Diminished Faith? 4 Easy Steps to Recovery

Diminished Faith? 4 Easy Steps to Recovery

By Raiiq Ridwan

At times, it is best to just talk to someone. Not anyone of course but someone whom you trust, someone you know will help you rather than hinder you.

At times, it is best to just talk to someone. Not anyone of course but someone whom you trust, someone you know will help you rather than hinder you.

You recently made the biggest decision of your life.

You have decided to leave years and years of your past behind and to embrace a life-changing ideology from God.

In spite of what others may think, internally this was a long arduous journey.

The final leap was a leap so big that it was almost as if you crossed the Atlantic.

There were people while you were taking the shahadah.

Lots of smiles, hugs, and laughter.

You had made the best decision of your life.

Having accepted, now you started to try and practice. Taking the baby steps to learn how to perform ablution, do the ritual prayer, and for probably the first time in your life really truly experiencing inner peace. Goosebumps and tingling down your spine as you marvel at what an amazing blessing that God Almighty had gifted to you.

However, soon things just turn out slightly different. You miss a prayer and feel absolutely devastated about it. You want to kill yourself for doing something so sinful! Add to that, you are also struggling to concentrate on your prayers anyway.

A million different things run through your head. You feel alien to the community of Muslims that you just joined, and your friends and family from your past life don’t really understand what’s going on either! You feel your faith slip slightly, and are worried. Worries envelop you so much that your day to day life is affected as well.

What is happening? Have I actually made the right decision?

Is God even listening to me?

Why is God doing this to me? Haven’t I just given up everything for Him?

No, no, God is so Merciful and Kind, it is me with the problem. Why am I so ungrateful?

He has given me so much and I can’t even say a prayer without thinking of something or someone else? I am so hypocritical! So on and so forth.

Among the toughest parts of the New Muslim journey is dealing with that “Iman dip”, that phase when your faith seems to slightly crumble, your prayers seem a bit all over the place, and your connection to God faltering.

So, how does one deal with it?

We will discuss 4 spiritual, social and personal ways of dealing with that dip!

Understand That It’s OK

In your early journey into Islam, it is normal to feel a bit intimidated…

Yes, it is!

The best of Prophets was our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). After the Prophets, the best of humanity was the companion of Muhammad (peace be upon him), Abu Bakr.

One time Abu Bakr asked another of the companions Handhalah how he was doing. He answered that he was committing hypocrisy.

He explained that by saying that when they are with the Prophet (peace be upon him) and reminded of Heaven and Hell, they are as if they are seeing Heaven and Hell. Then when they retreat to their families, they forget much of what they felt earlier. Abu Bakr stated that he also experienced the same.

When they went to the Prophet (peace be upon him) for clarification, he clarified that it was a natural thing for the faith to increase and decrease.

So, yes that dip in faith is OK, it really is! You are not becoming a hypocrite for it!

On the contrary, it is a sign of your faith that you even care about that dip so much! Rather than be worried about it, try working on it, and increasing your faith!

Talk to Someone, Preferably a Convert

At times, it is best to just talk to someone. Not anyone of course but someone whom you trust, someone you know will help you rather than hinder you.

In your early journey into Islam, it is normal to feel a bit intimidated of all these really committed Muslims. You tend to compare yourselves to them and feel very poor about yourself! But know that theirs has been a long journey to where they are today, and yours is just fresh and new!

It is also tough to trust someone with the very intimate thoughts of your soul. You might fear getting judged. You might fear that your questions or thoughts might offend a practicing Muslim as well! But overall, it is still best if you talk.

Talk to someone who will accept you for who you are and share your feelings. Share your fears, share your emotions, your questions, and the uncertainties. It will help you feel a lot lighter, and there is a good chance that you will get some invaluable advice too.

And that is why it would be best if you talked to a convert. It is a journey they have gone through as well, and perhaps they know something a person born into a Muslim family may not know!

Understand the Greatness of God, and Turn to Him

If you are worried that you are failing in your prayers, know that God is Al-Ghaffar, the Perpetually Forgiving. If you feel the deeds you are doing for Him are not up to the mark then know that He is Ash-Shakoor, the Tremendously Appreciative.

