Tajweed,My Struggle & A Little Pep Talk to Myself!

10 07 2007


So, I’m trying to learn tajweed. For those who may not know, Tajweed is the perfect recitation of the Qur’an in it’s original Arabic script. Why would I even attempt such a thing (when it is not obligatory in Islam to learn anything other than the Fatiha (first chapter we say in every prayer)? Well,

As an authentic hadith in At-Tirmithee states The Prophet (saw) said:: “Whoever reads a letter from the Book of Allah, he will have a reward. And that reward will be multiplied by ten. I am not saying that “Alif, Laam, Meem” is a letter, rather I am saying that “Alif” is a letter, “laam” is a letter and “meem” is a letter.” So increase your recitation of the Qur’an to gain these merits, and to gain the following merit as well.

I just learned the Alphabet in March and have progressed reading since then. Two weeks ago, my tajweed class began. I am not going to lie. No matter how much I practice, It is difficult for me. My teacher is wonderful and patient. Never insulting or rude.Maybe it is my southern accent that gives me a hard time pronouncing the words or maybe I just want to use that as an excuse. I don’t know. All, I know is that I have to fight myself to go to the class. I find myself making a hundred excuses to get out of it. Though, I always end up there in class with the rest of my peers being corrected over and over again. Everyone else seems to be getting it. Therefore, It is truly a humbling experience. I don’t mean to sound arrogant but I have always had a good memory and I’m not stupid either. 😉 Though, this seems to be my struggle. It is what I have been given now to see if I keep on with it or if I let it go and give up. Maybe it is my test from Allah. May Allah help me to remain steadfast and give me the patience and ability to learn to recite His beautiful words. ameen.

Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, relates that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “Verily the one who recites the Qur’an beautifully, smoothly, and precisely, he will be in the company of the noble and obedient angels. And as for the one who recites with difficulty, stammering or stumbling through its verses, then he will have TWICE that reward.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]


Questions asked by Non-Muslims, Atheists

7 07 2007

Again, any slurs will be deleted and I have all comments on moderation! 

Identity Crisis

20 06 2007

be-yourself.jpgOver the years I have met many converts to Islam (both online and in person). One thing that I have found many of us have in common, no matter our age or background ,is an identity crisis when we first entered Islam. It shouldn’t really be all that shocking. We have made a MAJOR change in our lives and our lifestyle. Some of us were completely disowned by our families and everything we knew was suddenly turned upside down. So, there we were like awkward teenagers trying to “find ourselves” and where we fit in.

For me, when I embraced Islam, I knew that my entire identity had changed. Though, i knew my new identity was a Muslim, I didn’t fully know what that meant. I had learned quite a bit about Islam before converting and kept company with a very sweet Muslim sister. However, she graduated the same year that I took shahada, the same year that I was forced from my home, the same year that I lost contact with most of my family and felt like a social outcast in the neighborhood. So, there I was to try to figure it out for myself.

At the time, I didn’t know how to hang onto my unique self and take on the identity of a Muslim. Mistakenly, I thought that Muslim=Arab. I thought that in order to be the best Muslim that I could be that I should be the best Arab imitator that I could be. I began eating etnic food from Arab countries, listening to Arabic music, watching arabic films (no, i didn’t understand it, LOL), wearing the clothing (some of it very UN-Islamic). I even thought that I needed to change my name, although, my original name had no bad meaning.

Alhamdullilah(All praise and thanks is due to Allah), eventually, I learned enough about Islam to know that there was no need for all those changes. I learned from the Qur’an that Allah tells us: He made us all of different nations and nationalities so that we may know one another and that if He had wanted we would all have been one nation. I learned from the Sunnah that the Prophet(saw) kept company with people of other ethnicities other than His own. I learned that the handshake that the Prophet(saw) told us all to greet with was originally from the Yemeni people. All these examples, made me realize that we are all one ummah(community) and have several things that sets us apart specifically and binds us together. However, we can still continue to be our unique selves as long as we don’t do anything that goes against the Qur’an and Sunnah. Most importantly, I learned that my new Identity was not meant to be arab, It was meant to be islamic. It couldn’t be found in a certain country or on a specific continent, it could only be found in the Qur’an and Sunnah.

So, I embraced my southern self. Well, minus the ham and sausage (who wants clogged arteries anyway?!)

Visiting My Non-Muslim Father After Two Years

9 06 2007

So, insh’Allah we are leaving this evening to visit my non muslim family. In particular we will be visiting my father. While I now have a respectful loving relationship with most of my family, I have not laid eyes on this man for two years. He hasn’t even seen my youngest son and has only seen the oldest once in person. I have sent him pictures of them but always have them returned. So, I am a bit nervous. I have kept in touch with him through letters, cards, and phone calls. He is not very responsive to my phone calls and usually I hear him tell his wife to say he’s not there. I guess they should invest in caller id ;). The truth is, since childhood I have not had a close relationship with my father. Everytime I would try to get close to him, I would be pushed away. However,I never felt the void of not having a father growing up.I was truly blessed to have a wonderful stepfather who treated me as his own.

