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Articles of Faith New Muslims

The Straight Path & Life’s Inevitable Change

the greatest constant in my life has been my faith in Allah

If I stop moving in such a dynamic world, I will wake up suddenly one day to find that I have been left behind all alone.

 

In my prayers, I am constantly beseeching Allah with the words: “Guide us to the straight path.” Why, then, would I not see any changes in my personality?

Change, after all, is how we learn to respond correctly to new developments. It is how we move away from blind following and dependence on others towards independent thinking. It is the natural response to a world which is, by its very nature, in a perpetual state of change.

Religion, in its essence, is constant. However, our human interpretations and opinions are subject to reassessment. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to beseech Allah with the words: “You Who turn our hearts, make my heart constant in Your faith.” However, he would also make the following supplication: “Guide me to the truth in those matters wherein people have differed.”

The circumstances the first Muslims faced when they were in Makkah were different from those they found when the emigrated to Madinah. The Prophet’s era was different from the era of the rightly guided Caliphs that followed. If we consider the Islamic legal opinions of the great jurist Ash-Shafi`i, we find that the rulings he formulated in Iraq were quite different than those he later codified in Egypt. Ibn Taymiyah, likewise, changed his views many times throughout his life.

In Islamic Law, commands take precedence over prohibitions, mercy takes precedence over strictness, and winning hearts takes precedence over deterrence. In my personal life, I prefer to judge and criticize myself before judging others. I like to discover my own faults instead of seeking out the faults of those around me.

The sky changes by the movement of its clouds. The rivers change through the flowing of their waters. The earth changes in its topography. Every day, the sun sets at a different point on the horizon. If I stop moving in such a dynamic world, I will wake up suddenly one day to find that I have been left behind all alone.

I spent five years secluded from the influence of society. This gave me freedom; the freedom to escape from the narrowness of circumstances to a broader outlook. It gave me renewed life and allowed me to better appreciate the good in others. When I came back into society, I found that a sector of society had moved towards an aggressive attitude. I had to make my stance against their behavior clear, even though it meant losing their favorable opinion of me.

In the Qur’an, we read where Moses (peace be upon him) asked Khidr: “Might I follow you so that you can teach me the wisdom which has been taught to you?” However, who has ever heard someone ask: “Might I follow you so that you can obey me?” This is inconceivable. My freedom is my most precious possession. Freedom does not like being curtailed, whether by a leader or by a follower. I must keep on moving, even if it means I will stumble over and over again. I just have to try and pick myself up every time as quickly as I can.

I am proud that the greatest constant in my life has been my faith in Allah, my deep love for Him and my positive expectations of His providence. I am able to forget my worries, pain and suffering when I bow myself before Him in prayer.

Let me take an example from my life. In my youth, I had unquestioningly followed some of the leading scholars in what was then a commonly-held opinion that Islam prohibited photography except in cases of necessity. I understood that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had cursed the maker of images, and consequently I could not fathom how pictures might be used as a means to call people to Allah.

Now, due to changing circumstances, you hardly find anyone who says Islam prohibits photography. This change did not take place on account of new research, but rather due to changing circumstances in the world. A courageous scholar is one who opens doors that can be opened, rather than waiting for others to break those doors down.

Indeed, I have changed a lot over the years, as well I should. If I was still saying in my forties what I used to say when I was twenty, that would mean I had spent twenty years of my life in vain.

_________________________

Source: islamtoday.com.

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New Muslims Reflections

Experience Lessons from Converting to Islam

prayer beads, Islam

Some people may continue to cut you off, but even those hurts will heal as so many more people continue to love and accept you.

1- It Gets Easier

The beginning is always the hardest. You’ve found the truth, fulfillment, and a sense of peace you never imagined possible. A handful of people can’t wait to share Islam with their families, but for most of us, breaking the news to parents, grandparents, relatives, and sometimes kids, brings a sense of dread.

This sense of dread has been even more heightened since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. Many people perceive being a Muslim as the antithesis of being an American for example, even though Islam teaches us to uphold religious freedom. To most people, Islamic practice embodies the opposite of American or Western values and lifestyles.

Family members may be shocked or even mildly okay at first, but after it has sunk in, they may be angry, devastated, or cut themselves off from you. You may never again experience the kind of emotional hurts that you will when you first tell your family that you’ve accepted Islam. The reality is they are hurting too, and their hurts are justified in their minds, even if they aren’t in yours.

In the beginning many family members will act their worst, making threats and saying hurtful things, but the more you stay calm and continue to be yourself despite your new faith, the more they will cool down and eventually realize they overreacted.  Some people may continue to cut you off, but even those hurts will heal as so many more people continue to love and accept you.  Hang in there, it does get better.

2- No Matter How Much You Explain, They Still May Not Get It

Sometimes we think that if we just explained to our family members what Islam is and why it is right or why it doesn’t oppress women and why it isn’t about terrorism, our family members will suddenly have a light bulb moment and say “You know what, that does make perfect sense! I’m not upset anymore!”

Don’t be surprised if it seems to go through one ear and out the other. The truth is they are hearing what you’re saying and cataloging it, but they are too emotional to focus on it right now.

Over time you will begin to have thoughtful, rational conversations with family and friends, but it’s not something that’s going to happen right away in many cases. Even if your family doesn’t have a problem with Islam, or Muslims, they have a problem with you becoming one. You were as American as apple pie; they watched you unwrap Christmas presents under the tree every year, and dreamed of your white wedding. There is a sense of loss that they are trying to cope with.

Don’t expect to rationalize with them much at first (unless they ask questions—and even then, don’t expect too much) and don’t be disheartened.

3- Goodness Is Not Just about Religion

You will find that some of the best people you know are still people of other faiths, and by ‘best people’ I mean people who are ethical, caring, and altruistic; people who are civil and well-mannered. You will find that some Muslims act as third-world and corrupt as the dictators that preside over their homelands.

Do not assume that all Muslims will be exemplary human beings (and the organizations that many of them run are even worse). Expect to be gravely disappointed in the way many mosques are run and how unkempt they are, in how rude and ill-mannered some of your brothers and sisters in faith are, and at how dysfunctional Islamic schools and their students seem to be.

Be ready to feel a pang of disappointment when you find Thanksgiving with your family was more pleasant than iftar (meal to break the fast) at the masjid with your brothers and sisters in faith. Don’t, however, let this disenchant you from the deen or become harsh with them. You may have been privileged to grow up in a first world country and raised on its high standards. No one chooses the family and country into which they were born. Hone in on your strengths as a citizen and what positive things you can bring to the community, rather than letting it make you arrogant.