If you feel that you have wronged God, then know that He is At-Tawwab, the Acceptor of Repentance.

If you feel that life is constricting upon you, know that He is Al-Fattah, the Opener who can open new pathways.

If you see darkness all around you, then know that He is An-Nur, the Light of the Heavens and the Earth, and He is Al-Haadi, the Guide.

Among the 5 billion or so people who are not Muslim, God chose you to turn back on that path and to decide to be a Muslim.

The God who brought you this far, will not suddenly let you go into ruin today. He is Al-Aleem, the All-Knowing, and He is Al-Khabeer, the Best Informed. He knows your pain, He sees your tears, and He understands your struggles even when no one does.

Know that God is the best friend you can have. He is Al-Wali, the Guarding Friend, and He is Ar-Ra’uf, Extremely Kind. He is Al-Wadud, the Excessively Loving. He loves you. And He is waiting to hear from you.

Turn your hands up to the sky, knowing that Al-Mujeeb, the Responder is ready to respond. Know that As-Samee’, the Listener is there to listen, and express it all to Him.

Talk to Him, and know He will listen. Read up on His greatness and be mesmerized. Read His letter to you, the Qur’an, and be guided by the Guide.

Visualize Paradise

God says in the Qur’an that Paradise is a place where:

“you will have therein whatever your inner-selves desire, and you will have therein whatever you ask for.” (Fussilat 41:31)

Visualize that place which has been created for you, by the Master of the Universe.

How would you like your paradise to be? Let your imagination go wild as you think of anything and everything you can ask for.

Ponder over how amazing it would be to finally meet God, the One for whom you have given everything.

And then, once you have, focus on getting back to your best, so that you can get into Paradise and have a good rest!

———–

Courtesy onislam.net with slight editorial modifications.

Raiiq Ridwan is a Bangladeshi medical student at the University of Bristol, UK. He is also pursuing a Bachelors In Arts in Islamic Studies at the Islamic Online University. He is founder of “The One Message”. He’s a certified life coach. He can write on topics related to Qur’an, dawah, depression, anxiety, achieving goals, productivity etc.

 

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9 Lessons from Moses’ Conversation with God

By Raiiq Ridwan

MosesToday we will talk about one of the greatest conversations in the history of humanity, when God spoke directly to Moses, peace be upon him, in the mountain! We will focus on one of the passages in the Qur’an even though it is mentioned in other passages. We will pick Surah Taha (Chapter 20) to be our topic of discussion!

“Has the story of Moses come to you? He saw a fire and said to his family, ‘Stay here—I can see a fire. Maybe I can bring you a light from it or find some guidance there.’ When he came to the fire, he was summoned, ‘Moses! I am your Lord. Take off your shoes: you are in the sacred valley of Tuwa. I have chosen you, so listen to what is being revealed. I am God; there is no god but Me. So worship Me and keep up the prayer so that you remember Me. The Hour is coming—though I choose to keep it hidden—for each soul to be rewarded for its labor. Do not let anyone who does not believe in it and follows his own desires distract you from it, and so bring you to ruin.’” (Taha 20:9-16)

Moses was with his family and traveling in the desert when he suddenly saw a fire in the distance. He asked his family to wait so that he may get some light from the fire or get some guidance from the people there.

Lesson One: God gives us signs

Just like Moses was given the sign of the burning fire, God gives all of us signs in this life. Sometimes it is a verse of the Qur’an that may touch our heart, or a heart penetrating reminder. Sometimes it is just a person we meet who teaches us a lot or just life circumstances. When God shows us signs, it is up to us to take them.

Lesson Two: God’s words are a light and guidance

Ironically Moses said that he would go and see if he could get a light or some guidance. God through this conversation will give him the ultimate light of His words and ultimate guidance being the guidance from God! God has given us a light and guidance through the Qur’an, how much of it have we kept?

