It’s Not Just a Green Card


http://www.flickr.com/photos/27868169@N00/4820700891/By Yeasmines

“But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah knows, while you know not.” (Qur’an, 2:216)

These are the verses that eventually shaped the very nature of my existence with my Creator and the struggles He gave to fully appreciate and admire His mercy and love.

The Expectation: A year before 9/11, my family and I embarked on this journey because of my dad’s job. My parents were eager to leave their motherland in the hopes of a better future and life for their children. There were whispers among our extended family members that we would never return and would get this thing called a “green card.

The Reality: Getting a green card wasn’t as easy as many people in my country made it sound. It is a very complicated process and we didn’t realize how stressful and challenging getting a green card can be. It was a wakeup call for my family, including me.  The green card would turn into an obsession, a desire, and a fitna (trial) for our souls. It challenged each and every one of us to realize the true meaning of tawakkul of Allah (total trust in Allah, subhanahu wa ta`ala, exalted is He).

The Fraudulent Lawyer: Despite the sturdiness of the new immigration laws due to 9/11, our family was progressing with our green card case. It seemed as though there was a light at the end of the tunnel. The lawyer that worked on our case was known for his superior expertise and knowledge with immigration cases. Because of his credibility, our family was optimistic that our case would be successful. We placed our hope and trust in him instead of God. And that’s where we all went wrong.

A few weeks after we obtained our interview notice, we received two letters in the mail. The first letter notified us that our lawyer was arrested and sent to jail. We were flabbergasted and shocked. How could this happen? The second letter turned our world upside down.

It was a letter of denial. Our green card case had been denied. Our lawyer had used fraudulent documents to submit our case without our knowledge. And the US government would not accept our case even though it wasn’t our fault. It couldn’t be. Most of our savings had been spent on this case. What were we supposed to do? This shattered my entire family. I saw my father in tears for the very first time in my life.

My dad was losing his faith in Allah (swt). He was beginning to question God. Why would He do this to us? Why were we denied our green cards when it wasn’t our fault? I also began to question God myself.

Academic Achievement: Despite this setback, I still had hope. I worked hard in school. I knew that anything less than an “A” on my report card would not be accepted. I had to give my parents a reason to continue fighting this battle. And I wanted to be that reason.

I worked really hard to get all A’s. I received numerous honors and awards for my academic success. I was one of the best students in my entire school. And my dad was proud of me. He was so proud of me that he didn’t give up on my dreams. He continued to fight once again.

The second attempt: Both of my parents worked 2 jobs for long hours. They were desperately saving up to submit a new green card case. My mom came home with sore feet and sweaty clothes every night. My dad came home every night at 2 AM.

I would not let them down. I couldn’t, no matter what. I continued to push through high school with my good grades. I wanted to give my parents the hope that they lacked. I didn’t want them to give up. And they didn’t. They applied a second time for the green card with their new savings.

The Setback: I had a list of colleges and universities that I wanted to apply to. I hoped that my stellar academic record would help me get accepted to the schools.  However, the setback was financial aid. My family had no money to pay for these schools. I was panicking. I decided to work part time during my senior year to save up for college. But I quickly realized that it wouldn’t be enough.

All of my friends were applying for FAFSA (federal financial aid that is given based on need). My heart lit up with hope again. I was optimistic that I qualified for financial aid because of my parents’ low income. I went to the student center to begin my application. My mind was racing with happiness. I could go to college now. As I started to fill out the application, a question on the form stumped me. “Are you a US citizen or a permanent resident?” I was neither. I didn’t have a green card. And the system wouldn’t let me continue the application.  I had to be either a US citizen or a green card holder to apply for financial aid. I was ineligible, unworthy of any aid or help, because of my legal status, which was not my fault. I ran out of the office with tears streaming down my face.

It was the green card again. It was ruining my life. I couldn’t do anything without it. And I hated my life revolving around this document.

The Balcony: I became severely depressed. My life seemed to come to a standstill.  All my hard work throughout high school seemed to be for nothing. My parents were having doubts about staying in the US. They were arguing and fighting about whether we should stay in the States or leave. My house seemed like a hell hole and I couldn’t take it anymore. I began to have suicidal thoughts. I wanted to end my life. The green card failed us. I failed myself. I failed my parents.

One evening I opened the balcony of our 5th floor condo. I looked outside. The orange clouds surrounded the trees as the sun was setting in the distant horizon. I felt splashes of rain water on my skin as I stepped onto the patio. I felt the rough gravel of the floor and smelled the freshly mown grass outside. This would be my chance to end it all. I would jump and the agony would end. The green card wouldn’t torment me anymore. It wouldn’t be my burden or my problem anymore. I stepped onto the railing. I looked out into the sky. I knew God didn’t care about my problems. He never answered my prayers anyway. He didn’t grant us the green card. And He wouldn’t care if I jumped.

“DON’T do it. Don’t give up now. Just have HOPE. And HOLD on to it,” someone inside me screamed.  Who was this speaking to me? And why wouldn’t this voice let me jump? I was about to jump again. “NO! Believe in Him. He does listen. Just be patient and let Him help you.” I couldn’t get myself to jump anymore.

