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Story of a Revert Muslimah

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YOUTH CLUB: Asalamualaikum, welcome to Islam, sister — may you introduce yourself?

REVERT SISTER: Walaikumasalam, thank you.  My name is Samiha. I was raised in Germany but I am originally from Hong Kong. I became Muslim in 2011 while I was a university student in the UK. I have, therefore, been Muslim for 6 years, Alhumdulilah. I became a Masters student for architecture in Australia but right now I am currently gaining work experience as an architectural assistant in Hong Kong before returning back to complete studies.

YOUTH CLUB: What was your life before Islam and what do you think was the turning point for considering to read about Islam?

REVERT SISTER: My life before Islam was nothing extraordinary and was rather very standard. I was a normal teenager who never really gave much thought about life. At the same time I was never into what my peers were doing. I abstained from dating, clubbing, drinking or other western lifestyle. I guess people would consider me as a studious teen that stayed away from trouble. The turning point for me considering Islam was when I started university in the UK. This was where I encountered Muslims for the first time. I was additionally going through personal issues and was thus in a very low period in my life. I hit rock bottom and was completely lost. I furthermore found my degrees in firstly chemistry and later mathematics totally unsuitable where that made me feel more lost. I was, therefore, really low and questioned a lot about my purpose and outlooks in life. This also led me to compare my Muslim friends’ lifestyle to my own where I surprisingly found many similarities. They were modest and disciplined and I really liked that so I started to dig deeper.

YOUTH CLUB: What caused you to embrace Islam?

REVERT SISTER: There were many factors that led me to embrace Islam. Firstly, reaching rock bottom certainly made it easier to accept the truth. I was in a state where I wanted to find meaning and make sense of the world. Islam, however, appealed me on a more rational level. I tend to observe things from a rational and calculated standpoint, especially with my background in chemistry, and mathematics. I, therefore, analyzed and compared Islam to other religions that I was exposed to — religions such as Christianity and Buddhism. I was previously an atheist, but the scientific accuracy within Islam was flawless, and undeniable. The scientific and logical approach in the Qur’an towards the meaning of life, therefore, struck me. I was even more awestruck over the cosmological explanations found within the Qur’an and it aligning with the opinions of modern day scientists. It was too undeniable to ignore and I also felt like Allah (swt) was protecting me in my teens in preparation for Islam. It was, therefore, easy to embrace Islam, Alhumdulilah.

YOUTH CLUB: How do you think Islam has transformed your life for the better?

REVERT SISTER: Islam has transformed my life for the better because it has given me a clear purpose in life and a sense of direction. The detailed teachings over how our intentions matter guides my actions and speech. Islam has, therefore, guided me into decisions fueled with purpose where I think that also led me to my current degree. I am passionate about architecture — more specifically sustainable architecture — because I hope to give back to humanity by building what is sustainable and good not only for mankind but Earth. Islam has thus made me conscious and has increased my accountability. The feeling of accountability has not only given me a clear sense of direction but pushed me to strive for excellence in whatever I do.

YOUTH CLUB: What in Islam helps you cope with life’s difficulties especially when facing non Muslim parents?

REVERT SISTER: Allah (swt) says in the Qu’ran that He will test every believer according to their sincerity and see if they are indeed true believers. This is a teaching that I cling to whenever going through difficulties. I know very well that my parents love me and that their opposition is due to this love. This is, however, a test for me and I know that Allah (swt) has promised not to give me tests beyond my capacity. The knowledge of how what we are going through is temporary helps me cope and the duty within Islam towards parents gives me direction on how to be towards them.

YOUTH CLUB: What message would you like to send Muslims that were born with Islam and that have Muslim families?

REVERT SISTER: Cherish and be grateful for your family whether they are religious or not. It is a tremendous blessing if your family is practicing, but if they are not, it often helps to think from the shoes of others because your family loves you at the end of the day. Allah (swt) will reward you for obeying His religion and being kind to your family — your family will see how Islam has transformed you for the better even if they do not fully understand why you are practicing Islam.

YOUTH CLUB: What further advice would you give born Muslims that start to become practicing but face opposition from cultural parents?

