My mother sent me an email the other day saying that I sounded like I needed to come home for awhile and that I should just come and bring the kids and have a nice visit. My husband’s family always ask that he come for a visit too. We both have not been totally honest with our families in regards to how we feel about returning to the States. My family are Muslim, but we practice Islam in a different way and my in laws are kufar. When we left the States we left with the intentions of making hijrah. We know other families who claim this was their intention too, but they still go back every summer. To me that is not Hijrah. So basically, we give our family weak watered down reasons for why we can’t come. I told my mom it was because my son does not have a passport, which is true. As a matter of fact the US Embassy has turned their backs on us and have refused to issue him a passport and have never given us a reason. Well it makes the perfect excuse not to come for a visit, but to be honest there are many other reasons but we just don’t have the heart to tell our family all of them.

Besides the number one reason, of it going against what we feel is Hijrah there are several other reasons as well. I have a friend who lives in a remote area of KSA. She and her children are miserable. Every summer they go back to the States and enjoy all the comforts of the West that they miss here. They can not wait to go and I know of many other families who did this and once their children were 18yrs old they gave up on hijrah and returned to the West. Well I too miss the libraries, Museums, and Zoos. I’m from Chicago we had the best and then I moved to Northern Va so you know the DC area was good for all that too. But I honestly fear that if I took my children back summer after summer to all that excitement and not to mention loved ones that they don’t have here, why would they want to come back? They are young and impressionable. They are constantly reminded that they are American by the locals, so there is no assimilation even though we basically live like the locals. Tribalism and nationalism are alive and well here, so it would not take much for my children to feel ‘at home’ once in America wa authoo billah. At this age they would not understand the sacrifice of hijrah. If they choose to go back to the States once they are older, it will not be because it was flaunted before them in their youth after being ‘forced’  to live in an ‘underdeveloped’ nation.

Another reason is the inconvenience and expense of it all. My family is in Chicago and my husband’s family is in Northern Virginia. We would have to stay at a hotel because it would be uncomfortable for everyone involved if we stayed with them. My mother and sister live together, but they do not cover. My husband would avoid my sister like the plague and she would be offended. As a matter of fact, it just wouldn’t happen, he would not come. Not to mention the last time I visited my sister (I have only seen her once since 1998) she later emailed me and told me that if I ever wanted to come to her house again then I would not be allowed to wear niqab. She told me that it is my mother’s desire that I not wear it at all so if I was the adherent Muslim that I claim to be then I would know that it is wajib that I obey my mother and that since the niqab in her opinion (and mine) is not wajib, she feels that my wearing it is haram because it is in disobedience to my mother. Now I am not a super stubborn person and I could probably…I’m not sure make concessions for them and not wear it with them…but I’m not sure. Honestly, if my own family has issues with the way I live my Islam than what can I expect from the general society? What other compromises would I be expected to make? Furthermore, why would I want to inflict this on me and my family? What would be the pleasure in such a visit if I am walking on egg shells with my own Muslim family, afraid to practice Islam how I see fit for fear of offended them?

Don’t even get me started on staying with my husband’s family. Not even an option! His mom does not except that he is a Muslim, our interracial marriage, our biracial children, or anything involving us. She is only interested in seeing him and he would be miserable without us…lol! Staying with his sisters is what they would probably suggest but that’s just not a good idea for s many reasons.

However, it makes much more sense for our families to visit us. At least my family. My mother works so it is difficult for her to come. I wish I were able to afford to have her come and live with us but we can not maintain her at the standard that she is comfortable with. Not to mention, she is almost 60 yrs but not old. Here women seem to be old at 50yrs and live the life of old women. I would like nothing more for my children to have a live in grandmother but my mother and mother in law are not that type. They are both fiercely independent women and would rather die than depend on my husband to give them money and drive them around. But a nice short visit would not be so bad. It’s funny how different Westerners are because most of the other foreigners here have their parents visit for six month stretches and the moms don’t complain and everybody is happy. Even in America the immigrants I knew have a family rotation on visiting visas. Somebody was always with them. Must be nice. Masha’Allah.