Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Lesson in Patience

We are a working class family and we weren't always at that status. Humble Dad and I married in our early twenties and will inshaAllah, God Willing celebrate our 15th anniversary soon.

During our marriage, we were starving students, poor, really poor, struggling to get by poor, rice and beans poor, and our current working class status with a boat load of Beloveds which means a boat load of expenses. We were so poor when we got married that we never had a real honeymoon and I received a promise as a dowry. As more Beloveds were born and less babysitting options were available, taking a trip as a Married couple without the Beloveds became a distant dream of the day when Lil A is old enough to stay home alone.

One concerned sister questioned me on my marriage choice, she wanted to know if I was consciously thinking of my economic future. Although in Islam we can marry for a numerous reasons, wealth surely being one of them, piety is the best reason to marry. Love is usually not a main reason considered in an Islamic marriage, because love is an action- a verb, love grows with work, sacrifice, and commitment. "Love is better defined as giving. As putting someone else's need above your own." that usually is actually realized after years of being married. However, compatibility is a must in finding a suitable marriage partner. We were compatible in some ways, and Humble Dad was religious- not quite pious- but he had potential. I married Humble Dad knowing his potential and believing in it. I was thinking of our economic future and looking at his potential, but it took me to look past his current job and education status at the time. Moreover, I was concerned about the futures of our souls- were our souls meant to mate in this world and the next, were we soulmates? Would his religiosity turn into the piety needed to get him into Jannah and would he Lead me and our Beloveds there also. I was consciously thinking if Humble Dad would be committed to me and our family, would I inshaAllah grow old with him and then will I be with him in the life after death.

I was given a promise as a dowry or wedding gift, a promise that he would get me a wedding ring and eventually buy me a home. It was Eid al Fitr 2002, Big A was toddler, S Man was an infant, and it was 4 years after our Nikah, the signing of our wedding contract when Humble Dad fulfilled his first promise. My patience was rewarded.

I know mine and Humble Dad's story is not unique and why I try to fight any feeling of jealousy that may develop for others. We never know what other's story are, the grass is usually never greener. We don't know the sacrifice that other's make, the sick child they may be caring for, the mother they may have lost to cancer, the debt they may be in, the bread and butter sandwiches they eat for dinner, the loneliness they may be feeling. And although everyone has their struggles in life, we all have a chance to turn to our Lord, the Giver of all Things and ask for what we want or need. When I used to listen to Christian gospel music and preachers, my favorite line was "God may not answer your prayer Right away, but He is always Right on time." And this lesson of patience and perseverance is sometimes a tough pill to swallow, especially in our Microwave culture when we expect "to have it our way" like Burger King and "in a hurry" like Murray's. But God is the Best of Planners and is Just and gives to who He Wills and withholds when He Wills. The best time to pray is in the middle of the night, crying out loud to your Lord when no one else is around to hear you. However many of my duas or prayers, are not the traditional raising of my hands to the sky or even the bowing my head with hands clasped like my grandmother taught me. Most of my prayers are a silent thought, a single remembrance of my Creator, a deep yearning or desire for something that I never voice out loud to a single soul, not even Humble Dad. I keep it within me and the years may pass and I may almost forget that I even asked Allah,  for this specific thing that is now staring me in the face. Then right after my test of patience is over, my test of gratitude begins. How will I treat this blessing from my Lord, will I appreciate it?

We are blessed with so much in this life, how do we ever show the Giver of all things our appreciation. Will we bow down in gratitude? Will we we raise our Beloved Children to know Him and to appreciate Him? Will we teach our children the fruits that come from being patient? Will we teach them that patience may be in knowing your prayer was not answered because it was not good for you? Some people who are given much wealth suffer from a foul character and it is harder for them to purify their heart. Will we teach our children that the most important thing to strive for in this life is to know our Lord and to be patient for the hereafter... will we have this Sabar or patience ourselves?

All of this came to me after our trip to Chicago. Although Humble Dad and I have never spent a full 24 hours alone as a couple, we always have had our Beloveds with us wherever we go. We have been to many nice places within North America together. Many of those times were due to his job, this time was no exception: Humble Dad had a training in Chicago and because we are fabulous homeschoolers we traveled with him. We had a wonderful drive, visiting friends in New Jersey and Michigan on the way.

However, it was in Chicago that I realized a prayer was being answered. Have you seen the movie Family Man with Nicolas Cage, where he has to choose between a struggling working class-family life and a very selfish privileged corporate life. Although it is one of my favorite movies with a decent moral story, it was a scene in the movie where Nicolas Cage's character takes his wife on a date in New York City and gets a room with a beautiful view that inspired my silent prayer. We definitely prefer the quietness of suburbia/country life, however few things are absolute in our life and I can appreciate the sunrise in the City just like I appreciate it on the Atlantic Ocean.

Although, my Beloveds were with us, I felt as my prayer was answered. Here we were in a very nice hotel paid for by Humble Dad's job, on the top floor like a pent house. The prestigious Morgan Stanley firm was one level down from us, so we had a better view than those with a "corner office" in Morgan Stanley.

As my children were doing their school work in our hotel room, I kept telling them how blessed they were to do their work with this view, that some people work their whole lives to get to work in that corner office and still never attain it.

That would have been enough, I was so grateful, but Allah, God, wasn't done. Then we were moved up to the English suite with a private bedroom and full living room on the last night of our stay, with a even better view of  the sunrise. The sunrise shined brightly on what used to be known as the Sears Tower and the tallest building in the world. Now it is the Willis tower and is the 9th tallest.

I may have held onto that silent prayer for 5 year and in all practicality it was one that was low on my list. There are more urgent prayers that I cry out for and send with friends who are going to Hajj this week. Nevertheless, I look at it as a reminder that Allah is listening, even to those private thoughts, He is the Knower of all things, even those things we think are hidden. He is patient with us despite our short comings. And I must remember to be Patient with Him, to have Sabar at all times, especially through the difficult moments of my life. Because they are just moments in the bigger picture...and there is always someone who has it worse than me. As I walked the streets of Chicago and saw the incredible amount of homelessness, my heart ached. My beans and rice were always better than an empty stomach. My cramped one bedroom apartment with 5 people was always better than living on the streets. We have so much to be grateful for and so much more patience, Sabar to attain.

Whoever abstains from asking others, God will make him contented, and whoever tries to make himself self-sufficient, God will make him self-sufficient. And whoever remains patient, God will make him patient. Nobody can be given a blessing better and greater than patience. (Bukhari)
~Prophet Muhammad, sallAllahu alaihi wasalaam.

Read more about our trip to Chicago in a Road Trip to Chicago-2013.

Read about the other places we have been on our Field Study/Travel Page


  1. brought tears to my eyes. MashaAllah! So, happy that you are a strong Muslimah who is raising a family on sabr and shukr.

  2. Ma Sha Allah May Allah bless you and your family to be well and in strong iman

  3. Masha'Allah what a wonderful parents you are. I too pray to be like you sister insha'Allah may Allah reward you.


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