REVERT SISTER: My advice is to be patient. Be consistent when showering kindness and persevere for Allah (swt)’s sake. Allah (swt) will bless you and you will see the fruits. Your parents will ultimately appreciate how Islam has transformed you for the better.

YOUTH CLUB: How do you think born Muslims can be there for reverts and what can they learn from reverts?

REVERT SISTER: I think just being there makes a huge difference. There are many that are quick to judge when you are new Islam and also there are many that preach whatever they know about Islam without looking at your circumstance. There are few that are actually there especially when things get tough. Reverts tend to go through a huge change and face opposition from family. They sometimes do not feel safe at home that support from the Muslim community makes a huge difference. The simple act of reaching out to reverts to ask how they are or how to help makes a huge difference.

YOUTH CLUB: Jazaki Allah khair sister for your time and for sharing with us your experience — we are very pleased to have you as our sister and have lots of prayers for you.

Chapter 21: The Waning Dusk (series)

Chapter 21: The Waning Dusk (series)

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Myth: It’s all Yahudi saazish

Yes, stuff and bother. But Allah is the best of Planners.

With Allah’s help. He helps whomsoever He wills. And He is the Mighty, the Very-Merciful. It is a promise from Allah. Allah does not fail in His promise, but most of the people do not know. (30:5-6)

Will our glorious days repeat themselves?

‘Umar bin Khattab (ra), the first liberator of Jerusalem, says that history does repeat itself. He said that the latter generations of this Ummah would not prevail except by means of that by which the first generations prevailed.

If we try to seek honor through anything other than Islam, Allah will cause us to suffer from humiliation. Earlier generations of Muslims ruled and prevailed by following the Deen. And at the time of decline and during crusades, Salah ad-Deen Ayubi drew the same conclusion– that Islam was the only way to reclaim their glory. And henceforth, he conquered Jerusalem from the crusaders again. And none of it happened overnight.

We see the death toll rising in Gaza and the chaotic, haphazard affairs of the Muslim Ummah. People are calling for immediate and long term solutions while the skeptics smirk meanwhile. It’s amazing how we still manage to squabble, neck-down in a quagmire of problems– suffocating and dying a slow death. Snide comments like, “How many tweets have you all collected for Gaza?” or “What about people dying in your own country?” are thrown at anyone who shares related content online. First off, what kind of a human are you if someone’s concern about organised and funded butchery of your own brethren irks you? Second, let’s not make it a competition about where people are dying more.

Muslims just don’t know what to do in a state of crisis.

The only sane road out of this chaos has already been taken before. Not once, but twice. We need to rebuild ourselves from ground up. It’s not unheard of. It’s a long, strenuous, painstakingly slow process but what Muslim Ummah really needs is a generation of real men and women– not overprotected, impressionable, wannabe sissies awestruck and hypnotized by the Western lyre. Muhammad bin Qasim lead his army when he was 17. If he were from this generation, he wouldn’t even have gotten his driver’s license or considered to be an adult for that matter. And even when it comes to religious obligations (where you’re officially a responsible adult after puberty), we don’t think our 13 year old is man enough to fast or pray regularly. And the negligence continues to the point of damage beyond repair. A domino effect– the result of which we can see everywhere.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the general upbringing to lead ourselves anywhere sensibly let alone command an entire army. And this wisdom, maturity in character and clarity of thought only comes from following the Quran and the Sunnah. ‘Cause it gives you a moral compass. It makes you headstrong enough to decide for yourself where you could best invest your capabilities in. Otherwise, the status-quo is never going to change. It will be blind leading the blind to the ditch we are in now. And instead of climbing back up, we are burrowing further in because that’s where Uncle Sam keeps his gold. Or so he says.

O you who believe, if anyone from you turns back from his Faith, then Allah will bring a people whom He loves and who love Him, humble toward the believers, hard on the disbelievers, who fight in the way of Allah and are not afraid of the reproach of any critic. (5:54)

The promise of Allah will come to pass.  A generation will be borne from the ashes, like a phoenix rising from the flames. Islam will prevail. Though not necessarily through us. Above-mentioned is the class of people who have brought changes before. Yep, that is THE class. And if we don’t qualify, we will be wiped out like the others before us. Insignificant, unremembered, nameless and lost in the dark parts of history.

