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Friday, April 30, 2004

The story of a Punk who embraced Islam

Let's start at the beginning (always a good place). Life began for me in a place called Chatham in Kent in England, way back in 1963. I am a girl, an only child. My parents and their parents and their parents, etc., were all English along with myself so as you can see I am not from an Islamic background.

Anyway, when I was only a little tot of barely 4 years my parents packed up and whooshed us all across the Atlantic to North America. My parents loved it over there but I grew up to hate it. I never got on there no matter how hard I tried. With my limited knowledge I felt English at heart (may Allah protect me from feelings of nationalism and other such nonsense) and my mission in life was to return to the UK. I had a long wait in front of me.

All my life, in spite of the usual selfish non-Islamic lifestyle I led, my love towards my Creator was always in the background. But, due to my pride and insecurity, I clung to the antics of my generation. This was the age of punk rock. I became drawn into this scene when I was 14. Due to my difficult upbringing from a household full of violence and perversion, I entered into this rage with gusto - (may Allah forgive me)!

Those whom I called my friends back then were merely inmates within a prison we had made for ourselves. I never completed school, never acquired a career and was generally an aimless individual. I was the epitome of what a person is when she does not worship her Creator. I worked and saved my money until I had enough to finally get back to England. I was 25 years old. All I had was a suitcase in my hand, the future ahead of me, and my sins behind me.

All my life (as I had mentioned above) especially in the quiet moments, you know when the hustle and bustle of daily life comes to an end and it's night-time and there you are alone in your bed, I would think of Allah although I only knew Him as God. I knew my mistakes, I knew my sins. Well you do when you're alone and you don't have to pretend in front of anyone. Many nights I cried and prayed in my clumsy way for help.

I still dressed outrageously with spiked hair, bizarre eye make-up, leather jacket - the works. I was weak - as we all are, but weakness combined with insecure pride is a volatile combination.

Over the years here in England not much changed. More and more I remembered how every time throughout my life I had seen something to do with Islam it always touched me deeply in a place where nothing had ever touched me. I always used to wonder at this because the feeling felt so pure, so unique, so true and dignified. Over the years I didn't pursue its implications because I suppose it frightened. But since being in England the feeling for Islam became stronger and stronger until it was on my mind daily. I had a room-mate whom I was close to and I would sometimes talk about my feelings for Islam and how I didn't understand the strength of the feeling. I did not know any Muslims and nothing about Islam except that Muslims read the Quran. I knew that there was a mosque sort of near by and sometimes I saw people who I thought were Muslims and that was it.

Then, one day, almost 4 years ago myself and my then room-mate were walking down one of the main roads we have. It was a pleasant sunny day and the shade of the trees was cool and still I was dressed in my ridiculous gear. Out of nowhere I stopped and turned to my friend and said, "I've got to do it, I've got to become a Muslim today." How can I explain to you the feeling I felt at that moment which made me say these words. It had been building up gradually for a little while and on that pavement I felt such joy, such tearful joy and I was truly overwhelmed. Allah had chosen the time!

My friend was shocked and I had to try hard to stop myself from audibly crying. It was the most incredible thing. Without embarrassment as to my appearance I went to the Masjid I had seen a long time before and took my Shahaadah (declaration of faith). Out of the choice of names I chose the one that meant the most to me and began my new life. A sister gave me a Hijab and a Niqab (a veil which is optional for the Muslim woman) the next day and since then I have worn nothing else when leaving my home. I was like a baby again.

When I began attending study circles I saw how the other sisters carried themselves. Always, always they mentioned Allah's name with such ease and for the first time felt the joy of being in the company of those who loved Allah. It was then that I realised the answers to so many questions I didn't realize I had been asking all my life. Al-hamdu lillaah (all praise is due to Allah), my Fitrah (natural pure state humans are born upon) won through and Allah guided me to the Deen (His religion – Islam).

To look at me then, any person would have thought me such an unlikely candidate, but Allah sees us for who we really are and He guides whom He wills. I have taught myself to read Arabic and I am learning Tajweed (correct pronunciation of reciting Qur'an). I am surrounded by so many Muslims who fear Allah and whom I see often. I mean none of my above mentioned achievements as pride, indeed I wouldn't mention them at all if it wasn't for this introduction because I want to stress how Allah can change a person so incredibly, if He chooses as He (SWT) changed me.

It is a real blessing, how far I have come. My time now is spent studying, endless computer work towards the Deen, and giving da'wah (calling to Allah's religion). I seek guidance from Allah to increase my knowledge and understanding and that He (the Most High) will be pleased with me, Aameen

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