It has been a long year, a long beautiful year, and yet the reality of where I live still seems somewhat surreal. To me, it has been a dream beyond description and a gift beyond belief; the feeling of knowing something has taken place, without knowing how. I had only ever seen Saudi Arabia on television, read about it in books, and heard about it from those that had performed Hajj. So migrating to the land of Tawheed, the home of the two sacred cities, Makkah Al Mukarramah and Madinah Al-Munawwarah, was something I had desperately yearned for. However, though my heart yearned for this journey, I still had to take into consideration who and what I was migrating for.
Many people are deceived about making hijrah, assuming that deen will come soaring towards them and their iman will never again know what it means to decrease or fluctuate. Leaving the UK did not just mean moving to a ‘Muslim land’, it meant leaving all that I had ever known, in order to develop myself for the sake of my Lord (SWT).
One of the greatest benefits I have experienced from living in Saudi Arabia has been gaining knowledge. Being exposed to the language of the Qur’an, Arabic, and to the Qur’an itself, planted a new love in my heart. I recall attending one of the Arabic and Qur’an schools known as a Dar Ul-Dhikr – a place of remembrance, wherein the teachers are all Arabic (Fusha) speakers and do not allow a single word of English to be spoken during class. MashaAllah, this method of teaching encouraged – and forced – me to attempt to speak the language. Sitting in a class filled with dedicated and motivated English speaking sisters was not always an ideal situation to be in, and often caused me to question my ability to reach their level of knowledge. However, it was this very same situation that allowed me to realise my personal weaknesses as well as my desire and willingness to strive in gaining knowledge for the sake of Allah (SWT).
I have experienced delights, luxuries and enjoyments, the like of which I never knew could exist in this world: luxury halal cuisine, extravagant shopping malls, good halal income, beautiful and affordable houses, the latest cars and a safe Islamic environment, amongst other things. However, although they are all ‘halal’, along with these worldly pleasures comes the disease of complacency: whether in the form of one’s environment; through bounties; or through ease and wealth.
Though the country I left behind contained many challenges, which led me to constantly guard and watch my deen with utmost care, the country I now call home is where, I feel, my soul has been tested the most, as it is inevitable that as we strive towards Allah and His (SWT) Pleasure we will be tested.
Undeniably, at times it has been a lonely journey; the road has appeared long and hard, remaining steadfast whilst travelling has not been easy and losing fellow wayfarers along the way has only added to the tests, but these have enabled me to remember why I migrated here. Experiences change, companions depart, faith increases and decreases but, our Lord, Most High, will always be Allah (SWT), and it is through remembering our Him, Azza wa Jal, and seeking nearness towards Him that one is protected and gains a source of comfort.
For our Lord says:
‘Remember Me; I will remember you. Be grateful to Me and reject not faith’. (2:152)
Although my journey this past year has come with ups and down, fulfilled expectations as well as surprises, I am forever grateful for having come to realise what it really means to know and grow close to my Lord (SWT), whilst gaining true awareness of my very own soul, allowing for me to see myself for who I truly am; a servant in desperate need of her Lord’s guidance, love and protection. Being around fellow Believers who have accepted Allah as their Lord, Islam as their religion, and Muhammad (SAW) as their Prophet, has been an enlightening and heart-warming experience. Fellow muhaajiruun, who have migrated for the sake of Allah (SWT), submitted to Him; believed with their hearts, souls and limbs and who worship their Lord I as though they see Him, have, by the grace of Allah, left me with sweeter tasting faith.
Being here has taught me what it really means to place one’s trust solely in Allah (SWT), and my heart, once again, is overwhelmed with the feeling of true love. My praise and thanks will never be sufficient, the tears I cry will never quite express what my tongue is unable to say, thus all I have is the content of my heart, which, Yaa Rabb, I hope will stand as clear evidence of my heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for this gift of a dream come true.
From the call of the Fajr adhaan to echoes of salaatul Tahajjud in the night; from the sight of the House of Allah (SWT) to the company of blessed sisters whose hearts want nothing more than to remember Allah (SWT); I now know that the only thing more profound than these things I love, is Who it represents.
Umm Thameenah is a university lecturer and has been working in dawah for several years teaching, mentoring and bringing spiritual awareness to Muslim women and children about Islam. Raised in London, UK, she now resides in the KSA. She blogs her experiences and welcomes you to read of her magnificent journey to Allah (SWT) at: www.ourmagnificentjourney.blogspot.com and her ‘Sisters of The Pen’ blog: akhawaatulqalam.wordpress.com