4- Be Merciful

Converts are surrounded on all sides by frustrating experiences. They have to deal with ignorance and intolerance from other faith based family and friends, and often have to deal with the same thing from the Muslim community. Add a few bad relationships or failed love stories in and you have a recipe for some serious bitterness.

Many times we get blind-sided by our negative emotions: fear, disappointment, anger, resentment, etc. We become intolerant of the shortcomings we see in others that we don’t find in ourselves.

As converts we are in a unique position of having a blended identity that gives us different perspectives, but whatever shortcomings we see in others we should remember that we have our own as well.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) truly had no shortcomings, and his trademark in dealing with ignorance was mercy. Instead of looking at others with distaste and judging them, we should feel sorry for them if they really have a problem and resolve to be good friends.

At no point should any person look at us, Muslim or not, and get the impression that we have our noses in the air. We should focus on keeping a soft heart towards everyone, because the real enemies of Islam are few and far between (though they may get the most traction) and we should always maintain a soft heart towards our Muslim brothers and sisters.

5- Being a Muslim Is Awesome, Becoming a Minority Is Difficult

Welcome to a world you may have never experienced before, the world of ‘the other’. This is the place of those who don’t hold an ‘entitlement’ card by virtue of their birth, a world of strange looks and racial slurs. This can be hard to grapple with initially since some of us were never raised to deal with it.

When you wear hijab you may notice that people aren’t as friendly to you as they once were; you see the change in demeanor that is provoked by your religious identity. It is not fair, and being raised on certain values that preach fairness and equality but never having really experienced racism yourself, you are in for a frustrating experience.

You will see the latent hypocrisy that exists in many aspects of our society, you will have a perfect image of our great nation shattered, you will experience double standards and security checks and anti-Muslim bigotry, but take heart in the fact that you will also experience the greatness of the human spirit and the people of your country. You will see that for every negative experience you have, you will have many more positive ones.

On the other hand, you will meet people who go out of their way to compliment you on your hijab, people will politely ask you questions and make it a point to tell you how much they respect what you’re doing. You will find that most people strive toward fairness, justice, and morality. The bumps in the road are just going to make the smoother patches seem all the more smooth. Don’t focus on the negative or take it personally, just enjoy the positive.

6- Don’t Be a Groupie

Never subscribe to any single imam, scholar, or organization as the ultimate authority and source of knowledge, and stay away from people who tell you to do so. There are kooks and cults within the Muslim community, and your innocent, convert face makes you a perfect follower.

Even within conservative Islam, there are varying opinions on many subjects, and the best scholars and imams are those who acknowledge those differences respectfully. Be wary of imams and scholars who are quick to put down others, who insult, and who promote their teachings and opinions as ‘correct’ with a disdain for those who are ‘incorrect’. What most people don’t realize is that these types of people are everywhere, not just in the Salafi community. They are Ṣufis, Ḥanafis, and progressives too. Every sect within Islam has its extremists. Stay away from all of them.

Also, keep in mind that if you have a question you want answered, talk to a sheikh or imam who understands your particular scenario, preferably one who has a great deal of experience with domestic issues and converts. In such cases avoid Google if you can. A good rule of thumb is to seek religious advice or rulings only from someone who is very familiar with your society and circumstances.

7- You Are the Trophy Muslim

“How long have you been Muslim? How did you convert?” These are two questions you are going to hear for the rest of your life, so have the edited monologue ready. Every time people ask you these questions, their eyes light up. (I know, it’s annoying.) They want you to move them and give them their daily iman-boost with your magical story, and suddenly you feel some pressure to perform. You don’t have to.

While I encourage you to be polite, understand that you aren’t putting on a show to make others else feel good about themselves or Islam. Keep it short and simple. Other people will patronize you in the beginning when they hear you’ve been Muslim for a few years, and may ask you basic questions, assuming you know nothing. They are well intentioned, but have a response ready, that is polite but also ends the conversation. You don’t have to stand there and smile and endure this time and again.

Be nice but brief, and know that you don’t have to share any details of your life or conversion that you don’t want to.

8- Be Careful of Whom You Marry

There are plenty of examples of successful interracial and intercultural marriages, and most converts will marry someone who is not of the same ethnic background. However, I will say this: you are more devoted citizen than you probably realize, and even if a man or woman has been living in this country for decades, if they grew up in a Muslim country, you are going to have some major differences in terms of expectations, mannerisms, and how you think and process things.

While racism is completely prohibited in Islam, a person who marries a Muslim from another country will face challenges directly related to race and/or culture. If you’re a woman, you may be especially vulnerable to being put in a position where you are expected to sacrifice aspects of your identity, especially because you are the one coming from a non-Muslim background. This is not to say that this is always the case, but it is a common problem that converts face when marrying, so it’s something to keep in mind.

9- Stick to Your Nationality

Some Western policies are at a low when it comes to how this country treats Muslims both at home and abroad, and unfortunately anti-Muslim bigotry is shockingly rampant. Many You are not a drone program or a war or a policy. You are not anti-Muslim or anti-Western bigotry. You are a person who was born in a country that has so much more positivity going for it than it does negativity, a country that has provided you with an experience that has made you into the person you are today: the person who chose Islam as their faith.

You may be outspoken, educated, independent, proactive, charismatic, caring, brave, and filled with dreams that you are determined to make come true for the better of the Muslim community and the world. You didn’t become all that the day you became a Muslim, you became all that the years you were raised as a can-do American or British for example.

Don’t let anyone else tell you what it means to be a true or a real patriot. Don’t let anyone make you feel that as a Muslim you are less entitled to being the person you have been your entire life. You have the unique opportunity to redefine your citizenship, so get out there and do it.

_________________________

Source: muslimmatters

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Who Is the Muslim and How to Be One?

muslim prayer

Only someone who is a slave of none but God and a follower of none but His Messengers can be truly called a Muslim.

BY Abul A`la Mawdudi

According to the Qur’an, men go astray in three ways. The first is to ignore the guidance of God and become slaves of desire. The second is to give precedence to family, culture, society, customs and the ways of forefathers over the law of God. The third is to ignore the way enunciated by God and His Messenger (peace be upon him) and follow the ways either of so-called important people or of other civilizations and cultures.

A True Muslim

A true Muslim should be free from these three ailments. Only someone who is a slave of

none but God and a follower of none but His Messengers can be truly called a Muslim.

