My Struggle to be a Muslim and find Peace
From the "Islamic Voice" Vol 12-04 No:136 * APRIL '97
I have been on the net for a year but this is the first time I am posting something and I have chosen to do it anonymously for a reason. My dear sisters, please don’t hurt and offend each other. Don’t be rude to each other. This kind of attitude that has been going on is enough to “chase” away new Muslimah. I have been a Muslim for 2 1/2 years and don’t have any friends. Al-hamdulilah, the beginning of this Ramadan was a BIG blessing to me. I am a convert of 2 1/2 years. All the way from first grade to 12th grade I went to an all girls Catholic school. I am an only child to my parents. Growing up, I had no friends because no friend seemed “Catholic” enough. My dad and mum were my only friends because according to me they were good Christians. My parents were very STRICT...they both grew up as STRICT Christians. They would drop me to school and then pick me up. My growing up years were spent in school or the Church.
I loved Christianity but questioned so many things. The Summer I graduated from high school (95), I started reading on Islam. I read a lot of books on Islam. My parents were aware of what I was reading because it was they who gave me rides or dropped and picked me up from the library. After reading about 15 books on Islam in three months, I started ordering video tapes on the internet. Talk of Ahmed Deedat’s lectures or debates.... I have seen them all.
Well, my parents were kind enough to give me money to order these video tapes. They were even kind enough to sit down with me and watch some of these tapes. As I mentioned above, I am their only child and they did everything for me. “Mum, dad, give me some money I need to buy this book...there was mummy or daddy giving me money. Mum...dad.. can we spend the evening watching this video tape instead of going out... Again there were mum and dad watching “Is Jesus son of God?”, “Is the Holy Qur’an the word of God?”, Is the Bible the word of God and so many others. All this time I knew deep in my heart that Islam was the religion for me. My parents too knew that Islam was the truth, although they did not want to admit it.
Things turned upside down in our three-bedroom house when one night (two weeks before I was to start my first year in college) I told my parents that I wanted to be a Muslim “legally.” It was a shock to both of them. My dad’s first words were “you will be a Muslim...over my dead body...do you think we raised you to be a Muslim, do you think we wasted all this time on you so you could turn your back on us and our religion.... Wow!! That night I saw a side of my parents I had never seen. In my almost 18 year old mind I thought they were watching and reading the books with me because they were interested in Islam as a religion but not as an “entertainment.”
Three days later I told my parents that I was going to take Shahadah at the mosque. After surfing the internet and telephone directory, I found one mosque and noted the address down. But how was I going get there? Of course my parents are not going to drive me there. They are already regretting why they even drove me to the library to get the books in the first place, why they even gave me money to buy the video tapes. I wanted to take Shahadah before college started, so I could begin college with a “new” life. Now I only had a week left. I called metro and asked them which bus would take me to the address I had in hand.
I left the house for the first time on my own, going to the bus stop. As soon as I got to the bus stop, my mother was behind me in the car. We talked for two hours and no one convinced the other. Finally she decided to drop me there on ONE condition, that is, I will not tell my dad that she drove me there. I hugged my mother and cried on her shoulders. I knew deep inside that no matter what I do or say to my mother, she will always be there for me. After an hour of silence in the car, we reached the mosque. She wanted to stay in the car while I went in....after about 10 minutes my mother was in the mosque and she witnessed me taking Shahadah.
After taking Shahadah, several sisters promised that they would teach me how to pray, and blah...blah...blah. About 8 sisters asked for my phone number. I was so happy and excited. Although I felt at peace, I could not stop thinking about the conversation I overheard at the Mosque, “this white woman converts to Islam because she wants to get married to our Arab, and Pakistan brothers.”
Months passed and none of the 8 sisters called me. In fact I never saw them at the mosque again. After two months in college, I met a sister on campus...she wasn’t very friendly. She too promised that she will call me but she never did. 2 weeks later I met her in the library...I asked her if she knew of any mosques close by. Al-hamdulilah, she was kind enough tospare 20 minutes of her time with me. She told me that there were almost 5-6 mosques. She also told me about the MSA on campus. I went to all the meetings and never missed Friday prayer. One Friday I asked one sister if she could teach me how to say the prayers correctly. She didn’t have time that particular day but promised to call me and let me know when she was available. She never called me and I never saw her again. Again at a Friday prayer I asked a different sister. This one did not ask for my phone number but asked for my e-mail address. We exchanged e-mail addresses. I wrote to her and she responded the same day telling me that she is busy this quarter.... “Maybe next quarter.” I cried to myself that night.... why me? Why is no one being friendly to me? What wrong have I done....I am only trying to find a sister to help me learn how to pray and memorize some Surahs.
