I AM WRITING this for all my Muslim brothers and sisters who have converted (or reverted) to Islam; those who have had the courage, against all odds, to stand firm on their beliefs — no matter how great the personal cost.
I want to convey the sorrow I share with many of my fellow brothers and sisters in Islam that have had to distance themselves from their families because of their acceptance of the religion of Islam.
I want to first tell you, “I love you,” you are my family. I have not forgotten you.
It breaks my heart that you do not agree with my life choice, that you have chosen to reject me. If you do not agree with me, then at least respect my decision. If you only knew how difficult this decision was for me, how difficult it is to be a Muslim––especially a Muslim woman––in these times.
Did you ever try to imagine what kind of commitment it takes to be a Muslim? It is not as easy as you may think. I want to let you into my mind. I want you to look through my eyes, and just know — if only for a moment — how I have felt, what I have dealt with and what it can be like.
Think for one minute about something that means so much to you, something that you feel so strongly about, that you are willing to undergo losing your entire family and friends; becoming estranged to the same people that you have known all your living years. All of a sudden, you are the outcast, the lost soul, for you do not have enough sense to know what you are doing, everyone is telling you that you are “throwing your entire life away.”
Think about how strong you must feel about the actions you are taking.
Not just any actions, mind you, but actions that take sincerity and a firm belief, actions that are not to be taken lightly. Actions with consequences which include: sacrifice of worldly things, loss of friends and racism, to name only a few.
Continue to think about something in your life that means this much to you.
Would you be willing to sacrifice your career? Money? New car? House?
Would it be easy for you to give up many of the pleasures that this life has to offer?
Think about your family. How would you handle losing the love of your entire family for this ‘something’ that means so much to you. No longer are you called to even talk for a little while — for the fear that you might mention this ‘something’ that means so much to you.
But when your family calls, you cannot help mentioning it. Why? Because it is ‘something’ that you have dedicated your entire life to. You silently entreat them, “Dear family, please do not be offended. Only try and listen. After all, it is important to me. It is me.”
But, then again, they might bring up something they heard on the news, about the ‘something’ that you so dearly love and believe in. You feel unable to speak. With anguish in your heart, you try to plead with them for fairness and good sense. You feel ineloquent and insufficient. You know that your religion is one of peace, but you cannot find words to say that forcefully enough. Nor can you tell them what you know from hands-on research and personal experience dealing with “that religion” and “those people.” You only listen, because the TV knows more, always.
You come to realize, soon enough, that because of this ‘something’ you have chosen, you no longer have a right to discuss or comment on any matter about the city, state or country you have spent your whole life in, if you do — you now are told (instead of being respected for an intelligent opinion) you should be expelled from the country.
Think about going to the store just to pick up some bread. As you get in your car and drive down the road someone begins screaming curse words at the very sight of you, dressed according to this ‘something’ that you believe so firmly in, probably they think that you do not understand them but you do, and all too well.
Just get used to it; if you go out a lot, it may happen quite often. Also, remember that you are “oppressed” and you are looked at with pity and contempt, as an “oppressed woman” — having no mind of her own.
All this, even though this ‘something’ is what you chose, what you live everyday not by force, but because you believe it is right.
Keep all of this in mind as you are driving in your car. Walking into the store, you feel all eyes are on you — all of the sudden you hear laughing — you think to yourself, they aren’t laughing at me, are they? But of course, you know better. All because of this ‘something’ you love. At the bread aisle, you notice the grocery store security guard seems to be following you up and down each aisle in the store, when you look in his direction, he discreetly glares at the kitty litter boxes on sale, not wanting to give himself away.
As you get to the cashier, ready to check out — you notice how courteous the cashier is to the woman in front of you. Don’t get your hopes up; there will be none of that when it is your turn. At best you get a reserved stare. At worst… you are trying not to think. Never mind, you are on your way home. It is better to go straight home, home is comfort.
But is it? Occasionally, someone knocks at your door, you answer the door, but find no one. You walk outside to get the mail, and the kids run from behind the corner of your house yelling, “You don’t belong here!” A while later, the teenagers in the neighborhood may decide to join in on the fun by standing in your driveway and cursing you, as you are standing inside your own home. And this is only the beginning of the days in your life, but wait, there’s so much more…
Don’t get me wrong: there are times of solace and admiration from some kind people too. But few and far between.
Now stop and think. Is there anything that you love so much?
Well, you may ask, ‘Is it worth it?’ I will tell you without hesitation: ‘Yes it is!’
All that and more. Because this ‘something’, Islam, is my way of life, my love, my peace, my hope. You may think, “Being harassed doesn’t sound very peaceful at all”. But it is. Not the harassment, of course, but the purpose behind my actions, my faith. The reasons that I dress as I dress, and I live in the manner I have chosen. And I want to say again, do not think for a second I take this lightly. I believe and know this way of life to be right and true.
If you cannot be happy for me, at least be content to know that you have raised someone that stands firm in what she believes. Not just a blind follower, not just one of the crowd, not someone who will be swayed at the drop of a hat.
So, if you cannot support me in my decision, then be satisfied to respect me for my convictions, morals and values.
Be happy to know that I do not live an immoral, vulgar, and dishonorable life.
Know that what I believe in, Islam, is not something I believe in because it is the popular thing to do, or that it the best way to ‘Gain Friends and Influence People’.
Realize, this is not some phase I am going through and I am not an over-zealous fanatic.
I am striving to be the best human being that I can be. And that is something that is not easy, but I believe that it will lead me to Paradise if I strive hard enough, and stand firm on the beliefs that “There is nothing worthy of worship but God alone, associating no partner with Him.”
Where was it that I learned that I should strive to be the best I can be, and to try my hardest to stand firm on the things that I believe are just and truthful?
Hey, wasn’t that you Mom? Dad? Didn’t you teach me that?
I wrote this letter many years ago, just after I had embraced Islam. My entire family now respects me for my faith. Alhamdulillah! If you are going through what I had to, I advise you, my sister or my brother, to have patience. Make your point by living Islam every day. And ask Allah for guidance.