A Muslim sincerely believes that the teaching of God and His Messenger is absolute truth, that whatever runs counter to it is false, and that it contains all that is good for man in this world and in the Hereafter. A Muslim who has complete faith in these truths will, at every step in his life, look only to God and the Messenger to guide him and submit to whatever they require.

Such a person will never feel troubled in his heart about obeying God’s commandments, or be concerned if members of his family or his society upbraid him, or if the entire world opposes him. In each case his response will be unequivocal: I am God’s slave, not yours; I have faith in His Messenger, not in you.

What is Hypocrisy?

Serving the Self

On the other hand, a person may say, ‘This may be the directive of God and the Messenger, but it is difficult for me to accept it because it seems to be harmful. So I shall act according to my own opinion as against the guidance of God and the Messenger.’

Obviously, no faith can be alive in the heart of such a person. He is not a true believer (mu’min) but a hypocrite (munafiq). While he verbally claims to be a servant of God and a follower of the Messenger, in reality he is a slave of his own self and a follower of his own opinions.

Adherence to Society and Culture

Similarly, a person may say that whatever the injunctions of God and the Messenger may be, a certain practice cannot be given up because it has been followed since the times of his forefathers. He, too, must then be reckoned among the hypocrites, however prominent the mark on his forehead traced by prostration in endless prayers and however pious his face.

The spirit of Islam has not entered his heart. Islam does not consist merely in bowing (ruku`, prostration (sujud) , Fasting (sawm) and Pilgrimage (Hajj); nor is it found in the face and dress of a man.

Islam means submission to God and the Messenger. Anyone who refuses to obey them in the conduct of his life-affairs has a heart devoid of the real Islam – ‘faith has not yet entered their hearts’. His Prayers, his Fasting and his pious appearance are nothing but deception.

Imitating Other People

Again, someone may, in defiance of the Book of God and the Messenger’s directions, urge thus: Such and such ideas and practices should be adopted because they are prevalent in the West; this particular behavior must be accepted because other nations are making progress because of it; this point should be conceded because an important person is advocating it. Such a person is in grave danger of losing his faith. This attitude is irreconcilable to iman (faith).

If you are Muslims and want to remain Muslims, then cast overboard every suggestion which is contrary to the injunctions of God and His Messenger. If you cannot, it ill behoves you to claim to be following Islam. To assert that you believe in God and the Messenger but to ignore their injunctions in the conduct of your lives in favor of other people’s thoughts and practices is neither iman nor Islam. It is sheer hypocrisy.

Allah leaves no doubt about the ridiculous nature of such conduct:

Indeed We have sent down revelations clearly showing the truth, but God guides whomsoever He will to a straight path. They say, ‘We believe in God and the Messenger, and we obey’. Then, after that, a party of them turn away; they are not (true) believers. And when they are called unto God and His Messenger that he may decide between them, behold, a party of them turn away; but if they are in the right, they will come unto him submitting willingly. What! Is there in their hearts sickness? Or are they in doubt? Or, do they fear that God and His Messenger may be unjust towards them?

Nay, it is they who are doing wrong. All that the believers say, whenever they are called unto God and His Messenger that he may judge between them, is that they say, ‘We hear, and we obey.’ It is they who are the successful.

Whoso obeys God and His Messenger, and fears God, and has awe of Him, it is they who shall triumph. (An-Nur 24:46-52)

Reflect on the definition of iman set out here. What is iman? It consists in submitting yourselves, willingly and totally, to the Book of God and the guidance given by His Messenger.

Whatever guidance and commandments are received from these sources you must implicitly obey and no arguments against them should be listened to, whether they come from your own minds, or from members of your families, or from outsiders. You can only be a Muslim if you develop this attitude. If you do not, you are no more than a hypocrite.

Compare, now, yourselves with those who had real and true iman in their hearts and see how they obeyed Allah and the Messenger.

_________________________

The article is an excerpt from Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi’s book “Let Us Be Muslims”.

 

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Islam & Life’s Struggles: What Is Missing in Your life?

nature seat

What is standing between you and God?

What do you struggle with in life? Do you ever wonder what is really missing in your life?

What is standing between you and true peace; between you and God?

In what do you believe? Do you really believe the things you believe in? Are you a true believer? And how do you know you are one? What should we do to enhance our faith?

Do you feel God’s love? Are you struggling with perfecting your faith and getting really close to Allah?

Have you asked yourself these questions before?

Some fellow American Muslims were asked these and other similar questions and here are their responses…

_________________________

Source: ibn.net

 

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Being Muslim in America…Between Diversity & Contribution

Nurullah Ates talked to Suhaib Webb for World Bulletin about American Muslims and being a Muslim in the U.S. Here are the questions and his answers …

1- Can you evaluate demographic and cultural background of Muslims in US- in terms of education, ethnic background, median age?

The best resource for that would be PEW. PEW study that was done and also there is a book written by Dalia Mogahed called “Who Speaks for Islam’’. These numbers show that 50% of American Muslims are from America and 50 percent are immigrants or children of immigrants. Also, 37% of Muslim Americans are under the age of 35. As far as ethnicity, our Mosque alone has 90 different ethnicities. So, extremely diverse.

Overwhelming of American Muslims have college degrees. Professionally most people are moderately successful. 50 percent of the community are African American according to some studies.

2- What do you think about this cultural diversity and its implication in the future? Do you think it has advantages or disadvantages?

I think there is an incredible potential where you have obviously financial potential and you see Muslims are participating in public institutions. Number two is that you are going to see the connection between older generations and younger generations. It is almost 40 percent of our community is under 40 years old. Then, definitely they are going to have different expectations and needs that are different than those who came before them.

3- What do you think about the attitude of Muslims towards other ethnic minorities- like Asians and Hispanics?

You can see in California that Muslims are doing a lot of work with those communities and Texas is another central place for those groups where substantial amount of them resides. But still Muslims are trying to institutionalize themselves to play a ‘‘larger game’’ if you would participate in broader societies. At least the dominant institutions, I mean institutional works are still not there.

4- Do you think the diversity (variety of ethnic and sectarian backgrounds) within the Muslim community has setback or potential?

No I think it is a setback. Because the lack of symmetry when it comes to religious authority of thought has led to splitting of mosques, jama`as (congregations) , communities. So I would rather prefer the monolith of Turkey and Malaysia than the diversity of America when it comes to Islam. But in England you cannot compare England to America. It is another level. The divisions are in England are very much more intense level than here. It is not like here.

