Play by Meena Malik – Part 4

Scenes 1 & 2 | Scenes 3 & 4 | Scenes 5 & 6 | Scenes 7, 8 & 9

Scene Seven, After School.

Part One:  Dress Shopping.

Jehan: Finally, Fatima!  We're at the mall, get out of the car quick.

Fatima: Well, where are we going?

Jehan: It's a surprise!  But I have to go pick something up first, okay?

Fatima: That's fine, I have to get home by 6 though, okay?

Jehan:  For sure we'll get home by 6!  When can you not depend on me, you know how responsible I am!

Fatima:  Great, we're at Macy's and we have 2 and a half hours left.  What did you have to pick up?

Jehan:  Well, I already picked YOU up a boy, now we gotta pick you up a dress!

Fatima:  [flabbergasted] WHAT?! A Prom dress?!  For me?  I thought you were picking something up for yourself!

Jehan: Well it turns out I am picking YOU up a dress!  Connor Daveys is asking you tomorrow, and you know….you're gonna say yes, and what else to get you even more excited than buying, or at least picking out, the dress you wanna wear!

Fatima:  But Jehan, I didn't decide if I want to go with him or not!  Dude—you know my parents just as well as I do and you know they will flip if they find out!

Jehan:  And I already told you Fatima! There is no reason that they have to find out about this!   About any of this!  You're gonna go to Prom, have Connor Daveys as your escort, anddddddd you're gonna and win Prom Queen!!  [looking at Fatima expectantly, Fatima doesn't say anything, pause] Come on!  Stop being such a party pooper!  It's time to loosen up and let go, live a little, hello!!

Part Two:  Samina Pays a Visit.

[Doorbell rings]

Mariam:  Samina!  Assalamu alaykum!  How are you doing?

Samina:  I'm okay, alḥamdulillāh in every situation.  How are you?

Mariam: alḥamdulillāh, just great…..[bright mood faltering] oh, didFatima not tell you about the Ahmeds?

Samina:  No, she didn't say anything.  Is she home?

Mariam:  No she's not, I was just gonna ask you why you were here.

Samina:  Well, I had to tell her something, and I wanted to talk to her in person.

Mariam:  She's coming home around 6, Jehan called and told my mom that they were going to the mall.  The mall on a school day, I have no clue what is going on these days!   [pause, concerned]  Samina, is there something wrong?

Samina:  Hm?  Um…….I don't know.  [stammering and talking quickly] It's just Jehan, and Fatima, and what's going on at school, and boys, and Prom, and…..

Mariam: Whoa whoa whoa, what?

Samina:  You know what?  I think you're the only one that can help.  Can I talk to you?

Mariam:  Yeah sure, you know you can come to me whenever you need to.  Let's go upstairs.

[In Mariam's room]

Mariam:  Okay, you can sit here on the bed if you want.

Samina:  Thanks.

Mariam:  Okay, buddy, let it out.  I'm all ears.

Samina:  Alright, I just want to say this before though, just to make sure.  I'm not doing this to be a tattle-tail and I'm definitely not doing this to gossip.  I know we're not supposed to talk about others behind their backs…

Mariam:  –unless you're trying to get help from someone, yeah I know.

Samina:  I think you're the only person who can help me.  So that's why I'm coming to you.

Mariam:  Okay, good.  I'm glad we have that clarified.  Now can you just hurry up and tell me, WHAT IS GOING ON?!

Part Three:  Dress Shopping.

[Going through dresses on racks]

Jehan:  So, I need to buy my dress too.

Fatima:  Wait, are you going with anyone?

Jehan:  No, I'm not.

Fatima:  What! You're not going with anyone, but you're making me go with Connor Daveys?

Jehan:  Well, I am going with someone.  But he's from a different school.

Fatima:  Oh.

Jehan:  Yeah, you know the Zaffar family?  I'm going with their son.

Fatima:  What, your date is Muslim?!

Jehan:  Yeah, better for me, we know how to stay within the limits, you know?

Fatima:  NO! I don't know! Because that's completely out of bounds in the first place!

Jehan:  Oh hush up, Fatima.  You never have any fun, it's because you don't know how to.  Your kids will never have fun either.  Look, this pink color is so pretty!

Fatima:  So how are you going to wear the dress if it's like…so sleeveless?

Jehan:  I don't know.  If I can find a short jacket, you know those cropped ones?  If I can find one, I'll wear it over, otherwise I might just wear a shawl or something….or I just won't wear anything.  I don't really care.  Especially after dancing I'll get hot and want to take it off anyways.

Fatima:  Well…I know that you don't care, but I have to wear something over.

Jehan:  You have that black jacket right?  The cropped one.  Let's just find a dress that'll match with that!  Okay, the fitting room is right there, go try those on, I'm coming. Let me see, let me see!

Fatima:  The black one, I dunno it's kinda tight and it's like gripping me in weird places.

Jehan:  You mean it's gripping in the RIGHT places.  You look totally amazing.  That looks like the dress that Miley Cyrus wore to the awards show last month.  Whoa, you look so good!  All the guys are gonna die when they see you in that!  They'll totally vote for you!

Fatima: Um….no…stop being gross.  I don't want to get votes because people think I look nice.  This feels nasty.  And I feel like a cow.

Jehan:  Maybe you should stop eating like a cow.

Fatima:  [laughing] Excuse me?  I should stop what-ing?

Jehan: [laughing] That's right!  Everyone goes on a diet before Prom.

Fatima:  Everyone goes on a diet before Prom…?

Jehan:  Yeah, they diet so that they can look good in their dress!  You know, just like everyone goes on a diet before they get married.

Fatima:  Tell me you're kidding!  This is so stupid!  No one's getting married!  Are you dieting?

Jehan:  Yeah, I stopped eating candy.

Fatima:  Oh, what a cut-back.

Jehan:  Hey, man!  It is a sacrifice, why don't you try not eating candy for a whole month?!

Fatima:  Whoa, you're dieting for a whole month?

Jehan:  Yeah, how does that saying go again?  Beauty hurts.  Beauty is painful….Pain is beautiful…Or something…

Fatima:  Well, I dunno I do feel kinda fat…especially in some of these dresses.  It's like you have to be a stick to fit this stuff….a stick with curves!

Jehan:  Look at this blue one on me, how does it look?

