AMINAH AS-SILMI – A GIRL ON A MISSION

By Mushfiqur Rahman (The Islamic Bulletin)

  1. Aminah As-Silmi – A Girl On A Mission
  2. Watching A Rose Open –Petal By Petal
  3. A Sacrifice For Faith & Conversation
  4. Help Of Allah Is Always Near
  5. Radiating With Allah’s Love
  6. Bibliography

 
aminah assilmi “I am so very glad that I am a Muslim. Islam is my life. Islam is the beat of my heart. Islam is the blood that courses through my veins. Islam is my strength. Islam is my life so wonderful and beautiful. Without Islam I am nothing, and should Allah ever turn His magnificent face from me, I could not survive.”
   

 

 

Aminah As-Silmi –  A Girl On A Mission

It all started with a computer glitch.

She was a Southern Baptist girl, a radical feminist, and a broadcast journalist. She was a girl with an unusual caliber, who excelled in school, received scholarships, ran her own business, and were competing with professionals and getting awards – all these while she was going to college. Then one day a computer error happened that made her take up a mission as a devout Christian. Eventually, however, it resulted into something opposite and changed her life completely around.

It was 1975 when for the first time computer was used to pre-register for a class in her college. She was working on her degree on Recreation. She pre-registered for a class and then went to Oklahoma City to take care of a business. Her return was delayed and she came back to college two weeks into the class. Making up the missed work was no problem for her, but she was surprised to find that the computer mistakenly registered her for a Theatre class, a class where students would be required to perform in front of others.

She was a very reticent girl and she was horrified to think about performing in front of others. She could not drop the class for it was too late to do so. Failing the class was also not a choice, for she was receiving a scholarship that was paying for her tuition and receiving an ‘F’ would have jeopardized it.

Advised by her husband, she went to her teacher to work out some other alternative to performing, such as preparing costumes, etc. Assured by the teacher that he would try to help her, she went to the next class and was shocked by what she saw. The class was full of Arabs and “camel jockeys”. That was enough for her. She came back home and decided not to go back to the class anymore. It was not possible for her to be in the middle of Arabs. “There was no way I was going to sit in a room full of dirty heathens!”

Her husband was calm as usual. He pointed out to her that God has a reason for everything and that she should think about more before quitting. Besides, there was the scholarship that was paying her tuition. She went behind locked doors for 2 days to think about. When she came out, she decided to continue the class. She felt that God gave her a task to convert the Arabs into Christianity.

Thus she found herself with a mission to accomplish. Throughout the class, she would be discussing Christianity with her Arab classmates. “I proceeded to explain to them how they would burn in the fires of hell for all eternity, if they did not accept Jesus as their personal savior. They were very polite, but did not convert. Then, I explained how Jesus loved them and had died on the cross to save them from their sins. All they had to do was accept him into their hearts.” They still did not convert, and so she decided to do something else: “I decided to read their own book to show to them that Islam was a false religion and Mohammed was a false God”.

At her request, one student gave her a copy of the Qur’an and another book on Islam. With these two books she started on her research, which she was to continue for the next one and half years. She read the Qur’an fully and another fifteen books on Islam. Then she came back to the Qur’an and re-read it. During her research, she started taking notes that she found objectionable and which she would be able to use to prove that Islam was a false religion.

Unconsciously, however, she was changing from within which did not escape the attention of her husband. “I was changing, just in little ways but enough to bother him. We used to go to the bar every Friday and Saturday, or to a party, and I no longer wanted to go. I was quieter and more distant.” She stopped drinking and eating pork. Her husband suspected her of having an affair with another man, for “it was only for a man that a woman changes”. Ultimately, she was asked to leave, and she soon found herself living in a separate apartment.

Watching A Rose Open – Petal By Petal

“When I first started to study Islam, I did not expect to find anything that I needed or wanted in my personal life. Little did I know that Islam would change my life. No human could have ever convinced me that I would finally be at peace and overflowing with love and joy because of Islam.”

Throughout these times, she continued studying Islam and although she was changing subtly from within, she remained a devout Christian. Then one day, there was a knock on her door. It was a man in traditional Muslim robe, who appeared to her as a “man in a long white night gown with a red and white checkered table cloth on his head”. His name was Abdul-Aziz Al-Sheik and he was accompanied by three other men in similar dress. She was very offended by Muslim men coming to her in nightgowns and pajamas. She was further shocked when Abdul-Aziz told her that he understood that she waited to be a Muslim. She replied that she was a Christian and she did not have any plan to become a Muslim. However, she had some questions to ask if they had the time.