Even the approach to education is very problematic. If you look America, I do not know about Turkey, there is no liberal arts experience in Muslims schools. There is no history. The only history that we have is Seerah (biography of the Prophet) and Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet), when you take out Islamic historical experience what you are doing is creating the perfect modernist. You create someone who just looks life as kufr (disbelief), iman (belief), shirk (associating others with Allah), tawheed (Oneness of God), Sunnah, bid`ah (innovation in religion), fiqh, grammar, balaghah (eloquence). And these are all constructed in Aristotle’s format which looks perfection. But when we bring history like history of Spain and Ottoman Empire, the history of Indians, Mongols or the history of Abbasid or Umawyeen, it will protect us from utopic understanding.

I am sure if you look at ISIS, you will see that their knowledge of Islam is shown to be extremely weak, like their knowledge of history. In Spain once the Muslims conquered one of the cities, they put Jewish people as the governors of those cities. This humanizes the experience.  So we are teaching young people now to be perfect modernist. They have no exposure to organic history.

The embodiment of Prophetic mercy is found in the human experiences not in the theological ones necessarily. Like for example I was taking a humanity class in college and we were studying Hagia Sophia and our professor said: ‘‘do you know that the Ottomans did not destroy the paintings of `Isa (Jesus) and Maryam (Mary). And she was like ‘’is not that incredible, amazing? ’’.

If we were to ask to “some” people, the fiqh opinion on that, they will burn it down. But for the genuine Muslim-human opinion it does not say that. The Prophet (Pbuh) said my community is not agree on misguidance.

So we have human experience of the Ummah that we can also learn from. This is something I am working on actually. We have collective experiences that we can learn. So in American Muslim community, if you go to Islamic schools there is no history. There is no calligraphy etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   To be continued

_________________________

Source: World Bulletin

 

About Imam Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American Muslim Resident Scholar, thought leader and educator. After his conversion to Islam, Webb left a career in the music industry and pursued his passion in education. He enrolled at the University of Central Oklahoma, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Education.

While pursuing his bachelor’s degree Imam Webb studied privately with a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. After intense private training in various Islamic sciences, Imam Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he not only provided Khutbas (Sermons) and religious classes but also counseled families and young people.

After serving as Imam and resident scholar in various communities across the country, Imam Webb decided to further his education and training in Islamic Law and various other Islamic sciences. Imam Webb enrolled at the world-renowned Islamic educational institution Al-Azhar University in the College of Shariʿah. There he studied at the college and privately with leading Islamic thinkers on contemporary Islam. After years of study in the Arabic Language, he was appointed head of the English translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Masriyah as a Mufti (Jurist).

While undergoing rigorous training in Islamic Law, Imam Webb completed the memorization of the Quran while in the city of Makkah. Imam Webb has not only studied at Al-Azhar but also holds a number of licenses from traditional scholars in various sciences as was practiced in traditional Islamic law for centuries.

Imam Suhaib Webb strongly advocates for an authentic articulation of the American Muslim identity. He is a proponent of understanding the various challenges facing the American Muslim community and finding solutions based on an authentic American Muslim experience.

In 2009 his website www.suhaibwebb.com won the Brass Crescent’s best “Blog of the Year” award. Recently he was part of a delegation that visited Auschwitz to develop better understanding between Muslim and Jewish Americans. He was named by the British Government as a “Moderate Muslim leader” and was named in 2010 and 2013 as one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.

From December 2011 to March 2014 Imam Suhaib Webb served as the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center’s Imam. In April 2014 he transitioned into ISBCC’s Resident Scholar. Imam Webb has lectured extensively around the world including the Middle East, East Asia, Europe, North Africa and North America.  He is also the founder and an Instructor at Ella Collins Institute. He lives in Boston, MA and is a proud Celtics fan.

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New Muslims Reflections

Being Muslim in America… Between Individuals & Institutions

Part 1

Islamic Information Centre of North America

These institutions should be independent, well-funded, accountable and effective.

Nurullah Ates talked to Suhaib Webb for World Bulletin about American Muslims and being a Muslim in America. Here are the questions and his answers…

5- What do you think about the contribution of the converts?

What you need is that you need academics but you also need activists. So you need people like Timothy Winter who are taught leaders right, taught production. We have a lot of those people in America like Sherman Jackson but many times people get lost in academia.

You have extremely gifted people but often times there is a linguistic gap where the dialectic they may be employing is different than those masses have. So between masses and academia that is why you have popular activists to convey their message.

This is also in the history of Ashab Al-Ukhdud right? As Sheikh told the boy: ”Do not tell people about me, just teach people”. The Sheikh is an academic and the taught leader whereas the boy is kind of popular activist. You need activists and you need scholars. We have a number of people like these scholars. The masses however have problem in understanding scholars due to vocabulary they are using.

6- One more question; there is like a tendency among some converts they choose to live in a Muslim country rather than staying in US.

I think there is a number of reasons for that. I think the first reason is that we do not build really institutional home in US. I think first reason therefore we do not have a community like American Muslims. You do not have institutions. Number two is we are faced to deal with immigrant community that is still very much try to negotiate “Americannes”. We did this 300 years ago.

Like I put a picture of a gun on my Facebook wall and there was a rigid reaction by a larger community which happens to be immigrant. But converts say like ‘”that is great to protect yourself”.

If you go to the conferences in America you know that the topic will be assimilation. I am a blonde and white guy. Assimilation? That is something important for certain people. Do not get me wrong! I was unassimilated by Wahhabi discourse. So I think when we go overseas it goes back what I said about history.

You experience human-organic, simple ideologically based practice. So if you go to Malaysia, very comfortable very simple very easy and also certain parts of Yemen there people are very easy going, like West Africa (God helped them with Ebola now).

One day my ex-wife , she is from Malaysia, said to me the difference between American converts in the West and those who are born Muslims still overseas, you are like someone who reads the book on how to ride a bike, but I just born riding a bike. So it does make sense but we want to be in a place where we can ride it.

I think a lot of us tired from the rule based Islam, modernist Islam I talked about earlier. We find more organic Islam in Muslim countries. When I go Muslim countries I feel so relaxed. But what seems scary is that groups like ISIS and others they are brained with very modernist, fascist understanding of religion in trying to impose to all people. I mean like how do you capture Muslims (regarding Turkish diplomats who were captured in Mosul). I mean in the most primitive fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). How come?

7- Coming to the Ella Collins, what do you say about its programs and future plans?

