Sheikha is a 26 year old Irish woman married to a Saudi man and living in the UAE until she is comfortable enough to join him in Saudi Arabia. She is a Muslim revert and the second wife. She is serious about her religion and often blogs about Islamic subjects she is passionate about but it was her humorous recounts of her personal life with her Saudi husband that attracted me to her blog. It seems that she has lucked out as far as Saudi men go. In Sheikha’s descriptions of her husband we see another side of Saudi men, that they can be generous, attentive, caring, sweet and romantic. It is not that we don’t find these characteristics in Saudi men, it is that those non-Saudi women who are fortunate enough to be married to a Saudi man with these traits that we rarely read about it due to privacy reasons. This is one positive non-Saudi/Saudi story that was needed to grace FHWS and with Sheikha’s express permission, I am republishing excerpts from three of her blog posts. Thank you Sheikha! Tara Umm Omar
17 September 2010
Moving on, a month later I had a trip to Istanbul planned. I couldn’t wait to be surrounded by mosques, athans and hijabis again! Istanbul is a truly amazing and beautiful city. One day while browsing in a shop, I suddenly found myself having a chat to a man I guessed was either Turkish or Arab and telling him about myself. Then he told me about himself. He was from Saudi Arabia. Ok. That terrified me. Sorry, but western media portays Saudi Arabia like it’s hell on earth! We met a couple of times and after 2 or 3 days he told me “I really like you and I would like to marry you as a second wife.” 2ND WIFE! OH MY GOD! All the books I read! I’d be a slave to his other wife! I would have to wash her clothes and serve her! Then he would beat me and after time get rid of me! As nice as he was, I read the books and (thought) I knew about Saudi men. “No thank you, I would never marry a Saudi OR be anyones second wife”. He seemed disappointed-“Ok but I cannot sit with you or look at you or talk with you if you will not marry me”. I remember thinking ‘is this guy for real’? We swapped email addresses and phone numbers and said goodbye. After my 6 days in Istanbul it was yet again time to go home. Nothing was the same. I didn’t belong in this place anymore. I was sitting in work pondering “How can I get out of here? How can I move to UAE? What can I do with my house and car?” The knock on the office door brought me back to reality. I opened it to find the biggest bouquet of flowers I had ever seen in my whole life! “For me???” The card was simple and unsigned-all it said was “with love”. An SMS a few moments later from Mr. Saudi “Do you like them?” I was crying! All that effort! He was in Saudi and I am here! I felt so special and it felt really good. We began talking online and on the phone night after night. He asked me what my dream was. I honestly replied “to live in UAE”. He said “how about we marry, I’ll fix everything for you to live in UAE and whenever you are ready you can come to Saudi Arabia”? I spoke with my Mom first. She laughed “You idiot! Do you really think some man you hardly know is going to do all that for you!? He just wants one thing from you and when he gets it he will drop you!” My friends said the same “Are you mad? You don’t even know him! He could be a murderer or something!” As scared as I was, I remembered on the flight home from UAE begging Allah Subhana Wa T’ala “Please bring me back here. Please help me to live here. I can’t stand living away from the muslims.” And I had to admit it: maybe he was my gift from Allah Subhana Wa T’ala. To Be Continued InshAllah. Fee Iman Allah.
THE SAUDI SUITOR
25 September 2010
Salam Aleikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakato,
So that’s how I met my husband. Next step was marrying him. He is mashallah a very good muslim and told me he cannot see me again unless we will marry. So, me being me, I met him in Dubai a few months later when he had sorted all his papers out and we married. I didn’t tell my parents. I could imagine their faces hearing “I’m marrying a Saudi guy I met last month. I know you’ve never met him, but trust me he is great! And he has a beard mashallah and is from the Holy City of Makkah and is following the sunnah mashallah!” They would have definitely either fainted or sent me to a mental institution! Up until that time, they were still hoping my religion was just a phase that I would grow out of. How wrong they were!
So after our marriage, we sat and talked about the future. We decided I would come to Dubai and live there as long as I wanted and whenever I felt ready I would join him in Makkah. So I went home and told my family I would be moving to Dubai. They were very upset telling me I had a steady job for 6 years and would be silly to throw it away for a man I barely knew. But nevertheless, I knew hijrah to a muslim country was my only option to start practicing the deen better and learning more. So I rented out my house, sold my car, quit my job and off I went.
When I arrived in Dubai on 18th August 2008, my husband had everything ready for me. A lovely apartment (which is considered huge by Irish standards), a rental car (I was unable to buy a car due to having only a visit visa) and a trip to the mall to buy my furniture. I couldn’t believe someone did all of this for me. I still had little or no experience dealing with practicing muslims and when I thanked my husband, he merely said “I am your husband, it’s my duty and your right. I will never let you down”. The first day I arrived in Dubai to live, I started wearing abaya. I loved it. On the second day I started wearing niqab. My husband told me to slow down-he was afraid that if I pushed myself too much at the beginning that I would eventually back track. I have to confess, I never thought covering the face was obligatory in Islam. My knowledge of hadith, fiqh and fatawa was extremely poor. I wore niqab that day simply because I know my husband liked it.
