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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.

Jazz, Jinns and Diamonds- John Fontain’s Story

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Guest writer Sara Ahmed pens down the inspiring story of John Fontain, as heard from him at the WOC 2014 event:’Story Night with the Stars’.

John Fontain was born in a working-class Christian family in Manchester.  As a young boy, he would always make an intention in Church that he was praying to God alone, proving the fact that children are born on the fitrah (sound nature). At seven, he was sure that there was something amiss in Christianity when the priest changed the chorus lyrics he had written from ‘Jesus and God’ to ‘Jesus is God’. At the age of fourteen, with a growing passion for music, he became a professional jazz singer, travelling to places and performing in sports stadiums, hotels etc. With a good income and the drive to become the most famous jazz singer in the country, he naturally did not feel the need to attend university!

When he was eighteen, he struck ‘diamond’ deals with some of the West African immigrants who had come to England, and thus, went to visit Sierra Leone in West Africa. On his way, he was stuck in Senegal, penniless. Seeing his plight, a Muslim hotel manager offered him shelter in his own home. During his stay, John marveled at the courteous mannerisms of his host, and recalls that when he first heard the Azan, it was as if ‘his heart was ripped out of chest’. He would watch his Muslim hosts offer their prayers; this brief period in Senegal was his first positive impression about Islam.

Back in London, he enrolled in a highly selective and competitive course related to the diamond industry. He then travelled to Sierra Leone multiple times, but even during times of bright business prospects, he felt something was missing. At this stage, he came across a ‘Muslim’ village in South Africa, which was notorious for witchcraft and communication with jinn. There, he actually saw women tying knots on strings in order to bring a person under the influence of jinn! Fortunately, one of his friends from Syria informed him that witchcraft actually went against Islamic injunctions and he handed him a copy of ‘Fortress of a Muslim’ (An authentic collection of Duas). When John started reading this book, he came across Surah al-Falaq:

‘Say, “I seek refuge in the Lord of daybreak

From the evil of that which He created

And from the evil of darkness when it settles

And from the evil of the blowers in knots

And from the evil of an envier when he envies.’

Here was a verse mentioning the very same practices that he had seen with his own eyes! Finding some reality in the Quran, he started to take Islam more seriously and started to learn about it. Though not yet having converted, he would pray in his own way and he even fasted during Ramadan! One day, while in Egypt, he went to a Masjid in Cairo to pray. When he was about to do so, his friend told him he could not pray until he had taken the Shahadah (testimony to faith). John was stunned at this point because, all this time, even having hung around with Muslim friends in England, no one had ever told him about the Shahadah, the actual entry into Islam, the passage of safety in the Hereafter! (Do we, as Muslims, even realize the great responsibility that we have of conveying the message of Islam?)

On a side-note, John also reflects that until that time in Cairo, he had not actually wanted to leave his old life, but when he himself took the initiative to whole-heartedly accept the Islamic way of life, it was then that Allah introduced the Shahadah to him! For us, it is a reminder that Allah surely facilitates for us only that path which we really want to follow.

John Fontain, renowned jazz singer and successful diamond trader, finally took his Shahadah in a Hardees branch in Cairo! Now, with his enthusiasm to guide the people of West Africa to the true teachings of Islam, he heads a flourishing organization called ‘Volunteer Sierra Leone’ which is currently managing 65 Muslims schools in that region.

May Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala make him steadfast and bless him in his efforts. Ameen.

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Hijab

Assalam o Alaikum (May Peace be with you all)!

This blog post of mine revolves around Hijab, all about Hijab! :)

I love Hijab

WHAT IS HIJAB?

Literally the Arabic word Hijab means “Screen” or “Curtain” and so its purpose is to shield. Hijab is generally taken as a piece of cloth used by Muslim women to cover their heads. It is also called a head scarf. People wear Hijab in different ways; some of them just cover their heads and some also cover their faces, extending the Hijab into a Niqab.