Lesson Three: God chooses whom He wills

God tells Moses that he was chosen to be God’s Prophet, and chosen among the thousands of babies killed to be saved. God chooses whoever He wills. He chose that you would be reading this article at this moment, while most people are not. He chose that you would have a computer with an internet connection. He chose that I would be a Muslim while many are not. It is all from the blessings of God. The question is, how do you and I utilize the blessings?

Lesson Four: Prayer, prayer, prayer!

Remember the time you met someone you honored, admired or someone who was a celebrity. Would you ever forget that? Hardly doubt so! Yet, God reminds Moses to establish the prayer so that he may remember God. And yet, Moses has just heard God speak. Would he ever have forgotten? How important then is our prayers and turning to God?

Lesson Five: Even the best of people require sincere counsel

God went on to remind Moses that if he was to turn away, then he might be punished as well. The best of people also need to be reminded of the judgment and of hellfire. The best of people also need to be reminded that other people might turn them away from God, so do not let that happen! If Moses can be reminded about Judgement Day, who are we to act arrogant whenever we are reminded of retribution? Who are we to think we are safe by our petty deeds when this mighty Messenger of God listens silently to the warning?

Lesson Six: This is Islam summarized

God first mentions that none is worthy of worship except Him alone. He then made it clear to Moses to establish the prayer for God’s remembrance and then made mention of the Day of Judgement. This is what we need to enter Paradise! Worship God alone, establish the prayers, remember God and be mindful of the hereafter, and Paradise will be ours insha’ Allah (God willing).

“‘Moses, what is that in your right hand?’ ‘It is my staff,’ he said, ‘I lean on it; restrain my sheep with it; I also have other uses for it.’ God said, ‘Throw it down, Moses.’ He threw it down and—lo and behold!—it became a fast-moving snake. He said, ‘Pick it up without fear: We shall turn it back into its former state. Now place your hand under your armpit and it will come out white, though unharmed: that is another sign. We do this to show you some of Our greatest signs.” (Taha 20:17-23)

After mentioning the main message of Islam to the Prophet Moses, God now moves on to give him an important training.

Lesson Seven: Talk to God as much as you can

Once God gives an opportunity to Moses to talk, he takes it with both hands! He keeps going on and on about his staff! How much do we talk to God when given the opportunity? Do we like to “finish off the prayer” or are actually trying to make time to talk to God?

Lesson Eight: Everything in life can be a double-edged sword

Moses mentioned all the blessings of his staff. Then God asked him to throw it down, and it became a snake—something very harmful! Everything in this world can be such. The proverbial example of the knife which can cut vegetables versus the same knife which can kill people is one to ponder upon. All the blessings in life are blessings which can be for us or against us, depending on how we use it!

Lesson Nine: Trust in God

Another place in the Qur’an, it is mentioned that Moses ran when he saw the snake! And yet God asks him to pick it up. An order from God, and just like his mother many years ago, Moses listens to the order of God and the snake turns back to a staff! God just taught Moses and by extension all of us to trust in the command of God. Whatever He commands is good for us, even if we may not know it, and if we truly trust Him, miracles will happen!

 

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10 Lessons from Jesus (Prophet Esa)

By Raiiq Ridwan

10 Lessons from Jesus (Prophet Esa)Jesus (peace be upon him) was among the five greatest messengers sent to humanity—collectively called the Ulul’Azm.[1] He was the last messenger before our Messenger Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him. According to Imam as-Suyuti, he is also counted as the greatest of the Sahabah (companion of Prophet Muhammad). This is because he was raised up alive.

Therefore, when Prophet Muhammad met him on the night of Mi’raj (Prophet Muhammad’s ascension through the heavens), he was not yet dead. One who meets the Prophet, believes in him and dies with that belief is considered a Sahabah. So what lessons then can we learn from Jesus? There are actually hundreds! We will just give a flavor of them in this article and share 10!

When the people shamed Mary (peace be upon her) for having a child outside of marriage (they did not know that it was miraculous), God gave Jesus a miracle and he spoke from the cradle.

