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Two Women and a Man

Rihab sat alone, musing to herself about the recent events that had taken place within her home. "….everything is over. Hasanat has achieved happiness, having decided upon a harmonious future for herself. All the guests have left after celebrating the happy occasion with Hasanat, whose finger is now embellished with an engagement ring. She has got the man of her dreams and is now thinking of her future happy marriage. Everyone left, praising the bride and groom. What bothers me most is that I now have to go to my room and suffer tortuous boredom and isolation. How cruel it is to have to live in this spiritual alienation. My family is against me, on the pretext that I am wayward….

In fact they are! With their background and old-fashioned ideas that are the mainstay of their lives, they are all deviated, even my sister Hasanat, who now thinks she's chosen the right path and tries to make out that she's a saint. She is really misguided and abnormal. How could she agree to marry a man whom she has never seen, and who is far away?

He didn't even take the trouble to attend his own engagement party! Instead he asked his father to represent him! They say that he is a committed believer. Then he's the same as Hasanat; both of them are crazy. How could he ignore beautiful European women and choose someone like Hasanat? He could get the most beautiful girls –he is rich and charming. Anyway, it must be some defect in him that made him turn to Hasanat and neglect those beauties. Infact, Hasanat is beautiful and educated, but I never thought she could get such a man. He is a complex person though -she won't be happy with him."

Rihab tried to dismiss the subject from her mind. She took a book from the shelf and tried to read. The book was entitled ‘Nothing Counts’ and written by an Egyptian Author.
Nothing is important. Neither dignity nor conscience, not even what comes after death. She enjoyed reading the story, written for people like her and read till late.

The next morning, Rihab awoke late. She sat listening to the happy voices of her mother and sister in the living room. She dragged herself out of bed and joined them with a forced smile on her face. She saw her sister was wearing a white gown. She was happy and cheerful, satisfied with her future. Jealousy increased in Rihab's heart, but she tried to look normal. She said to Hasanat, "How's the bride today?"

Hasanat said, "All praise be to God, quite well. I hope to see you a bride soon too."

These words angered Rihab and she maliciously said, "Perhaps a man from Africa will send to ask for my hand, just as a man from Europe did! Huh! As if there aren't enough men here!”

Hasanat had no wish to prolong the conversation and said, "God knows what is best, sister.”

Rihab continued scornfully, "I know how to build my future myself. I won't marry someone I don't know."

Hasanat said defensively, "Why do you say I don't know him? I know everything about my fiancé. It is enough to know that he is a committed believer."

Rihab persisted, "Is it enough to be religious? You are still young. I fear you may understand life too late."

"What do you mean?" said Hasanat.

Rihab replied, "You should be with your fiancé now, so that he won't meet with other girls. You are here surrounded by the four walls, while your man is free enjoying himself living it up with the girls!"

Hasanat said quietly, "I am sorry to tell you that you are wrong. I would not have agreed to marry a man who was a playboy. Mustafa is a righteous believer and does not care for loose women; that is why I am happy to have him. Since he is a religious person, he is deterred from such a life. His belief provides him with immunity whether he is here or in some other place."

Rihab was about to respond when their mother stopped the argument saying, "That is quite enough. You both have work to do. We are going to have visitors this afternoon.”

The days passed and Hasanat was quite happy except for Rihab's silly comments. For Rihab, the days passed slowly and were boring. She was vexed to see her sister always happy and cheerful, listening to people's congratulations.

A week later, Rihab returned from her office to find the postman at the door, just about to knock. When he saw her, he gave her a letter addressed to her sister Hasanat. It carried a European stamp. She knew it was from Mustafa. She hid the letter in her bag and did not give it to her sister. After dinner she hurried to her room to read it. Wickedness made her open and read, the nicely written letter.

Letter 1

In the Name of God

Dear Hasanat,

Assalamu Alaikum

Despite the long distance that separates us, I have chosen you. This is my first letter to you. I have enjoyed many days thinking of you throughout the past weeks. You are the hope I waited for, and I am overwhelmed with longing to be with you. My dreams came true when I found you, my treasure. These words can tell my feelings of love since I am deprived of your presence. Now that you are part of me I can tell you how much I love you. I have loved you though I have not seen you, because I know you love what I love, and believe in what I believe in. I shall always be faithful to you once this holy bond has joined us together. Such a relation would not have existed but for your faith and religious commitment and your acceptance to marry me.

As for me, I think of marriage as a spiritual and ideological relationship with no false materialistic values. I have chosen you as a wife to build an ideal married life, one decorated with the flowers of faith with a torch of Qur'anic rays, supported with the Islamic injunctions of love, compassion and sincerity. We are both devoted to God first and then to each other. May God bless our spiritual unit and protect our love and guide us to His path. I wish I could keep on talking to you, but I fear you might prefer short letters.

My love to you
Yours forever,
Mustafa.
10th October, 1970
N.B. Enclosed is my photo for you. I expect to get yours as soon as possible.

With great bitterness, Rihab read the letter, with each gentle word; she felt a sting of fire. Her hatred increased to such a degree that she decided not to give the letter and the photo to Hasanat. She spent the day suffering jealousy and was in loss as how to rid herself of the letter. She read it several times and suffered more and more pain. She wished the letter was addressed to her, and not Hasanat. She spent a sleepless night, and read it for the tenth time. She said to herself "Beautiful handwriting, beautiful photo, nice words that reveal an emotional nature. Hasanat would have rejoiced at reading it, she would have felt happy, her happiness disturbs me…" Rihab decided to tear the letter up. Then an idea flared up in her mind. She murmured to herself, "No, I won't tear it up. I'll burn it and enjoy watching the fire devour his words of love." So saying, she went to fetch a match. She saw a bundle of small coloured candles in a golden ribbon with the words: 'Happy Birthday' written on them. She laughed nervously and took out one candle. She said to herself, "How nice to burn Mustafa's letter with Hasanat's candle. This is her gift to me for my 18th birthday. I have kept it to burn Mustafa's letter with, I'll burn her happiness…"

Before burning it, another idea came to her mind. She thought there was no use in burning it, as he would inevitably write her another letter and certainly she could not hope to find the postman at the door again. Thus, burning the letter would be of no use. She sat thinking for sometime. She would write a letter to Mustafa using Hasanat's name. She would try to destroy his love for her. Also she would give him another address, her friend’s address. She decided to keep the letter incase she needed to read it again. She sat at her desk and wrote:

Letter 2

Dear Mustafa

I am grateful to you for your nice letter and loving words. I was also satisfied with a short letter, as I do not like long ones.

You said that writing could replace seeing each other. I think that is nonsense. An imaginative person might think in such a way, in order to convince himself of something. But to me there is no use in letters. What can a letter do as I know nothing about you? How you spend your time and with whom?
You are in a country with every kind of enjoyment and entertainment. What will be left of you when you come back to me?

I think there is no need to be religious. Today there is no such a sharp conflict between the oppressed and the oppressors, or a class struggle. There is not one exploited helpless group that makes us search for a means of saving it, or search in the darkness for a ray of light. Hence we create for ourselves a Supreme Power, which is stronger than darkness and higher than oppression. By such a belief we satisfy ourselves with hope in such a Power. We wait for it to solve our problems and remove our sufferings. For this reason man came to believe in God and, as a result have a religion. Don't you agree with me that we are no longer in need of such a belief since man has found the way to justice?