I guess you are wondering, “so why go visit him now?” Well, My sister called me a few days ago and informed me that my father will be having a risky surgery this upcoming week. I tried to call but got the usual treatment. I was torn on whether to write him a letter and hope he gets it in time or ask my sister to pass him messages. Then, my husband came home. We had a long conversation and he convinced me to go see my father. He gently reminded me of the hadith:

`Abdullah bin `Amr Al-`as (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) said, “The person who perfectly maintains the ties of kinship is not the one who does it because he gets recompensed by his relatives (for being kind and good to them), but the one who truly maintains the bonds of kinship is the one who persists in doing so even though the latter has severed the ties of kinship with him”.

So, here I am now, trying to think what will I say when I see him, what will I wear, what will my kids wear, etc.  There is so much to be said(two years worth in fact) and so much that needs to be said . In the end, I have to wonder if I will end up driving the six hours just to get the door shut in my face.  It’s like meeting a stranger. Maybe it is like an adopted child meeting his long lost parents. The only thing I’m sure of is that,insh’Allah, I will put my complete trust in Allah and make dua for the best. For Allah is the Best Protector and Facilitator May Allah make it easy for us all and guide our non muslim families to Islam. ameen.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: A man said to Messenger of Allah (PBUH): “I have relatives with whom I try to keep the ties of relationship but they sever relations with me; and whom I treat kindly but they treat me badly, I am gentle with them but they are rough to me.” He (PBUH) replied, “If you are as you say, it is as if you are feeding them hot ashes, and you will be with a supporter against them from Allah as long as you continue to do so”.

Commentary (from riyad us saliheen): This Hadith has three important lessons:

First, the misbehaviour of one’s relative is no justification for the misbehaviour of another, let alone the severing of relations on that account.

Second, the person who treats his relatives nicely in all events and circumstances is blessed by Allah Who will send from heaven helpers to support him.

Third, the consequence of denying compassion and kindness to relatives is as woeful as the eating of hot ashes.

1 in 1000: The Only Muslim in Town

2 06 2007

muslimwomansittingalone.jpgBeing the only Muslim woman in town is lonely. You feel like you would love some sisters to invite to tea or to share your experiences with, to go shopping with. You long to be able to just jump in your car and drive minutes to the Masjid. You can join as many online women’s groups as you like and  it will help fill in the gap some; Although, you will still be left wanting, more. Online relationships are one thing but a tangible person sitting with you, talking with you, laughing and sharing with you is, well, real.

When I first converted to Islam I was in this very situation. The whole town consisted of maybe a thousand people and I was the talk of the town. Every outing I made was a spectacle. You could see all the other women whispering and staring. The men glaring. At the time it was more or less hurtful. Though, looking back now I can find humor in it.

I had many instances of people thinking I am a foreigner. For some reason, the hijab automatically makes people assume you are foreign. 😉 They would be amazed at my grasp on the English language and probably thought I was a genius for getting their dialect down perfectly.

During my years spent in small town, America I realized just how cruel some people could be and at the same time how beautiful and open people can be. You see some days I would go out and get a smile and a conversation. Somedays, I would get people who were honestly just curious about me and my way of life.I figured it was the will of Allah that I landed in this town as the only Muslimah. Ultimatley, I began to open up more to the non Muslim women in my neighborhood. I began to take them small gifts and when I did I noticed something amazing. I came to realize that being the only Muslim in town could be an excellent opportunity for da’wah (educating and calling to Islam) if you embrace it. I realized that instead of sitting in my house alone, pouting because I couldn’t find any Muslimah friends, that I should just go out and try to make the best of it.

Only after I came to this realization and began interacting with my community did I learn of four other Muslim families in the next town over. Mash’Allah, after all this time searching, once I came to terms with my situation, I found the Muslim women. I’m sure that it happend this way for a reason. I did begin going for brunches and teas with these Muslim women. We would sit and talk and go shopping. It was every bit as wonderful as I had imagined. However, I continued my involvement in the community and continued having the non Muslims for lunch or taking them cookies or small gifts as well. So, then I realized that I had double the pleasure. I had the pleasure of dispelling some of the myths related to Muslim woman plus I had my Muslim sisters to go to for support.

Insh’Allah, when we moved away from that small mountain community we left more people who were educated about Islam than when we arrived. That is a great accomplishment and one that does not come without the Decree of Allah. May Allah guide us all. ameen.


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.

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…..