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Muslim Lifestyle New Muslims

Meet Aminah Assilmi: The True Truth Seeker (Part 1)

 

Little did I know that Islam would change my life.

When I first started to study Islam, I did not expect to find anything that I needed or wanted in my personal life. Little did I know that Islam would change my life.

This American lady, a former radical feminist and Southern Baptist from Oklahoma, studied the Qur’an, Sahih Muslim and fifteen other books on Islam in an attempt to convert the Arabs in her college class to Christianity and ‘save those poor ignorant heathens from the fires of hell’. But guess what happened!

The Introduction and Decision

I was completing a degree in Recreation, when I met my first Muslims. It was the first year that we had been able to pre-register by computer. I pre-registered and went to Oklahoma to take care of some family business. The business took longer than expected, so I returned to school two weeks into the semester (too late to drop a course).

I wasn’t worried about catching up my missed work. I was sitting at the top of my class, in my field. Even as a student, I was winning awards, in competition with professionals.

Now, you need to understand that while I was attending college and excelling, ran my own business, and had many close friends, I was extremely shy. My transcripts actually had me listed as severely reticent. I was very slow to get to know people and rarely spoke to anyone unless was forced to, or already knew them. The classes I was taking has to do administration and city planning, plus programming for children. Children were the only people I ever felt comfortable with.

Well, back to the story. The computer printout held one enormous surprise for me. I was registered for a Theatre class; a class where I would be required to perform in front of real live people. I was horrified! I could not even ask a question in class, how was I going to get on a stage in front of people? My husband was his usual very calm and sensible self. He suggested that I talk to the teacher, explain the problem, and arrange to paint scenery or sew costumes. The teacher agreed to try and find a way to help me out. So I went to class the following Tuesday.

When I entered the classroom, I received my second shock. The class was full of ‘Arabs’ and ‘camel jockeys’. Well, I had never seen one but I had heard of them.

There was no way I was going to sit in a room full of dirty heathens! After all, you could catch some dreadful disease from those people. Everyone knew they were dirty, not to be trusted either. I shut the door and went home. (Now, there is one little thing you should know. I had on a pair of leather hot pants, a halter top, and a glass of wine in my hands…but they were the bad ones in my mind.)

When I told my husband about the Arabs in the class and that there was no way I was going back, he responded in his usual calm way. He reminded that I was always claiming that God had a reason for everything and maybe I should spend some time thinking about it before I made my final decision. He also reminded me that I had a scholars’ award that was paying my tuition and if I wanted to keep it, I would have to maintain my G.P.A. Three credit hours or ‘F’ would have destroyed my chances. For the next two days, I prayed for guidance. On Thursday I went back to the class convinced that God had put me there to save those poor ignorant heathens from the fires of hell.

I proceeded to explain to them how they would burn in the fires of hell for all eternity, if they did not accept Jesus as their personal savior. They were very polite, but did not convert. Then, I explained how Jesus loved them and had died on the cross to save them from their sins. All they had to do was accept him into their hearts. They were very polite, but still did not convert. So, I decided to read their own book to show them that Islam was a false religion and Muhammad was a false God.

One of the students gave me a copy of the Qur’an and another book about Islam, and I proceeded with my research. I was sure I would find the evidence I needed very quickly. Well, I read the Qur’an and the other book. Then I read another 15 books, Sahih Muslim and returned to the Qur’an. I was determined I would convert them! My studies continued for the next one and half years.

During that time, I started having a few problems with my husband. I was changing, just in little ways but enough to bother him. We used to go to the bar every Friday and Saturday, or to a party, and I no longer wanted to go. I was quieter and more distant. He was sure I was having an affair, so he kicked me out. I moved into an apartment with my children and continued my determined efforts to convert the Muslims to Christianity.

The, one day, there was a knock on my door. I opened the door and saw a man in a long white night gown with a red and white checkered table cloth on his head. He was accompanied by three men in pajamas. (It was the first time I had ever seen their cultural dress.)

Well, I was more than a little offended by men showing up at my door in night clothes. What kind of a woman did they think I was? Had they no pride or dignity? Imagine my shock when the one wearing the table cloth said he understood I wanted to be a Muslim! I quickly informed him I did not want to be a Muslim. I was Christian. However, I did have a few questions. If he had the time!

His name was `Abdul-`Aziz Al-Shiekh and he made the time. He was very patient and discussed every question with me. He never made me feel silly or that a question was stupid. He asked me if I believed there was only one God and I said yes. Then he asked if I believed Muhammad was His Messenger. Again I said yes. He told me that I was already a Muslim!

I argued that I was Christian; I was just trying to understand Islam. (Inside I was thinking: I couldn’t be a Muslim! I was American and white! What would my husband say? If I am Muslim, I will have to divorce my husband. My family would die!)

We continued talking. Later, he explained that attaining knowledge and understanding of spirituality was a little like climbing a ladder. If you climb a ladder and try to skip a few rungs, there was danger of falling. The Shahadah (Testimony of Faith) was just the first step on the ladder. Still we had to talk some more.

