In the month of March 2008, my labour pains began and I excitedly awaited the birth of my son. This would be my second child, and having spent hours on the internet and speaking to other ‘second-time-around mothers’ I thought that I would be holding my new baby in my arms within hours – a short second labour. However, Allah (SWT) knew that this would not be the case. Instead of a quick and easy labour, I spent the following three weeks in excruciating pain, contracting but not dilating. My pregnancy had not been an easy one either, with most of my nine months spent vomiting, lying down due to severe back pain or fainting due to anaemia. By the end of the first week of my three week labour, I had had enough. I tried everything within my limited capability to soften my cervix and force it to dilate – to no avail. I was tired, in pain and completely exhausted. It was at this point that a dear sister and friend gave me words of comfort that changed my life.
She calmly and sweetly advised me to make dua – to make dua for absolutely everything that I desired in this life and the next and reminded me, with a conviction that I needed, that my dua would most definitely be answered due to all the pain I was going through. One night, my husband and I visited the hospital hoping that the four minute apart contractions meant I was dilating. The hospital merely sent me off to another ward and gave me pain killers! As the baby was only 35 weeks old there was no offer of induction – they sent me home the following day and I carried on contracting. It was at this point of pure frustration that I broke down in tears and begged Allah to end my agony. I implored Him, I cried out to Him and I knew He was listening and would respond to my call. My dua was a lengthy one and in it, I asked Allah to make me strong; to make my faith strong; to draw me closer to Him and to purify my heart of anything that is or would prevent me from achieving these pearls. Naturally, I forgot about this dua, not knowing that in the most perfect way He would answer it. I did not expect how He, Glorious is He, would answer it…
Alhamdulillah, at the end of the three week labour, Allah (SWT) blessed me with a beautiful son. When he was four weeks old, our family travelled to my husband’s home country, Algeria, to visit his family and introduce our new addition. I did not know that I would leave England that rainy day of April – only for my dua to be answered!
A two week vacation turned into an opportunity to make hijrah to Algeria. This plan of Allah (SWT) was executed so carefully and so perfectly, it was actually made impossible for my children and I to return to the United Kingdom – Allah (SWT) had willed that my husband would return to the UK to work and I would start a new life alone with the children in the bustling city of Algiers.
On that hot summer day when my in-laws and I took my husband to the city airport, I promised myself I would not cry. We had placed our trust in our Provider and would cope with being separated until he visited again in three months time. However, as he disappeared from view through passport control, I broke down and sobbed my heart out. The sorrow was too much to handle and I felt my heart break into pieces. I was an emotional wreck. I was still coping with being a new mother again, I had made an unexpected and unplanned hijrah, I had said all my salaams and goodbyes to everyone in England and I was now in a foreign country with two young children, no husband and a language that I could barely comprehend.
I cannot express the depths of loneliness that weighed me down. I spent the next two weeks alone with my children in our new flat and tried to carry on as normal, with the cooking, shopping, travelling, cleaning, and even the home schooling of my daughter. Living alone in a foreign land was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. If I thought becoming a Muslim nine years ago was such a huge hill to climb, then this was definitely a mountain! There were no Islamic courses, no sisters and no husband. My heart ached for my home in North London; it yearned for the friends I had left behind. I needed my husband to be there during a night when my son almost died but he was not there. I wanted to quickly nip out to visit one of my friends and cry on her shoulder, emptying out all the pain piling up in my heart, but she was not there. I wanted to escape and take the children to a nearby park and allow the greenery and fresh air to soothe my heart – but there were none. It was at this low point that I turned to the only Being that could aid me – the One that had always been there and would always be … and that was my Lord. So, I cried, I admitted that I was lonely, weak and desperate… and this simple move towards my Beloved was a turning point in my life as a Muslimah.
Not only did Allah (SWT) hear my cries and know my pain, He (SWT) had another plan – He (SWT) answered the dua that I had made two months before. From the moment I turned to Him, knowing that I had no one else, I began on a journey. I had left the UK and made hijrah to Algeria, but now I left everything that I was and started a hijrah to my Beloved, my Lord, my Sustainer and my Creator.