I went back to the masjid and one sister “offered” to help me. She too did not have enough time but through her I was able to learn the exact prayer words in Arabic and also memorized some Surahs.
Things became worse both at home with my parents and in my own life in September 97 when I told my parents that I wanted to move and live in the dorm. Even though my parents were not happy with my idea of living in the dorm....they felt relieved in a way. Here I was a 20 year old woman living at home with my parents. Each morning my mother has to drive me to college. Each evening my father has to drive me home. The trip from home to school was an hour long. An hour with my mother each morning and an hour with my father each morning...what a waste of time. So I thought living in the dorms will make things easy for me. After living in the dorm for a month it was not easy. I missed my parents a lot. Well, that is life I guess. One evening I saw an ad in the MSA office saying “Muslim (female) wanted for a room mate and the rent is 350 per month.” You cannot imagine how happy I was!! I quickly called the number and the sister who answered the phone asked me several questions. She already knew who I was because I told her I am the convert at her school . My dream of having a Muslimah roommate was “shattered”...I was not good enough to be in her room. It is almost 4 months now and the same ad is still out there. Honestly I was hurt and offended. Why do we call ourselves sisters and yet we are discriminating? I still don’t know what kind of a sister she was/is looking for. Honestly, I am ashamed of this one sister on this NET, we go to the same school... I see her posting so many times and I ask myself.... does this sister really know that I exist on this net? What if she knew, would she really care, would she really apologize to me for what she has done to me and for how she had mistreated me when I first met her on campus a year ago. What a shame!! Let’s put in action what we preach or what we post. I probably did something wrong by telling this sister that she wasn’t wearing her hijab correctly. Yes, I still believe she was/is not wearing her hijab the right way because it is half way through her head. Her hair shows on the front and her pony tail sticks out. I know it was none of my business to tell her, but I still think I did the right thing. Others who paid attention to me did change their way of covering.
My dream of finding a Muslimah room mate still continued. The second day of Ramadan I was at the masjid when a sister was posting an ad “I am looking for a Muslim practising female roommate”. I talked to the sister who was posting the ad and she said that she prefers an Arab roomate because they have so much in common. I said...”but the ad says a Muslim female” and she responds...” it was a mistake blah blah... “
I have been going to the above masjid for almost a year now since the beginning of last Ramadan but never made any friends. It was the same sisters who came to the masjid. No sister paid attention to me, actually no one noticed my presence sin that masjid. I admired the sisters talking together and reading Qur’an together, I longed to be part of them but my presence was NEVER noticed. Al-hamdulilah I was praying Jumaah at least.
The third day of Ramadan this year, I went to pray taraweeh again. As usual I was in the same corner of the room with my English translation of the Holy Qur’an. 20 minutes before the prayer began, some 6 young sisters that I have NEVER met before came into the masjid. All the eyebrows raised. These 6 sisters were asked several questions, “where are you guys from? Do you speak Arabic? How come we have never seen you before? Are you new in town, and blah blah.... The other sisters did not answer any of the questions..except for one who seemed to be the youngest of all (she was probably 12 or 13). Anyway she answered “we are Muslims and have come to pray here because this masjid is the closest to where we live, now can we please pay attention to the what the Imam is saying.”
MashaAllah this 6 new sisters were very friendly to me. They were sitting next to me in the back row when one of the sisters said...”she likes sitting in the back because she can’t read Arabic and only knows 4-5 surahs. The 12-13 year old girl asked...”Have you ever tried to teach her how to read Arabic? The other sister didn’t give the answer.
