Hijrah: Cutting Off Family Ties? by Nadiya Johnson

‘Our only mistake was coming to this stupid country!’ She sounded like Jaden Smith in The Karate Kid.

One day it came out, just like that, raw and unfiltered, my daughter’s pain of being somewhere she does not want to be. For almost 2 years she wore a heavy sweater that I hated. I kept telling her , ‘its too hot for that take it off.’ It was much later she told me ‘Grandma gave it to me. I wear it because it reminds me of her.’  My bonus daughter gives more subtle hints like, ‘I sure miss Granny’s salmon cakes! I sure miss Granny’s corn bread!’ 

The reality is that in order to have what we consider a ‘successful hijrah’ we may inadvertently cut our children off from their lineage.

Listen here

I found this hadith just recently:

imageedit_2_2430713154

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهَا ، قَالَتْ : قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ .الرَّحِمُ مُعَلَّقَةٌ بِالْعَرْشِ ، تَقُولُ : مَنْ وَصَلَنِي وَصَلَهُ اللَّهُ ، وَمَنْ قَطَعَنِي قَطَعَهُ اللَّهُ ” . أَخْرَجَاهُ

Related on Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) said.

The Messenger of Allah (prayers and peace be upon him) said: The womb is connected to/suspended from the Throne of Allah and she says, ‘ Whoever connects to me, connects to Allah and whoever cuts me off then Allah cuts him off.’ 

There are families that leave the West permanently and never return

Some families are able to travel back every year to visit. Some families have the position that this is wrong, why would you travel back every year to Dar ul Kufr after moving to the Muslim lands. And from my observation; those families that are really serious about hijrah do not travel for years at a time There are families that leave the West permanently and never return. They raise a whole new generation of grandchildren in the new land and their family back home is basically a memory. These are the ones we consider the Hijrah Success Stories. At one time I thought I wanted that but I don’t think I counted the costs.

I am the oldest on both sides of my family;

I am the oldest grandchild, the oldest of all my cousins and the only Muslim in my family. Do I not have a responsibility?  As my grandmother ages I feel the guilt of not being around to help care for her as my mother would have done if she were alive.   I have been watching my nieces and nephews grow up on Facebook; the baseball games the basketball games, the graduations. There are many precious moments that I missed.   And one day I felt it. I had a nap on the sofa and I woke up in pain. It was this intense feeling of emptiness that I had never felt before; the pain of not seeing my father for 2 years.  Some hijrah families have been blessed that their parents came to visit them in Egypt or the UAE. My father never came and it disappointed me but the truth is: He is the parent I am the child, it is not his duty to come to me.

 

It is not my intention to turn anyone away from hijrah my intention is to present the ‘ouch!’ points that most of us don’t want to discuss.  This is from 15 years of my personal experiences and observations living in 3 Islamic countries.

 

Hijrah Discussions pt. 2: Education in the Arab World

Yaa Akhwaatee!

My goal in these articles is to share my personal experience as well as what I have observed from other families over the years. However I am not saying:  Do not move to the Muslim lands. That is not my intention as our Prophet sallallahu alyhi wa sallam said:

وَعَنْ مُعَاوِيَةَ – رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ – قَالَ : قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ – صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ – : “ لَا تَنْقَطِعُ الْهِجْرَةُ حَتَّى تَنْقَطِعَ التَّوْبَةُ ، وَلَا تَنْقَطِعُ التَّوْبَةُ حَتَّى تَطْلُعَ الشَّمْسُ مِنْ مَغْرِبِهَا ” . رَوَاهُ أَحْمَدُ ، وَأَبُو دَاوُدَ ، وَالدَّارِمِيُّ .

Narrated Mu’awiyah:

I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: Migration will not end until repentance ends, and repentance will not end until the sun rises in the west. (Sunan Abi Dawud: Book of Jihad)

As I said in part 1 of this discussion, traveling as an adult to study or live is different than traveling as a parent wanting to raise and educate children. So I want to give a summary of the types of education offered in most Arab countries; that is North Africa, the Arabian Gulf (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait) and Jordan.

