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Thursday, February 7, 2013

A sisters story..

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa baraketuh. 

May this message find you in the best of health and eman. I saw on your blog about sharing our stories on how we came to Islam. So....
I would like to share with you my revert story. My story is kind of a 2 n1.. as it includes not only on how I became a muslim, but also my marriage to my husband.. as he is a major part of this story.. I hope that this is ok.. *:) happy inshaAllah *:) happy

So I kind of have to role this story back to my early childhood and explain to you my back ground as it has a lot to do with my reasons of exploring other religions which eventually lead me to Islam. Please forgive me if it is too long.. *:-O surprise

 I grew up in a Christian home.. but both of my parents were not  what you would call practicing  Christians.. my step-father who adopted me at the age of 4 was from a Lutheran Christian background.. which is a sect of Christianity that broke away from the Catholic church.. but all in all still behaved very similar to them. My mom grew up as a Southern Baptist.. but preferred the Seventh-Day Adventist beliefs rather than other forms of Christianity... as she doesn't eat pork and doesn't drink wine and smoke... and doesn't celebrate many of the "christian" holidays. My family all in all is very mixed on different beliefs and traditions of the Christian faith.. and some relatives were complete disbelievers altogether, as they did not believe in any religion. So for me.. as a young child I was always curious about the world, and about religion.. I questioned everything around me and tried to understand what I did not understand.  Christianity  for me, at a young age did not satisfy me.. I did not believe most of what I was being taught.. And in fact I did not agree that God would need to have a son in order to save us from our sins.. I used to always ask these types of questions to my mom and to other relatives.. but many times I would just get answers from their own opinion or conclusions rather than from the Book.. as they like to call it ( Bible).
As I grew older.. now in my very early teenage years.. I started reading about other religions. Most of the religions that I read about were earth-based religions.. ( paganism.. wikka and druidism.. hinduism. ) When I found that this too just didn't make any sense whatsoever to me. I began looking onto other religions.. in between my searching, I would be invited to various different types of Churches and Christian sects.. and again none of it gave me answers that I was looking for.. Why are we here.. who is God.. does He exist..? and so on. 

