SHAWWAL 1424 H
Volume 16-12 No : 204
Camps \ Workshops
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When Fatima, now wife of General Muhammad Amin Ruzii, embraced Islam and visited her own family, they kept their distance and greeted in the typical American fashion "hi".
The wife of General Muhammad Amin Ruzii, the first Saudi paratrooper, shares her experiences living in Saudi Arabia during the past 42 years. She hopes that her story may give some insight to the hardships people faced many years ago and it will give some perspective to the seeming trials and tribulations faced by newcomers to the Kingdom.
The year was 1957 and Fatima and her family were living in Jeddah. Her husband was very busy training paratroopers and one day there was a demonstration for the families. Fatima remembers it vividly. The families of the officers had come with picnic lunches and children were scurrying about. When the plane flew overhead and the paratroopers began jumping out some of the women began screaming and a few fainted. She chuckles as she recalls how unprepared the women were.
They were transferred to Tabuk for three years. She says it is remarkable what has happened to Tabuk over the years as it was a small village with one street and one never saw women in the shops. Tabuk is quite a metropolis now and she loves visiting there. While back in Jeddah, they went to Makkah one day to find the Kaabah area flooded after heavy rains. The pictures she shares are quite valuable in that so much about the area has changed since then. She related some of her experiences of Hajj saying that one had to take all provisions for the Hajj period. No one had ever motivated Fatima to be a practising Muslim, but she found that it came naturally to her. As she looked out from the door of her tent at Mina, she saw the pilgrims going by all dressed the same when someone pointed out to her, the President of one of the African nations.
There was nothing to differentiate him from anyone else. Rich and poor were the same. This she found to be the true spirit of Islam . Everyone was asking forgiveness and obeying the one true God. She began to question how she should serve and know God who had given her life and fulfilled her by making her a wife and a mother. Through the years, Fatima, had moved around the Kingdom quite a bit with her family. They lived overseas for some time, but she felt her heart was in Saudi Arabia. She readily admits that if her husband had told her exactly what living here would be like, it would have made it easier for her. She says at times she felt like pinching herself to make sure it was real.
She had learned to pray from a Palestinian girl, who had the habit of wearing shin-length dresses and prayer scarf. Fatima mimicked her for many years until one night in a dream, a man in a white robe came to her, he was faceless, but tapped her shins with a stick. When she awoke and recalled her dream she realised he was correcting her prayer garb.
She herself was un-informed about Islam. She went for Hajj and fasted in Ramadan and celebrated Eid with her family, but without any knowledge for doing so. She reflects about it now saying that Islam to her was like a ripened fruit but with no taste. Her faith in God was always unshakeable and she knew that whatever would be, would be.
Fatima has noticed many changes over the years, some good and others not. She says people were very different in those days in that they used to help each other. If someone moved into a new neighbourhood, the neighbours would come to help clean and arrange the house. If someone died, neighbours would come with food and assist in all areas. Now it is quite different and people are very distant from each other. Sometimes one does not even know the names of one's neighbours. She thinks that money has had a negative effect on most people.
One day a high fever had made her visit a couple of doctors who could not agree on the problem. Her husband was due to leave for Cairo for some time and suggested she go along. She packed her bags and took her children to their new lodging in Cairo. She saw a surgeon there who told her that her appendix should be removed immediately. She went home in tears as there was no one to care for her children if she was in hospital.
Suddenly there was a knock at the door and she found a friend from Jeddah standing there. When the woman saw her distressed she offered to take the children so she could have her surgery.
As it turned out, the woman's home was across the street from the hospital and she ended up seeing her children every day until she was discharged. Fatima readily admits that if one has faith in God and good intentions, he always provides a way. Fatima came to Saudi Arabia when she was 16 years old and did not go home for another sixteen years. When she finally saw her family again she was saddened. She became used to the greetings of the people here. If people missed each other for a few days they would embrace and plant many kisses on each cheek. They are so genuinely warm in their greetings. When she was with her own family they kept their distance and said in the typical American fashion "hi". She felt hurt that they did not seem glad to see her and just looked at everyone in amazement. There was her husband too, looking at them, looking at her and back at them again. He was waiting for the big greeting but it never came!
She spoke to her sisters about Islam and completely alienated them. Its a funny thing about becoming Muslim and living in a Muslim culture. Without making a conscious effort it changes your thinking and your basic attitudes in that you find it difficult to identify with the people you grew up with. They left her very angrily after she questioned them about their belief that Jesus was God. "say:' With Allah is the argument that reaches home; if it had been His Will, He could indeed have guided you all". (Qur'an 6:149) The last time she saw them was in 1979. Out of nine brothers and sisters she has one brother and one sister who have converted to Islam. Her interest in Islam became intense only five years ago. She had weekly meetings at her house attended by new Muslims and those with Saudi husbands. Her intention was to help those newly arrived adjust and learn about the new religion and culture. It became her motivation to be a practising Muslim and today she is devout.
She attends Qur'an memorisation classes and has learned to recite Quran with Tajweed. Her husband is retired and her children are grown up and married and she spends her free time increasing her knowledge of Islam. She vehemently defends her search for the truth in Islam and is admired by many in the community for her knowledge and application of Islamic tenets in many daily personal situations. She is awestruck when she talks about the progress she has seen in Saudia Arabia. Through the assiduous work and planning by the Saudi government over these years, and their intense interest in the propagation of Islam, they have her deepest gratitude. Saudi Arabia is a country she is proud to be a citizen of.