Monday, June 8, 2015

INTERVIEW: A REVERT SISTER'S BEAUTIFUL 13-YEAR JOURNEY OF ACCEPTING ISLAM


I have been way back in updating the blog and this interview I had with Sister Samar should have been published at least a month ago but I was so caught up with some other work, I hardly had the time. Sorry for the delay Sister and Jazakallah khair for your patience and of course, your lovely interview.

You can find Sister Samar's website here: www.yezarck.co.uk



What was your reason that inspired you to start researching about Islam?


I had always known a lot of Muslims growing up; Muslim neighbours, Muslim friends at school etc. Growing up, I felt a sense of closeness to Muslims because being brought up in a strict Christian home, Muslims were the only other people I would really see taking their religion seriously on a whole. They would pray and fast which is something my family and church did regularly. I found that most of my Christian friends from school did not take these things seriously or when I spoke to them about religion they didn't see it as something important. I'm not saying all the Muslims I knew were so religious but there was a certain respect they had for religion in general which I admired.

When I started college, I decided I wanted to fast alongside Muslim friends because I spent so much time with them I didn't want to be eating when they weren't. Also at that time the days were short so it wasn't hard at all. I fasted for about 3 Ramadans before taking shahada and I hadn't thought at all about becoming a Muslim until just before my last Ramadan as a non Muslim.

I had always wondered why Muslims believed in Jesus but don't accept him as a god. It wasn't until one day I got into a conversation with my Muslim neighbour and friend about Jesus dying for us to save us from sin that I would get any answers. He listened to me attentively and I was impressed that he wasn't offended to hear my religious views. When I had finished he smiled and asked me if I would like to know the islamic perspective? I happily said yes as I was thinking that if I understood that, I would be able to help Muslims understand where they were clearly mistaken that Jesus is a Prophet. So he gave me a book called 'The True Message Of Jesus Christ ' by Bilal Philips. It's a small book maybe 100 pages or so. I took it home and started reading it and was only half of the way through when it dawned on me that I needed to become a Muslim. I couldn't argue with the facts. I had never had any previous issue with Christianity and believing that Jesus was gods son and saviour for mankind but reading this book the islamic perspective made a lot more sense.

How long was after you started learning about Islam that you decided to accept Islam?


I think it may gave been a couple of weeks as there were a few other things I had wanted to ask about. But once those questions were answered and I continued to read more and more books I was sure about my decision. Any other Muslims I met at that time I would tell them that I was a Muslim too. I wasn't practicing, I didn't know how to pray and I was still a party girl, but I believed. At that time I knew a lot of non practicing Muslims. It wasn't until a few months later that a close friend whom I hadn't seen for a few months because she had left London to go to uni contacted me, and lo and behold, she also had been learning about Islam and wanted to become a Muslim too! I was so excited and we decided to take shahada together. So I planned to go to Leeds in a couple of weeks. At the time I really didn't understand the big deal with shahada because as far as I was concerned I was a Muslim. After taking shahada a week after my friend (she couldn't wait for me she said because it was explained to her it was better not to delay as death can come at any time) I really started to try and implement deen. I started learning to pray, going to mosque for lessons and after a few months I told my parents and then started wearing a scarf.

What was the first most beautiful thing you discovered about Islam?

The beauty of Iman (faith) and the Oneness of Allah. There really isn't anything more beautiful than that. So much depth in it. The fact that even though Allah is not a part of His creation He cares for us and we have a direct connection with him without any intercessor or intermediate.

If there are people out there researching about Islam, what advice would you give them?


Try to learn Islam from practicing Muslims or even non practicing Muslims who are sincere and honest. What I mean by that is that they will straight up tell you if the way they live is not islamic and will try to find out for you answers to your questions without just giving you an answer to look good in front of you. That goes for if they are practicing islam properly or not. Also don't blame Islam for the bad that Muslims do. Have an open mind and ask for God's guidance the best way you know how and in whatever language you speak. God knows us better than we know ourselves.

How did you talk to your family about your decision to become a Muslim?