Ella Collins is the sister of Malcolm X. This again goes back to what we talked about earlier. Organic history with our roots here in America. Her life style was not perfect and she died in a very difficult situations. We named it ECI because she lived in this city. Our focus is primarily two areas: number one is adult education. This includes international students too. We have 130 students now. And second component of ECI is to train Imams and scholars (men and women) to serve as pastors in American Muslim communities. Like Imam-Hatip Schools in Turkey. (Smiling)

We want to grow by ourselves, we want to have our own schools and scholars. Like you guys. You know what I love about the Turks. You have your own identity and we have to have American identity in terms of cultural bases. So we can send our kids to Turkey and you can send some of your students to here and we train them in our community. This is the cooperative effort which will work.

In the past everybody came to America and tried to conquer it, take it. Those ideas still around but isolated everybody because they do not speak to a broader context. Al-Maghrib and Zaytuna are doing good job in this sense. For example we teach Hanafi School of fiqh in ECI so we can bring one from Turkey.

I brought one of my classmates from Al-Azhar to teach Shafi`i mazhab (school). She is a scholar. It was great for our sisters to see a woman scholar. Cooperation would be fantastic in this way. If I come to Turkey that is the one of the goal i.e. to build this bridge. Next year we are going to open our seminary. We will be opening with a seminary school. We will have 10 fellowships. It will be 2 years program. Then they can do 3rd year in Turkey.

You will have a guy in Turkey after 2 years he can come here and we can expose him like drug counseling care, sex abuse, we will expose him in America that will make him such a more dynamic scholar. I have been in Turkey I saw all the gay people. They might be good people though. The Prophet (peace be upon him) told us that people are like metals. You have to dig a metal. But if we can’t speak to them we do not have the right to justify them.

I met one time with a really secular person, I mean atheist, in Turkey. He was asking that why I converted. I said him when do you think Islam what do you think about it? He said- I swear by Allah- things like Al-`Qaida. His understanding of Islam was really like this and no wonder why he is not Muslim. Then when I explained to him why I converted Islam that is because of Allah’s rahmah (mercy).

You know what he told me, he was just crying, and telling me I never heard this before. I think what would be good to do is try to foster the cooperative model by sharing our best practices and best values.

For Turkish students as I said once they come here, after completing 2 years in Turkey, they can advance their skills. We can have them mentor like rabbis and priests they can see these advanced Jewish community members. Their administration was like White House. Perfect! We can have them also to work in prisons and in colleges.

Does ECI has an accreditation?

In order to get a state accreditation you need to sacrifice your curriculum. The other challenge I believe is that Muslims should first accredit themselves. We need to define what is right in our community and wrong. We should have first internal accreditation.

8- Being in Boston do you think beneficial because you have such a high number of students?

The students here are not actively coming to Mosque so like after 4 years they are gone. They have a huge academic pressure like in Oxford. That is the reason why I may relocate to like DC or similar places where more substantial population of Muslims are stable.

And also here in Boston even in MA the Muslim population is under 50.000. So it is not a big community. Not like Bay area or Virginia or New York city. New York city has a ridiculous number of mosques reaching to 300.

9- In US, some values and laws that are contradictory to Muslim values like mortgage, gay marriage, huge consumption. How do you see this?

Whatever Allah made is haram is haram. And whatever is halal is halal. So political alliances with people like who are pro-gay marriages and how to deal with them those are the job of political scientists and social scientists not the job of scholars.

Scholars, we do not know about the politics. We should stay out of politics. We should be advisers in political issues like ethical religious positions. But once it comes to political strategy we should be quiet. Those of the decisions that should be made jointly, this is not a fatwa this is a community decision.

As far as mortgages things like that, that is the fatwa. We have North American Fiqh Council and AMJA those are the institutions that make fatawa. Some of the issues like these, scholars should not have explicit voices. But they should shape the ethical aspect of it. So we need to have institutions that are going to service to these needs.

If the institutions are anemic then the result would be anemic. These institutions should be independent, well-funded, accountable and effective. So we are in the process of building these institutions.

This is the age of institutions for American Muslim community. It takes time but it needs a strategy too. Look at the Catholics and Jewish communities. What they were able to do is that they went beyond institutions not just for their community, they began to build institutions for the rest of society as well. They humanized themselves. Every major church in America runs hospital, why? Muslims have still not created functional institutions for themselves let alone the rest of society.

The second component what makes us very different than the Jewish communities, Catholic communities or Hindus etc. is that we have people in our community who want to destroy America. This is a problem. And who want to kill people. People will say Zionists Jewish people kill too. But they do not say explicitly. Israel did not come out and said we are going to kill Gazans. They say we are fighting with Hamas; even though we know what does that mean in broader context but the language they use very intelligently.

There was a senate in Oklahoma last week who said Muslims are cancer in this society. If he was to say this for any other religious community, they would fire him. But we are too busy with imams on Facebook and criticizing them all. The goal of ECI is to create institution that functions at high level.

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Source: World Bulletin

About Imam Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American Muslim Resident Scholar, thought leader and educator. After his conversion to Islam, Webb left a career in the music industry and pursued his passion in education. He enrolled at the University of Central Oklahoma, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Education.

While pursuing his bachelor’s degree Imam Webb studied privately with a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. After intense private training in various Islamic sciences, Imam Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he not only provided Khutbas (Sermons) and religious classes but also counseled families and young people.

After serving as imam and resident scholar in various communities across the country, Imam Webb decided to further his education and training in Islamic Law and various other Islamic sciences. Imam Webb enrolled at the world-renowned Islamic educational institution Al-Azhar University in the College of Shariʿah. There he studied at the college and privately with leading Islamic thinkers on contemporary Islam. After years of study in the Arabic Language, he was appointed head of the English translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Masriyah as a Mufti (Jurist).

While undergoing rigorous training in Islamic Law, Imam Webb completed the memorization of the Quran while in the city of Makkah. Imam Webb has not only studied at Al-Azhar but also holds a number of licenses from traditional scholars in various sciences as was practiced in traditional Islamic law for centuries.

Imam Suhaib Webb strongly advocates for an authentic articulation of the American Muslim identity. He is a proponent of understanding the various challenges facing the American Muslim community and finding solutions based on an authentic American Muslim experience.

In 2009 his website www.suhaibwebb.com won the Brass Crescent’s best “Blog of the Year” award. Recently he was part of a delegation that visited Auschwitz to develop better understanding between Muslim and Jewish Americans. He was named by the British Government as a “Moderate Muslim leader” and was named in 2010 and 2013 as one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.

From December 2011 to March 2014 Imam Suhaib Webb served as the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center’s Imam. In April 2014 he transitioned into ISBCC’s Resident Scholar. Imam Webb has lectured extensively around the world including the Middle East, East Asia, Europe, North Africa and North America.  He is also the founder and an Instructor at Ella Collins Institute. He lives in Boston, MA and is a proud Celtics fan.