At her invitation, they came inside. She now brought up the questions and objections that she noted down while she was researching. “I will never forget his name”, she said of Abdul-Aziz who proved to be a very patient and soft-mannered person. “He was very patient and discussed every question with me. He never made me feel silly or that a question was stupid.” Abdul-Aziz listened to every question and objection and explained it within the proper context.”He explained that Allah had told us to seek knowledge and questions were one of the ways to accomplish that. When he explained something, it was like watching a rose open – petal by petal, until it reached its full glory. When I told him that I did not agree with something and why, he always said I was correct up to a point. Then he would show me how to look deeper and from different directions to reach a fuller understanding.”

It would not be long before she would externally submit to what she had already been submitting to internally during the last one and half years. Later in that same day, this Southern Baptist girl would declare in front of Abdul-Aziz and his companions: “I bear witness that there is no god but God and Mohammed is His Messenger.” It was May 21, 1977.

A Sacrifice For Faith & Conviction

“I embraced Islam about 24 years ago to the consternation of most of my family. The reaction of my family was so severe that one member of my family actually tried to kill me … And yet by applying Islam to my life, by living Islam, most of my family is now Muslim. The thing is that everywhere you go, if you actually are living Islam, if you are demonstrating Islam, you will impact people. And you will change mindset.”

Conversion to Islam, or to any other religion for that matter, is not always a simple thing to do. Except for a few fortunate ones, a new Muslim usually face consequences. The convert may face isolation from family and friends, if not pressure to go back to the family faith. Sometimes, a convert may even face sever economic hardship, as in the case of those who are asked to leave the house because of converting to Islam. Some converts are fortunate to continue to be well respected by family and friends, but most of them face minor to severe hardship especially during the first few years after the conversion.

But the difficulty that Aminah Assilimi had to go through and the sacrifice that she had to make for the sake of her conviction and faith is almost unheard of. There are few who could rely so much on Allah as she did, standing firm and meeting the challenges, making sacrifices, and yet maintaining a positive posture and influencing people around with the beauty of what she found and believed in.

She lost most of her friends, for she was “no fun anymore”.

Her mother did not accept her becoming a Muslim and hoped that it was a temporary zeal and that she would soon grow out of it.

Her “mental health expert” sister thought that she lost her mind. She attempted to put her in a mental health institution.

Her father was a calm and wise man. People would come to him for advice and he could comfort anyone in distress. But when he heard that his daughter became a Muslim, he loaded his double-barrel shotgun and started on his way to kill her. “It is better that she be dead rather than suffering in the deepest of Hell”, he said.

She was now without friends and without family.

She soon started wearing hijab. The day she put it on, she was denied her job. She was now without family, friends, and job. But her greatest sacrifice was yet to come.

She and her husband both loved each other very much. But while she was studying Islam, her husband misunderstood her for her apparent changes. She became quieter and stopped going to the bar. Her changes were visible to him and he suspected her of having affair with another man, for whom she must have been changing. She could not explain to him what was happening. “There was no way to make him understand what was changing me because I did not know.” Eventually he asked her to leave and she started living separately.

After she openly accepted Islam, it went worse. A divorce was now inevitable. This was a time when Islam was little known, much less understood for what it is. She had two little children whom she loved dearly and whose custody should have rightfully be given to her. But in a grave violation of justice, she was denied their custody just because she became a Muslim. Before giving the formal verdict, the judge offered her a harsh choice: either renounce Islam and get custody of the children, or keep Islam and leave the children. She was given 20 minutes to make a decision.

She loved her children very dearly. It is perhaps the worst nightmare that a mother can have: asked to willfully leave her child – not for one day, month, or year, but forever. On the other hand, how could she keep the Truth away from her children and live as a hypocrite? “It was the most painful 20 minutes in my life”, she said in an interview. Those of us who are mothers and fathers, especially of young children, little imagination is needed to feel the pain and torment that she must have passed every second in those 20 minutes. What added further to her pain was that according to doctors, she could never bear another child because of certain complications. “I prayed like I had never done before … I knew that there was no safer place for my children to be than in the hands of Allah. If I denied Him, there would be no way in the future to show my children the wonders of being with Allah.”

She decided to retain Islam. Her two dear children – one little boy and one little girl – were taken away from her and given to her ex-husband.

For a mother, is there a sacrifice greater than this – a sacrifice that is done for no material reason but only for faith and conviction?

“I left the court knowing that life without my babies would be very difficult. My heart bled, even though I knew, inside, I had done the right thing”. She found comfort in the following verse of the Qur’an:

Allah! there is no god but He – the Living, The Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His are all things In the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede. In His presence except as He permitteth? He knoweth what (appeareth to his creatures as) before or after or behind them. Nor shall they compass aught of His knowledge except as He willeth. His throne doth extend over the heavens and the earth, and He feeleth no fatigue in guarding and preserving them for He is the Most High, the Supreme (in glory). (Quran 2: 255)

Help of Allah Is Always Near!

“This veil warns people upfront that I am not a woman to be messed with. It shows that I am a woman with a mind and that I know I am more than a body. In no way does this veil equal oppression and we don’t want you to feel sorry for us.”