Anyway, I am sorry to write such ideas, but you see I am a frank person, and like to deal with others frankly.

My wishes and regards for you
Hasanat.
N.B. Please send your letter through the following address:

To: Miss Mida Naji ……….

Rihab posted the letter to Mustafa. She felt a pang of conscience. She was sure she could destroy her sister's happiness, but still she maliciously dismissed her accusing conscience. She waited for the result of her plot.

Mustafa was anxious to get the letter. He was overwhelmed with love and happiness. But as soon as he read it he was stunned and greatly disappointed. He could not believe his eyes. He read it again to assure himself of its contents. Was it really from Hasanat, the girl whom his sister, Zainab had often praised for her righteousness and had herself chosen her to be his wife? Could she be the writer of such a letter? Was she the one with whom his hopes would be fulfilled? Yet she spoke frankly enough to confess that she did not even believe in God! How hard it was for him to accept! How could this have happened? How could his sister have been cheated by her? She was her best friend. What could he do? Mustafa tried to control his feelings after the shock of the letter had passed. He first thought of writing a letter to his sister to blame her for the choice of such a girl and to take steps to divorce her. Then he dismissed the idea. He thought of a quick divorce as a means to escape his responsibility towards her. He had to guide her, to enjoin the good and forbid the evil. Perhaps he could guide her to the right path. He could decide later for divorce. The more he thought of the matter the more he found the idea acceptable. He then wrote to her the following letter:

Letter 3

In the Name of God

To: Hasanat

Assalamu Alaikum

I apologize for being late in replying to you. I have tried to overcome the shock that your frank letter caused me, and it was not easy, but my religious duty has caused me to discuss the matter. You say there is no need for religion. Are you serious? Have you been joking? I don't know how you could have such ideas. I think you are the victim of deviation and misguidance.

I am writing to you as a brother writes to his sister. I am bound by social and religious duties to you. You claim, in your letter, that there is no need for religion and belief in God.

You should know that belief in God is not the result of injustice or oppression. It came into existence long before injustice or class disputes. What class conflict was there at the beginning of human life, when foodstuff and cloth and land were common for all? Belief in God has been known since the beginning of creation and man's first knowledge about life. You may ask for proof of this. Can't you see that everything has its own qualities and features, drawn on the pages of history? History has given us sound evidence of that.

If you want examples you can have them. In Egypt, the Egyptians were the oldest people who believed in the spirit and its renewed life after death, in its punishment or reward. That was at a special level in regard to their concepts. They symbolized the spirit, in various ways: a flower, a bird and sometimes a human face. Such symbols are clear from archeology and history. They worshipped the Founder of everything, as is clear from their prayers. They considered whatever the heart and the tongue comprehended as having been given by the Founder of life.

One of their Pharoahs, Akhnatoon, was famous for his meditation and thinking. He tried to reform religious rituals, as is clear from his prayers which history records thus: "How countless are your creatures of which we know nothing! You are the One God and there is no other lord but You, You created earth at Your will, and furnished it with men and animals...” This happened in Egypt.

In India, the historians are not sure of the age when the worship of God started. Some say it started fifteen centuries before the birth of Jesus (AS). Some say six centuries before that. Max Muller, an authority on European languages, says: "Whatever the age of the gathering of the written anthems was, prior to that age, the Indians believed in One God Who was neither male nor female, nor had any human natural limitations." Muller interprets one of their anthems common five centuries B.C., in the following way: "There was neither day nor night. There was none, but the One.

China knew religion through the worship of the Sun and the Moon and the Stars and the Winds. The greatest of their gods was the God of Heaven, who controlled the universe and decided the life course of every human being.

In Persia, Zurradasht mentions Honnuz the Worshipped as following:

"Oh Honnuz the Merciful, the Creator of the World, the most Sacred, who is the Mightiest in Heaven and Earth?" Honnuz answered, "My name, which is dear from the nature of my heaven, is the Mightiest." They also believed in the existence of a passage where good spirits and devils, come together on leaving their bodies (at death), to meet the God of light and King of Justice. They believed that a balance was set up that the spirits were questioned about their deeds and excuses. They believed that one gate opened into Paradise and another to Hell.

In Babylon, where in the most ancient civilization was to be found, archeological studies indicate the Babylonians' belief in the Creator. They believed in the God of Water and the God of Heaven and the God of War and the God of Soldiers.

In the Hellenistic civilizations of ancient Greece, the idea of one God was mentioned by one of their wise men who blamed his people for their worshipping of several gods 6 centuries B.C.

History proves man's belief in the One God, centuries before the birth of Christ. This in itself indicates that the belief in One God is a very early human idea.

I mention these things without claiming that the idea of religion was clear at all stages, it has always been influenced by the cultural level of the various successive generations and was thus affected by them. Although not monotheism, it indicates a belief in God in a manner that accords to the ideological understanding of those times. I do not wish to disturb you by writing you a longer letter.

Perhaps, you could read a book written by the Egyptian writer AI Aqadd entitled "God". It would give you more information about this matter and help you accept what I have written.

God is our guide, wishing you every good.
Mustafa.

Rihab read the letter and spent the night thinking about it. She tried to compare her knowledge with what he had written to her, to see which was the more firmly based on sound evidence. She could come to no conclusion, and so reverted to her natural stubbornness. She awoke early the next morning to write her reply. She tried to avoid seeing her sister Hasanat, incase she should feel sorry for her and change her mind about spoiling her marriage. In fact Hasanat, in recent days had been looking more concerned and unusually silent. She hardly laughed at all and her face had grown pale. Rihab knew the reason for Mustafa's supposed negligence, as Hasanat had never read his letter. Rihab was happy to see her sister suffer silently, although sometimes she felt a prick of conscience. This letter she wrote to Mustafa:

Letter 4

Dear Mustafa,

I was sorry to see that my letter hurt you. I was awaiting a similar letter to your first one, but instead, you rushed to defend your ideas, and put aside words of your love. Perhaps you had found me to be worthless of such feelings?

Anyway, your talk about the origin of man’s belief was quite interesting and the historical evidence that you cited were clear. But I still maintain that belief in God is a means for the weak who feel defeated in the face of the strong. Such a weak person who feels he cannot protect himself, searches for an imaginary Power to protect him from danger.

This is the basis for belief in God, and religion. I believe, we are not weak and that we can protect ourselves by various means, why then should we attach ourselves to the unknown in order to get the power that in this day and age, we do not even lack.

I am waiting for your answer.
Hasanat.