“[Jesus] said, ‘I am a slave of God. He has granted me the Scripture; made me a prophet; made me blessed wherever I may be. He commanded me to pray, to give alms as long as I live, to cherish my mother. He did not make me domineering or graceless. Peace was on me the day I was born, and will be on me the day I die and the day I am raised to life again.’ Such was Jesus, son of Mary.” (Maryam 19:30-34)

1. Slavery is the greatest honor

Due to the way human history has gone, the word slavery has very negative connotations and rightly so. Islam came to take people from being slaves to other people to be enslaved to God. And the greatest honor for any human being is to willingly enslave oneself to God. God is the Master, He decides, and we hear and obey. That is the contract, and God is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy. He is the One who gives and gives and asks for very little from His slaves. The prophets were honored because they were the best in their slavery to God. And that is our most important identity—we are slaves of God.

2. Scripture and Prophethood lead to blessing

Jesus mentions that he has been given the Scripture and that he has been made a prophet and that he is blessed wherever he is. This is an indication to us that the closer we are to the Scripture that God has sent (the Quran) and to the ways of our prophets, the more blessed we shall be wherever we are. The key to earning blessings from God and having a blessed existence is our relationship with the Book and the way of the prophets.

3. Knowledge leads to action

Jesus was the best human at his time. He knew the Scripture and he was a prophet. And yet immediately after, he mentioned that he has been commanded to pray and to give charity. Knowing leads to action. This is Islam as a religion that teaches us to act and not just do.

4. Deeds for people and deeds for God

Another of the beautiful aspects of Islam is how it combines spirituality and practicality. God ordered Jesus to pray, for his own spiritual benefit and to have a connection with God and also to give charity to the people, also for spiritual benefit and to have a connection with both God and the people too. Islam is a very humanitarian religion and it combines spirituality with practicality.

5. Good manners are the hallmark of Islam

Jesus says that he is not domineering and graceless. The Prophet Muhammad said, “Nothing is heavier on the balance of good deeds on the Day of Judgement than good manners.”[2] Among the greatest of deeds that we can do is to have good manners. It is also particularly important here because even though the people said very horrible things about his mother, he responded with grace and authority that was not demeaning anyone. He did not respond fire with fire. He responded to ill-speech with beautiful speech.

6. The mother, the mother, the mother

In the midst of all of this hard talk, Jesus found time to mention that he has been made dutiful to his mother. There is no other person more important in our lives than our mother. No relationship more sacred. No one more deserving of our love and obedience. They are our easiest road to Paradise. They are the caravan that will always have a place for us. The watering hole that will always give us pristine pure water.

“Be mindful of God and obey me. Allah (God) is my Lord and your Lord, so serve Him—this is the straight path.” (Aal `Imran 3:51)

7. Taqwa is the measure of our success

Among the many determinants that God could have chosen to judge us, He chose the one that none of us can see—taqwa (God-consciousness or piety). The Prophet said, “Taqwa is here” while pointing at his chest. That is the order from Jesus as well. Be mindful of God. How do we attain taqwa? The best and easiest way is for us to be mindful of God in our everyday dealings and at every step ask ourselves, “Will God be pleased with me for this?”

8. The straight path is simple

We do not need to complicate matters. The Straight Path is simple—God is our Lord and we obey Him. We are His slaves and we do as He wants us to. That is the straight path.

9. Number of followers is not a measure of success

It is known that not too many people responded to the call of Jesus. This does not mean he was not successful. The hearts of people lie in the hands of God. We are only asked to convey. And that is why despite the few numbers of immediate companions, he has been one of the five great prophets in history.

10. Be with the truth even if the people are few

Even if few people are practicing Islam, we should still practice. Even if the followers are few, it does not mean it is not true. Truth is based on the idea, not on the number of followers.

 

FOOTNOTES:

[1] They comprise of Prophet Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all).

[2] Narrated by at-Tirmidhi.

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from understandquran.com.

