Read the first part of Umm Hamza's story here.
Umm Hamza told me something really amazing today. But before I tell you more about her, let me tell you about our landlord. (Bear with me, because I need to write a rather long story.) They’ve been wanting a cleaning lady for months now, and they noticed Umm Hamza coming and going every Thursday. The watchman, who knows pretty much everything that goes on in this building, told the landlord that Umm Hamza was my cleaning lady. The landlord then sent the watchman to ask us (me) if I would ask Umm Hamza if she had any free days to come and clean for them. Umm Hamza told me that she didn’t have any spare days at that time, and I relayed the message. The matter was never brought up again. That is, it was never brought up until last Thursday.
When Umm Hamza was divorced, she was left with three small boys to care for, and she was forced to look for work. She first found a job in a ladies’ tailor shop. She worked there for several months, sewing and cutting and decorating dresses. One of her fellow workers remarked one day that the owner of the shop often came back at night but used a different door to enter the shop in a furtive manner. In this country, such actions mean only one thing: the shop is being used as a front for a den of prostitution. Umm Hamza quit her job there and told her parents and brothers the reason.
She then began looking desperately for another job. Umm Hamza found a job cleaning for Umm Anas who then recommended her to me. No, I guess it was the other way around; she recommended me to Umm Hamza. Umm Hamza has learned never to work for anyone unless she has a good recommendation about the family. When she started working for me, Umm Hamza’s brother would often bring her and pick her up, but he had no idea that she was coming to clean. He instead was under the impression that she was coming to give me Qur’an lessons. Why was he under this impression? Well, his mother had told him so. This was because when Umm Hamza quit the tailor’s shop, her brother was vehemently opposed to her ever working again.
This brings us back to last Thursday. Umm Hamza’s brother came here to take her home, and just as she was leaving the building, our landlord arrived home. He asked to speak to Umm Hamza’s brother who got out of the car to talk. The brother then came back to his car, and Umm Hamza asked what they had been talking about. Her brother said that the landlord asked what she was doing here every Thursday. The landlord actually knew, but he was leading up to the subject. The brother, not knowing any better, said that Umm Hamza came here every Thursday to give me Qur’an lessons. Honestly, she thought her brother knew the real reason by now, but it seems their mother had never disillusioned him.
Umm Hamza then bravely went upstairs to set the landlords straight about her job. The landlady told her that they really did want a Qur’an teacher for their daughters so that they could benefit from the summer vacation rather than waste their time. I know that Umm Hamza has been attending a Qur’an memorization school for years and years, and apparently she’s well qualified to teach, so she said that she would be happy to teach the daughters during summer vacation.
So now, instead of being their cleaning lady, she’s the Qur’an teacher for their daughters and has started going three times a week for this purpose! I told Umm Hamza that, alhamdulillah, teaching Qur’an is much better for her than cleaning houses, because she’s developed arthritis in her knees and shoulders from all of the hard, physical work. This job couldn’t have come at a better time and for a better woman, masha Allah.
Susan Akyurt has lived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with her husband for the last 31 years. She has four daughters, one living near her in Jeddah and three living in the DC metropolitan area. She loves reading, writing and corresponding with her family.