|Rue D'Isley, Algiers|
So we started looking at other alternatives. First it was Saudi Arabia and I remember a Saudi friend of my husband said to him that he was worried that I would come to Saudi and expect it to be like it was in the days of the Prophet Mohammed (Sallalahu Allahi Wa Sallam) with all the people acting like his Companions. Having been in Algeria I was under no illusions! And we looked at Syria. My husband went there for 10 days to look around and loved it. He said the people were very warm and hospitable and also very calm. That really attracted me. Being half Irish, half Algerian can be a lethal mix and I hoped that maybe by mixing in a society where the people were calmer it might tone down my children’s tempers! Also my husband said that the Arabic there is beautiful. But then it was very expensive to live in Syria unless you had an income from abroad. I now look at what is happening in that beautiful country with it’s wonderful, hospitable people and feel so sad and horrified.
So we looked at UAE and the possibility of teaching English there. After a while my husband, in desperation, suggested that maybe I could get a job teaching English in that country. I was not very happy at the prospect of me working full time or being the one on whom our status there depended. Also I dreaded the thought of being away from my children every day. I knew sisters who had done it, and who had done it very successfully but I just felt I couldn’t do it. We prayed and my husband searched and we hoped. Looking back on our whole journey into Hijirah, I think this was the most exhausting time for us. Dithering can be so time consuming and emotionally draining!
I think that by this time and having spoken to a lot of brothers about their experiences abroad, my husband was coming to the conclusion that the only place in the world where he and our children would be totally accepted and not looked down upon was Algeria. He was getting desperate as we weren’t getting any younger and we both had spent 20 years in England, when we had intended on living there only a short while. Life just seemed to grab on to you and hold you down, and, at the same time, you were so busy running as fast as you could to keep up with the pace, you didn’t realise that life was passing you by. And, of course, the children were getting older, needed a life of their own, and what future was there in a society that seemed would never accept them for who they were – Muslims. Don’t get me wrong…. we had a good and happy life in England and the people where we lived were so helpful and accommodating that I have no complaints about that time. But the society was structured on non-Muslim principles, some of which were compatible with our beliefs and others that were not.
One day, my husband and I brought the children to a little park around the corner from our home, to the swings etc. It was quiet as all the children were in school – one of the many advantages in home education. I sat there and watched them play and thought to myself what kind of a life are we giving them. They had to be brought out and supervised to play, they had to be brought from one Muslim house to another to visit their friends, like one little oasis of Islam to another. It was all so artificial. Surely Algeria had to be better than this for them, with all its faults. Time was passing and every time I read that aya in the Qur’an I felt a shiver up and down my spine: ‘When angels take the souls of those who die in sin against their souls, they say: “In what (plight) were ye?” They reply: “Weak and oppressed were we in the earth”. They say: “Was not the earth of Allah spacious enough for you to move yourselves away (from evil)?” Such men will find their abode in Hell. – what an evil refuge!’
I told one sister who is a mathematician, about my fears that once I went to live in Algeria I would live a very lonely life with none of the wonderful friendships I had forged in England. This is what I had meant, in my very first post, in answer to my husband’s question about moving to Algeria, when I said I felt as if I would be buried alive in Algeria. She said something that reverberated in my brain until this day: “Here in a non-Muslim country, where the ratio of non-Muslims to Muslims is so big, you have managed to make good friends. Don’t you think that in a country where the ratio of Muslims to non-Muslims is big, and where almost everyone is Muslim, you will find it easier to make good friends?” It made a lot of sense to me, may Allah reward her for her wise words that encouraged me so much in that time of doubt.
So I said to my husband that I would move to Algeria but with certain conditions. Top of the list was that I would not live with any of my in-laws (nice and all as they were I knew that our relationship would suffer if we lived together), that I had my name on any property that we owned and that I could come back and visit my family in Ireland if we could afford it. My husband accepted all of these conditions very happily and he has kept his word to this day Alhamdulilah.