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What It’s Like To Be A Muslim College Student Today

Muslim College Students

Muslim students are trying to accomplish the exact same goal as every other college student: to find their space on campus and make it to graduation.

“If you’ve never met a Muslim,” says Fatmah Berikaa, “you’re only getting the images that you see in the media.”

Berikaa, a freshman at Boston College, is one of several Muslim college students. The Huffington Post spoke to in recent weeks. Every day, in colleges across the country, young Muslims like Berikaa are confronting the stereotypes that endure about Islam.

They asked students to tell their stories about being practicing Muslims, in the hopes of dispelling some of the misconceptions about the religion, wanted to hear students speak for themselves about the role that faith plays in their lives. Each of these stories is presented as the student or students told it. The series features personal essays, transcribed conversations and a video blog.

Healthy Diverse

This is simply a collection of compelling stories -it’s not representative of all Muslim students in the U.S., nor is it meant to be. Students practice their faith in countless ways, and the Muslim population, in college as everywhere else, is incredibly diverse.

Some students spoke about the discrimination they face on a daily basis. One student, in journalism school, told of always being expected to write the news stories about the Middle East. Another spoke of the fear and shock that galvanized their school’s Muslim community after the killing of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, this past February.

Still others talked about how they practice their religion on campus. We heard about student communities, prayer rooms and an Islamic fraternity.

The Need for Community-based Support

While all the stories were different, two common themes emerged. One was the importance of having a community. Many students told us that while they have friends who practice other religions, they find a particular kind of comfort in being among fellow Muslim students. They spoke about how the togetherness helps them to maintain their cultural identity and not feel isolated by their religion.

The other theme was the need for communication. Students often took a forgiving stance in the face of discrimination, saying that if someone doesn’t personally know any Muslims and associates Islam with terrorism because of what they see in the media, how are they to know any better?

The students we spoke with all showed a deep desire to spread knowledge about their faith. They urged non-Muslims to ask them about the religion, and they urged their fellow Muslims to be open in explaining it. They spoke about fostering tolerance and peace through awareness.

In addition to these individual stories, we asked students what they want non-Muslims to know about their student life.

“I want people to understand that we are just human beings,” Berikaa said. The stories we heard contained pieces any student could relate to -choosing schools for financial aid and the perfect distance from family, adjusting to coed dorms, dealing with final exam timing conflicts.

Overall, Muslim students are trying to accomplish the exact same goal as every other college student: to find their space on campus and make it to graduation.

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Source: The Huffington Post

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New Muslims Reflections

What Muslim College Students Want Non-Muslims to Know

By Alexandra Svokos

We asked Muslim students across the country what they’d like non-Muslims to know about their student life. These are their responses.

This Is What Muslim College Students Want Non-Muslims To Know…

Lana Idris

Junior at Harvard University; from Texas; studying human evolutionary biology

“I think if I wanted non-Muslims to know anything about my student life, it’s that although we have struggles that are particular to following our faith, such as finding time to pray in between classes, we are for the most part going through the same phase in life as any other college student is. We are trying to come into our own personalities, find out who we are and where we fit into our communities.

“The one thing that may differ is that at times it feels like we’re trying to carve a space into communities that seem to fundamentally misunderstand us and reject us on face value because we are Muslim. So I’d say it’s the same struggles, just nuanced differently depending on our context.”

Masud Rahman

Sophomore at the University of California, San Diego; from California; studying mathematics-computer science

“I would like non-Muslims to know that we have the same struggles as you.

“If any non-Muslim has any fears or concerns regarding Muslims on campus or Islam in general, please just contact your local Muslim Student Association and just talk to a Muslim for a bit.

“The tensions with our families, other friends of various faiths and desires are all the same. We just choose to live by a faith and way of life that provides spirituals guidance and community at our universities.”

Tesneem Alkiek

Senior at the University of Michigan; from Michigan; studying Islamic studies with a minor in early Christianity, religion

“My entire student life – classes, social activities, studying, you name it – revolves around my five daily prayers. Before I even register for classes, I’m making sure that three-hour evening lab won’t interfere with my sunset prayer. All it takes is five minutes five times a day, but those few minutes force me to think about where I’ll be throughout the entire day and if I’ll be able to excuse myself to follow a command of God.

“It’s my secret in maintaining self-discipline and organizing my time well.”

Fatima Chowdhury

Junior at the University of Michigan; from New York; studying international studies and Middle East and North Africa studies

“What people need to realize is that Muslims are just people.

Being Muslim isn’t an overwhelming thing that’s different from being human or being a student or being a person or being an American. First and foremost we’re all people, and we should all be treated like people: with respect and dignity.”

Fatmah Berikaa

Freshman at Boston College; from Massachusetts; studying secondary education and English

“If you’ve never met a Muslim, you’re only getting the images that you see in the media. And – at the moment – that’s not how we are. That’s not compatible with what Islam stands for.

“I want people to understand that we are just human beings. When tragedies happen – because I feel like Islam is not discussed unless it’s in the context of some tragedy – we’re just as affected as the next guy.

“We’re just as hurt, we’re scared, we’re just as angry. We’re going through the same emotions they are. To cut us off, or say “You can’t feel that, because it’s your people who did that – that makes no sense.”

“I want people to see me as a real person. I don’t want my personality and my religion to be exclusive. I’ve had people go, “You’re so nice, I almost don’t see your headscarf!” I understand that they’re trying to be nice, and I get that. But at the same time, I want you to know that I’m nice and I want you to see my headscarf, because those are both parts of me. I don’t want people to think that I should sacrifice part of myself for another part of myself. These two things can coexist.”

Aisha Subhan

Second year at UC San Diego; from Arizona; studying political science/international relations

“As a student, I dream and aspire like many of my peers do. Each day is an opportunity for me to learn something new, make someone laugh, or clear up misconceptions.

“My student life is purposeful and I am really grateful that I have one.”

Faran Saeed

Higher education graduate student at Louisiana State University

These photographs really show my view of my experience as a Muslim student:

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width: 33%;
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#gallery-1 img {
border: 2px solid #cfcfcf;
}
#gallery-1 .gallery-caption {
margin-left: 0;
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/* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */

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Source: The Huffington Post

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8 Things You May Not Truly Understand about Converts

By Alex Arrick

1- A lot of things are running through our heads right now.