Still insisting that it’s a yahudi saazish?

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Chapter 11: The Waning Dusk (series)

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Myth: People will think I’ve gone bananas

(Yes, they will think that but they’ve got others on the radar to label bananas too. So, you’ll soon be last season.)

Someone asked me some time ago: “What’s the best thing that ever happened to you?”

And I told them: “The one-year gap I took from my studies.”


 

To me, it felt like being chucked out of one convent into the other.

I joined extensive Quran classes in the summer of 2009 because I had nothing else better to do than to wait for my medical college aptitude test results. And as I surveyed the hall, I could see spoilt brats like myself all around. No, I wasn’t dragged here– I had only decided to do something different that summer. And since it was a one-year Quran course, I had all the intentions of leaving right after I get accepted to one of the many universities I had applied to.

I don’t know why I felt the compulsion to compare it with my convent school. Maybe because it was run by women and they had an aura of dignity around them. But this one taught me more in a year than those 5 years of schooling.

Long story short– I got my acceptance letter. And so did many of my friends in this new place and I saw them dropping out one by one to pursue their higher education. I was in a serious dilemma. From my first day, after the tafsir of the first verse of Al-Fatihah, I knew this course wouldn’t be as easy to leave as I had thought it would be. You can’t just turn your back on the Quran and expect a world of goodness waiting for you out there. It’s a lose-lose situation to deliberately wrench yourself out of the Mercy of Allah (His Book) after being in it.

I had already made up my mind. But I consulted people anyway just to gauge the general reaction and to brace myself for it when I dropped the bomb. It’s funny how people love to steer the way you should live and the choices you should make. And it’s unfortunate that we let them.

What really helped me make my biggest career decision was this verse:

Say, “With the grace of Allah and with His mercy (this book has been revealed). So they should rejoice in it. It is much better than that which they accumulate.” (10:58)

(I’ll try not to complain again how literal translation doesn’t sound as dramatic.)

If Allah says the Quran is better than whatever it is that you are after, then it IS better. Period. And rejoiced in it- I did. Now, I’m one year short of being an engineer from one of the top universities (of which I take no credit for). Cherry on top- people who were critical earlier came to respect the decision and some of them are enrolled in the same course, and they can’t agree enough that they should have done it earlier.

So, if you have Ramadan resolutions (or any others) that you would like to live on, but are afraid of the skepticism, take that leap of faith anyway. Life’s too short to think what people would think.

The Art of Faith

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“Faith is the art of holding onto things inspite of your changing moods and circumstances.” ~ C. S. Lewis

 There are times we have an extremely high level of faith. So we are enthusiastically doing our night prayers, daily charity, dawah work – you name it. But then there come times when the level just simply drops down, sometimes it pretty much hits rock bottom.

We all experience these faith-level-swings all the time and tell you what, they are actually normal. Yes entirely NORMAL.

We are humans and naturally our enthusiasm is not the same through out the year. Sometimes we are down, sometimes we sin, sometimes we are occupied and busy or simply ill. In such situations, many of our virtuous deeds suffer a setback. And that should not worry us too much. What should worry us is our connection with Allah.

No matter how many good deeds we are doing, no matter what situation we are in, our connection with Allah should remain constant. Well, pretty much anyway. It should never hit rock bottom. Even if we are busy or sick, we should try to keep up some sort of nearness to Allah. If you can’t do the night prayers for some time, at least carry on with the dua. It’s a bad idea to drop off the connection completely. Because it really takes a lot of time and effort to start all over again.

Ustadh Abu Eesa Niamatuallah gives a profound example from Surah Yusuf. He says:

Having the stamina to do good *continuously* is the sign of true excellence.

“The most beloved of deeds to Allaah are those which are continuous, even if they are little.” (Muslim)

But the real challenge is when your conditions change. And thus the true righteous ones are those who maintain that standard.

إِنَّا نَرَاكَ مِنَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

“We can see that you are a righteous man.” (12:36 and 12:78)

This statement was repeated twice to Prophet Yūsuf (‘alayhis-salām).