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Technology Transfer from Islamic World to the West

By O. A. Joseph

Technology TransferThe traditional view of Western historians is that European culture is the direct descendant of the classical civilizations of Greece and Rome. According to this theory, the works of classical authors-mostly in Latin, but some in Greek-were preserved by the Church during the centuries that followed the fall of the Roman Empire, to re-emerge as a potent source of inspiration in the later Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Few would deny the strong influence of classical literature on European thought. Until recently, the works of Homer, Thucydides and the Greek dramatists, of Tacitus, Virgil, and Horace, to name but a few, were part of the cultural background of every educated European.

In science, however, the situation is very different. During the sixth century after the Hijra (twelfth century CE) the writings of such scholars as al-Farabi, al-Ghazali, al-Farghani (Afragamus), Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes) were translated into Latin and became known and esteemed in the West. The works of Aristotle, soon to become the predominant influence on European thought, were translated from the Arabic together with the commentaries of Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd to the medieval Europeans. These commentaries were as important as the works of Aristotle himself in forming European scientific and philosophical thought. Many other scientific works, which had originally been translated from Greek into Arabic centuries earlier, were now translated into Latin. However, most of these were from the Hellenistic period, and though they were written in Greek, their authors came from all the countries of the Near East and the eastern Mediterranean. It seems, therefore, that some European writers, being deeply appreciative of the literary masterpieces of Greece and Rome, have been led to believe that Western civilization, in all its aspects, was based upon Greek and Roman foundations. This is not the case with science and technology.

Charles Singer has discussed some of the points already touched upon. The Graeco-Roman heritage was built upon the great civilizations of the Near East and, furthermore, the major achievements in science and technology that are called Hellenistic and Roman were mainly Near Eastern achievements due to the scholars and artisans of Egypt and Syria. The pre-Islamic civilizations from Spain to Central Asia and northern India were inherited by Islam. Under the influence of Islam and the Arabic language, the science and technology of these regions was developed and improved. Referring to the Eurocentrism of Western historians, Singer wrote: ‘Europe, however, is but a small peninsula extending from the great land masses of Afrasia. This is indeed its geographical status and this, until at least the thirteenth century CE, was generally also its technological status.’ In skill and inventiveness during most of the period CE 500 to 1500, Singer continues: ‘the Near East was superior to the West… For nearly all branches of technology, the best products available to the West were those of the Near East… Technologically, the West had little to bring to the East. The technological movement was in the other direction.’

The adoption by Europe of Islamic techniques is reflected by the many words of Arabic derivation that have passed into the vocabularies of European languages. In English, these words have often, but not always, entered the language from Italian or Spanish. To cite but a few examples: in textiles-muslin, sarsanet, damask, taffeta, tabby; in naval matters-arsenal, admiral; in chemical technology-alembic, alcohol, alkali; in paper-ream; in foodstuffs-alfalfa, sugar, syrup, sherbet; in dyestuffs-saffron, kermes; in leather-working-Cordovan and Morocco. As one would expect, Spanish is particularly rich in words of Arabic origin, especially in connection with agriculture and irrigation. We have, for example, tahona for a mill, acena for a mill or water-wheel, acequia for an irrigation canal.

The contributions of Islamic civilizations to science, notably mathematics and astronomy, have long been recognized. The application of this scientific expertise to technology, however, has been neglected. The story of Islamic technology is far from complete. Research in this area is still at an early stage and, notwithstanding what has been published so far, contributions by Islam to science and technology have yet to be fully revealed. During the nineteenth and the first quarter of the twentieth centuries, Western research into Islamic science yielded outstanding results, but only after a long period of silence has that interest now been revived. There is still a need for additional coordinated research if significant results are to be obtained. The field of alchemy/chemistry and chemical technology is a case in point. At present this is an almost totally neglected area in which few seem to have taken even a slight interest since the admirable research several decades ago of Kraus, Ruska, Stapleton, and Wiedemann.