Because of the fact that my husband lived in Saudi Arabia and I was in UAE, I had lots of free time on my hands. I had no friends, I knew absolutely no one when I moved here so I started reading. I read like there was no tomorrow. I was getting through an average of 5 books per week-everything from Sunnah to Islamic Legislation to Daw’ah to Fiqh. I discovered I had a passion for Islamic Law. I absolutely loved the Science of Hadith, knowing where all the ijtihads come from, learning the difference between a sahih and hasan hadith…..Oh I was truly in love with this deen!
My parents did eventually meet my husband and within one hour they loved him as much as I did. They were blown away by his commitment to his religion and his treatment of me. He told them Islamically he has to treat me so. And they loved my new life-praying and fasting, not going to certain bad places I would have once gone to, not mixing with men etc. They admire my lifestyle a lot. Both me and my husband frequently make daw’ah to my parents and around this time last year my mother decided to embrace Islam.
27 October 2010
Salam Aleikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakato,
So my husband was here for 2 days and just went back a few minutes ago. Though it was a short visit due to his hectic schedule, alhamdulillah anyway because we had a great time. After breakfast this morning I asked him if he was ever worried when we first met about the cultural differences between us and how those differences would affect our marriage. He said “Yes, a little, but I really felt in my heart that we will overcome them.” So after I drove him to the airport and was on the way back home, I started remembering the beginning of our marriage-the mistakes (mostly mine), the culture clashes, the arguments and my learning experience. I thought it might be beneficial to other men/women in mixed marriages if I blogged about it so if they are having any difficulties ‘adjusting’ to their obvious differences they can see that it can work very well in the end. I would also like to add, that due to my lack of knowledge in the deen at that time, I made mistakes but alhamdulillah through reading and studying, asking and learning, I have finally let go of my obvious ‘western’ idealogy and now live by what’s right and wrong, not by what I like and dislike.
AstaghfirAllah the first thing I had asked my husband on our wedding day was “Would you ever think of shaving your beard?” He was so patient mashAllah and asked “Do you know all the hadith about having a beard in Islam?” and when I replied in the negative, he provided me with a copy of Sahih Bukhari, Riyadh-as-Saliheen (Gardens of the Virtuous) and “Indespensible Implication of Sunnah & Caution Against Innovation” by Sheikh AbdulAziz Bin Baz Allah Yarhum. Since then, I still question him about his beard but the question has changed to “Would you ever consider growing your beard longer?” Funny.
Having being born, brought up in and never having lived anywhere besides Ireland, I was typically Irish in my behaviour. Everytime I went for dinner with my husband I tried to pay. “No! you paid last time, I’ll pay this time. It’s only fair.” He finds the idea of a woman paying the bill for ANYTHING very shameful. It didn’t take me too long to get over the fact that I would no longer pay for myself and that it was indeed my husbands duty to support me and take care of me financially.
We travelled to Cairo in July 2008. After having an afternoon nap, my husband woke up and said “I’d really like a coffee”. AstaghfirAllah, I replied “Can you make one for me also?” He stood staring at me with his mouth open, thinking I was joking and then realised I was not. I had no idea what was going on. “What’s wrong?” I asked completely puzzled. He took a few minutes to explain the duties I had and what was expected of me in my role as his wife. Hmmm. Ok. So I made the coffee. How easily we overcame that problem! He took a shower and when he came out saw the quilt from the bed STILL lying on the floor, my clothes spilling from my still unpacked suitcase (now known as “the sack”) and others scattered everywhere, the curtains still closed and me just sitting there. His eyes were darting between the bed, the floor, the window and back again. “Can you arrange the room please?” Now I was fuming. What the hell! What am I? A maid?! I stomped around picking up this and that and angrily firing them in to their correct location. This morning, when he came out of the shower and I had the room cleaned, bed dressed, curtains opened and his coffee on the table, he started laughing and just said “MashAllah”.
Another TERRIBLE and embarrassing (for my husband at least) habit I had was walking ahead of him (I walk like I’m racing and he walks like he doesn’t have legs) and on reaching our destination entrance, I would open the door and stand back to allow him in. In Ireland, men and women open doors for each other. Chivalry is not something I ever saw in my lifetime. He’d make angry motions with his head and eyes for me to get out of the way so he could hold the door for me. I have to admit I thought he was so uptight at the beginning! Everything seemed to be a clash. I didn’t see what the big deal was. I loved him, I wanted to do nice things for him. Now, I understand. I know how strange it looks here in the Gulf for a woman to open a door for a man. I know how much men like to feel proud and manly and to be seen as such in public. Now when I approach a door (even though I still walk fast and get to it first), I stand and wait for him to catch up and open the door for me. And even though I still walk fast, my stroll is now that of a lady and not an Olympic runner with my arms flying up and down.
