“As a revert to Islam, each day is a challenge to me, but I know that Allah is my guide. As a new Muslim, I am, of course, not going to be perfect, and even when I end this life I will not be perfect. But I always remember Allah, and I no longer feel alone! Allah did not promise us that life would be perfect, but I know that He will not give me any burden that is more than I can stand, and that He would never leave me.”
I love to read revert stories. It is amazing to me how people come to know love of Allah and the way of life in Islam, and how many come to the conclusion that Islam is the Truth out of many different ways of life. This is a miracle of our Faith.
I would like to tell you how I, too, found that Truth. Part of this was written when I moved to Virginia around December 2002.
I was born and raised in West Virginia in a Christian Family. My father was a Jew. Needless to say we never talked much after my reversion to Islam, not that we really talked much before then. He and my mother divorced when I was only one. My older sisters said it was because I was born a female, and he wanted a male. I think he was a man that could not handle the responsibilities of his actions. So he left my mother with four daughters to raise and support without his help. Thus, we grew up very poorly. My father died in July of 2003 a Jew. He refused to talk to me during those last few years since I reverted to Islam. We did talk a little before then. I am afraid that when I was older and met my father, I did not like him as a man. My mother believed in God but also was a scientist of some sort. But, alhamdulillah, she believed in Charity and helping others. I came from a mostly Christian family that knew fear of God and practiced it to the best of their ability. In the area where I grew up, one would not even know what a Muslim is let alone seeing a woman walking down the street wearing hijab!
I started playing flute when I was only 5 and became a professional flute player when I was only 12. I also played many other instruments, such as oboe, saxophone etc. I even made good money playing in jazz groups and symphonies. My family never really had time for me. I was put off at my grandparents a lot, and since my grandfather was bed ridden, my grandmother never truly had time to care what I did. Fortunately for me, I never sought bad things. I was just busy with my flute and music. This was my life, and my only love in life.
My mother was a social worker; she was out saving the lives of many children who were handicapped or had mental disabilities. She got them out of abusive homes and placed them into safer homes. I was proud of her for that. But when I needed her as my own mother, she was just not there. I guess she could not save all the children in the world, so someone had to be left out. I basically raised myself.
The only thing that gave me love in this world was my flute, my music, and my many music teachers. I led, I am afraid, a life of no love and of not being wanted. My older sisters didn’t have time for me, or time to even care. They had their own issues to deal with. My immediate elder sister, who was a year older than me, was always saying to me that it was my fault that they all had to grow up without a dad. It was, thus, not unusual for this one sister to beat on me a lot. Consequently, this caused me, I think, to grow up as very shy and timid.
This truly hurt me. I knew I was just a child and it was not my fault that I was born a girl. I now say “alhamdulillah” when I hear a daughter is born, because I am a mother now and have a grown up daughter who is a blessing to me. I loved knowing how Islam prohibited burying the female infants. Given my background, this itself made a big impression on me when I came to read about that. Daughters can and will bring a big blessing to you. This is very true. My own daughter has been a blessing for me in many ways.
I joined the US Navy when I was 18. At that time, I had an excellent memory of what I read and saw, which was very useful to our government. However, I came out disillusioned, disabled and mad at the world.
I then played the oboe and flute in a Symphony Orchestra. I got married a few times and divorced each times, mostly due to abuse. I was looking for something, but didn’t know what! I even went blind for two years, which was not fun. But looking back, I can say Allah Akbar! It did teach me compassion and patience. Allah was there all the time – I just didn’t seek Him as much as I needed. I also broke my ankle very severely and was in a wheel chair for almost a year, then used a four-legged walker, then a three-legged cane, and then finally a one-leg cane. Again, Allah sent me lessons to help me learn patience. These were tests from Allah. He was there for me all the time, but it was during the blindness when I truly started to seek Him by studying various beliefs and ways of life. It was during this blindness that I could truly SEE!
Involvement at the Church
About 6 years ago I started going to a fundamental, independent, Baptist church. This is the strictest type of Baptist one could be: high morals and no short skirts. I was already wearing long skirts before I reverted to Islam. I had asked our pastor many times a lot of questions concerning God. When I asked some questions and told him I wanted to study other religions he said that it would not be a good idea and that Satan would use it to draw me away from the church. He said that studying other religions showed a lack of faith. Notice that he said “church” and not “God”. Anyway, he could never answer my questions to my satisfaction despite having a PhD in Theology! I am not putting down the Christians or Jews when I say this. I am just explaining what was going on around me at the time. I know many good Christians and Jews and I pray that someday they will learn about Islam and this true great way of Life.
I was a part of the Music Ministry at the Church. One day I walked into the back to the music room and found two people backbiting me. They said that since I was divorced I should not be up front playing music, even though I was very good at it and people loved to hear me play. Who was she to judge me, I wondered.
I had been a very moral woman – I didn’t drink, smoke, go with men, or did anything of those nature. This was a turning point in my life. I was divorced but I did have very high standards. Please understand that not all American women have loose morals. I am afraid the TV portrays us this way.
I didn’t remarry after my last divorce due to religious reasons at that time. According to some Christian beliefs, if one gets a divorce without it being due to adultery, then it is advised to never remarry unless the man dies. If one did remarry, then that would be considered a form of adultery. I never wanted to have that title in life, and so I didn’t marry again. I did try to practice my old religion to the best of my ability. I never dated since then either and lived a good clean life. I worked hard and supported myself and my teenage daughter. Alhamdulillah, she is now 21 and married, and I have a wonderful grandson from her named Jibriel. And another grandchild is on the way. Allahu Akbar.