Fatima:  It looks nice.  The top is a little scandalous…

Jehan:  The top was my favorite part. ;)

Fatima: Great.  What about this gray one?

Jehan:  It looks pretty good, it's less tight than the last one.  I dunno, do you feel royal in it?

Fatima:  You mean, does it feel like I can be crowned Prom Queen in it?

Jehan:  Yeah, that's exactly what I mean.

Fatima:  [looking in the mirror]  Hm..I don't know what I picture myself winning in.  [dejected] I don't know if I can even picture myself winning at all.

Jehan: [sensing Fatima becoming disheartened, comes over to her to look in the mirror] Well, I definitely am getting a royal vibe out of that one!  You know, I really think you can win.  I REALLY think it's totally possible!   Especially if you do what you gotta do tomorrow after school, it can really happen!  Can you imagine?!  YOU winning Prom Queen?!  That would be so crazy and sooo awesome!  It's totally possible!

Fatima:  Ugh.  Who knows.  You know what for sure is impossible?  Paying for this dress, come on, let's go…I have to get home.

Jehan:  Okay, but can you promise me something?

Fatima:  [tired] Maybe, depends on what it is.  What?

Jehan:  Think about what's important to you, and make your decisions based off that.  We're in the final stretch 'til Prom, only 5 days away.  You've given so much time and done so much for the school, and now you've been so invested in this competition.  It's time for you to take your crown at all costs.  In the end, once you've been crowned, it'll all be worth it.  Think it over, 'kay?

Fatima:  Thanks, Jehan.  I'll think about it.  Now get me home before I get in trouble.

Jehan:  Yeah, yeah.

[Run off stage]

Part Four:  Mariam Talks Back.

Mariam:  subḥānAllāh!  Oh my gosh! What has been happening, right under my nose?! Why didn't you tell me about this sooner?!

Samina:  Well I didn't know what to do!  It happened all at once…And me and Fatima were fighting, so…I just didn't know!

Mariam:  It's okay, I'm glad that you came to me now, better late than never.  Okay, so you said she's running for PROM QUEEN.

Samina: Yes.

Mariam:  She's best friends with our cousin Jehan now.

Samina:  Yeah.

Mariam:  What a great influence that girl is. …Okay you said this Connor fool is asking her to prom, when, tomorrow after school?

Samina: Yeah,  that's what Fatima told me.

Mariam:  Okay, well…I mean, I can understand.  High School is a really hard time, and it's just so difficult to you know, not let stuff get to you.  I had my own problems in high school.

Samina:  Really?! Like what?!

Mariam: Well there was some stuff like being in band and having friends that were guys and just…some stuff.  Yeah…but we're not talking about me, we're talking about Fatima.

Samina:  Yeah, so I talked to her today when she told me about Connor Daveys, and she seemed unsure of whether she was going to say yes or if she was gonna say no.

Mariam:  I see.  Could you figure out the reasons that she was trying to make her decision based off of?

Samina:  Yeah, she didn't want to get in trouble with your parents and I think that she thinks it's wrong too, but she also knows that it might help her win Prom Queen.

Mariam:  Okay I still can't believe that she's running from Prom Queen.  That's so foolish of her.  Didn't she realize all the things that she'd have to do?  Like actually GO to the Prom to PICK UP the ridiculous crown if she won?!  And what if she won, what would she do about the King and Queen dance?!  She got so blinded somehow, I don't know how she thought she could run for Prom Queen…

Samina:  Well here's the thing….she……likes Connor Daveys.

Mariam:  [exasperated]  WHO is this Connor Daveys and WHY do we have to keep calling him by his full name?!  Can't we just call him Connor!!!!!???? [Samina is taken aback, pause] Sorry about that.  So Fatima likes him…..?  Since when?

Samina:  Since last year.

Mariam:  He's like THE guy, huh?  The guy that all the girls dream about…?

Samina:  Pretty much.

Mariam:  Great.  You know what, I think this actually simplifies matters, I think she'll say no, and I know how to get her to say to no to this Connor Daveys.

Samina:  REALLY?  You think you know how to?

Mariam:  Yeah, getting asked will be the straw that breaks the camel's back.  I knowFatima, she might do some dumb stuff sometimes, but when it comes to guys she stays pretty clean.  If she says no to Connor, then I think she'll probably drop 0ut of the Prom Queen running.  And this will also get her to see that she was wrong and that she needs to come back and apologize to you, I hate seeing you guys fighting!

Samina:  Do you really think that this is gonna work?

Mariam:  Yeah, I do.  inshā'Allāh it works out.  Make du‘ā’ for her, okay?

Samina:  Yeah, of course I will.  Do you know what you're gonna do to convince her?

Mariam:  No, I'm still thinking it over, but it has to be good.

Samina:  Hey…um…can I talk to you about something else too?

Mariam:  [overly dramatic] Are you kidding me, there's MORE?  How can there possibly be more?!

Samina:  No…it's not about Fatima, it's about me.

Mariam: ….of course go ahead, is everything okay?

Samina:  Besides Fatima, yeah.  But…I'm thinking….I'm thinking….all this Prom Queen stuff and everything…..It's got me thinking about who I am and how I present myself to others, I'm thinking about starting to wear the hijab.

Mariam:  ALLAHU AKBAR!! NO WAY?!  [gets up to give her a hug]

Samina:  Yeah, seriously.

Mariam: Do you mean like you're just thinking or you're like actually gonna do it soon?

Samina:  I think I'm gonna do it soon, like SOON soon, inshā'Allāh.  Like before graduation, so that I can have pictures that I can show people years later.

Mariam:  [laughing]  Good thinking! Wow, that is so tight!  māshā'Allāh, I'm so happy for you!  It took me til college to start wearing hijab…a little late, but alḥamdulillāh!

Samina:  Oh yeah, you started wearing it in college!  I forgot.  It seems like you've worn it forever, it's totally a part of who you are.  [getting up to leave]  I know that all of this Prom Queen business is just like bad news, but…out of everything bad there's something good…and I think me wanting to wear hijab might be the good.

Mariam:  Hey, don't limit it to that!  I'm hoping that there will be much more good coming out of this experience, inshā'Allāh.  See you soon, okay?  Let me know when you start wearing hijab!!  You're gonna look so beautiful, so much MORE beautiful.  It might be hard at first, but believe me, if you're doing it for the right reasons, if you're doing it to obey and please Allāh, you'll find that it'll make you feel more beautiful than you've ever felt before.

