Every. Single. Time.
Every time I learn to be satisfied with what I have, Allah gives me better.
I remember the first time I felt unhappy and dissatisfied was after I graduated from high school, and, as a non-Saudi living in Saudi Arabia, was not accepted into the university in Jeddah. The only option I saw in front of me was to study in a Qurán school. Oh God, I thought, this is the place all the old ladies and high school dropouts come to in the mornings. It’s not a place for someone who has great ambitions and wants to continue her education.
I finished the first year of Qurán school crying myself through the day. By the second year I was beginning to like it and appreciate how much I was learning. By the end, I had accepted the fact that I was never going to get a college education, but instead, a tajweed certificate.
The next year I was accepted into the university.
During my years studying I started memorizing the Qurán, using the tajweed I had learned at the Qurán school. By the time I graduated I had finished memorizing, and now wanted to get an ijazah, or certificate, so I could teach what I had learned. Every time I tested for the ijazah I failed. It hurt so much I would come back home sobbing.
Finally, I accepted the fact I wasn’t good enough.
Within two years I got the ijazah.
Now I had a university education and an ijazah, but no husband. So many people I didn’t like had come over the years asking for my hand in marriage that I thought my husband didn’t exist. At least not in Saudi Arabia. It got to a point where I was so disgusted I really didn’t want to get married any more. I accepted the fact that I would stay with my mom and dad and take care of them in old age.
Then, six months ago, I gave birth to our twin daughters, and the lights went out. I couldn’t see a future for me, or imagine ever doing anything useful again. I resented the fact that every minute of my days and nights went to taking care of them. What was the use of the physics I had majored in? What good was my ijazah? Was I doomed to forget the Qurán? Deeper and deeper I spiraled into a depression. I would go about my day caring for the babies and imagine what life might have been like had I never gotten married.
Then one day as I was standing in prayer, it occurred to me that they, my twin babies, were another test. Yes, a huge blessing from Allah, the joy of my life, but a test nonetheless, to see if I would accept what Allah had given me, or yearn for more. That’s when I understood: I had to treat this as I had treated everything else I had faced in life. I needed to accept it as Allah’s will and wisdom, and be satisfied that it was the best thing for me now.
Oh, subhan Allah, how the doors opened up for me afterwards! I was able to get through the day and not just do what I had planned to, but so many other things as well.
A very simple concept, but so difficult to remember when the same test is brought to you in a hundred different forms over the years.
Asiya Akyurt lives in Virginia with her husband and two daughters. She is an active MAS member with an ijaza (certificate) in Qur’anic recitation and tajweed, and enjoys teaching, interpreting and translating.