Types of Schools in the Arab World

  1. The Government Schools:  these are schools set up by the government, public schools. The official language of the public schools is Arabic, so all the subjects are taught in Arabic. There will usually be some level of Islamic studies and Quran taught as well.
  2. The ‘International’ Schools:  These are schools set up to educate Arabs in a Western language, most likely English, there are also French schools. These schools are usually owned by non-Muslims as private businesses or may be under a Western embassy.  Usually, the more ‘high class’ the school is, the more they are pushing Western culture and values. There are International Schools owned by Muslim families who do try to keep the Islamic values along with teaching the English. Many of these schools create within them a whole different culture. Al-hamdulillah, many Western Muslims are going to teach in these schools and helping to bring the balance.
  3.  The 3rd type of school is the Private Islamic schools. These are Arabic language schools, privately owned by religious families, that focus on creating an Islamic educational environment. I have heard mixed reviews about these kinds of schools so I can’t report.
  4. Quran Centers; in most or all of the Islamic countries, there are Quran Centers in every neighborhood or district of each city. Some are better and more progressive than others. If they are private they charge fees, if they are government run then they will be free or for a small fee. In general, they all operate in Arabic, the registration, the classes, the books. Sometimes you can find a center that has an English section but this is something that will take research.
  5. Homeschooling; many Western families living in the Middle East are homeschooling their children in English. It is always an option and many families prefer it or do it out of necessity to avoid the high fees of the International schools and the bad behavior and bullying of the government schools. The question is; how to fill the gap of Arabic/ Quran learning? How can you raise children in the land of the Arabs without them learning Arabic?  Can you afford the fees of bringing in a private tutor? Can your children learn in an Arabic speaking Quran Center? (Well they probably can,  but are you willing to put them in that sink or swim environment).

This is why it’s so important to do the research.  Whichever type of schooling you choose, you will have to be ready to fill in the gaps.

And…what if you just can’t get overseas at all?

I want to show you the program that will work from where you are right now.

The Ramadan Course that will bring Arabic into your home and raise the level of your family.

 

 

 

Hijrah Discussions: Raising Kids Who Speak Arabic WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW

This Ramadan, I will be sharing some “secrets” or perhaps little known or told information about living in the Muslim countries and

how you can raise an Arabic-speaking family WHILE YOU ARE RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE, You see,
I keep getting emails from sisters asking me ‘how can I get over there?’

(I have been Qatar almost 8 years, and on my way back to the U.S. ) HOW CAN I EXPLAIN THE REALITY? WOULD YOU BELIEVE THAT PEOPLE HAVE BEEN IN THE MIDDLE EAST FOR 10 YEARS AND STILL DON’T KNOW ARABIC OR QURAN AND NEITHER DO THEIR CHILDREN???

So we think going overseas to the Arabic speaking countries is the answer and we start to dream. Some of us even pack up all our stuff, give up our Western life and move. I did that, more than once… The first time to Egypt back in 1995, then Saudi Arabia from 1999 – 2004. But I did not have any children then; different experience.
In 2011, I got a teaching job in Qatar. I HAD MY IQAMA (RESIDENCE VISA), MY ‘GOOD JOB’ AND FREE TUITION FOR MY DAUGHTER
We made it to the Promised Land !
Well, kind of…

You move to the Land of the Muslims with sincere heart and people don’t realize, it may be a struggle to maintain that sincerity…

My professional experience was pretty amazing! I learned so much!

But my daughter’s experience was something very different…

Being the only 1 of 3 non-Qatari children in the whole grade level (Years 1, 2, and 3) I realized the bullying was a problem towards the end of the 1st year. So before the 2nd year I had the Enrollment lady put the 3 foreigners in the same class; my daughter and 2 Egyptians. People talk of Racism in the U.S.A. but this was so much more than colorism. The Egyptians were vanilla skinned and just as rejected and bullied; didn’t matter… they were outsiders. There was one little Qatari girl, Aisha al-Ka’bi, Allah yah-deeha, she was a big girl and she used to say to the other girls, “If you love me, then hit Aamina!” So they would do it.  Getting my child into the classroom in the morning became traumatic at one point, she would cry because she didn’t want to go into the class.

Then there was the academic issue. After 3 years, her spoken Arabic was good, she had also memorized some Quran, hadith and poetry, and she could understand 3 different Arabic dialects.  There was a lot of memorizing but at the end of year 2 I realized my child could not actually read; not Arabic, nor English. I didn’t concern myself too much with the English literacy at that time my main concern was the Arabic.

The best part of the primary school was the Quran teachers, several were from Syria and they had a beautiful way of teaching. And when the budget cuts came in the 2nd year, they were the first to be cut. Everything went downhill from there.