The first time, he was in prison: poor, powerless.

The second time, he was one of the leaders of Egypt: rich, powerful.

The two scenarios couldn’t possibly be more different, but he maintained his excellence and that’s why he deserves all the accolades he gets as one of the close friends and Prophets of Allah. It doesn’t need to be a huge action, it just needs to be sincere and continuous.

 So the bottom line is: starting some good deed does not take much! You get uplifted and encouraged in some religious talk and take up that deed – easy! The real thing is when you carry on doing it for years, for the rest of your life.

Similarly, it does not take much to be good to those who are already kind to us. The real test of character comes in being good to those who are actually pretty rude to us.

Real faith reflects in not giving up totally but trying to keep up the faith throughout the year, even after Ramadan, after every hurricane life throws at us. Even if not 100% then at least 60%. Going completely down the ladder makes things very difficult.

Also, ponder upon what Hasan al-Basri said:

“They were no longer of any significance to Allaah, so they committed sin. If they had mattered to Him, He would have protected them.”

So whatever good you start, just keep on going. At least to some level anyway. Stay strong!

The Missing Ingredient

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I was on a group yesterday and from there I went to a page through a link shared by someone. I just randomly started looking at the stuff and something really amazed me. The brother who was running the page was arguing with some guy and while explaining his point to him, he said something like “I’ve replied to you for this so many times but here you go I’ll do it one more time.” Then he pasted a link and said “read this completely and if you still don’t understand THEN only Allah can guide you.”

I stopped there for a while. It suddenly hit me! THIS is the reason we are not able to influence people! THIS is the reason we explain something so many times yet the person pays no heed. THIS is the reason that although we get “likes” on our posts yet our words have no effect on people; because we rely on OUR logic, OUR argumentation, OUR rhetoric, OUR background knowledge of the subject and even OUR attitudes and values.

We focus on learning all of these. But while doing so we forget the most basic and fundamental aspect of Da’wah:

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“…and Allah sends astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” [14:4]

This is what’s lacking. It doesn’t matter how sincere we are, how well prepared we are, how good are our manners or how good we explain, if we’re relying on our own faculties (that have also been given by ALLAH by the way) instead of relying on HIM, we will never be able to convince anyone of the truth.

“…And upon Allah let the believers rely.” [14:11]

This is the belief we’re lacking. This is what makes all the difference. We all know that the Prophet Muhammad (SalAllaahu Alaiyhi Wasallam) was the best man to have walked this earth. He had the best of logic, the best of arguments, the best of rhetoric, the best of knowledge and the best of manners. Allah has given proof of it in the Quran.

“Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad SalAllaahu Alaiyhi Wasallam) you have a good example to follow…” [33:21]

Yet when it comes to guiding people, this is what Allah is saying to him:

“Indeed, [O Muhammad SalAllaahu Alaiyhi Wasallam], you do not guide whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He is most knowing of the [rightly] guided.” [28:56]

Only Allah can guide you NOW? Whom were you thinking could guide him before?! How can we even dare think that we would just talk to someone and would be able to convince him, without completely relying on Allah? But that’s the saddest part; we don’t know that we’re lacking THAT faith in Allah!

We get so indulged in Da’wah, even if it is with sincere intentions, that we probably never even make Du’a before talking to someone about Islam. We don’t ask Allah to guide him; we just go and try our luck. But if we’re going to do that then we can keep waiting for the day we get lucky – the day Allah decides to guide someone. Not because we talked to him, but because it was destined for him to be guided. We can do that, OR we can start relying COMPLETELY on Allah and know that we’re only doing this effort because the Prophets (Peace Be Upon Them All) did it, because the pious predecessors did it, because the scholars did it and are still doing it, and mostly importantly, because Allah has commanded it. Otherwise Allah could have guided the whole of humanity if He willed. But he made this life as a test for us and we have to accept that and be HIS humble slaves.

Once we have that belief engraved in our hearts, then see how our words start having effect by the Will of Allah.

May Allah grant us the Tawfeeq to rely on ONLY HIM and use the means only because He has ordered us to do so! May Allah bless the Messenger (SalAllaahu Alaiyhi Wasallam).

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