The Spokeswoman for Islam

31 05 2007

Let’s face it, the muslimah is like a spokeswoman for Islam without even saying a word. Why? Because it is a fact that the Muslim woman is the easiest to spot. Often, the muslim men adopt western style clothing and blend in so well that you wouldn’t even know they are Muslims. While the woman, with her beautiful hijab and abaya stands out like a beautiful flower in a baren wasteland. However, She doesn’t even need to speak a word to convey her message. Her actions do all the talking.

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When she covers her body she is saying: “I won’t allow men to look at my figure and have perverse thoughts about me.”

When she lowers her gaze she is saying: “I won’t indulge in exchanging glances that may lead to immoral actions.”

When she smiles and greets the cashier she is saying: “See, I don’t think ill of all non muslims.”

When she returns the bit of money that the cashier mistakenly gave her she is saying: “I am fair.”
When she stands up for herself when she has been wronged she is saying: “I am not opressed and i certainly have my own mind.”
When she gets her degree at the university she is saying: “I am capable of suceeding.”
When she decides to stay home and care for her children she is saying: “I do care about the future of the muslim ummah. ”
When she goes to work and does her job well she is saying: “I can be a productive part of society.”
When she volunteers her time and efforts at Islamic schools and charities she is saying:”I am humble enough to help my brothers and sisters in Islam.”

And when she comes home after a long day, everyone else is saying…..I wonder why i ever had those misconceptions about Muslim women.

So, my sisters, stand up and have inner pride. Whatever you do make sure that you do your best because you are a reflection of Islam and the rest of us muslim women. It may be through your daily interactions that you could plant a seed of curiosity in someone’s heart that may grow and turn into guiding them to Islam.

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The Shahada is just the beginning….

30 05 2007

white-pale-rose-heart-636.jpgInforming the family:

It was a cool winter evening. I pulled into my driveway and saw my family all sitting around relaxing on the front porch. I was obviously brimming with happiness after taking the shahada. I was of course wearing hijab. That wasn’t new to my family though. I had covered my head to a degree as a Christian as well and my mom was fully supportive of that. However, the feeling of happiness coupled with my naive nature at my young age led me to just blurt out to them: “I just converted to islam.” At first they all just kind of looked at me like they weren’t sure what i had said. Then, finally, my younger stepbrother spoke, “you’re kidding right?”. With all eyes on me,I replied, no. At that point, I began to feel nervous. We all just sat there silent for a few minutes. Then my mother and stepfather asked me to come inside and ordered my stepbrother to stay where he was. That’s when I realized that i was in for it. So, they brought me in the house and sat me down and tried to talk me out of Islam gently. They took out the Bible and read verses to me, they even took the extra step to call the pastor and have him speak with me. When I wouldn’t budge, my mom lost it. She began crying and asking me where she had failed me and why I would do such a thing. When I tried to respond to her by letting her know that it wasn’t anything she did or didn’t do she would just get more and more irate. Finally, it came to the point that I was given a choice to either convert back to Christianity and denounce Islam or leave. I tried to reason with them but to no avail. So, I packed up my things and left.

Alhamdullilah, I had my own car. So, I was able to stay in my car for a couple of days. I knew that I could not live this way and I knew that it wasn’t smart to drop out of highschool and work full time(especially since I was so close to being finished). So, I went to visit my grandmother. Mash’Allah she asked me where I was staying and I told her. Then, she offered to allow me to live with her until I finished school. This woman did not batter me over my religion nor did she prohibit me from practicing my religion in her house.

After a year had passed, my mom and I made contact. It turned out that she had been keeping tabs on me through my grandma. 🙂 I prepared myself by going to http://www.whyislam.org and getting pamphlets to help answer her questions. So, we all sat down again. This time in a calm manner and discussed Islam. They had many questions. Most of the Questions centered around what i now believe, hijab, dietary laws, men’s rights over women, my role as a woman in Islam, How I worship Allah and the obligations imposed on me, and of course why i became a muslim. I patiently tried to answer their questions as best I could and gave them the pamphlets for later referral.

Finally, when asked, what my relationship would be with them now, I gave them the response that Allah (swt) says in the Quran:Say : O ye that reject Faith! I worship not that which ye worship, Nor will ye worship that which I worship. And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship, Nor will ye worship that which I worship. To you be your Way, and to me mine. (Qur’an 109: 1-6) Also, I informed them of their rights over me as parents and the good treatment enjoined on parents. I told them that I would always be their daughter and that I will always have love and respect for them. At that point, we decided to put the past behind us and move forward with our relationship.

Some points to consider when telling your non muslim family that you have accepted Islam:

For me this happened twice in a sense. The first time I was young and just sprang it on them. The second time, we all sat down and had an open discussion after putting some time between us. In my case, the second approach worked much better. So, these suggestions are simply that, suggestions. You know yourself and your family better than I do, so you can gauge what would be the best option for you.

