The Revert

A Life Beyond the Mind’s Eye – A Story of Islamic Credence [Part 2]

For part 1 of this story, please click here.

Revert’s revelations…coming out to the world!

Hijab is distinct and mandatory for every Muslimah. Islam has introduced hijab as part of the  being decent and modest. We all know, however, that it is not just the mere covering of the physical body; but more significantly, hijab includes being cautious and conscious of one’s behavior, manners, speech and appearance in the public. The head covering is an external expression of an internal vow to worshiping Allah, a symbol of piety.

O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful. {Qur’an 33:59 Sahih International}

How could I not reflect on this? This is the first difficult challenge I had to face being a revert. I was not ready to tell everyone just yet. I was too much concerned of how the family will accept  everything that is happening in my life. Let alone tell the world that I am now a Muslim. I was worried about wearing it due to two reasons: its significance to my work and fear of not being able to fulfill the moral obligations. As the journey continued, day by day realizations came along with mounting fears. The more Islamic understanding I gained, seemingly the tighter the situation gets. I had to give up my job because in some ways it is conflicting with the teachings and it will be hard on me to be able to put hijab on knowing that I am working with a known Catholic institution. I sensed it will not give me courage to reveal and be out in the open had I stayed longer.

Aside from my work as  medical and research/study social worker, I am also an HIV counselor for the under-study subjects, mostly males, hence delicate discussions about sex is inevitable. It will be very awkward to accomplish my work in hijab. Then, resignation and returning home came next. Finding new job was the best option although I was very uncertain. I had to muster a lot of strength just to come up with the final decision. Being aware of how my lifestyle will change especially if my family would come to know, I will face a very difficult time now that I would be giving up the stable economic resource I am enjoying. Alhamduhlillah (Praise be to Allah), I was blessed with a job afterwards, not as high-paying as compared to the previous one; but it opened an avenue for my revelations because of the liberty to finally don on my hijab in the new office. I was a shadow hijabi because had to wear it off before entering home. It was only a month after Shahada and never did I imagine the drastic turn of events. Shortly, my family knew and not very long when my life twisted upside down.

Overwhelming lifestyle challenge and relational conflict leading to burned out stage…

If I have to state one by one and in specifics all struggles I came across right after family learned about my new religion, there is a need for another article for it, In Shaa Allah. But to describe how worse and overwhelming it was, I had to admit that I became suicidal. Can this be enough to describe the struggles and pain for the passed year? It is about three months now that my situation improved a little, both emotionally and psychologically. Like any other reverts from a family loyal to their respective religion; violent and physical demeanors, non-acceptance and prejudices are but few responses that can be anticipated.

How would I not understand their perspectives when I had the same mentality before I came to Islam? Nonetheless, it was very excruciating and demoralizing to have taken the blow from your family than from other people. The family whom you have trusted, loved and treated with respect isolates you just because of change in faith. A  family disowning and calling you a “Muslim Freak”, terrorist and throwing all sorts of discriminating statements and belittling regards . I wanted to break free, yet I was left alone with no choice because the world contained me in a tight space. Financial crisis started to wear you down to the point that you were locking yourself up and cutting normal social activities. As you tried to follow a life of modesty though minimizing opposite sex interactions, people questions your good sense, sincere decision.

They went as far as branding you as a desperate woman trying to win and please a Muslim man and underestimating your professional capabilities because you are a Muslimah and is considered deviant in a predominantly non-Muslim community (relatively true in my case). A place where hijab and modest outfit attracts more attention than walking half-naked on the streets. A community that subjects your way of dressing to be the laughing stock and object of criticism rather than a “shield” to preserve your honor as a woman. Never to forget the numerous attempts to use physical inflictions like forcefully removing your hijab, drivers messing your dress by running through wet pavement when the opposite road is clear, spitting, and a lot more.