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Adapted from “Transfer of technology from the Islamic world to the West” Fountain Magazine

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Jesus: The Spiritual Ascetic

By Sadullah Khan

JesusThe Prophet’s saying “make zuhd from the dunya” [Ibn Majah] does not imply a disregard for this world, but rather an awareness of the transient nature of the worldly material things which are insignificant in relation to the permanence of what Allah promises …

“All that is with you is bound to come to an end, whereas that which is with God is everlasting. And most certainly shall We grant unto those who are patient in adversity their reward in accordance with the best that they ever did” [An-Nahl 16:96].

Zuhd in perspective

Zuhd entails abandoning whatever of this world that does not bring about benefit in the Hereafter. Zuhd resides in the heart and is practiced by ridding the heart of enslavement from the unwarranted desire and the over-attentiveness to things that are temporary. It entails your being more certain in what Allah has in store for you than your are about what you have in your hand. As Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said; “When Allah desires goodness for his servant, He grants the capacity of abstention from materialism, a desire for the Hereafter and an insight into his own faults”.

Zuhd of Jesus (pbuh)

Jesus (pbuh) was the embodiment of the true zahid. Ka`b al-Ahbar said; Jesus the son of Mary would walk bare-footed, claiming nothing in the way of shelter, finery, wares, garments, or money; of the latter he would procure only enough to subsist for the day. Once the sun would set, he would align himself and pray until morning. He would restore sight to the blind, heal those afflicted with leprosy, and revive the dead – all with the license of God. He was ascetic in matters of this world, vigorously exuberant towards the hereafter, ever-vigilant in his devotions to God. He was an itinerant who wandered the earth…..It was then that God raised him up to the heavens.

The Messiah (pbuh) said: “Asceticism / Abstention from materialism revolves around three days; Yesterday, which has passed and from it you should seek admonition / learn a lesson; Today, in which you should increase your preparation; Tomorrow of which you know not what it holds” [Musnad Ahmed].

The Messiah (pbuh) said: “O Children of Israel! I have been positioned on earth with a particular status, and there is neither pompousness nor arrogance. Do you know where my residence really is?” They said, “Where is your residence, O Spirit of Allah.” The Messiah replied, “My home is any place of worship, my perfume is water, hunger is the flavoring of my food, my feet are my transport, my lamp at the night is the moon, my blanket in the winter is (the rising of the sun) east of the earth, my food is basic, my fruit and flowers are whatever grows from the earth, my garment is wool, my motto is fear of Allah and I accompany the sick and the poor. I sleep while I have nothing and I wake up while I have nothing, and yet there is no one on earth wealthier than I” [Bihaar al-Anwaar].

Taking a Collective Lesson from the Messiah (pbuh) Muslims and Christians do have differing perspectives on Jesus’ life and teachings, but his spiritual legacy, as a righteous and principled guide, his mission as a Prince of Peace offers an alternative opportunity for people of faith to recognize their shared religious heritage. Christians and Muslims would do well to reflect on the verse in the Quran reaffirming Allah’s eternal message of spiritual unity:

“Say: ‘We believe in God and the revelation given to us and to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and message given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and it is unto Him that we surrender ourselves’” [Al-Baqarah 2:136].

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Shaykh Sadullah Khan is the Director of Impower Development International www.impowerinternational.com.

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Conversion Story of Sara Bokker

Conversion Story of Sara Bokker

By Sara Bokker

Sara Bokker

To women who surrender to the ugly stereotype against the Islamic modesty of Hijab, I say: You don’t know what you are missing.

How Sara Bokker reverted to Islam

I am an American woman who was born in the midst of America’s “Heartland”. I grew up, just like any other girl, being fixated on the glamour of life in “the big city”. Eventually, I moved to Florida and on to South Beach of Miami, a hotspot for those seeking the “glamorous life”. Naturally, I did what most average Western girls do. I focused on my appearance and appeal, basing my self-worth on how much attention I got from others. I worked out rigorously and became a personal trainer, acquired an upscale waterfront residence, became a regular “exhibiting” beach-goer and was able to attain a “living-in-style” kind of life.

Years went by, only to realize that my scale of self-fulfillment and happiness slid down the more I progressed in my “feminine appeal”. I was a slave to fashion. I was a hostage to my looks.

