Tales From A Mosque (6): Tawbah’s Sin

The girl’s name was Tawbah and she came into Austria from a distant rural area of Algeria, with low education, speaking only a little English, but with large girlish dreams to fulfill: to be somebody, to find freedom and job opportunities in Europe, and one day maybe a good marriage too, simply a good life with a good future.

She was not expressively pretty in the classic sense: her overall appearance was rather European, with long hair rather brown than black, lacking desirable features of a North African secretive woman from the desert. She was of average height, her lower part of body was a little bit more full than desirable, and her chest area too modest in comparison. But there was one thing about Tawbah which gained her wide social points anywhere: her voice. Deep, clear, commanding, even sexy, which sounded like if it should belong to another woman, that kind the men dream of.

After she arrived into the Europe at the age of 19, her lack of formal education and work experience forced her to seach only for a low level cleaning jobs. She was nobody, just one from thousands, nameless, unseen, sharing poor apartments in bad neighbourhoods with other people like her, lacking any privacy, always ready to be kicked out and to move elsewhere: both in her job and her housing.

Initially, she had a good support and protection in her two older brothers, who arrived there earlier, but one of these men, Nadir, refused to make his new existence by hard work, patience and faith. Soon, he left his original Islamic values, seduced by tempting European freedom and glamour, desiring for quick easy money, easy life, with women, fast cars, glamorous dresses, partying in VIP clubs, gambling, and drinking Moët champagne as water.

No wonder, that sooner or later he found, that to get sufficient financial funds for this demanding lifestyle, the only easy and fast way seemed to be dealing drugs. And this decision had quick and deep consequences: he was caught and jailed. Although in prison, he discovered Islam again and rejected his old decadent life, it was now Tawbah and her second brother, Ayser, a carpenter, who had to support him.

Several years passed, and Tawbah found a new, promising job, in a five star hotel right in the center of a big Austrian city. It was something! Wage was much better, the generous employer even gave Tawbah an official full time contract with standard employee’s advantages, as demanded by Austrian work law. She simply felt that her dream is becoming reality finally, just by walking on those thick luxurious carpets, watching the tall impressive building, made from glass, steel, and concrete.

She started thinking about finding a flat just for her and one of her female friends, so the costs could be shared. But the city was expensive, and without realizing it, Tawbah became more and more corrupted by all this glamour and wealth around her. It soaked into her body and mind, and suddenly she lost her original modesty and determination.

She became rather gross, calculating, even scheming, hungry. She was 23 years now, and she doesn’t remember when she started “checking” pockets and suitcases of the hotel guests for the first time, taking only small banknotes as her additional benefit, so the rich guests wouldn’t realize.

For Tawbah, deep inside her soul, they were non-believers, so she felt no remorse when she “borrowed” a little from them. They had enough money anyway, to afford a five star hotel, and she was young and in need…

No, she was not the only one, who did such terrible things there. Almost every cleaning girl, originating from all possible parts of the world, who promised to leave personal belongings of guests alone when she started working there, sooner or later succumbed to temptation: it was simply too big, too easy, and too close. And the shining shops on pedestrian zone nearby, carrying famous brands and logos, seduced all women to visit and to improve their wardrobe all the time, to relax after work, to feel like somebody.

Some guests left small amounts of money for the cleaners deliberately, when they were leaving their rooms, but from a strange reason, Tawbah had no joy of such official money: she had to share it with the team anyway. The stealing simply excited her, she had to admit… and even a small stolen banknote tasted so sweet, so good.

When Tawbah went shopping then, of course, as any right woman, when she paid for her new dress or accessory with the particular banknote, she felt something like satisfaction, even sexual excitement, incomparable with anything other the life could offer her. It became her dirty pleasure.

She tried to keep her secret “hobby” low profile, not to be caught, but once, a very rich VIP woman came into one of the best hotel suites for VIP clientele, and when Tawbah saw her impressive Prada wardrobe, Louis Vuitton suitcases and Chanel accessories, she was full of envy and even something like female aggression, when she found even the childish size of all dresses, without any chance to try them on herself, as many hotel girls did quite commonly.