How about the financial restrictions where you cannot access your own resources? And yet, you are not allowed to leave and if you do, you will be regarded as disrespectful and with no sense of gratitude at all. This is the time that you learn to be silent and keep sabr (patience) because you are aware that these are tactics for you to be pressured enough to forget your religion, your way of life, your Islam.

In one way or another, reverts face the same struggles. It won’t be long enough before one is caught in the web of suffocation and burned out stage. Here now comes the test of faith, would you stay and accept more pain? Or would you run and liberate yourself from all these which only takes one action and the rest will be normal, and that is to forget your Islam? Wallahi, I have been into this stage and I thought I can never cope up. Never in my entire life, I projected worse things will happen to me as I had a good past with few downs and more ups. Bad judgments cloud my mind during this time; such as reverting back or concluding my life for instant solution of the pain which I could handle no more. Despite all these, Alhamdulillah I managed to remain steadfast with the help of few people who are very patient to be my “crutch” when I could not lift myself up especially those whom I developed strong bond and relations with despite the distance and cultural disparity. Truly, they are my guiding blessings from Allah who are always reminding that things will just pass through. I was reminded constantly to make dua and cry everything to Allah SWT, the Al Salam (the source of Peace and the One who bestows Peace). I was in deep anguish, close to giving up and almost rebellious; yet, this amplified my loyalty. With no doubt I cried and called Allah SWT alone. This confirmed my acceptance of Islam as my one true religion, that Allah is one true God, no other God I will worship and adore, and I have recognized Muhammad as the last prophet whom I must love more than I love Jesus, peace be upon them both.

Alhamduhlillah! , Alhamduhlillah! , Alhamduhlillah! Indeed…..

“Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear…” Qur’an, 2:286

Embracing the sweet journey, finally….

At this point in time, I am still far from having a stress-free life. Nothing has changed much except my mindset that Allah swt is Al Ha-kim, (All Knowing and Wise) and He knows exactly my sufferings and pain. Everything that is happening now is my qadr (divine decree), even the reason why I chose the name Sumayyah among the uncountable Muslim names. Later after my choosing of a Muslim name came to my knowledge that the first martyr of Islam is Sumayya bint Khayyat, Radi Allahu Anla (Allah’s blessings be on her). A spark of agony hit me, somehow I know then that my path to Islam will not be easy, in any case.

Precious Blue Pearl together with her office mates

Indeed it was not!  We all live to please and obey Allah SWT and not to be enslaved of the worldly life. Being new in this faith and as a human being, most of the time there is an occurrence of emotional instability. I must admit there are many cases in which I am weak, hesitant, awkward, insensitive, careless and arrogant but because we all know that Allah SWT is Ever-Forgiving, then to repent is such a blessing. We tend to be so judgmental that we failed to seek deeper understanding as to why a person behaves in such a way. I am guilty of it, as well as a victim of it. The journey ahead is a long way, but it does help when people are used by Allah in such a way that could lend hands to others.

“Verily, with every hardship there is ease. Qur’an 94:6]”.

Moving on, I came across wonderful blessings from Allah through the people I met who had assisted me in a particular way; from the time I took shahada, donning my first hijab, offering first salah, first visit to masjid, first Eid celebration, acquiring of the Qur’an and most vital, those who stand sincerely by my side during the darkest period of my life when thoughts of forgetting Islam enveloped all of me. Allahu Akbar (Allah is the greatest) for granting me the chance to increase my iman (faith), be guided more and giving me ease for the passed months, finally. The things we are much worried of laze in our minds only, it is a matter of conditioning the nafs (self) paired with spirituality in reference to Islam which is not that complex at all if we think of it. The more we grow closer to Allah, the more it is easier to align our actions in accord with His “pleasure’. My adherence to the creed and understanding tahwid (oneness of Allah) made way to establish in me a constant mindfulness, awareness and consciousness of Allah in everything. This state of being changed me from depressed and low morale Muslimah to be the striving and grateful person who’s up to face the incredible challenges of this journey, In Shaa Allah!

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