Happy National Day to My Favorite Place on Earth

The only place on this earth I have ever been that my heart feels whole is Saudi Arabia.  For many Westerners, this place is far from ideal, but for me, this is the happiest place on earth.  Disney World who? 

I cannot explain my fascination or my captivation with Saudi Arabia to you.  It all started when I met some of my dearest friends, who happened to be Saudi.  After learning about the culture - both the good and not-so-perfect aspects - I fell in love.  I knew I HAD to live there, but I also knew that was nearly impossible.  So after two years of trying constantly to move to Riyadh, I finally fulfilled my dream in 2015.  

I’ve been all over Europe, everywhere in America, all over the Middle East, and the only place where I find myself wanting to return over and over again is Riyadh.

Some people think I’m crazy.  

Most people think I’m crazy.


But, this is my home.  InshaAllah, if Saudi will have me, this will be my home forever and ever.

Thank you to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed for the changes you are making to improve the lives of those who reside here. May Allah keep you for your people and protect you.

I cannot wait to raise a family here and to spend my days growing old here, inshaAllah.  I have seen it change, improve, grow in just two years of being here.  I can’t wait to see what the coming years have in store.

Alhamdulilah for the blessing of feeling at home though I am 8000 miles away from where I was born.

So, Saudia:  I love you.  I am honored to live within your borders.  Thank you for helping me learn Arabic.  Thank you for upholding standards of Islam.  Thank you for progressing.  Thank you for not apologizing to anyone for your traditions.  Thank you for the wonderful people that were born and raised within your borders that are more than friends, but have become family.  Thank you for accepting me.  Thank you for finally - after 25 years - making me feel like I belong somewhere.

May Allah (swt) protect Saudi Arabia - it’s people, it’s culture, it’s traditions, it's values, it’s royal family, and the Two Holy Mosques.

Happy 87th National Day, Saudia.

 

Love Always,

Your Favorite Extra Saudized Amreekya

 

 

The Significance of My 27th Birthday

Today is a day I have thought about for the last thirteen and a half years.  I remember sitting in the bathtub and dreading my twenty seventh birthday as a thirteen and a half year old.  I know that sounds crazy, but on the day I turned thirteen and a half years old, my mother died.  It was - and will always be - the greatest loss of my life.  She was my mother, my father, my best friend.  I pictured her with me at all of life’s events - at graduations, at weddings - and she has never been there.

 

As of today, I have been alone - without her - longer than I have been with her.  More than half of my life, she has been gone.  

People would always tell me they were sorry for me, but that it would get better.  It never got better. In fact, it only gets worse as time goes on.  I try not to compare myself to those around me, but it’s hard not to.  I see my friends making their parents into grandparents, and I shudder at the fact my kids will never meet my parents.  I see all of the love a mother adds to one’s life and can’t help but feel this huge void.

Alhamdulilah, I have my amazing grandparents who I love more than life itself, but no one NO ONE can replace my mother.  

One of my life goals, since that time, was to ensure that by my 27th birthday, I was not alone.  I did not want to spend more of my life without an immediate family than I did with one.  EVER.  I was sure by today I would be married with kids.  And still, that has not panned out.  In fact, I’m probably further away from that today than ever before.  

Don’t get me wrong, I am blessed beyond measure, Alhamdulilah.  Most importantly, the thing that has filled that void in my mother’s absence has been my closeness to Allah (swt).  If it wasn’t for this loss in my life, I may never have been open to exploring my faith or the depths of my heart.  It has taught me that nothing is permanent.  Your biggest source of comfort, which was my mother for me, can disappear in a blink of an eye.  

Allah is the only One who is permanent.  He is our Companion in all times.  He never leaves us.  He is always with us.  He sees and He hears.  He draws us nearer to Him in bad times and in good.  He is irreplaceable.  He is our Creator.  He is our Destiny.  His love is the only love that spans all times and all locations.  He is never lost.  He never dies.  He found me an orphan and He comforted me.  He found me completely alone and He cared for me.  My greatest pleasure in this life is knowing Him, loving Him and to constantly strive to please Him.  And, if He shows Mercy on all of my many mistakes and downfalls, meeting Him someday in Paradise - hopefully with my mother - will make all of the pain of this world, the loss, the loneliness, worth it.

So i will leave you with wise words from my mother that she wrote before she died, unaware of her death:  

 

“Because even if I don’t see you, or talk to you daily, it doesn’t mean we are not special to each other it means no matter when, what, where, how, or why - we are always together in our hearts - and that is a special, happy place.” 

