Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Still Learning – Alhamdallah

Another Side of Thanksgiving . . .

My friend asked about my father, and when I told her he was slipping away, losing a little more every day, she said “Alhamdallah!”

I was caught up short. Her face was smiling. I had just told her my father is dying and she says “Thanks be to God?”

I know this woman like my own sister. Her daughters are my own daughters. I am welcome in every corner of her house, I pray for every one of her children, and being in her home is like being in my own home, we are all so comfortable together.

“No,” I said, “You’ve misunderstood what I said!” and she hugged me and said “I understood, but no matter what happens, we say ‘alhamdallah’. If you father is dying, we say ‘alhamdallah’. If Hurricane Katrina strikes, we say ‘alhamdallah’. All things come from Allah, and He knows all things. It is his will, so we say ‘alhamdallah’.”

We are both religious women. My faith says the same thing, to give thanks in all things. In my daily life, I sometimes forget. Truly, in my culture, you would never say “thanks be to God” if someone had just told you something very sad.

Being exposed to the Islamic world has complemented my own faith. No, I don’t need to be a Muslim; I think the differences between us are much smaller than the similarities. But truly, I thank God for all that I learn about my own faith by living is Moslem countries.

I love the call to prayer; nothing wrong with being reminded during the day – and night – to love and honor God. I love living among people who give thanks to God so many times a day, even for Hurricane Katrina, even for my failing father. I love watching the fathers and sons headed to the mosque on Fridays. There’s even a very gentle station with Moslem films in English that I watch from time to time because it is so peaceful, and tolerant and sweetly loving.

My friend took time from her very busy life and made a special trip to the bookstore to buy me a book called Don’t Be Sad. It’s a wonderful book by ‘Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarni with chapters like “How to deal with bitter criticism,” “Do Not Carry the Weight of the Globe on Your Shoulders,” Do Not be Shaken by Hardships'” “Jealousy is Not Something New” and one of my favorites – “Do Not Be Sad – Do Good to Others.” This book is helpful to me in so many ways, including giving me good sura that are very similar to writings in our own book. This helps me clarify to others in my culture how alike we are, and how similar our faith is. My friend loves me, and I know she wants only the best for me. I give thanks to have her as a friend.

Every now and then, I come across something that shakes me – like when my friend said “alhamdallah” about my Father . . . but in the end, I learn something and my understanding broadens. Alhamdallah!

November 21, 2006 Posted by | Books, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Relationships, Spiritual, Women's Issues | 11 Comments