I have 3 kids.. two of whom are boys ( 9 and 7.5 yrs ) and one girl ( 2.5 yrs ). I had married my sons father at the age of 16... he was 18. My then husband was born and raised in a Roman Catholic home.. His mother was a very devote Catholic and his father was not.. He would go to the Church for Christmas and Easter but that was about it. I tried to understand the Catholic ways and traditions.. as they have many rituals.. but something inside told me NO.. I did not believe God is 3 in 1 type of thing. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost.. I didn't like that they seemed all too similar to the paganism I had learned about years before. My then husband was more interested in Buddhism.. so since I was soul searching I thought to learn with him.. My ex was more into learning about it then I was.. I tried, but it just really did not interest me.. And again I felt lost. 
So I just kind of forgot about religion for sometime and just lived for the dunya. My then husband and I decide to move to Houston, Texas as my sister had offered me a very good job with a very good salary.. I was tired of living in the little city that we were in and I thought it would be better for me and my husbands marriage to get away from all of our friends and the society that we were in. 
We moved there to texas and my older sister and I became closer then we ever were before. Our kids played together and her and I attended church every Sunday. I hated going to Church as I saw that they were just tricking people into spending money on the church rather then having anything to do with religion or religious teachings.. How could you call it a church when girls were wearing short shorts and short skirts.. kissing boys in the bathrooms.. Women showing off their vanity.. and men watching the young girls like vultures.. It made me sick.. and all this they claimed was "Christian".  I went only because my sister felt that she could "save me" .. 
 My sister, our children, our husbands and myself all took a trip to the beach.. We were driving through the city of Galveston.. when we happened to drive by a big masjid. ( I had no idea what a masjid was.. what religion it belonged to or anything about it ). While driving past it, I was admiring the building and how pretty it was. When my sister said with the most hateful look on her face, " They shouldn't allow places like this in America!". I was stunned and shocked. I became angry and defensive with her. I told her, "How can you say such a thing when the 1st Amendment of our  Constitution  says,  Freedom of Religion. That means everyone regardless of what religion you  have, have the right to practice it the way you please." She didn't agree and tried to say some excuse that it was the right for Christians to believe in whatever way they choose. I told her NO, you're wrong!!! As it would have said in the Constitution.. Christians of whatever back ground have the right to practice their religion.. but it didn't say that.. I asked her why she has such a hatred for this place.. and she said, "Well you know they're muzlims.." I, to be honest knew nothing about Islam.. the only thing I knew was the name Usama Bin Laden. :) Anyways the conversation eventually ended with a strange silence.. as I could not convince her that these "muzlims" as she called them have no right to be hated nor their places of worship.. and she could not convince me either of her opinion. A few weeks later her neighbor was having a house party.. where neighbors come over and get to know one another.. Most people were drunk already when I arrived.. My sisters then husband was a former US solider who had been in Iraq twice during Bush's so called "War on Terror".. He was a lucky one to have come back home in one piece. :) He hated Muslims and he hated Islam.. so anytime a conversation would come up about either, he was quick to say something negative.
One of my sisters neighbors began bashing the Qur'an and talking about how evil it is and how Muslims treat their women bad. I got irritated with the conversation and asked her if she ever actually read the Qur'an. She told me no.. that her father had and he is a Pastor at a church..I thought to myself.. well go figure.. a Pastor of a Christian church bad mouthing Islam..
 At this point I became interested in Islam.. I wanted to know more about it.. and what all this fuss is about.. I hated Bush from the start and was against all that he had been doing.. I already was out spoken against his administration and his illegal wars.. publicly and privately.. surprisingly enough, it never made me think about what Islam was.. All this time during all my independent research.. I never stopped to ask myself.. Who are these people that America has been so oppressive to and what it is really about?... I, during this time was an independent investigative journalist ( did this just as a hobby and not as a career ) and had done many researches and written about Donald Rumsfeld, different corporations who have strong connections with the American Military,  private security firms and many various other topics. I studied about the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan.. and began to read a bit about Islam.. but soon my interests would be put on hold as my then marriage began to fall apart.
I got a job promotion.. and started working longer and extra hours.. I hated coming home to my then husband.. so I tried working as much and as long as I could. I used my work as an escape from the issues that I had in my marriage. I felt alone and helpless. As I did not want to turn to my parents for help.. and my then husbands parents wouldn't understand. I got stuck in the glamor of the dunya.. as I began to make more and more money.. but the more that I made the more that I began to lose. I got involved in things that I do not wish to mention and wish I could forget.
 I filed for divorce from my then husband while I was still in Texas... I stopped talking to him and took my sons.. I took them where he could not find them.. I lived ok for sometime.. but soon found that my new situation became worse then it was when I was with my husband. So scared and defeated I returned back to my then husband and we reconciled and decided not to divorce. We thought it be best to return to the small city life that we had left behind years ago and have the support of our parents to help us through our marriage.
I went to counseling and I tried so hard to make the marriage work. My kids all this time and through all this hardship never felt that anything was wrong.. I tried my best to hide any of the pain that I had. My then husband started behaving the way he was before.. And although I tried to love him and I had supported everything he had ever done.. good and bad.. I just couldn't anymore.  My sister had moved back to Florida as well by this time..
  I was so unhappy with life.. I had everything.. loving and healthy kids, a good family, a husband from a wealthy family, but I still felt empty.. so empty. I felt alone, the most alone I had ever felt in all my life. I started asking God.. Please help me, Please help me, Tell me  where I'm supposed to be, Tell me what I'm supposed to do.. Almost everyday I was asking this. Until one day after my then husband had bought a Buddha statue, Looking disgusted at it (the  statue) .. for some reason I thought.. ISLAM... It just clicked and I began reading a little more about it.. it was difficult for me at first.. as when I would google Islam I didn't find many Islamic pages or forums that had decent information.. believe it or not.  I learned about facebook.. and made an account. I had no friends on facebook other than my then husband.. I didn't even no how to use facebook and until one day I received a friend request from my current husband. I was curious.. I was thinking I know that the name Ahmed.. is a Muslim name. So I sent him a message and asked him, "Why did you send me a friend request ? Just Curious". He answered and told me he didn't know..So I asked him of his religion.. and he told me he was a Muslim.. I didn't tell him at first that I am reading about Islam.. I told him that I was still studying Buddhism.. LOL But everyday I kept asking him about Islam.. and then he would tell me.. I secretly started learning how to pray the salah and I started wearing hijab.. while all this time.. I was living at my then husbands parents home.. they hated what they were seeing.. although my hijab was worn with full makeup and jeans and a long sleeve shirt.. they knew that I had began studying Islam.. They asked me if I had become Muslim.. I told them no, not yet I'm just trying it out.. My then husband and I became as if we were on the opposite sides of the world.. the more that I learned about tawheed the more I became in love with Islam.. and eager to learn more. Finally after all these years of searching I had answers to the questions I had been looking for since my childhood. Alhamdulillah! Allahu Akbar!
 My then husband and I had been fighting and arguing everyday... I had enough this time and told him that I was going to stay at my moms. I returned back to my parents and lived there with my sons. I needed a job as I didn't have one.. I filed for divorce again.. and this time I was serious.  I tried getting a job with no luck as no one was wanting to hire me wearing hijab. Even old friends who I had been employed with before would not rehire me. Many of my old "friends" who I had grown up with stopped talking to me.. and even my mom criticized me for wearing the hijab. She told me that I would never find work and the small town she lived in was not very accepting to seeing such things. Let me remind you, I was dressing like most American's.. with full makeup.. and people still gave me a look of terror. So since I had no support and the Muslims that I did happen to meet were not practicing themselves.. I thought it was ok to take it off and find work. :(
Sure enough after the hijab came off and I was back in my stilettos, I found work :/ I started working for the Florida State Government in the Department of Revenue. The more that I read into Islam the more I would feel guilty about my life.. Now that i was working 5 days a week, my sons were staying with their father during this time to go to school rather then staying with me.. I had them on the weekends. I felt that my sons lives were secure.. and that maybe if I go to Egypt I could become a better Muslim. My eman went up and down up and down.. As the only "Muslim" friends I had come out to be not so good. None of them prayed, some of them drank, and most of them acted like American's.. This is not what I was looking for and this was not the Islam that I had been reading and learning. La howla wa la quwetta illah billah

