Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah...
I have been away for the last couple of weeks (thus the delay in blog entries.) While I was gone, I had some amazing opportunities to reflect on my faith and all that Allah (SWT) has done in my life that has brought me to this point. The more I sat back and looked at my life as a whole, the more glory I need to give Him as it is ONLY by His grace and mercy that I have the faith of Islam, the passion to serve Him, and to be a Muslima that is dedicated to God and living her life as I am asked to by Allah and as is written in the Holy Qur'an.
I am unsure how to go about writing this blog entry, as I don't want to come across as talking about the ways I feel I am correctly practicing my faith... Believe me this is not my intention at all. Rather, I want to give praise and Glory to Allah (SWT) by showing that it is only by His strength and power working in me that I am able to accomplish anything.
I met a Muslim couple on my trip and am not sure whether they were practicing or not (of course Allah knows best). The husband asked me why it was that I had put on hijab. Was I in a relationship and my husband had asked me to put it on? Was it expected of me? I told him that nobody had asked or forced me to wear it but rather I made the choice after I converted. Initially I was surprised by the question. I initially thought "Why wouldn't I want to wear it?" but then I was totally reminded of the power of Allah (SWT).
When I first was considering accepting Islam, I knew in my heart I wanted to wear hijab, but I honestly didn't think I could do it. Cover up my hair? It seemed so far from anything I knew or could possibly imagine. I knew the meaning and symbolism behind it, I thought it was a beautiful concept in theory, but I didn't think I personally would be strong enough or have the ability to put it on. I began to pray to Allah (SWT) that He would soften my heart towards hijab and give me the ability to put it on should I convert. Alhamdulillah, He did. And I can say with total certainty that it was FULLY Allah who gave me the ability to put it on. Reflecting on this, I understood where the comment had come from by this man, because especially for those who have not grown up in a culture or family where hijab is worn, it can be a big decision to put it on. I began to consider this even more while I was watching a documentary about women who wear hijab called "Transparency." It presents various perspectives about hijab and why women feel that Muslimas wear it.
Naturally there were contrasting perspectives. Two women supported the donning of hijab, while two others opposed it strongly. The two women that were in strong opposition of the hijab talked about how it was oppressive, and based only on culture. That it was not specifically outlined in the Qur'an and especially in a western society, served the opposite purpose as women who wear it draw more attention to themselves.
I tried to listen with a neutral ear, but my heart was hurting. If a woman chooses not to wear hijab for whatever reason it is between her and Allah (SWT), but the criticism of hijab and its meaning, importance, and significance to women who choose to wear it made my heart ache. Alhamdulillah, it caused me to reflect on months before... what were my thoughts before I understood the beauty of Islam and its many areas of the faith. Alhamdulillah Allah (SWT) and His endless grace have slowly been moving in my heart.
I also had an opportunity to meet a woman who is currently Catholic but is looking into Islam. I see so much of myself in her. The questions she is asking, the thoughts she has about both Islam and her current faith. I keep thinking "I was just there". What an exciting time for her, although I don't know that that she fully realizes this yet. With every question she asks, and every conversation we have I see Allah working in her. Coming closer to her. Changing her heart. What an amazing gift. What incredible grace! Seeing Allah pour out His grace and bounty on someone. Watching as she asks and seeks, how He brings Himself closer to her.
Alhamdulillah... This experience makes me so grateful to Allah for the way He has worked in my life.
My challenge to everyone who is reading this... Reflect on Allah's grace in your life. How has He worked in your life? What has He softened your heart about? What has He shown you about yourself, your faith, your life?
Please feel free to write some of the amazing things Allah has done as a comment. I would love to hear about them, and I think we as a community should be reminded of the constant power and Grace of Allah (SWT).