With slumped shoulders and a gloomy look pulling his face down towards the ground, Ibrahim asked, “Have you ever resented someone so much you actually felt physical pain? It really does eat you up inside. Especially when it’s someone you used to love…”
“Oh that’s right, you did the dishes ONCE since we got married. You should be nominated for ‘Husband of the Year’ award,” Aisha, Ibrahim’s wife huffed sarcastically.
“I said I’ll do them,” Ibrahim mumbled.
“Really? You mean like right now? Or after you wake up from your three-hour nap in front of the TV?”
All they do is fighting. And all she does is find ways to blame, belittle and put him on an endless, tiring guilt-trip. History has a weird way of repeating itself, for he watched his mom do the exact same thing to his dad all throughout his childhood. Ibrahim promised himself he would never allow his wife to disrespect him, but unfortunately, he eventually became his father. And instead of drawing a firm line, he just avoided her completely and drowned himself in work instead.
“You hardly leave the office, Mr. Ibrahim. When do you sleep?” His secretary Rehana asked with a suggestive smile, leaning forward on his desk.
“I have to double check everyone else’s work before giving in the weekly reports,” Ibrahim stuttered, his eyes fixed on his computer screen.
“I admire your devotion.” Rehana complimented him as usual.
“You can go home Rehana. It’s getting late.”
“Oh, if my boss is here then I’m here.” She smiled, pouring him a cup of coffee. “Just let me know if you need anything. Anything at all.”
“Thank you,” Ibrahim cleared his throat.
“A cup of coffee turned to two then dinner and late night chats and before I knew it…” Ibrahim said in a sad, brittle tone. “I was enjoying the attention. I never thought it would go this far.”
“What are you planning to do now?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” Ibrahim drew in a long breath. “Aisha’s nagging and rejection made me lose my mind. I’m not a cheater. This isn’t who I am!”
“Do you blame your wife for what happened?” I asked.
“The night of the accident, we were all in the car when Rehana called my cell. I picked up and pretended she was one of my coworkers. She said I must look great in a tux, something Aisha, my own wife, would never say! I hung up quickly, having mixed feelings of love and immense guilt.” Ibrahim confessed.
“And then what happened?” I asked.
“I usually put my cell in the cup holder while I’m driving. I was getting a lot of text messages after I hung up, and I was worried they were from Rehana. I didn’t want Aisha to get suspicious. My cell was beeping non-stop when a semi truck carrying Iron pipes came out of nowhere! I swear I only looked at the phone for exactly two seconds. TWO SECONDS!”
“It must be very difficult for you to relive this memory,” I said.
“I ruined my baby sister’s life and wrecked my marriage. I don’t know how to live with what I did. For weeks I haven’t been able to sleep or eat or go to work. I hate myself. I’m a complete mess. I’m so gonna burn in hell.”
“Please don’t say that. Allah is the Forgiver of all sins.”
“I’m not going alone. Aisha will burn in hell with me,” Ibrahim added, totally ignoring my words.
“Are you holding her responsible for what happened too?” I asked.
“Of course I am. I would have never given Rehana a second look if Aisha had taken care of me and made me feel like the man of the house. I was a religious man when I met her. I’ve been a faithful husband for years. I was patient and supportive but she gave me nothing in return. She was always criticizing and making me feel like a failure. Can you really blame me for what I did?”
“That’s not for me to decide. We all think we have good reasons for the bad things we do. Allah , the Greatest Judge of All has the final say. He is the One who knows what’s in our hearts,” I said.
“Did Aisha say anything to you? Do you think she knows?”
“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” I joked.
“I want you to know I ended things with Rehana a long time ago.” Ibrahim sniffed then rubbed his nose. “I blocked her and deleted all our chats.”
“Then why are you so worried?” I asked.
“You’re lying. I can tell from your voice,” Zahra said, her back towards her eldest brother. “You’re still seeing her aren’t you?”
“Only once since the accident. I had to end things face to face,” Ibrahim confessed.
“You said you were gonna end it the last time I caught you both at the office, and that was months ago. How could you do this Ibrahim?”
