Finding Allah's Blog

~A Woman In Search of The Divine~

Nervous! August 6, 2009

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Saalams everyone!

So sorry I haven’t been on… it sounds like a horrible excuse, but my new puppy ate my computer cord and my laptop is dead dead dead. ūüė¶ I’ll be buying one soon, but I may be sporadic in my postings until then.

Anyway, tomorrow is the big day! I’m a nervous wreck… so far 23 people have said they will attend. I can’t believe there are so many of my friends coming to support¬† me… I’m so blessed! Alhamdulillah!

So I’ve been practicing my shahada since yesterday and I think I have it down… I know the Imam will take it slow, but I wanted to memorize it anyway. I’m going to wear¬†a skirt from India… long embroidered dark red and a black blouse and thin sweater. I have a hijab that sort of matches the red, but might borrow a beaded one from my friend instead. I can’t wait… and I wish all of you who have found your way to my blog over the last month or so could be there with me also!

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Back story July 28, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — findingallah @ 9:08 pm
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Salaams all!

I thought before I write toooo much more I should give a bit of back story into why I’ve chosen to become a Muslim. I’ve touched on a few things here and there but never really condensed it into one blog before, so here goes…

I was raised mostly by my Great Uncle and Aunt in central Florida, although I also spent many years with my maternal grandparents as well. My family is mostly made of Italian- Americans; I’m only the third generation born here in America. To say we were a strict “old world” type of family would be to put it lightly… my great grandparents were an arraigned marriage, and they had 13 children. They were (of course) very Catholic, with one of my uncles a priest. In fact, the uncle that raised me spent 7 years in seminary school himself (a college for men who wish to join the priesthood). My family abhorred many of the ways of American society. None of them smoked or drank, and they didn’t even like the “new” Catholic church. I was taught almost completely only from the Old Testament, and I remember my grandmother complaining regularly that the mass was not said in Latin anymore. I attended catechism school every week (school on Sundays following mass in which you would learn the Bible and other teachings of the church) even though my family also didn’t like the politics of our local church. I was never allowed to wear pants, and still don’t to this day.

So how did I get here? Well, even though my family was as Catholic as one can get, my uncle and aunt were also scholars. They had 7 PhD’s between the two of them, and always sought knowledge throughout their lives. My father told me from a very young age not to accept Catholicism as my religion just because I was born into it… instead I should seek out what was best for ME. He said that the best religion for me is the one which taught me to be the best version of myself that I could ever dream of. One that could show me the way to attaining a oneness both with God as well as guide me towards living a productive, loving life. How could I have known then that he would be describing perfectly how Islam makes me feel… makes me hope to become?

I lost the majority of my family many years ago… both my aunt and uncle passed away within¬†a few months of each other when I was only 16, but their lessons were inscribed on my heart forever. I did seek out many religions. I read and studied about Baptists, Mormons, Hindus, Buddhists, Confucianism, Mysticism, New Age, Jains, Jews, and so many many¬†more. In among them was Islam. I read about Mohammad (pbuh). I read about his life, his friends, his family. I read about the Qu’ran, about it’s teachings. I read about the daily rituals, the prayers, the fasting, the tithing, the do’s and don’ts, the shoulds and shouldn’ts. I was interested… here was a religion based upon the book I knew all my life! Here was a religion who did not bend because it’s followers were weak, as did the Catholic church. Islam does not bend to meet it’s followers, it’s followers bend to meet the will of Allah (SWT)! Finally a religion that stood it’s ground. One that has not changed, one that will not change. How can you put your trust… your FAITH into something that does not stand the test of time? I could not.

And so it stood for a few years. I knew about Islam, but I didn’t know anyone who was a Muslim. I could not imagine how in America one could live according to those rules… until I changed jobs and began to work at a local community college. All of the sudden every where I turned it seemed I came across a hijabi! These beautiful friendly girls who always had a smile and something nice to say to me. Girls who were stunningly smart and just as stunningly gorgeous! “Is this how it could be?” I wondered. Could it be that simple… and that difficult? I befriended a few girls and began asking questions (oh the patience they must have had back then!). When do you pray? When do you fast? What is masha ‘Allah? What is insha ‘Allah? (I thought they were saying mushy and itchy Allah! I was told those were NOT 2 of the attributes of Allah (SWT)!!! :D) When is your service? What’s it like? Have you really never touched a man, even to shake hands? All those questions and a million more over the past year! Until I finally got the answer to the only REAL question I was asking…

Can I do this too? Can I live this life? Would I be accepted? Yes yes and yes! Oh and how my world has opened up to me! So many new things, so many new people… all a part of something bigger. An ummah which I never knew existed… and one that has opened it’s arms and heart to me like nothing I have ever known. I am so grateful to Allah (SWT) that he has called on me and that I have answered! My life has truly started anew…

 

Confirmation July 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — findingallah @ 10:44 pm
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Salaams everyone!

