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Saturday, November 24, 2012

a Korean sister becomes Muslim.


Dear Diary.
Assalamu alaikum~
Hi So-nyeo, yesterday a muslimah asked me about my convert story. And I realized that I haven't told you my convert story yet!! :O
So.. today I want to share my convert story.. :)

Hmm.. firstly, before shahadah,
I was a normal korean teenage student.
Just like others, Argue with family everyday, Eat all the food but always check the ‘kcal’! (afraid to get fat), Live without knowing the reason, Love the love, Struggle with this life. Study for exams, Use bad words, Want to commit suicide ‘sometimes’.
And mostly, worry too much about how people will judge me.

I was just living like that.

and.. once, I had some hardship.. so,, I tried to pray. you know, like a little wish.. after i wish, I suddenly thought, wait... ok I wished or prayed. but to WHOM....? .. :p
it was a simple but massive shock to me. I didn't even think about that before. it just suddenly came to my head. 'to a star? to the moon? to the sun? or to the galaxy?... but they are all just following their rules. and there are sooo many galaxies in this space. then..who created that all? who created the rules? is that just a natural thing? is that possible to happen just by itself?'

well..suddenly.. my mind was so messed up.

Maybe there is a God. ok maybe I should start thinking with the theory which says there is  a God? Huaaaa it’s just so complicated!!

Just like that, A massive question mark ? started jumping around like a little kid in my head..

well, anyway.. I needed to get back to my life.
I was at school just like other days. and.. oneday, one of my friends came to my class, just to chat with me.
she said she started enjoying a website recently. and she is also learning english from that. It is a random chatting site. I can easily have fun in that site, no need to log-in. just enjoy the chatting with a stranger. can finish the chatting anytime I want.
I was curious and interested in that site.
Honestly, I met many crazy people there..:S but also many good people :)

I wasn't really used to it.. I mean talking with stranger and plus, it is in English.. :O. awkward awkward x1000.. but i was interested, with trying something new. 
after few days....i met 2 foreigners...

at the first time, honestly I didn't know about their country. so I was like. eh..? where is it?.. maybe in asia?'
to get to know them, I searched about it.
Religion -- Muslim : 88%
Located in Southeast Asia     

so... Muslim. what is Muslim....?
it led me to search 'Muslim'.

Muslim : a believer or follower of Islam...

Islam = Arab. they torture women, kill women and innocent people in cruel way, what about 9`11?

so, Muslim = Terrorist!!! bad guys!!
and.. did I just meet 2 terrorists??? what should I do?? oh no..,(I know it sounds so stupid, but I was really shocked. Lack of knowledge.. :p )

OK calm down.. let's just ask them first if they are muslims or not.
I asked.. and they said yes.....
but... I couldn't think they are terrorists..! no way.. (yea I was so immature. haha I was just about 13..i guess)

I searched more about islam that day, they wanted to chat with me, but I couldn't.. just couldn't.. my heart was beating fast.
all I could find was,,, bad news/articles.. I was.. so much scared.. but.. they are not like this..!! I don't think they reached me with some reasons..
I was sooo confused. which one is right? media? or people that I met on the internet?
I said i'm confused to them.
they.. didn't say anything, just sent me a youtube link.

it was about islam.
I watched with a very curious/scary heart.. hehe
but I was still confused... -,- it's in english, and very serious video.. boring and difficult...
and                                looks not friendly. :p

so I just searched islam in korean for the one last time again..
I found a site.. website. supported by Saudi Arabia.
Korean muslims and muslimahs answer at Koreans with the islamic questions.

'oh yeah, it's an ISLAM thing, so maybe I need to ask a "muslim". not non-muslim.
like when we want to ask something, we ask people who ever experienced it before. :)'

so I started chatting with a korean muslimah about the islam./ involved with korea too.
slowly.. my misunderstandings were gone,
the truth was remained alone..