Why Aren't You Married Yet?!?

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Alhamdulilah I'm back in Riyadh - this time for good inshaAllah.  I feel more protected here than I do in the States, and while that breaks my heart because I do love my country in many ways, I decided I need some time here for things to cool off. And I've fallen desperately in love... with my neighbor kids.  From the two year old to the fifteen year old, and all five others in between, these kids are all extremely special to me.

I should start this off by mentioning that since I was three years old and understood what being a mommy meant, I have had no other life goals than to become a mommy.  When I was growing up and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would always say, "a mommy."  Like, even in high school, with a near perfect GPA, I still had no plans of being successful at work and would terrorize my teachers when I responded to that question with "housewife."  Sincerely, I wanted to be successful in my marriage and children... before anything else.

Perhaps I had such a great mommy that I couldn't picture myself as anything else... may God be pleased with my amazing mama

The neighbor kids, who unfortunately are motherless and cling to me like saran wrap, remind me how EXTREMELY important that role is to me and how bad I want someone to call me their mama.

At least five times a day, someone asks me, at age 26, as a normal, somewhat successful person, and as a Muslim girl, 'HOW COME YOU'RE NOT MARRIED YET?'  

Did you know that every time someone asks me, it takes everything in me to not burst out crying?It happened just yesterday at the park, with two of the little ones.

A woman, a perfect stranger, asked why the children call me "Auntieeeee Hanaaaaa" (as they say it)? I explained they're not mine, they're my neighbor kids. After four follow up questions, we came to the point that I'm not married... and I had to explain why...

I'm going to be blatantly honest, I ALWAYS LIE when people ask me.

I say, holding tears back, it's because "I'd rather wait" or "inshaAllah someday soon..."or "oh, you know, I'm so picky!"

But do you want to know the heartbreaking truth? I'm not married yet because Allah (swt) has not written it for me to be married now.

Alhamdulilah for everything Allah has decreed,but I can't say it's not heartbreaking.  The ONLY thing I have ever wanted - to be a wife and mother - seems to never come.  Alhamdulilah, I have success in business and success in many other areas of my life, but these are almost meaningless to me.  You can have them.  While my friends are all on their second or third child, mashaAllah, I'm stockpiling baby clothes for when someday my dreams come true inshaAllah.

So what is wrong with me?

Not to boast, but I have almost daily proposals, from mothers and their sons, but I also have standards that I do not plan to give up on until I'm far passed 26... (he will be the father of my children, after all, so he better be extremely special)...

And, I have met "the one" before, only to be rejected by every member of his family - after three years of trying, we gave up so I could someday fulfill my dream of being a mom.  I've met others that I have accepted until their parents have had a change of heart.  I have tried to open my mind to others, only to be rejected for other similar culture-related reasons...I'm really trying... and still, because Allah has not written it for me, I am single as a Pringle.

I'm going to get really real... perhaps too real... and real personal.  Today, someone I had been "moving forward with," with the blessings of his parents and family, who I had to make several compromises for to get to that point and was honestly pretty excited about... told me out of no where he changed his mind.... without any reason.

It hurts.  

The rejection actually doesn't hurt me - at all.

What hurts is that it means that I am back to the starting point, far away from being a wife and a mommy, when just yesterday I could almost see the finish line.  What hurts is that I'm terrifiedmy grandparents will never see my husband or my children... something that is very important to me as they are my only family.

Still, Alhamdulilah.

I know my nuseeb (soulmate) is out there and I hope he is bettering himself to someday be the father of my children until he meets me...and that is the only thing I find comfort in...

And NO, I do not want you to read this and think I'm desperate or that your son/friend/brother/pet sitter's sister's friend's uncle is probably the one for me...

And also, I KNOW 26 IS NOT THAT OLD.  I get it.  Really, I do... but when you want something this bad since you're 3, it's an eternity... please save those comments.

Sorry for my realness. Sorry if it bothers me when you complain about your children.  Sorry to admit I cry about this on a daily basis. Sorry for my honesty.

Whatever you are praying for as much as I am praying to complete my faith by marrying and having a family, may Allah grant you that.  I feel your heartbreak.

And someday, when I am gagging while cleaning up my kid's diaper, with another one hanging off my back, and another throwing Cheerios at me with precision accuracy and three more screaming at the top of their lungs running around and making a mess of the house while my balding husband simultaneously nags me, I can't wait to read this post and remember how it was all worth it... inshaAllah. 