Samina:  inshā'Allāh it'll be amazing once I start.  Okay I gotta get out of here!  Assalamu alaykum!

Mariam:  Tell your mom that I said salaams.  Walaykum assalam! [Samina exits] alḥamdulillāh, I'm so happy for Samina!  But here we go…time to figure out how to deal with Fatima….

Part Five:  Mariam's Story.

Mariam: [rehearsing to herself, pacing]  Well, you can't go with a boy, boys have cooties!  No…she's not Booger!  Only Booger still thinks boys have cooties.  [smacking herself] Not Booger, Bilkis!! Okay…boys are dangerous!  They only think about one thing!  Okay no no, this is the wrong approach!  Hm…what about …why would you want to be Prom Queen?  It's so shallow!  It's just a beauty pageant!  Stop trying to be like those fake girls who prance around school and put everyone down.  Ugh….Prom is for losers!  And Prom is gross, people dance really nasty, do you really want to see that and be a part of that?!

[Enter Fatima, walking across stage and into her room, other half of the stage.]

Fatima:  I'm home!! [She sets herself up at her desk, etc. to do her homework]

Mariam:  Oh!  She's home!  Ya Allāh please help me!  I still don't really know what to say to her!  I have to do this perfectly, strategically, otherwise she'll totally catch on to me!  I don't know what I'm gonna do, I'm so nervous.  This is what it means to be an older sister….ahhh!  Well…I guess I just have to go do it.  Allāh, please help me!!

[Knocks on door]

Fatima:  Come in!

[Enter Mariam]

Mariam:  Assalamu alaykum kiddo.  I was wondering if you've seen my pin, you know the fancy one?

Fatima:  For your scarf?

Mariam:  Yeah for my scarf.  Dude….I didn't tell you cuz you are so M.I.A. these days, but…I'm going out to dinner on Saturday night with the Ahmeds and their son, and Mom and Dad are coming too of course.

Fatima:  Oh my gosh!  Are you serious?  So they liked you?

Mariam:  I guess…he…well…[blushing]…I think so, and he seems like a good guy.  I just need to get to know him a little more.

Fatima:  Well, that's exciting!

Mariam: Yeah, I would've told you earlier, but you were at the mall!  Who goes to the mall on a school day?

Fatima:  Yeah, I dunno it was pretty stupid for me to go today, especially since I have so much stuff to do for school.  But Jehan asked me to go with her so I did.

Mariam:  You seem to be spending a lot of time with our cousin, and I've barely seen Samina lately, or heard anything about her.

Fatima:  [stalling] Yeah…well…Samina is busy with trying to finish her arts showcase at school and I have all this volunteering to do for the student body government.   It's coming towards the end of the year, everyone gets really busy.

Mariam:  How many weeks of school do you guys have left again?

Fatima:  We've got 4 full weeks after this week is over.

Mariam:  Man, that is so crazy!  I can't believe you guys are graduating already!  It's so exciting!  Let me tell you, college is wayyy better than high school.  You don't have to go to class every day, there aren't any bells to dictate your life.  You don't have homework, well at least not really.  You get to do cool stuff on campus, not lame stuff.  Oh, and there isn't that crazy pressure to be like everyone else…you get to leave all those shallow people behind.  There aren't any dumb things like Prom or Homecoming…there is no Prom Queen and no Prom King.  You get to make friends that you will really keep and who are trying to achieve the same things in life as you are, not just being friends with the person who sits next to you in your English class.  Prom is soon, huh?  When is it?

Fatima:  This Saturday.

Mariam:  Oh…man we had the stupidest theme ever for our prom.  What's your theme this year?

Fatima:  Enchantment Under the Sea.

Mariam: [laughing]  That's almost worse than ours!

Fatima:  Why?  What was yours?

Mariam:  It was something like “An Evening in Verona”…Romeo and Juliet, you know.  An English teacher was in charge of the dance that year.  [looking around, speaking in a hushed voice] You know…I got asked to Prom that year?

Fatima:  [shocked]  WHAT?! Really?!  Are you kidding?  Tell me!

Mariam:  Yeah, I was shocked when it happened.  It was in one of my classes, too.  But I dunno…if I wanna tell you…

Fatima:  Come on!  Tell me already!

Mariam:  Okay, so there was this random guy from band, I hardly even knew him.  He dressed up as Romeo and came into the class with flowers.  And before he came in, he left a mask on my desk, you know how Romeo and Juliet met at a masquerade ball?  Well he left this note on the desk that said “For Juliet.”

Fatima:  No way!!  So what did you do?

Mariam: Well, I thought this whole thing was a joke, but then when he came into the class, I realized that it was serious.  So he came in and recited some lines from the play and then he asked me.  I did all that I could to keep from busting up from laughing, but it was so hard.

Fatima:  So what did you say?

Mariam:  I said, in front of the whole class! I said this…I said, “Sorry, Romeo, but Prom is lame and I'd never go with you or any other guy, ever.  Going to Prom stands against my personal beliefs, and I don't want to go to Prom anyways.”

Fatima:  Oh my gosh! You said that?

Mariam:  Yep…and then the poor guy turned around and walked out.  I know it was a little harsh, but, what can I say?  I wonder how I would have been asked if we had an “under the sea” theme, like you.  [imitating] Beautiful fish, wouldst thou accompany me-ist to the ball-eth?  [laughing]  That's so lame…but you know.  I actually did want to go to Prom, at some point.

Fatima:  Really?  YOU wanted to go to Prom?

Mariam:  Yeah, for a bit.  Especially when everyone was really excited about it.  When the theme was announced and when people started getting asked and when the Prom court running was happening.  I even wanted to be Prom Queen, I think every girl does, at least even a little.  To be that girl, who's beautiful and who everyone looks up to, a celebrity on campus.  Everyone wants that, you know, even if they don't admit it.

Fatima:  So when did all of that change?

