My Journey to Islam in Louisville, KY
By Asiyah AbdulRaheem
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem,
Today I’ve finally decided to share my story about my journey to Islam. In the light of recent events, I find my heart troubled and worried for many of our new brothers and sisters in this Deen. It is indeed a troubling and difficult time to join this Deen, may Allah swt be pleased with you all. I hope this serves to inspire atleast one heart insha- Allah. Ameen.
Growing up in a Hindu home, many of my traditions and the traditions of my family were passed down from generation to generation. Now that I look back, I spent most of my days asleep and oblivious, unaware of my place. Just that was my duty as a member of my family. Secretly, religion was never important to me. I prayed when I was asked to, performed by duties when I was needed to.
Yes, I put my hands together when grief troubled me. My heart was never satisfied, life was never complete. I know you might be thinking at this point, what does a child know about religion? Truth is, I knew nothing. I love my family, but can one be surrounded by people and yet still feel alone?
In my later teenage years I decided to forsake religion altogether. After going to church with my grandmother and pretending to be pagan with my friends, this was it! I was going to be an atheist. I didn’t care anymore, there was no God, God didn’t care about me, little insignificant me. If he did, my father would stop drinking, my parents would stop fighting, we would stop living hand to mouth, I’d be able to make something of myself, go to school and get out of this place. This place, where people came to die and be forgotten.
A year passed and I graduated high school. Not knowing what to do with my life from here, my college applications all failed, what am I going to do now?
A few weeks passed, I spent much of my time depressed, in grief and lost. I remember fighting with my little brother. At that moment I wanted to forget everything, and release all the anger I felt inside. I grabbed that boy by his collar and shook him. When I came to, he already had tears in his eyes. God….is this, what is to become of me?
I sat outside in my usual delusion, thinking about failed possibilities. Then the mail man came, I was accepted into a University for something I didn’t remember applying for.
This was when things changed. I went to university and met a wonderful, independent, strong, beautiful woman, Ms. Ayesha Mall. This woman intrigued me, I didn’t know why. In some way I wanted to be like her. She was kind and full of possibility. She was Muslim! What was a Muslim? Aside from the clothes and names, what was a Muslim?
Through her MashaAllah, Allah swt reached me. After 9⁄11 Muslims were scrutinized, demonized and ridiculed. No, this could not be true, she was not like this….SubhanAllah for an education. I read, watched videos, listened to our radio station for Islam. No, this could not be them.
I was going to know this for myself.
I talked about Islam at home, as you can expect, my parents weren’t happy. Words were thrown around, I betrayed my family.
I pondered over it for a while. The drinking, smoking and unbelieving didn’t feel good to me anymore.
So, on my 21st birthday, I packed up a hijab in my purse, and told my mother I was going out with the girls. In the quiet of that night, me amid strangers as my witnesses, took the shahadah. I was sure… but scared.
Gradually after 3 weeks, my mom understood. She cried…. said “the Muslim life isn’t something you want”. How do you know what I want mom? When I asked you about our religion and why we did these things, you couldn’t answer me. I know who I am now, what I am, where I’m going… I know now.
Shortly after my parents realized this was not just a phase, I left my home. For the first time, in search of my Deen. To bring peace, I had to leave… for a short while. I lived with a Muslim family, the Sherriff family, they took me in. Me, a stranger who needed protection. This woman, who never met me before, told me… “this door is always open and you will be safe here. To protect you is a blessing for me!”
Allah opened the heart of my parents, through patience and love, they eventually called me home.
SubhanAllah, from this point my life took shape. My future became clear. Through His mercy, I’ve seen and done extraordinary things in my life, alhumdulilah. Things I never thought would’ve been possible a few years ago. Yes, the journey has been hard, but I would do it all over again!
Allah has made me Muslim, granted me half my deen, given me a warm home, alhumdulillah struggles reap rewards.
There’s so much more to this story, here and in between, my travels across the world, my friends, my experiences as a Muslim, the good and the bad. My decision and commitment to hijab and leaving my bad habits behind are just a few of them. Lol but there’s not much room left.
Now, four years later….there is nothing more important to me than my Deen. Through the storm, we shall overcome. These are testing times and what better benefit to your Deen, than to be tested.
May Allah Swt protect you; you who is struggling with this deen. This journey you have chosen isn’t meant to be easy. This world was created to bring you to Allah, and the rewards are so sweet. You are not alone brothers and sisters. There are millions of us here with sad, hard and beautiful stories to tell.
May Allah Swt reward us all. InshaAllah. …Ameen.