I HAVE TO BE HONEST, THE SITUATION WAS EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING

We had to learn 2-3 different Arabic dialects in order to learn Fus-ha, the pure Arabic of Quran. You see, in the Gulf Arab countries (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar) the native kids speak Najdi dialect, but the teachers are Egyptian or Jordanian, so the kids also have to understand their dialects.

This along with the BULLYING and bad behavior, teachers who are there for a paycheck and always comparing their low pay to English teachers high pay. (I talk about this in another blog post).
The sacrifice of my child’s character and self-esteem at that tender age JUST to get the Arabic language and EVEN THEN WHAT SHE GOT WAS NOT NEARLY WHAT SHE WAS GETTING BEFORE LEAVING THE U.S.!!!

It took 2 1/2 years in homeschool to undo the damage. (Wallahi, I wish I was exaggerating)
إنَّا لله وإنَّ إليْهِ راجِعُونَ
Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raa’jioon
I had to humble myself and realize my mistakes and realize that I had  actually been onto something before I left the U.S. ….  

Well, I will continue tomorrow inshaAllah, you can read, comment if you like.

This is the course I will be teaching during Ramadan to show you how you can RAise Children Who Speak Arabic (even if you don’t).  Take the first lesson for free if you like:

My Ramadan Course

Ustatha Nadiya Johnson

Curriculum Design

Arabic for non-Arabs.

Hijrah Diary: My Yemeni Neighbors – “Jeerani minal Yemen”

When I lived in Medina I had neighbors in the upstairs apartment who were from Yemen but they had been in Medina for 3 generations 

When you are living in any foreign country, even a Muslim country, one of the worst things that can happen to you is the feeling of loneliness. It is a feeling that results from the belief that ‘I do not belong’. It is a feeling that many of us do not anticipate when we make the journey over. We have so many ideas in our mind about having a better life in the land of Abu Bakr and Umar رضي الله عنهما I have witnessed that when people carry this feeling over a long period of time it festers into resentment and disgust with the very people who you said you wanted to live among…the Muslims. I hope to delve into this discussion at a later time because it deserves its own time.

On the other hand, the best thing that can happen to you , in my opinion,  is what happened to me when i lived in Medina. I was ‘adopted’ by an Arab family.  When I say adopted I mean they accepted me as a part of their family and made me feel that I was one of them; that I belonged to them.

It started with my upstairs neighbor Sabah. One day she sent her 8 year old daughter Imaan to knock on my door and invite me to tea. I went So I went. I was really glad she could speak fus-ha (proper Arabic) because I didn’t understand dialects at that time. she had 6 kids and don’t ask me how they all lived in that apt but they did. she asked me all about myself and where I came from and how long I had been Muslim and how did I become a Muslim etc. That was the first week. the second week she invited me again. but this time she said , every Thursday we go to my moms house I have told her all about you and she wants to see you. I thought that was very strange it made me feel a bit uncomfortable at first because I was thinking what did she tell her mother about me? I didn’t get a chance to answer before Sabah said, “khallas! after Asr Thursday we go”. I said, “Tayyib.” 

So Imaan and little Ameen came knocking frantically at the door after  salaah both of them knocking at the same time as Sabah was coming down the stairs, Yallah Yallah yaa Nadiya naruh inda Umminaa! ( Come on! We are going to our Mother!)

Sabah’s mom had 8 daughters 5 of them married 1 engaged , 1 daughter divorced and 1 still in waiting.  All had to be there.

Everyone sat in a circle facing Umm Sabah. she was a strong little Yemeni woman with a very kind and loving face, but she didn’t play when she asked you ‘ Ish akh-baar-ak?‘ (what’s your news?) she wanted to know! There was no such thing as ‘that’s my business’ There was no generic answer like, ” oh everything is fine.” No, everybody had to spill it! Even me! They talked about husbands, money, kids, everything.