Or do ye think that ye shall enter the Garden (of Bliss) without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They encountered suffering and adversity, and were so shaken in spirit that even the Messenger and those of faith who were with him cried: “When (will come) the help of Allah?” Ah! Verily the help of Allah is (always) near! (Quran 2: 214)

Perhaps the air of Colorado was too thin for justice. Or perhaps there was a plan in Allah’s greater scheme of affairs. Aminah Assilimi later fought back and took her case to the media. Although she did not get custody of her children again, a change was made in the Colorado law that one cannot be denied child custody on the basis of his or her religion.

Indeed Allah’s love and mercy engulfed her so much that, as if, she has been granted the touchstone of Islam. Wherever she goes, people are touched by her beautiful words and Islamic manners and become Muslim.

By accepting Islam, she became a changed person, and a much better person. So much so that her family, relatives, and people around her started appreciating her mannerism and the faith that brought about such changes in her. Despite her family’s initial reaction, she remained in touch with them and addressed them with respect and humility, just as the Qur’an enjoins the Muslims to do. She would send cards to her parents on different occasions, but she would always write down a verse from the Qur’an or the Hadith without mentioning the source of such beautiful words of wisdom. It was not long before she started making a positive influence among her family members.

The first to become Muslim was her grand mother. She was over 100 years old. Soon after accepting Islam, she died.”The day she pronounced Shahada, all her misdeeds had been erased, while her good deeds were preserved. She died so soon after accepting Islam that I knew her “book” was bound to be heavy on the good side. It fills me with such a joy!”

Next to become Muslim was her father, the one who wanted to kill her after she became Muslim. Thus he brought alive the story of Umar ibn Khattab. Umar was a companion of the Prophet who persecuted the early Muslims before he converted to Islam. When he heard one day that his sister became a Muslim, he went out with an open sword to kill her. But upon hearing some of the verses from the Qur’an that his sister was reciting, he recognized the truth and went straight to the Prophet and accepted Islam.

Two years after she (Assilmi) accepted Islam, her mother called and said that she appreciated her faith and hoped that she would keep it. Couple of years later, she called again and asked her about what one would need to do to become a Muslim. Assilmi replied that one had to believe that there is only One God and Muhammad was his Messenger. “Any fool knows that. But what do you have to do?”, she asked again. She replied that if that is what she believed, then she was already a Muslim! At this, her mother said, “Well … OK. But let’s not tell your father just yet”.

She was not aware that her husband (Assilmi’s step father) had had the same conversation with her a few weeks earlier. Thus the two lived together as Muslims for years in secret without knowing that the other was also a Muslim.

Her sister who wanted to put her in mental institution accepted Islam as well. She must have realized that becoming Muslim is indeed the most healthy and sound thing to do.

Her son, upon becoming adult, accepted Islam. When he turned 21, he called her and said that he wanted to become a Muslim.

Sixteen years after the divorce, her ex-husband also accepted Islam. He said that he had been watching her for sixteen years and wanted his daughter to have the same religion that she had. He came to her and apologized for what he had done. He was a very nice gentlemen and Assilimi had forgiven him long ago.

Perhaps the greatest reward for her was yet to come. Assilmi later married another person, and despite the doctors’ verdict that she could never conceive another child, Allah blessed her with a beautiful boy. If Allah (swt) makes a gift to someone, who can prevent Him? It was truly a wonderful blessing from Allah (swt), and so she named him “Barakah”.

Radiating With Allah’s Love

“It did not take me long to start being aware of His blessing … I learned how very important it was for me to share the truth of Islam with everyone. It did not matter if people, Muslim or not, agreed with me or even liked me. The only approval I needed was from Allah. Yet, I discovered more and more people who for no apparent reason loved me. I rejoiced, for I remembered reading that if Allah loves you, He causes others to love you. I am not worthy of all the love. That means it must be another gift from Allah. Allah is the Greatest!”

The sacrifice that Assilmi made for the sake of Allah (swt) was tremendous. And so Allah (swt) turned in mercy to her and rewarded her with enormous blessings. Her family discarded her after she accepted Islam, and now by Allah’s mercy, most of them are Muslim. She lost her friends because of Islam, and now she is being loved by so many.”Friends who loved came out of nowhere”, she said. Allah’s blessings came upon her so much that wherever she goes people are touched by the beauty of Islam and accept the Truth. Both Muslims and non-Muslims now come to her for advice and counseling.

She lost her job because of wearing hijab, and now she is the President of the International Union of Muslim Women. She delivers lectures nationwide and is on high demand. It was her organization that successfully lobbied for the “Eid Stamp” and had it approved by the United States Postal Service, but it took many years of work. She is now working on making the Eid Day as a national holiday.