Later that afternoon, May 21, 1977 at `Asr (afternoon), I took Shahadah. However, there were still some things I could not accept and it was my nature to be completely truthful so i added a disclaimer. I said: ‘I bear witness that there is no god but God and Mohammed is His Messenger’, ‘but, I will never cover my hair and if my husband takes another wife, I will castrate him’.

I heard gasps from the other men in the room, but `Abdul-`Aziz silenced them. Later I learned that he told the brothers never to discuss those two subjects with me. He was sure I would come to the correct understanding.

The Shahadah was indeed a solid footing on the ladder to spiritual knowledge and closeness to God. But it has been a slow climb. `Abdul-`Aziz continued to visit me and answer my questions. May Allah reward him for his patience and tolerance. He never admonished me or acted like a question was stupid or silly. He treated each question with dignity and told me that the only stupid question was the one never asked. Hmmm…my grandmother used to say that.

He explained that Allah told us to seek knowledge and questions were one of the ways to accomplish that. When he explained something, it was like watching a rose open – petal by petal, until it reached its full glory. When I told him that I did not agree with something and why, he always said I was correct up to a point. The he would show me how to look deeper and from different directions to reach a fuller understanding. Al-hamdu lillah!

Over the years, I had many teachers; each one special, each one different. I am thankful for each one of them and the knowledge they gave. Each teacher helped me to grow and to love Islam more. As my knowledge increased, the changes in me became more apparent.

Within the first year, I was wearing hijab. I have no idea when I started. It came naturally, with increased knowledge and understanding. In time I even came to a proponent of polygamy. I knew that if Allah had allowed it, there had to be something good in it.

Glorify the name of thy Guardian – Lord Most High, Who hascreated, and further, given order and proportion; Who has measured, and granted guidance; and Who brings out the (green and lush) pasture, and does make it (but) swarthy stubble, By degrees shall We teach you (the Message), so you shall not forget, except as Allah wills: for He knows what is manifest and what is hidden. And We will make it easy for you (to follow) the simple (path). (Al-A`la 87:1-8)

When I first started to study Islam, I did not expect to find anything that I needed or wanted in my personal life. Little did I know that Islam would change my life. No human could have ever convinced me that I would finally be at peace and overflowing with love and joy because of Islam.

This book spoke of the One God, the Creator of the universe. It described the beautiful way in which He had organized the world. This wondrous Qur’an had all the answers. Allah is the Loving! Allah is the source of peace! Allah is the Protector! Allah is the Forgiver! Allah is the Provider! Allah is the Maintainer! Allah is the Generous One! Allah is the Responsive! Allah is the Protecting Friend! Allah is the Expander!

Have we not expanded you your breast? And removed from you your burden, which did gall your back? And raised high the esteem (in which) though (art held)? So, verily, with every difficulty, there is relief: Verily, with every difficulty there is relief! (Al-Inshirah 94:1-6)

The Qur’an addressed all the issues of existence and showed a clear path to success. It was like a map forgiving, an owner manual for life!

                                                                               To be continued

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Source: whyislam.org.

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Categories
Conversion Stories New Muslims

Aminah Assilmi: Without Islam I’m Nothing (Part 2)

I am so very glad that I am a Muslim.

Islam is my life. Islam is the beat of my heart. Islam is the blood that courses through my veins. Islam is my strength.

 

How Islam changed my Life?

‘How much more we love the light…if once we lived in darkness.’

When I first embraced Islam, I really did not think it was going to affect my life very much. Islam did not just affect my life. It totally changed it.

Family life

My husband and I loved each other very deeply. That love for each other still exists. Still, when I started studying Islam, we started having some difficulties. He saw me changing and did not understand what was happening. Neither did I. But then, I did not even realize I was changing. He decided that the only thing that could make me change was another man. There was no way to make him understand what was changing me because I did not know.

After I realized that I was a Muslim, it did not help matters. After all, the only reason a woman changes something as fundamental as her religion is another man. He could not find evidence of this other man, but he had to exist. We ended up in a very ugly divorce. The courts determined that the unorthodox religion would be detrimental to the development of my children. So they were removed from my custody.

During the divorce, there was a time when I was told I could make a choice. I could renounce this religion and leave with my children, or renounce my children and leave with my religion. I was in shock.

To me this was not a possible choice. If I renounce my Islam, I would be teaching my children how to be deceptive, for there was no way to deny what was in my heart. I could not deny Allah, not then, not ever. I prayed like I had never prayed before.

After the thirty minutes was up, I knew that there was no safer place for my children to be than in the hands of Allah. If I denied him, there would be no way in the future to show my children the wonders of being with Allah. The courts were told that I would leave my children in the hands of Allah. This was not a rejection of my children!

I left the courts knowing that life without my babies would be very difficult. My heart bled, even though I knew, inside, I had done the right thing. I found solace in Ayat Al-Kursi (verse of the throne):

Allah! There is no god but He – the Living, the Self-subsisting, Supporter of all. No slumber can seize him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede in His presence except as He permits? He knows what (appears to His creatures as) before or after or behind them. Nor shall they compass aught of His knowledge except as He wills. His throne does extend over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them for He is Most High, the Supreme (in glory). (Al-Baqarah 2:255)

This also got me started looking at all the attributes of Allah and discovering the beauty of each one.