Week after week I was there drinking tea, eating laham (meat) and that’s how my Arabic speaking skills really became stronger.  Nobody spoke English at all! Sabah could speak really good fus-ha so fi I didn’t understand something in the dialect she would translate for me. But after a while I didn’t need translation I could understand almost everything and I was a part of the gang. If there was a birth I was there, if someone was sick I was there, if someone was getting engaged, married, or even divorced I was there.  I remember when one of the sisters Samar got married to a Pakistani.  He was from Medina and had lived there all his life just like her. I don’t know how they met but it was a very interesting mix of the 2 cultures. He had a first wife and 2 children so she was marrying as a second wife. When we went to the shabka, ‘ the engagement party’. In Saudi Arabia, that’s when they actually write the marriage contract, but without living together yet they start ‘halal dating’.  The ‘shabka’ is just for the 2 families to meet each other so his mom, and his sisters and the Yemeni sisters and mom were there…and me. I was the only one who didn’t belong nobody treated me that way.  I kept waiting for someone to ask, who are you? what are you doing here?’ but they never did. MashaAllah!  During the party, everyone sat and talked for a while and then the first wife walked in! Everyone is kind of stopped and watching her everyone was watching for her expressions. She was so elegant! She was wearing this kind of cultural dress that sparkled with beautiful colors and she had gold that was unbelievable. IT was the the kind of gold that if I saw it in the window of a gold shop I would think it too much but it looked so good on her. So then the Pakistani mom and the eldest sister they had these empty water bottles and they started beating on them and the other starting singing and before I knew it we were all going round in a circle dancing and giggling and having fun! The wedding was the next month and a couple of weeks after the wedding, it was another Thursday and we were all at Umm Sabah’s house, Samar walked in, now a married woman. And when she took off that ebaya,  she had the same amount of gold that the Pakistani first wife had!  It was different style but it was the same amount. I thought, MashaAllah! These people know really know how to do polygyny!  

This was not the only polygynous marriage that happened in the family, the youngest sister Amberiya who liked to be called ‘Abeer’ also got married as a second wife. They did the contract /shabka, and they started ‘dating’. But while her new husband was preparing her apartment, the first wife gave the man an ultimatum. “Its either her or me!” Since he had 4 children with her, he chose her. So poor Abeer was jilted but she did get to keep the dowry which was 20,000 riyals! (about 5,000 dollars).

I enjoyed my time with my Yemeni family. I learned a lot from them.  I felt blessed to be with them because at that time I was alone in Medina so I felt very happy that I belonged to them.  I think this feeling is very important wherever you are. Where do you belong?  Who do you belong to?

Egypt Stories 2: I didn’t go inside the Pyramids

I’m Adventurous but I didn’t go inside…
I didn’t go inside well after all, the pyramids are….graves. Amazing feats of architecture they are, but nonetheless, graves.
What I did see was the Pharoah/ Fira’on in the museum along with a princess and a few other royals pulled from their graves encased in glass. The only word I can use to describe it is …macabre. Interesting English word that originates in Arabic something frightening, gruesome, sickening, coming from the grave ‘qabr’ . That is the best word to describe literally seeing the bandages ripped back off the MUMMIES like …in the movies. Much of their skin did not decompose and back in my college days I would have been proud to report Yesss! They were carmel-colored like me! and chocolate-colored like my Mom! but as a Muslim knowing what they worshipped, statues of creatures half-men and half hawk. They worshipped snakes, dogs and other animals made of pure gold. They worshipped their kings who they buried at the top of the pyramid with the belief that the King was always looking down on them. I couldn’t feel proud standing over that glass container. It was …macabre.
“هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ مُوسَى إِذ نَادَاهُ رَبُّهُ بِالوَادِي المُقَدَّسِ طُوَى إذهب إلى فِرعَونَ إِنَّهُ طَغَى”
Did you hear the story of Musa, when his Lord called him to the Valley of tuwa and told him, ‘ Go to Pharoah for he is surely astray.’surah aNaziat

 

My Egypt Stories 3: Finding Friends and Surviving Fajr Centre

Malaysian & Somali Friends

While I was studying in Misr (Egypt) I had very few American or British friends.

I was so interested to explore relationships with other nationalities and cultures. Noriani (نور عيني) meaning “light of my eye”, was from Malaysia. She was a student of Shari’ah at al-Azhar but she like many other Azhar students, came to our school because she wanted to strengthen her Arabic speaking skills. Noriani did not know English and I didn’t know Malay so we were constantly practicing our Arabic on one another. On the weekends, she used to invite me to her apartment for spicy Malay food ( which I wasn’t used to). She lived with 7 other roommates, all students at al- Azhar. They were very soft, yet firm in their deen, and I admired their character. And they walked together like a pack! You never saw one Malaysian girl out on the street alone. If you saw 1, you saw 4 or 5. I liked being around them because  they were a tight, strong group, and I was always alone. They wore very soft colors like sky blue, gray, or beige; some covered their faces and some did not. When I used to visit, a few of them would get nervous because they knew they would have to speak Arabic with me, and some of them weren’t very good at it. One time I was there and it got late so they said, “just spend the night.” They had one mirror that they shared, which was on top of a dresser/bureau. Before sleeping, each girl, one-by-one, would stand in front of the mirror, put on sweet smelling lotion and brush her hair. They were so feminine mashaAllah.

