Alhamdulillah, we were lucky enough to get the opportunity to interview another Muslimah revert for our blog and the response, support and encouragement we have received through all the interviews are just amazing, SubhanaAllah!
I've had emails from new reverts to Islam asking for advice and for a young girl who was thinking of accepting Islam and all the answers from the interviews we've had has helped immensely because it would definitely have related a lot to reverts. Jazakallah khair to everyone who has contributed through interviews and guest posts because honestly, so many people have benefited from it, including myself. Alhamdulillah.
So, here is a wonderful interview we had with Sister Imaan (Faith).
Tell us a little about yourself and your life prior to accepting Islam
Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim.
My life before islam was empty to say the least.
I was raised in a Christian household and had always had a very strong belief in God and knew that He was always there. I called myself a Christian but to be honest I didn't know what that really meant and I would never reference Jesus(A.S) in my prayers or see him as any power or authority.
My mother would always have us go to church and I'd come back unmoved, and somehow I knew that that wasn't right. So I'd research other religions and even went to different churches and religious gatherings hoping to feel different, but I never did. My dad on the other hand never went to church and would say that he didn't need to gather with crowds of people in order to praise God. From that I'd ask myself what does it mean to be religious, and can I just do whatever I want and still make it to heaven? I had so many questions about life and my existence. "Who am I?" "What's my purpose" "if I died a billionaire or a hobo on the street, would it really matter?" "If not, what matters?" "Why do I exist?"
I was very lost and even depressed because nothing meant anything. I would kind of float from one dream (job, goals etc) to another hoping to find satisfaction. I never did. My life had no substance, meaning or purpose. I thought that having the nicest clothes, shoes, bags, accessories, cars, houses etc were something to strive for, that somehow having money and being an "independent woman" would give me meaning and purpose. But it was honestly exhausting.
Describe your journey to Islam
Eventually after years of contemplation and internal debate about Christianity, I decided to stop going to church because I felt myself losing faith in God and saw a lot of hypocrisy that made me want no part of the Christian faith.
But I felt really guilty because I had this consciousness of God. So I prayed and said "God, I know You are there, and I believe in You, but I just can't go to church anymore. If there is a way for me to pray to you, please guide me to it."
Years went by without me really being active in any religion, but I'd pray and knew God was with me. As time went by I met (by amazing coincidence) a bunch of foreign muslim students. I had never (knowingly) met muslims before and they were a bit strange to me, yet I would always find myself with them. I was so drawn to them and eventually loved them all so much because there was something truly unique and special about them. I didn't understand what it was until (after asking them countless questions lol) eventually I realized it was because of their religion.
During Ramadan 2013 I would cook for them a watch them break their fast and I knew that this was the answer I'd been looking for. I knew that Islam was the true religion Alhamdulilah.
I just felt this comfort and ease being around them that I knew I didn't have a choice but to be a Muslim.
I then decided to tell my family about my decision to be a Muslim and I gradually started to learn about it.
What were the greatest challenges you faced after accepting Islam and how did you deal with those?
There were many challenges. I moved back to my mum's house and SubhanAllah it became really difficult for me to learn and meet other Muslims.
I taught myself how to pray etc and literally was just reading, reading and reading lol. I was mocked and sometimes insulted by strangers for my decision to be a Muslim which hurt, but I never took it to heart because strangers were exactly that, strangers.
But when my relationship with my mum became difficult I almost broke because no matter what I did or could do to please her, it was not enough unless I left Islam or didn't display my Faith. I realized that Islam was not only a huge change for me, but for my family and others as well, and I can only hope and pray that Allah (swt) makes it easy for us.
Alhamdulilah, as much as externally there were so many battles, my heart still felt comfort and ease because I knew I was on the right path. And the more I was being challenged, the more I sought refuge with Allah. The more I learned about the Deen, asked Allah for guidance and looked to please Him and Him alone In sha Allah. The ayat "Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find peace" [Al-Ra'd (13):28] really affected and helped me get through a lot of the sadness I experienced at the time.
But also just the gratitude I had to Allah (swt) for having answered my prayer and to have given me a life that I could actually be passionate about and be happy in. I couldn't really be that sad because Islam is such an amazing gift Alhamdulilah. I love the ayah "And he found you lost and guided you" [Adh-Dhuha (93):7]. SubhanAllah!
How did taking the Shahadah for the first time feel?
SubhanAllah :) Because I'd been learning on my own for so long (because I wasn't able to find anyone around) I had mentally taken the Shahadah. But Alhamdulilah I met an Arabic teacher who said I had to take it publicly. I didn't think it would be a big deal, but SubhanAllah, when I took the Shahadah with the Imam and he started praying for me, I cried! It felt so official and real Alhamdulilah!
Who are your role models today and why?
My biggest role model is our beloved Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessing be upon him). It was through reading about him and the kind of person he was that I truly fell in love with Islam. His piety, compassion, love (and so many other qualities) made me want to be just like him. Reading about the challenges he and the Sahaba faced because of their belief in Allah(swt) gave me so much strength and made me realize that my difficulties were part of having Imaan. Alhamdulilah, the stories of the Sahaba and the Prophet are such a blessing for the Ummah because it's through them that we find comfort and ease in knowing that Allah chooses whom He wills and has them go through hardships and ultimately those hardships are for our own good because you really find closeness to and true love for Allah. Alhamdulilah.
Why did you choose to wear the Niqab?