She has tremendous trust on Allah’s love and mercy and she never looses faith on Him. She was once diagnosed with cancer some years ago. Doctors said that it was in an advanced stage and that she would live for another year. But her faith in Allah (swt) remained strong. “We must all die. I was confident that the pain I was experiencing contained blessings.” As a brilliant example of how much one can love Allah, she mentions about a friend of her named Kareem Al-Misawi who died of cancer when he was in his 20’s:

“Shortly before he died, he told me that Allah was truly Merciful. This man was in unbelievable anguish and was radiating with Allah’s love. He said: “Allah intends that I should enter heaven with a clean book.” His death experience gave me something to think about. He taught me of Allah’s love and mercy.”

All praise is due to Allah, she continues to live in good health. She now thinks that having cancer was the greatest blessing that she ever had.

Assilmi’s is a story of faith and conviction. It is a story of test and tribulation and success. It is a story of triumphant victory of faith. It is a story of inspiration for the rest of us, and it is a story of confidence and reliance on Allah. It is story of Allah’s love and mercy, and it is a story of Allah’s promise come true. “True, Allah has tested me as was promised, and rewarded me far beyond what I could ever hoped for”.

May Almighty Allah continue to shower His love, mercy, and blessings on this wonderful Muslima. May Allah grant her long life and enable her to do more and more work for Islam. May Allah benefit more and more people by her story and example, and turn their hearts to the Message of Truth, and to His love and mercy.

Bibliography:

Aminah Assilmi, Choosing Islam (The Introduction and Decision)
Scripps Howard News Service: Former Baptist Explains why she is now a Muslim, Nov 1, 1997
The Post (Ohio Univ Student Newspaper), Veil is Not Oppressive, Oct 25, 1995
Aminah Assilmi, Getting to Know Allah Through Nature (video)
Welcome Back, a radio interview of Aminah Assilmi by Islamic Foundation of America, August, 2001

Dr. Jeffrey Lang : Professor matematik yang menyerah diri kepada Islam

VIDEO – [Durasi – 36m 55s] – Dr Jeffrey Lang – My Journey to Islam

Jeffrey Lang : Professor matematik yang menyerah diri kepada Islam

BIDANG matematik dan sains bersifat logikal. Angka-angka dan fakta amat penting untuk mendapat suatu jawapan yang tepat. Bukan mudah bagi seseorang yang mindanya telah terlatih menerima idea-idea yang berasaskan fakta untuk mempercayai sesuatu agama kerana kebanyakan agama perlu diterima hanya berdasarkan keyakinan.

Inilah yang dirasai seorang profesor matematik dari Universiti Kansas, Amerika Syarikat, Dr. Jeffrey Lang.

Dr. Jeffrey Lang dilahirkan pada 30 Januari, 1954 di Bridgeport, Connecticut, Amerika Syarikat di dalam keluarga yang berfahaman Roman Katolik. Sehingga usia 18 tahun, Jeffrey mendapat pendidikan di sekolah-sekolah Katolik. Bagaimanapun, beliau masih tidak menemui jawapan untuk banyak persoalan berkaitan tuhan.

Seperti kebanyakan anak-anak muda pada tahun-tahun 60-an dan awal 70-an, Jeffrey mempersoalkan semua nilai-nilai politik, sosial dan agama pada waktu itu.

Apabila usianya meningkat 18 tahun, Jeffrey langsung tidak mempercayai kewujudan tuhan. Dia menjadi seorang ateis.

Jika benar tuhan wujud dan sifatnya pula maha pengasih dan maha penyayang, mengapa di dunia ini wujud kesengsaraan? Mengapa dia tidak masukkan kita semua ke dalam syurga? Mengapa dia ciptakan manusia untuk hidup merana? Inilah antara soalan-soalan yang sering bermain dalam fikirannya ketika itu.

Jeffrey tidak menemui jawapan kepada soalan-soalan tersebut sehinggalah menjadi seorang pensyarah matematik di Universiti San Francisco. Di universiti itu, Jeffrey menemui agama yang dicari-carinya, agama yang mengajarnya bahawa kewujudan tuhan itu adalah suatu realiti.

Ketika itu, Jeffrey dan beberapa orang kawan Muslimnya di universiti tersebut sering berbincang mengenai agama. Apabila beliau mengemukakan soalan-soalan skeptikalnya itu, Jeffrey terkejut dengan jawapan-jawapan yang mereka berikan.

Jeffrey kemudian menemui Mahmoud Qandeel, seorang pelajar dari Arab Saudi yang segak dan fasih berbahasa Inggeris.

Hubungan Jeffrey dengan Qandeel menjadi erat, dan mereka banyak meluangkan masa bersama. Akhirnya Qandeel menghadiahkan Lang senaskhah al-Quran dan beberapa buah buku berkaitan Islam.