Happy 4 Year Blogaversary

Just wanted to take a minute to wish my readers and my humble little blog a happy four  year anniversary.  Alhamdulilah for all of the blessings that have stemmed from these words I would have otherwise simply held in my heart, from the television show to the new converts to marital matches for readers... I'm honored that anyone ever read this.  I'm honored that you're reading it now.

Here's to another four years, my brothers and sisters.

Sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Ten Days In... #NoBanNoWall

So I’m currently on a flight from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to Los Angeles, California, holding back tears because I don’t know what to expect when I arrive.  I’ve received messages that the airport is shut down in Los Angeles.  I’m scared I may not get in because I travel the Middle East often - perhaps suspiciously often - though I am an American citizen from probably as many generations back as Donald Trump.  His immigration ban has affected me.  If it were not for the religion that I accepted six years ago, I would be the kind that “Trump wants to keep around.”  A green eyed, white skinned American of the same origins as his first wife, Ivana.   This issue would never have affected me if I would have continued to live my life as an Ohioan without spiritual guidance.

But BAM.  I decided to become Muslim and now every day I am affected by these ridiculous legislative measures in my own damn country.  Even worse than the legislation is how the country has changed.  I’ve been gone for two months so thankfully I’ve missed the large portion of hatred, but I’m getting ready to dive right back into it. I can’t say that in 2011 when I converted the country was perfect.  Living in suburban Ohio, I’ve been spit on, told to “go back where I came from” on almost a daily basis, and have had an old man shove me into a wall with a shopping cart while my 84 year old blonde 4’8’’ grandma watched in horror.  But now? Now it’s really bad.

Now, the media is playing to people’s fears, as is the head of our country.  Fear is the one thing that will make people act on their emotions.  There have been masaajid (mosques) burned in Texas, girls are getting punched for their hijab, and a family in the tiny town where I took my shahada had someone write “F*** Arabs” with the Natzi symbol on their garage.

Don’t forget: unless you are 100% Native American, we are all immigrants.  Perhaps your family immigrated in 1802, or perhaps in 2012, but either way: we are immigrants.  My family came to the states not that many generations back.  Trump’s wife is an immigrant herself.  It’s kind of blowing my mind why he thinks its appropriate to block one group of people and not another.  Oh right… because we think Jesus is a prophet and not God Himself.  My bad.  Now its logical.

Can I tell you something? You are scared of a group of people you don’t know.  You want to know what I experience being around possibly some of the “harshest” Muslim men in the world in Riyadh? Yesterday at dinner I saw a man with a huge beard look at his baby and blow it a kiss across the table.  I had a meeting with a sheikh three days ago (huge beard, scary as hell on the outside if you didn’t know him) who poured me coffee and milk and stirred it for me before serving it to me.  The only harshness I’ve experienced from a Muslim is my friend’s two year old son dragging me around my apartment while I packed my luggage trying to distract me and saying “Hanaaaaaa”  in a sad voice the whole time.  This is what you’re scared of? Grown men that blow kisses and serve women coffee?

Banning immigrants or visitors is banning these kinds of people.  Sure you’re getting a crazy one or two in the group, but that’s with EVERY nationality, and every religion.  You think during Ellis Island’s immigration there weren’t a few criminals?

I’ve read into the new ban - in order to ensure that as an American with an American passport I would not have a problem - and I’ve found that those people of the “religious minority” are still allowed in.  So, a Christian Syrian person can come to the States, but a Muslim Syrian person cannot.  Awesome.  This is religious discrimination.

And I’ve heard rumors that Saudi Arabia may soon join the list of countries that are not permitted.  Saudi is my home - where will I go if I have a problem getting back?

I love you, America, and I believe in you. I’m glad people are protesting.  I’m glad people are heartbroken.  I’m devastated that people’s families are being broken up - people that I know, not just figurative “people.”  We are ten days in.  We have 1450 days to go.

Thanks For Your Patience...

As soon as I posted about starting my YouTube - I got a lung infection. I'm SO sorry for the delay on my channel.  I promise to have a video up as soon as I'm able to talk for more than 30 seconds without a psychotic coughing fit.

Thanks for understanding. You're the best.  Keep my poor little grandma lungs in your du'aa please <3

I Promise to Be Humble...

If and when you choose to contact me, I promise to keep myself humble. I can promise this only because I know how it feels to contact someone you admire and have them be rude back to you.  I had it happen to me today and it made me so upset - not for myself, but for the other people who I am sure have a similar experience and it is so discouraging to them that it throws them off track.

