I’m sure it is well-known to many of my readers that being married to a Saudi is typically full of many hardships and trials. The marriage permission process is often long and seemingly without end, absorbing more time, money and energy than we care to remember. Once the permission is received, making a new life in Saudi Arabia and dealing with in laws is often an ordeal especially for Western women. My point in mentioning these things is not to depress others in this situation but rather to bring it to their attention that these hardships present an excellent opportunity to earn huge rewards.
The Prophet (saws) said in a hadith in Sahih Al Bukhari, “No Muslim is afflicted with any harm, even if it were the prick of a thorn, but that Allah expiates his sins because of that, as a tree sheds its leaves.” However, to reap such great rewards we must practice sabr (patience and restraint) and ihtisaab (hoping for the reward of Allah). The rewards of practicing these qualities are Allah’s pleasure and the expiations of our sins which inshaAllah will lead us to His paradise. In order to demonstrate these qualities there are certain facts about Allah that we must be aware of and continually remind ourselves of.
We must understand the reality that everything is easy for Allah. He need only say “be” and it is. He is the One who caused Mary (ra) to become pregnant despite her being a virgin. He is the One who caused baby Jesus (as) to speak in defence of his mother from the cradle and He is the One who made the Red Sea part so that Moses (as) and the Children of Israel could escape destruction at the hands of Pharaoh and his army. So what makes us think He cannot solve our ‘impossible’ problems? Everything that happens in this world takes place only by the permission of Allah, and all strength and power is with Him. Therefore, it only makes sense to turn to and place our trust in Him alone.
One of Allah’s divine names is Al Wahhab (He who loves to give gifts) therefore if we are consistently asking Allah for what we want and we are not receiving it, we must assume that He is in fact giving in the act of withholding. As Allah says in the Qur’an – “perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.”(2:216) We may be asking for something which, unbeknownst to us, is actually bad for us. Therefore Allah’s withholding this from us is actually a gift.
This brings us to another important fact about Allah which is that He is the best of all planners and knows what we do not know. We can only see that which is apparent but Allah sees all – past, present, future and everything in between. Often when we are facing hardships we feel that it is bad for us but there is good in everything and it was for the good in it that Allah created it and caused it to take place.
This concept can be understood from reading the story of Moses (as) and Al Khidr (ra):
“They found a servant from among Our servants to whom we had given mercy from us and had taught him from Us a [certain] knowledge. Moses said to him, “May I follow you on [the condition] that you teach me from what you have been taught of sound judgement?” He said, “Indeed, with me you will never be able to have patience. And how can you have patience for what you do not encompass in knowledge?” [Moses] said, “You will find me, if Allah wills, patient, and I will not disobey you in [any] order.” He said, “Then if you follow me, do not ask me about anything until I make to you about it mention.”
So they set out, until when they had embarked on the ship, al-Khidhr tore it open. [Moses] said, “Have you torn it open to drown its people? You have certainly done a grave thing.” [Al-Khidhr] said, “Did I not say that with me you would never be able to have patience?” [Moses] said, “Do not blame me for what I forgot and do not cover me in my matter with difficulty.”
So they set out, until when they met a boy, al-Khidhr killed him. [Moses] said, “Have you killed a pure soul for other than [having killed] a soul? You have certainly done a deplorable thing.” [Al-Khidhr] said, “Did I not tell you that with me you would never be able to have patience?” [Moses] said, “If I should ask you about anything after this, then do not keep me as a companion. You have obtained from me an excuse.”
So they set out, until when they came to the people of a town, they asked its people for food, but they refused to offer them hospitality. And they found therein a wall about to collapse, so al-Khidhr restored it. [Moses] said, “If you wished, you could have taken for it a payment.” [Al-Khidhr] said, “This is parting between me and you. I will inform you of the interpretation of that about which you could not have patience.
As for the ship, it belonged to poor people working at sea. So I intended to cause defect in it as there was after them a king who seized every [good] ship by force. And as for the boy, his parents were believers, and we feared that he would overburden them by transgression and disbelief. So we intended that their Lord should substitute for them one better than him in purity and nearer to mercy. And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and there was beneath it a treasure for them, and their father had been righteous. So your Lord intended that they reach maturity and extract their treasure, as a mercy from your Lord. And I did it not of my own accord. That is the interpretation of that about which you could not have patience.”(18:65-82)
I would like to share a story of my own regarding this topic. It is not necessarily a story with a happy ending but it is an incident which gave me a lot of hope and taught me a lesson I was very much in need of learning:
My husband was recently interviewed for a very good job in Egypt. He kept it a secret from me until he had been given the impression that the job was his. When he surprised me with this news, I was so happy I was crying and shaking with joy. Finally, my husband and I could live together. Not only that, but it meant moving to a Muslim country where I could easily dedicate myself to being a good Muslim, a good wife and to pursuing my own interests such as learning Arabic and immersing myself in the culture. Finally the life I longed for was within reach.
Unfortunately, in the days prior to his second interview political issues arose between Egypt and KSA which led to them closing their embassy in Egypt. That may have had to do with why my husband was told out of nowhere that to even be considered for the job he had applied for, he would need to first work at their KSA branch for one to two years. I was completely distraught, it didn’t make any sense. Why did they advertise externally if they wanted someone internal? Why did they not tell him earlier? Why did they make him think he had the job?
NEVER lose hope in Allah. Although in my case it didn’t work out, it shows how a frustrating situation which seems to be hopeless and without end can potentially be resolved very quickly and easily should Allah will it. As they say, your life can change in a single moment. The best we can do in times of hardship is to be patient and recognise the opportunity to earn reward and grasp it for it only leads to Allah’s pleasure.
“And whosoever is conscious of Allah, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him. (65:2-3)