Rihab waited anxiously for the answer. She wanted to hear his answer after she had agreed with nearly his entire first letter. But she feared her plot might be discovered if his sister returned from her journey. Suppose he wrote to his sister and blamed her for the choice; surely she would contact Hasanat, her best friend, and then everything would become clear. When Rihab thought of this, she became very uneasy. She tried to dismiss such ideas from her mind, and continue her 'game'. Soon she got the following letter:

Letter 5

In the Name of God

Dear Hasanat,

Assalamu Alaikum,

I was happy that you agreed with some of my ideas. I hope this will be the start of our ideological agreement. Yet I am still surprised by your ideas about belief in God.
Had that been the case, the prophets would have been the weakest of individuals, whereas we see that all of those who called the people to worship God were in some way or another strong.
For instance, Prophet Noah continued calling his people to believe in God for hundreds of years with persistence and great energy.
With great effort he built the Ark, despite the mockery and ridicule of the people; he never gave-up. When the great flood covered the whole earth, he and his family went aboard the Ark with peace and security.
He neither feared the vast waves nor was he disturbed by the disappearance of his unbelieving son. These are all clear indications of his strong will and mighty character.

Then there is the Prophet Abraham (AS) who firmly stood up against his enemies, the pagans.
He was not scared by their threat to burn him. His great belief in God turned the raging fire into something harmless to him.
Doesn't this indicate a strong will and personality? Could anyone dare to say that Abraham was a weak idle person?

What about Moses (AS)? He entered Pharoah's court with nothing but his brother and their faith in God. He didn't fear Pharaoh’s threatened horrible revenge.
Doesn't such a stance indicate firmness and strength?

Jesus (AS) as well persisted in calling people to the right path.

Our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) struggled for the sake of God. He never ceased calling people to worship God even when all the tribes of Quraish were against him and bargained with him to give up the message. His reply to them was, "By God, if you were to put the sun at my right and the moon at my left, I wouldn’t give up this issue."

Throughout his life, the Prophet practiced heroic actions. I ask you to read his biography in order to learn more about him.

Thus, you should come to know that the prophets were the strongest, the most courageous and the firmest among their people.
You should read a book entitled ‘Faith.’ You will surely enjoy it and benefit from it; however I am still more than happy to answer your questions.

Mustafa.

Whilst waiting for Mustafa's reply to her letter, Rihab had sometimes felt uneasy, and had found herself abhorring her wicked behavior.

Hasanat bore her pain silently, sometimes feeling depressed and imagining the most awful things. She could not explain her fiancé’s behavior. As a matter of politeness he should at least have written her a short letter, and he should have sent her his photo, as she had not seen him before their engagement.

Such feelings overwhelmed her at times, although in her saner moments she did not believe the things that came into her mind and tried to find different excuses for him. She thought he could be busy or even sick.
Perhaps he wrote to her, but his letter had been lost in the post. She found such an excuse acceptable, and was happy thinking that he had written to her and thought as much of her as she did of him.
She awaited his sister's return from holiday; perhaps she would know the reason for his negligence.

Hasanat busied herself with reading books.

One day Rihab came to her room. Surprised, Hasanat welcomed her sister. Rihab sat near her, not knowing what to do.

Hasanat said, "Have you got a day off? Why aren't you at the office today? I hope you are not ill."

Rihab said, "I've a bit of a headache, so I phoned my friend asking her to tell the office I won't be in today. I'm bored and need something to read. Can you give me a book?"

Hasanat was surprised, as her sister was not usually interested in her religious books.

She said to her, "Feel free to choose whatever book you like."

Rihab got up and stood in front of the shelves while Hasanat watched her to see what books she would take. She was surprised when Rihab took one about 'Faith' and a biography of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Rihab could not explain her choice of books, and so hurriedly left before Hasanat had time to ask her any questions.
In fact Hasanat felt happy to see her misguided sister turning to the right path of faith. She forgot her own sadness for a while as she visualized Rihab as a committed Muslim, engaged to a good Muslim such as her own fiance, Mustafa. Then she remembered Mustafa, she felt sad and depressed. What could be of Mustafa? She resorted to her book and tried to concentrate on reading.

Rihab read the two books she had borrowed from her sister and feeling in need of his explanations, she wrote to Mustafa the following letter:

Letter 6

Dear Mustafa

Perhaps I have been a bit late replying to your letter. Reading the books you suggested has kept me busy for quite sometime.
I have to admit that your style of writing is very convincing.

I enjoyed reading a biography of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) for a few days, as you advised me, and thus I learnt the details of his life. I have also started reading the story of ‘Faith’ that answered many of my questions.

But I still cannot understand why I should worship a God that I cannot see, or perceive through any of the five senses. Isn't much worship really mere tradition, based on illusions? I am sorry to disturb you with such a question, but I feel I need your answer. Such questions cause me uneasiness. I hope your letter can give me some comfort.

Hasanat.

Mustafa received Rihab's letter with the intention of deciding his future relationship with her, according to its contents.
If he found her still negative, his relationship with her would have to come to an end as there was no use in trying to guide her.
If he found her understanding and positive he would continue his duty of guiding her, not so that she could be his future wife (he no longer wanted her) but as a person going astray.

When he found in her letter that she was responding to his ideas and reading the religious books, he wrote her this letter:

Letter 7

In the Name of God

To: Hasanat

Assalmu Alaikum

Thank God that I am now writing to you in optimistic frame of mind. I was happy with what I read in your letter. I am quite ready to answer your questions. They are clear indications of your desire for knowledge. But my answer in this letter will be short and in the form of questions for you to answer:

I. What is the difference between a human being and an animal with regard to comprehension since both have senses?

2. Have you ever considered something to be impossible?

3. Do you believe in the existent and the non-existent?

I would be grateful to you for answering the questions.

My best regards to you
Mustafa.

In great eagerness to read the answer to her question, Rihab got Mustafa's letter only to find no answer but amazing inquiries. She found it difficult to understand what had prompted him to ask them.

Hasanat was in her room so she went to her, hesitantly.

The more Rihab became aware of God, the more she felt uneasy with regards to her sister. She could not find the answers to Mustafa's questions without Hasanat's help and her sister had recently been helpful to her, since she had seen her interest in religious books.

Rihab sat near her sister not knowing which book could help her find the answers. She had to ask her sister, but was silent for awhile first.

Hasanat said, "I hope you've finished reading the two books?"

Rihab answered, "Yes"

Hasanat then said, "Did you find them interesting?"

"Yes." replied Rihab.

Hasanat guessed that her sister was in a quandary about books, as she had nothing else but books to give to her.

She wasn't bothered by Rihab’s brief answers, and only said gently, “You know you are free to choose any book you want from my library anytime. Do you want one?"

Rihab, said hesitantly, "Yes. But I am not sure what books I want."

Hasanat said calmly, "History books, science, ethical or religious, what books do you want?"

Rihab said, "I want religious books."

Hasanat was happy at her choice. She gave her three books; one about ‘Faith and Reason’ and the second one about ‘Reason and The Hereafter’, and the third was about ‘Science and Faith.’

Rihab took the books and went to her room, her sister's nice words still echoing in her head.

Hasanat's help in arranging her room, sewing her clothes and offering her books made Rihab condemn herself saying, "What a wicked person I am! Can't I stop this dangerous game? Why can't I leave the poor girl alone? Now there is no way out but to see it through to the end. I am in need of Mustafa's knowledge to explain difficult issues for me. If I confess the truth, he and the others will scorn me. No! I cannot retreat."