Child custody and divorce were not the only problems I was to face. The rest of my family was not very accepting of my choice either. Most of the family refused to have anything to do with me. My mother was of the belief that it was just a phase and I would grow out of it. My sister, the ‘mental health expert’, was sure I had simply lost my mind and should be institutionalized. My father believed I should be killed before placed myself deeper in Hell. Suddenly I found myself with no husband and no family. What would be next?

Friends

Most of my friends drifted away during that first year. I was no fun anymore. I did not want to go to parties or bars. I was not interested in finding a boyfriend. All I ever did was read that ‘stupid’ book (the Qur’an) and talk about Islam. What a bore. I still did not have enough knowledge to help them understand why Islam was so beautiful.

Employment

My job was next to go. While I had won just about every award there was in my field and was recognized as a serious trend setter and money maker, the day I put on hijab, was the end of my job. Now I was without a family, without friends and without a job.

In all this, the first light was my grandmother. She approved of my choice and joined me. What a surprise! I always knew she had a lot of wisdom, but this! She died soon after that. When I stop to think about it, I almost get jealous. The day she pronounced Shahadah, all her misdeeds had been erased, while her good deeds were preserved. She died so soon after accepting Islam that I knew her ‘book’ was bound to be heavy on the good side. It fills me with such joy!

As my knowledge grew and I was better able to answer questions, many things changed. But, it was the changes made in me as a person that had the greatest impact. A few years after I went public with my Islam, my mother called me and said she did not know what this ‘Islam thing’ was, but she hoped I would stay with it. She liked what it was doing for me.

A couple of years after that she called again and asked what a person had to do to be a Muslim. I told her that all person had to do was know that there was only One God and Mohammed was His Messenger. Her response was: ’Any fool knows that. But what do you have to do?’ I repeated the same information and she said: ’Well…OK. But let’s not tell your father just yet’.

Little did she know that he had gone through the same conversation a few weeks before that. My real father (the one who thought I should be killed) had done it almost two months earlier. Then, my sister, the mental health person, she told me that I was the most ‘liberated’ person she knew. Coming from her that was the greatest compliment I could have received.

Rather than try to tell you about how each person came to accept Islam, let me simply say that more members of my family continue to find Islam every year. I was especially happy when a dear friend, Brother Qaiser Imam, told me that my ex-husband took Shahadah. When Brother Qaiser asked him why, he said it was because he had been watching me for 16 years and he wanted his daughter to have what I had. He came and asked me to forgive him for all he had done. I had forgiven him long before that.

Now my oldest son, Whitney, has called, as I am writing this book, and announced that he also wants to become Muslim. He plans on taking the Shahadah as the ISNA Convention in a couple of weeks. For now, he is learning as much as he can. Allah is the Most Merciful.

Over the years, I have come to be known for my talks on Islam, and many listeners have chosen to be Muslim. My inner peace has continued to increase with my knowledge and confidence in the wisdom of Allah. I know that Allah is not only my Creator but, my dearest friend. I know that Allah will always be there and will never reject me. For every step I take toward Allah, He takes 10 toward me. What a wonderful knowledge.

True, Allah has tested me, as was promised, and rewarded me far beyond what I could ever have hoped for. A few years ago, the doctors told me I had cancer and it was terminal. They explained that there was no cure, it was too far advanced, and proceeded to help prepare me for my death by explaining how the disease would progress. I had maybe one year left to live. I was concerned about my children, especially my youngest. Who would take care of him? Still I was not depressed. We must all die. I was confident that the pain I was experiencing contained blessings.

I remembered a good friend, Kareem Al-Misawi, who died of cancer when he was still in his 20′s. Shortly before he died, he told me that Allah was truly Merciful. This man was in unbelievable anguish and radiating with Allah’s love. He said: ‘Allah intends that I should enter heaven with a clean book’. His death experience gave me something to think about. He taught me of Allah’s love and mercy. This was something no one else had ever really discussed. Allah’s love!

I did not take me long to start being aware of His blessings. Friends who loved me came out of nowhere. I was given the gift of making Hajj. Even more importantly, I learned how very important it was for me to share the truth of Islam with everyone.

It did not matter if people, Muslim or not, agreed with me or even liked me. The only approval I needed was from Allah. The only love I needed was from Allah. Yet, I discovered more and more people, who, for no apparent reason, loved me. I rejoiced, for I remembered reading that if Allah loves you, He causes others to love you. I am not worthy of all the love. That means it must be another gift from Allah. Allah is the Greatest!

There is no way to fully explain how my life changed. Alhamdulillah! I am so very glad that I am a Muslim. Islam is my life. Islam is the beat of my heart. Islam is the blood that courses through my veins. Islam is my strength. With Islam my life is so wonderful and beautiful. Without Islam, I am nothing and should Allah ever turn His magnificent face from me I could not survive.

“O Allah! let my heart have light, and my sight have light, and my hearing (senses) have light, and let me have light on my right, and let me have light on my left, and let me have light above me, and have light under me, and have light in front of me, and have light behind me; and let me have light.” (Al-Bukhari)

“Oh my Lord! Forgive my sins and my ignorance and my exceeding the limits (boundaries of righteousness) in all my deeds and what you know better than I. O Allah! Forgive my mistakes, those done intentionally or out of my ignorance or (without) or with seriousness, and I confess that all such mistakes are done by me. Oh Allah! Forgive my sins of the past and of the future which I did openly or secretly. You are the One who makes the things go before, and You are the One who delays them, and You are the Omnipotent.” (Al-Bukhari)

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Source: whyislam.org.