Mariam:  Well, I realized…Prom and everything to do with it wasn't a part of me and who I am.  There's nothing wholesome about Prom or being Prom Queen.  It's just a bunch of high school nonsense…could I really see myself standing with Romeo in some pose while we were taking our Prom pictures?  Could I really see myself in the stunning dress, with all that make-up and the elaborate hair?  Could I really see myself dancing the night away, even if it was just me dancing with my girl friends?  Could I really see myself up there bursting into tears, getting crowned and making the acceptance speech?  No, I couldn't see myself doing any of that.  I realized, it wasn't a part of who I was, in fact that it was contradictory to who I was.  I wasn't just like every other girl in the school.  I was a strong individual who used Islam to define me…even though it didn't show in all of my actions because of my own faults and lack of understanding.  It was one of those defining moments in my life, something that made me realize who I was.  I realized then that I'm a Muslim, and that's who I want to be.  I don't care what other people around me are doing or what they have to think or say about me.  The only thing that mattered is what I think of myself and what Allāh thinks of me.  It took such a long time to figure that out.  I wish I had figured it out sooner, but everything happens at the perfect time, that's just how our lives are planned out.  Anyways…….I have to go find that pin, my outfit for dinner has to get approved by Mom…you know what a struggle that can be!

Fatima:  Yeah…Mom…hahahahaha.  She's too harsh on you.  ….yeah, I have a test tomorrow, make du‘ā’ for me!

Mariam:  Maybe you should stop chatting and get off of GTalk in the mean time, no?  Just talk to everyone at school tomorrow, seriously, is spending a whole day at school with people not enough?! You do have a lot to do, stop wasting your time and get your work done!  [exits]

Fatima: [falls back onto her bed screaming into a pillow] Ugh!  What am I going to do?!  And fine, Mariam is right, I have work to do.  No more chatting.  Time to get started on my history project.  [trying to find her book]  Where did I put it…?  I must've left it downstairs somewhere, I should go look for it.

[doorbell rings]

Fat&Mom:  GET THE DOOR!!

Part Six:  All About Booger.

[doorbell rings again, Mom is off-stage]

Mom:  [peeks out onto the stageGet the door Bilkis!  It's Jehan, she called and told me she'd come by. [Exits.]

Bilkis:  [Runs in from other side of stage]  Okay Mom! [opens door] Assalamu alaykum Jehan.

Jehan: Walaykum assalam Bilkis.  I have to go quickly, I came by just to drop off something for Fatima.  Please take this to her room.  I can trust you to take it there, right?

Bilkis: Of course.  But it's a dress or something?

Jehan:  Yes, it's a dress.  She asked to borrow it for something.  But it's a surprise, so don't tell anyone!

Bilkis:  Oh, okay.  Do you have to go now?

Jehan:  Yes, I'll see you later! [door closes]

Bilkis:  She is letting her borrow a dress?  [opens the thing a little to peak at it]  Wow!  It's so pretty.

Fatima [off-stage, about to walk in, voice getting louder]:  Mom!  Have you seen my history book, I can't find it!

Mom:  I saw it somewhere, give me a second and I'll come help you find it.  [Mom comes in view, looking around, not looking at Bilkis]  Bilkis, did Jehan leave already?

Bilkis:   Yes!

Mom:  Well, what did she want?

Bilkis:  [hiding dress behind back]  She was just dropping off something for school, it's nothing!  Fatima needs help finding her book!  [Mom exits, Bilkis talking to herself] I better get it upstairs before anyone sees.  Jehan did say it was a surprise.  Maybe I can take it into my room first and look at it.  I want to take it out and see the whole thing.  Fatima always has the prettiest clothes, and mine are always so ugly.  [in room, takes the dress out and looks at it]  Wow!  This is so pretty!  [takes it to the mirror and holds it up to her]  Fatima would look so good in this!  I wonder what she needs to wear it for.  [turns around to find the bag again] Oh, there's a note in here.  “A dress fit for royalty.  I believe in you.”  I wonder what that means.  Well this is so nice, I really want to try it on.  [Holding dress up to herself in the mirror again, doing her hair, etc.] [Fatima off-stage]

Fatima:  Mariam!  Have you seen my book?  [walking around]

Mariam:  No!  I haven't, ask Bilkis

[Fatima walks by and peeks into the room]

Fatima:  What is Bilkis doing, she's wearing  a dress?  Who's dress is that…?  Oh, no!  Did Jehan drop off a dress for me to wear to Prom?  It is nice…but she shouldn't have.  That is really sweet of her though, she's trying everything she can to help me out!  [getting really angry and annoyed] But what is Bilkis doing?  She always wants to wear my clothes.  I know she's always rummaging around in my closet.  But why is she so obsessed with my clothes?  This is so annoying!

Mariam:  Bilkis, can you come here for a second?

[Fatima hides]

Bilkis:  Oh, no!  Mariam is calling me!  I hope no one sees this, I have to hide it or something, where can I put it away?  [stashes it somewhere] Coming!

[Fatima enters the room]

Fatima: Let me get a closer look at the dress.  [goes into the room]  This is a gorgeous dress. [holds up dress on herself and looks in mirror] …something just doesn't feel right about all of this.  [putting dress back and something catches her eye, quick turn of the head]  Booger left her diary out.   Hm…I know I shouldn't read it. But I'm her older sister.  I should know what's going on in her life and in her head.  Okay, this feels wrong, but… [looking back to see if Bilkis is coming and reads the page]  This entry is from…last week.  .

[Bilkis enters stage and is sharing her diary entry]

Bilkis:  Today was an okay day.  We did the usual in school, but PE was embarrassing though.  I got picked fifth from last for kickball and I was on Jeremy's team.  I don't like him, he's such a jerk.  He was so mean to me when I kicked the ball and someone caught it and I got out.  When I came home Mom said that the Ahmeds were coming over, they were coming to see if they like Mariam so they can marry her to their son.  Even I could tell that she was kind of nervous.  Mom kept bothering her about the way she looks.  I think Mariam looks nice, but Mom doesn't think so.  Mom never thinks Mariam looks nice.  I don't know why, but she's always fighting with Mariam about it.

I hope Mariam gets married soon, weddings are so much fun! Fatima was there when Mariam was getting ready.  She got mad at me because she thinks that I've been going through her closet, again.  I don't know how she always finds out, she's good.  I put everything back exactly the way it was before I take it, she must have a surveillance system up in her room or something, maybe she's hired spies.