Honestly, I didn’t know much about islam that time, I just asked about the method and basics of islam and my misunderstandings. And I just felt like 'this is the right way. I need to go for it. I could find all the answers at my questions in islam. wow. it shows from how we should live to so many detail things. This is the true guidance for the mankind.
Now the pieces of my puzzle in my head started going to be in the place.
felt like..
I was lost in dark but finally see the sun rises , found a map and compass, know what is my goal and reason to travel this life..

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A beautiful story . - Anonymous

My story begins when the day I was born.  I was born on 26th of Ramadan, 2003 and I am now 33yrs old.  My birth was the day I wore the hijab.  Like so many, I was living life the wrong way.  Life to me was more about materialism; what I wore and where I hung out identified whom I was.  The soul purpose of living was merrily to graduate, work, get married and have fun in between.  All my life I went to American schools and was brought up to morals and traditions but never to religion.  The word “3eeb” or unethical was used more than the word “haram”.  

The story began when I visited my brother in the States.  He entered Islam in the right meaning approximately a year before I visited and since then educated himself so much in Islam.  He was newly married to a wonderful girl whom wore the hijab. They tried more than once opening the subject of hijab and i more than once changed the subject or just disagreed with all they were saying.  On our way to the airport my brother asked me why I don’t think of wearing the hijab.  I told him im not ready and that its not what I think about doing any time soon, i even gave the excuse that i wont wear it soon cause i have shopped so much!  I told him how I loved the way I dressed, the way I looked and the way I lived and that im not willing to change my life.  He wanted me to listen to Amr Khalids tape about hijab.  At that time Amr Khalid was a new Islamic figure whom talked about Islam directing his lectures especially to young people; many girls I know wore the hijab after hearing his lectures.  So I told my brother that I didn’t want to listen to Amr Khalid, and that if I do listen to him and end up wearing the hijab it would be because of fear of what I heard and an act not coming out from my own will; and if I didn’t wear the hijab after listening to the tape it would mean that I have a tough harsh heart which I didn’t want to find out about myself.  So I took the tape from him and threw it.  

It was the last few days for the month of Ramadan when I returned to Amman.  My friends and I would meet up every day after Iftar to have a good time.  Strangely, we spent a whole week talking about hijab.  To didnt know why our conversations took that shape .  I usually never discussed religion and it was never a topic that me and my friends brought up.  That week was to what I could now explain to myself a preparation for me to what was yet to come.
On the 25th of Ramadan, my friend opened the subject of hijab yet again and at that point I had enough.  I couldn’t hear more about hijab so I asked her to stop talking and to change the subject.  She asked me why i was being so aggressive, i answered that i was sick of this subject and that i will never wear it!! On the 26th of Ramadan, I was invited to one of my friends place for Iftar and the girls decided to go pray the taraweeh and qiyam.  I have never prayed taraweeh or qiyam before.  I did pray but never more than the five prayers a day. 

I remember standing, bending, kneeling, standing, bending kneeling etc. just as a figure, no heart no soul.  I looked around and saw most people crying and touched by the prayer, I felt envious.  I wanted to feel what they felt and to cry like they cried.  At that moment I asked Allah to soften my heart and open my soul.  Towards the end of the prayers, I remember feeling like I was standing alone. Just me.  I saw no one and heard just the voice of the Anse (the female Imam) and my crying.  I cried and cried and cried. All I could think of was the hijab.  I wanted to wear it, I wanted to cover myself, I wanted Allah to be proud of me.  I was crying so much that i could not speak, i turned to my sister who was praying next to me and signaled with my hands that i wanted to wear the hijab. My sister, knowing me well, thought i was crazy and that I was just extremely affected by the prayer.  She tried stopping me.  At that moment I felt ready and took the chance that I knew might never come again. I headed, not wanting anyone to stop me, towards the Anse, whom I've never met before, to tell her that I wanted to wear the hijab. I remember very bleary my sister running after me trying to stop me yet again, trying to convince the Anse that I was just moved by the atmosphere.  The Anse at that point was looking at both of us confused as to whom to listen to.  I was so persistent at that point and so honest, that my sister and the Anse gave in.   I went back home wearing the hijab.   I went home that night with a veil covering my head, feeling like a new born girl.