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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.

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Source: islamtoday.com.

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New Muslims Reflections

With Every Shahadah a New Life Is Born

 

Last week my husband alerted me to a halaqah (study circle) for sisters at our local masjid (i.e., the one across the street). I’ve since been recommended to this particular halaqah by a few other sisters in the area, so I’m getting the impression it’s supposed to be pretty good. I’ve been twice now-last Friday and this one-and don’t think I’ve really gotten the chance to see what others see.

The first week, the instructor wasn’t there as she’d recently been visiting with family overseas. This week’s halaqah involved a little bit of catching up, and then it was planned to be short due to some activity at the Redmond Masjid-I can’t seem to figure out what it was though. But it was further cut short by a new sister wanting to take Shahadah (Testimony of Faith).

That actually took 15-20 minutes, even though the sister had studied Islam plenty before choosing to make this decision, I guess it is the protocol here to run through a crash course in `aqeedah (Islamic creed) for anyone who wants to take Shahadah, so the remainder of the halaqah was spent reviewing the articles of faith and pillars of Islam.

In Raleigh, we would basically quickly articulate the primary tenets of faith and practice if the convert was new to the masjid, but not nearly so extensively as I heard tonight. So I begin to wonder how other masjid react when someone wishes to say Shahadah?

But more than the `aqeedah crash course, a new Shahadah is always a reminder of guidance in our lives, a reminder that Allah guides whom He chooses. Maybe if we busy ourselves with da`wah we start to think we have a hand in people finding Islam, but so often people just show up at the masjid, ready to take Shahadah (this happens a lot in Ramadan.)

The guidance truly is from Allah, and He leads people to Islam. While we should definitely try to be as active in da`wah as we can (as it’s from the Sunnah and has the promise of a beautiful reward), it’s plain that we only ignite, and we cannot guide.

Watching someone say their Shahadah also brings to mind the overwhelming feeling of truly embracing Islam. From a hadith qudsi (Divine Hadith) we know that Allah comes closer to us as we come closer to Him, and it’s been my experience that certain acts of worship, performed with sincerity, nourish the soul beyond the imagination.

For me, saying Shahadah was the first such experience I had being overcome with faith in this way, and I’ve seen that experience reflected on the face (and in the tears) of many others when they also embrace Islam. Do you wonder why so often converts cry at their Shahadah?

At the very least, their sins have been forgiven. Even if they don’t know it, all their bad deeds are now written as good, and the effect of that beautiful purification-as we are being purified of our sins by Allah-is not merely academic. It can be felt in the heart, and so it’s extremely emotional.

Tonight, getting to see that, just reminded me of what I should be striving for.

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Source: ibnatalhidayah.blogspot.com.

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Conversion Stories New Muslims

Without Islam My Life Would Have Been a Lie

By Muhammad Schieber

islam myWhen I was 23 years old I had just graduated from community college and I entered the University. During this period of my life, I was at a bit of a personal crossroads.

During my teenage years I had been a bit rebellious, experimenting with drinking and drugs, a typical American teenage rebellion. All this stopped during the summer of my 20th year when I nearly drowned in an alcohol fueled canoe trip.

However, simply staying away from life’s evils wasn’t providing the meaning and the understanding of life that I required. I had been raised Roman Catholic, but the Trinitarian doctrine and the concept of somebody needing to die for my sins never really made sense to me. I had dabbled in some new age stuff, some Buddhism and Hinduism as well.

As part of my Asian Studies minor, I enrolled in a course entitled “Islamic Fundamentalism.” The course was a graduate level seminar that was focused on whether or not the term “fundamentalist” was useful or applicable to Muslims. I had had a very general idea about Islam at that point.

After that course I was hooked, I switched my major to Comparative Religion and took every course I could about Islam. I pride myself on being a very critical thinker. I struggled over the next couple of years to find a way to discredit Islam or disprove it, but in the end I couldn’t. It became a truth I could no longer deny. For me to live any other way would be to live a lie. That was 19 and a half long years ago, Alhamdulillah.

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Conversion Stories New Muslims

From an Atheist to a Devoted Muslim: My Path to Islam

fence in nature

I know times can get hard, with family, society, friends not agreeing or mocking your religion or choices of life. Just know that Allah is testing you.

I didn’t even know Islam existed. I did not even know it was a religion, the only religion I knew was Christianity, due to my mother’s side of the family being Catholic and Christian.

I was oblivious to what Islam was. Subhan Allah, I was obviously caught up in this world way too much. Satan had seriously veiled my heart from seeking the true path.

Glory be to Allah, I went from being an atheist to (al-hamdu lillah) being a God-fearing person who implements Islam into every aspect of my life. I converted September the 21st 2011. Islam was the total opposite of how I lived my life before. It was a literally huge turning point in my life.

