Reflections

Assalamu Alaikum

Qadr of Allah my grandfather on my father’s side just passed away at the age of 96.  He lived in in the Guangzhou Province in Southern China, in a very poor village with most of my father’s side of the family living there as well.  When I went to China a few summers ago, I was going to meet him for the first time.  Qadr of Allah I never made it to Guangzhou – I was extra sad because this is also where the first Masjid in China was built by Saad ibn Abi Waqqas (radiy Allahu anhu) and I really wanted to visit it with my father.  Next time Insha’Allah.

When I phoned my father to ask how he was doing, he told me he would be flying to China in 2 weeks for the burial.  When I asked why they were waiting 2 weeks to bury him, he replied, they had to look at the calendar for the best day (there are “good luck days” and “bad luck days” to perform certain actions like getting married, moving, burying a deceased, etc), and then everyone attending would go and make certain ritual prayers to the gods.  Subhan’Allah – these are but 2 common cultural traditions, totally based on shirk, that I grew up with almost ALL my life.  By Allah’s favor He has taken me far away from it to the point where I even forgot about them.  So when I was reminded about it from my father, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I used to live and follow these types of beliefs as if they were mere instructions in a manual, without even thinking twice about them. without even thinking that anything was even wrong with it.  Now Alhamdulillah I realize the magnitude of these baseless, DARK practices, and the great harm in them.  On one hand I was so grateful to reflect on where I was and how Allah SWT took me from that darkness into light, and how Allah SWT has guided me to Tawheed, for my son and myself Alhamdulillah.  Then on the other hand I listened to my father speaking and became very sad, because I understood my family’s mentality very well as I was raised by them with the same exact mentality.

I understood how my family sees there is nothing wrong with these things, as they are just cultural traditions.  I understand and greatly appreciate how Allah freed me from those shackles and guided me to Islam.  As much as I am thankful, I am also sad that my family is still in that state of darkness.  Hediya is from Allah SWT, and He will guide only those whom He wills.  I will not stop making du’aa for them and trying with them, as anyone can be guided at any moment if Allah wills – and I do not question His Qadr either way.  But this whole incident was a huge reminder to me on how temporary life is in this Dunya.  The means to Jannah are spelled out for us and through His mercy we can attain it, yet there are so many internal and external deterrances that distract us from our purpose here.  We fight so many demons and weaknesses on a daily basis, and without Allah’s mercy we would be losers.  Allah SWT gives us so many favors.  Although I am grateful for them, I personally feel I fall short in many ways and can do much more to show my appreciation.  May Allah SWT help us all to thank Him, remember Him and worship Him in the best way.  Subhan’Allah things can change in a person’s life in a split second, but when the angel of death comes, there is no turning back.  Whatever we have done in this life will earn us punishment or reward by His mercy, but our ending is what counts.  Death is always a reminder especially for the believers, and this was particularly a big reminder for me, as I reflected on my family and my personal path, by Allah’s will.  May Allah keep us all firm on the Deen and help us all to die in a state of Islam, leaving this Dunya with a good ending.  Please make du’aa for me and all of our Ummah.  Please, also make a du’aa for my family’s guidance Insha’Allah, as well as all of our families.  You are all in my du’aa as well.

Jazaka Allah Khayran

The Islam That Made You Convert

I had the pleasure of attending a gathering today with my fellow sisters; some of whom converted to Islam such as myself, and some of whom were born into an Islamic family.  While discussing Islam, one sister who was born Muslim said, “I want to learn Islam.  I want to learn the Islam that made you guys convert.  Upon saying that another sister agreed with her and stated how amazing it was to see the conviction and practice of converts. 

That statement hit me hard.  I wasn’t thinking so much about the practice of converts vs. the practice of born Muslims – I thought about the conviction behind the practices.  In a split second I was equally amazed, grateful, inspired and humbled.  I shared in their appreciation and it made me reflect upon my own path to Islam.  I learned about Islam for about year and a half before taking my shahadah, from converts, born Muslims, and through my own reading.  I understood and loved everything I learned, but still did not want to take that plunge.  The events of September 11th inclined me to view life with a purpose, a beginning and an end, and was a big turning point for me.  I remember hearing a sister speak about the coming of Judgment Day and the need to correct our affairs.  It wasn’t so much what she was saying that affected me, but it was more of how she was saying it – it was spoken with such conviction.  Her certainty or ‘yaqeen’ showed me her Iman and although it was like water for her it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I was taken back by witnessing her firm beliefs and faith, in something I also believed in, but did not have the same level of faith in.  I had the belief, but the faith was not there.  I heard a Sheikh once say that belief and faith are not always the same – they are two different things.  At times they go hand in hand, and at times they do  not, which is what Allah refers to in the Qur’an.  Now I understand why.

At that time I had known this sister for about a year, and she was one of the people who made me really love Islam – through her behavior, her etiquette, and her actions.  It was through her Islam that portrayed to me the true teachings of Islam and mannerisms of a Muslim.  That is what appealed to me so much. 

I always reflect upon the great blessing of hediya that Allah SWT willed for us, and also for putting good examples of Muslims in my path.  Not everyone has this experience wa la quwatta illah billah.  My friend and a few other sisters have made such a positive impact in my perception of Islam – before my shahadah and right after.  All praise is due to Allah SWT first and foremost, and for using them to show me ‘their Islam’.  It was through ‘their Islam that made me convert.’  Alhamdulillah.

May Allah SWT make all of our Islam the Islam that makes others want to convert.  A reflection of the true teachings of Allah and His Messenger (sallAllahu alayhi wasallam).  Allahumma Ameen.   

The Birth of a Muslimah

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For many female converts who grew up in America, namely those who had lifestyles that were very “American” or different from an “Islamic lifestyle”, most tend to share the same issues when they first embrace Islam.  Do I have to stop plucking my eyebrows?  Can I still wear nail polish?  Is hijab mandatory?  I cant see myself wearing it all the time!  I have to throw away all my clothes.  Wearing a jilbab makes me look like an old lady!  I feel like everyone is judging me! 

These questions and feelings are typical as a new Muslimah is going through transitional phases.  Then you will have sisters in every direction giving advice on what she should and shouldnt be doing or wearing. Although I am sure our dear sisters are well-intentioned, for a newly converted American Muslimah, focusing on these issues may tend to be overwhelming for them.  These issues are what is focused on primarily because they are evident, noticed, on display and subject to judgment.  Of course, there are always exceptions to the case, but for the majority who commonly face these issues, or if you know someone who can relate, this is for you.

Every time we go through a life altering change in our lives, whether it is going away to college, getting married, having your first baby, starting a new career, etc., we are not expected to jump right into the swing of things completely and perfectly.  We will make mistakes, and learn from them while gaining experience.  There will be feelings of uncertainty, insecurity, and questioning our capabilities as we embrace this new role in our life.  The same goes for embracing a religion.  It wont be perfect in the beginning.  It wont be perfect even after a few years.  We are human. 

The good news is, that Islam is easy.  Allah never intended on making the religion hard for us.  All those issues are part of a necessary transition that we must go through in order for growth to occur.  Through transition, growth is given room to flourish.  Even though these issues do have a place in Islam, each with its own rulings to abide by, they do not define the essence of what Islam is.  Islam is simple, it is about a very important concept – “Tawheed” or Monotheism.  Giving our Creator His due right of sole worship, in every which way and form, totally belonging to Him and only Him.  This is what separates Islam from every other religion.  From this concept, once it is understood, engrained and firmly rooted in us, all the other little pieces will come together in it’s due time.

I often think about an email that circulates the cyberworld.  It is called “Parent Job Description”.  Here it is:

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