As the gap continued to progressively widen between my self-fulfillment and lifestyle, I sought refuge in escapes from alcohol and parties to meditation, activism, and alternative religions, only to have the little gap widen to what seemed like a valley. I eventually realized it all was merely a painkiller rather than an effective remedy.

As a feminist libertarian, and an activist who was pursuing a better world for all, my path crossed with that of another activist who was already at the lead of indiscriminately furthering causes of reform and justice for all. I joined in the ongoing campaigns of my new mentor which included, at the time, election reform and civil rights, among others. Now my new activism was fundamentally different. Instead of “selectively” advocating justice only to some, I learned that ideals such as justice, freedom, and respect are meant to be and are essentially universal, and that own good and the common good are not in conflict. For the first time, I knew what “all people are created equal” really meant. But most importantly, I learned that it only takes faith to see the world as one and to see the unity in creation.

One day I came across a book that is negatively stereotyped in the West–The Holy Quran. Up until that point, all I had associated with Islam was women covered in “tents”, wife beaters, harems, and a world of terrorism. I was first attracted by the style and approach of the Quran and then intrigued by its outlook on existence, life, creation, and the relationship between Creator and creation. I found the Quran to be a very insightful address to heart and soul without the need for an interpreter or pastor.

Eventually, I hit a moment of truth: my new-found self-fulfilling activism was nothing more than merely embracing a faith called Islam where I could live in peace as a “functional” Muslim.

I bought a beautiful long gown and head cover resembling the Muslim woman’s dress code and I walked down the same streets and neighborhoods where only days earlier I had walked in my shorts, bikini, or “elegant” western business attire. Although the people, the faces, and the shops were all the same, one thing was remarkably distinct: the peace at being a woman I experienced for the very first time. I felt as if the chains had been broken and I was finally free. I was delighted with the new looks of wonder on people’s faces in place of the looks of a hunter watching his prey I had once sought. Suddenly a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I no longer spent all my time consumed with shopping, makeup, getting my hair done, and working out. Finally, I was free.

Of all places, I found my Islam at the heart of what some call “the most scandalous place on earth”, which makes it all the more dear and special.

Soon enough, news started breaking about politicians, Vatican clergymen, libertarians, and so-called human rights and freedom activists condemning the Hijab (headscarf) as being oppressive to women, an obstacle to social integration, and more recently, as an Egyptian official called it -“a sign of backwardness.”

I find it to be a blatant hypocrisy when some people and so-called human rights groups rush to defend women’s rights when some governments impose a certain dress code on women, yet such “freedom fighters” look the other way when women are being deprived of their rights, work, and education just because they choose to exercise their right to wear the Hijab.

Today I am still a feminist, but a Muslim feminist, who calls on Muslim women to assume their responsibilities in providing all the support they can for their husbands to be good Muslims. To raise their children as upright Muslims so they may be beacons of light for all humanity once again. To enjoin good -any good – and to forbid evil -any evil. To speak righteousness and to speak up against all ills. To fight for our right to wear Hijab and to please our Creator whichever way we chose. But just as important to carry our experience with Hijab to fellow women who may never have had the chance to understand what wearing Hijab means to us and why do we, so dearly, embrace it.

Willingly or unwillingly, women are bombarded with styles of “dressing-in-little-to-nothing” virtually in every means of communication everywhere in the world. As an ex Non-Muslim, I insist on women’s right to equally know about Hijab, its virtues, and the peace and happiness it brings to a woman’s life as it did to mine. Yesterday, the bikini was the symbol of my liberty, when in actuality it only liberated me from my spirituality and true value as a respectable human being.

I couldn’t be happier to shed my bikini in South Beach and the “glamorous” Western lifestyle to live in peace with my Creator and enjoy living among fellow humans as a worthy person.

Today, Hijab is the new symbol of woman’s liberation to find who she is, what her purpose is, and the type of relationship she chooses to have with her Creator.

To women who surrender to the ugly stereotype against the Islamic modesty of Hijab, I say: You don’t know what you are missing.

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from http://www.islamreligion.com

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