So there is a girl on Snapchat - I won't say her name or try to give too much away - but she speaks Arabic very well mashaAllah.  She's been learning for years and years and is able to write and read completely in Arabic as well.  MashaAllah, this is what I hope to someday be able to do myself.  While my speaking is actually not that bad and my reading has drastically improved, I still am FAR from where I ever hope to be - especially when writing.

I have contacted her once mentioning that if she needed anything on her American travels that I would be happy to help.  I explained I'm also a blogger and American with fascination in Arab culture and she was polite.  We spoke mostly in Arabic at that time.

Today I planned my trip to Dubai for the coming weeks and thought I should reach out to her to invite her to lunch when I go just to be friendly and also to see if she had any experiences to share with me.

So I reached out and invited her typing in English but with Arabic words.  She immediately cut me off and said, in Arabic, I should only write to her in Arabic.  I reminded her I'm American and still learning.  She said "I'm American, too..." I said, "I know, love, but I'm not as good as you are yet." She said, "it's not that hard" (in Arabic) and I said "inshaAllah."

This little conversation made me realize the importance of humility in encouraging people.  I try really hard to learn Arabic.  I spoke my first word of Arabic five years ago and I did not take it that seriously until the last three years.  I'm FAR from fluent, but I shock people quite often with how much I know, especially seeing I've only been living in a Muslim country for a short period of time. I'm not proud of myself, because I know I can do more, but I also do not expect everyone that talks to me to live up to the standards I have achieved for myself.

I am not the best Muslim. I'm not the best American Muslim. I'm not the best at really anything in this world.  But I'm pretty compassionate Alhamdulilah.  I work incredibly hard to achieve my goals.  And I don't expect ANY SINGLE ONE OF YOU to meet these impossible standards I have set on myself and I promise I never will.

If you need anything, please contact me.  And I promise not to treat you like I am any better than you at ANYTHING.  I'm honored people ask me for advice and I take it seriously.

If you feel like I would ever think you're not good enough, you're wrong.  You're probably better than I am, in fact.  I'm happy to give you anything I can in terms of encouragement. If your English isn't perfect, we'll figure it out.  If you aren't praying, we can encourage each other.  If you get high and drunk every day but you love Islam, you can still talk to me.   I'm not judging you and I'm NO ONE to judge.

Prophet Muhammad (saws) did not expect those who came to Islam to be perfect, but he expected them to try.  And that's all I expect.

And to think of a contemporary example, I'm reminded of how encouraging, warm and kind Nicole Hunter Mostafa was when I reached out to her.  I actually had no idea how big her following was until I saw her followers on Facebook recently and mashaAllah she should have never responded to someone as insignificant as me.  She's such an amazing example of humility in a person.  May Allah be pleased with her ya Rb.

When I responded to the message today, I said the following, and I hope any other bloggers who perhaps think that they are too busy or perhaps "too famous" to be bothered with other people would consider the same: "Remember how you felt when you were just learning. Remember those who encouraged you.  And be humble enough to encourage others instead of demanding they meet the standards you impose on yourself."

<3 Love you all.  You're all celebrities in my mind.

May Allah keep us all humble and kind. After all, there is no power except for Him.

 

I Can't Wait to Introduce You To My Life...

First and foremost, praying that this year of 2017 is a blessed year for you and those you love. And, during this new year I have decided to do something that is somewhat out of character for me....

I'm starting a YouTube channel as a supplement to this blog.

I plan to discuss some of the tough topics in Islam, in America, and in Saudia and Dubai where I spend a large portion of my time.  In addition, I will be doing story time videos about funny things that have happened to me, collaborating with other famous Muslim YouTubers, giveaways, talking about my favorite "Muslimy" things, and providing you with the means to laugh at my terrible Arabic accent. Plus much more.

WOO HOO. You read that right.  Hannah on YouTube. Shocking but true.

I don't like to have my photo taken let alone be on camera, so this is quite different for me, but I am hoping Allah will give me the power to extend my dawah outreach to those who hate reading (like me!).

I hope you will stay tuned and next week you will have my first video inshaAllah :)

Please subscribe here: ConvertConfessions

Can't wait to see you there <3 Sorry to be annoying, but please do like, comment, subscribe and share so that I know what I'm doing is (or is not) worthwhile.

Thank you for all of your support from the first day I started this blog to today.  You're the best <3

Additionally, I'm so thankful to say that as of today I've reached 2000 followers on Facebook.  May Allah reward you all. I love you guys.

See you soon inshaAllah <3