*pick a good time (you want everyone to be relaxed and have time to process, talk, and work through the process.) I know some muslims who have been muslims for years and their families still do not know. This wasn’t possible for me as it didn’t fit into my personality. However, even if you are feeling scared, you have to know that more than likely your family will come around and treat you normally. I know many Muslims who told their family and got no reaction at all or had a very mild reaction. So, every experience will be different. Just put your trust in Allah and make plenty of dua and insh’Allah you will be fine.
*pick a good place (again make sure it is someplace where they can respond to you and not feel restricted or embarrassed such as they would in a public place)
*Be ready for the flow of questions.
*I recommend taking pamphlets or other matierial designed to teach non muslims a bit about Islam. (whyislam.org offers a variety of pamphlets in English and Spanish also there is a new book out by dr. ali shehata: Demystifying Islam which covers a variety of hot topics that come up in Islamic discussions).
*Be confident. Be firm. Be direct. Be Patient. Be calm.Be respectful.
*You could also opt to inform them by phone or letter. You know yourself and you know your family. So, whichever method you think would be best to use then you should go for it.





Yes, I am hot… but not as hot as you!

28 05 2007

*First of all, let me note that this is just for fun. None of us Muslimahs mind people coming up to us asking questions about our religion in a calm open minded manner. In fact, we encourage asking questions.*

It never fails. Every summer here in the south (in 100+ degree heat nonetheless) someone asks me the question that I wouldn’t be surprised if every single muslimah has been asked once in her life. That is,”Are you hot?” Of course I am hot! It’s 100 degrees never mind the humidity, everyone is hot.

It’s funny actually. When I first converted to Islam and began wearing the hijab, I would try to brush it off. I’d say, “No, I’m not really hot.”. Then, as a year went by, my response changed to trying to educate them about the hijab and it’s benefits (loose and airy, provides a cover so the skin doesn’t get damaged). Fast forward a few years and now my response is simply,” yes. “

Seriously, I think all of us hijabis living in warm climates should make ourselves flyers to just hand out when we are asked that silly question. Because, you can be assured even the most patient muslimah is tested when she is being held up in severe heat, her hands full, kids hanging off her and tugging at her abaya, with a nice air conditioned building in sight while being asked questions about whether she is hot.

Printing up flyers would so much easier. Simple just hand it to the person and walk on to the nice air conditioned building.In fact, the person asking you will probably be trying to give you a flyer for some bogus knock off products, or even better a pamphlet sponsored by some church to try and “save your soul before it’s too late.”

So my proposed flyer would go as follows:

Title: “Yes, I’m hot but not as hot as you!”

*The loose garments of a Muslim woman provides circulation of air so that the heat stays away from the body.

*The covering prevents the skin from damage such as but not limited to:skin cancer, freckles, moles, the dreaded WRINKLES, and hair breakage.

*Hell is hotter.

*No I’m not forced to wear this. Look around do you see anyone who is here to force me? (you know they are wondering this too, so you might as well throw it in there.)

hehe. insh’Allah the other hijabi’s out there can remember this when this question is posed and have a laugh. 🙂

So, what are your suggestions? I’m curious to know how other hijabi’s deal with this question. Surely, I’m not the only one!

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25 05 2007

My Journey to Islam

I grew up in a small southern town. I attended church all my life and was raised by a missionary mother and a very religious step-father. In fact, I was well on my way to becoming a missionary as well. Although, I had been to the alter several times I never felt the feeling that I had always heard you were ‘supposed’ to feel when you are saved. I never had a peace or a contentment. I would cry all night and read the Bible in search of the truth. I would speak with sunday school teachers, my mother and pastors of various denominations and churches. However, try as i may, I could NEVER feel as though i was saved. So, I finally ,feeling embarassed, put those feelings on the backburner and decided even if I didn’t feel it I would fake it.

All this would change during my last years of highschool…

My junior year in highschool I met a Muslim at my mother’s workplace. He gave me his sisters telephone number and I took it with the sole intent to convert her to Christianity. The more I spoke with this girl the more I realized that she did raise some good points. She wasn’t the opressed victim that I had always perceived Muslim women to be. Rather she was outgoing and opinionated. She spoke up for herself and her beleifs. Even though, I was sure she was going to Hell I was still impressed by her personality and convictions. My relationship with this girl continued to grow as did her patience with me. She would spend countless hours answering my questions. The more i studied her religion the more I was enamored by it.

Finally, I began to realize that Jesus did seem more as a Prophet than a son of God and the more i studied the teachings of Jesus i saw that Muhammad taught the same things. However, i wasn’t ready to convert just yet.

I continued praying excessively that God would guide me and help me to “be saved.” Then one day, I woke up and read a passage of the Qur’an:
Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things. (Qur’an 2:256).

At that point I knew that i believed in Islam and didn’t want to hesitate anymore. I had literally almost woken up a muslim. After all the nights spent in prayer asking God to guide me. I was guided.

Immediatley I called the sister to go to the masjid. We traveled the 2 hours to the Masjid and I took the shahada (Islamic testimony of faith: La ilaha il Allah, Muhammad-ur-Rasool-Allah :None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah).

Then, it happend. I felt it immediatley. It felt as if i had huge weights lifted off my shoulders and my heart opened up. I felt an undescribeable peace and calm. An amazing tranquility came over me. Alhamdullilah, Allahu Akbar( All praise and thanks are due to Allah and Allah is the Greatest)

Then began my journey as a Muslimah…..