PURPOSE OF HIJAB

Hijab, to many of us, may just seem a small piece cloth but it , in itself, means complete dignity. Women wearing Hijab feel a sense of protection of their dignities and graces from evil eyes. Hijab makes one feel, secure as the main purpose of Hijab is to make a women feel very precious so that she remains protected. A woman in Hijab is just like a pearl in a shell, it’s in the shell because it is special! The Muslimaat (Muslim women) wearing Hijab are freed from so many social pressures that other women in today’s society have to bear. In fact, today’s woman has become a show piece and so she has to dress up and make over herself, in such a way that she looks attractive, to avoid being pinpointed in the society.This is a lot of pressure especially for the teenage girls. But Islam always teaches simplicity and so hijab frees one from such social pressures and barriers, to have simplicity under the veil and live a graceful life. That is the reason Hijab in any form (with or without Abaya) is and should be very simple, so that it does not become a source of attraction for men.

IMPORTANCE AND OBLIGATION OF HIJAB

If we go keenly through the Holy Qur’an and the Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaahu Alaiyhi Wasallam), we find very obvious instructions about the importance of Hijab.

  • In the Light of Qur’an

In Surah Noor, Allah(Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) says,

  “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their (Muslim) women (i.e. their sisters in Islam), or the (female) slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigor, or small children. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And all of you beg Allaah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.”                                                                              [al-Noor 24:31]

In Surah al-Ahzab ayah 59, Allah(Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) says:

     Ya ayyuha an-Nabiyy qul li azwajika wa banatika wa nisa al-mu’minin
yudnina alayhinna min jalabib hinna; dhalika adna 
an yu’rafna fa laa
yu’dhayn. Wa kana Allahu Ghafur Rahim.

O Prophet! Say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the faithful to draw their outer garments (jilbabs) close around themselves; that is better that they will be recognized and not annoyed. And God is ever Forgiving, Gentle.

In another Ayah of Surah Al-Ahzab Allah says,

 “O you who believe! Enter not the Prophet’s houses, unless permission is given to you for a meal, (and then) not (so early as) to wait for its preparation. But when you are invited, enter, and when you have taken your meal, disperse without sitting for a talk. Verily, such (behaviour) annoys the Prophet, and he is shy of (asking) you (to go); but Allaah is not shy of (telling you) the truth. And when you ask (his wives) for anything you want, ask them from behind a screen, that is purer for your hearts and for their hearts. And it is not (right) for you that you should annoy Allaah’s Messenger, nor that you should ever marry his wives after him (his death). Verily, with Allaah that shall be an enormity.” [Al-Ahzaab 33:53] 

From this Ayah, we came of know about the Hijabs of our Umahaat (mothers).

All these Ayaat (verses) tell us that Hijab is an obligation by Allah Almighty for all the Muslim women. They make us realize that when Islam started to spread, the Muslim women did not wear Hijab and it was later that Allah revealed an Ayah [al-Noor 24:31] making Hijab compulsory. That is the answer to all those who term Hijab just as a part of ‘Arabic cultural dress’!If after reading the above verses, one does not wear a Hijab, she’ll surely be disobeying Allah by not following His orders.

  • In the Light of Ahadith

We also come to know about the Hijab being an obligation from the Ahadith.

Allah’s Apostle used to offer the Fajr prayer and some believing women covered with their veiling sheets used to attend the Fajr prayer with him and then they would return to their homes unrecognized.

It was narrated from ‘A’ ishah that Asma’ bint Abi Bakr (Allah be pleased with them both) entered upon the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) while wearing thin clothing, so he turned away from her and said, “O Asma! Indeed when a woman reaches [the age of] puberty, it is not proper that anything should be shown except this and this”, and he pointed to his face and hands. (Abu Dawud transmitted it)

(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4481.). The following version was narrated by Abu Dawood (4102):

May Allaah have mercy on the Muhaajir women. When Allaah revealed the words “and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)”, they tore the thickest of their aprons (a kind of garment) and covered their faces with them.

So from the light of Quran and Sunnah, it is quite obvious that Hijab is an obligation and all Muslim women must observe Hijab, covering their entire body (according to some explanations face and hands can remain uncovered but the better way is to cover them too).

WHAT IF A MUSLIMAH DOES NOT WEAR HIJAB?