“He can’t help. Nobody can,” I whispered. It was almost night time. I started to cry. I started to call out for help in the darkness. Nobody could hear it; nobody but Him.

This is SO hard for me and my family. I want to give them the hope and the strength to fight. I want to go to college to have a better life. But I can’t. We have no green card. We have no papers. We have no money. We have nothing. We don’t belong anywhere. Nobody understands us. Nobody knows our pain. All our du`a’s (prayers)are unanswered. And I can’t take this pain anymore. My life is not worth living. I am a failure and I hate myself. I doubt myself. I doubt YOU. It’s hard to believe that You exist; that You know what you’re doing. But I don’t know where to turn.  Help me. Help us. Give us some light and some hope. Ease our burdens and hardships. I beg you!” I cried. Darkness swept the horizon as I cried into the night on the balcony.

The Miracle and the Lesson: I was getting ready for a job interview. I gave up on going to college. I gave up on my dreams. I gave up on the green card. My dad came home with a letter in his hand. There were tears in his eyes. I was afraid that we received a second green card rejection.  Something was different, however. They were tears of happiness. He handed the letter to me. I gave him a puzzled look and reluctantly took the letter from him.

I held the letter in my hand and I was shocked. This is the letter that changed my entire life. I couldn’t believe it. SubhanAllah (exalted is He)!  I had received a full scholarship to a prestigious four year university and I don’t even know how I received it. As I began to realize the reality of the situation, I shuddered. Could it be? Had God accepted my prayers that night on the balcony? Is He trying to teach me to have faith and hope in Him? Did He really care about me?

All of these questions led to my quest towards finding Allah (swt). Alhamdullilah (all praise and thanks to Allah)! That scholarship letter from Allah taught me something that day. Allah (swt) did not abandon me. He never has. And He never will. The green card rejection taught me the true meaning of patience and perseverance. And verily with every hardship, Allah gives ease.

“Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him.
Allah will grant after hardship, ease.”  [Qur’an, 65:7]

More importantly, it truly taught me to believe in Him. I learned to place my hope and trust in the One above instead of the lawyer or the green card. I learned to be grateful to Him for all the blessings that I have instead of complaining about the things I did not have.

“Say, ‘Nothing will we be struck except by what Allah has decreed for us; He is our Protector.’ And upon Allah let the believers rely.” [Qur’an, 9:51]

See, the green card isn’t just a card for me. It was one of my biggest means to get closer to Allah. It was an entire chapter of continuous lifelong lessons from the best Teacher and the Creator of mankind.

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20 Comments

  1. Muhammed Ziauddin says:

    I just realized how sometimes I take things for granted and forget that Allah provides many blessings for me. Your post is an epiphany. Allah (exalted He is) wanted me to read it this morning.

    It’s been a blessing for my family to receive green card through a lottery process. So, we never realized how hard it is for some people to receive a green card. Everything happened to us with so ease that we always took it for granted. We did go through immigration struggle, racism, and other hurtful events, but looking back everything seems so easy right now. I thank Allah for the blessings that He gave us and the harmful things that He took away from us.

    With that said, I want to thank you for this meaningful post. For some days, I felt quite distant from Allah. But whenever this happens, I actively try to turn back to Allah (Swt). I think, stumbling upon your post was no accident. Allah made that happen. Again, thanks a lot for sharing your experience.

  2. Everything happens for a reason. Always have a strong faith in Allah because He is the greatest planner and no one could defeat HIM. I did enjoy reading this anyway:)

  3. Conscience says:

    May Allah reward you for sharing your story. This is actually a story that most of the Muslim Immigrants in the US can relate to. We all have experienced to a certain degree the pain of gaining some legal status in this country.

    I have been in this country for almost 16 years, came as a student and attended the same university Imam Suhaib Webb whom I have great respect and admiration attended. Alhamdulillah, I finish college graduated with two degrees. Until this day, I don’t even know what a green card looks like. Not that I’m not interested in it. I have been trying and working hard towards obtaining it. But Allah has not decided yet that it’s time for me to get it.

    Not having a green card after such a long time in this country does not bother me at all. ONE of The most important thing I’m extremely greatful about is Allah gave me health, a sound brain and much more that I can wake up everyday and go to work and earn a living to feed my family of 5. For that, I consider myself among the happiest. I thank Allah for it and I thank my parents for raising me in such a way.

    Alhamdulillah. May Allah inspire us to thank him several times a day, in the morning, in the afternoon and at all times.

    • Yeasmines says:

      Jazak Allahu Khair. And may Allah SWT guide you to what is right in both the dunya and akirah. It took us a very long time too but you are absolutely right. I realized that even without the greencard, Allah provided and still provides means for us to earn a living here. At times it was very stressful on us because we were left with no documentation at all ( work permit, driver’s license) but we took the bus to work and did what we had to do in order to survive. And thinking back on it, I realized how terrifying it must be for those people in this country who have no documentation whatsoever. So alhamdullilah that Allah gave us means and ways to remain here and finally get our green card. I make dua for you that Allah keeps you grateful and content with His decree at all times. Ameen.

