Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Is Hijrah Forever?

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

This is a post that may have a sequel, however hubby and I have sat and composed this to address the outlook and reality for others who desire to make hijrah to Muslim countries, and to Saudi Arabia - Makkah/Madinah specifically.

It is important to think about the meaning of hijrah and whether the place you move to is somewhere you will be able to stay or not. When we got on the plane to move to Madinah, we came with the understanding that this isn't our country and that with the immigration laws so difficult here, it isn't likely we will be able to live here forever.  Anyone who comes here, unless they are a national of the country, can end up leaving at any time. Even if you are a national, your citizenship can be revoked.

It isn't wise to put all your eggs in one basket. Ideally if we could live here and do all the things we want to do in the States here, and have the assurance that things could go without trouble then we would stay. However, we are expats - here to work. Once we don't work or aren't of any service to the government or private sector, there is no compelling reason to keep us here. Unlike the countries we are from, we are very familiar with the job market, retirement, and things needed to live but we don't have the fear of being kicked out of our own country.

If we look at the life of the sahaba (radhi Allahu anhum), we see that very few of them are buried in Madinah. They scattered throughout the world giving da'wah. How can we justify living in a land that is not ours after we have acquired knowledge? Shouldn't we go back and benefit the people that are like us and didn't have the opportunity we had?

For a scholar who was born and raised in Saudi Arabia to come to the United States or the UK for example and give da'wah to educate the people, it would very difficult. He is not familiar with the common problems in Western society, such as drug abuse, blended families, deviant racist branches of so-called Islam and a whole style of life that is not conducive to Islam. However, we are from these lands, we know the problems such as when the Muslim drug addict comes to the masjid and steals the money from the zakat box...or the woman who is a stripper during the evening but attends the masjid for jumu'ah. The simple answer that the scholars give of "fear Allah" is not what the hearts of these people need. However, those who have lived amongst those people have a better understanding of the trials and tribulations they go through. In that respect we are better suited to help the negative nature of these Muslims and help them strive towards the straight and narrow path.

If I sit in Saudi, who am I giving da'wah to? Who am I teaching? For us, it is a life of service and you cannot serve until you learn, so this is our school.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Rowdah

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum.

Yesterday, Thursday morning, I went to the Rowdah Shareefah with my daughters. It is the first time I've been there since I arrived in Madinah, Qadr Allah. It was also one of my last chances to get there before the Umrah crowds return. Subhaan Allah, it was so easy. The light green section of the carpet is the area of the Rowdah to pray on....and we prayed easily, mashaa'Allah. I remembered every one of you in my dua', al hamdul'Illah.

The graves were sectioned off so we couldn't go over to give salaams directly in front of them, but I gave salaams for all of you - my followers. I also gave salaams by name for certain of you who asked, and certain of you who I knew would want me to. If you are wondering why the graves are sometimes open for ziyaarah and other times not, I believe it has to do with which Umrah groups are visiting, the volume of people. You see, some people don't understand that we do not worship the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, or pray facing the graves, etc. Many things are done here to protect the Muslims from themselves, their misunderstandings, and innovation. When the Umrah groups are not here, apparently both sides are often open, and Allah Knows best.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Life for Women

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum.

I have had a couple of people ask me about social life and what women can do with their time here. There are various options.

If a woman wants to work, she can easily get employment as a teacher of English if she is a native speaker. If she doesn't have a degree, she may get a job in a private school or nursery school. If she has a degree, then she may have a wider choice of places to work. If she has a degree and a TEFL, CELTA, or similar certification, then she can apply to work at Taibah University. There are several companies that hire English teachers and then subcontract them out to different universities and institutions. If you sign a contract with one of those companies, it is possible when they are desperately trying to fill positions, that they will take you even if you don't have the ideal qualifications. There is a great difference in the salaries from perhaps SAR 2000 for a private school with no degree, to SAR 9,000 with benefits for a job at Taibah.

That said, if a woman wants to work without the headache and structure of a formal job, tutoring is very big business here. I cannot count how many times I have been asked to teach English privately. It is lucrative, you can work as much or as little as you like,  and you can set your own hours. If a visa and iqama (residence permit) aren't an issue, this is the route I would recommend. However, if you need a job to get your visa and iqama, then usually the low paying jobs won't provide them. It would be something you would have to ask about straight away, before anything else.

Of course, I already said that there are plenty of opportunities to learn Quran, Arabic, and about Islam mashaa'Allah. However, don't expect much else when it comes to learning or programs for women. There aren't many libraries, there aren't classes to develop interests or learn new sports, and you really have to get together with people of like mind if you want to do any kind of crafting circle or organised activities.

Socially, we cannot drive so our drivers, aka our husbands,  are the ones we have to "book" for any outings or events. As this is the way of life, the men are usually accommodating. One sister established a monthly talk on Fridays on health and nutrition. We had the idea of having a monthly activity for the children - similar to a scouts concept. Sisters get together at parks and each others' houses. We like to meet up at Masjid an Nabawi on Jumuah. School or tahfiz programs often give us another outlet for socialization as we make and meet friends there. Of course there are always the malls, where sisters could go and browse and then stop for coffee. We have Starbucks, Costa Coffee, etc. here and they have separate sections for sisters.

Just like anywhere, we are usually busy with our families and lives so we are always trying to find time for socialization. That is the plight of the woman...wherever she lives, LOL!