Laila met Emir when she was living with a family in France as an au pair. He helped her one day when her shopping bag split open, spilling apples into the road. He kindly retrieved each one but the delay meant she missed her bus. As she waited for the next one, Emir played ‘peek a boo’ with the baby she childminded. He was funny and playful and continued to make her laugh even after they had married. Taking her shahadah was a natural choice as she had already learned a lot about Islam through a Muslim friend she went to college with. It was only after the birth of their first son, Musa that things began to change. Financial responsibilities and stress at work meant Emir would sometimes come home drunk.
“You know its haram.” Laila would gently remind him the next day. He always apologized and promised to stop, but sadly change never came. It was only when he lost his job after getting into a fight with a colleague at work that he realised he had to mend his ways.
“Let’s move to Morocco.” He suddenly announced one Sunday morning after several cups of coffee discussing their plans for the future. Laila was taken by surprise, but maybe it was what they needed to solve their problems.
The first few months living in Morocco was like a second honeymoon. Emir wasn’t drinking and going out as much and they were much happier. Having his family close by was an added bonus as they could spend time looking after Musa if she needed to go shopping or see a friend. As the months went by however, their savings dried up and Emir was struggling to find work and pay the rent. In the end they had to move in with his family and sleep in the living room. By this time Laila was six months pregnant with their second child. Emir started drinking and staying out late again. Laila had made up her mind to leave.
“You can’t go!” he told her firmly blocking the door with his towering frame. “Musa is my son too and you can’t take him from me or the rest of the family.” Laila cried for days and although her mother-in-law tried to understand, she begged her to stay with Emir and give him another chance. But Laila knew he had used up all his chances. His addiction to alcohol was putting a strain on their marriage and it wasn’t healthy for Musa to witness their arguments. To be a single mum with two children at the age of 30 was a scary thought, but it was better than being in an unsupportive marriage and non-Islamic environment.
In desperation she looked for help online and came across the Solace UK website. She completed the form and waited for them to call. The next day she was assigned her very own support worker. She was the listening ear and the warm comforting voice on the other end of the phone. At last, she felt heard and understood. Her support worker brought Laila back to the remembrance of Allah, and her faith was strengthened. She was able to turn to Allah with complete reliance, something she hadn’t been able to do for a long time. Laila’s due date was fast approaching and soon she wouldn’t be able to fly in her condition. She convinced Emir and his family that she would be better off giving birth back home in England.
When Laila touched UK soil, she contacted Solace again who arranged for her to stay with another sister until she sorted out her housing arrangements. Solace helped Laila to find permanent accommodation in a Muslim area, and put her in contact with local sisters. Although she would have to face living alone with her son and new-born baby, at least she was settled and able to create new friendships. She was also able to attend social events and Islamic classes. She was slowly transitioned into a new life- perhaps it was a life she hadn’t envisioned for herself, but she was determined to make the best of it – and this transition was made all the smoother with the help of Solace UK. Laila knew it wouldn’t have been possible without Allah’s guidance and their support.
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Disclaimer: These stories are derived from multiple real stories to depict real-life events and circumstances experienced by revert sisters. While the stories are based on real-life events, none of the stories belong or refer to one particular person. Full anonymity and confidentiality has been upheld in the writing of Revert Stories. Solace takes the privacy of its service users seriously. All names, characters, locations and events have been changed.
This Revert Story was written by Aliya Vaughan.