Secara bersendirian, Jeffrey membaca al-Quran tersebut. Jeffrey tertarik dengan kandungannya dan dapat merasakan keindahan Islam. Segala persoalannya tentang tuhan dan kewujudan alam ini terjawab di dalam al-Quran.

Tanpa rasa ragu-ragu, suatu hari Jeffrey melangkah ke dewan sembahyang universiti tersebut yang dikendalikan oleh para pelajar. Boleh dikatakan, Jeffrey ‘menyerah diri’ kepada agama Islam tanpa banyak keraguan.

Jeffrey cukup terpesona dengan al-Quran, terutama dua surah terawalnya, yang digambarkannya seperti “Pelukis boleh melukis mata di dalam sebuah potret yang seolah-olah mengekori anda. Tetapi pengarang mana yang boleh menulis sebuah kitab yang mendahului perubahan-perubahan dalam kehidupan seharian anda?

“Setiap malam saya akan memikirkan pelbagai soalan serta sanggahan dan menemui jawapannya pada keesokan hari. Seolah-olah pengarang kitab itu membaca idea-idea saya, dan menulisnya dalam baris-baris yang sesuai, tepat pada waktunya apabila saya meneruskan pembacaan. Apabila saya membaca halaman demi halamannya, saya akhirnya mengenali diri sendiri…”

Sungguhpun Jeffrey tidak memahami bahasa Arab, tetapi beliau tetap merasakan membaca kitab suci itu suatu pengalaman yang mempesonakan, seperti seorang bayi yang dibuai oleh dodoian ibunya.

Bagi Jeffrey, bacaan al-Quran memberinya ketenangan dan kekuatan, terutama pada waktu beliau menghadapi kesulitan. Solat lima waktu pula memberikannya kepuasan spiritual.

Di kalangan komuniti Muslim di AS, nama Dr. Jeffrey Lang memang dikenali. Beliau telah menulis beberapa buku mengenai Islam, termasuk Even Angels Ask; A Journey to Islam in America. Dalam buku ini, beliau berkongsi pengalaman dengan para pembaca pelbagai penyelesaian yang ditemui dalam Islam.

Sumber – https://utusantv.com/2021/04/26/jeffrey-lang-professor-matematik-yang-menyerah-diri-kepada-islam/

Sister Lauren Booth : My Journey To Islam

LAUREN BOOTH: I’M NOW A MUSLIM. WHY ALL THE SHOCK AND HORROR? 

[News that Lauren Booth has converted to Islam provoked a storm of negative comments. Here she explains how it came about – and why it’s time to stop patronising Muslim women]

It is five years since my first visit to Palestine. And when I arrived in the region, to work alongside charities in Gaza and the West Bank, I took with me the swagger of condescension that all white middle-class women (secretly or outwardly) hold towards poor Muslim women, women I presumed would be little more than black-robed blobs, silent in my peripheral vision. As a western woman with all my freedoms, I expected to deal professionally with men alone. After all, that’s what the Muslim world is all about, right?

This week’s screams of faux horror from fellow columnists on hearing of my conversion to Islam  prove that this remains the stereotypical view regarding half a billion women currently practising Islam.

On my first trip to Ramallah, and many subsequent visits to Palestine, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, I did indeed deal with men in power. And, dear reader, one or two of them even had those scary beards we see on news bulletins from far-flung places we’ve bombed to smithereens. Surprisingly (for me) I also began to deal with a lot of women of all ages, in all manner of head coverings, who also held positions of power. Believe it or not, Muslim women can be educated, work the same deadly hours we do, and even boss their husbands about in front of his friends until he leaves the room in a huff to go and finish making the dinner.

Is this patronising enough for you? I do hope so, because my conversion to Islam has been an excuse for sarcastic commentators to heap such patronising points of view on to Muslim women everywhere. So much so, that on my way to a meeting on the subject of Islamophobia in the media this week, I seriously considered buying myself a hook and posing as Abu Hamza. After all, judging by the reaction of many women columnists, I am now to women’s rights what the hooked one is to knife and fork sales.

So let’s all just take a deep breath and I’ll give you a glimpse into the other world of Islam in the 21st century. Of course, we cannot discount the appalling way women are mistreated by men in many cities and cultures, both with and without an Islamic population. Women who are being abused by male relatives are being abused by men, not God. Much of the practices and laws in “Islamic” countries have deviated from (or are totally unrelated) to the origins of Islam. Instead practices are based on cultural or traditional (and yes, male-orientated) customs that have been injected into these societies. For example, in Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to drive by law. This rule is an invention of the Saudi monarchy, our government’s close ally in the arms and oil trade. The fight for women’s rights must sadly adjust to our own government’s needs.

My own path to Islam began with an awakening to the gap between what had been drip-fed to me about all Muslim life – and the reality.