How I Did It

As I said, my Mom’s side of the family are Christian and Catholic. They’ve never been religious, only taking me to church occasionally on Christmas Eve. My dad’s side of the family are all non-practicing Muslims. However, due to my parents breaking up I was never close to my Dad. My dad would tell me to not eat pork or reveal myself, but never told me why, so I ignored it.

Before I converted, my life was chaos. It was all about me. When I was nine years old, I had many problems which eventually led me to nearly killing myself, accidentally. Family problems, problems at school, bullying, self-image… you name it. I decided to self-harm, and ended up cutting too deep, just missing my artery on my left arm. I had to stay in hospital and have four stitches. Al-hamdulillah, Allah gave me life when I did not deserve it. I was thirteen and had been through so much.

Towards the end of my ninth year, I had a Muslim person on my BBM. I would always see them post words such as ‘In sha’ Allah’ and ‘Masha’Allah’. This intrigued me, as they would send broadcasts and etc. about Islam. I became interested and started to seek answers.

My friends at the time were all Caucasian or Jamaican. I approached a Muslim girl in my year, who had been in my class since year seven. I told her I wanted to convert. I didn’t know why, it was so confusing. I never even knew what the religion was. Something was just telling me to convert!

Another sister in my year, would speak to me every science lesson and decided to take my number. At first I was interested, I was at the point of converting, then I told my Mom.

She told me that I wouldn’t be able to conform to the rules of Islam, due to how different it was. This hurt me. Then some serious family problems arose which was when I decided to not convert.

I then went on holiday to Spain, as it was the six-week holiday! I was a proper Western girl and lived life to the fullest; wearing my bikini, eating bacon, and occasionally drinking Lambrini or Malibu. When I came back I was surprised to see messages from this sister. She was still trying to help me convert (Al-hamdulillah). Not once did this sister give up on me!

I started to challenge the religion, trying to pick flaws, but it was too perfect, there were no flaws, subhan Allah!

When we went back to school, the sisters were trying so hard. One day, they brought me some chocolates; this is what changed my heart. I was no one to these girls yet they were so passionate about my hereafter. The love they showed towards me was beautiful and unique. I converted later that day!

Challenges Faced

As for reaction from non-Muslim friends and family members, my mom’s family was disappointed and still are. I lost all my old friends.

I don’t speak to most of my family. Now, morals, friends, choices and life are for Islam.

As for holidays, I spend most `Eids alone. Still, he warming, loving atmosphere of `Eid is beautiful.

Stand Your Ground

You can benefit and learn from my experience. So, this is my advice to you:

– Ensure that you have good company, leave any bad influences.

– Learn the basics of the religion before trying to rush into the deeper aspects of it.

– Do things in your own time with pure intentions for the sake of Allah; do not aim to please the creation, but to please the Creator.

– Try to use your experience to help others to convert.

– Share the message of Islam.

– Put your trust in Allah. I know times can get hard, with family, society, friends not agreeing or mocking your religion or choices of life. Just know that Allah is testing you.

– Hold firm to your religion and know that Allah chose you to be amongst his beloveds.

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Source: Islam.about.com

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Articles of Faith New Muslims

The Last Testimony of God

Testimony of Faith

The Qur’an and the life-example of Muhammad are the only reliable sources available to mankind to learn God’s Will in its totality.

One may wonder how, in the dark ages 1400 years ago in a benighted region of the earth like Arabia, an illiterate Arab trader and herdsman came to possess such light, such knowledge, such power, such capabilities and such finely developed moral virtues?

One may say that there is nothing peculiar about his Message, that it is the product of his own mind.

If this is so, then he should have proclaimed himself God. And if he had done so at that time, the peoples of the earth who did not hesitate in calling Krishna and Buddha gods and Jesus the Son of God, and who could without compunction worship such forces of nature as fire, water and air – would have readily acknowledged him as such.

But he argued just the opposite. For he proclaimed: I am a human being like yourselves. I have not brought anything to you of my own accord. It has all been revealed to me by God.

Whatever I possess belongs to Him. This message, the like of which the whole of humanity is unable to produce, is the message of God. It is not the product of my own mind. Every word of it has been sent down by Him and all glory to Him Whose Message it is.

All the wonderful achievements which stand to my credit in your eyes, all the laws which I have given, all the principles which I have enunciated and taught none of them is from me. I find myself incompetent to produce such things out of my sheer personal ability and capabilities. I look to Divine Guidance in all matters. Whatever He wills I do, what He directs I proclaim.

Hearken! What a wonderful and inspiring example of honesty, integrity, truth and honour those sentiments are! Liars and hypocrites often try to take all the credit for the deeds of others, even when they can easily be found out. But this great man does not claim any of these achievements for himself even when no-one could contradict him as there was no way of establishing the source of his inspiration.

What more proof of perfect honesty of purpose, uprightness of character and sublimity of soul can there be! Who else can be more truthful than he who received such unique gifts through a secret channel and still pointed out their source? All these factors lead to the irresistible conclusion that such a man was the true Messenger of God.

His Life and Teachings

Such was our Prophet Muhammad (blessings of Allah and peace be upon him). He was a prodigy of extraordinary merits, a paragon of virtue and goodness, a symbol of truth, a great apostle of God and His Messenger to the entire world.

His life and thought, his truthfulness and straightforwardness, his piety and goodness, his character and morals, his ideology and achievements – all stand as unimpeachable proof of his prophethood.