A few days later she wrote:

Letter 8

Dear Mustafa

I tried to understand your aim behind those questions, and looked for books that dealt with these matters you asked about, to get the answers. Actually, I do not want to be your little student waiting for you to answer every small question. I read nearly three books besides the ones you mentioned to me. I must say quite frankly that my aim behind reading has been to comprehend your opinion before you mention it. Anyway the books dealt with various topics and answered some of my own questions. I found them interesting to read, but unfortunately I could not find the answers to your questions. Hence I wait for you to answer them, along with my answers.

1. Of course the difference between men and animals is not in regard to the five senses but is because of Reason. Man can think reasonably whereas animals cannot.

2. Existence and non-existence are matters clear to everyone who can reasonably comprehend things.

3. Impossible things exist, i.e. to say that it is impossible.

• Hasanat.

Mustafa got Rihab's letter. He was about to tear it even before he'd read it. Could such a doubting suspicious girl become his life-partner? Could she be the golden girl of his dreams? What a bitter experience his sister Zainab had caused him! How could he live with someone who disbelieved in the most sacred values? Yet he did not tear the letter but said to himself, “I should continue since I've got some promising results." He opened the letter and tried to understand what kind of a girl was writing the letter. He thanked God for success in his efforts to guide her. He wrote the following letter:

Letter 9

In the Name of God

Dear Hasanat

Assalamu Alaikum

I got your letter and was pleased to hear that you had enjoyed reading with whatever results you gained from it. You see how valuable such books are. They are real treasures within your reach but you never knew about them. How did you get such books? As for the questions, you agree that the five senses are not everything. They are only the means for the mind to obtain the truth. Hence there are facts that need no arguments though such facts are not perceived through the senses, such as the existence and non-existence. For instance can you see the non-existent with your eyes? Have you tasted it with your tongue, or touched or smelled it? Has it a sound? Has someone else felt it? This is quite impossible. Yet you and I and any wise person believe in such a thing. How could that happen? If we say it is impossible to see the non-existent, then how could we get such information? Was it through the senses? Of course not. The senses cannot comprehend anything except what exists. Yet we believe in the non-existent because of absolute reason that makes all the difference between the animal and the human being. There is another fact in this regard. Water is a liquid, a fact that needs no argument. But it is not through the senses that we reach the fact that water is composed of two atoms of Hydrogen and one of Oxygen. Such facts have been proved by scientific process independently of sensory activity. A certain scientist says, “...Some facts are reached through the direct comprehension of the senses. But there are many facts that are not reached through the senses; we get the knowledge of such facts through inference. Such facts are discovered facts. What we should understand here is that there is no difference between the facts in these two categories. The difference is that we get the first facts directly, the others indirectly." He also says, “…The senses cannot comprehend the facts about the Universe, except to a limited degree, yet there are other facts that we know nothing about. There is a way to get such facts through cause and effect or through inference. Both are brain methods. We start with a well-known fact to end at a particular theory; something has been here all the time, but we have never been aware of it." There is also the gravity law which can never be sensed, as Newton says: 'It is something mysterious to see something with no life at all, affect another, though there is no relation between the two." So you see that through reasoning and the accumulation of facts we come to believe in the Creator and eventually we attain to the religion of our own. You may consider this letter to be long, but it is to your benefit. If you need more information, I am ready to give it.

Mustafa.

Hasanat was hopeful of her sister's return to faith. She increased her care and attention of her and kept showing her tender feelings. But she noticed that Rihab could not respond easily. She often tried to speak frankly to her.

She thought her sister's uneasiness was due to their past unfriendly relationship yet the more she loved her, the more Rihab felt uneasy. She regretted her misdeed and blamed herself more than she feared the discovery of her plot. She feared she would no more get Mustafa's letters guiding her to the right path. She needed those letters more and more. She would confess the truth to him one day. She would also confess to Hasanat, the great wrong she had done to her. She would ask for her forgiveness and pardon. In fact she feared the loss of Mustafa's letters as well as her weakness to face her sister with her confession. She decided to go on writing to Mustafa, and wrote:

Letter 9

Dear Mustafa

You will never know how grateful I am to you. I am also ashamed of having done you so much wrong, while I benefit from your letters so much. I am sure you are a noble person who pardons the one hurting him. Your explanation is wonderful and convincing. Yet I have another question. We understand that we comprehend some facts not only through the five senses but through deductions and inference. Tell me now: How can we prove the existence of the Creator? Thanks a lot for your help.

Hasanat

Rihab finished the letter and remembered that Mustafa, in his first letter had asked for Hasanat's photo, although he had not since repeated his request. Rihab thought she must do something for her innocent sister. If she did not send the photo, then she would be doing her sister another wrong, and Hasanat was a real beauty, just like an angel.

How could she inform Mustafa of her beauty? Had she thought of this from the beginning, Rihab would have perhaps, sent her own photo, since she had hated her sister. But thinking of that now would mean another crime against Hasanat. Now, she must get her sister's photo and send it to him at all costs. She would ask her sister for a photo of herself. She went to her sister's room. Hasanat was happy to see her and welcomed her heartily. She said, "Can you do me a favor, Hasanat?"

Hasanat happily answered, "With pleasure Rihab dear. I am ready for you to ask anything. What do you want?" Rihab blushed shyly and she said, "I want one of your most beautiful photos."

Hasanat was surprised at the demand. She did not want to disappoint her sister, and said, "You can have my album and choose the one you like.” She handed her an album from the shelf. Rihab took it in confusion. She turned the pages looking for a clear beautiful picture. She took one, thanked her sister and hastily left the room. She put the photo in the envelope and left the house to post the letter.

The passing of the days and weeks, only served to increase Hasanat's feelings of loss, with regards to her fiancé. However, she still looked calm and in control of her feelings, appearing to be confident in her future. Whenever she saw her sister reading religious books she felt happy, and one day, saw her perform her daily prayers!

She rushed towards her and kissed her warmly, "How happy I am, and how proud I am of you! Oh, how I love you dear Rihab, and how lovely you look in your prayer robe! You look like a nymph. You are really very beautiful!” She said. Rihab could not reply to her sister's feelings. With every word her sister uttered she felt uneasy. As soon as her sister left her, she threw herself on the prayer rug and burst into tears. She murmured, "Oh God! How cruel am being towards this angelic person."

A few days later, Rihab received the following letter:

Letter 10

In the Name of God

Dear Hasanat

Assalamu Alaikum

I pray to God to guide you in this world and the next. It is good that you have asked me to give you proofs of the existence of the Creator.

Science has discovered the second law for heat energy which is called the power law. This law proves that the universe is not eternal and that heat is transferred from hotter bodies to cooler ones until both have the same temperature.
Energy resources within the Universe are continuously producing heat, yet their temperature is never the same. This indicates that energy resources are not eternal, and are therefore limited. Had it been eternal, with the continuous heat transference of billions of years, the temperature would have stabilized long ago.

Some biologists say, "Science has unintentionally proved that everything has a beginning and that nothing can be self-generating. There is the ‘primary cause’ or the Lord Creator."

Another scientist says, "Scientists believe that the transference of heat will continue until all energy sources are exhausted. It has not reached its final level. Had it happened, we would not have survived until now. There has to be a beginning and an end to this non-eternal universe."

