"You don't intend to claim your share?"
"No, I don't want to complicate matters. If he wants to give me what's actually mine, fine. If he doesn't, that's fine too. He still owes me money you know; if he doesn't intend to repay, that's between him and his god. As a Buddhist, he knows that he'd still have to repay what he owes me in the next life. His debt to me is no longer my problem but his to settle."
"What about the car that you've helped to pay monthly installments?"
"It's legally his, as it is in his name although I was the one who paid the monthly instalments. He'd have to settle the payment himself now."
"What about the house?"
"We'll sell it. It's in both our names and we're still paying the installments."
"I'm still looking for a charity home that needs old furniture. I don't have a vehicle big enough to send them to the home. Apparently neither of us want it." [anyone want old furniture?]
"You don't feel regret having to lose your share of the property accumulated in your marriage? You had spent your savings helping him. What about your part of harta sepencarian?"
"Well, not really. I believe that God will replace what's lost with better ones. The marriage has become a farce, no soul. It has been like that for years, only that I was too afraid to leave. Now I want my freedom. If he's willing to sign that divorce document, I'm willing to leave everything behind."
I had that conversation many times. Mom asked me. Close friends who knew about my intention asked. They could not believe that I was willing to leave empty handed. In a civil court, it's not necessary that a wife be granted anything especially items in the husband's name, even at the judge's discretion.
Oh of course, there were wild accusations. He didn't want to agree to the divorce. I was not willing to wait for a 3-year separation before a divorce is finally granted [I wanted to revert even then, just wasn't sue exactly when]. So I replied that I was willing to go to court and reveal the real reasons for leaving, which would definitely be in my favour. Cornered, he signed.
I left with nothing except what I could carry in my bags.
Now we're still trying to sell off that house. I'd be glad when the sale is done, as it's difficult to maintain it when we've already have our own new families and staying far from the building.
The only thing I'm glad is that I had no child with him. It's a blessing. Otherwise we'd still be squabbling over visitation rights and so on, especially as we're now of different religion.
One of the things I learned from the divorce is that material wealth is only temporary. It had been tough surviving alone in a university hostel, without the space to cook or the car to move around. I could not afford to even rent a room. Money was only enough for food and studies. Tough for a woman at the age of 35 to start all over again, but alhamdulillah I did.
I discover the beauty of self-reliance. No car, I can still walk, and did I walk! I used public transportation. No house to go home to, I still have half a hostel room to call my own. Shunned by family members then, I still have friends. Fortunately, I wasn't a spendthrift and I had never demanded nor hoped for others to buy me things, so surviving on my own was not as tough as many people think.
Indeed, the things we have are ours, of course, but only if Allah allows it to be. All those jewellery, that expensive car, that big house, that high-ranking job and that big-fat pay are only part of His rezeki to all mankind. They're given to us to be used for goodness. When we have them, we should be glad, syukur... and do more good deeds with the blessings He has bestowed. The material wealth is a test, just like everything else.
We can also be tested in another way. We can lose the house, the cars and the money all in a day. Just look at what had happened to those houses affected by fires, landslides and floods. Look at those people hurt and injured after being robbed of their money and jewellery.
What would we do when we are tested with the loss of such things? Cry and blame God? Ask why He takes them all away when we have been good and faithful to Him?
Why blame Him when in reality, those are all His?
The car, the money, the house are His to choose and bestow and give to whomever He likes?
Sure, we have worked hard for them but then, doesn't the job and the strength to do the job well also comes from Him?
So in a sense, we are all His, so who are we to question His wisdom?
The test of a disobedient child, a wayward husband, a stubborn wife, a fussy mother-in-law; insyaAllah if we continue to be patient and rely on Him to solve all matters, perhaps those challenges that we think are bad are actually good for our souls.
I like reading about Muslims who when tested with events such as robbery or loss of money, quietly accepted them as takdir. They didn't question His decision, although they may question other humans. They moved on.
If there's one thing I learnt from my parents and my grandmother, it's never to covert what's not mine. Never be greedy. Never ask for the delicious-looking cookie on the table when I was at a neighbour's house unless it's offered. Never throw tantrums when denied a thing I wish for. Never accept any expensive gifts or huge amounts of money from individuals so that I would never feel indebted to anyone in my life, and be forced to repay their deed in future. Don't take things that don't belong to you. Work for them instead, so that you'd feel the personal satisfaction when you finally own them yourself.
Some people raised their eyebrows when after graduation, I have a new car and a new house. It's rather disheartening when they seem to think that I have gained materially after my second marriage, but too bad, they never ask me personally. Why should people bother about such things that don't concern them? Don't they have better things to do? Why are they so cowardly that they dare not say aloud in front of me, so that I can answer to their accusations?
Small wonder that I only understand the meaning of 'hasad dengki' when I reverted to Islam. It's the only word in Malay that I find difficult to translate into English or Chinese. The closest I can translate to is 'spiteful jealousy'. Hasad dengki means that if you can't have something for yourself, you don't like others to have it too. You find ways to prevent the person you despise from enjoying what you can't have. You talk behind that person's back, you try to sabotage the reputation. You try to prevent that person from being happy. Isshhh iishhh iishhh, what a bad habit.
Material wealth is actually temporary. We can't take them to the grave with us. In fact, they may cause us to suffer in this life and hereafter. If the thing doesn't belong to us and it's not in our name, it will be useless to try to own it or even be any part of it. We will gain nothing but hatred and Allah's wrath. And a word of warning - if we take it by force, He might make us lose more than what we have gained. Allah is All Knowing and All Powerful.
It's better to have peace of mind, a happy family, a loving spouse and a good job rather than aiming to be rich. What's the point of being granted a lot of money and property but losing the respect of the public, the love of a spouse and the peace of mind that comes with iman?
I've told my mother many times that she's free to distribute her wealth in any way she wants, during her life and in her will. Her properties are hers, and what's a child to do but respect her wishes? Yes, the law is there but I have made sure that she has a written will.
I've told my husband many times too that among the many reasons I chose to marry again after reverting to Islam, are so that I may have our own zuriat to inherit my wealth, and a husband to guide me in Islam and prepare my funeral if Allah wills that I should die earlier than him. Not for me to get a free share of his wealth. He too, has his own reasons for choosing me as his wife, and definitely it's not for money. Those who think wrongly, well.. we forgive them.
Be thankful for what we have, work hard for what we want, and stop comparing what we have to those wealthier than us. Otherwise we will never be happy and satisfied.
His blessings upon us are really so many, they're uncountable.