I quit playing the flute at that time in front of people. I would sometimes pick it up to keep up the practice, but no more on a professional basis. After my conversion to Islam, I did not play the flute again. But the flute did save me from harm while I was growing up as a young child and then a young adult as I was involved with it instead of doing other harmful things. So in a way, it led me to an Islamic way of life. I also quit going to that church and stayed away from it. I only kept on checking out many books from the library on religions and studying them. Some of these were actually audio books since I could not see enough to read.
Reversion to Islam
About that time also, I met a Muslim lady who moved to our town. She gave me a few pamphlets on Islam, which I read. Although I did not revert, she did open up a door for me to the inside life of a Muslim. I liked how she practiced her faith by being nice and honest which she showed to all. She not only talked about Islam but also walked Islam! I am thankful to her – may Allah reward her greatly.
My daughter was in college at that time where she met some friends. After visiting Minnesota, she loved it there and liked the college where her friends went. Consequently, we also moved to that area. She moved first since I was in the middle of classes at my own college. (I went back to school when I had her almost raised and she did not need me quite as much). She met some Muslim people from Sudan, Pakistan and the UAE, and started studying Islam. By then, I too had been looking more and more into Islam. It was one of the religions I was studying. For one reason or another, I kept coming back to studying Islam and the Qur’an again and again until I came to realize Islam to be the truest religion. I never told my daughter that I was studying Islam those past years. I kept it to myself. At that time I was truly a Muslim but did not confess it.
One day my daughter came to me and asked me if she could revert to Islam. She had a very scared look on her face as she knew that I was a strong Baptist woman.
I only said, “Oh! Why?”
She told me that the lady she had been talking to told her to ask my permission because of what the Qur’an states about the importance of the mother. I questioned her to make sure she knew what she was talking about. She just sat there with a very scared look on her face, afraid of what I might say! Sure enough, she understood Islam very thoroughly. I then confessed to her that I had also been studying Islam. This came as a surprise to her.
A few weeks later, after she had introduced me to her Muslim friends, we took our Shahada together. We said the statement of faith in front of a group of 12 ladies at a friend’s house. Allah Akbar! It was July, 2001.
It is amazing how many people take different journeys and end up at the same place.
Trials of 9/11
Being Muslim has not been easy. As a white, I was part of the majority where I lived. Now, as a Muslim, I was a minority. My mother instilled in me very well that color has no meaning. It is the heart of people that count, not color.
Unfortunately, as a new Muslimah, I received hard times from some Muslims as well about certain things, such as wearing hijab. Hijab should come from the heart! I wish more people would study Islam and look at their hearts. I have known Muslim women who wear hijab to the mosque or social gatherings but have great hearts, and I have met women who wear hijab and even full niqab but have not much affection to Islam. Some thought that I should dress like them and act like them. I say that these women looked beautiful in their native dress. But I was just me! I wore a blue jean skirt, hijab and long sleeves. The Imam at the mosque told me not to worry about what some people say. To him, I looked properly dressed for prayer.
After being Muslim for less than two months, another incident happened. On September 14, 2001 a young man attacked me in a grocery store. Motivated by hatred for Muslims, he jammed his cart into me so hard that it cut my back, ankles, and one of my legs. The force pushed me into the shelf of cans, causing one of the shelves to fall down on me. As the cans hurled down, they cut my head and hands. Some of the cuts later required stitches. The isle happened to be in focus of the store security camera, which captured the man as he was about to run away. The authorities soon caught him. He stayed near me, and didn’t run far. I think he was truly amazed at what he himself had done. He later said that he thought I was an Arab, as if that was a reason enough to hurt someone. He was surprised that I spoke clear English. He was further amazed when he came to know that I was a disabled American Veteran.
He was facing serious charges. I gave him the choice of either going to jail or attend lecture on Islam in ten one-hour sessions. He chose the lectures. I made sure that if he did not come to the lectures then I would retain my rights of recourse with the court system.
That very morning, I had just read a Hadith about our wonderful Prophet (pbuh) who had trash dumped on his head every morning, and then when one morning he was not treated this way, he went to check on the neighbor who was found to be sick. He had compassion for this person. Having read this in that very morning, what else could I do? I too had a daughter about the same age as that 20-year old man.
One mistake could ruin the life of this young man. Would I not want compassion for my daughter if she did something like this?
He had been a good college student and was just young and did not truly have an education of Islam. Sometimes when one does not know about something, it can be scary.
He continued with the classes and actually studied Islam longer than he was required by the contract. About 6 months later in February of 2002, he declared the Shahada. I was so very happy when I got that email from him. I had moved out of the area where he was living. He then joined the local Muslim Students Association and engaged in Dawah works. Allah Akbar!
Every day, I look at the scars that I received from that attack, and I feel happy. I remember where they came from and I thank Allah for allowing this to happen.
My third year as a Muslim
I finally feel at home in a Mosque and at home in my heart as a Muslim. And finally I feel as if I am praying more normally and fully, although not as well as I would like to but at least much better than in the beginning. I love how Allah helped me find the ADAMS Center and the activities that occur there daily. It is strange that it took me three long years to finally feel comfortable in a Mosque.
My path on Islam has not been easy but I know I am not alone, Allah is always with me. And when the trials and tribulations come I know it is a test to help me learn to be stronger.
It is very important that as a Muslim, you practice in the company of others. Never try to practice your religion on your own. We need each other to survive in this difficult world. We need each other for support and to pull us up when we are down. But most importantly…we need Allah.
As a revert to Islam, each day is a challenge to me, but I know that Allah is my guide. As a new Muslim, I am, of course, not going to be perfect, and even when I end this life I will not be perfect. But I always remember Allah, and I no longer feel alone! Allah did not promise us that life would be perfect, but I know that He will not give me any burden that is more than I can stand, and that He would never leave me.