Ibrahim chose to remain silent. He didn’t wanna argue with Zahra or try to explain his reasons for cheating. She had already been through enough heartache.
“I’m sorry, Zoe. I think I fell in love with her.”
“She’s MARRIED!” Zahra yelled, throwing her head back and her arms in the air. “I didn’t tell anyone because I believed you were sorry. I believed you woke up and repented. But I guess the only reason you apologized is because you got caught or because you were in trouble. You know who you remind me of? People in the hellfire begging Allah to take them back to their previous lives so they can do good, except Allah knows they would surely repeat the same mistakes.”
“I guess I deserve that…” Ibrahim wiped his tears.
It’s true, Zahra had been keeping his secret for a long time, but it didn’t change the fact he had fallen from grace with his baby sister after so many times of repeatedly assuring her the affair was over when it really wasn’t.
“What are you gonna say to your Lord on Judgment Day?” Zahra asked, her back towards her brother, refusing to look at him.
“Zahra please stop. I’m not the coward you think I am. I had my reasons and Allah is Merciful. He forgives sins.”
“Ibrahim, if our near-death experience didn’t serve as a wake-up call for you, I don’t know what will. Do you know why belief in Judgment Day is an essential pillar of faith? Because even if you worship Allah alone, and believe in His angels, books, and prophets, you have to remember you’ll be held accountable for your choices. You’ll stand before ‘Al-Jabbar’ alone! Do you think He will accept your apology just because you got caught? Or accept your excuses just because you’re in pain? We are all in pain Ibrahim.”
Zahra finally turned around to face him, which made Ibrahim weaken to his knees. He took one look at her, fell to the ground, and sobbed hysterically, asking her over and over to forgive him.
“I left feeling ashamed of myself. Her words shook me to the core. She said she will forgive me once I end it completely. I can’t believe I’ve ruined Zahra’s life and she is still considering giving me another chance. I don’t understand how she can find it in her heart to forgive me.” Ibrahim’s eyes welled up.
“First you need to forgive yourself”
“How was I so blinded? What happened made me realize I was never really in love with Rehana, I just craved the attention and the way she made me feel. How was that need greater than my fear of Judgment Day?”
“This is what happens when we close our hearts and run away from our feelings. Instead of resolving them, we cover them up and give ourselves excuses, and this temporary relief becomes an addiction that furthermore numbs our hearts. We choose to become victims when things don’t go our way, and sometimes we lose faith by seeking revenge or deciding to follow our whims. We become selfish when giving doesn’t pay off. Believing in Judgment Day is the fifth pillar of faith, and its essence is in believing you’ll be accountable for your actions, regardless of what others have done. This unwavering belief gives you self-confidence, strength, and willpower. It puts an end to the helplessness you feel. It lets you own up to your own successes and failures. I’m sorry, Ibrahim, but you can’t blame Aisha’s nagging for your cheating, that’s like blaming the person who created chocolate for your weight gain!”
“The worst part is I miss Rehana sometimes and that’s why I feel so guilty. She won’t return my calls. I have no idea where she is. It’s like she fell off the top of the Earth,” Ibrahim sighed.
I closed his file and took a deep calming breath. “That’s the only way to avoid temptation. Cut off the ropes binding you to the sin completely. Perhaps that’s what she tried to do. Try doing the same, Ibrahim. I know it won’t be easy. I advise you to ask Allah to help you get through this. Ask Him to take her out of your system. Ask for forgiveness and work on fixing your marriage before it’s too late…”
Ibrahim left feeling weary yet hopeful, and promised he would try. I looked at his file and all the other files of my current patients. They all told the same story so differently. I suddenly couldn’t hold back my tears. They had no idea it was Zahra who blamed herself the most. They had no idea she carried more guilt than all of their remorse put together… And what killed me the most, is that my patients had no idea of my true identity…
To be continued…
How does the belief in the Day of Judgment help you reconsider the way you act and handle the different life situations you’re put in? Share with us in the comments to help others!
If you haven’t read Season 1 of this series, you can read Inside the Therapist’s Office Season 1 for more insight on the pillars of Islam.