It wasn't easy being from a religious Christian family. I simply had to sit them down and tell them. It really didn't go down well but Alhamdolillah it wasn't an extreme case where they kicked me out or anything like that. Just really uncomfortable living at home for a while. I had taken shahada in April 2002, I told them a few months later in June I think and the same year I left for uni. I got married the following year and it did help family relations a lot Alhamdolillah. My parents began to accept my new lifestyle. Alhamdolillah.

It has been 13 year since you accepted Islam. How has your journey been?

Alhamdolillah for everything. It has been good. Twist and turns, ups and downs, but that's life. As a Muslim I can go through life's changes with the knowledge that everything is a test from Allah.

What was the greatest challenge that you faced after converting to Islam?


Hm. I don't really know. I think the change in relationship between cousins is difficult, specifically male cousins because I can't treat them as my brothers anymore. I find that quite awkward and as far as I know I'm still the only Muslim in my family so that is hard. It does make me feel like an outsider sometimes but Alhamdolillah my family are very understanding and supportive. After 13 years practicing they know it's not some phase I'm going through- it's just my way of life. Alhamdolillah.

Did you start wearing the Hijab right after you accepted Islam? How was your experience?


When I told my parents I had become a Muslim, I started wearing a headscarf with my still tight clothes. Slowly I started wearing looser and looser clothes - long tunic tops with trousers, then with skirts. Sometimes I would try wearing jilbabs until I gave up trying to cover up with so many different items of clothing and stick to jilbab full time Alhamdolillah. I think it was maybe 4 years before that happened.

Was it long before you started wearing the Niqab? And what inspired you to do so?

I started wearing it about a year after wearing jilbab full time. I had wanted to wear it since my early days of being a Muslim and going to Brixton mosque and meeting so many beautiful sisters from so many different backgrounds all covered up from head to toe. I used to sit and learn from them completely in awe thinking how amazing they were and hoping to be able to have the courage to cover up like that.

Was it a difficult transition for you to go from a Hijabi to a Niqabi?


Hm. Yes and no. From my side it was something I wanted so I was sure about doing it. It was my lifestyle and lack of support in the earlier years that I think prevented me from doing it earlier. I had moved up north and didn't really know any sisters wearing it. Also at the time I didn't have that support from my husband to do so.

A question I get asked all the time is if wearing the Niqab is difficult. How would you describe your experience?

Alhamdolillah since the first day I put it on it has been easy. I made a lot of dua about wearing it, asking Allah to purify my intention and make it easy. Alhamdolillah, since the first day I put it on to try it I have never left it. I have tried all types of badly made niqab that I could barely breath to now very comfortable breathable flowing ones that I forget I have on Alhamdolillah.

Any special Hadith or Quranic verse that has always been very special for you?


In Surah At-Talaq: 2-3: And for those who fear Allah He prepares for them a way out. And He provides for him from sources he could never imagine. And if anyone puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is Allah for him. For Allah will surely accomplish His purpose: Allah has already appointed due proportion.

I cannot stress how true this is. Anytime I hear or read this Ayah my heart just says "Yes" in affirmation.

If there are any non-Muslim reading this, what would you tell them?

Islam is perfect the Muslims are not.

And finally, how would you describe the changes you see in yourself after accepting Islam? 

Alhamdolillah I think I have a lot more patience and understanding and I don't get angry about things like I used to. I'm not perfect but I try to work on my character. Allah says to show mercy to others in the hope that he will show mercy to us on the day of judgement.


Note: If you would like to be interviewed for our blog, leave us an email on niqablovers@gmail.com and we'll get back to you, In Sha Allah. Sisters only.


2 comments:

  1. assalamualaikum , i want to try to put on the niqab , but my circumstance doesnt let me to do it , i ve asked my friends ,what are their opinion if i started to wear niqab . one of my friends said that , she doesnt ready to see the new me , plus, i dont inform my parents yet. i really wanna do this bcause i think my look,my face can bring harm to the guys .plus , i want to enhance my shyness to the men . Whats your opinion?

    ReplyDelete