My husband is a very successful man mashallah and he is dignified, refined and ever so posh. He is well-mannered and an expert in social etiquette. When I see how I have changed in these past 2 and a half years, I know I have learned almost all of my ‘outdoor’ behaviour from him. My mom remarked “You have an authoritarian tone about you now that you never had before.” In Ireland, the whole country (apart from the capital city) seems to be like a village. Strangers salute each other on quiet streets-“Hi ya! How are ya?” Everyone (at least in my city) calls each other ‘love’. For example, if you go in to a shop-“Hi ya love.” “How are ya girl?” “Era I’m grand thanks. What about yourself?” “A bit tired coz I was out last night but I’ll survive.” Both laugh. “Give me a packet of Marlboro please.” “Here you are love. 9 euro please”. “Now love, here you are, see ya later.” All that between strangers! Men and women! It’s so friendly! So naturally when I came here and would be ordering in a restaurant, I would start with “Hello! How are you? Yes fine thanks. Can I have……” My husband explained that men in this part of the world can take this friendliness the wrong way and that I should be clear, concise and formal when dealing with any males. I also knew this was correct Islamically, but because no one in Ireland would take my friendliness as a way of flirting, I assumed people here also wouldn’t. I had to learn that lesson the hard way. But that’s a story for another day. So in light of what I was and what I’ve become, I feel he has moulded me into a woman I am happy and confident about and the type of woman he really wanted for a wife. He moulded me into a lady. Alhamdulillah.
I absolutely love cars-4 wheels, sports cars, sedans, everything! I love car modifications, body kits, spoilers and rims. I’ve always loved cars and still do. When I was discussing my first car purchase in UAE with my husband, I decided “I want a Dodge Charger, red colour with a black racing stripe, 18″ chrome rims and a spoiler!” My husband looked at me as if I had just said I want to drive a Harley Davidson wearing leather pants! “What’s wrong?!” “Well, darling, if a woman drives a car like this, it will make people look at her. It draws attention and can be a form of attraction. It will cause unnecessary and unwanted attention from men. A woman should drive a car that does not stand out and make people look at her.” Disappointedly, I accepted, even though I thought he was totally crackers! So I settled for a white 4 wheel without any attention-grabbing extras! However, my husband knows that I do love cars very much and approximately 1 week ago I told him “It’s my dream to drive a luxury sports car, just once. I would love it.” The day before he arrived, he sent me an SMS. “Make a booking for a Porsche Carrera 911 or Lamborghini for 2 days”. I replied “Will you let me drive it for a few minutes?” to which he sent the most beautiful and sweet response. “Darling, I had enough of these sort of cars. I’m renting it for you. I want to make your dream come true. So make the booking and enjoy it sweetie.” I could have cried with joy! I was browsing a few websites when he called and said he got the number of a luxury car rental company from his friend and I should call to see what cars they have. The first car the guy mentioned was the one I wanted. “We have an orange Lamborghini Mercialiago and……”. “The Lambo! I want the Lambo!” I told him to deliver it to the Grand Hyatt Hotel the following night. I was super excited. I couldn’t wait. The following night, me and husband were ready and called the guy. His phone was off. I kept trying and trying. Off. My husband said “not to worry love, we’ll have them deliver it in the morning.” My husband had a meeting at 12 o clock the next day in Sharjah. At 7am my mobile rang. The car guy. “I’m so sorry Madam, my battery had died and I just saw your missed calls. We will deliver the car at 11am. I am terribly sorry.” So at 10.55am I was dressed and pacing up and down the room. “SIT DOWN!” my husband said. 11.10. 11.15. I called the guy. “The driver is on the way now Madam, he will be there in 5 minutes ok.” 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes. I called. No answer. I called back. Busy! WHAT THE HELL! A few minutes later my phone rang. “Madam, if you want the Lamborghini you have to wait 2 – 3 hours. There was a problem when they delivered the car to our office and”.”YOU TOLD ME HE WAS ON THE WAY! YOU TOLD ME 5 MINUTES! YOU LIED!” “Please Madam, let me explain what happened.” I slammed down the phone. I was raging. First he said he was on the way then he said the car had a problem when they brought it to his office so he was never on the way! I was so disappointed. Why lie?! My husband was already late for his meeting. He put his arms around me. “Oh sweetie, I know how disappointed you are. We will take it next time inshallah. I know you feel terrible.” And I said “You know what? Qadr Allah. I wasn’t meant to have that car today. Maybe we would have crashed or been killed. Alhamdulillah. It’s not even the car baby. It’s how thoughtful you are. How you try to make all my dreams come true. Hayati, all my dreams came true the day I married you. Thank you so much for what you did, even though it didn’t work out.” And we left in my car. In the end, we had the most beautiful time together. The car didn’t matter. My husband is what mattered. Even though he hates women driving such cars, he was willing to leave that feeling aside for 2 days just to please me. Alhamdulillah. I have tears in my eyes thinking of how good he is to me.
Lamborghini? Who needs it when you have a Bugatti for a husband 🙂
InshAllah we’ll get it next time. But for now, I had the greatest 2 days and wouldn’t have changed a thing. My husband doesn’t know I’ve started blogging but if he ever finds out and reads this: Baby, you are the one I dreamed of all my life. You complete me. There is no one like you in all this world and I still don’t know what good thing I ever did in my life to deserve a husband like you. I love and adore you always.
Photo Credit: Sheikha