Almost unnoticed to me, when praying for the last year or so, I had been saying “Dear Allah” instead of “Dear God”. They both mean the same thing, of course, but for the convert to Islam the very alien nature of the language of the holy prayers and the holy book can be a stumbling block. I had skipped that hurdle without noticing. Then came the pull: a sort of emotional ebb and flow that responds to the company of other Muslims with a heightened feeling of openness and warmth. Well, that’s how it was for me, anyway.

How hard and callous non-Muslim friends and colleagues began to seem. Why can’t we cry in public, hug one another more, say “I love you” to a new friend, without facing suspicion or ridicule? I would watch emotions being shared in households along with trays of honeyed sweets and wondered, if Allah’s law is simply based on fear why did the friends I loved and respected not turn their backs on their practices and start to drink, to have real “fun” as we in the west do? And we do, don’t we? Don’t we?

Finally, I felt what Muslims feel when they are in true prayer: a bolt of sweet harmony, a shudder of joy in which I was grateful for everything I have (my children) and secure in the certainty that I need nothing more (along with prayer) to be utterly content.

The sheikh who finally converted me at a mosque in London a few weeks ago told me: “Don’t hurry, Lauren. Just take it easy. Allah is waiting for you. Ignore those who tell you: you must do this, wear that, have your hair like this. Follow your instincts, follow the Holy Qur’an- and let Allah guide you.”

And so I now live in a reality that is not unlike that of Jim Carey’s character in the Truman Show. I have glimpsed the great lie that is the facade of our modern lives; that materialism, consumerism, sex and drugs will give us lasting happiness. But I have also peeked behind the screens and seen an enchanting, enriched existence of love, peace and hope. In the meantime, I carry on with daily life, cooking dinners, making TV programmes about Palestine and yes, praying for around half an hour a day.

Now, my morning starts with dawn prayers at around 6am, I pray again at 1.30pm, then finally at 10.30pm. My steady progress with the Qur’an has been mocked in some quarters (for the record, I’m now around 200 pages in). I’ve been seeking advice from Ayatollahs, imams and sheikhs, and every one has said that each individual’s journey to Islam is their own. Some do commit the entire text to memory before conversion; for me reading the holy book will be done slowly and at my own pace.

In the past my attempts to give up alcohol have come to nothing; since my conversion I can’t even imagine drinking again. I have no doubt that this is for life: there is so much in Islam to learn and enjoy and admire; I’m overcome with the wonder of it. In the last few days I’ve heard from other women converts, and they have told me that this is just the start, that they are still loving it 10 or 20 years on.

On a final note I’d like to offer a quick translation between Muslim culture and media culture that may help take the sting of shock out of my change of life for some of you.

When Muslims on the BBC News are shown shouting “Allahu Akhbar!” at some clear, Middle Eastern sky, we westerners have been trained to hear: “We hate you all in your British sitting rooms, and are on our way to blow ourselves up in Lidl when you are buying your weekly groceries.”

In fact, what we Muslims are saying is “God is Great!”, and we’re taking comfort in our grief after non-Muslim nations have attacked our villages. Normally, this phrase proclaims our wish to live in peace with our neighbours, our God, our fellow humans, both Muslim and non-Muslim. Or, failing that, in the current climate, just to be left to live in peace would be nice.

Yvonne Ridley – From Captive to Convert

VIDEO – [Durasi –  1j 29m 46s] -Yvonne Ridley – From Captive to Convert

ISLAM: FROM TALIBAN CAPTIVE TO MUSLIM FEMINIST – INTERVIEW WITH YVONNE RIDLEY 
BY ASMA HANIF

British journalist Yvonne Ridley, who converted to Islam after being captured by the Taliban, tells Asma Hanif that oppression of Muslim women has to do with traditions rather than with Islam and explains why she became a Muslim.

It was Yvonne’s camera that betrayed her to the Taliban in September 2001, landing her in an Afghan cell for ten days and starting a long process in her life.

In front of a Taliban soldier, it slipped from her shoulder when, disguised as an Afghan woman with a head-to-toe burka, she entered the country without her passport on the brink of the US-led invasion. The Sunday Express reporter wanted to talk to ordinary Afghans and write a human interest feature.

But the Taliban suspected Yvonne of being a spy for the Americans at a time when Afghans flew by thousands to secure their lives outside their country’s borders. Yvonne, then 42, replied to them: “If I was to be an American spy, then God help the Americans.” Mullah Omar eventually ordered her release on “humanitarian grounds”. But the camera was never to be returned to her.

“I’m sorry, the Taliban confiscated my camera when I was arrested, so I have no picture from that period,” reads her email to me when I asked her if she has a photo of her cell to illustrate this feature.

Yvonne describes the prison as “very basic, with no running water”, although the staff treated her with respect, which she, the feisty British journalist, brutally rejected. “I spat at my captors, I threw things at them,” she now confesses. “I don’t know who was happier when I crossed the border to freedom, they or me – they just wanted to get rid of me.”

