Police and Prayer

The knock comes in the middle of the day. Not an ordinary knock; rather, a loud, insistent pounding at the door accompanied with the gruff voice of the man who guards our building, raised and excited. For a minute I am not sure what to do. Mujaahid, my thirteen year old son, usually answers the door, but he is gone to the store downstairs to buy a few things for supper. I begin pulling on my hijaab, preparing to open the door just a crack and stand behind it, hoping to understand at least some of the man’s rapid-fire dialectical Arabic.

Before I can tie on my veil I hear my husband’s voice in the hallway. A few words, then a few more from the guard, and the door flies open. My husband runs past me to the bedroom and begins digging through his coat pockets.

“Have you seen my wallet?” he asks, his calm voice belying the quickness of his movements. “I need our papers.”

A bit frightened now, I start looking through the small file folder that holds our passports for the laminated copy of our ijaaza, our permission to be in the country.  I hear the guard’s voice again, speaking to someone outside the door. I hear Mujaahid’s name, and instantly go into panic mode.

“What is it?” I ask, grabbing Khalil’s arm. “What happened to Mujaahid?”

He pulls the card out of his backpack and sticks it into his pocket.

“The police have him. They picked him up in the store a few minutes ago. The guard saw it.”

I sit down at the edge of the bed, holding a pillow in front of me.

“Why didn’t he do something? Say something? He could have stopped them. He could’ve at least tried to…”

“It was the police, Khadijah. He didn’t dare get involved, so he came and got us right away.”

The police. Growing up in Wisconsin, the police were the good guys, the ones you could trust to come if you heard a noise downstairs, or to help you out if your car stalled at the side of the road. Our local policeman knew everyone’s names and you could be sure that he kept our parents informed about what we were up to when he saw us at Todd’s Quick Stop late at night. I still had trouble understanding that in Yemen it was a whole different story. My friends from the inner cities weren’t surprised by the fear and awe in which many held the police, having experienced a similar condition in the States. But to me, it was something I had to get used to.

In Yemen, it is not unusual for the police to stop foreign men for no apparent reason and take them into custody, often putting them in jail and eventually causing them to be deported. Having papers is no protection against this, as if they decide you are leaving, you simply leave, no questions asked. The stories I have heard about the state of Yemeni prisons are pretty terrible, and they lodge in my mind as I think about my son being held in one.

Khalil runs out the door, and I hear him and the guard talking in hushed tones outside the closed front door. In a few minutes, their footsteps echo through the stairwell as they go down the four flights of steps to the bottom floor.

I do what I am becoming accustomed to, and wait. The baby I am carrying does a slow somersault and I rub my stomach, hoping to calm him down for a bit, anyway, afraid that the wild beating of my heart is keeping him awake. I wait, as the shadows grow longer across the bedroom floor, and I pray.

Eventually I hear voices again, not panicked this time, but loud and laughing. The door opens, and Mujaahid and Khalil come in. As soon as it is shut, I rush out and check to make sure he is whole and unhurt.

“I’m fine, Ummi, Alhamdulillah, No problem.” I turn to Khalil.

“How did you get him out?” He laughs.

“I didn’t get him out. The guard told me not to go to the station, that he was going to call someone to help us out.”
I look at him, narrowing my eyes.

“You didn’t go to get him out?”
“They said not to, in case the police took me too.” I file this away for further thought later.

“So how did you get out?” I ask Mujaahid. He looks at the ground, and Khalil tells me the story.

Apparently the police saw Mujaahid in the store buying vegetables and told him he had to go with him to the police station. Once there, they began to question him about his family, his beliefs, and why he was in Yemen. They asked him if he was Muslim, and he said that of course he was! Doubtful, they started to question him on that, so he sat down and recited Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahaab’s “Thalaathatu al-Usool” for everyone in the station house. Apparently they were all thrilled to hear this, and he became an instant hero. They kept him there just to talk to him and apparently he left the station house with several new friends and admirers.

I sit and think about this for a long time after Khalil and Mujaahid leave to finish buying the groceries. In America we were vilified for our beliefs, our adherence to the Qur’aan and Sunnah and our religion, and our desire to live Islaam in every aspect of our lives. Here, this is what has saved us, Alhamdulillah, by the grace and mercy of Allaah. I picture my blonde, blue eyed son sitting calmly amongst the blue shirted policemen, sure of himself and his right to be here, and sure of his connection to these men due to the common thread of Islaam that ties them together.