It was Friday, and after work, the day shift usually went to a trendy café first, and then to a bar in a skycraper, high in the clouds, to entertain, enjoy music and meet men, as for many women it was quite natural to see marriage as a way somewhere. This Friday was not different, and Tawbah returned to the hotel quite drunk, with her male acquaintance, a shady “businessman”, to sleep together in one of the empty rooms.

Oficially, it was strictly forbidden, but in practice, team members supported each other, and although the people from the reception perceived themselves as something better, wearing all those fine suits and business costumes with white shirts, they provided their cleaning female colleagues with such special advantages too, in return for providing “share” from their “occasional findings” in the hotel rooms.

If guests insisted, the lost or forgotten valuables were returned: but if he or she was not completely sure, where he or she lost them, the hotel personnel simply denied to have the missing things, sold it to a reseller who never asked about the origin of the merchandise, and shared the profit.

Now, it was Saturday morning, all parties in the city were over, and surprisingly, Tawbah came into Imam Faraj’s mosque this early, feeling something as distress.

Imam Faraj knew the girl, and he also noticed her slow change from innocence to corruption through years. But she was not the only one in his congregation, who abandoned their Straight Path: the European liberty was a strong drug, and many believers were seduced through time.

The Imam mentioned this problem in his Friday sermons often, but he understood, how hard is to keep the faith for the believers, living in the faithless European lands, obsessed with consuming, individualism, egos and wealth. The only choice was to entrust the fates of believers into the hands of Allah Almighty, with belief, that they will be returned onto the path.

“I think that I made a big mistake, Imam Faraj,” the girl said to the Imam openly, who watched her rather surprised, with one of his female aides nearby, Fatima, a silent woman in hijab, who was always present, when female affairs were to be discussed.

“Allah knows about everything you do, and we humans make mistakes and sins. Your name means ‘repentance’, so this is the right moment to realize your wrongdoing, to pray for His mercy and forgiving, and never to repeat such bad deeds,” the Imam said calmly.

“This is exactly what I did, but I am afraid, that this mistake could have also a wordly consequences,” Tawbah explained. “As you know, Imam Faraj, I work in a hotel, and there is so much temptation… but I went too far this time, and I committed a theft which will be revealed, and seriously punished. I could lose my job at once, maybe even get jailed… but the worst thing is, that I maybe stole from a Muslim.”

“You maybe commited a serious sin indeed,” Imam Faraj said with serious voice and face. “And what happened exactly?”

“It wouldn’t happen normally, but I was drink and angry,” Tawbah said with tears in her eyes. “I took a laptop computer from a room of a very rich woman, I would return it in the morning, when I would get sober again, but when I woke up, I found, that my boyfriend sold it to a reseller already, so I can’t return it now.

I spoke to the reseller, but he says that he never saw any laptop, he simply denies any connection, even if I offered him more money than he paid originally, from my savings.

I was really mad yesterday evening, I even opened the room safe, to check for another valuables… however, there was only one item without any financial value, so I was quite disappointed, but in the morning, I realized the importance: it was a small travel edition of Qur’an.

As I was sober, I realized: wasn’t the woman a Muslim? And now I stole from her: the problem is not just the value of the computer, she could have so much extremely valuable data inside: family photos, correspondence from her beloved, business contracts, who knows. I could really damage her, and her professional career… and this is not what I intended,” Tawbah cried.

Both Imam and Fatima were silent for a while. This was really a serious situation.

“And you say, that the computer can’t be retrieved,” Imam was thinking. “You should be definitely punished for what you did, you will ask both Allah and the woman for forgiving, but at least the data should be returned to the woman most certainly.”

“Fatima,” the Imam decided suddenly, and turned his head to the corner where Fatima was sitting silently. “You will leave at once, you will visit the reseller, and you will try everything possible to get the machine back from him. Tell him, that the original amount of money, offered by Tawbah today, will be paid to him later, so he won’t be damaged financially.

Now, the woman should be visited. You will confess to what you did, Tawbah, you will ask her for forgiving, and she will be offered a compensation, but not a financial one,” the Imam said vaguely, reaching for his jacket, to the deepest surprise of both women.

