Life as a Stranger is probably a lot less of a fitnah, if you did not have children. Allah tells us in His Glorious Book, that our children are a test for us and Allah speaks the truth.

I have never been without a close companion until I made Hijrah. This is why hijrah is such a sacrifice, you leave behind everything. As a matter of fact some people can’t handle it and they make a U turn. Finding good companions that I can connect to, is a dua that I make. However, more important, is that my children have good companions. This is not as easy as it sounds, in the Land of Tawheed.

The Prophet  taught us how to choose our friends and also explained the importance of friendship in Islam. He also set an example of how to choose and treat our companions.

 “A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend.”

“The example of a good companion and a bad one is the bearer of musk and the worker on the bellows. A bearer of musk would give you some, you might buy some from him, or you might enjoy the fragrance of his musk. The worker on the bellows, on the other hand, might spoil your clothes with sparks from his bellows, or you get a bad smell from him.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim, this version being Muslim’s)

This Hadeeth also corroborates the same concept: “Man models himself after his companion; so let each one of you see who he chooses for companion” (At-Tirmidhi).

The biggest problem that I am encountering, while selectively choosing playmates for my children, is that the well behaved children all seem to come from homes where there are things that I do not want to expose my children to. So you say, well then send them to homes where there is a better Islamic environment. Well I would if I could, but they are so few and far between that these are homes we only visit a few times a year.

I live out in the boondocks, the middle of nowhere. As a matter of fact the place is infamous for it’s Jinn and for our Shaykh here, who people come for miles away to attend his Ruqya sessions.

My closest friends live about 30minutes away. Unfortunately most of the gatherings they have are not children friendly. So how do I get my kids to play with the kids from the good families,when

1. we don’t meet that often (only three times this whole year. Once for a CPR training session in February, the second time was in August when a sister had a baby, and the third time was this past Eid Al Fitr)

and

2. They usually ask that children not come (I take my kids everywhere I go, even kept one overnight in the hospital with me when I had my gallbladder taken out.) So if my kids come there are usually no kids for them to play with.

 Today, I took them with me to a bi-weekly halaqa over an hour away. Driving an hour there and an hour back with kids who had to sit down and be quiet at the halaqa is no fun and makes me not want to go back, but this is a good group of sisters and I need this. I rarely do anything for myself and I told the kids when they were begging me to go to the amusement park instead, that twice a month I will be doing this for me insha’Allah. Mommy needs me time…not even alone time but me time.

Alhamduillah, we live near the beach, with many playgrounds, but the kids there are bad as all get up. I have many neighbors and they all have children, but I have to keep my kids a good distance from them. What I have noticed is that in many Saudi homes even if the parents are supposedly ‘religious’, they lack parenting skills and the children are awful. Before I met many parents, I wondered why spitting, slapping in the face, and name calling were so widespread here. After I met the parents, I instantly knew why. If their children misbehave, they do not correct them. They are very pretentious, and want you to think that they are disciplining the kids for your sake. So they will offer to beat the kid, tell you that later they will make them drink hot sauce, slap them in the face and call them kalb or himar.

I have one neighbor, who I don’t even want to answer my door for anymore. I use to really like her because I only knew her from Quran school, but now her and her bad ass kids stop by my house everyday on their way to the beach to see if we want to go with them. Her AC was broke once and she asked if she could spend the night. It was Ramadan and I wanted to cry! I have never been like this ever. Everyone who knows my family know that we have an open door policy or you can at least get your three days. We have allowed many people to stay with us, even strangers with nowhere to go. So this was such a shock for me to not only be hesitant to let her family come but I actually made dua and begged Allah to have her change her mind about coming and to fix their AC asap. That was a dua that was not answered and I thanked Allah for giving me the opportunity to do something for His Sake during Ramadan. I asked Him to reward me generously for giving my neighbors their rights and to forgive me for not being happy about helping them. Well the woman came with a stick. I asked her what the stick was for, she said to beat my son because he is always upsetting your family. I told her, do not beat him in my house. I have a time out area you can send him to if he misbehaves. I explained to her the whole ‘cool down’ ‘time out’ rules, she just laughed at me and said “that’s OK I’ll just beat him.” Needless to say, I surprised myself when after they woke up and were heading home (after they slept all day), I invited them to stay for Iftar. Yesterday her son ran my 4 yr old daughter over with on his bike and kept on running her down until I ran over to pick her up. His mother called him kalb!!! That’s it, no correction of the behavior, no apology to her…just name caling which he wil in turn use on someone else, and then what will she say?

My other neighbor invited me over for iftar, one day this past Ramadan. Her 14yr old son slapped my 6 yr old daughter in the face with a shoe. She was crushed. It hurt her more that someone would actually do that to her and that her friends  (his sisters) would diss her the way they did. Nobody did a thing. I have not been back to the house since then. About three days ago, she comes over banging on my door like a mad woman. I knew it was her knocking like she was crazy, but I still asked who is it. She was like, ‘ana’! Ana who damn-it?! Haram alayk, state your name and purpose! So, she had the nerves to say that I did not come by and have more iftars with her or send Ramadan and Eid greetings and here is her daughter from Jidda and blah blah blah. So I went completely Saudi on them. That’s right I got just as fake and pretentious as they do. I started blushing and putting my head down in shame and saying astaufirallah, and all the other phrases they say when they are fronting (seeking forgiveness or glorifying and exalting Allah is not meaningless but the way they do it is insincere.) This way I save relations with the neighbor, because Saudi’s are so easily offended and had I told her (which I think she knows because she doesn’t send her 4 youngest kids and her grandchildren over bugging me anymore)that I would rather not have my children corrupted by her little menances to society, then she would have been the one acting like she was wronged.

So now, as I type this my kids are playing with some Kashmiri kids. They are good kids, with good parents. The lil boy is a tattle tale and driving me crazy coming here every 5secs, “Auntie Auntie!” But at least my children are happy and not bored and it’s in my home where I can supervise and not have to worry about bad influences and exposure to things I’d rather they not be exposed to. Even though, the neighbors get so ignorant whenever we have non Saudi friends over. Life is a fitnah…

Summer time is the hardest. Without school to keep my oldest  occupied (I could not home-school, my children are too social and as bad as I would like to be as selective as possible with the people they come in contact with, they would even be more isolated if I home-schooled), I have to hear about how bored she is.  I pray that I do not compromise any of my standards or beliefs and that we have very little idle time, because as much as I would be tempted to do certain things, I do not want my children to have the same temptations. This is why it is so important for me that they have good righteous companions and that those companions come from homes where the correct tarbiyyah and adab of Islam is well rooted and taught to them. I seek refuge in Allah (for myself and my family) from ever having to say,

“O woe is me! Would that I had not taken such a one as my friend.” [Qur’ān 25:28]

We ask Allah to make us of the righteous ones and give us companions that will take us away from His Wrath and lead us to His Pleasure and Paradise.

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