A Sister in Isla
I had grown up in a loving English family home. One that was not what many perceive as a stereotypical working class family, consisting of being down the pub or stuck in front of the TV.Instead my parents spent quality time with me. Educating me, taking me out and instilling in me good morals. Much of my younger years were spent around horses and with my parent's encouragement and support I competed on a semi-professional level.Unfortunately things changed when my father was struck with a serious mental illness and my mother eventually divorced him taking me with her. Although this was a difficult and upsetting time, I was relieved as my mother was free from the suffering she unfortunately endured.Although life was different it was still good and my mother continued to care for me well.
However a few years down the line my world fell apart when I was placed into care, due to my father's complicated illness and behaviour.At first I was placed temporarily in a children's home and although it was worlds apart compared to my family life. The staff and the other children were very welcoming and protective. Only a short time passed and I was moved in to foster care so that I could continue my education. My experiences here were very disheartening; as the family I moved in with made it clear to me that I was simply a means to pay their mortgage.From hereon in I practically took care of myself apart from my evening meal. No love or affection was shown. This was a very sadtime in my life and if it hadn't been for my contact with my own family I would most likely have gone off the rails.
Looking back on this period made me realise how important our parents' love and support is and how damaging unkindness towards others can be.However it was during this time in foster care between the ages of eleven and nearly sixteen that my road to Islām began, although I did not realise at the time. My un-practising Church of England faith first became questionable during a history lesson at school, and the deeper I researched, my doubts only increased. I was in search of something but did not know what. I was fortunate enough to have travelled during this time to Yugoslavia and remember being fascinated with the golden dome ontop of what I now know to have been a Masjid. A beautiful melodious sound that use to emanate from that building left me feeling tranquil,this I much later discovered was the call for prayer (Azān).
A short time before I turned sixteen I returned to live with my mother. There is nothing in this world more comforting than the love of a mother and,alhamdullilāh, my life was finally good again. It was at this time while studying at college that I discovered Islām. I would find myself sitting in the back rows of Islāmic lectures, reading Islāmicliterature and on occasions fasting with friends during the month of Ramadhān. The more I delved in to it the more content my heart felt.
With each step I took towards AllāhSthe more AllāhS seemed to reach out to me.I started with small things like avoiding harām foods which meant at the time going vegetarian at home and reading the Qur'ān in English. It wasn't always easy and I went through periods of thinking Islām was about giving up everything that I enjoyed. I was unable to let myself fully commit yet at the same time I could not turn away.
At this point in my life I met my dear husband to be who encouraged my desires of Islām and he gave me an unarguable explanation to the one question that had been holding me back which was 'If there is only one God why are there so many religions in this world?'For the first time I had found my answer and with a clear conscience and firm belief in my heart I took my Shahādah. This change in me was unknown to my family at the time as they were of a nationalist background and I knew that they wouldn't agree or understand at the time.
Alhamdullilāh, a year later I wasblessed with my nikāh (Marriage ceremony)and I could not have wished for a better family to be a part of and to this day I have nothing but praise for them. They treated me as their own daughter from the first time we met. About a year after that I graduated from university and completed my registry wedding with my family's blessing and support. We brought a house and moved in together. For me this is when Islām became easier as there was less pressure of upsetting my mother.
Both my husband and I were working and living what we considered an Islāmic life. However it wasn't until about eight years later after the birth of our first two children that we came to realise that we were far away from Allāh S's path.Just as AllāhS had always stepped towards me when I needed him, again he reached out to us both as we pleaded for guidance. This came in the form of a renowned and much respected scholar; it was his influence and guidance that helped us to change our lives further. Islām is so much more than I ever envisaged. I was given the opportunity to spend quality time with the scholars' family who showed me the true nature of Muslim's. Not by lecturing me but just by their humble loving ways. As my thirst for knowledge and practising what I learnt increased, I began to study with an inspiring and pious lady who too showed me not just by her teaching but through her kind and compassionate ways.
It was around this time that I started to wear the hijab after a couple of previous failed attempts. This for me was the hardest of all my Islāmic acts as it was the most outwardly statement to my family. At first my mother would avoid going out with me but time has passed and slowly she has come round. She still doesn't like it but has come to accept it and my husband has become her favourite of her four son-in-laws. I can only pray that Allāh S gives my beloved mother guidance.
My life experiences have shown me how to never underestimate the effect that kind and caring acts can have on people's hearts and that those that practice Islām to the full are the most amazing role models I have come across.I am so truly grateful to AllāhS for helping me find the right path and by placing all these wonderful and inspiring people in my life. When things in life went wrong I questioned and pondered why me? But Islām has made me understand that in all bad comes good whether it be here or in the hereafter. All you need is patience and trust in AllāhS and to take that step with true desire in your heart and AllāhS comes running to you.
What I have come to realise is that this road doesn't end till the day I die. Taking my Shahādahwas not the finality of me being a Muslim, but it was merely just the beginning and there is so much more to Islām than just the physical acts of worship. By following the teachings of our beloved Prophet s it has helped me change my life for the better. It's only now I can put my hand on my heart and say I am content. Allāh S has brought peace to my life that no amount of words could ever describe.
Courtesy of At Taqwa Magazine