Trials faced as a Revert to Islam: in life & parenting…

Trials I faced as a Revert to Islam: in life & parenting…
(Date of Interview: 08/01/2010)

Brief Intro: This interview was conducted between myself and a Muslim sister. She has been through the major transition of reverting to Islam in her teenage years and has decided to share her experiences for the benefit of others Inshaa Allah. May Allah(swt) bless her for this outstanding courage and selfless charity…Ameen. She has also chosen to keep her identity confidential, but if you would like to send her a message, you can send it to my e-mail and I will forward it to her for you Inshaa Allah.

Azizah: “Assalamu Alaikum”

The Sister: “Wa alaikumu salaam”

Azizah: “How old were you sis’ when you reverted to Islam?”

The Sister: “Let’s see it was 1992 so I was seventeen!”

Azizah: “What inspired you to revert?”

The Sister: “It was a process rather than an abrupt inspiration. The person who triggered my interest in Islam was my aunt’s husband at the time, a revert himself who used to give my aunt dawah in the car while dropping her to work and me to school. His character had a lot to do with it. He was slow to anger and very rationale and pleasant. I really admired his discipline in fasting and prayer. He would work in the hot sun as a welder and then go to the masjid on the way home, all while fasting. I was attracted to the disciplined nature of the religion.”

Azizah: “What was your immediate family’s reaction like? ”

The Sister: “My mother was supportive because she had “expected it”. She’s one of those people who seems to have ESP! She had been thinking of buying me a prayer mat even before I told her. Most of my other close relatives were appalled though, angry and embarrassed. Except my cousins of similar age who respected my choice and were neutral.”

Azizah: “How did your friends react?”

The Sister: “I don’t recall any negative from my friends but then there was a big gap between my actual acceptance of Islam and my telling my family and going public about it…..so by the time I made it general knowledge I had left secondary school, acquired new Muslim friends and I was about to start University and meet new people who would know me “as a Muslim”.

Azizah: “How did your relatives react? Can you give me some statements they made in opposition to your choice?”

The Sister: “In my case since I lived with my mum’s family, my “relatives” are also my immediate relatives for the most part, as it’s also a small family….the exception was my uncle who himself had chosen to be a Rastafarian and had a liking and respect for Islam. I remember him saying “it’s a good decision”. They said “Look how these people always fighting!” They said, “Many paths lead to God. So why you feel Islam is the greatest thing? I was born a Catholic and I will die a Catholic.”

Azizah: “Were you in any way worried about what it would be like to marry a Muslim man?”

The Sister: “Actually no but I know my mother was! She encouraged me not to marry an Arab or someone from the Indo-Pakistanii culture and subcontinent because she knew personally of conflicts that arose due to differences of culture, expectation and sometimes purely bad behaviour on the part of Muslims. There was a lot of negative stereotyping against Afro-Trini Muslims at the time so my family were probably relieved when I married an Indo-Trini! My mums fears were not about Indo-Trinis so much but the South East Asians who for example she interacted with in London. At the time I had an option to migrate to the UK.”

Azizah: “How did you meet your husband?”

The Sister: “I saw him at U.W.I. Islamic Society events but the mysterious thing is that I had seen him in UWI library even before I knew he was Muslim and he just stood out to me. I remember thinking….hmmm that looks interesting. He had a topee but I did not know he was a Muslim.”

Azizah:     “Would you say you have a functioning Islamic marriage? A marriage that is based on Islamic law; despite the culture clash?”

The Sister: “Well….yes! But there was no culture clash in effect. We’re both Trinidadian Muslims in real terms and neither of us let any major cultural effects of either Trini or ethnic or Western culture interfere with how we think or act, at least as far as we are aware.”

Azizah: “As a parent now, do you think being a Muslim parent would have been easier for you if you were born into a Muslim family? If yes, how so?”

The Sister: “Not necessarily. ..a lot of Muslim families do not raise practising Muslim children and though I hope this will change with our generation of parents as I believe we are “more conscious” than the previous generation…..the advantage of being a revert is that you know better than to take your belief for granted….you understand that belief is not automatically transferred in the genes as Dr. Bilal Philips jokes….you have to know and feel, believe and do….”

Azizah: “Masha Allah sis’! So what is your exact race?And do you believe that it inhibits you in any way from practicing your faith freely?”

The Sister: “My dad is Indian and my mum is African for the most part with a small percentage of European blood, as is common based on our Caribbean history. So I’m what they call a dougla. I hate that word! …The nature of Islam is that it was designed for all people. As we know the Qur’an is addressed to all mankind! So race really cannot inhibit free practice of Islam.”

Azizah: “Masha Allah…”

The Sister: “Sometimes external factors like regulations created by institutions about praying in public or wearing hijab or stereotypes about terrorists inhibit our free practice…but race cannot! Good question! ”

Azizah: “Do you have any Muslim people in your life that you use as role models with regards to marriage and parenting?”

The Sister: “Yes I do …..(the sister was reflecting on a good/happy memory at this point judging by her expression) I have not usually thought of them as role models before you asked me this but there are couples with long lasting happy marriages or who have raised good practising Muslim children that I feel I can consult should I need advice on a matter. Often I find them inspiring as solid marriages over many years or a batch of properly practising children in love with their deen seems to elude so many couples….”

Azizah: “Would you encourage your children to marry reverts if they so desire? Even if their intended were another race?”

The Sister: “Yes of course! What matters to me is that there is the compatibility between both parties required for the challenges of modern marriage! And that the intended partner has a true belief in Islam. It’s tempting to extend that list but imposing too many of our own ideals on our children’s intended spouse can be unfair…..”

Azizah: “Last question Inshaa Allah… What advice would you give to teenagers, with non-Muslim backgrounds, who wish to revert to Islam? What kept you strong???”

The Sister: “Wow! Big question! …At the end of the day it was the consciousness that one day Allah would question me and how could I say “Well Allah you showed me the way and I believed in it, but I really didn’t have the guts to follow through in the face of disapproval from all of a society and possible ostracism from my family! Don’t wait till you get older…don’t procrastinate. You don’t know for sure that you will get another day or year of life. Becoming a Muslim will give you joy but there will be trials. Allah promises in the Quran to test the believers. Make sure you are familiar with the meaning of the Quran in your first language. It’s not logical to memorize all surahs in Arabic and the duas in Arabic and not know what they mean. Muslims will disappoint you because they are human. Expect that. You too will disappoint them as you are human too. Allah is the most Forgiving and All Knowing and Islam, His Religion, has been perfected for mankind. So make dua for understanding of the religion and work to acquire this understanding by Allah’s kindness. Though being married is important a lot of young brothers and sisters rush into marriage for sex. Sex is important too but divorce is the most hateful of permitted things, so do make sure you are compatible and prepared for the responsibilities of marriage as there is a lot of grief and pain associated with a relationship between too incompatible or immature people.What kept me strong was iman in the early years in the face of the tensions at home…..and what sweetened the pain from the home front was the love of my new Muslim friends, Alhamdulillah. 😛 :)(The sister smiled and reminisced at this moment)

Azizah:     “Jaza Kllah Khair sis! “(we spoke off the record thereafter)

Yours Truly,
Azizah…

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2 thoughts on “Trials faced as a Revert to Islam: in life & parenting…

  1. Assalaamu alaikum 🙂
    I LOVE revert stories and really enjoyed this. may Allaah bless the sis and her fam and us Ameen.Looking forward to more interviews you upload inshaaAllaah.

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