My hijrah to Allah started with deep reflection. I had made hijrah to Algeria for His Sake but had crumbled as soon as I had arrived.
I yearned for people and not for Him. I wanted to speak to people about my situation and not Him. I sought my solution in others and not in Him.
This led me to realise how truly weak I was. While I was in the UK, I arrogantly saw myself as someone practising, someone with strong faith and someone that could help others. It was only when I found myself in a situation where I was utterly on my own that I realised how very weak and very fragile I was. This led me to reflect about my belief, my character, my actions and my Rabb. This was the first part of my journey and it was through introspection and much reflection that I grasped who I was. For the first time in a long time, I was completely honest with myself. I listed all my negative traits and all my weaknesses. By doing this, I was able to see clearly – I was able to truly perceive what was preventing me from gaining nearness to Allah (SWT) in the way that I yearned for.
You may be thinking that this could only make a person depressed … but it did not. It was wonderful, beautiful and sweet. Finally I knew who I was and now knew how to make this new discovered self reach her goal, by the will of Allah (SWT). By acknowledging my many weaknesses and the true state of my belief and heart, I was able to pack my essentials and commence in my spiritual journey towards my Beloved, Merciful is He.
The next month led to feelings I thought were impossible to feel. I fell in love with Allah with all the butterflies in the stomach and trembling hands that are associated with falling in love. I led my life knowing that He (SWT) was watching me in every minute detail. I scrutinised every action that I undertook. I questioned myself at the end of every day. I smiled externally and internally through my new journey and I felt a happiness and contentment that filled the void in my heart. The harmony and pleasure of all of this was too overwhelming – I was bursting with love and hope in Allah and at the same time, fear. My salah became meaningful and special and I would spend my days craving the adhan so that I could purify myself with ablution and meet intimately with my Beloved once again. All the while, I found more weaknesses within my soul, more vices and a greater list of tawbah to make. This only made my hijrah to Allah deeper. I found Allah and I thanked Him so much for bringing me to Algeria to realise all that I had. I knew that the way in which my hijrah to Algeria had unfolded was Allah’s intricate and special plan to answer that dua. Algeria taught me so much too. I tried to aspire to the generous characters of the people after discovering how very selfish my character was. I aimed to learn from their hospitality, their submissiveness and their simple way of life. Although I missed my husband terribly, I was so very happy because my heart was full of the remembrance of Allah. I did not miss the UK anymore, nor the sisters as much as I had. Allah was sufficient for me and my hijrah to Him was my only focus. I continued with my hijrah in Algeria and settled myself and my children and in my heart I bid a final farewell to the UK and all that it contained.
However, my Lord had another plan. As quickly as my hijrah to Algeria had come about, my return to the UK took place. My husband was very lonely and could not continue being separated from his family. He travelled to Algeria, packed us all up and I returned to the UK. My heart was sad and heavy. I felt that I would not be able to continue with my journey to Allah (SWT) in the UK with all its temptations and distractions.
I have now been back in the UK for almost three months. Indeed Allah (SWT) has been so ever kind to me and merciful to me. I can see that He brought me back to learn even more valuable lessons about Him, myself, my friends and my lifestyle here – lessons that I would not have been able to benefit from if He had kept me in Algeria.
For now, my being back here is essential in my hijrah to Him. I am surrounded by fitnah, by a society that is not journeying to Allah and this is making my will to gain nearness to Him stronger. I have such a long way to go and I know that what I am experiencing is not even a drop in the ocean – but alhamdulillah it is a glorious beginning that is a gift from Al-Karim – The Most Generous. Without the perfect will of Allah, I would not know what I know today which I believe is the most precious gift my Lord has ever bestowed on me: to know Him, to love Him and the profound hope to be loved by Him.
PS: the sister does live in Algeria now, alhamdulillah