An hour later, Imam Faraj entered the large hall of the luxurious hotel where Tawbah was working, heading directly for reception, where he asked to inform the current inhabitant at room 357, that Imam Faraj from a local mosque came to visit her, with a serious matter to discuss, so if she would like to be kind and meet him downstairs, in the lobby bar, just for a couple of minutes.

The woman liked surprises maybe, so after a short hesitation and additional curious questions, she promised to come, just after a necessary female preparation, to fine-tune her striking appearance.

The Imam was expecting her, sitting by a table patiently, drinking small overpriced coffee.

“Imam Faraj?” a slight, but very well dressed blonde in her early 30’s asked him. She looked like a doll, but she seemed well balanced, and intelligent, rather warm and sensitive, unlike Countess Von Laubringen, a former American fashion model whom the Imam met lately.

“Please,” he replied instead of confirmation, and offered her a chair.

“There was allegedly an unfortunate incident,” the Imam said carefully. “It concerned your personal computer.”

“Yes,” the woman was surprised. “My laptop was stolen from my hotel room this night. How do you know?”

“And you naturally reported it,” the Imam noted coldly. “To the hotel management, to the police, and to the insurance company.”

“Actually, I didn’t, and I don’t plan to report it,” the woman surprised Imam this time, speaking decisively. “I have my reasons, and it’s a strange coincidence that you are here, Imam, because it concerns Islam in certain way,” she changed her voice to curiosity again.

“A young woman made a terrible mistake, and she is ready to carry the consequences,” the Imam explained, like if he wouldn’t notice the suggested connection. “Right now, all possible actions are made to get your property back.”

“Not necessary,” the woman rejected the operation firmly, and she ordered a cappucino from a smiling accomodating male waiter. “I let the thing go already, and I want that person to keep it, or to keep proceeds from it. Of course, that at the first moment, it was so shocking, unpleasant… all the data inside… my personal stuff, all lost! Some thief invaded my personal space, took everything from me… there was at least two years of my work, all emails, access data to many of my web accounts, simply everything… I wanted to call the reception immediately, and the cops, when I found out in the morning!

I already had my phone in my palm, but watching the display, and then the empty suitcase where the computer used to be… I realized something. It was like a moment of awakening, maybe related to reading the Qur’an. Only a small portion, yet but it seemed enough to bring me something,” the woman refreshed herself with the coffee, and continued in her narration.

“Maybe under this influence, in that moment of realizing the theft, I simply felt that this loss means nothing, I remembered Allah who maybe reminds me this way, not to stick to things too much, even to silly dreams of my ego, saved on the hard drive.

You see, when I was a girl, I used to have this silly dream, that I will ride on a train and I will see people reading my book, written by me… but why? To feel good, to feel successful? How transient and even false this feeling is…

Fortunately, I was so clever to put it aside soon enough, to finish my studies, to meet a good reliable friend, and later to establish a health care business together, which turned unexpectedly successful, so we could sell the company for a very good price to a multinational corporation after several years of operating, leaving for early retirement, able to pursue all our remaining dreams.

All that female magazines wrote about the two of us, like ‘have a look at them, these are women of the future, successful, but sensitive, taking care of others, aiming at sustainable life and future’… so I even became a celebrity for free, invited to countless business conventions around the world, speaking publicly, to inspire other women, to provide good advices, how to be successful, balanced, modern…

Two years ago, I started to write such book. Noble, educated, clean, polished, using good gentle words, like the audience would like.

But there was a feeling inside me almost from the beginning, that I am not writing it for myself, rather for others. That I serve them, even if they would do nothing for me, they are just exploiting me, as they are selfish as me, so what wonder? I could see my own face between the indifferent rats who want to take, but never to give, or only with disdain, if they must… I was creating it, although I had enough money to buy all the miserable reader women and rotten bones of their families into the deep ancient history!

