Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem
Today I have another guest post that is near and dear to my heart; today you will be hearing from my mama! After such great reception of my sister’s post, I thought I would keep up with the theme and see what one of the most important people in my life had to say about my converting to Islam.
Needless to say, reading it the first time it made me cry a little, and I cannot even express how grateful I am to have such a supportive and loving mother. Alhamdulillah.
I will leave it at that and let you get to reading-please do feel free to leave any love or questions in the comments, I know she will be checking up on them!
I am so honored and excited that Ashley has asked me to write a guest post for her blog, because, as her mom, I have a lot to say…probably more than I can cover here.
The most logical place to start would be at the beginning, but what does that mean? For me, the beginning didn’t start when Ashley first told me that she was converting to Islam, but instead, the beginning started with me having a mother who taught me to be a loving, kind and compassionate human being to all people regardless of age, race, sex, religion or economic status. Because of her I was able to have and raise my children to be the same way, so it is no surprise that both my daughters are very independent and have minds of their own and do the things that make them happy all while being loving, caring and compassionate people.
Ashley had always been interested in learning about or exploring other religions, but I always thought that since I was raised Catholic/Christian that of course my children would follow in my footsteps and be Christian…I was wrong. As I look back at when Ashley first told me that she was converting to Islam and becoming Muslim, I felt so many emotions, from fear (not of her being Muslim, but how she would be treated for being Muslim) to loss and sadness. The loss and sadness I think came from our family traditions around holidays and not knowing how they were going to continue the way that we always celebrated them. And then I started to think, all of those holidays that are typically centered around the Christian faith/Jesus’ life and death; like Christmas and Easter, weren’t as religious for me as I thought they once were. For me, it was more about being with family and sharing our time together, loving and laughing…
The first holiday that came up right as Ashley converted was Thanksgiving (which was fine) but the weekend following Thanksgiving was all about Christmas, from going to cut down our family Christmas tree, going to see Santa (yes, even at 20 years old) and starting to decorate the house and tree for the season. This is when I first started learning about Islam…asking Ashley questions that she was more than happy to answer. For me, I just wanted things to stay the same, there had already been some pretty big changes in all our lives and I just didn’t want any more change…not when it came to family or family traditions. Ashley happily participated in these family traditions and everything was as it always had been, for that I am thankful!
As Ashley started to grow in her faith and learn more I saw a change in her…a change for the better. Before Islam Ashley was hardened and a little rough around the edges because of her childhood, but she seemed to find a peace within her that really started to show. I think she really thought of things from a different perspective and wasn’t so eager to judge someone or something.
I worked at a local church and when people there started to find out that my daughter had become Muslim there were some questions. Some were simple questions like “Did she convert for her boyfriend?” The simple answer to that was “Do you know Ashley?” Ashley doesn’t do anything she doesn’t want to do. The Pastor of the church knew more about the religion so he asked questions like “Does Ashley pray the 5 times a day?” “Does she fast?” “Will she participate in Ramadan?” Although I knew the answers to these questions I wanted to learn more in case other people had other questions that I might not know the answers to. So as I thought of questions I would ask Ashley. Ashley also gave me a little booklet that had some key points about Islam that was very easy to read and understand. I am not a big reader so this was perfect! I also knew that once Ashley embraced Islam that she was going to be “all in”, and I wanted to make sure that I knew as much as I could to still be in her life like I always had been.
Some of my questions were about God and the trinity, did Muslims believe in Jesus and if so who was he to them? Being Christian it was always said that God was of course the almighty but that there were also other parts to God such as Jesus being God’s son and then the holy Spirit making up the trinity. I am not sure if I ever fully believed this and looking back on my religious beliefs I don’t even know if I would call myself a Christian anymore. I think maybe that I am more a spiritual person, believing that all people should be equal and all people should strive for peace and love. I do believe in God and I do say my own prayers to God. Not on a set time or schedule but at random times throughout the day, when I need a pick me up or when I am feeling thankful for something, or when I am upset, scared or nervous about something.
I also asked about modesty/hijab, about women having to be in separate areas to pray and what that was all about and the similarities/differences between the Quran and the Bible. This brings me to the next thing that I was maybe a little concerned about as Ashley started to transition into becoming Muslim. At that same Thanksgiving time, Ashley started to wear hijab to pray and that was fine but when it came to taking our traditional pictures for the Christmas cards (now called Holiday cards) she wanted to wear her hijab for those…I must say that took me back a bit. I wasn’t prepared for that and I had asked her if we can do this year without it. I’m sorry that I did that now, but I was selfish and didn’t want my daughter to change, to lose who she was. That is what I thought at the time anyway! Needless to say, Ashley did not wear her hijab for those pictures, for me, and that was the last time that we have a printed picture of Ashley not in hijab. I am not sure why this was such a big deal for me. Was I afraid of what others were going to think? Was it that I didn’t want to see her lose her individuality by covering up? I think it was both! In the beginning I was so afraid that people were going to judge her (and me) and think she was being forced into it somehow or that she was going to do bad things now because she became Muslim. Because all Muslims are terrorists, right? It amazes me that people (people I know) can think that way.
I have always thought of Islam to be a very peaceful religion but did not know any Muslims personally. I would occasionally see women wearing hijabs/burkas etc… and really didn’t think much about it. After all, these were just women like myself, why would/should I be scared? Believe me, I would much rather see women fully covered from head to toe than see them with practically nothing on at all.
The first time I heard of Muslims in a negative way was of course around 9/11 and since then all the islamophobia has just been crazy (at least in the US). I get that people are scared of terrorism, but you can’t live in fear and you most certainly shouldn’t blame or isolate all people of one religion based on the actions of some claiming that religion as their religion. Am I afraid to fly if I see a Muslim on the same flight as me? Of course not. Just like I am not afraid of an African American man shopping in the same store as me because he may rob the place. I think if everyone would stop seeing the color of people’s skin or what people wear and focus on the fact that we are all human beings and that we should all strive to be loving and compassionate people to all people that this world would be such a better place. That is my hope for the future…
When all is said and done, I am a mom. At the end of the day I am always going to worry about my children and want them to be safe, happy, healthy and productive people. I am proud of both my girls for being who they are, flaws and all, and hope that they continue to grow, learn and love.
Thank you for reading what I have to say. I would love to hear any feedback or questions that you might have. May you all have a very blessed day!
It’s me again, with a quick note. Before anyone goes and has a fit about me “giving up my hijab” or whatnot for those holiday cards she referenced, I wasn’t actually wearing hijab full time at that point. I was only wearing it Fridays and for religious gatherings, so it wasn’t out of the ordinary for me to not have it on.
Anyhow, can’t wait to hear your thoughts! A big thank you and so much love to my mama =)