And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient.  (Al-Baqarah 2:155)

New converts to Islam have just made the biggest decision of their lives, and changed their religion to one that they are unfamiliar with in many ways. There are a lot of stimuli around us that we are not used to, being in the mosque, hanging out with Muslims, hearing foreign languages other than Spanish, etc.

Often, new Muslims might look uncomfortable because they are not used to their surroundings. A big change has just occurred in the convert’s life, and each person will respond differently to these situations.

While we are learning the basics of Islam, either before or after our Shahadah (Testimony of Faith), we are constantly coming across new things that we’ve never heard of before. It takes a long time to be able to have a consistent foundation that’s strong enough to feel any amount of comfort in the religion.

This process is similar to moving to a foreign country, not knowing the language, customs, or environment that surrounds us. We often have no idea about the origin of certain customs and whether they are from Islam or a person’s culture, and it takes time to be able to discern between the two.

2- Our family life is uncertain.

A man asked the Prophet (peace be upon him): “What is the right of parents on their offspring?” The Prophet replied: “They are your Paradise and your Hell.” (Ibn Majah)

People who are born into Islam have the benefit of having a foundation with their parents and family. The Qur’an is on their bookshelf, Arabic words are mixed into conversation without needing definition, and there is an environment of tradition that provides a reference point for looking at the world.

A convert is experiencing the total opposite. He or she doesn’t have any sort of religious connection with their family anymore, and there is sometimes backlash from parents and extended family about the decision to become a Muslim.

Even if there’s no significant backlash, there are no blood relatives to talk to about Islam, no one to clarify things, and no family support to be offered in the entire process. All of these things can cause an immense amount of stress and disillusionment.

It’s common for converts to have moments of breakdown where they feel like nobody is on their side. For those who are lucky enough to have a close friend or mentor to help them in situations like this, it’s still not the same as having family help.

Converts need an exceptionally good amount of emotional support from individuals in their community to feel empowered as Muslims. This doesn’t require a full-time therapist, but just people to make them feel at home.

3- Our friends are leaving us.

“A man follows the religion of his close friend, so each of you should be very careful about whom he takes as a close friend.”  (Abu Dawud & At-Tirmidhi)

Friends are known for being brutally honest. When a convert tells his friends that he or she just became Muslim, they are going to receive a wide range of reactions. Even if their friends are supportive, they will still be really puzzled and they will ask a million questions that most born Muslims would have trouble answering. And while most converts don’t get a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies before becoming Muslim, they’re going to sometimes feel pushed into a corner when tested by their friends.

Their friends might stick around for a while, but chances are their habits are not always what a new Muslim wants to be around. After you deny a few invitations to go to parties, they might stop calling all together. Friends who seem to have abandoned you can cause a lot of depression and loneliness, and it will always take a while to replace a decent group of friends with a good group of Muslim friends.

4- We don’t know how to spend our free time.

“Whenever a Muslim is afflicted with a hardship, sickness, sadness, worry, harm, or depression –even a thorn’s prick, Allah expiates his sins because of it.”  (Al-Bukhari & Muslim)

After the distance is created with friends and family, it’s hard to fill free time or stay busy enough to not start feeling down sometimes.

Converts will notice a gap in their schedules that was previously filled with something else like hanging out with friends, going to concerts, or partying. This is especially hard to cope with in a smaller city where there isn’t much else to do and not enough Muslims to spend time with.

In this situation, there might be a desire to go back to old habits to feel “normal” again, or there will be an urge to stay alone and away from other people. While Islam doesn’t allow monasticism or hedonism, this causes a problem for converts to Islam when it’s a minority religion in the society. Eventually the situation will get easier and there won’t be any problem in staying busy, but initially it can be very hard to stay positive.

5- We don’t know what to learn and who to learn from.

“Make things easier, do not make things more difficult, spread the glad tidings, do not hate.”  (Al-Bukhari)

Converts usually experience some trouble in the beginning with differences in fiqh (jurisprudence). Their background is usually from a religion with a narrower view of right or wrong. Often converts will think: “So do I raise my hands after bowing or not? Which one is right and which one is wrong?”

The fact is there are many correct opinions regarding such issues in Islam. Converts will often find themselves in the dilemma of whether to take the easier opinion or the stronger one.

mosque

Because they feel like they’re in a foreign country while in the mosque, a convert won’t know when someone will point out something they’re doing wrong.

At the very best, this will cause only a small amount of confusion at first. Remember that converts don’t have a family to help form their opinions about these things, and they are getting information from all sides. A common decision converts will make is choosing between dhabeehah (slaughtered according to Islamic rite) and non-dhabeehah meat.

In reality it’s a fact that there is a difference of opinion among scholars regarding the meat of Ahl Al-Kitab (People of the Book, i.e. Jews and Christians), but converts can feel pressured to take one opinion over the other based on someone’s limited knowledge of the issue.

6- We don’t know when we’ll make another mistake.

And whoever is patient and forgives – indeed that is of the matters (requiring) determination. (Ash-Shura 42:43)

Because they feel like they’re in a foreign country while in the mosque, a convert won’t know when someone will point out something they’re doing wrong.

Often people come up to converts with a self-righteous attitude and give them harsh advice based on their own limited understanding. The convert is already dealing with differing opinions coming from every angle, and it’s very discouraging to have someone correct you in a harsh way.

The ideal way to correct a convert is the way of the Prophet, with kindness and understanding. Remember all the Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet) were converts and were constantly receiving guidance directly from the Messenger. The Sahabah didn’t feel chastised or discouraged when they were corrected, but uplifted.

This is something that needs to be taken into deep consideration when advising a convert, who may be more sensitive to these things than a born-Muslim (who often needs just as much advice).

7- We don’t know what you actually think of us.

The Prophet said: “Not one of you can believe if you do not want for your brother what you want for yourself.” (Al-Bukhari)

A lot of converts will get a lot of praise and helpful words from fellow Muslims, but there is sometimes an animosity towards converts that should be something alien to our ummah (Muslim community); it resembles a pre-Islamic attitude of racism.

As a convert, there is often a feeling of inferiority because “I’m not Arab” or “I’m not desi” that can sometimes lead the convert to acting like they are from a culture they are not, and that has nothing to do with Islam.

This is something that needs to be resisted by converts who might have the urge to wear Pakistani clothes to “fit-in” around Muslims because they feel so different.

Let converts retain their culture in ways that don’t contradict Islam. They need to feel empowered and uplifted as Muslims and not reduced to the lowest common denominator. Converts have a lot they can bring to the table, and to take that ability away from them is a crime.