After the prayer that night the sister who was looking for a room mate came to me and said.... “Sister, I hope you will find a roommate soon, I am sorry I couldn’t have you as my roommate. “The prayer was over and everyone had left the masjid except for the 6 sisters and me. It was unbeliveable when the 6 sisters whom I had met for the first time that night, asked me if I wanted to be their roomate. My first question was,” are you sure you want me as your roommate? Do you all live together?” “Yes we all live together and the 5 of us are sisters, and she is our cousin”, they responded. “What about your parents?” “They live with us, they will not have any problems with you coming over”, one of them replied. I asked are, “you sure? Maybe you should go talk to your parents first and then let me know by tomorrow, and by the way, how much is the rent?” I asked. “Free”, they responded, all together, we just want you to come and live with as our sister in Islam, the four of us have big rooms to ourselves, and the 2 of us share a room. If you want we will let you have a room by yourself and two of us can share. That was so sweet of her but Hmmm.... I was totally confused with what these sisters were saying, here they were asking me to go live with them for free, they have never met me before. They have not consulted their parents. I decided to tell them that I was a convert and cannot read Arabic..as if that would change their minds. When I said I can not read Arabic, one of them said, “Al-hamdulilah, we all can read Arabic we will teach you how to read.”
The sisters could not let me go even though their dad was waiting for them, in the parking lot. I decided to “wrap” up the conversation and let them go. Seeing that they were not going to leave me alone, I started telling them how I converted to Islam. I told them that I was a lonely sister and hardly knew any one.
That same night they called from the masjid and made me talk to their mother. She was so happy and she asked me to come over with them. For the first time in my life as a Muslimah, I felt “important”, I realized that they were some Muslims who recognized me as a human being. MashaAllah the mother was insisting that I should come over with her daughters. For some reasons I did not want to go to their house that night, so I started making some excuses... Oh, I don’t have any extra clothes with me, I don’t have an extra hijab. For every exuse I made, the sisters gave me an answer. They were mashaAllah amazing sisters.
There I was within the house. After chatting with them for some hours, I told them that I needed to hand wash my hijab for the next day. “We have some new ones”, said one of the sisters.... they all went into their closets and grabbed whatever they had. 10 minutes later, I was rich with 10 newhijabs, 4 jilbabs, 3 jalabiyas, 3 abayas and 1 niqab. For 2 1/2 years, I only had 3 hijabs....on this particular night, I had 10 new ones. What a blessing!!!!! It was around 12.30 A.m and none of us had gone to bed. We read Qur’an for 2-3 hours. Before we went to bed, one of them asked me if I was aware of SISTERS NET. I told them that I have been subscribing to sisnet for a year now but have never posted anything. The other one said, “we are members of sisnet but are set to no mail at the moment because of Ramadan.” And what is your name?” I asked. “I am Ni’maat”, she responded. I can’t describe the happiness I felt !!! I hugged them again for the second time. Tears were rolling down my cheeks. I was extremely happy. Happier than I have ever felt before. Happy that I was meeting a sister from the net.
For two weeks now, I am living with Ni’maat’s family. This is a memory that will last for ever. MashaAllah! What a wonderful family and was true Muslims they are! In two weeks I have memorized 4 surahs in Arabic. I think this is a very big improvement on my part. In 2 1/2 years I had memorized ONLY 4-5 surah. In only 2 weeks in this house, I have memorized 4 more surahs. Al-hamdulilah.
I have no idea why I am telling you this but... I want you sisters to know that having ‘sabr’ is a very important thing. Be patient and Allah will reward you in ways you have never imagined. Personally, I have lost a big friend (my dad) but Islam is what I want, this have gained. My mother is not having a hard time with me as a Muslim. With years going by, she has learned to respect me and love me more. InshaAllah she too will take Shahadah one day. I called her two weeks ago and told her that I am now living with a Muslim family. All she said was “May God bless your new family, they sound like wonderful people.”
I know by converting to Islam, I have hurt her. But she will remain a dear mother to me. I will still be her “honey” She will still be my mother who fought infertility for two years before she had me. A mother who was not able to have any more children after me. I am sure she did not lose me as my father puts it. My mother’s heart is “half” way open to Islam but she is scared of my dad. InshaAllah she will be guided by Allah. I am planning to invite her over to this house next month when my father leaves for Australia for two weeks. Please pray that she will accept my invitation. I want her to see this family which is a very good example of a Muslim family.
I want her to see and know that Muslims are not people to be feared. I want her to “trash” her image and sterotype of what Muslim people are. Please, sisters, remember me and my parents in your prayers. SISTERS PLEASE INVITE PEOPLE OVER TO YOUR HOUSES IF YOU HAVE A CHANCE. LOVE ALL PEOPLE THE SAME. Don’t be rude and disrespectful. We are all sisters in Islam.
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