There are other scientific proofs to lead us to a belief in the Creator. We can come to know Him through knowledge of the Universe. It would take many pages if I were to refer to all of the evidence that proves His existence.
Nevertheless, I will mention other scientific discoveries that indicate that the Universe has a particular age.

Astronomy has proved that the universe is systematically growing larger and that the planets and other celestial bodies are getting further away from each other. These parts that are now moving away from each other were only one mass in the beginning. Then heat and motion took part, hence the Universe must have an age. It is in a state of continuous movement until one day when it will come to its end. Whatever has an end must also have a beginning. I hope you are not annoyed with my long letter. I do advise you to read the book: ‘God and Science’ and the book: ‘From disbelief to belief’

My best wishes for your success,
Mustafa.

Rihab read the letter then went to her sister's room to get the suggested books. She started reading immediately trying to comprehend their contents. She got one week's leave from the office in order to devote all her time to her reading. On completing the books, she felt a strong belief in God. Yet she still had a few questions that needed answers.

She wrote:

Letter 11

Dear Mustafa

I am never annoyed by what you write. You have removed the veil that covered my eyes and caused my blindness, and misguidance.

I still need you to write to me about these things. I have read the books that you recommended, and I now feel at ease. However, could you please relate some more facts to me?

I have to admit that I am newly born, and, just as an infant needs milk, I need information.
I hope you won't get tired of my questions.
Hasanat.

Mustafa was busy with his final exams when he got Rihab's letter, yet he still replied to her.

Letter 12

In the Name of God

Dear Hasanat

Assalamu Alaikum

I was very happy to receive your last letter that dearly showed that you have successfully crossed the stage from disbelief, to Faith and certainty. I congratulate you on your new birth, which, I hope, will be a happy birthday for you every year.

You should not think that I am fed up with your letters and questions.
On the contrary I am happy that God the Great has chosen me to help you on this crucial issue of faith and religion.

I am happy to help you discover the truth that had been hidden from you by deviated ideologies. You have already listened to the voice of faith that has taken you from darkness to light. I am happy and ready to write to you, though, the books you have read can furnish you with all the answers to your questions.

You still want more evidence about the Creator. Such evidence is related to our bodies.
Have you ever thought of the complicated system of telecommunication? Have you ever thought how the voice is carried from one place to another, far away? Of course it is a wonderful system that calls for praise for its designers.
Yet why doesn't man think of a yet more complicated device? It is our own nervous system.

Our nerves carry, all the time, millions of pieces of information and instructions from side to side without the least stop, day and night. The nervous system carries out its duty of controlling the heart and other organs. Every system has a central control, and the communication systems center is man's brain.

There are millions of nerve cells with wires that extend throughout the body. These are called the nerve tissues (neurons) and they receive and respond to various stimuli and respond accordingly, thus giving instructions to various parts of the body. Through this system we hear, see, taste and think and do our work.

Have you ever thought of the brain? Have you ever thought about how it remembers names, numbers, images, and events of the past and countless other incidents? Can we say where such information is hidden, when my brain is so small? Has nature (which cannot itself comprehend) arranged this brain system and made it the central control in human bodies? Can any wise person really believe such a claim?

Don't you know that there are countless machines and devices, which are all invented in imitation of what God the Almighty has already created?

Can't you see that the camera functions in a similar manner to the eye that also has an outer network and a screen where images are reflected? The film that is sensation to light, in the camera box is similar to the retina where various images are found. Yet, can anyone claim that a camera makes itself.

Is there anyone who would dare to say that the delicately functioning eye was established without designer, just by chance?

Have you heard that in one of the world-known international universities, they have invented a tool with which to measure the ultra-sound waves of the voices vibration in order to get more information about floods and earthquakes before they occur?
Do you know that some kind of sea-fish have been studied and imitated to this end? They imitated those fish (that are aware of such occurrences by nature) in order to build their apparatus. These are only a few examples.

You can find more if you read the books: ‘God in Heaven’ and ‘Medicine and Faith’ and ‘The Behavior of Creatures’.
Mustafa.

Soon after Rihab got Mustafa's letter, she borrowed the books he'd recommended, from her sister. Her faith increased and yet she had some other questions that she intended to ask him; then she would confess the truth to him before the end of the year when he would be back at home. She wrote:

Letter 13

Dear Mustafa

Assalamu Alaikum

You must be busy with your finals, hence I apologize for asking more questions of you, but they are quite important to me. It is a matter of life that has been renewed in me by you. Therefore I have the right to ask you as a sustainer. We agree that God has created every thing. Then who has created Him?

Hasanat.

Rihab posted the letter and returned home. She asked about her sister and their mother said that Hasanat had spent the day in her room.
Rihab knew that Hasanat was worried by her finance's apparently strange behavior. She felt sad for her and went to her room. She found the door locked so she knocked gently on it.
Hasanat opened it and although she smiled, traces of tears could still be seen in her eyes. Rihab knew why she had been crying and was about to tell her the truth there and then but hadn't got the nerve to do it. She still felt in need of Mustafa's letters. She entered the room and sat near to Hasanat, “You look sad dear sister, yet you should be the happiest person in the world."

Hasanat was silent, but happy to see her sister concerned for her. She threw her hand on her shoulder as if throwing a burden of pain upon her.

Rihab tried hard to control her feelings, and said, "Dear sister, there is nothing that deserves your concern. All that is good is waiting for you."

Hasanat gave a deep sigh and then said, "How can you say that. Can't you see how I have been engaged to a man for seven months yet not once have I heard even one word from him. This makes me wonder if I was forced upon him when he didn't want me. Within a few weeks, he will be back. What will happen on his return? I don't complain, but I can't stop thinking about my future with a man who doesn't want me."

Rihab could hardly bear to listen to Hasanat's words. She thought she should do something for the sake of her innocent sister and said cheerfully, "No, Hasanat, you are wrong to think like that. Your fiancé is the most honorable and noble of men. He is just right for you."

Hasanat said, "I know that, but it seems he is not satisfied with his choice."

"I am sure he is satisfied, and that things are nothing like you think." Rihab said.

Surprised, Hasanat said, "How can you be so sure..?"

Rihab was at a loss as to how to answer.

"I know and am quite sure of what I say." She said firmly.

"How do you know?" Hasanat insisted.

Rihab was about to break down and confess. What could she say? How did she know? What a dirty trick she had played! Yet she controlled her feelings and said,

"You have to believe me when I say I know that I am quite sure of this. Within a few days or a week, I will explain all to you. Now you must feel confident of your future husband. You should look at life with hope and high expectations, please dear sister!" She kissed her warmly and continued,

"Promise me that you'll be your old happy self? Be sure of what I say..."

Hasanat smiled gently and said, "I believe you dear sister. I can't explain it but I feel much better already."

Both sisters left the room and joined their mother in the living room. Rihab continued to spend most of her time with her sister except when she left for her job. She amused her and talked about the future. She helped her with her sewing and knitting, and continued to read religious books, satisfied with what she read.

Mustafa's following letter read:

Letter 14

In the Name of God

Dear Hasanat

I am sorry to be late in replying to your letter. I have been busy with my finals.

Concerning your questions I will give you a brief answer and recommend that you read a book called ‘The doctrine of Faith’ This will give you details.