With the fall of the Taliban, the cellmates were exchanged. When Yvonne returned to Afghanistan after her release and visited the cell in the women’s section of a Kabul prison, she was surprised.

“It was packed with young girls aged 12-16 whose only crime was that they had run away from home because they didn’t want to be second and third wives for men twice their ages,” says Yvonne, who is a campaigning feminist. “The whole thing of selling a girl, which was forbidden and stamped out by the Taliban, is now widely practiced.”

Comparing the women’s situation under both, the former and the current Afghan regimes, she observes: “There are no career women coming out in Afghanistan except a few individuals who saw their lives improving,” adding, “some women told me they missed the security they had under the Taliban.”

The first Afghan Minister of women’s affairs to work after the fall of the Taliban, Dr Sima Samar, did not even have her own office, Yvonne realized when she met her in March 2002. “In the end she was hounded out of office,” she says.

“Being a woman in Afghanistan is a tough life,” Yvonne concludes. “But it has been for centuries – it has to do with customs and traditions.” Even if women are often subjugated in Muslim societies, Islam stands far from these traditions, claims the Muslim feminist.

It was Yvonne’s capture by the Taliban that sparked the process switching her from a wine and cigarette admirer into a devout Muslim who prays five times a day.

Rejecting people’s initial rumors which suggested that she suffers from the Stockholm syndrome, Yvonne says she made the step by pure conviction.

“To suffer from that disease, you have to bond with your captors over a long period of time,” she explains. “I was there for only 10 days. I did not bond with the Taliban. The only people I bonded with in this very short time were six amazing Christian fundamentalist women whom I shared a cell with. So, if I were suffering from any syndrome, it would have been with my cellmates, and I should be in Texas now, running a tambourine and going halleluiah.”

Yvonne’s passage to Islam started with the promise she made to the Taliban that, once freed, she would read the Quran (the book Muslims believe to be God’s word). “The fulfillment of this promise turned very soon to a spiritual journey for me,” she says, “because, after having finished reading this book, I started an academic exercise and read the supporting literature.”

When initially reading the Quran, Yvonne recalls, she intended to find out “how it teaches men to beat their wives”. But she emerged entranced. “The Quran makes it crystal clear that women are equal to men in spirituality, worth and education,” she realized.

Gradually, she began adopting Islamic practices and cutting out un-Islamic customs like alcohol and cigarettes. “I had a battle with cigarettes which I finally won – at last,” she jokes.

Yvonne also began covering her head, finding it “liberating not to be judged by the size of her legs”.

But then it was her own society that she felt oppressed by. “I’ve always been outspoken,” she says, referring, for instance, to her critical views against the way detainees in the war on terror are held captive without charge, and often tortured. “I have been a trade unionist all my live; I’ve been passionate against the war; I’ve spoken on anti-war platforms, on Muslim and non-Muslim events. But as soon as I put on a hijab (the Arabic word for the Muslim veil), I was called an extremist for my views.”

Yvonne finds that interesting. “You can’t win,” she fiercely says. “You’re criticized one minute for being silent, subjugated, oppressed and not saying anything. And when you do say something, they say: ‘Oh, she’s an extremist.’”

Although, before her conversion, she recalls looking at veiled women as ‘silent, oppressed creatures’, she now wears her veil as a means to show her Muslim identity, and to be respected as a Muslim who does not want to be offered a glass of wine.

Now that she has ‘seen the veil from both sides’, as she describes herself, Yvonne knows what she defends – Islam purely and simply.

The grades used – largely by Western media – to measure the levels of Islam such as ‘moderate Muslim’ and ‘Islamist’, are nonsense in her eyes. “What is a moderate and what is an extremist? I really don’t know,” she says. “I am a simple Muslim. I follow no scholars or sects. I merely follow the Prophet Mohammad and the Sunnah (the Arabic word for Prophet Muhammad’s tradition). Does that make me an extremist?

“I once said being a Muslim is a bit like being pregnant. You are or you are not. Whoever heard of anyone being moderately or extremely pregnant?”

Yvonne strongly opposes distortions and manipulations about Islam. She once declined an offer by a Hollywood producer who, after having read her book, In the hands of the Taliban, expressed an interest in making a film, but had misinterpreted the Taliban as “dirty, filthy, stinking Arabs”.

“First of all, the Taliban are not dirty filthy stinking Arabs as you call them,” Yvonne replied her. “They’re largely from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Furthermore, they were all very handsome young men.”

When her agent then insisted on Yvonne to agree for producing the story, she said, “I never had money in my life, so I don’t know what I’m missing, but there is no way I am going to allow somebody with such a narrow vision to do that story, because it would be totally distorted.”