It’s all set! I’m going to say my shahada on the 7th at one of the local Masjids insha¬†‘Allah! ¬†This is alot of exclamation points! LOL

OK I’m better… It’s so exciting, though. It’s not often that a person makes such a huge life change that doesn’t involve other people. Marriage, births… those things all are done with someone else. This is between me and Allah (SWT), although I am blessed in that I will have my friends there to witness it with me iA. There’s even an event made on Facebook. lol.

I have to admit that I’m a bit nervous… not about my decision, just having to be in front of people speaking in Arabic. I know the Iman will go slowly, and I’m planning to practice, but I’m nervous anyway. I’m not even sure where we will say it. The one that I heard the first time I went to service was a man saying it, so of course he was just in the main room. I’m not sure where women say it… hopefully I’ll learn more this week. I’m going to stop by the Mosque this week and get some more information.

I also have plans for Ramadan! I’m trying to get a group together to meet at least once each week. Since we will be reading the Qu’ran each day, I thought we could get together at least once a week and discuss what we all read. I think it will be great to get everyones perspective on it, plus it’s a chance to hang out and not be tempted by food. ūüôā I am so blessed to have such intelligent, devoted friends! I have learned so much from each of them! Allah (SWT) truly does bring together people for a reason.

 

Will you marry me? July 26, 2009

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Salaams everyone!

In the past year I’ve seen two good friends get married in the Islamic faith. I can’t pretend to understand the strength and faith that I have seen from both of the girls that I know who decided to take their lives on this path. Before I knew many Muslims, I could not imagine how or why someone would choose to marry another person that they had never “been” with… much less kissed or even held hands. How do you know you’re compatible? How do you know you really loved the person? How misguided could I have been?! This is what western society has taught me. It has taught me not to recognize love and commitment for what it truly is. It has taught me to completely confuse sex with love. Physicality with emotional attachment. Compatibility with lust.

I saw my friend over the last few months planning her marriage to someone with whom she had known and been friends with for many years. She never once- to me- complained that she could not see him alone. She never expressed uncertainty about their future relationship. In short, she had faith that they would be happy. That he would be gentle and loving. She KNEW that things would be different and new but she had FAITH that Allah would match her with someone with whom she would spend the rest of her life. And the wedding- it was amazing! Not just because it was beautiful, not just because we were in a nice hotel surrounded by family and friends… even being broadcast to other countries for those who could not attend; but because of everyones joy and certainty that this was a match that was brought together by Allah and one that would be watched over by Him. insha ‘Allah I wish them all the best!

The other one… well… I don’t believe that it is meant to be. My friend believed that she loved a man who recently converted and they decided to be married. Her family did not know him- they live halfway around the world. Her friends barely knew him, but had doubts and questions. She did not listen to her friends… and we hoped that her family would say that they didn’t approve. But they didn’t. They feared that she would become pregnant while unwed… although she would never have gone against her faith in that way! So they consented. And yes, within the month after marriage she did become pregnant. And their marriage is already falling apart. He is not a good man… for many reasons. He does not provide for her. He bullies her. What exactly were his intentions?¬†I don’t believe they were good, but only he and Allah knows that. What were hers? I believe they were good, but I also believe she was blinded by pressure and the want of stability to go against her better judgement. insha¬†‘Allah it will work out for the best of the child.

What have I learned from these two women? That faith can guide you and faith can keep you pure, but Allah also expects you to help yourself and to have good judgement. Faith is beautiful, but it should not blind you either.

 

Taking the Plunge July 25, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — findingallah @ 2:15 pm
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Salaams all!

I’ve been keeping a secret… and I think it’s time to come clean. I’m ready. I’m ready! My heart has known what my mind has not for awhile now, and it just feels wrong to not make my commitment. I believe I’m ready to say the shahada! I talked to my best friend (and “older sister” in this journey) yesterday and asked what she felt about my decision… part of me was expecting her to try to talk me out of it. Part of me still worries I’m not good enough. Part of me fears that I’ll fail, that I’ll shame my friends. But I know that if my intention is pure, if I go into this as I have… with an open heart and mind… that I’ll be fine.