Any human being who studies his life and teachings without bias will testify that he was the true Prophet of God and the Qur’an- the Book he gave to mankind – the true Book of God. No serious seeker after truth can come to any other conclusion.

It must also be clearly understood that now, through Muhammad alone can we know the straight path of Islam. The Qur’an and the life-example of Muhammad are the only reliable sources that are available to mankind to learn God’s Will in its totality.

Prophet Muhammad is the Messenger of God for the whole of mankind and the long chain of prophets has come to an end with him. He was the last of the prophets and all the instructions which it was God’s Will to impart to mankind through direct revelation were sent by Him through Muhammad (peace be upon him) and are enshrined in the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

Anyone who seeks to become a sincere Muslim must have faith in God’s last Prophet, accept his teachings and follow the way he has pointed out to man. This is the road to success and salvation.

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The article is an excerpt from the book “Towards Understanding Islam” by Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi.

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New Muslims Society

Punctuality: The Norm of Muslim

punctuality is respectful of people's time

Punctuality is respectful of people’s time

 

You might think that because the day of a Muslim is built around prayers which need to be performed at specific times, that Muslims would be fairly punctual people as a rule.

But this seems not to be the case, even though I’ve heard several scholars remind listeners of the importance of being on time. I remember Sheikh Yaser Birjas indicating to students at a seminar that they should arrive for class like a muezzin arrives for prayer. (He has to arrive early enough to be ready to call as soon as the time for prayer comes in.) This suggests that Muslims should be acutely aware of time as part of their preparation for prayer, or class, or anything else.

After becoming Muslim, though, I started hearing plenty of jokes about a tendency of Muslims towards tardiness. Although, the observation relates mostly to religious and social functions as late arrivals to work or school often result in disciplinary action. I find American society generally to be less tolerant of tardiness than Muslims (so kudos to the Muslims for being so forgiving) but this can result in some confusion for the American Muslim community.

I heard the story of a convert who made the observation, on his first visit to Jumu`ah (Friday) Prayer, that when he arrived- at the indicated time- only a few people were present, but during the sermon people continued arriving until the hall was filled by the time of the prayer. Yet I don’t think this experience is rare.

Similarly, I’ve noticed that when attending Islamic lectures and classes, most respected teachers endeavor to begin and end on time. While helping to organize a 4-week da`wah training program a few years ago, I learned an important lesson regarding punctuality.

The class was supposed to begin early on a Saturday morning, and though a few people showed up early, there were crowds coming through the door even after the ‘start’ time. I wanted to wait for the students to settle in, and that was a mistake. The imam of the masjid (mosque) told me that even if some people were still arriving, I should still start on time, and end on time.

To start with, punctuality is respectful of people’s time; if they showed up on time, they shouldn’t have to wait for the program to begin. Moreover, ending on time allows people to leave for other engagements they may have planned, instead of detaining them longer than they expected. And also, if an event fails to start on time, what incentive is there to arrive on time?

Since my own lesson on punctuality, I’ve made a point of observing when speakers (scholars, imams, community leaders, teachers, etc.) deliberately start on time- or as best they are able, when faced with logistical delays- and end on time.

I understand it to be a part of the etiquette of being a speaker; of being a teacher, or an imam, and have found that the more knowledgeable, respected, and elder teachers usually strive for punctuality, even when students are late. For that reason, I don’t accept that tardiness is religiously appropriate behavior since it’s not from the etiquette which I have witnessed from religious scholars.

I’ve even seen some scholars who seem to be as strict about punctuality as my high school band director. For us, it was an enforced rule. Students late to rehearsal would have to perform push-ups or run laps. Arriving late for a trip would mean getting left behind; nobody would wait. And if our rehearsals ran over schedule, even by as little as five minutes, the director would shorten the next day’s rehearsal by the same amount. Breaks came regularly, and if they were delayed, then they were extended also. (Noting that breaks were usually barely 3-5 minutes, enough time to sit and drink water.)

When I’m in a class or a lecture where the speaker goes on- beyond an hour, sometimes beyond two, I find myself becoming irritated and even resentful towards the speaker, while my concentration plummets, especially when scheduled breaks have been neglected by the speaker.

How is a student supposed to feel after arriving on time and waiting over an hour or more for an instructor, who then proceeds to lecture for an hour or two without giving students a break? I think the only way a student can feel, in that situation, is that the instructor lacks respect for his time, leading the student to not respect the instructor.

So I’ll emphasize again why tardiness is not something seen in the most erudite of scholars, and why I don’t believe that it is religiously appropriate. And I maintain that view despite the prevalent disregard for time in some Muslim cultures.

Unfortunately, punctuality can even be an inconvenience in a culture with more lenient and flexible schedule. My husband stresses the importance of arriving promptly to dinner parties, that is, he wants to arrive at the time indicated on the invitation. However, I find myself stalling our departure in order to avoid inconveniencing the hostess. Since most guests tend to arrive 30 minutes or more late, she might not be fully prepared for guests if we arrive ’on time’, and she might struggle trying to make conversation with me while still cooking and cleaning, leaving me in an awkward position while he goes off to another room with the host.

