After all we face more challenges when we wear hijab so if we do our best to present Islam as it should be, Islam will grow greatly.
An Exclusive Interview of a Revert to Islam from USA- Mariam, By Atieh Ansari
Nakitia is a native American Indian. She was born to atheist parents. At the age of 15, she became Christian. But all the time, she was struggling with the deification of Jesus (AS). So she started researching other religions and after some years, she was introduced to Islam and took Shahadah. She chose the name Mariam when she became Muslim in 9/27/2014. Here Rahyafte team (related to Edoardo Agnelli Islamic Association) invites you on a special journey into the life of our sister Mariam…
I am a native American Indian and my name is Nakitia but I chose the name Mariam when I became Muslim in 9/27/2014. I was born to a very unstable family where both my parents were atheist. After a very abusive life at the age of 15, I tried to end my life. Alhamdulillah it did not work. I became Christian then but struggled with understanding how God could have a son or Jesus (peace be upon him) was God if he ate, slept, etc. So I started researching other religions desperate for truth. After many years I met a sister on Facebook who introduced me to Islam. Al-Kursi (a verse of the Holy Quran) is what answered my questions which were in my mind for years. The sister who helped me take Shahadah was Sunni. Last year I was about to give up Islam due to not being able to get resources to study my religion. Where I lived I didn’t have internet all the time, so this option was closed. There were no mosques close enough for me to go to. I hardly felt like I was a Muslim. But after a very tearful cry to Allah for guidance, a Shia sister messaged me then talked with me about Islam and sent a few books including bedtime story books for my children. While reading these books, I began to gain knowledge. I didn’t feel in the dark or all alone even though I was the only Muslim in my city. I have been struggling to learn since then. Alhamdulillah for the few books I have. Because they are an answer to my prayer for guidance.
What specifically attracted you towards Islam?
Well, that started the first time I saw two Muslim ladies when I was about 10 or 11 years old. My grandparents who raised me were struggling with money when my school sent a letter home and asked why I didn’t have nice clothing because I was being picked on. My grandma took me to the mall. There was one store which had very cheap clothing. In the store I saw these two beautiful ladies in all black abayas that sparkled in the light and had matching black niqabs with black gloves that had roses on them. I thought they where visiting queens. They noticed my grandma who was in tears trying to overcome what my school had said and one of the ladies spoke with my grandma. The other lady asked what I liked and was so surprised that I had picked modest clothing (jumper dresses and long sleeve shirts and black shoes). I could hardly believe these queens or princesses were talking to me, a girl who did not have much good in life. I decided then I wanted to be like them. I didn’t know what Islam was at that time. When I worked with a sister in a store who started talking to me about how Christianity is much like Islam except with Jesus (peace be upon him) not being the son of God. Then in September of 2014 I was in a group on Facebook called head covering sisters of all religions. I had been reading posts from some Muslim sisters and decided to talk to a Muslim lady to ask questions that were burning inside me. When a sister messaged me and we spoke for a while I was drawn to Islam like I had found what I had been searching for. I finally found, Al-Kursi (a verse of the Holy Quran) and this was the biggest thing for me. Just knowing that Allah-the Almighty doesn’t need sleep or grows hungry really helped me see the truth. I was so touched that the ladies took the time and helped me take care of my family. They paid for clothing that lasted me a while and left me with the feeling that maybe I could be happy and maybe there is a Creator, Who cared about me or had something more important than just being a burden that I felt at that time.
And why did you choose the Shia school of thought?
Until recently that was the only guidance I received. Where I live there is no masjid close enough to travel so I depend on books to read. As I stated before when I was about to give up being Muslim because of lack of knowledge of my own religion; I cried to Allah for guidance once more. Then moments after I was messaged by a Shia sister who sent me books even story books for my children. As I read the story books to my children, I began to understand Islam. I came to know about justice in Islam and that it is not cruel like my government. A true quest for simple living, caring for others in need, and pleasing Allah. I am still learning about the Imams. However, after reading about the events of Karbala, there can be no doubt that the Shia school of thought is right.
So you studied about Imam Hussein’s (AS) uprising, what do you think? What’s your opinion?