Supposing we see water boils, we ask: Why has it boiled? The answer is: because it is placed on fire. Then we may ask: Why should fire cause heat? Some one may reply: because it is hot. Can we explain why fire is hot? It is not a reasonable question since there is no fire that is not hot. Then don't we, the believers or the materialists, come to know that this Universe was made for some purpose?

Everything has an end. Explanations also have an end. But the difference is that the materialists claim that nature and matter or time has created life. While the believers think and believe that God has created it.

Here we see two theories for the creation of the world. The two sides confess that there is a specific reason that cannot be explained. So can the Power, which created this complicated world (which is also in harmony with the needs of man) be an unintelligent power, which cannot see, feel or comprehend, as the matter itself is? Of course it cannot.
The life system is in need of a wise designer. The wisdom behind the creation is itself clear evidence of the existence of a Wise Creator. Knowledge and wisdom can only be bestowed by a knowledgeable and wise Creator.

Blessed is He the Best Creator.
Mustafa.

As soon as Rihab finished reading the letter, she went to Hasanat and borrowed the recommended books. Reading strengthened her faith and she made up her mind to confess the truth to Mustafa.

A new idea had struck her mind. Since she believed in God, she should believe in His Book. How could she make sure that the Qur'an was actually the word of God?
She decided to write and ask about this before she made her confession as Hasanat felt and seemed much better since she'd listened to Rihab's words of comfort. Rihab wrote:

In the Name of God

Letter 15

Dear Mustafa

You have guided me well to the right path. You have filled my heart with the light of faith, and I feel I am imposing myself on you. You will soon know why!

I would like you to answer my last question. I hope you will pardon me for all the trouble I caused you. My question is: How can I be sure that the Qur'an is the word of God?

Hasanat.

Rihab got his reply very quickly. She had already started reading the Qur'an with her sister. On that day, Hasanat told Rihab that she had got a letter from her friend Zainab, Mustafa's sister who was coming back soon.

Rihab looked happy and said, "Mustafa will also come soon, God willing."

Rihab went to her room and read Mustafa's letter:

Letter 16

In the Name of God

Dear Hasanat

I would like to tell you that I am not annoyed by your letters. They have helped me to accomplish my religious duty.

Now concerning your question; suppose you see a small girl living in a society, which opens no door for her, whereby she might gain knowledge. She neither reads nor writes and has seen no fashion magazines. Then you see this same girl claiming that she herself has designed the latest fashion. Would anyone believe her? Of course not. They consider her too young and ignorant of any fashion principles. She can neither read nor has she ever been to the big Fashion Houses. How could she design such outfits? Thus, there must have been some one clever enough to have designed it for her. Everyone will know that the little girl was not the designer.

In regard to Gods mission to mankind, we know that a truthful man was born and bred in the Arab Peninsula, in the desert, that lacked the least scientific information and art or literature. He never left his birthplace except once or twice when he was a boy and accompanied the merchant’s caravans the same as the others did. He never attended schools for studying either ancient or current civilizations. Yet he suddenly produced a miraculous Book of logic and eloquence.

Despite the eloquence of the Arab language, they were stunned at its high level. One of their men (who was against the Qur'anic verse) said on hearing it, "By God, I have listened to words, which are neither of man nor of spirits (Jinns). They are sweet with flavor, fruitful and fresh. Superior to all, and which destroy whatever is below it."

The Qur'an is a miracle on various levels. It has mentioned the events of previous religions, such as are clear in other religions, and their books, even though the Prophet had never read those books and he was illiterate.
This is made clear in the following Qur'anic verses: "And you were not on the Western side when We revealed to Musa (Moses) the commandment, and you were not among the witness;"

"But We raised up generations, then life became prolonged to them; and you were not dwelling among the people of Madyan, reciting to them Our communications, but We were the Senders."

"And you were not on the side of the mountain when We called, but a mercy from your Lord that you may warn a people to whom no warner came before you, that they may be mindful." Surah Al-Qasas: 44-46.

What is quite clear is that past incidents were not copied if anyone might make such a claim. The Qur'an mentions the events in their true form free from distortion or alteration.

The Qur'an relates those incidents positively, not for the sake of merely mentioning them. The Qur'an prophesied events that were improbable then but which later came true, as with its reference to the defeated Roman army by the Persians. This caused the Muslims 'great sadness' since the Roman's were people of the Book, whilst the Persians were (at that time) pagans.

The Qur'anic verse says: "The Romans are vanquished, In a near land, and after being vanquished, shall overcome within a few years." Surah Ar- Rum: 2-3.

You see a few years, (according to Arab Terminology) cannot exceed ten years. And what the Qur'an foretold came true nine years later. Doesn't such information make you sure that the message of Islam is Divine? As for the scientific miracles contained in the Qur'an, you should consider the following blessed verse:

"And We send the winds fertilizing, then send down water from the cloud " Surah Hijir: 22.

Scientific progress has only recently discovered that the winds play a major role in fertilizing the plants. An English Orientalist, a Professor of Arabic language in Oxford University refers to this fact and says, “…the camel's people knew centuries ago that the winds fecund the plants, prior to this scientific discovery in Europe."

Science has also proved that the earth is getting smaller day-by-day and that it is shrinking ever since it was splitted from the sun and got colder. Its surface is cracking, volcanoes, earthquakes and gravity and air pressure causes it to get smaller. This is a recent scientific discovery, but the Qur'an referred to it fourteen centuries ago. The Qur’anic verse says:

"Do they not see that We are bringing destruction upon the land by curtailing it of its sides? And Allah pronounces a doom, there is no repeller of His decree, and He is swift to take account." Surah Ra’d: 41

"When the sun is covered," Surah Al Takwir: 1

Only recently has science made die discovery that the sun is burning, like a candle, and is fading away. One day its heat will be exhausted, because of the continuous explosions within it. Hence the sun will vanish the same as the other stars and planets.

I don't want to bother you by making my letter longer, to make you sure of this subject, I recommend that you read ‘The Qur’anic Phenomenon’ by the Algerian writer, Malik Ibn Nabi.

Wishing you every good,
Mustafa.

Rihab read the letter several times. She placed her head on the table and cried bitterly. With each tear she recalled the horrible image of her crime, and her difficult situation. She viewed her new situation for the first time. She felt that she was not the same person who had taken the first step in this plot. She was a new person even though she still had the same appearance. She was filled with remorse and sobbed and sobbed.

Rehab was not aware of her sister Hasanat who had heard her and hurried to her room. Hasanat was worried that something had caused her to want to retreat from the path of Islam. She entered the room and took her sister in her arms. She kissed her gently and asked why she was crying.
Rihab could not answer. Her sister's affection increased her agony.

Hasanat said to her, "Please Rihab, be kind to me, I am your sister, I cannot bear to see you crying..."

At last Rihab stopped and threw her head on her sister's shoulder.

Hasanat spoke kindly to her to calm her down. She saw the letter with the address of Rihab's friend on the table. She thought that perhaps it had something to do with Rihab's sadness. She said to her, "Did your letter bring bad news? What nice handwriting! I don't think that its writer could hurt others, your friend has good taste in friends."