On the other hand, an American crowd might be expected to arrive 5-10 minutes before the scheduled time. That’s why there can be some confusion.

Of course, punctuality should be the norm for all events, but I’m not sure what it would take for people to accept that on a wide scale. It’s not easy to enforce it with other people, but the least we can do is enforce it on ourselves and make punctuality a fixed attribute for which we are known.

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Source: ibnatalhidayah.blogspot.com.

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New Muslims Society

Islam and People with Disabilities

 

helping hand

It is duty of we Muslims to shoulder the responsibility of showing the utmost care to those people

Man’s life is a full record of hardships and tribulations. In this sense, Allah says:

We create man from a drop of thickened fluid to test him. (Al-Insan 76:2)

When man looks upon these tribulations and afflictions as being a test from Almighty Allah to see his true colors, he will come to know that there is a great divine wisdom behind all these tests. This is surely an absolute fact, whether we know it or not.

It is also a great thing that Almighty Allah, when depriving a person of a certain ability or gift, compensates him for it, by bestowing upon him/her other gift, with which he excels others. That is why we see that those people who are deprived of sight, have very sensitive ears that they can hear very low beats or movements around them. They are given excellence in many other abilities to compensate their imperfection.

If a person adopts this view, he will surely find rest and get contented with the test posed on him by Almighty Allah. Every person should bear in mind that he can never change his inability or escape Allah’s fate and thus he should try his best to make his life better and turn this sore lemon into sweet honey.

This inability should be a motive to creativity and excellence in any field of life. A disabled person should make his condition an impetus towards being distinguished and prominent in the society.

How to Overcome Disability, Become an Active Member in the Society

In order to be an active member in the society, a disabled person needs to be fully aware of his surroundings and the nature of his disability. In addition, it is incumbent on the society to offer a helping hand to all those people.

Islamic history has a shining record of many examples of people who, while having some kind of disability, occupied very excellent positions and prominent status in the society. `Atta’ ibn Abi Rabah, who was known of being black, lame and paralyzed person, was the greatest Mufti in Makkah. He was highly honored by `Abdul-Malik ibn Marawan, the Muslim caliph of that time. His vast knowledge earned this prestige.

Also, we know the story of the great Companion `Amr ibn Al-Jamuh, who was also lame. His four sons, when participating in Jihad, said to him: ‘You have an excuse to remain at home, for you are old and you have a kind of disability.’ With full confidence and trust in Allah, he said to them: ‘Nay, for I hope to walk in Paradise with my lame foot.’ Commenting on this, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to them: ‘Leave him! He is a man who seeks martyrdom.’

Almighty Allah guides all Muslims not to leave those disabled in isolation lest they fall a prey to despair and psychological ailments. They should be welcomed to the open society and be dealt with in the kindest way.

Society’s Duty towards People with Disabilities

people with disabilities

In Islam, we are commanded to show mercy to everything in this world.

Now, it is the duty of the whole society to establish schools for those persons and secure them due care so that they become good members of the society and that they benefit themselves and their families. In the West, great care is shown to the disabled.

It is duty of we Muslims to shoulder the responsibility of showing the utmost care to those people, for, according to the teachings of our religion, those persons are sources of divine mercy and blessings being showered on us now and then. They are the weak for whose sake we are given sustenance and made victorious.

In his hadith, our Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “You are given sustenance and victory for the virtue of those who are weak amongst you.” (Abu Dawud)

If those Westerners show mercy and care to the disabled out of human motives, we, Muslims should do so out of both human and religious motives. In Islam, we are commanded to show mercy to everything in this world. Remember the words of the Prophet:

“Show mercy to those on earth so that He Who is in the heavens (i.e., Allah) bestow mercy to you.” (At-Tirmidhi)

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Source: onislam.net.

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New Muslims Prayer

Prayer: The Healthy Structure of Your Life

By Amy Klooz

prayer

Prayer gives you a spiritual retreat at key points during the day, to help you break up the day and to refresh you.

My Lord! Make me one who establishes regular prayer, and also (raise such) among my offspring, O our Lord! And accept my prayer.

O Our Lord! Cover (us) with Your forgiveness: me, my parents, and (all) believers, on the day that the reckoning will be established! (Ibrahim 14:40, 41)

One of the first du`aa’s (supplications) I learned to make in my salah was one from the Qur’an, a du`aa’ of Prophet Ibrahim. In it, Ibrahim asks Allah to make him someone who establishes prayer- although the translation I learned inserted the word “regular”, i.e., “establishes regular prayer”. This du`aa’ reminds me, at the end of every salah, the important of salah, of establishing it and praying it regularly.

On just about every prayer timetable I’ve seen, part of an ayah (Qur’anic verse) is listed somewhere on the page. One translation of the part of the ayah is “Verily, the prayer is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours.” (An-Nisaa’ 4:103) The idea is to remind whoever reads that prayer table about the importance of praying regularly at the appropriate times.

Now a person can view the idea of regular prayer as either a burden, or a blessing. I have a hunch most non-Muslims, and plenty of Muslims, probably see it as a burden. And undoubtedly Satan would rather us see it as a burden, so he can easily distract us from it, urge us to procrastinate it, and eventually even convince us to abandon it altogether. May Allah protect the believers from his whispers.