My other close friends were Somali, and to me they were The Quran Specialists.

We had a group that used to gather at Umm Luqman’s house, she was an elder Somali sister whose husband worked in Canada. She was very strong and I learned a lot from her. She was, you could say, our leader. She held duroos (classes) at her house in Aqueeda and Quran. Everyone who came to her house left wearing niqaab and all black. She also arranged marriages between male and female students who were at her house from different countries.  She was a Mother, an Auntie, and a big sister at the same time حفظها الله

What I admired about Umm Luqman was that her children absolutely loved her. Well everyone did but especially her children. If she left the house to go to the market, they would spend a whole 5 minutes just kissing her good bye. She had a maid and after dinner, while the maid cleaned the kitchen she would be sitting on the balcony reading Quran to her children. I said, if I become a mother I want to be just like her.

I stayed in her house for 3 weeks when we were changing apartments.  Wallahi I only saw her hit one of her children one time. And it was because of me! Her oldest son Luqman had turned 9 or 10 and she was teaching him not to walk in on the women without knocking first.  I was were staying in a room that he was used to walking into all the time. He walked in without knocking and as soon as he did it, he looked shocked because he forgot. I told Umm Luqman, it was an accident, she said, no he has to learn and not forget. Well, I felt so, so bad, subhaanAllah and actually his spanking was a Whole Family Event. Everyone gathered around to witness it.  She had a thin stick but she didn’t hit him hard.   I had never seen this before. Everyone stood around in a circle to watch him get hit. They were a very close knit family. They had a spacious apartment, 4 rooms, living room and large kitchen. But when bed time came, they pushed all the beds together in one room and they all slept together, even the maid. I laughed the first time I saw this but then I thought, “MashaAllah how safe they must feel all huddled together!”

I learned from the Somali sisters about having a good relationship with the Quran through memorizing and reciting it. They did not play when it came to Quran!  One time this sister named Natheefah came over, and she was reciting with this African rhythm that made me think of grass huts and women at the river with pots of water on their heads. She had me rocking! I thought her tilawa was so nice! But Wardah was like, “yeah she has a nice voice, but her tajweed is not so good. Those sisters really pushed me in memorizing the  Quran mashaAllah, and once I moved away from them, I felt myself becoming weak subhaanAllah.

This is the importance of having companionship with those who push you to move forward and better yourself.  I hope we can do that for each other online inshaaAlalh.

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ِثَنَاء وَالحَفْرَةُ فِي الجِدَار My Egypt Stories: 1. Sanaa and Her Home in the Wall

When I lived in مصر Misr (Egypt),

we lived in a very nice apartment building. MashaAllah.  It had 4 floors and was owned by 1 family. The apartment was spacious with Louis the 16th style furniture and tall French doors leading out to a large balacoonah (balcony) overlooking a main street.  Sigh… I loved that شقة  shaqqah (apartment). When we would go out and come back in, there was always a 9 year-old girl who would follow us into the building and ask, “Awzah haagah?’ I couldn’t figure out what that meant for the first 5 days. “Do you want/need anything?” The girl was a part of a family that lived in a home in the wall or more like a hole in the wall, on the side of our apt building and her father was known as the البواب  ‘Bawwaab’. ..the ‘Doorman’. Me being from New York City, Doorman to me means a man in a suit and hat, standing in front of a fancy apartment building. Well, …it was not quite like that. They are there to serve the middle class people who live in the building. They opened doors for us, carried groceries for us, cleaned our apartments, even shopped for our groceries. We could give them a tip of like $2 and they were happy.

Sanaa was 9 years old. She did not go to school.