Rihab could not keep silent any longer. She burst into tears saying, "I am a criminal, I am unjust, I do not deserve your love."

Hasanat thought that Rihab was referring to those days when she was unfriendly. She said, "Forget it dear sister. You are now on your way to perfection. You need to take just one more step and then you will be better than I. The one who repents is as pure as the one without sin."

Rihab asked, "Am I worthy of God's forgiveness?"

Hasanat said, "Yes. Prophetic narration states that, ‘However many sins a person commits, then he/she repents, God will forgive him/her. God loves those who repent.’ God not only forgives you, He also loves you and He is happy with your repentance. Imam Al-Sadiq (AS) says: ‘God rejoices at the repentance of His slaves as one rejoices at finding something lost.’
The Qur'anic verse says:

‘Surely Allah loves those who turn much to (Him), and He loves those who purify themselves.’ -Surah Al-Baqarah: 222.
Then how can you doubt God's acceptance of your repentance when you obey His orders?"

Rihab became quiet, she considered her sister's great help to her, and listened attentively, forgetting her own problematic situation. She said, "What step do you mean?"

Hasanat said, "I mean the head cover, the decent hijab. You believe in the Qur'an, don't you? Haven't you read those verses about Hijab in Surah Al Nur? You know the Qur'an is the message from Heaven. It is for us to regulate our lives by and to achieve happiness here and in the hereafter."

Hasant's words were effective enough to awaken Rihab and make her feel her painful situation. She was quite sure that the Qur'an is the message from Heaven, but how could she achieve such faith?
Rihab was sure that Hasanat would not help her, if she had known the truth (about the false letters).
Yet Hasanat continued talking about the decent clothes and the social benefits of keeping a woman's body, properly covered.

Rihab wanted to know more about the hijab. She was thinking of wearing it herself. After listening to her sister she said, "Isn't the hijab an old Persian tradition?”

Hasanat said, "Not at all. The Qur'anic verses about hijab were revealed years prior to the conquest of Persia. It was before any contact with its people. Anyway the hijab recommended by Islam is quite different from the traditional Persian one. The hijab is just a protection as a shelter, not a curtain or barrier that prevents woman from performing her role. The ancient Persian kept women behind the veil. You can be sure if you read the Qur'anic verses in Surah Al-Nur: 30-31, which say:

“Say to the believing men that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts.
And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof, and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms, and not display their ornaments except to their husbands or their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands, or their sons….”

"So why are women believers ordered to cast down their looks if they are separated from society and social performance of their role in life? A man is ordered to cast down his looks, which means there is a woman near him, and women are ordered to do that also, which means there is a man near them.

Hence in order not to create sexual and social choas or stir up the feelings of both sexes, the religion of Islam has ordered the decent covering of women as a means for their protection. Preventing woman from performing her role in society or keeping her behind a curtain could cause a lot of psychological and mental disorders. With the decent covering, it is quite possible for a woman to perform her role, side by side with men.

The hijab prevents lots of social problems and disasters that are to be found in societies where there are no limits placed upon the mixing of men and women." Hasanat stopped talking for a while. She waited for her sister to voice her own opinion. Rihab said, "Some say that the 'hijab' is something which came from the monks. It is an image of austerity and a denial of life’s pleasures.”

'Woman is a part of man's enjoyment; hence man has imposed the hijab on her to comply with the difficult life he has experienced."

Hasanat rejected the idea, saying, "I am sorry to say that you have listened to a lot of distorted information concerning the Islamic decent dress. Islam has never denied the human being, life's pleasures, and has never called people to monasticism or the non-enjoyment of life.

On the contrary, Islam wants man to enjoy life. Once the Prophet (PBUH) saw a man in dirty clothes with untidy hair and a rough appearance, he said to him, "Religion is to enjoy life."
What the Prophet meant is that life's bounties are created for the sake of man.

Imam Ali (AS) says: "God is Beauty, He loves the beautiful." Imam Al-Sadiq (AS) says, "God has bestowed on you His bounties, do not hide them."

When he was asked, how, he answered, "Each of you must be clean and with good perfume. His home must be bright and his walls white, his clothes clean. This will increase his earnings."

Hasanat went on, "Three women complained to the Prophet (PBUH). One of them said, ‘My husband does not eat meat.’

The second said, ‘My husband does not use perfume.’

The third said, ‘My husband does not touch me.’

The Prophet (PBUH) was sad. He went to the Mosque, got on the pulpit and said, "Some of my companions do not eat meat, or use perfume or enjoy a relationship with their women. Yet I eat meat, use perfume and enjoy my women. Anyone who does not follow my course has nothing to do with me.’

The Prophet (PBUH) used to keep his hair tidy. He looked in a water pot in place of a mirror before he met his companions. He used to say: God loves His slave to look neat and beautiful in front of his companions.’ Thus you see that Islam does not order monasticism or the denial of life's pleasures. Hijab bears no relation to such claims, as Islam is against monastic ideas. I'll give you a book about chastity, its positive and negative aspects. You can also learn more about the decent covering and the harmfulness of nakedness.
Anyway I have a surprise for you. I have prepared an Islamic suit (hijab) for you, when you are ready you can have it. I hope f won't have to wait long,"

On hearing such words, Rihab grew calm again. Hasanat talked about other things and then left her sister's room. Rihab noticed that her sister gazed at the letter on her desk before she left.

Hasanat returned to her room.
She threw herself on a chair and murmured, "I'm sure I know the handwriting on that letter! It is familiar to me! It looks like Mustafa's handwriting. I remember his words in a book he gave to his sister as a present. Yes, I still have the book I borrowed from Zainab."

She got up and went to the bookshelves to look for it. She soon found it. She opened it and looked carefully at the handwriting. She fell on to a nearby chair saying, "Oh my God! It is the same handwriting! Could it be so similar? How could that have happened? What has Mustafa to do with Rihab's friend? Oh no! Surely, I am wrong!

Many people's handwriting looks the same. Anyway, what does it mean? Has the letter anything to do with Rihab's pain and sufferings? Yet, I cannot imagine Mustafa's insincerity! Why should I?"

She took a book and sat reading, but couldn't take in a word. Her thoughts were busy with the letter, the handwriting… She tried to sleep but failed. She kept thinking and thinking. She spent nearly three hours in her room, then Rihab came. She was happy to have her company, so that she would not have black thoughts.

Rihab stood near her and said, "I have come to ask for…"

"What...?" said Hasanat. "I would like the Islamic suit that you have prepared for me. I have decided to wear the decent covering from today."

Hasanat's face brightened. She got up, kissed her and went to her cupboard. She got the Islamic Hijab and gave it happily to her.

Rihab took it with many thanks. She said, "I will always use it. I hope you won't ever leave me dear sister."

Hasanat was bewildered at her sister's words. She said, "How could I do that? Why do you say such a thing. This will never happen whatever the reason be."

Rihab said, "Even if you discover something about my past?"

Hasanat answered firmly, "Whatever I learn about your past, won't change me as long as you are clean and pure now."

But Rihab persisted, "Even if I did you some wrong?"

Hasanat said, "Even so. I am happy with your return to Islamic values. This equals all the wrongs of the past. You are my beloved sister, how can I hate you?"