When I arrived home, I told the news to my parents.  My dad merrily told me that I won't be the first girl whom wore the hijab and took it off later!!
I wont deny that I woke up the next day like waking up from a nightmare.  I was so scared and so fragile.  Although Ive never met the Anse or most of the girls that were at the prayer, and although I could have easily pretended as if my hijab incident never happened or was merely an innocent mistake, I insisted to wear it. I knew that I was strong and like most women, when we put our mind to something we will make it, and if we wanted or needed something we will fight to get it.  
That morning, my dad lectured me about being too young, and that I had my whole life in front of me, that i should not limit myself now with covering myself! He told me I still had to travel, to work, to go out, to marry, to live!  I defended my decision with the point that I can do all these while still wearing the hijab.  I can walk freely and act freely with a clothe covering my head.  I explained neither was i disabled nor paralyzed.  I was merely a new me. A new me with a new meaning.  This is my Jihad!

I had a rough 8 months, I battled with the idea of taking it off, I battled with people that thought I should take it off.  Random people told me that the hijab was not a part of Islam nor was it written in the Quran.  Which was absolutely ridiculous.  A lot of people, i found, were against me and my hijab just so they can keep bottling their conscious.  They didn't want anyone reminding them about Islam and what comes with being a good Muslim.  They were trying to convince themselves more than to convince me about not wearing it.  I battled with my sisters at home.  I sometimes felt left out.  I sometimes felt they didn't  understand the new me.

There was even a guy i liked and was hoping that one day he might propose.  We were becoming good friends.  When i wore the hijab, he was shocked and after 2 weeks told me he would never think of marrying a Hijabi.  To save my pride, i told him i knew that already and knew that his lifestyle would never work with a covered girl.
Amazingly, i wasnt heartbroken at all. It was as if Allah has poured reassurance in me that i need not a guy like him.  Our friendship gradually ended.  I had many suitors proposing, after i put on the Hijab, surprisingly even more than before.  I got married after 4 yrs to a wonderful man who shares the same religious outlook as me.

I went to my weekly Islamic lectures, which helped me stand strong thru my battles. I became a better Muslim.  I read and studied more about Islam.  I cut off many things that I did wrong.  I gained new friends and left many old ones.  In time, my relationship with my sisters became stronger.  They often turn to me for advice.  We go pray Tarawneh together every year.  I felt stronger and became stronger.  I learned not to be afraid to voice out the truth, and to voice out right from wrong.  I gained extra confidence.  My faith grew and my worries lessened.  

I went thru times of weakness and times of strength, but it was all challenges to shape me into a better Muslimah!

Ive told my story to so many people, but for some reason I still cry tears of joy every time I say it…

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A lovely Sister.

Khadijah: Assalamualaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatu dear sister! 
Please tell me about yourself (where are you from, what is your cultural background, what are you doing now, dislikes and likes? It doesnt have to be about Islam)

Wa Alaikum salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuhu :) 

Ameen to your dua and may Allah subhanahu wa ta'aala put barakah in this little da'wah project of yours! :)

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my little story, though I doubt whether it's all that interesting! :P 

I'm from the Maldives, a tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean (the little dots at the tip of India if you look at the world map) and our islands are world-famous tourist destinations. One of the unique things about Maldives is that though it's quite isolated from the Middle East, it's an Islamic country and the state does not allow any other religion to be practiced within the country. Yep, to be a Maldivian citizen, you have to be a Sunni Muslim (nice huh? :))

So this means that for me, Islam has always been a fact of life as it is what I grew up with and I was rarely exposed to other faiths (aside from the TV you know?). The Maldivian culture is a blend of Islam and our ancient traditions, and to be honest, I really didn't know the difference between the two growing up.

I'm currently living in Sri Lanka, which is a little country neighboring to the Maldives. I moved here about five years ago to do some studies and at the moment, have no plans to go back, but Allah knows best :) 

Hmmm, likes and dislikes? That's a broad one, how do I answer that? As for likes - I love the ocean, babies laughter, reading, and oh yes, chocolate cake! I think chocolate cakes are little slices of warm and gooey happiness!  As for dislikes - I don't find slapstick funny, hate icky creepy crawlies and have never liked the taste of the meat of four legged creatures.

