CHOICES

Judgy The word Alam used to describe me, firstly I think every human being automatically judges others in their head, we can’t help it we can only control it or chastise ourselves when we do it afterall nobody is perfect right? Secondly I don’t think refusing to do something that is not okay with your faith just because others are doing it means you’re judging them.
Before I continue to rant, I should probably introduce myself. I’m Jemilah Nuh and, I personally think Nigeria is not meant for me because I can’t fully be myself without hearing the word Judgy or it’ll be babe you’re just being extreme, you only live once.
But that’s it people are quick to assume that you don’t enjoy what you’re doing because it’s seems hard. I know you’re probably wondering why Alam thinks I’m Judgy? Well I’ll tell you.

I was seating outside my lecture theatre watching how the leaves of the tree in front of me were moving in a choreograghed manner as if they could hear some rhythm that was non existent to the human ear, maybe they could. The lecturer was running late so I decided to receive some fresh air outside. I don’t know how Alam knew where I was but he was walking towards me. Alam is quite popular in my department and I secretly had a crush on him (notice it’s in the past okay maybe I still like him). Anyway I was happy he was walking towards me, he never seemed to notice me before but I was nervous too. I saw the way he related with girls, how he hugged and shook girls hands so I was weighing the decision of shaking his hands if he offered or sticking to my no shaking the opposite sex rule. He stopped in front of me and offered his hands.

“Hey I’m Alam, what’s your name? ” he asked smiling.

Before I knew what was happening I was shaking him. The desire to touch him overcame the constant teachings of relations between boys and girls I’ve received from my parents and I’ve researched on. At that moment I was just a girl seeking attention from a handsome boy.
We spoke for the entire period and I have to say it was exilarating. We exchanged numbers and after he left, I kept chastising myself for throwing all caution to the wind. I promised myself that I’d be better, that I won’t shake him next time no matter how handsome, funny, amusing, intriguing he is.

Well I obviously broke the promise. In fact I did more than breaking, I completely shattered it, we started talking and meeting and I’d let him hold my hands for long sometimes, I’d even hug him sometimes. I know you’re probably wondering why shaking and holding hands is a big deal right? Well I come from a very conservative home where the teachings of Islam are taken very seriously. My parents did not force all these rules on me but they taught me till it was imbibed in me. Contrary to what people think, my parents never forced me to put on the hijab, I woke one day at fifteen and decided I’d start covering my hair full time. It’s very annoying when people assume every girl wearing the hijab is being forced by their fathers, mothers, spouses or anyone at all. I know some people are being forced to wear it but it’s the generalization that gets to me because a couple of us chose too. Anyway the same way I chose to start wearing the hijab, I decided to stop physical contact with any Non Mahram ( any boy not related to me that has passed the age of puberty) well until Alam came and it broke my resolve. And you know the problem with allowing Alam touch me, I felt like an hypocrite refusing to shake other guys so I eventually started shaking the opposite sex. Before I digress too much let me go back to the story.

One day I went to visit Alam in his hostel, (stupid move I know now). We were talking as usual and he just stopped talking and was watching me.

“Yo why aren’t you saying anything? ” I asked as I adjusted myself on his chair. His room could contain two people but he stayed alone. He was sitting on his bed and there was music playing in the background.

“I wanna kiss you.” he answered.

I didn’t know what to say to him, I wanted to kiss him too but I couldn’t because that would just plunge us further into Fitnah (Temptation). At that point it suddenly came rushing to me how far I’ve let myself be carried away. I knew what I had to do and I knew it would be hard.

“I can’t kiss you Alam, you know that, it’ll make us want more and I’m trying so hard to strengthen my Deen so I can’t.” I typed into my phone and sent it to him.

He picked up his phone and read the message. He laughed so hard I thought he had read something entirely different. But when he stopped to look at me I knew I had hurt him, he looked dissapointed.

“Do you know you’re Judgy, always acting like you’re a saint it’s annoying. ” he frowned.

“So because I refuse to kiss you, you think I’m Judgy? I don’t think I’m a saint, I’m just trying my best to avoid sin. Because everyone is doing something doesn’t mean I should, I’m not saying people shouldn’t do what they want, I’m saying I can’t because in my faith I’m not supposed to until I’m married to the person and I want to follow that rule. You are a Muslim too so deny it all you want but you know I’m right.” I said clutching my bag really tight.

” I’m not asking you to sleep with me for God’s sake and you’re giving me lecture already, you’re being extreme. We all sin differently abeg so stop acting like a saint” he scoffed.

“Oh wow, I know we all sin differently but it doesn’t give you the right to define the sins that will be tolerated or not. You think this is a small sin right so it won’t matter if you’re doing other things right? Well it will matter and no sin is small, in as much as we all sin we should keep trying to not sin even if it’s the small ones we can start from. I’m gonna go now Alam, I wouldn’t want to stay here and keep playing judge.” I said putting emphasis on the word judge and left him in his room.

So yeah that’s the whole story. I and Alam haven’t spoken since then and I don’t know if he’ll come around someday. I don’t want this to end our friendship but I can’t do what I’m not comfortable with just to please someone so if that makes me Judgy then so be it.
I know I’m also responsible for putting us in that situation because I made the decision to accept his invitation when I knew we’d be alone.
Thinking about it now, shaking Alam made me want to do more so I finally see the point of this rule. As much as people say it’s okay to shake a non Mahram if you don’t have any bad intentions, I don’t think I would because physical touch can be a very tricky thing, like an icing on cake, you taste the icing then you want to taste the cake.
Why did I rant about this experience? Well because sometimes we all find ourselves being tested with our faith and we have to make tough decisions. We know we made the right choice when we look back and we don’t regret our decision. So from now on I’ve decided to be unapologetically Muslim no matter what people think of me because at the end of the day someone is always going to think you’re judging them merely by the way you live your life.

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