Sunday, August 27, 2006

A Dollar for Your Thoughts


Yesterday I talked with my lawyer. Not the civil rights lawsuit lawyer. The divorce lawyer. Subanallah! I never thought I'd have one lawyer, let alone two.

Actually, when I was going through my civil rights lawsuit (I was fired after I wore hejab to work), I was also going to court about custody matters (including my ex's demand that the children not learn about Islam) and was pregnant and working two teaching jobs. I mentioned that time to a friend just the other day and she said I was strong to endure that. She's right.

But, back to the divorce lawyer. It is so sad to talk with her now. I honestly never wanted to talk with her about divorce again. One divorce is enough! So, when she called back I was extra perky to hide the fact that this situation could kill a weaker person. Her retainer is $2,000. Wow. When I had hired her before, it was $750. Even that took me months to save up. I remember that the man I was divorcing taunted me about the fact that I hadn't filed for divorce. He told me at the time, "If you really wanted to, you would have come up with enough money."

Look, I have suffered to get where I am and I am not really interested in suffering any more.

So, I'm there in the bedroom with all my jewelry spread out on my vanity. The jewelry box wouldn't shut properly and I decided to throw somethings out and condense the contents. I've got everything spread out. The baby playing Dawud W. Ali nasheeds, then stopping them, then rewinding them, then taking the tape out and my lawyer calls back. She tells me about the $2,000 retainer, but agrees to an hour for $200 if his papers are drawn up by a family lawyer. I don't know much about his lawyer and don't want to ask.

Next, I have to explain a little about Islamic law. I tell that as soon as he hands me papers, it's an Islamic divorce. I tell that he wants to take me back immediately, which is not really the right way to divorce (with the intention of returning). And I hate to tell all this to the woman who got me out of my first marriage. She had hopes for my happiness, same as I did, in this second marriage.

And I do have happiness. Not every second. But enough to keep going through this hard time. And I do hope that once through this time, we'll have better times, enshahallah.

I hung up with the lawyer and went back to my sorting as I heard the little girl on the tape sing, "Allah is stronger than you and I. Allah is stronger than I." And that's when I found the thing I had given up ever finding again.

There was the dollar. I thought, perhaps, I had thrown it out in a post-partum fury when I had a new baby, a house full of people and to top it off a husband telling me that it was OK that he was in haram with his ex because our relationship had started in haram. That night, when he told me that, I had collected all the momentos from when we were in love, but not yet married, and I went out to the kitchen and I put them in the wok and burned them. Then, I left the wok and the charred remains of love notes for him to see.

That night, I had gone out into the dark backyard and sat down facing the house all lit up. I had looked into my world as an observer. I was so distant from my calm. I really thought about how I was the outsider in my own home. I no longer loved my home.

I'm back into loving this house, as I get ready to sell it.In some ways, I'm back to loving my husband, now that I don't hold him so tight.The dollar I found is the only money left from my dowry. The other money from my dowry I had given back to him freely to show my love. Dumb me. I wouldn't recommend doing that, girls. I think we bought our refrigerator with it. The one dollar bill has these words in both Arabic and English: "For my beautiful wife [full name], your husband [his name]" and then the date of our marriage. It is the money I will have to give back if I divorce him khul (the woman's divorce).

But I don't really want to divorce him. I don't. Allah knows.I don't even want him to divorce me. In any way. For whatever reason.

Alongside the dollar, was a piece of yellow paper with this note I had written:

Things to Do With You

1. dance
2. laugh
3. learn
4. love
5. hold hands
6. have a baby
7. travel
8. explore

Then I had written two more numbers and left them blank for him to fill in. He did. He's good like that.

9. GO TO EGYPT
10. GET OLD

And I can still see that happening. I started to cry. The nasheed was playing, "Allah is stronger than you and I. Allah is stronger than I." I had looked for that dollar bill and couldn't find it until that moment. That exact moment! Right after I talk with the lawyer. Right then. Why? Why was in my jewelry box? Why did I look in that little pocket in my silk purse? Why hadn't I looked until that moment?

Moments. Life is a succession of moments.There was one more piece of paper. It comes from our government center. It's a number so you can wait to be called. Is there another more succinct name for that? I pulled the same number twice. Huh? What I mean is that I went there to file for a marriage license with him twice and both times pulled the same number: G804. The first time, we got the form, but then I froze when it came time to write down the name which I wished to be called afterwards. I wasn't sure if I wanted to change my whole name. We left without filing. I did some soul searching and decided that my name change was for me to get clean and good with Allah. I wasn't doing my name change for my husband. When we came back a week later, we pulled the same exact number. It seemed like a nod to having made the right decision.

It was a right decision.And now, I'll tell you another decision that is right. I am not going to accept any papers during Ramadan. It is not right that he is doing this at all. It is especially wrong to do this at Ramadan. If he wants to hand me any papers, thus giving me one Islamic divorce, then he'll have to wait until the month of fasting is over.

And I will pray that he will come closer to Allah during Ramadan and see what he is doing is wrong. No, it isn't right to divorce me at all.

Yesterday, we had a talk about his business. He told me that he had not done the right thing in trying to export non-halal meat. He was wrong and I was right. He said those exact words. He had been trying to earn money any way he could, but that wasn't what he wanted to do. He would stop. Alhumdulillah.

Inshahallah, after a month of fasting, praying, and going to masjid, he will also stop this divorce. Ya rub!

And a month from now, the house may be sold. Ya rub!

Should I mention his ex? A month from now, she will have gone through yet another holiday without the man who says he will stand by her. But he hasn't been with her for four years and enshahallah she will see the truth of his lack of commitment to her.

Inshahallah, this Ramadan we will all see the truth.

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