Khadijah: What does Islam mean to you? Were you always religious? 

 No, I wouldn't say that I was always religious. Mainly because I never really knew what it was, what it signified for most of my life. Islam was something in the background. Like the sky. We know it's there, a constant in our lives, but we're barely aware of it and rarely takes the time to actually look up and see it. Really see it.

Growing up, religion or Islam meant happily parroting back the words of the Qur'an teacher, mumbling incomprehensible Arabic while standing with my mother in Salah and the magnificent feasts of Ramadan. Beyond that, I knew little and had even little interest in my religion.

Khadijah : How did you enter into Islam? Was it a hard transition for you?

It was through a sister actually. It was a girl I knew since first grade, but we weren't technically friends. Being in the same grade, we saw each other around school, but didn't interact more than that.

In our tenth year, our whole school saw her go through some drastic changes, she quit the school music band, started wearing hijab, etc... At the time I was as shell-shocked as the others because hijab was considered to be something "old" people wore, "religious stuff" were things old people did and it was a very alien concept for us.

During our eleventh year, one night after school, I accompanied a mutual friend of ours to her house because my friend wanted to get some books. While there, the sister asked me if I too would like a book and I thought they were talking about Mills n Boons or some kind of romance novels (because that's what everybody read as far as I knew and which I was majorly obsessed with).

I said yes and she handed me Kitab At-Tawheed, by Sheikh Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab (rahimahullah).

I remember standing on her doorstep and just staring at the book, thinking "Ohmigod, she did NOT just hand me a religious text! What kind of person read books about Islam?"

I felt totally weird and since it would be rude to say I didn't want to read it, I took the book home and stuck it in a drawer. After several days, I began to get curious about this "religious" book and wanted to see what was in it. At the time, I'd never even heard of Tawheed!

Subhan Allah! That book was my salvation! I was one of those who cringed whenever religion came up in conversations, I would turn away whenever Qur'an came on the TV or Radio because it irritated me and rejected all my mother's efforts to get me to wear hijab. To this day, it amazes me the complete and utter turnabout which took place inside of me.

When Allah subhaanahu wa ta'aala chooses to guide someone, He does it in the most unexpected and amazing of ways, doesn't He? Mine is very simple compared to some others, but profound nonetheless. I'm eternally grateful that when He showed me the path, He started from the very beginning i.e. Tawheed! 

After the book, I tagged behind that sister like a shadow and she was the one who encouraged me, loaned me more books and helped me in the renewal of my Deen. I thought I was a Muslim, but that was when I truly discovered Islam, al-hamdulillahi!

And yes, it wasn't an easy transition. My family was appalled and they feared I was becoming too radicalized. My mom once even threw me out of the house for daring to interact with niqabi sisters, who were deemed extremist and almost heretical at that time in the Maldives. Orthodox Islam was alien to the westernized and "moderate" Islamic society I grew up in.

And though my convictions had altered fundamentally, changing my habits, my words, my actions, etc… and keeping myself from slipping back into the conformity of society was a struggle. A frustrating struggle. And it still is, but al-hamdulillahi I have come a long way from the beginning :)

Khadijah: Why do you think women are the most valued people in Islam?

Well, I'm sure other people can give a more eloquent answer to this one, but for me, it's somewhat like the famous quote says "You educate a man, you educate one person. You educate a woman, you educate a nation." (I don't know who said this, do you? :S)

Women are the cornerstone of the Ummah. Yes, it is the men who features center-stage in Islam, but behind the screen, it is the mothers, wives, daughters and sisters who shapes the men who go on to bring glory to Islam bi'ithnillahi.

Khadijah: What is the Qur'an? What is special about it?

How to describe the Qur'an in a few sentences? The Qur'an is the Final Revelation, the last message sent to mankind from the Creator, and the culmination of all the previous messages.