From little knowledge that I have about it, is from story books for children. It simply explains that there was a conflict between the Shia and the Caliphs over who should guide the Muslims since the death of the Holy Prophet (SAW). I am currently studying the 14 infallibles. So I cannot give a proper answer of my thoughts on this issue.
Did people around you start to disapprove with you after converting to Islam? Or what was the reaction of your friends and family after converting?
Not so good. I lost many friends. And certain family members have said I am no longer family. Others say to hide my religion. Most people around here are brain washed by the media so many are not willing to see the truth about Islam.
What is the most beautiful Ayah of the Quran in your opinion? And why?
I think this Ayah is the most beautiful one, “Surely with difficulty is ease.” (94:5)
No matter how difficult things are, just turn to Allah for surely with difficulty there will be ease.
What was your feeling when you prayed for the first time? Wasn’t it hard for you to pray 5 times a day?
Alhamdulillah I am still learning. I have many migraine headaches that make memorizing prayer difficult. But taking time to pray is not as difficult as it seems at first to a new Muslim. I follow a time table for running a home; so prayer, reading Qur’an are easy with proper self-discipline and a need within to be with one’s Creator.
How do you analyze the family institution according to Christianity and Islam?
Well that is actually something a little hard to explain. I was raised where my grandparents worked a lot. So as a child I had already made the decision to be a stay-at-home mom and tend to my children once I am married. My family thought that I have a strange way of thinking being the man should be the provider and the woman the care taker. That goes against the atheist upbringing I had.
What’s your opinion about hijab? Did wearing hijab have any effect on your private life? Do you think it is only for women?
I wore scarf since I was little and wore Christian veil long before hijab. It has become a little difficult since President Trump has been in office. I’ve had my niqab removed in stores been called a dirty Muslim in hijab. Many are a bit surprised to find that there are blue eyes of a native American Indian under hijab and/or niqab. Then I am told I’m brainwashed. This is so sad people really need education.
As for hijab is for women only, that I do not know. I have seen different head coverings for boys and men. I would like to learn more on this. My son wishes to know what he should wear if there is need.
How do you see the spread of Islam in your country?
In larger cities there are more American Muslims especially among native Indians. But in less populated areas, there is not good treatment towards Muslims.
If you want to say some words about the beauty of Islam, the peace, the calmness you have found in this religion what would you say?
Islam has so many beautiful and wonderful things I don’t know from where to start. The most wonderful thing is all of Allah’s names. All 99 of them explaining all Allah’s characteristics. The Holy Quran gives so many answers even for daily life, even for generations to come even though it was written 1400 years ago. Islam teaches so many important things from self-discipline; so knowing that you are able to seek guidance from your Creator; and even scientific facts can be found in the Qur’an.
I have been amazed by all of this but the most comforting thing that has brought me to peace is in Al-Kursi. In knowing that Allah does not tire in taking care of his creations; that He is self-sustaining. He doesn’t need us but we need Him. And all we need to do is live peacefully as possible with other creations of Allah, live simple lives, pray only required 5 times but for one who sees Allah in everything can pray non stop, worship Allah through simple actions and InshaAllah be granted Jannah.
And best of all, Allah not only gives us an instruction manual for life but through the religion of Islam we see that everyone has a life purpose. Allah has protected us. No one is worthless or a mistake, everything and everyone has a reason to be alive. And we are not worthless but have a goal of ultimate peace and happiness in Jannah with our Creator, our Lord Allah Almighty.
In your opinion, regarding today’s situation, what is the duty of Muslim women as members of their respective societies? To what extent is the role of Muslim women significant in the progress and development of Islam?
I believe women are the greatest voice and example in spreading/propagating Islam. After all we face more challenges when we wear hijab so if we do our best to present Islam as it should be, Islam will grow greatly.
Is there anything else you would like to add on?!
I just want to say that people need to educate themselves on things especially religion. My grandmother always said only a fool opens his mouth on things he is not properly educated on.
Thank you so much for the time you allocated to us. May Allah bless you and keep you strong and firm on this true path.
By Atieh Ansari
DUA: Allah please accept this from us. You are All-Hearing and All-Knowing. You are The Most Forgiving.You are The Most Relenting and repeatedly Merciful. Allah grant us The Taufiq to read all the 5 prayers with sincerity.
(Taken from: To Be Earnest In Prayers By Amina Elahi)
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