"I do hope so" said Rihab "Yet I am not worthy of your love. Anyway thanks a lot." She left the room with tears in her eyes.

Hasanat was amazed at her behavior and the letter and the handwriting.

Rihab sat thinking in her room. She made up her mind to end the shameful game. She was ready to face the result whatever it might be. She took up her pen and wrote a new page in her new life. She began to write to Mustafa:

Letter 17

In the Name of God

To Mr. Mustafa
I do not know where to begin. I am quite ashamed of what I am going to write. In fact I am newly born with your help. You have given me lessons, making me believe that shame is less harmful than hell. To feel shame in this world is easier for me than to feel it in front of God, the Almighty. That is why I am writing this letter.

I will confess the bare truth, that I (Rihab) have lied for a long time. My confession, here is an indication about my repentance to God, for all my sins. The truth is that Oh! I am sure you will be horrified. You will scorn me and hate me.

The important thing is that I am doing my duty to please God, you and my conscience. I have suffered a lot. I do confess that it is I, not Hasanat who wrote to you all those letters. Hasanat could never write such letters. She is a good believer and does not have such doubts about her faith as I had. She is an angel, a beautiful saint. How could she write what I had written? It is I who was lost in the world of deviation and misguidance. Satan controlled me and tempted me until I was tarnished by all of the devils, and all good disappeared from me.

I was jealous and remorseless, hence I wrote to you under her name, I thought I could spoil the engagement and be sure of bringing sadness to my sister. I went far into deviation and wrote what I wanted.

I even gave you a different address so that your letter might not get to Hasanat. Through your letters, the cloud of deviation was removed from my eyes. I drew nearer step by step to the righteous road. My conscience awakened and hurt me. I tried to stop and withdraw from your life, but I was in need of your advice and knowledge, so I continued the dangerous game. I turned towards the source of light that you sent me.

I noticed Hasanat's great sufferings because she didn't hear a word from you. I felt sad for her. You do not know how gentle she is! I tried to destroy her future, yet she was happy whenever she saw me read a book that could bring me to the right path.
She rejoiced at my return to faith. She never knew that my return was at the expense of her happiness.

I do not praise Hasanat because she is my sister. Hasanat is my sister, but I used to hate her. I never knew her value. Now I have come to know the reality and she is worthy of all praise.
Recently I sent you her photo, but you never confessed her beauty because you did not want to praise her. You thought she doubted her religion.
Your photo is also still with me. I do not know how to give it to her. I think that now you will curse me and you would be within your rights to do so, for this is the painful truth.

You once asked me how I got my religious books, and I never answered you. What could I say? In fact, I borrowed them from Hasanat. She allowed me to use her library whenever I liked. Oh, how I hate myself for my shameful conduct. Perhaps this confession will put me at ease for a while and give me some rest. All that matters to me now is God's forgiveness. I wonder will He ever forgive me!

You may get this letter while you are doing your final exams and getting ready for your return. However, I hope you will write to Hasanat before you come back. At least she should get one letter from you.

You can hate me as much as you like but I do apologize again and I really wish you all happiness.

Rihab.

As soon as she finished the letter, Rihab put on her hijab. She hid the letter in her handbag and before she left the house she went to her sister's room. When Hasanat saw her in the decent clothes, she shouted cheerfully, "How lovely you look! Oh look at yourself in the mirror."

Rihab said, "Thanks a lot, I have something important to do but I'll be back soon. Wait for me please."

She left the house in a hurry and went to the post office. She posted the letter and returned home. She took off her hijab, and went to her sister's room. She decided to confess everything to her. She knew she had caused her a lot of suffering. She was at a loss as to how to start her confession. What could she say? What would her sister say? Surely she would hate and punish her severely.

Rihab feared that she might not be able to confess, so she hurried to her sister, whispering to herself, "I should fear nothing. I am doing this to please God."

Hasanat was worried at her sister's strange behavior. She was anxious to listen to her. Rihab immediately got Mustafa's photo from her bag and gave it to Hasanat, who was surprised when she turned the photo and read the nice words written by her fiancé.
She blushed and then said, "When did this come?"

Rihab said, "You can read the date"

Hasanat read the date loudly then said, "What? The date is some seven months ago. Where has it been all this time?"

Rihab said, "I hid it. I am guilty, I am not worthy of your love!"

Hasanat said, "Oh, no, I do not agree with you. Just tell me the story of this picture!"

Rihab answered, "Well, I have come to tell you that story, dear Hasanat, and then you will have the right to treat me as cruelly as you wish."

She told her all the details, while Hasanat sat listening calmly. She was surprised at her sister's courage in confessing everything.

Rihab finished and sat waiting for her sister's final judgement.

Hasanat took her in her arms and kissed her warmly saying, "Oh, dear, how great your suffering must have been!"

Rihab could not believe her ears. She said, "Is it my suffering? It is you to whom I caused a lot of pain."

Hasanat said, "Oh, dear, all my pains are nothing since they have been indirect means of your return to the right path of Islam. I am now twice as happy as I have a righteous sister and a righteous husband."

"Will you forgive me then?" asked Rihab tentatively.

"Of course!" said Hasanat "I'll forget everything and just feel happy with your return to faith and with Mustafa's return from abroad. I shall kiss you to prove that I will always be your loving sister." She kissed her and then looked again at Mustafa's photo.

Rihab said, "Look, how handsome he is!" Hasanat smiled saying, "All that counts is his faith and belief. I never thought of anything except his good conduct."

The days passed by and Hasanat was again happy and cheerful. She cherished her sister and cared for her. Three weeks later, the servant brought the two sisters, two letters.

Neither put out her hand to get them, so she put them on the desk and left. The letters were from Mustafa. One was addressed to Hasanat and the other to Rihab.

Rihab was scared to open her letter. Hasanat encouraged her saying, "I won't open mine unless you open yours. I think it is a friendly letter.”

They opened their letters and each read hers.

Rihab read:

Letter 18

In the Name of God

To: The Noble Sister Rihab

Assalmnu Alaikum

My letter to you now is a different one. I honor and respect you very much and I think you are a courageous person who managed to defeat the devilish instincts by her own will. You have achieved a record in purifying the self and cleaning the spirit in a way that pleases God. You are blessed by such an experience. As soon as I read your last (first) letter, I considered you to be a sister whose happiness is my happiness and whose pain is my pain. Please do not trouble yourself with past incidents and be sure that I do not hate you at all, but respect you and hold you dear. I hope that Hasanat also has the same feelings since she is, as you say, a good and kind person.

Finally, I wish you all the best.
Mustafa.

Hasanat's letter was full of words of love and emotion to make up for the long months of suffering. She read her letter and looked now and then at her sister. She feared that she might be hurt by Mustafa's letter. But Rihab's expression showed satisfaction at what she read.

When they finished reading their letters, they kissed each other cheerfully.

Hasanat said, “He is coming within a couple of weeks."

Rihab's comment was, "He will always be welcome."

A week later Mustafa's mother phoned the family and promised a visit. The family thought the visit was to prepare for the wedding day, but in fact it was made to propose for Rihab. Mustafa's brother Muhammad had asked for her hand, and soon after, both sisters were married to the two brothers on the same day.

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