 I had stayed in contact with Ahmed and made arrangements to come to Egypt. My divorce had finalized and I was no more Amy Notman.. I went back to my fathers last name, Wilson. I researched all that I needed to do in order to stay in Egypt and what documents I needed with me. I saved money and bought a ticket. And a few months later I would be ready to leave for Egypt. Ahmeds father felt pity for me as he knew I was going to come to Egypt and live in a hotel until I found another way of living and he knew that I wasn't coming with luggage and I would have to buy clothes and everything once I got to Egypt..So Ahmed's father agreed that I could stay with his family on condition that I marry Ahmed. I agreed. :) Alhamdulillah
  I left the US without telling my family, as I new that if I were to tell them, they would have prevented me from leaving. The last weekend with my sons I told them my goodbyes and how much I love them.. and no matter what anyone tells them, I love them. Marcos asked me what was wrong.. but I couldn't tell him. I kissed my sons and hugged them tight and told them my last goodbye. 
The next day I would be traveling to Egypt. I had never been on a plane before, I had never traveled outside the US. It was all so new and liberating for me. I called Ahmed when I was in Amsterdam to tell him I was about to leave for Cairo. I met him about 2:30am.. his younger brother had come too. While in the taxi I felt somewhat shy.. as I had never seen him other than in a picture. I was shy to look him in the face and he too would hardly look at me for very long.. we sat in the taxi all the way to his fathers in silence. We left the airport and went straight to his fathers flat. I didn't know what to expect. I couldn't believe what I was doing. But it felt right. I entered his fathers flat with his father and his step mom greeting me with large hugs and kisses on the cheek. They made me feel like family. His father's english was broken english but it was good enough for me to understand and he could understand most of my talks. They told me to shower and then come to eat.. I went to the bathroom to find that their wasn't a shower or bath tub.. I had to ask Ahmed how Im going to take a bath.. and he showed me a bucket and the faucet. LOL SubhanAllah. I took my bath :) Got dressed in clothes that Sayeda had provided for me. And ate a full Egyptian dinner :) MashAllah. By the time we finished eating I was exhausted as I had traveled for two days continuous.. I went to go lay down in bed when I heard the athan for fajr. I had never heard it like this before.. not in real, just on videos. Allahu Akbar I began to cry. And when I heard the athan it made me more eager to confirm that I was Muslim. Ahmed took me to Al Azhar to get myself officially documented as a Muslim and then I began wearing hijab, we got married and had a small party at his mothers home.. family came over and greeted me. We did not have music or any of that stuff, I didn't wear a white gown.. It was just a simple party with food and family. Ahmed and I were also officially married by the civil courts as well..  Ahmed spent all his savings on helping me with paying the residential visa and all that I needed to stay legally in Egypt. He spent all his savings on me. Ahmed was not rich nor close to being rich.. his family was more mid- to lower class.. but with good hearts. I didn't care about any of the materials of this dunya.. all I cared for was learning and how to please Allah. SubhanAllah Islam has taught me how to be a better wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, neighbor and most of all how to be a better servant to Allah. Allahu Akbar. These things I will never trade and never give up inshaAllah.

I did by the way contact my family to tell them I was in Egypt after I had arrived. My parents were angry with me as you can imagine.. but months later they calmed down and were happy for me and Ahmed. They felt that he was a good man and they saw how happy I was. So now my mom and dad love Ahmed both very much and my mom now asks sometimes about Islam.. she doesn't want to convert.. but at least her curiosity is there and inshaAllah Allah will guide her.  I try to talk to my sons via webcam once a month.. but Im still not on good terms with their father or his family.. and that's ok. At least they allow me to talk with my sons and that is good enough for me.

My husband has helped me a lot in the Deen.. He helps me to learn how to recite the Qur'an properly he taught me how to pray the salah properly and so many other things..and inshaAllah, he will be rewarded for this. My husband is alhamdulillah educated in the Deen and Im so thankful to Allah that I have him as a husband. I'm not sure if you have ever heard of Sheikh Mostafa Salama and Sheikh Abu Zhar Abdul-Monim? My husband had studied under them both for some time.
I know that the way my husband and I met is not in any way Islamic.. but I consider it a blessing.. as Allah allowed me and gave me the courage to come to Egypt with just the clothes on my back and to learn the Deen of Allah and better myself as a Muslim and actually become a real Muslim.. He also helped my husband.. as my husband before him and I met got stuck in the dunya.. and went away for sometime from practicing the deen.. After him and I married he began praying in the masjid again.. reading the Qur'an.. teaching the Qur'an... and above all this, helping me and supporting me. Allahu Akbar. Allah is the best of judges... and inshaAllah this was considered a Mercy for both of us.

So this is my story.. I know it was very long.. but here it is.. :)