It seems that, if not confiscated, Yvonne’s camera would have pictured the Afghans from a different perspective than many others’. But her pen did.

Source – https://english.religion.info/2007/12/28/islam-from-taliban-captive-to-muslim-feminist-interview-with-yvonne-ridley/

From Critic to Convert: The Joram van Klaveren Story | From Islamophobe to Muslim

VIDEO – [Durasi – 57m 32s] -From Critic to Convert: The Joram van Klaveren Story | From Islamophobe to Muslim

“APOSTATE FROM CHRISTIANITY TO ISLAM IN TIMES OF SECULARISATION AND TERROR”

Joram van Klaveren, also called ‘the crown prince of Wilders’, was a famous critic of Islam. As a former member of the Dutch Parliament and a representative of the Party for Freedom, he submitted numerous bills related to Islam, such as those calling for the closing of mosques, for removing the Quran from parliament and for banning Islam from the Netherlands.

In order to reinforce these thoughts and opinions, he — as a Christian — began to write a book critical of Islam.

During the process of writing, however, he found an increasing number of matters that challenged his views of Islam. In this book (“Apostate: From Christianity to Islam in times of secularisation and terror”), Joram describes his personal and theological journey and the development he has undergone.  During this journey, questions arose such as: does God even exist? Is the God of the Quran the same as the God of the Bible? Does Islam teach people to hate disbelievers and oppress women? How did Joram’s negative view of Islam develop? What emotional and social struggles did he have to face? And where has this journey eventually led him?

“To admit that one has been wrong is seldom easy, but to write in careful detail about one’s error, and then to document one’s painful road to truth, reveals considerable strength of character, and restores one’s confidence in human nature and in the prospects for change. ”  – Prof. Abdal Hakim Murad

“Joram’s sincerity enabled him to shift his perspective, to remove the blind spot, to look at something objectively, and to really try and understand it on its own terms. This led to an extraordinary search, the result of which is the book that you are now reading. This book tells the story of an uncommon trajectory, the journey of a man from animosity to charity, from despair to hope, and from belligerence to peace.” – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Prof. Dr. INGRID MATTSON, Ph.D: “Menemukan Tuhan Yang Benar Di Dalam Islam.”

VIDEO – [ Durasi – 49m 55s] – Prof. Dr. INGRID MATTSON, Ph. D : “Menemukan Tuhan Yang Benar Di Dalam Islam.”

HOW DID DR. INGRID MATTSON BECOME MUSLIM?

Dr. Ingrid Mattson is the London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies at Huron University College at Western University in Canada.

Dr. Mattson was educated in Canada and the United States, earning a PhD from the University of Chicago in 1999. From 1998 to 2012 she was Professor of Islamic Studies at Hartford Seminary in CT where she developed and directed the first accredited graduate program for Muslim chaplains in America, and served as Director of the Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations.

From 2001-2010 Dr. Mattson served as vice-president, then as president of the Islamic Society of North America (USA), the first woman to serve in either position.

Her writings, both academic and public, focus primarily on Quran interpretation, Islamic theological ethics and interfaith relations. Her book, The Story of the Qur’an, is an academic best-seller and was chosen by the US National Endowment for the Humanities for inclusion in its “Bridging Cultures” program.

Dr. Mattson is a Senior Fellow of the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Amman, Jordan. From 2009-2010, Dr. Mattson was a member of the Interfaith Taskforce of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

In 2008 she was on the Council of Global Leaders of the C-100 of the World Economic Forum. From 2007-2008, she was a member of the Leadership Group of the U.S.-Muslim Engagement Project (USME).

Dr. Mattson is the recipient of numerous awards as well as honorary doctorates from Trinity College, Hartford, and the Chicago Theological Seminary. She is frequently consulted by the media and has served as an expert witness.

How did Dr. Ingrid Mattson become Muslim?

Did she know anything about Islam?

Did she have any faith in God?

What was her encounter with Muslims?

Watch this short video to know how Dr. Ingrid Mattson converted to Islam

Source – https://www.the-faith.com/my-journey-to-islam/how-did-dr-ingrid-mattson-become-muslim/

Aminah As-Silmi – A Girl On A Mission

By Mushfiqur Rahman (The Islamic Bulletin)

  1. Aminah As-Silmi – A Girl On A Mission
  2. Watching A Rose Open –Petal By Petal
  3. A Sacrifice For Faith & Conversation
  4. Help Of Allah Is Always Near
  5. Radiating With Allah’s Love
  6. Bibliography
aminah assilmi “I am so very glad that I am a Muslim. Islam is my life. Islam is the beat of my heart. Islam is the blood that courses through my veins. Islam is my strength. Islam is my life so wonderful and beautiful. Without Islam I am nothing, and should Allah ever turn His magnificent face from me, I could not survive.”

  Aminah As-Silmi –  A Girl On A Mission Continue reading