One of the biggest things that I’ve learned is that by letting myself love¬†Allah and truly love myself I naturally turn towards the right action. There are no hard decisions to make… it’s simple. Just do what’s right. Do what I KNOW is right… and I do know what’s right. I’ve been taught my whole life to turn towards the correct path… it’s only because I surrounded myself by haraam things and haraam people that I justified that old life. By simply making the decision to remove myself from those things, those people… the right and the wrong become so clear. The decisions so simple.

I have been preparing for Ramadan for the last month, and have been wearing the hijab in public for almost two weeks, and it’s gotten to the point that it just seems silly not to actually be what I appear to the world. And it makes no sense to go into Ramadan without making my declaration.

I’m still not exactly sure just how this works, although my first time at the Masjid there was someone there who said the shahada. I need info, guys! What do I do, what should I expect? Websites, info… anything? I’m a nervous wreck! And so excited! And I want a party!

 

Forgive me! July 24, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — findingallah @ 7:57 am
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I know, I know… I’m a horrible person! Sorry I haven’t been on in *forever* but with work and school… well… I’m sure you know how it is. But no more! I am renewed! I shall write everyday even if it is just a quick “I’m still here”!

There’s so much to catch up on… here’s a few topics I will be covering in the next few posts insha ‘Allah.

  • Islamic Marriage
  • Individuality and the attainment of self while being a Muslim woman
  • Sexuality and freedom
  • Ramadan

I’m sneaking this blog in while at work… so I have to cut it short, but I WILL be back tonight to make my “first” post.

 

Revelations 1.0 July 5, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — findingallah @ 10:02 am
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Salaams everyone!

Not too much time to write today, I have to get ready to go to a co-worker’s wedding. More thoughts on that later…

I’ve been praying every day and wore a hijab twice to work last week. I’m getting used to the questions; the oddest one is “So are we Muslim today?” asked each day by one of the people I work with. It always makes me laugh and I finally¬†said “I’m Muslim every day, just a muslimah in training”. On Thursday, though, one of the people who I had always considered a friend saw me for the first time in awhile. It’s been a few weeks since I began wearing a hijab to work, and it feels so natural to me now I didn’t even realize she had not seen me with it yet. When I saw her I smiled and said hi… and it took me a minute to register the look on her face… confusion- and disgust. She said to me “What the hell are you wearing?”, to which I asked what she meant. I had honestly forgotten that I looked any different! She said “That thing on your head- you’re not Catholic anymore?” and I told her that I had not had faith in the Catholic church for a very long time. She said “You don’t believe in God anymore?” and at that point I just laughed and answered that of course I believe in God, that that was the whole point! I said that we believe in the same God, and that God had many names, one of which is Allah. I said that we both believed in the same Bible, the same belief system. I could tell she was upset, but in the confusion of being at work and suddenly having to defend my faith, I guess I just didn’t have time to think- to word my answers properly. I said that we both prayed to the same God… and she said “But HOW do you pray” as if that justified her revulsion of the Muslim faith. I answered with “What does it matter how I pray, just that I do?”. She then said that we couldn’t be friends anymore. I couldn’t tell if she was joking… I’m still not sure.

When I got off work and had time to digest what had happened, I realized. There’s really no going back. I have declared my intention to the world around me… but more importantly I have declared my intention to myself. I am not the person I used to be… I am (still becoming, but more and more every day) a Muslim woman in America. A white Muslim woman in America. Where people have the right to speak their minds. Where people have the right to question, argue, and disapprove. It is a beautiful thing- something that I love dearly. And something that I know now will effect me possibly through the rest of my life. I wear the hijab to show my devotion, to be modest, because it makes me feel beautiful. It also marks me as one who belongs within the Muslim ummah- but that works both ways. It also marks me as one who no longer quite fits in with the rest of society. Maybe that thought should scare me a little; but it dosen’t. To remove myself from hatred, confusion, decadence, and sorrow of our modern world- yet to keep my feet planted firmly in it- is wonderful. I may live in this world- this society- but I don’t have to be dragged down with it. If that means I lose a few “friends” along the way… well it’s a small price to pay, isn’t it?