I like the way I look in her clothes.  They make me feel grown up, like I'm a senior in high school, too.  Fatima is mean to me, but even though she can be mean, like when she calls me Booger, she is pretty cool.  She is in her school government and gets to do important jobs.  She goes on trips to cool places with different people from her school.  She has the greatest best friend.  Samina and her, they've been best friends since the 5th grade!  I wonder if me and Noor will be best friends when we graduate from high school.  That would be so special!  And just like Fatima and Samina!  That really is like being best friends forever, they've been best friends for almost their whole lives!  I like to pretend that I will be just like Fatima when I'm in high school.  I can't wait to be all grown up and in 12th grade and  have a car and drive and go to meetings and graduate and go to college and have cool friends.  It all seems so exciting.  I can see myself doing everything that she is doing when I'm her age.  Seeing all the things that she does gives me something to look forward to.  I'm just in the sixth grade, I have a lot of time left.  Anyways, Mom is calling me for dinner.  I'll write in you later!  P.S.  Even though Fatima is mean to me sometimes, it's okay.  I get it, I'm her “annoying little sister.”  And if Mariam does end up getting married, I'll really miss her.  I hope Fatima will start treating me more nicely once she's gone.”

Fatima:  Whoa.  I never knew that she thought of me in that way.  That's so strange…she looks up to me like none other.  She's basing her whole life off of what she thinks my life is like right now…Let me look at the entry before, here's one from—oh gosh!  I think she's coming back. [stashes diary and runs out] [Enter Bilkis onto her part of the stage]

Bilkis:  Okay, phew.  Looks like everything is still here and good.  Let me put the dress in Fatima's room before she finds out that I was taking a look at it!  [picks up and the note falls out]  The note!  That was close.  I wonder what Jehan means by, “it's fit for royalty.”  But, it really feels like this dress is for a princess!!  Fatima WOULD get to wear something as pretty as this!

[Lights dim on Bilkis and open on Fatima, in her room]

Fatima:  I finally found my history book!  Oh, and Bilkis finally brought Jehan's dress to my room.  I hate it when she puts stuff on my bed, I always tell her to never put anything there!  Oh my gosh!  I didn't even think about it—I wonder what Bilkis thinks about the dress, and all of the rest of this Prom stuff…?  When she finds out that I am on Prom Court, will she want to run for Prom Queen, too?  And what if she finds out about everything, even Connor?  Will she think it's okay for her to go to Prom with a date, too?  Man, this is so complicated.  [pause]  I didn't realize that she thinks of me in that way!  Great, so this is what it feels like to be an older sister!!  [pause]  Okay. That's it!!  On top of everything else, now this, too?!  I have decorations to finish!  Connor Daveys is asking me to Prom, TOMORROW…Prom is in 5 days!! I have that history project due on Thursday!  I don't know how much more I can possibly take!  What should I do?!  [pause]  And even Mariam went through all of this…but unlike me, she turned away from all of it…I just don't know anymore!  [pause, switches position and tries to read textbook]  Okay, you know what?  I don't want to think about this anymore!  It's time to work on my project!  [pause, opening notebook]  Gosh…and I'm so tired [starts mumbling]…The Spanish Inquisition allowed King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to investigate…allowed them to investigate the religious loyalty that the subjects of the land had.   They were monitored by certain groups affiliated with the government, and many people were forced into converting to Catholicism.  There was a harsh application process, marked with interrogations …complete with an interview…..interview….[falls asleep, lights black out]

Part Seven:  Day of Judgment.

[set change, lights are dark until the set is ready, but Fatima's narration continues]

Voices: [whispering, getting louder] Fatima. Fatima. Fatima.

[Fatima gets up off of bed and is walking across stage, as whispers gets louder, she starts to look around, scared.  She finds a paper/packet on the stage and bends down to pick it with her left hand.]

Fatima: Where am I…?  This place is so…weird.  I don't understand.  Why does it look so strange?  [walking and kicks something]  Ouch!  What the—?  A book?  What is a book doing on the floor?  [bends down to pick it up]  Why does this say my name on the cover?  Fatima Ibrahim.  What….?  [hesitates to grab it, but reaches out with her left hand and then uses both hands to pick it up.  Opens and starts flipping through pages]  Hm…this kind of reminds me of Booger's diary, it has dates in the top corners of the pages, and different entries for each day.  Wait!!  This even has days in the future…. [excited]  I wonder if there's an entry for Saturday, May 25th.  Maybe it'll tell me if I won Prom Queen or not!!  [Starts flipping through pages to find the day, but hears a sound all of a sudden, stops, and jerks her face up]  What was that? [pause, listening hard, audible gasp & scared, stuttering]  Y-y-y-y-es?  That's me, Fatima Ibrahim.  [pause]  A few questions?  [pause]  For Prom Queen?  [pause]  Sure, I don't mind answering a few.  [pause]  Why am I running?  Well, I think that running for Prom Queen is the perfect opportunity to push myself out of my comfort zone.  It's a way for me to expand my circle of friends—[cut off, pause]  Just to be popular?  Giving up my true friends?  But that's not true, that's not true!  Samina is just jealous of me!  And Jehan has my best interests at heart!  I'm doing it for the sake of representing my school in a positive light and for showing others that being—[cut off, pause] For showing off to others?  To show off and become important?  That's not how it is!  [cut off, pause]  To please others?  To finally get others to like me and accept me?  For people to think I'm cool? [pause]  What about C-Connor Daveys?  Is it going too far?  Am I giving up too much?  But, it's, it's all that I have to do..I thought I wanted… [backing up on stage towards bed again]  why are there so many questions?  I thought, I thought I wanted this….[sitting on bed]

[Fatima wakes up, restore lighting, back in room]

Fatima:  What was that?! [groaning]  This all IS turning into a nightmare!  I thought I wanted all of this…what…?  I think it's time to do what I have to do.

Scene Eight,  Saturday.

Part One:  Getting Dressed.

[4 spotlights on Mariam, Samina, Jehan, and Fatima are all getting ready in front of mirrors.  Largely improvisation of all the characters getting ready.]

All together:  Today is the big day!!

Samina & Fatima:  Today is the day I prove myself.

Mariam & Jehan: This is so crucial.

Mariam & Samina & Fatima:  I have to make sure everything is perfect.

Mariam:  I have to look good.

Samina: [hobbling around]  Where is my other shoe?

