When I first set out as a blogger, I promised myself to post a blog once a week, usually on a Sunday when things are a little calm.
Last Sunday, I reluctantly had to defer a new post but it wasn’t without good reason. A significant change has recently occurred in my life which I would like to share and will also explain that aberration.
Alhamdulillah, I managed to find myself a part-time job and this week I started teaching online. Whilst the administrative dimension of this new job is very much like plunging into the depths of an ocean, I have also managed to fumble my way onto the surfboard of hope and new adventures. I haven’t fallen off yet and am enjoying the ride. So, this is my reason for being otherwise preoccupied lately.
But there are another two reasons why I mention my new job.
Firstly, in a COVID-conscious world, where the words ‘unemployed’, ‘furlough’ and ‘financial ruin’ hang heavy across the rooftops of so many doomed businesses and indeed, homes, I understand how fortunate I am, Alhamdulillah. The search for a stable income was always on the agenda. In between, I have always dabbled in private tuition here and there, all of which has been great but none of which has been constant. Although no job is ever going to be the panacea to all my problems, at least it gives me a purpose beyond my domestic roles. For now, it is a reassurance that faith in Allah can – and does – morph itself into real change.
The second reason for elaborating on my new job is, in fact, more to do with an uncanny observation: synchronicity.
The very day I started this job, I later discovered, was the same day my former spouse finally left Saudi Arabia. So, what is the connection I hear you ask? Although these two events may be interpreted as mere coincidence, I see them as a direct manifestation of Allah’s delivery of justice. Allah knows that in my early days of distress, I had repeatedly asked for retribution for the injustices I had been served. It’s not that I had a sinister desire to see another’s downfall. But I did want to know that the malice directed towards me would not go without consequences. It certainly didn’t.
I always believed that the cries of a wounded soul are never lost on the Creator. I knew my prayers and supplication were enough for I understood with total conviction that the power of prayer of the oppressed is something that should be reckoned with by the oppressor. Whether I articulated any negative feelings on my tongue or not, my heart would not betray my thoughts. All I needed was the patience to understand my pleas would be answered in a manner and timeframe that suited Allah, Al-Adl. Indeed, He has responded with a resoundingly clear sign.
Where I have just entered a modest but positive phase in my life, my (previous) tormentor retreats to a very ordinary existence having lost much more than he has seemingly gained. The timing was pure perfection. I feel vindicated.
It is important to explain the backdrop against which the drama of these last few years has played out. Saudi Arabia was the country where my ex-spouse had risen to superstar status amongst his own family and friends. Over the years, I had noticed how that country had transformed him from a state of true humility and inclusiveness towards us (his wife and kids), to a gradual preoccupation with his singular self. He was steadily feeding into his superior status and creating his own impenetrable bubble of emotional disinterest. I was seemingly becoming less relevant. The culmination of all that was to detach himself and push me completely out of the frame. Predictably, the children were always going to be an unavoidable casualty of that family breakdown.
He was not the first victim of that societal influence. I know of too many men who have succumbed to a similar fate out there. The sequence of events goes something like this: a Muslim emigrates to Saudi Arabia with the allure of Islam’s holiest sites and the bonus of a well-paid job. The intentions are noble to begin with but life becomes very comfortable; people become complacent. The drive to work hard to achieve things is slowly lost. So too begins the process of becoming emotionally moribund. All the while, a comfortable life lulls the individual into a false feeling of being invincible. Ultimately, everything become dispensable including family.
To compound things, the country is predicated on a deeply entrenched patriarchal framework which serves to debilitate and demoralise the sanctity of womanhood. It is important to stress that this structure has no basis in Islam where women, as wives, mothers and daughters, are honoured. It is a brave and unusual man who can remain unaffected by this endemic disease that permeates Saudi society. The experiences I have had first-hand prove this is not the stuff of fiction. Even the most self-conscious and self-aware individuals often succumb. It was in this toxic environment that my ex-husband became inebriated by a desire for complete change. The rest is history.
When I became the detritus of someone else’s life, I began to doubt my self-worth. But I got to praying for justice very early on and knew I had to simply wait patiently. In these last few years, there have been lots of positive changes in my life, directly and indirectly. The biggest one is that I now use different criteria to assess my own worth – my faith and my service to my Creator. I have also conscientiously tried to purge myself of any deep bitterness for that would be a form of ingratitude towards Allah Himself. I liken my personal development to the phases of the moon; I have gone through a rebirth (new moon) and am moving onto a brighter phase (waxing moon). I pray for the full brightness of Allah’s guidance to illuminate my path from here on.