Updated: Nov 14, 2021
Migration or Hijra for a Muslim is part of his deen. Something that gets obligatory upon him driven by circumstances. Some of us are constantly migrating, in small or big ways.
My first migration was from India to UAE, when I was a child. Then it was within UAE, from Dubai to Sharjah. Now I am migrating from UAE to Turkey. But one might wonder, what is the religious connotation behind migrating from one Muslim country to another. Well, surprisingly migration becomes incumbent upon Muslims due to various reasons, discussed in our blog post "Migration/ Hijra: When is it obligatory upon Muslims and why."
Being an Indian citizen who has lived most of his life in UAE, after losing my last job in 2017 with Dubai Tourism and Dubai Culture - Government of Dubai, whom I served for 15 years, I decided I did not want to work for anyone, so I got a business license and started an Ice Cream business. Kulfi Wala Ice Cream.
SME’s and many other businesses had already started taking a substantial hit from Oct 2018. I began to liquidate and phase out my Ice Cream stores at City Centre Malls, and kept the B2B supplies.
Feb 2019 I shut my stores at both the malls. Cut the long story short this is when it hit me, that if I had to leave this country that I call home, because of not being able to afford the license and visa fees amongst the other hidden fees and fines, I would definitely not move back to India, the citizenship of the country that I hold.
Though many might argue to and fro from the topic, "Is Turkey an Islamic country?", clearly that remains debatable. However the same applies for majority of other existing Muslim countries, that were part of the vast Uthmani or Islamic Empire. Despite everything, a major effort has been made by the current governance to maintain a Muslim identity and be a voice for other oppressed Muslim nations.
Moreover, fundamentally there is no argument that you can find mosques on almost every road, and halal food everywhere. The sweet sounds of the adhan itself is uplifting to the Muslim soul. I have met non Muslims who have embraced Islam at the sounds of the adhan.
Standard of Living
When we first arrived in Turkey in 2019, we clearly felt that this is a Middle Eastern Country in Europe. My children would be in a state of culture shock and misery, if I were to take them out of UAE, where they were born and raised, to India. They have never been to India, and don't hold Indian citizenship either. Turkey fit the bill well for my family.
The Economic and Political Situation of India
Apart from "fitting-in" a "strange" country (to my children), it would take me forever to start anything in India, if I were to move there. Aug 2019 I went to Turkey for the First time, with the intentions of migrating in the future. To check out the possibilities of business, investment, and citizenship. I loved my experience there, despite getting duped by someone claiming to be a consultant and promising citizenship through investment. That’s a story for another blog. I got my Turkish residence card and got back to Dubai. I came back again to Istanbul in October, and during these trips I traveled throughout Istanbul and some outskirts of Istanbul and half-way to Ankara. I met many real estate agents, professionals, and developers, and made important contacts and gained important knowledge of the migration laws for foreigners.
One more try
In March 2020 I opened a restaurant business in Dubai, Kashkha Cafe, to give my now "home country" another go. Then the plandemic & lock-downs began in April. And as everyone knows, the lock-downs were worse than a natural calamity. Life was disrupted beyond expectation for most, especially SME’s. Thousands of cafe’s and small restaurants along with big ones shut down. I managed to drag on for a few months. Majority of the fiscal year was wasted and I couldn't be more eager now to get to Turkey.
The Final countdown
I was back in Turkey before Ramadan 2021 with a couple of businessmen who wanted to migrate to Turkey and invest. I set them up with several real estate agents, and builders and toured them throughout Istanbul in 5 days.
After Ramadan I visited again for renewing my Iqamat (TRC) and finalising the schools and area to live. In-sha-Allah I’m moving with my family in Aug 2021. Though I will still keep a foot in UAE, with a business license and residence visa, till I completely settle down there bi’idhnillah. (Update: This article was written in June 2021 and is updated)
Turkey Consultants - The first foundational stone
I finally moved to Turkey in August 2021 with my whole family. Unknowingly I fell victim to an avoidable property scam, that resulted in suffering to my family, due to not getting the apartment I was promised, and us running from one hotel to another.
We finally settled for an apartment in the district of Arnavutkoy, near Sultan Ghazi and Kayasehir, strategically close to the airport, and the children's school in Basaksehir.
Though I had planned and dreamed of opening an Asian Restaurant in Istanbul, given my recent success in Dubai, I started "Turkey Consultants" instead to help and guide new people migrating, to trustworthy and credible sources.
There have been several challenges so far including a culture shock, and unexpected or surprising behaviour of certain locals, including neighbours, However there are so many positives in the country to look forward to, that in time I believe this will be a success story of migration with the power and might of Almighty Allah.
I ask Allah to accept and make this migration, and the migration of the millions of other Muslims successful and easy. Ameen!
If you have any questions, or would just like to have a chat with me, please don't hesitate to contact me. It will be my honor to help someone migrate.