Jehan: [making hair] Up or down?  Where did I put my bobby pin?

Fatima:  This sure will catch everyone's attention.

Jehan:  [turning head sideways]  This part is still sticking out!  I need more pins!

Mariam:  I hope Mom is nice to me today.  If she makes any comments, I don't think my nerves can handle it!

Samina:  Where did it go?  Maybe I should just paint my foot black!

Fatima:  This was definitely the right choice. It ended up working out perfectly.

Mariam:  But the question is, will the Ahmeds like it?

Samina:  Yes!  Found it!  Wow—

[everyone stops moving]

All together:  I've been waiting for this day—my whole life.

[continue getting ready] [“In His Eyes”]

Samina:  In His Eyes, she was beautiful.

Mariam:  He understood all that she did in order to attract His attention.  He knew that she only thought of impressing Him, that she had taken His preferences as her own and that she was trying in every possible way to surrender to them.  He noticed every tiny detail that she so carefully arranged in her appearance for His sake alone.  He kept account of her progress and He appreciated every one of her struggles.  He admitted that still had a long way to go, but He thought her sincerity was endearing.   No, she wasn't perfect on the outside and definitely far from perfect on the inside, but all that she was doing made her, in His eyes, beautiful.

All togetherBeauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Mariam:  …At least, that's what she had heard.  She had decided that Allāh, God, was her Beholder.  She then realized that she could not define beauty herself or let anyone else define it for her.  She had come to the conclusion that He was the only One to please, so she embarked on the journey of discovering what beauty was in His eyes.  As she learned day by day, she practiced day by day.  She slowly started to beautify herself according to His standards.

Samina:  In His eyes it was beautiful that she should cover her hair.  So she took the first and biggest step.  She stopped showing her hair in public and starting wearing the hijab, headscarf, even though she feared how those around her would react to such a drastic change

Fatima: In His eyes it was beautiful that she should dress to hide the shape of her body.  She started to wear looser clothing, even though it hung awkwardly from her petite frame.

In His eyes it was beautiful that her face should appear in its natural state.  She stopped wearing make-up altogether, even if it was only for a few hours on 'Īd or for her cousin's wedding.  She stopped using the powders, liquids, and pencils, even though she could mask her imperfections and bring out her features.

Mariam:  At every step of her journey she was tested in her commitment to pursuing the standards of His beauty alone, and not becoming distracted in pursuing the other standards of beauty that were around her.  But the further she kept going, the more she heard the others.  The others had their own definitions of beauty, and hardly any of their definitions matched His.  She had already defeated her desires and placed His definition of beauty over her own, but it was overcoming the opinions of the others, those who saw her and interacted with her, that was most difficult.  Their thoughts would turn into words, and sometimes the words would get too loud to ignore.  They had a lot to say.

Jehan:  You should be free to express your beauty the way you want to, not how you're told to.

Fatima:  What's inside is all that matters.  You don't need to care what's on the outside.

Mom:  You'll never get married, dressing so conservatively and looking so plain.

Jehan:  You look strange and won't ever fit in.

Mom:  She would look better with make-up, only a little.  It's no big deal, no once can tell anyways!

Connor:  If you don't look like the girls in the magazines, you aren't worth much.

Mom:  You're taking covering too far.  I'm happy that you're wearing the scarf, but stop fussing with all of these “extra” things you're doing

Mariam:  Some of what they had to say would hurt.

Voice off-stage/Connor:  Some of them came from strangers,

Samina:  some from her friends,

Fatima, Mom and Jehan:  and some even from her family.

Mariam:  Deep down she knew that what He thought was beautiful meant more to her than what they thought was beautiful.  She had to detach from them completely.  She knew what true beauty was and that she wanted to appear beautiful in His eyes, not in theirs.

Mariam, Samina, and Fatima:  She learned.

Mariam:  She learned to cope with what the others had to say.  She learned how to accept complements and how to deflect negative comments.  She learned that she is responsible for maintaining her self-confidence and upholding her own respect.

Fatima:  She learned to stop caring about what the others would think because she could never impress everyone and would get lost if she tried.

Samina:  She learned that she could not fully understand the wisdom behind what He thought was beautiful, but that she would comply fully to His standards.  She learned to love herself for wanting to be beautiful in His eyes and she learned to love herself because she kept trying.  She learned that He is enough for her and that all of her strength comes from Him.  She learned that becoming beautiful is a process that never ends and to never stop fighting to achieve the excellence that she craved.

Mariam:  She learned that outside beauty was only part of the beauty that He wanted from her.  She learned to stop judging others around her, both their external and internal appearances.  She learned that it wasn't wrong to care about how she looked, as long as she knew Who she was trying to impress.  She learned that true beauty exists only in His eyes.­­­­­

She prays that everyone will want to take His beauty as their own.  [spotlight goes out on Jehan] She prays that she will be steadfast in achieving His beauty.  [spotlight goes out on Samina] She prays that His beauty comes to her not only on the outside, but also on the inside.  [spotlight goes out on Fatima] She prays that He will send her a man who sees and loves His beauty in her.  [spotlight goes out on Mariam] 

She prays that she will die with His beauty.  She prays that she will be brought back to life and live forever with His beauty.  She prays that she is beautiful, in His eyes.

[“In His Eyes” –end]

All together:  Okay, I'm ready.

Part Two:  Resolving Action.

[Lighting is dim for the whole scene, spotlight on Mariam]

Mariam:  Here it goes.  It's time to do it.  [pretending to talk to the Ahmeds]  Assalamu alaykum auntie!  How are you doing?  Uncle, how is your mother feeling, any better than last time?  Ahhhh!  Is it hot in here, or is it just me?  I'm so nervous!  I can't breathe!  Okay, calm down, calm down!  Breathe in, breathe out.  Breathe in, breathe out.  6:30.  It's time.

[spotlight out on Mariam, on for Jehan]

Jehan:  Where is Fatima, she's been avoiding me for the last few days.  She was supposed to meet me at my house and we were going to go together to take pictures!!  Maybe she's just running late.  Or maybe she's already at school at the gym!  She's probably fixing up last minute decorations, she's always working so hard!  I can't wait to see her, my dress will look absolutely stunning on her.  I have a good feeling, tonight's gonna be a good night for Fatima!