When we look around us, we see so many Muslim women who do not wear Hijab.It is the responsibility of those who know , to tell those sisters about the importance of Hijab because if a sister does not wear Hijab, it may cost her much in the world hereafter.

Allah Says in the Holy Quran Chapter 4 Surah Nisaa verses 13-14:

13      Those are limits set by Allah: those who obey Allah and His Messenger will be admitted to Gardens with rivers flowing beneath to abide therein (for ever); and that will be the Supreme Achievement.

14      But those who disobey Allah and His Messenger and transgress His limits will be admitted to a Fire to abide therein: and they shall have a humiliating punishment.

Sahih Muslim Hadith 6840,Narrated by Abu Hurayrah

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There are two types of the people of Hell that I have not seen yet: men with whips like the tails of cattle, with which they strike the people, and women who are clothed yet naked, walking with an enticing gait, with something on their heads that looks like the humps of camels, leaning to one side. They will never enter Paradise or even smell its fragrance, although its fragrance can be detected from such and such a distance.”

 CONCLUSION

As the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said,

                     ”Ballighu ‘anni wa lau ayah”

“If you listen even one verse from me , spread it.” (Sahih Bukhari, Hadith 2838)

And we have read many Ayaat and Ahadith about Hijab, so now we have to spread it to those who do not know.
May Allah reward you all for your efforts in sha Allah.
JazakAllah Katheera.

The Blessing Called Wudu

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There are some moments in life that touch you forever! They make your heart thump loudly with ecstasy and excitement… And you want to live that moment and do not want it to end, ever!

I live such moments about five times a day. When the first drop of water touches my hand, I feel a thrill pass through me. I wash my hands, rinse my mouth and nose, wash my face and arms, wipe my head with water and wash my feet. Oh bliss! It’s the wudu (Muslim ablution). Every organ of my body feels that happiness as water caresses it. It’s not just because it is summer, even in winter I get the same feeling of joy.

I wondered what could be the reason of this, do I feel the same whenever I wash my hands/face or take a bath? I realized that this was not the case. Then I thought, maybe Allah puts this special feeling of freshness, revitalization and joy only in performing the Muslim ablution. Yes, this must be it!

There’s another thing that I’m sure of. There must be some very deep wisdom hidden in washing only the organs that we’re meant to wash during wudu. If the western scientists haven’t started searching on it, they’re missing on it big time. We could have been told to wash the feet without including the ankles; or wash them, including the legs till knees; or not wash the arms. But the Creator fixed the body parts to be washed. There must be huge health benefits associated with this that would be mind blowing. Even the sequence of washing must have something deep in it, that we know not.

Just these refreshing feelings would have been enough, but then, I’m rewarded for it too!  But whaaa’?! I enjoy it and then get reward for it too? Amazing!

I pity those wretched people who don’t know this blessing, who don’t perform ablution. How poor are they! 😦
Read on to know why.

My sins are forgiven,

‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan said, “I saw the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, do wudu’ like I am doing wudu’ now. Then he said, ‘Anyone who does wudu’ like that, will be forgiven his previous wrong actions, and his prayer and his walking to the mosque are an added bonus.'” [Muslim]

All the doors of jannah will open up for me,

‘Umar ibn al-Khattab reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “No one among you does wudu’ and does wudu’ thoroughly -– or adequately – and then testifies, ‘There is no god but Allah Alone with no partner and I testify that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger’ without the eight doors of the Garden being opened to him so that he can enter by whichever of them he wishes.” [Muslim]

And then, I’ll be recognized by my beloved (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wassalam) by traces of wudu on me? Ultimate!

Narrated Nu’am Al-Mujmir: Once I went up the roof of the mosque, along with Abu Huraira. He performed ablution and said, “I heard the Prophet saying, “On the Day of Resurrection, my followers will be called “Al-Ghurr-ul-Muhajjalun” from the trace of ablution and whoever can increase the area of his radiance should do so (i.e. by performing ablution regularly).’ ” [Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 4, Number 138]

I feel awesome! O Performer of Ablution, do you?

ablution

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