In developing my faith and learning about the Deen, I fell in love with the Niqab. I'd met a few women who wore it, and SubhanAllah it just made sense to me. What I'd loved about Islam was its consistency. The prayer, the fasting, the etiquettes etc were all really consistent. The Niqab has this beautiful uniformity and consistency that was a little lost (from what I had seen) in the Hijab. My heart (I think with my heart) knew that the Niqab represented the essence of Islam and what it means to be a Muslim woman. Its embodiment of elegance, modesty and goodness was something I couldn't ignore.
Was it a difficult choice for you to start wearing the Hijab and then move on to the Niqab?
Not really. Wearing the Hijab was easy, and I honestly thought I'd be one of those "Hijab fashionistas" lol. But through learning about the Deen and living it, I realized the true essence of the veil, and what it means to be a modest woman. One day (just after Ramadan 2014) I'd been playing with scarves and wrapped it around my head like a Niqab, I liked the way it looked and said I'd go out like that just 1 day. Lol I fell in love with it and I've never not had the Niqab on since that day. It's so amazing! It's hard to describe the spiritual freedom in wearing the Niqab Alhamdulilah.
Any special Niqab/Hijab incidents you would like to talk about?
There had been a few incidents with my mum that were unpleasant especially with the Niqab. But over all, its been a really good experience (Alhamdulilah), because I've found peace and comfort in it. And I've had complete strangers actually tell me that I look really peaceful Ma Shaa Allah :).
Talking to your family about accepting Islam is always the first greatest challenge. How was it for you and how would you advice new reverts to go about the situation?
It's only natural to want to share goodness with the people you love the most. And Islam is such an amazing gift that it's impossible not to want to share it and talk about it. But I've learnt that not everyone wants to hear it. And the best thing to do is establish your faith and relationship with Allah(swt) and let that change and transform you. Let people see Islam in your actions and not just your words. It takes lots and lots and lots of effort and patience but In Shaa Allah, Allah sees your efforts and what your heart contains, and He will guide whom He pleases at the end of the day.
It has only about a year ago since you reverted to Islam. How do you feel you have changed within this year?
I'm definitely a more peaceful person both internally and externally. Taqwa (God consciousness) is a beautiful thing because it has helped me actively try (and it's a struggle everyday) to have patience and to be conscious of my words and actions. I (In Shaa Allah) try to be kinder to people and more empathetic. I feel more connected to humanity because Islam has forced me out of my shell and be a lot less selfish. But mostly Islam has given me clarity. A lot of the fog and uncertainty that I'd felt for many years has been lifted Alhamdulilah.
What do you think about the rights Islam gives to women?
Well Islam is not man made. So how can it possibly oppress women when even animals have rights in Islam? It's always crazy to hear people criticize Islam and say things like that when in reality it's the women who are not Muslim that are oppressed, if not physically, then definitely psychologically and even emotionally. I know because I thought I was free before, going out clubbing, interacting freely with the opposite gender and doing all sorts of other things had me thinking that I was free, but really I was oppressed, sad and depressed. It's like this global competition between girls (and guys), and who ever gets the most attention from men (or women), the most Instagram likes and twitter followers somehow has found value or is valuable. Women are trained to think that the lighter your skin, the smoother your hair, the bigger you butt etc the more beautiful and valuable you are and only then will a Kanye put a ring on it. But in reality even the women who fit that mould are so sad and empty inside. It doesn't matter if she has a beautiful sensitive soul that just wants love and acceptance. It doesn't matter if she's an intellectual and is spiritual and that she really couldn't be bothered with the high heels and pencil skirts because those things just hurt anyway.
The same goes for guys, it's like the nicer the car he has, or the more money he has, only then will he be able to have not 1 or 2 but countless Kim's or Beyonce's on his arm. It doesn't matter if he's a good man, or if he's sincere, or if he has a caring, sensitive and philosophical side and would rather find peace and sincerity in someone instead of be used for what he has.
It's a sad a vicious cycle of vanity, arrogance, disrespect and mistrust that so many young people (even born Muslims) are having to face.
So yes, Islam gives and upholds women rights and gives those who submit to it the freedom to just be human. It gives us all what we are so desperately searching for... true happiness and contentment. Alhamdulilah.
Non Muslims have the misconception of the Hijab and Niqab oppressing women. What are your thoughts on this?
Well I have to ask; what is the true oppression?
Being valued and judged for your beauty, external appearance, and having no one really care that you are a smart and passionate about who you are and what you believe in because they'd rather look at you and not listen to and truly value your words? Or being valued, understood and listened to not based on the shoes or lipstick you have, but rather the thoughts and intellect you possess. Who truly is the free woman?
And contrary to popular belief, the Hijab/Niqab is not about making you "unbeautiful" but rather it's about giving you the kind of beauty that cannot be seen, but rather felt. That's definitely not oppression. Alhamdulilah.
Finally, what is it like to be a Muslim?
Being a Muslim in one word is Freedom. Freedom to be who my Creator has created me to be. Freedom to not follow the norms of the society and search endlessly for meaning in the meaningless. I used to live and pray for the day I'd be an "independent woman", and honestly I can say that me finding Islam and living in submission to Allah (swt) has given me that independence. Living independent of this world and in dependence of the One who created it is true Freedom. Alhamdulilah :)
Note: If you would like to be interviewed for our blog, leave us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get back to you, In Sha Allah. Sisters only.