[spotlight out, on Samina, she is not that visible.  Samina is at the art showcase]

Samina:  Okay, everything's in order, everything's in order.  Here's the flowers, then this one.  Okay, okay.  This is a little off-center, let me fix this up.  Alright, the blue one, and then this and that.  Oh, let me move this a little more to the front.  And finally, my self-portrait.  [carries painting over and sets it down]  I don't know, something is missing.  Something seems a little off.  There's a void….it seems incomplete.  [steps back and looks at it, looking in mirror, holds up painting and puts it with its back to the audience]  Does this really look like me?  I don't' know, I still feel there is something…. something….[reaches for a paintbrush and paints something, the painting is hiding her from view of audience] There.  That's better.

[spotlight out, on Fatima]

Fatima:  Man!  I'm running a little late!  I have to meet the guy from the party store to get the bubble balloons from him to put up in the gym!  Oh goodness!  I'm already late for this, that means I'll be late for everything else, too!  I don't want to miss this, it's so important!  I have to be there.  There are people counting on me!

[Runs off-stage]

Part Three:  Fatima's Fate.

[Lone set of echoing footstepsLight slowly comes on and you see  the art showcase.]

Fatima:  Samina?  Samina?  Are you in here?  I know I'm early, I know it doesn't start til 7.  Samina?

Samina:  [behind a painting]  Fatima, is that you?  Hang on, I'm fixing something.

Fatima:  I like how your self-portrait turned out.  I don't remember this being on the sides though.  And it looks wet, did you just add it on?  [Samina comes out wearing a hijab, Fatima gasping] Oh my gosh!  Samina!  Samina!!  You never told me! Are you for real? Is this for good?

Samina:  Yeah, I'm for real.  I decided to start wearing the hijab.

Fatima:  Wow!  I can't believe it!  I'm so proud of you!  When did this happen?

Samina:  Just now, as you already could tell by the wet paint on my self-portrait.  But I've been thinking about it a lot since last week.  I told Mariam about it, she knows.

Fatima:  Oh, so that's what that is, a hijab!  You told  Mariam, but you didn't tell me?!

Samina:  [awkwardly stammering]  Well, you were…we were…it was…..I couldn't….I…

Fatima:  Okay, look, I'm sorry.  I'll admit that I was wrong about this whole thing—

Samina:  Oh my gosh! Fatima! Why are you here?!  It's almost 7, aren't you supposed to be at the gym?!  They're announcing the winners of Prom King and Prom Queen soon!  And, what do you think you're wearing!! I was so concerned about my new wardrobe change, I barely recognized what you were wearing!

Fatima:  Oh, ahhaaha…this….see I…I….Alright.  I don't care about Prom Queen anymore.  I realized what a stupid joke it all is.  I only realized what it was doing to me after I saw all the things that I was compromising.  It hurt the most to be not talking to you.  I'm so sorry.  I should've listened to you from the very beginning and took your advice!  You know me really well, we've been friends for ages.  I forgot how good of a friend you are, I forgot because, well, because I was tempted by the idea of being Prom Queen.  I was listening to the wrong people, people I should've realized were not my friends, but I had become so blinded by wanting to be Prom Queen, I started convincing myself that my true friends were against me.  I'm so sorry, I was wrong.  I was so wrong.

Samina: Fatima, we've been best friends for years.  Did you really think something like this could have broken us apart?  And even if you were wrong, you aren't wrong now.  Right now, at this very moment, you've made the right decision.  You're here with me, instead of at Prom, accepting your new title.  You gave me quite a scare, I thought I almost lost you…but something told me, I had this feeling deep down.  I knew that you were going to make the right choice.  I just knew it.  I'm so happy that you're back to normal, don't go off doing crazy stuff anymore, okay?  Promise me!

Fatima:  Okay, I promise.  You look absolutely beautiful, by the way!  I'm so glad that you started wearing it, really I'm so glad!  But what made you start?

Samina:  It was actually all this Prom business.  It started making me question who I was and if I really stood behind what I believe in.  Watching you, you know…, no offense—

Fatima: none taken—

Samina:  watching you, I started wondering if there was anything that I needed to be doing.  I finally got over the fact that yes, we're in high school, and yes everyone cares about how they look and what other people think about them.  But I asked myself, what do I think of myself?  And am I living according to what is important to me?  When I asked myself that question, I then had to see….with the way I am right now, what does Allāh think of me?  And that's when I knew.  That's when I knew I had to start.

Fatima:  Wow!  I'm glad something good came out of this mess.  I don't even want to know who won and what's happening right now.  It's gonna be hard going back to school on Monday and having everyone staring at me and talking about me, all the rumors…I can only imagine.  If I was on the road to popularity before, now I'm gonna be the biggest weirdo in school.

Samina:  Are you kidding me?  Let me break it to you Fatima—nobody cares.  I will be the biggest weirdo in school, [pointing at head] hello..!!

Scene Nine,  Closing Address.

[classroom]

Top Swordfish:  Howdy, fishes!  It's Monday yet again.  Happy Monday to all of you folks.  Good news—there are only 3 more Mondays left until graduation!  Congratulations seniors for making it this far!  The seniors had a big weekend this last weekend, with our Senior year culminating in Prom!  If you haven't already heard—our King and Queen this year are Connor Daveys and Kendra Perkins.  While we're on the subject of Prom Queen…I was asked to read a very important announcement.

To the Senior Class—you may wonder why I didn't show up to Prom for the King and Queen announcements even though I was on Prom Court.  I know the rumors must be flying, so I wanted to tell you all what happened myself.  I had believed that becoming Prom Queen would be a dream come true, especially for a girl like me.  During the process, I kept compromising myself and sacrificing the things that were important to me.  I started lying to my parents and I lost my closest friend.  To be honest, I lost myself along the way.  I was trying so hard to be your Prom Queen, to finally be accepted and liked by all of you.  I was so concerned with what everyone else thought of me that I forgot who I was.  I was listening to all the wrong voices.  You can never please everyone.  I realized that I had to decide who were the most important to me, and once I singled that out, my decision to ditch the dance and give up my chance at winning the crown became very easy.  Becoming Prom Queen, getting crowned—all of that lost its meaning and its importance once I set my priorities straight.  I never thought I could say this so loudly and so plainly—but here it goes.  I'm Fatima Ibrahim, and getting crowned is not a part of who I am and what I stand for.  And I'd like to acknowledge the true Queen on her recent coronation—my best friend forever Samina.  Your new step is truly a crown fit for such a beautiful girl.