Salman Al-Farisi, a Persian Companion of the Prophet, was the one to recommend the battle strategy in the Battle of the Trench against the Quraysh. Salman’s Arab brothers in Islam took his opinion and used it to win the battle. If Salman had had an inferiority complex because of his Persian heritage, he might not have offered his opinion.

Remember to make your convert brothers and sisters feel like they are a valued part of our community that links us to the culture around us.

8- We might be second-guessing our decision.

“If someone does not show mercy to people, Allah will not show mercy to him.” (Al-Bukhari & Muslim)

In the worst-case scenario, converts might feel so discouraged that they second-guess their decision to convert.  With all the different problems that arise after conversion, there is a sense of desperation that can lead to apostasy.

While some of it is unavoidable, there is much that our communities can do to help our converts feel welcomed and strong as Muslims. Most of it requires simple attitude changes like getting rid of the “back-home” mentality and having outrageous ideals that don’t reflect reality.

Research by Dr. Ilyas Ba-Yunus notes that 75% of American converts leave the religion after a few years. This is a tragedy that reflects the inability of American-Muslim communities to take care of their converts.

With these statistics we should be asking ourselves: what can we do as individuals and as communities to help our convert brothers and sisters find comfort in Islam?

This is a compassionate call to action for the born-Muslims to do what they can to understand, assist, and advise those who enter into Islam. Instead of alienation, we need to embrace with open arms.

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Source: virtualmosque.com

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Towards Becoming Muslim & Whole

“The challenge is not to be perfect…it’s to be whole.” Jane Fonda

whole nature

I know I was guided toward Islam. I’ve had experiences I never imagined I might have…and I am grateful, Alhamdulillah

Wisdom & Its Varying Sources

The quote titling and triggering this post began with a Facebook reader asking me about the meaning behind the quote. I replied that it came from a discussion Oprah Winfrey was having in a televised interview with Jane Fonda as she shared reflections on ‘life, love and working out.”

I can just imagine someone reading this and wanting to write saying, “May Allah forgive me- why do you look to Jane Fonda in that way? She isn’t Muslim!” To which I reply, you do not have to be a Muslim to be a human being; or to have wisdom to share.

To further preempt those who might feel the itch to shoot me down for finding myself lost in thought over a televised interview featuring a non-Muslim woman, what people often forget or refuse to accommodate for when mistakenly jumping to judge reverts is that, that is exactly what we are; reverts.

I was raised in a different faith and culture for forty-two years. I lived an entirely different life apart from what the average Muslim woman born into a Muslim family and raised in a completely different culture has lived. No one can erase that! And those who refuse to accommodate for the fact that reverts, like myself, have had a lifetime of experience(s) pre-Islam, are being far too short-sighted and judgmental.

So, if I, as a revert of merely eight years, find myself identifying with a woman who has lived a life in the same culture I lived in – it is simply what it is!

Identifying

In the interview Jane elaborated further on the how a woman’s life is divided into chapters. When she spoke of menopause and how difficult this stage of life is- tears came to my eyes. The past two years of my life have been extremely difficult.

Earlier in the day I had been reflecting on life and in an SMS to a friend I wrote, “I was watching a movie, a story of lawyers in a DC law firm. I had to stop watching, it made me remember the sights, sounds, buildings; satisfaction of a job well done. I loved my work & I was good at it. I had a 2 br. apt. beside Washington National Cathedral, my favorite car; a 8cyl. Thunderbird amazing clothes, manicured hands and feet, $70,000 salary; respect. I had it all. And I was good enough. Then came Islam and a year later I walked away from that life. Since then I haven’t felt ‘good enough’ for anything…I lost myself. I am just a shell of the person I spent 17 years to become…I’m just a memory…”

Of course, I know the last eight years of my life have been a complete turn-around; in many respects bringing me full circle. Indeed, I have lived a different life- one that, despite how depressing my note might have sounded (actually it was exactly how I felt at the time), I know I was guided toward Islam. I’ve had experiences I never imagined I might have…and I am grateful, Alhamdulillah – it is, after all, my “Chapter Two”.

For sure I am still in the second chapter of my life (it is after all my mid-life period) and, Insha’Allah, as Jane and so many before us have, I will survive it. Perhaps the conclusion of this chapter will be titled, “Getting off the sofa…and out of the refrigerator.” I might also have to invest in Jane’s newest exercise video.

As I continued listening to and watching the interview, my ears and eyes absorbed everything. In front of me I observed a woman not unlike myself, feeling so much that often tears threatened to breach the brim of her eyelids; she brushed them back several times with the elegant stroke of an index finger.

In speaking about her first grandchild she described how her relationship with him opened her heart in a way she never imagined. She described how she used to just get lost looking into her grandson’s eyes, and how before he would fall asleep she would lay with him curled up beside her. She said, “I’d turn to go to sleep, but he’d pull me back and say, ‘I’m not ready.’ And he’d look at me more and say, ‘I wuv you, Gamma.’” Subhan’Allah. It made me so grateful to be able to remember similar moments; it was surreal.

I have a photo, Alhamdulillah, of myself and my grandson Landen when he was three years old, taken during a visit with family shortly before a trip abroad. It was morning; he had awakened and hearing him call out, I went upstairs to get him because my daughter had spent the night away. Still half asleep when I reached for him, he wrapped himself in my embrace, melting into my body and I carried him downstairs to the sitting room. From the comfort of a chair and the cradle of my arms, Landen fell easily back into a semi-slumber; the warmth of his body, the smell of his hair and skin quickly consuming me. I sat for the longest time just looking down on his angelic face…and my sister picked up her camera to snap the ‘Kodak’ moment. When I saw the photo…Masha’ Allah…it was amazing…but even if I didn’t have the photo, I will never, ever, Insha’Allah, forget holding him in my arms and remembering the gift of motherhood.

Moving Forward

Later into Jane’s interview Oprah reminded her of a quote from their first interview ten years ago for O Magazine: “To do life right you have to feel like you’re growing up until the day you die…” It made me smile; so many times I’ve found myself asking, “Aishah, what do you want to be when you grow up?!?!”

I still don’t know.

But what I do know is that I need to remind myself sometimes that it isn’t such a bad idea to go back and read some of the inspirational stories I’ve written since becoming Muslim, just to remind myself that I’m not really lost- I’ve just evolved; moving towards becoming whole.

It is often difficult to focus on accentuating the positive and letting go of the pain– but, Insha’Allah, I’ll keep working on it.

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Source: theamericanmuslim.org.

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