The Qur'an is the Speech of Allah and hence, an Attribute of Him سبحانه و تعالى. It was revealed in the year 610 CE to the Prophet Muhammed (sallalaahu alayhi wasallam) and completed over a period of 23 years. 

These 23 years of revelation resulted in a book which comprised of 114 chapters and 6,666 verses. All of this was to become the primary source of law for the whole of mankind to live and die by. The impact of this book is such that Allah says that had it been revealed upon a mountain, it would crumble out of fear of Allah (Surah Al-Hashr 59:21).

Before the Qur'an, none of the previous revelations sent were given the divine assurance of preservation, to remain unchanged till the end of time (Surah Al-Hijr 15:9). The language, the history, the science, the knowledge... all of which contained in the Divine Speech is truly amazing for those who reflect upon it. 

You have to read, listen and ponder over it to find the miracle insha Allah :)

Khadijah: Describe 5 things about Islam that you think every non-Muslim should know

  1. Just like how you wouldn't take the measure of a perfectly crafted musical instrument by the one who plays it, or the measure of a perfectly horned sword by the one who wields it, do not take the measure of Islam by those who adhere to it. They are flawed, while Islam is not. Look at the authentic sources of Islam to know Islam.

  1. Islam is not a new religion founded by Prophet Muhammad (sallalaahu alayhi wasallam), rather Islam is the same truth that God Almighty revealed through all His Prophets to mankind in every time and place, from Adam to Noah, to Moses to Jesus and finally to Muhammad (sallalaahu alayhi wasallam), that is to worship Allah alone without any partners.

  1. Islam is not just a 'religion', in the sense that it is not merely about worshiping God as most other religions are about. Islam is a complete way of life, meaning it governs every aspect of life; moral, spiritual, social, economical, political, intellectual etc…

  1. The women in Islam are not oppressed just because you see them covering themselves. The Qur’an commands women to wear clothes that are different from those worn by men, because of the differences in the ways each sex is tempted by the other. It is a source of empowerment and precaution to the women. When dealing with the Islamic perspective of any topic, there should be a clear distinction between the normative teachings of Islam and the diverse cultural practices among Muslims, which may or may not be consistent with them. Besides, if nuns are not considered to be oppressed, why aren't Muslim women accorded the same justification?

  1. Jihad is a term that is often misunderstood and associated with violent radical militants. However, the word jihad means to "strive, struggle and exert effort." It is a central and broad Islamic concept that includes struggle against evil inclinations within oneself, struggle to improve the quality of life in society, struggle by military forces in the battlefield for self-defense or fighting against tyranny or oppression.

Khadijah: What is your favourite verse from the Qur'an?

There are many and picking a favorite is kind of hard. But a verse that always uplifts me and makes me feel better is:

Say: "O 'Ibadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: verily, Allah forgives all sins. Truly He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." 

[Surah az-Zumar - 39:53]

Khadijah: What does Islam say about other religions? 

The deen with Allah is Islam, and He does not accept any other religion from His slaves. Islam is the original message that has been repeatedly delivered to mankind throughout the history of humanity.  All the Prophets and Messengers that Allah sent came to revive this message and bring humanity back on track.

Of course over time, this message has been corrupted and distorted by various factions, such as the Jews and the Christians. This is why you see similarities along with glaring differences between the two and Islam. Then there are those who simply refused to accept this message and insisted on venerating their idols and mosquitoes. 

In Islam, some exceptions are made for Christianity and Judaism in some areas (both being People of the Book i.e. the original Torah and Gospel being divinely inspired before they ruined it), but all other polytheistic and pagan religions are staunchly rejected.

This does not mean Islam is intolerant. While  Islam does not give any importance to other religions and severely warns against them, Allah subhanahu wa ta'aala does admonish us not insult or mock what other people worship. Because then they in their ignorance will revile Allah subhanahu wa ta'aal in return. 

One of the fundamental rules of Islam is that there is no compulsion in religion. We can only give advice and information, but it is Allah who guides whom He wills. This is why if you look into Islamic history, you will see that minority faiths were actually treated with dignity and respect under the Islamic state.