I bow my head in thanks, once again, that we are able to live in this beautiful land of Islaam.

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16 comments on “Police and Prayer

  1. Assalamualaykum sister, jazaka’Allaahkhair for this excellent story. I believe from your other posts that Mujahid is now in Dammaj, married and with kids, how is he and how are things in dammaj?
    Barak’Allaahfee kum

    Wasalaam
    ibn Abbas

    • Khadijah on said:

      Wa Aleikum Assalam wa Rahmatullah
      Yes, mash’Allaah, he is in Damaaj. He and Hiyaat have two children now, Suhayb and Yasmeen. They are fine, alhamdulillah. Right now the conditions in Damaaj are normal, the Houthis haven’t done anything against them for quite some time, alhamdulillah.

      • Wa Aleikum Assalam wa Rahmatullah wa baraketahu.
        This is a shot in the dark, but would it be possible for you to give me his contact number and email address as I would like to contact him, as I am hoping to visit Dammaj in the near future insha’Allaah.
        Barak’Allaahfee kum

        Wasalaam
        ibn Abbas

  2. Mahs’allah, AT the end I found it really funny and beautiful! They didn’t believe him so he read Uslool Thalaatah, Mashallaah! May Allah Preserve Him!! Look how Il’m can save you at the time it’s most needed at!

  3. Truly Sorry for this, but as my brother Abbas mentioned as well. I am also planning to go to Dammaj soon and I would like to have your sons contact info if that’s possible inshallah. Sorry if this sounds rude, Hayaakeel Allah

    • Brother Umar, where are you, I am in UK, maybe we could hook up together and make the visit, as it is the Sunnah not to travel alone?
      Let me know and we can swap details insha’Allaah.

      Barak’Allaahfee kum

      Wasalaam
      ibn Abbas

  4. So beautiful, and so scary. I didn’t realize your eldest was blonde and blue-eyed. How sweet for him to sit amongst men of physical and legal power and melt them with holy words.

    Blessings on you and yours, always

    Mary

  5. Oh wow! SubhanAllah! This made it even more clear to me the urgency and benefit in -memorizing- the beneficial text of Islam. That is amazing and a really clear blessing from Allah!

    • Khadijah on said:

      Na’m, alhamdulillah. We had him memorizing it way before we ever went to Yemen, mash’Allaah. So don’t wait until you go somewhere else, take advantage of the time you have wherever you are, to study, insh’Allaah!

  6. Allahuma barik dear sister may Allah reward you and your family.

    I wanted to know how isit giving birth in dammaj, are there sisters that deliver? Can you please give me information about that.

    BarakaAllahu feeki

    • Khadijah on said:

      There were two Yemeni midwives when I was there, who would deliver the babies in your house. Other options are going to Sa’da or Sana’a to have the babies.

  7. Just been looking through your posts – such a journey you are on. Saw your link on Mariam Poppins facebook page.

  8. SubhaanAllah! I have also had encounters with men in Yemen, qat chewing, clean shaven faces, and sometimes the first question they ask you is “Anta Muslim?” Some become your friends and say “da’awaatak” (make du’aa for me) after you speak to them in proper Arabic.

    Unfortunately, it is diferent in Nigeria as I have lost count of the number of people I know who got into trouble for holding the correct beliefs and being upon the manhaj. There are Sufis, Ikhwaanis in high places and they lie just to get Salafis in trouble for making clear their misguidance and calling people to the truth, but we only complain to Allah as He alone will suffice us of their evil.

    • Khadijah on said:

      This is a risk run in Yemen as well, mash’Allaah. In many places, and to many people, the Salafis are considered to be “troublemakers” when indeed all they would have to do is listen to a khutbah to realize that they are the ones calling to guidance and truth and clear knowledge, speech and action, rather than to the fitnah and foolishness that so many others call to all the time. May Allaah guide the people to the truth and action up in it.

  9. SubhanAllah!!

    I’ve read this before but I came back to iy again and it’s still awe-inspiring Ma sha Allah

    May Allah reward you and your family Umm Mujahid! Ameen

  10. A story that truly made my wife emotional. Me and my wife are amazed by the writing skills of the author. May Allah al-Hakeem establish us, u & your family on Istiqaamah for His Sake, Ameen.

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