I reverted to Islam in May 2015. Alhamdulillah, I was blessed with the ease of reciting the Shahadah in the presence and under the full support of my family and friends.
My husband and I had our Nikah, 4 months later, in September 2015. I was fully expecting to be whisked away on a romantic honeymoon but Aizat had other plans.
He had not uttered a single word to me about this before, not once while we were dating nor when we were planning for our wedding. But in the few days after our Nikah, he told me that before anything else, he wanted us to perform our Umrah together as husband and wife.
That upset me quite a bit.
Every other couple on Facebook was going on their honeymoon in Santorini, Paris and Maldives. And I was going for… Umrah. As a new convert, I barely had an idea of what Umrah was and what it entailed. Umrah? What’s Umrah? All I knew about it was that it was spiritual journey many Muslims yearn for – a “mini Hajj” as my in-laws tried to explain to me in the simplest of terms.
“All of your duas will come true. It is Allah’s Home.”
Not the dreamy life after marriage I had expected…
As a result, we argued a lot over this as newly-weds. It was hardly the dreamy life after marriage I expected.
Eventually, though, this conversation ended it:
Me: I’m just sad that everyone is going for romantic honeymoons. And you’re forcing me to perform Umrah. I’m not even ready for Umrah!
Aizat: Do you want to be happy?
Aizat: Do you want us to be happy? Do you want a happy marriage?
Aizat: If we make Allah happy, He’ll make us happy. If we strive to please Allah, Insha Allah, he will smile upon our marriage and bless it with happiness. Okay?
Aizat: Plus, where better place to make dua for our marriage than in the Holy Land?
Masha Allah, Allah opened my heart there and then. I was ready for Umrah.
So, in March 2016, Aizat, his mother, sister, aunt and grandmother and I set out on our journey for Umrah!
It will be the most breath-taking sight of your husband.
Do you know what the most breath-taking sight of your husband is going to be? No – it isn’t on your wedding day. Or when the evening sun catches him in the most flattering way during your honeymoon. Or the day he holds up your firstborn in his arms.
It’s during Umrah.
When he’s probably bald, sweaty and a little tired.
I never took a single picture with Aizat during Umrah because I thought he didn’t look good bald. And I looked even worse – like a dumpling in my telekung (prayer garment). But on days when I have the luxury of reminiscing our times together, I find myself missing Umrah Aizat a lot.
Umrah is a big deal for men. In Singapore, it’s almost a given that a typical family man has to work at least 5 days a week to provide for his family. He has his wife and kids to support. He has his parents and his in-laws to support – not just financially, but physically and emotionally as well, in their time and in their effort.
It could be bringing them for their check-ups, taking them out with their grandkids, grand nieces and nephews out once in a while, fetching them for weddings and gatherings… we know the drill all too well. On top of that, he has to be an imam for the family. A shining example of faith for his wife and his children. I think it would be fair to say that there’s a lot of mental loads a man carries for his family.
But during that week or so during Umrah, he throws all of that away – just for a short moment – to focus on his relationship with his Lord.
Even though Aizat seizes every opportunity to sneak a nap in during the day when we’re home, during Umrah, he willingly sleeps only 3-4 hours a day just to go to the mosques. To get into Raudah. To get into Hijir Ismail. He did not complain even once that he had to push his grandma in a wheelchair from the mosque to the hotel. From the hotel to the mosque. For tawaf. For Sa’i.
Every time I asked, “Why not pay someone to do it?” He said, “I want the pahala.”
His grandma is a very big lady, it wasn’t easy pushing her up inclines and escalators. But he never complained. Not once. There were moments during the trip I felt like I couldn’t walk anymore. Every step was just excruciating (I have flat feet). Then I would turn to him and see him pushing his Nenek and it would just break my heart.
“Not pain, boop?”
“Pain… but for Allah.”
I would suggest he skip the morning tawaf he had planned, or the climb up Jabal Nour, or the morning Sa’i.
“But this is umrah. Can’t waste.”
I believe he was the only one who did all 4 Umrahs the Ustaz facilitated in the whole tour group. He climbed Jabal Nour with his slippers because he didn’t bring any shoes.
So although I didn’t like the fact I was separated from him most of the time and didn’t see him during most the of day, and night, a part of me really misses that.
I think it was because I saw his Nur and his Iman.
Although those 2 weeks were the least I saw of him in our entire relationship, I’ve never loved him more. So wherever you are in your marriage, if you’re looking to strengthen your love, I’d say skip the holiday. Go for Umrah instead. Your love will multiply a thousand folds or more. That I promise you. Your love will increase, a million folds.
When we returned to Singapore, I just felt an outpouring of love for my husband. I thought I would never be able to love him more than I did on the day of our nikah. But I did. and I loved him so, so, so much more.
Me: I don’t know why but I love you so much after Umrah!
Aizat: Me too!
Me: From a scale of 1 to 10, how much more do you love me after Umrah?
You’ll be amazed how much Allah opens your heart, and how generously he fills it when you commit yourself to praise Him and to serve Him, and place him above all else in this world (even your newly minted spouse) for a week or two during your Umrah.
Umrah > Honeymoon
A couple is never more aligned in their hearts than during Umrah (or Hajj). Because by stripping away all worldly distractions, all that the both of you will seek in every waking moment is Allah. Because in Umrah, you strip away everything – the work, the responsibilities, the burden, the worries, or the fun, the romance, the passion. And all you’ll see is your husband for who he truly is, his Nur and Iman.
And Insha Allah, it will be the most breath-taking thing you’ll ever see in him.