  4. Maryam Amirebrahimi says:

    subhan Allah this piece is so personal and powerful it brought tears to my eyes. May Allah bless your family with the best of both worlds and open incredible opportunities for you all always!

  5. Mea says:

    This is one of the most beautiful stories i have read on here. I had tears in my eyes while reading it. I had a test too that bought me closer to Allah, i think its one of the ways Allah uses to make us aware/bring us closer to Him. He is so Perfect <3

    May Allah help all of us get closer to Him! Ameen.

  6. Yasmin says:

    Jazakallah khair for sharing this very personal yet very inspirational post!

  7. Navroz says:

    SubhanAllah what a beautiful story.
    JazakaAllah Khyr for sharing!

  8. Zohal says:

    Thank you so much for sharing, I’m in a similar predicament, may Allah help us all.

  9. Sana says:

    SubhanAllah for this wonderful post! Sister, I am so proud of you for sharing such a personal story and doing it so eloquently, mashaAllah. I have a VERY similar story to you and while I was reading this piece I got chills thinking of how close it hit home. May Allah swt reward you for all your struggles and good intentions, inshaAllah.

  10. Rachel says:

    made me cry! What a great story and underlying message!

  11. parveenahmed says:

    SubahanAllah! What a touching piece!Many can take lessons from this.May Allah grant you & your family with khaair in both the worlds.

  12. Mary says:

    SubhanAllah.

    This article hit home, it was another reminder for me on not taking God’s gifts for granted.

    I have experienced something similar as the author of this article- doubts of ever having Green Card, Visa costs and restrictions – student visa, then work visa; fear of uncertainty , fear for my children’s future (my oldest son was graduating from High School with honors-Summa Cum Laude) lots of prayers to God, tired sleepless nights in tears …

    I finally said in one of my prayers: O Allah (SWT) grant me what is best for me and my family, please guide me… If you want me to go back to my home country then please make it possible, make it happen for me; if you want me to stay in this country (US) then please make it easy for me… Then I thought in my head, not fully believing – if You could only grant me a Green Card- that would be a great miracle and an enormous relief….

    …. SubhanaAllah …. my prayers have been answered miraculously – that particular year I won a Green Card Lottery. Allahu Akbar! Alhamdullilah! La hawla wala quwwata illa billah.
    A week or two after, overwhelmed by the Mercy of Allah (SWT) and ashamed of myself (I was practicing Muslima, without Hijab) I started observing Hijab, Alhamdullilah.

    May Allah SWT grant us what is best for us and our families in this life and the next.. May He always bring us closer to Him. May Allah make us grateful for His blessings and favors. Amen.

  13. The night is the darkest before the dawn =) JzkA for sharing your story!

  14. AQ says:

    Jazakallah khair for this beautiful post!

  15. Sister FYH says:

    Assalamu alaikum,
    This made me cry! I was just talking to my mum yesterday about some things that aren’t going my way and she reminded me never to lose hope in Allah; that he’s always listening to our plight. But thanks for the reminder again :)
    Just for my own knowledge, some questions please. i’m a British girl, and i’m pretty sure we don’t have such strict rules for citizenship here. After 10 years in the USA, are people not automatically entitled for USA citizenship? And does the green card mean that you are now american citizens/hold an american passport and entitled to the same beenfits to the born and bred americans? Some critics of the UK, would say our system is too relaxed. e.g. my friend is being stalked by an illegal immigrant and my friend has contacted the police, UK border agency and local politicians and no one is interested in deporting this person and he may perhaps get British citizenship! Man made laws are truly unfair..

    • Yeasmines says:

      People are not automatically entitled for USA citizenship. You have to apply for it and it may take years ranging from 5 to even 20 years. Ours took 13 years but alhamdullilah!
      Green card means ‘permanent resident.’ After you get the green card, you can apply for citizenship within 3-5 years. And yes, after you are a citizen, you do get the same benefits as born and bred Americans insha Allah.

  16. muslima says:

    jZK sister for your story. It brought tears to my eyes. Certainly with every hardship comes ease.

  17. nora says:

    Lovely story sister, may Allah reward you for sharing it. It was such a personal and beautiful story. Mashaa’Allah i’m really happy that things worked out so wonderfully for your family. It goes to show that Allah is the best of planners and His will IS THE best for the believers, ALHAMDULILLAH! I have also been going through a situation which has changed me so much. When i realized things were not going to work out how i wanted.. a lot of good changes have occurred in my life. Relying on Allah and building the relationship with the Creator has brought so much good into my life. The “greencard” represents dunya and it is temporary. What Allah gives, you (spiritually) is the best, in the most stressful and disadvantaged positions it is wise to remain content with the decree of Allah. Find peace in worship and in the words of Allah (Quran).

  18. Ahmed says:

    Ma’sha’allah, this was so touching and beautiful! Patience is indeed da virtue…we humans are weak, but if we can just hang on to that Hope…amazing things happen…alhamdulillah!

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