[Samina reaches out to hold Fatima's hand, Fatima gets up and hugs her. Curtains close.]

 

 


alhamdulillah allah dua eid inshaallah mashaallah subhanallah

About Meena Malik

Standing at just under 5’2,” Meena is still growing (figuratively, sadly no longer literally) into her place in the world. She is in her 3rd year of Comparative Literature studies at the University of California, Irvine, where she is active with the Muslim Student Union. She is a graduate of the Bayyinah Institute Dream Program 2012 and is also a student of the Al Maghrib Institute, having attended Ilm Summits 2010 & 2011. Meena has discovered the power and beauty that words can have, the highest example being the Words of Allah preserved in the Holy Quran. In her own capacity and with the help of Allah, she hopes to capture and communicate her reflections and thoughts as she continues on in this exciting time of her life. You can follow her on Twitter @imeanking & read more of her posts on her personal blog: http://imeanking.wordpress.com/

17 comments

  1. Assalamualaikum Meena! This was a wonderful read! I loved the ending and the ‘In His Eyes’ part… I’m sure it would look even better when performed on stage! May Allah ta’ala bless you and yours and help you effect change through more of your writing! Ameen.

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    • W/asa.  I’m glad you like it, alhamdulillah.  My hopes are that the play enlightened as much, if not more, than it entertained.

      Ameen!

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  2. The end brought tears to my eyes…

    Encore!  

    …I mean, mashaAllah tabarakAllah, the end was worth it :)

    congrats sis Meena for a play well-written. 

    just wondering if you thought out the ending and all the nuances (“crowned” etc.) before writing the play, or did they just develop as you wrote?

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    • aH I am happy to hear that!!

      Yes, I definitely thought of all of that.  When I was writing this play, I was taking an African Literature class with writer Ngugi wa’Thiongo, who is also a playwright, and I had met and talked in depth with Wajahat Ali about his play that was out at a talk with the author of Zeitoun about his book at a sister university in LA.  From talking to both of them and being in their presence and shadows, I realized that if I was going to take on writing a play under my belt, I didn’t want it to just be like a skit, but I actually wanted it to have literary value.

      So the motifs, the images, the symbols, etc., they are most definitely there for a purpose.  I consider writing as a form of art as much as it is a medium of getting a powerful point across. If the Qur’an  is most miraculous and beautiful book ever revealed to man with the richest usage of language conceivable and is the best source of guidance at the same time, then I would be foolish to ignore the fact that not only does written communication need an artistic and creative style, it benefits from it tremendously.

      The play aside, I even try to write my papers for school with some artistic flair ;)  Writing is just too boring without it, and too much fun with it :)

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      • Jazakillahu khairun for your response sister Meena!

        If you were to give any advice to aspiring writers (who haven’t attempted anything yet) –what would it be?

        and how do you choose a medium (whether fiction, non-fiction, play, story, essay) to go about writing something that will be beneficial to the ummah? 

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        • I’m not really sure.  I would say go for what you are talented and interested in the most.  Anything that you decide to do can be of benefit to others iA.

          You’re gonna have to push yourself and make it happen.  Maybe take a writing class, find a mentor, etc. if you don’t have much experience with writing.

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  3. Masha Allah, beautifully written! It’s refreshing to see this kind of creative writing. JZK Allah

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  4. ما شاء الله
    Awesomely written! BarakaAllahu Fiki!
    May Allaah increase your knowledge..Aameen!

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  5. Sakinafletcher


    WHO is this Connor Daveys and WHY do we have to keep calling him by his full name?!”" LOL so true

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    • ;) It was definitely a struggle trying to incorporate this part of the story.  I wanted to represent a real part of HS life, but I didn’t want it to go overboard and cross the line.

      I see that the Mariam’s resentment towards poor Connor Daveys has rubbed off on other readers, lol.  It’s okay, I dislike him, too, even though he is a pretty neutral character.

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  6. very nice writing MashaAllaah.  It precisely depicts what happens in our yet-immatured girly brains.  thanks for ur help Meena, May Allaah grant u much barakah through-out ur life!!

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  7. Assalamualaikum,

    What I learned:

    - In high school, we really lived in never neverland, where the most important things to us are whether the person we have a crush on likes us or not. I guess this is just the way most high school kids are. We should pray that Allah makes this time in their life easy for them. When they get older, they will realize all that was a waste of time.

    - We do not realize what a blessing it is to have a practicing family. There are those who get harassed outside their home, and they have to come back and be harassed in the home by their family as well. When we see an opportunity in someone, we should pray that Allah makes it easy for them to improve, not scold them. We should also thank Allah for the blessing of a practicing family, that will encourage us to do what is right.

    - Whether we realize it or not, we have great influence on our younger siblings. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to our families to be the best we can and be a light for them. If they see us confident in ourselves, they will be confident as well.

    Brilliant. May Allah out barakah in your time and your relationships. May Allah reunite you and your family in Paradise.

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  8. So the moral of the story is that going to prom will make you a bad Muslim……………OK really?! As a former Muslim (now an atheist) I feel that we take our religion way too seriously! If you’re so concerned that going to prom will corrupt your soul, then perhaps it’s the strength of your faith that you should be questioning, not whether prom or some random event is harem

    I refuse to shelter myself from the outside world simply because a few head hanchos label something “harem”. I’m so glad I didn’t have to put up with these dilemmas in High School because I would’ve been miserable as hell having to choose sides

    Oh and just an FYI, every Muslim that I knew in high school, men and women, all went to prom. Some of them had *GASP*…..Non-Muslim dates. You wanna know what happened to them? They turned out completely fine; That’s right, they didn’t start doing drugs or become heretics. They became a Nurse, Financial Advisor, Social Worker, Lieutenant in the US Navy, Kinesiologist, Interior Designer and Architect.

    But hey, don’t listen to me! I don’t know a single thing because I’m a non-believer and non-believers are about as smart as a bowling ball!

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    • It’s good they all are fine.. But Alhamdulillah we are doing great “crowned” in our hijab. It’s all about being beautiful in “His Eyes”

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