There are benefits in having the prayers spread throughout the day. It gives you a spiritual retreat at key points during the day, to help you break up the day and to refresh you. And the times of the salah are intricately connected with ideal daily behavior.

We learn the prayer times from the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), who learned them from the Angel Jibreel (Gabriel) over two days.

According to Ibn `Abbas, the Angel Jibreel visited the Prophet Muhammad at the beginning of the each of the prayer times on the first day to lead him in prayer, and on the second day led him in prayer at the end of the prayer times, except for Maghrib (Sunset) Prayer. The times have been further specified by `Abdullah ibn `Amr ibn Al-`Aas, based on the sun and sky, and scholars have differed slightly in their opinions as to the exact timing.

What’s clear however is that the prayers are based on the timing of the sun, indicating that our days should follow a similar schedule. It also keeps us Muslims aware of the motion of the sun throughout the day, as it crosses the sky, and throughout the year as the time it takes to traverse the sky changes. In this way the timings of prayers keeps you alert, and it keeps you from forming a lazy habit or tradition when it comes to the prayer–your schedule will have to be flexible somewhat throughout the year. The beginning and end times for each prayer vary between some schools of thought, though not drastically so and not without evidence.

The first prayer of a waking day is Fajr, and there is unanimous agreement regarding its start and end times. It begins at the time of the ‘second dawn’ or ‘true dawn’. While the sun is at one particular angle below the horizon, there will appear the ‘first dawn’ known as the “’false dawn’, when the light spreads vertically. That is not the start of Fajr time, which actually comes later, when the sun is high enough for the dawn light to spread laterally across the horizon. It ends when the sun rises. This means that our day should begin before the sun comes up. There’s also a special blessing in the Fajr time before the sun rises. While our minds and bodies are refreshed, it can be a very productive time of day before the worries and business of the day start to clog our minds.

The start time of Zhuhr (Noon) Prayer is also unanimously agreed upon- that it is when the sun declines from its zenith. Geographically, unless a person is at the equator he will have a small amount of shadow, even when the sun is at its zenith, but the zenith is when the shadow has reached its minimum size.

There are two opinions about the end time of Zhuhr, though they all agree that Zhuhr ends at the time when asr begins. The first opinion, the Maliki, Shafi`i, and Hanbali opinion, is that Zhuhr ends when the length of an object’s shadow is equal to its height (plus the ‘extra shadow’ just mentioned.) The second opinion, the Hanafi opinion, is that dhuhr ends when the length of an object’s shadow is twice its height (plus the “extra shadow.”) This is based on a hadith that dhuhr is to be delayed on hot days until the day begins to cool off.

The start time of `Asr (Afternoon) is agreed by all to be the end time of Zhuhr, and the same differences just mentioned apply. There is also agreement as to the end time of `Asr, that it be when the sun has completely set. Scholars also agree that it is better to pray `Asr earlier (than later) as long as it is in the specified time. Hanafi scholars prefer it to be delayed as long as the sun hasn’t started to change color.

By unanimous agreement, Maghrib (Sunset) time begins when the sun has set, though there are basically three opinions regarding its end time. The first is the Maliki and new Shafi’i opinion, that basically the time for Maghrib ends once enough time has passed to actually make wudu’, adhan, iqamah, and pray five rak`as (3 for obligatory, 2 for sunnah (voluntary). In other words, Maghrib needs to be prayed right away with no ‘extended time’. The Hanbali and old Shafi`i opinion is that Maghrib needs to be prayed by the time the red twilight has faded, while the Hanafi opinion is that it may be prayed until the white twilight has faded. But they all pretty much agree that it’s best to pray Maghrib at the beginning of its time.

When it comes to `Isha’ (Night), there is unanimous agreement that it begins when the twilight has faded, but there are the same differing opinions about which twilight that means. The Maliki and Shafi`i opinions, for which there is no extended time, also say isha starts after the twilight has faded. When the sun sets, the first twilight is the red twilight, followed by the white twilight, followed by the blue twilight, just as a point of reference. There are two opinions about the end time of `Isha’. The first is the Hanafi opinion, which allows for `Isha’ to be prayed up until the time for fajr arrives. The Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali opinions are that `Isha’ may be prayed until the end of the first half, or first third of the night. This is calculated as the time between the beginning of `Isha’ and the beginning of Fajr, then split into thirds or halves and added to the time `Isha’ begins.

The salah itself is an organizational tool, to help you structure your life. Sometimes people will say that time is money. But no, time is life. Whenever a day passes, part of you goes with it. Following the salah forces you to begin your working day with Fajr time- you shouldn’t go to bed after Fajr Prayer.

You also see that there is time to take a break, for Zhuhr, a good time to eat lunch, and maybe take a nap. `Asr time, when the day starts to draw to a close, is the time to stop working and see to your family. Eat dinner and prepare for bed, these are things to do in the evenings.

Even the prohibited times of prayer reminds us of the appropriate structure for the day, so we don’t turn into monks and try to pray the entire day- there are times that we should spend doing other things as well. But the larger point of regular prayer is to prevent other things, our life in this dunya, from stunting our relationship with Allah.

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Source: ibnatalhidayah.blogspot.com.

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