Saturday, July 23, 2011

In Wonderful Madinah...Can it be?

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum.

Many get the impression that Madinah is a small heaven on earth. They imagine that it is a beautiful city filled with Muslims brimming with emaan, taqwa, and exemplary ibadah. They believe that, with so much opportunity for learning and Islamic growth, that those living here are well grounded in their Islam and all are pursuing learning. They think that there is little or no crime.

None of these things are true, Qadr Allah. Madinah is polluted, with public places strewn with rubbish. Not Masjid an Nabawi with it's extensive staff to clean and maintain, but the streets and parks are always heavily littered. A large proportion of the Muslims here have very poor manners -  a bleary reflection of weak taqwa - and many have even less Islamic knowledge than those of us from the West. Many are simply living and working here, without attending any Quran or Islamic classes. There is crime: theft, attempts to bring in drugs, and vandalism.

Our family vehicle, a Chrysler Town and Country, had a mechanical problem that rendered it immovable and sitting parked in front of our apartment building. Literally, on the day  my husband intended to go down and see about getting it fixed, he went to find the windshield and two of the rear passenger windows smashed in by big rocks. We were shocked.

We learned that it was some local teenage boys, but nobody will identify them. The police came to take a report of the incident, but offered no words of hope regarding them looking for the vandals. There is no insurance coverage for such things. Insurance here is to pay for you damaging someone else's car, not for repairs to your own car. Basically, when something like this happens, you say Qadr Allah, mashaa fa'al, and you have to find the money to fix the damage yourself. In our case, as it will cost thousands to fix the vandalism and have the van up and running again, we have had to rent a car for the past three months.

These truths are not told to devalue Madinah in any way. They are told to remind you and ourselves that there is no heaven on earth and that even the most blessed of places will have great fitan and injustices. Why? Because we are not meant to love this dunya and we need reminders and tests to make us yearn for Jennah. Such things are blessings from Allah, reminders that nowhere on this earth can compare an iota with our ultimate goal.

May we all strive for Jennah al Firdaus and keep it as our primary goal when we face the trials of this dunya - ameen.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Moving House

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum.

Please forgive me for not posting in so long. Subhaan Allah, life is busy here.I started writing this when we were in the second half of the second semester of school and exams were looming. Now we have just finished the summer Qur'an programme and are on vacation until after Eid al Fitr....two months later!

Anyway, we decided to move to a villa (a detached house with a wall around it). One of the things about living in Madinah is that if you live in an apartment the children won't have anywhere safe to play. It is madness to let the children play in the street with the irresponsible and maniacal driving. In fact, there isn't anywhere for them to ride their bicycles either. As we approach the end of our second year here, mashaa'Allah, we decided to move to a house with a good outside area for the children to be able to play in. We first thought of Iskan, where the majority of expatriate families in houses live. The price of the houses there ranges from SAR 30,000 (if you're blessed) to 50,000 per year. Of course you can find more expensive than that if you like! However, after living for 2 years in an apartment, we realized that it would make a huge difference to our lives, and especially the lives of the children, to live in a house. For this reason, we searched in Aziziya, which is just outside of the Haram area. It is far less expensive, mashaa'Allah, with far better and nicer housing for the price than town center.

To give an idea, hubby saw two 5 bedroom apartments that looked like the Meridien hotel and they were only SAR 24,500 per year. Yes, I did say 5 bedrooms. There would also be a kitchen, at least 3-4 bathrooms, and two sitting areas for guests at minimum. In any case, they didn't have any area for playing and we wanted something simple, so we rented an older, large, 4 bedroom villa that has a huge courtyard area including a small planted area with date palms, a gravel patch for a tent and/or pool, and plenty of tiled area to play and enjoy the outdoors, along with a complete walled roof for riding bikes and running wild. The cost? SAR 23,000 per year, mashaa'Allah.

I have been exploring the area with my daughters and found nice quality cotton clothes for a fraction of the price of those in the malls and stores closer to the Haram. The general atmosphere is far more relaxed and pleasant, as this area isn't swarming with Umrah visitors and tourists, mashaa'Allah. Al hamdul'Illah, a new chapter of living in Madinah....with a new level of sakinah (peace/tranquility) and some freedom to enjoy the outdoors within our own private walls. All praise be to Allah, the Perfect Provider of all needs.