People often ask us why we moved to Yemen over ten years ago now. The answer was simple. Having found the truth, we wanted to follow it, and in order to follow it, we had to gain knowledge. Yemen, with its many strong scholars and teachers and its low cost of living and strong agricultural tradition, had been a long term goal for us from the early days of our marriage. I well remember the tattered Lonely Planet Guide to Yemen that we bought in Colorado and carried with us as we travelled from state to state and city to city searching for someone to teach us while our dream of Yemen remained just a dream.
We began in Wisconsin, where I grew up, and in the first ten years of our marriage managed to live in Virginia, Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey and New York. Our criteria for moving was simple: was there someone there who could help us learn our religion, face to face, as the people had learned it since its early days? Even within a single state or city we would move if we thought we could be closer to a student of knowledge. It was difficult for me, having grown up in the same house for most of my life, but because of it I learned about what was truly important. Not a fancy house or a state of the art kitchen. Not attachments to people who didn’t support and affirm our beliefs and our determination to live according to them. Not a high wage or big car. Truth. Simply that and nothing more.
We made mistakes along the way, but we never dug ourselves into a hole that was too large or too deep to climb out of, and this was by the mercy of Allaah alone. People we thought were people of sound belief and understanding turned out to be misguided or mistaken. Communities we thought were growing and moving forward in positive ways turned out to be pipedreams of one or two people, never to be realized. But through it all we remained steady, making our family and our home into a place of security, light and knowledge as best as we could, so that with this firm foundation based upon our love of our religion we were able to weather the storms, pack up our belongings, and move on.
We had hoped that moving to Yemen would put an end to that, but we found out that there, too, were trials and tribulations to be had. Being forced to leave our mountain home in Ma’bar because of the government. Later, having to change all of our plans and leave our home of three years when the true nature of someone we had loved for the sake of Allaah and learned from became crystal clear, and my health became too precarious to ignore. Finding that nowhere on this Earth is perfect, as that is true only for what lies ahead after this life is gone.
Upon the death of the Prophet Muhammad, may Allaah’s praise and salutations be upon him, Abu Bakr, his dear friend and successor, said to those gathered steeped in sadness and denial,
“Oh People! If anyone among you worshipped Muhammad, let him know that Muhammad is dead. But as for those who worship Allaah, let them know that He lives and will never die. Let all of us recall the words of the Qur’an. It says:
‘Muhammad is only a Messenger of Allaah, there have been Messengers before him. What then, will you turn back from Islaam if he dies or is killed?’ “
This is what keeps one strong, and always moving forward, seeking knowledge and striving to implement it. Hoping to find others who are striving for the same goals, but not depending upon them.
Allaah lives and will never die. The truth is here, and will never disappear. The rope, the strong handhold that will never break, is stretched taut before us until the end of time.
We just have to be courageous enough to grab hold, strong enough to hold on tight, and willing to work until we reach the end. And the success, is always, always, with Allaah alone.