One of the tenants of my faith is submission to Allah swt. This sounds fairly simple, if you think of it in context of our pillars of faith* – follow the ‘rules’ and you’re on the right path – but it actually means more than this: Submission to Allah swt means putting your life in His hands, trusting in Him to shape the world you walk within, trusting that the trials you face have a meaning to them, trusting in Him to provide, and as a parent, knowing, and trusting, that your children are only your wards for they too belong to Allah. As a Muslim in a western world in the year 2012 this submission, this complete blinding trust is the hardest of all aspects of İslam to achieve.
Although I believe Allah’s hand guided my life, before Islam was granted to me, I’m just as sure I had – and still have – a hand in the shaping of it. From foster care to private school to graduating in Law, by age 21 I’d walked so many paths, had knocked open so many doors, the world was open, and vast, to me. I pulled it shut, somehow, subconciously chose to close the doors; long before Islam settled me here, I’d run here just all on my own. I closed the door on the life that I had once before, pushed opened the one which I wanted, but doors are rarely sealed shut, you can see straight through the cracks and somedays through the cracks here I glimpse a different path and this submission is hard.
Expat wife doesn’t really describe me. G and I met here, there was never any intention of us going elsewhere and when I married him, I just became a foreign wife. We don’t have the benefits which comes with expatriatism, in fact we just have the downsides to my foreignness. I have no pension, don’t qualify in either land either, we have no allowance for school fees nor a housing allowance or return flights to ‘home’. We have a life where my foreignness makes our every day complex and our home neither British or Turk, extra expenses for maintaining links with there and though sometimes the foreigness is as good as it is bad, it’s hard not to wonder what a life would be there, how the hurdles to our lives would be different from here if G were the foreigner and not me, where religious freedom is granted, I could work with no trouble, our children could be schooled in a school we could choose and our social options wouldn’t be limited by conditions of our faith. Financially, day-to-day and educationally life there is more attractive than here and when submission is hardest on door-cracked open days, it’s hard to push tight in closure and trust in Allah and the choices I’ve made.
I trust He’ll provide, yet I wish I could do so; I trust our trials are sent to teach us, though we struggle to overcome them, and I trust He’ll provide my children with the learning they will need, despite the school failures and our distrust of the system: I trust and submit to Allah where I don’t trust my submission to myself – only He knows what’s for us, only He can show it to us – I just wish He’d too take away my guilt now, of the choices that I’ve made, of the second-guesses I keep making of myself.
*the five pillars of islam are:
Shahadah : testimony of faith
Salat : five daily prayers
Zakat : giving of charity
Sawm: fasting during Ramadan
Hajj : pilgrimage to Mecca