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The musings of a Ruga Girl; Love and Faith


Life was getting out of my hands

Times were flying, as seasons kept coming and going, I finished my Quranic memorization at age 14 while still in JSS3, and I now have a class of my own teaching the minors.

One night during our night conversation over suya; Mallam asked, “Sumayya, who do you think is a Muslim?” I was stunned, of all the questions why would Mallam ask this simple question and I gladly answered, a Muslim is someone who prays (5) times a day, fast during the month of Ramadan, gives out zakat and performs hajj if he has the means. I looked at Mallam proud of myself and he smiled and said; a Muslim is someone who neither lies nor cheats, he is someone who stands against injustice even if it’s against himself, who shuns away from deceit and deception who will take pride in his integrity. These among others are the conversations that lead me to wabi-sabi on my bed until I drifted to sleep.

These among other conversations from both Mallam and Ummi made me question myself about the mysteries of life, that often than not I can’t articulate or even comprehend, why do people go sick? Why do people die? Why do people fight and kill? Why wasn’t I born among the companions of the Prophet…these have been my thoughts that I haven’t voiced out or asked.

School is running beautifully and we are in senior classes, my friends are happy we are choosing our careers, Queen asked me Sumayya, what do you want to be when you grow, but the problem is, it’s hard to remember what I wanted to be as a child. My dreams were always changing and moulding. At one point or another, I wanted to be a newscaster and become like Fatima Abbas Hassan who I always waited for hours just to listen to her broadcast at NTA, she was beautiful and her English was enticing, at some point a scholar, a herdswoman.

My principal asked me if I wanted to study sciences, social sciences or arts because I was the only student left without a choice, I came running to Mallam for help, and surprisingly he said I should make my choice. Without an option I decided to follow the path of my new friend Gloria towards social sciences.

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We have moved into adolescence and we are now blooming like flowers, attracting admiration from the opposite gender, Ummi will look at me sometimes and say Sumayya, do not believe anybody who tells you are beautiful, I was puzzled and asked why? Her response was because they are lying, beauty is in the heart not on the face, you are just privilege to be created this way and there is nothing special about it, and she will continue by saying Allah only looks at the hearts of his servants not their beauty nor their wealth, so please my dear make sure your heart is beautiful that’s when you truly are beautiful.

It was the norm among us to have boyfriends, but my case was different because whoever writes me a love letter, will end up in the teachers’ staffroom, because with tears I went straight to report.

Meanwhile, at this period, I had reached the apex of my devoutness, and decided to wear my full hijab. I never missed salat, fasted every Monday and Thursdays. I turned my head and say Astagfirrullah when frothy commercials interrupted an episode of cheers, I wore my hijab to bed so that if I died in the night, I could enter paradise, I wish I could be taken out of a secular school to only attend an Islamic school because the world was ending, I was solidifying the rules of engagement with my faith and ringing up countless celestial points with my constant dhikr.

On a faithful evening I took food to grandma (Hajja), and coincidentally we met with him, my heart thumped. He was tall and immaculate in a simple black cotton long-sleeved shirt. He completed the look with jeans and sneakers. I know he came to see my aunt (Yaya) because they are pretty close, he smiled at me and his smile was like a crystal that brightened the sky, I smiled back though I didn’t know why, he asked if I could spare some minutes and my heart pounded against my chest, wondering what the conversation might be, he confessed his love to me leaving me with a feeling of trouvaille at the same time feeling abditory, and a wish of disappearing and not being seen again.

We are preparing for our exams and my love life was perfect, my devoutness was intact, I didn’t know what to study at the university, my friend made mention of a course called business administration, it sounded professional to me and also good, so I filled my JAMB form to study business administration, but deep in my heart I didn’t want to study any secular subject, in fact I didn’t want to go to university, I wanted to devote my time to Qur’an and prayers alone, I fantasized my life, like that of Rabi’atul Adawiyyah, dedicated to Allah alone, but I dare not speak of this to Mallam, I did not want to see him heartbroken. I have silently seen how all his wish was for us to go to school, to be graduates, to have a better life, but that’s not what I wanted.

I was juxtaposed between being a good daughter by making Mallam happy, and what I thought was right and appropriate for my life and faith. I was in a state of extrospection trying to reconcile, it is the matter of faith which I hold dear to.

A day before the submission of my JAMB form in the night I changed my course, I decided to have a common ground for myself and Mallam, I am decided to do Islamic Studies, I am satisfying Mallam’s wish of going to the university and also not tainting my devoutness with anything worldly, after all I am still studying my religion, which to me was the best option I could come up with.

After my exams Mallam took me to a non-governmental organization to serve as a volunteer, before my admission was out. The organization’s mandate was sensitizing the youths about STDs, HIV/AIDS and abortion, they go to schools, polytechnics and universities. This opened a door to life which I never knew existed.

My lover came from an acquainted family, they are well known and his father was a man of integrity, these praises from my family members were subtly telling me to choose him, I had many suitors, its Mallam’s policy that who ever loves you, should send his parents first before approaching you, we don’t see suitors outside the house, my lover use to come to the house into the living room were we have our (zance)…mallam will tell us to be careful when choosing our life partners.

On a faithful morning, my neighbour Chinedu called from Owerri congratulating me saying, I just saw your name in the newspaper, you have gotten admission into the university. The first thing that came to my mind was, how could I stop attending my daily morning Qur’anic classes, I memorize five Hizb every day and dwelled on other advanced courses, my mates will soon finish memorization by heart. What about me? What will I tell Allah if I die? My solace was I am still studying my faith.

*Sumayya Abubakar is a development worker, she is an educationist, and peace builder. She is the lead of Plateau based Muryar Fulani Peace Initiative Network Inc. She runs a schools system for marginalised populations in Plateau state, North central of Nigeria and can be reached at

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