Saturday, July 13, 2024
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Leaving home, once again

Alhumdulillah for the concept of hijrah (migration) in our deen (religion). How validating it is to know that the Lord of the Worlds affirms how difficult it is to leave your home, your family and friends, your belongings, and everything known to you for an unknown land.

Of course, it is the details, circumstances, and most importantly, the niyyah (intention), which determine whether it is a rewarding hijrah (migration) or not.

I remember crying on my flight to Boston, as I traveled to the other corner of the world for the first time, with my husband (for his Masters degree), as a newly married (very young) woman. I had already left the comfort of my parents’ home, which had always been my own home, when I got married a few months prior to this travel. But then I also left my country, leaving behind every person, place, and thing that I had ever known in my life. I was young and “sensitive” (as many people have mentioned) and found this change in life to be hard. Although, it was one of the most beautiful one year of my life in Boston Alhumdulillah, because my Rabb plans things perfectly and beautifully, it was hard at the same time. Allah SWT pairs together hardship and ease in our experiences, and both are meant to help us witness Him, and journey toward our final abode in the Hereafter.

I remember working hard to find a good “community”. I visited events by MSA at Harvard, only to realize that they were run by undergraduate students who I could no longer relate to as a married, stay-at-home woman, even though I had graduated from my undergraduate degree only one year ago. I took the train weekly to go to a nearby city’s masjid (mosque) to attend an all-sisters’ halaqah (gathering) even though it was a halaqah (gathering) for mothers and I was not a mother yet. I still went and listened to topics related to parenting, totally unrelatable at that time, just because that was the only all-sisters halaqah I found and I was desperately searching for like-minded friends. I eventually got busy teaching many hours online at my Islamic institute, but Allah did make me meet some wonderful people there. Then one day, in May 2016, I left for Pakistan again. I started messaging my few new friends there in March that I would be leaving soon. I had made lots of memories there. I had gotten familiar with the public transport, the streets around our house, the grocery stores, our favorite restaurants, and campus life. I knew while leaving that I would never return. I remember texting my mother-in-law while leaving for the airport that I was leaving “home”. It was many months later when my father-in-law commented how he had noticed that I had called my house in Boston “home” that I realized that I had left “home” once again.

After spending 2.5 years in Pakistan and experiencing a different category of ibtila (trial), I landed in Seattle with a 5-month-old baby. My body and mind had not even recovered from the birth. But this time, I did not cry. I had somehow convinced myself that it was normal to leave your home, and shift to a new place. After all, it was great that my husband had gotten admission for his phD.

What happened in Seattle is a story on its own. In this city, I have shed parts of myself literally (while giving birth to my second child) and figuratively. I have transformed inside out. I have aged. I have worked on raising and nurturing my family with every breath and ounce of my being (while also questioning my decision sometimes). I have broken down many times due to the weight of what I went through while navigating isolated parenting and many other things. I have cried an ocean of tears and experienced moments of loneliness, frustration, confusion, and anxiety. Allah has bestowed His fadhl (bounty) by changing, countless times, the loneliness with righteous company, frustration with fulfilment, confusion with clarity, and anxiety with tranquility. I have experienced some of the most beautiful moments of my life here Alhumdulillah. I have learnt about Allah the way I never did before. I have met people who have reminded me of Allah in their own unique ways. I have interacted with people who don’t know Allah yet and have hoped that they do one day. May Allah guide us all and make us a vessel through whom His slaves are guided towards Him.

My husband will defend his phD thesis in a few days. It’s true that my fragmented, sleep-deprived brain can hardly go past the heading of his dissertation, but there is a story behind it that has only been fully witnessed by Al-Maalik, the One who owns me and the entire universe. No matter what I write, it will not capture the intricate details of what Al-Baseer has seen me go through, and what Al-Lateef planned for me during this phase of life.

I have, once again, familiarized myself with the streets near my home (and also far away from my home where the “community” lives), the grocery stores, the playgrounds, the libraries, and all places that one ends up at as a mother. I have successfully and unsuccessfully tried to find belonging in different places and people.

And once again, it is time to leave “home”. Alhumdulillah there is a blessing in all of this. My father always says that I should recognize that all the “big” things in life are okay by the fadhl (bounty) of Allah. By doing so, the “small” inconveniences can be seen in perspective. I know that the “big” things are those that we cannot “see”, but can only experience.

Many people have asked me how I feel about going to London. I have told everyone that I am simultaneously nervous and excited. These are the only two words that come out of my mouth, which are not at all representative of the complicated feelings I feel every single day. What I have not told them is that it is so hard to keep leaving “home”. And that I am more excited to be finally home at last, in Jannah, than I am to be anywhere in this world.

My daughters’ only “home” has been Seattle. My older daughter is inquisitive and curious (unlike me as a child) but also “sensitive” like me. She has traveled through air more times in five years of her life, than I did in 25 years of my life. She has had the impact of isolated parenting on her personality also. This time, she also must leave “home”. Her innocent heart knows that it would be only “one plane” to her grandparents from London, instead of “two planes”. She has been making crafts for all her friends saying: “Hope you come to London.” May Allah Grant her and her sister beautiful friends in our new “home”.

I hope that our new “home” makes our journey to Allah faster and more beautiful than how it has already been. Ameen

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