Monday, February 16, 2009

The Last Three Years-- A Review.

Recently there have been a few comments posted on my earlier blog entries (2006). Comments requesting more details about reasons for my conversion and thought process along the way. It has caused me to spend some time reflecting about the last three years and inshallah this post will be just that... a reflection.

Although there was one conversation that lead to my initial investigation into Islam, Allah (SWT) threw more and more things and people at me that kept me interested in reading despite the fact that I was certain I would "Never Convert". My intention was always to "better myself as a human" and just learn about what Islam was about. Even as Allah was surrounding me with Muslims-- quality Muslims that were doing all that they could to show me Islam, I was somewhat blind to what was going on. I remember one night finally having a revelation (after I had converted) thinking, "if my grandfather had never died, I may never have become Muslim." Of course it is the will of Allah (SWT) that I am Muslim and He could have used any means He wanted, but my grandfather's death brought an email that lead to the discussion of Islam. But even as my faith in Christianity dwindled, and the faith of Islam made sense, and I no longer prayed with the name Jesus (AS) in my prayers I was still reluctant to give shahada. Of course it was all the plan of Allah (SWT) as He invites to Islam who He wills-- One of the key moments was when I talked to brother Abdur Raheem Green at a conference and the history of Islam vs Christianity was laid out for me. Of course that and the fact that the Christians that Allah put in my life during those critical times could never answer any of my questions or were simply living their life in a way that was hypocritical of the way God would want followers of a religion to live. Far differently from the way I was seeing Muslims dedicate themselves to their religion. I know this doesn't talk the specifics that maybe the reader asking the question was looking for, but a written post doesn't really allow for such detail. Maybe one day I will do a video post about my conversion. However, there are two major points here. One is, I didn't really know where my search was taking me until all of the sudden I was there. I never intended to find Islam, it found me, making perfect sense after an imperfect Christianity. And two-- That the most powerful display of Islam for me (besides the miracle of the infallibility of the Qur'an) was the manner of Muslims around me. If an individual lives Islam sincerely it is truly one of the best displays of Islam one can make. Especially in a time when people are so brainwashed by the media. Such a contrast would cause anyone to take the time to question what they think to be true.

As for my reaction to my family and friend's disapproval. Initially indeed I felt extreme hurt that they would have such opposition to my choice. Of course I didn't expect them to be excited, but I think at the time I felt like it was insulting to my intelligence. Didn't they think I had researched Islam? As an educated, independent woman did they really think I would jump into such a life change if it wasn't true? And I think that was part of Upon reflection, I still believe my thoughts however I believe there was far more to it. I think that because I was dealing with my own emotion--- feeling unsure about the future, afraid of others reactions, vulnerable to criticism, I was incapable in dealing with my friend's and family's emotion. What resulted was a selfish position where I became the "victim". That they weren't trusting me or respecting me, when all the while they felt the same way. That I didn't respect the religion they had raised me on, that I was betraying the family etc. Not to mention that they were grieving.I understood that at the time, however, I maintained that I was the "same person". That they had nothing to fear (either in me or in the religion). Of course to them they had everything to fear. It was a naive comment for me to have made, because it was me that had done the research, not my family/friends. While they were still believing the media about Islam-- a place I had been just months before, how could I expect them to understand the choice that I had made? Alhamdulillah things with my family are slowing getting easier all of the time. Of course they still want me to be Christian, I want them to be Muslim, and there are constant battles about covering, niqab, pictures, alcohol... the list goes on, however I believe that there is a respect present now. Alhamdulillah. As for friends... My closest girlfriends, are still very close friends. They were able to see past differences. They happen to be extremely open-minded and educated people that didn't buy into what the rest of the world said their response should be. However, many other friends I have "lost touch" with. In this sense they were really right, things were going to be different. Of course at the time of my acceptance of Islam I didn't have that foresight. I wanted to have the best of both situations, Islam and my past friends. However, naturally things would be different. Many of my relationships had been based in situations that were not appropriate for me to be in as a Muslim. Men and women spending time together, drinking, going to dance clubs... once those things were removed then for some relationships there wasn't much left. Besides that, although indeed I am still "me", many of my interests have changed. I spend much time studying about Islam, I have a daughter, I have given up a career to raise her and to wear a niqab. These aren't things many of my old friends can relate to or even find admirable. The tension from the time of my conversion, continued to grow with my inability to properly articulate my choice to them, and the fact their hearts were sealed to the truth of Islam. The more we didn't see eye to eye the more distance developed until sadly many relationships ended. Inshallah I will try to restore some of the friendships that Islamically are appropriate to have. What has stopped me in the past is simply the fear, and exhaustion that comes from the reactions. The criticism, the stares.
I know that the above sounds negative, however it is about priorities. That and I can talk until I am blue in the face, but that will only change something if others are willing to listen and get past the scarf, or the fact that I won't spend time with their husbands/boyfriends etc. And I don't feel sorry about that. Although I do want to communicate with some of my friends of old, I would much rather be where I am now, inshallah trying to do what is best for my religion than compromising in ways that would impact my faith but please others. Because if there is one thing that I have learned, is that if Allah has sealed the heart of someone, then it is sealed. We as Muslims really need to work hard to remember that. I think too often we think that we can change how they think. Yes we can convey a message, but we can't "change" anything. It is Allah who changes hearts. Our job is to serve Allah, Islam means submission. It is hard at times especially when we are living for the "hereafter", while living in the "here". However, by trying to make others feel comfortable at the expense of what Allah wants for us or commands for us, we aren't benefiting anyone. We just have to be obedient and Allah will do the rest. That being said, I want to clarify one thing explicitly. There is a big difference between compromising our religion and presenting it in a manner that will be more easily digestible to those we are showing it to. As Muslims we are being scrutinized all of the time. Our manner has to be nicer, more patient, more willing to help others, than ever before, but without doing anything that goes against our religion, or changes the message of Islam.
But more than anything, we are nothing without Allah. The best reflection that I can offer is that the more a person comes closer to Allah, remembers Allah, the easier things will be. I don't necessarily mean that life in a specific situation will become easier (people may still stare or say nasty things everyday), but what makes it easier is that there will be peace within your heart and at the end of the day, inshallah you are okay with your actions and serving Allah. That peace--- peace of the heart, it is what helps us to get through life on earth working towards the hereafter, it is what the brother was talking about in the earlier post about "feeling secure in Gaza", it is why people in Muslim countries generally don't file law suits when unfortunate circumstances arise... because there is peace that Allah is in control. That being said, there is a vast difference between being at peace, because of trust in Allah, and being complacent in the religion "because you have faith". The latter is something I saw all too often in Christianity. As Muslims we must be obedient and follow the commandments of Allah and the rules established by Muhammad (SAW). And even if a person doesn't realize in this world that "it isn't worth it" (see previous post from 2006) to live in disobedience and sin, Allah (SWT) will show us on the day of judgment.

I pray that Allah (SWT) guides us all to the straight path, shows my friends and family the truth of Islam, and uses me to do that. I pray that anything I have said in error will be forgiven by Allah, that He has mercy on Muslims, unites us, and shows us the way of the Prophet (SAW) and gives us a desire to follow it. Ameen


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I could continue reading, you have alot to say and I think your suggestion of a video post is a great idea - why not!

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