She was too busy helping her mother clean houses and see to the needs of the residents of the عمارة (imaarah) building. Sanaa, her mother, and her sister, cleaned our apartments, did our shopping, cleaned the halls and stairs and carried our groceries. Sanaa’s mother was a very strong  قوية  (qawiyyah)  little woman. One day our gas tank ran out in the kitchen. I heard the gas tank guy clanging downstairs on the ground floor so I ran to my balcony to catch him. He didn’t hear me and rode off on his bicycle. Sanaa’s Mom took off running down the street after him. I was expecting her to bring the guy back with the gas tank. Instead, she showed up at my door with the FULL GAS TANK on top of her head! She had walked the block and up 2 flights of steps to get it to me!! I tried to help her get it from her head to the floor and that thing felt like lead! ” Laa Laa! Madame Nadiya!” She said.  gas.png

Sanaa started cleaning our apartment once a week. She was very good to be just 9 years old, and strong like her mother. When she would finish cleaning I would give her a snack. She used to clean my house from top to bottom. I gave her money but what she really wanted was croissants.  She loved croissants with strawberry jam. I tried to pick up as much Egyptian dialect as I could from her since we were only allowed to speak fus-ha at my school. Sanaa and I became best friends. One day after she did her cleaning, I asked her if she could recite Quran she said no, she could not read. It was very strange teaching alif-baa to an Arab child but I didn’t care about that. I felt like she deserved to have an education and reading Quran is a minimum education for a Muslim child. So I would teach her to read Quran (which is really proper Arabic) and she would teach me Egyptian Arabic.

I was so curious about the hole in the wall though.

I would see them disappear around the corner and I was so curious about their hole in the wall. What was it like inside? Did they have furniture, a stove, refrigerator, electricity? Finally, Sanaa’s mom invited me inside. I wasn’t supposed to go in there. After all, I was an American Lady living in a lovely apartment building and I had a “status”. What was I doing going into a dark hole in the wall? But curiosity got the best of me!  I went in. It was one room with a curtain as a door and you actually couldn’t stand up completely or you would bump your head. It was kind of dark.  There was a bed and a carpet on the floor. I guess the 4 kids slept on the floor. A small portable type of stove for cooking and all bathroom facilities were outside in the back of the building, looked like just a water hose.  But it was clean and Sana’s mom served me tea. She told me about where they came from in the country but my Egyptian wasn’t really that good so I only got bits and pieces. They were a family trying to make it the best they could in the big city of Cairo القاهرة.

I grew up poor, but I had to learn rules of classism.

Rule #1: don’t be too friendly with the help.  One time, Sanaa finished cleaning and her 2 little brothers came knocking on the door for her. I offered them all some fruit and let them sit on the balcony to eat it. The sister of the building’s owner happened to drop by and she saw them on my balcony eating. She gave them a look, they all looked down to the ground then she turned to me and smiled like everything was fine. But I understood perfectly.  “They’re kids!” I wanted to shout. “Let them have a childhood, SubhaanAllah!”

Rule #2: don’t get too comfortable with poor people who perceive you as being rich. One day there was some problem in the kitchen and Sanaa’s father brought up a fix it man but everyone seemed to be interested in what was broken. When they all left, my gold watch – a gift from my Dad for my college graduation – was missing.  I never said anything about it. It was my own fault for being too trusting.

Well, something very strange happened in this story. You could say a surprise ending.  Eid ul Fitr came around and a woman who I had never seen, showed up at the hole in the wall. I heard her and Sanaa’s mom shouting at each other.  The whole building could hear their shouting. The shouts became screams. We went out to the balacoonah where we could see downstairs to the ground floor. And there was Sanaa”s mom running down the street after that woman, holding a thick long tree branch in her hand. I’m not kidding it looked like she had yanked that tree right out of the ground! The woman was running for her life. ‘What in the world is going on?’ we thought.  The next day we woke up, and Sanaa and her family were gone. I asked the owner’s sister what happened to them and who was that we had seen the day before. Well! Sanaa’s Dad had another wife!!  زوجة ثانية She was the strange lady who showed up and got chased down the street with the tree. We stood there with our mouths hanging open. The owner’s sister and sister in-law chuckled. I just sat there wondering, if he had this family living in a hole in the wall, where in the world was she living????   Many-Croissants-On-Basket.jpg

Then I thought of my little friend Sanaa, and I hoped she had a better home wherever they went. I still remember her laughing in delight when I gave her a special Eid gift…a basket of croissants and a jar of strawberry jam. “I love you Madame Nadiya Wallahi! Uhibbuk! ”

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