I continued writing, but I also started looking around, thinking: should I abandon my preposterous, futile effort, to be like them, the women on the other side, less fortunate and clever than me, who suffer because of their own mistakes in life? They complain that their husbands hit them daily, that they drink… were they forced to marry them? It was their choice, and now they make poor girls from themselves, this is what we women can do just perfectly, we are masters in manipulation and Psychological Warfare

I love to be a woman, but there is several things I hate about my own nature… lies, so many lies. I know that the nature equipped us with this special ability with purpose, so we can survive under harsh conditions, we can persuade another man to feed an offspring who is not biologically his, and so on… I know, that many would say, ‘look at her, she has everything, so she thinks too much’… yeah, exactly, we women think too much, and one day I wished to get a cure from this eternal disease…

So I read many wisdoms, but still, it was not what I was looking for. Then, I remembered Qur’an, but I was literally scared to take it even into my own hands, you know what they write about it in the Western media, but in fact, they make a perfect advertisement for it… so I was tempted, we women like to be seduced by an apparent danger, but where to get it?

Online, if every website I visit is under police surveillance, allegedly for my security? In a bookstore? They don’t sell it! They have thousands editions of Bible everywhere, but not a single Qur’an! I really resisted to be connected with such a book… to keep my public profile perfect and ‘clean’, as the audience likes it!

Then, maybe it was Allah who inspired me, that I can make a perfect detour, a good move: simply go to Dubai for innocent shopping with a friend, and to visit one of local famous mosques, where they give free Qur’an to interested people…

Imagine my feelings, when I returned back from the Emirates, carrying this ‘hot package’ in my suitcase… fortunately, they didn’t do any thorough check at the airport, so I smuggled the small book into the country successfully… quite an exciting adventure!

Then I came here, into this hotel, to attend yet another convention, and I was careful to put the book into the room safe… where it was found I suppose, by a young woman, who ran to you with the news, that I may be a Muslim.

Actually, I am not… I just read Qur’an, I confess to this, and I also admit, that certain miracles happen with me nowadays. Like, losing laptop with so much data, of course without back-up, and not even calling a police? That is something, but I am glad, to be free from the burden, in many senses! The book I would write would be a false junk anyway… the truth is somewhere else. In Qur’an maybe?

If it is, then maybe I will make one more trip to Dubai, and I will secretly convert to Islam in a small mosque in a large shopping mall in Abu Dhabi, I will just put my Prada shopping bags down! So romantic, isn’t it?

And how marvellous media tale it would be! The women here would think: ‘if she converted, then Islam must be a good thing maybe even for me, and I should follow her, as she is a social leader! And how great service would I make for spreading the sacred word of Allah through the whole world!

The only problem is, that I wouldn’t be the first who made such a surprising move. There was this B-class fashion model somewhere in Czech Republic, Marketa Korinkova, who openly confessed to convert to Islam in the Emirates, and now she publishes her smiling selfies, dressed in abaja!” the woman laughed more and more.

Also the Imam had a slight smile on his face. “You would do a good thing not only for you, but for Islam too. There are many desperate people who need the help and guidance of Allah, and good examples work the best,” he claimed firmly.

“Oh, Imam Faraj… and you came here, to offer me an assistance with the conversion, a form of compensation for my stolen laptop,” the woman was still smiling, but she didn’t mean it as an insult; she simply liked to have fun.

“There is no coincidence in this world, and Allah manages all events wisely,” the Imam replied evasively. It was one of his personal rules to leave people to decide themselves, even testing the depth of their decision.

“So you want to say, that the theft happened for purpose, so we could meet here, and talk about Islam,” the woman said more seriously. “I will yet start to suspect you from orchestrating it, to catch a small celebrity into the firm nets of Islamic faith!” she smiled again.

The Imam stood up. “There is a mosque in the adjacent quarter. You can come anytime, you will be welcomed, and there is also a young woman who would like to meet you,” he said with serious voice instead of goodbye, paid for his coffee, and left.

The woman watched him leaving, being impressed by his decent behavior. Still, was it Allah, or a human, who created this event? Who could say for sure?

When the woman was going back to her room, with her mind busy with many thoughts, a receptionist informed her, that there is a package waiting for her, brought by a woman in hijab a moment ago. It was Fatima, who was able to retrieve the computer, using her special skills and assets, including valuable contacts in local police force.

The woman accepted the package, wrapped neatly. Before she will leave to her home city, she will pay a visit. If all what happened here was the will of Allah, then she should follow His wise lead…

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