Nafas e Ayub – Reviewing Maariyah Siddique’s Maktoob

Nafas e Ayub

Reviewing Mariah Siddique’s Maktoob

Tired of the arduous journey in the heat of Hijaz[i] and with the enemy close behind to take his life, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his companion Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (RA) took shelter in a cave at the rocky mountain of Thawr, within sometime those on the hunt for his life traced the blessed footsteps and were right outside the cave where the Messenger of Allah and his companion in life and death were taking refuge. Scared, Abu Bakr said “O Messenger of Allah, we have been caught”, “Grieve Not” the Divine Messenger said, “Lo! Allah is with us”. Mariah Siddique’s book Maktoob serves a similar soothing reminder to her brothers and sisters in faith, my lowly self being one of those.

The incident of Ghar-e-Thawr was mentioned by God himself much later than it took place in Surah Al Tawba, Verse 40:

If ye help not (your Leader) (it is no matter): for Allah did indeed help him, when the Unbelievers drove him out: he had no more than one companion; they two were in the cave, and he said to his companion, “Have no fear, for Allah is with us”: then Allah sent down his peace upon him and strengthened him with forces which ye saw not, and humbled to the depths the word of the Unbelievers. But the word of Allah is exalted to the heights: for Allah is exalted in might, Wise.”
(Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s Translation)

  Maktoob is a beautiful reminder to the believers of the all-encompassing attributes of God through his names as mentioned in The Quran, Hadith, Sunnah and other traditions[ii]. In her own words, “’Maktoob’ is a self-help, a thought book that aims to instill the thought that thankfulness and submission to Allah’s plans will bring you the utmost peace…”, she speaks the truth indeed. These verses from the great philosopher poet of the East reverberate my mind as I type this,

Na kahi’n jahaa’n mein amaa’n mili, jo amaa’n mili toh kahaa’n mili
Mere jurm e khaana kharaab ko, Tere ufu e banda nawaaz mein

(Laden with sins my lost soul found no refuge in the wide world
 Except in the lap of thy Gracious forgiveness)

Maariyah’s writing style is poetic and from what I feel has a Quranic undertone to it as she continuously reminds and asks the reader to ponder and reflect. For instance, “To see his mercy, you must see the first drops of rain falling on parched lands, the twinkle in the eye of the hungry woman sitting by the corner of the street on receiving a piece of bread”. I exaggerate not a bit, but I get goosebumps every time I read this.

Similarly, her imagination is beautifully put to words when she elaborates on Al-Lateef, she writes “His subtle kindness shows in the sweet fruits of date palms, in the scented plants which He made food for his creatures in the form of husks and leaves and stems. In the blossoming flowers of endless colours in the meadows, and the differently coloured seas and oceans, Al Lateef, He is, the Gracious one, Kind enough to grow an oasis in a desert

Not just philosophically poetic but her tone changes beautifully throughout from poetic to direct, for instance, “Know that it is al Qadir who is able to do all things. The hardest tests are for the most intelligent ones, forgot the basic lesson from school?”

The text of the book is replete with apt verses from the Quran, sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and instances from the lives of Prophets (Peace be upon Them All). However, I think she could have elaborated better on Al-Hafeez and Al-Kareem. Nonetheless, perfection is reserved for only one book and that is the Quran.

Ms. Siddique was at the lowest ebb of her life when Maktoob happened to her and the world, she was paralyzed as a result of some rare nerve disease. Like the darkness of the cave of Hira that brought light to the world, her days of pain and suffering brought her close to her creator and benefactor and need I say anything else about how beautiful and soothing Maktoob is? NO

Knowing about her illness and recovery through her book, I was reminded of Prophet Ayub (AS) and his illness and loss of wealth and possessions, but it was his forbearance that God doubled his favours on him and blessed him with health, wealth and happiness. Thus, Nafas e Ayub.

As I mentioned earlier, that there is only one book that could lay claim on perfection i.e. the Quran, the prologue of Maktoob is a poem by the author, even someone with extremely basic knowledge of Urdu and/or Hindi would know that there is no word like ‘fir’ in the vast vocabulary of these languages and it is disturbing when learned and educated people use it instead of ‘phir’. I hope and pray that Lauh al Mahfooz includes a second edition of the book with this correction. Nonetheless, this transgression can be forgiven for now.

I am extremely grateful to Ms Sumaiya Ali for recommending me this book, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is reported to have said “Convey from me, even if it is a single verse”. May God bless her for this in both worlds.


[i] The western region in modern day Saudi Arabia, the holy cities of Mecca and Medina lie within Hijaz

[ii] I write ‘other traditions’ because the author mentions about the name Ar Rasheed that it is not mentioned either in the Quran or the Sunnah, God knows best.SHARE

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