By Huda Hasan, Canada
It was a beautiful day in September. The library was getting less crowded, as it was getting darker outside. She was sitting in a corner, reading the same book since noon. It seemed as if she had an exam the next day. Aleka had been interested in this book for a long time. The last semester had been so busy that she barely got time to relax. Now that it was over, she was mostly found in the library, reading a book given to her by her Muslim friend, Fatimah. The book was entitled, ‘Islam at a Glance’. Fatimah was very passionate about Islam, and kept talking about it whenever they were together. It was Fatimah’s character and dedication to her religion that forced Aleka to look into Islam closely. Now that she was reading about it, she felt the thirst to look for more. She borrowed some English translations of the Quran and its commentary from the library. She had heard a scholar speak about Islam in an audio lecture that Fatimah was listening to and was, as a consequence, intrigued to find out what was so special about this religion.
It took almost a year for Aleka to finally finish the translation and commentary of the Quran. That September, she and Fatimah graduated with an MBA degree from California State University. It was time for Fatimah to return to her home country, but she wanted to accomplish one more thing: to see Aleka become a Muslim with her own eyes. And she did.
It was the most joyous occasion in her life. Aleka became Aasiya only a month after their graduation. She felt immensely relieved, and spiritually alive. Islam gave her peace and freedom. She started wearing the Hijab within a month of her conversion. She began attending lectures at the nearby Masjid, and started learning to perform Salah. Fatimah had already helped her start reading the Quranic text. Everyone at the Masjid had been very kind and helpful to her. It was an amazing experience for Aasiya. She would thank Allah (swt) for blessing her with guidance again and again. Now, it was time to tell her family.
Aasiya’s parents were outraged to hear that their daughter had preferred Islam over their own religion. They simply refused to listen to her story and banished her from the house. According to them, she had brought curse to their family. Aasiya calmly accepted their reaction and moved on to find an accommodation near the Masjid. She was grieved and shocked by her parents’ reaction, but wanted to stay in touch. After a few days, she decided to call her brother and tell him about her Islam. Her brother came to visit her, and helped her move to the new location. He was fine with the way she behaved or dressed, as long as she was safe. She thought of all those people Fatimah talked about. Some people got beaten up by their fathers after they announced their Islam. She felt grateful to Allah (swt) that she was not alone. She realized that this was a test of her faith and that she had to remain firm. However, the biggest test was yet to come.
Aasiya was proposed by an Indian Muslim for marriage. He had heard about this new Muslim sister in the Masjid and wanted her to complete his religion. Amazed by this anonymous proposal, Aasiya agreed to meet him. The mosque council arranged their meeting and advised them about Islamic marriage. After a couple of months, Aasiya was happily married to Ibrahim. Ibrahim had a huge business to manage, and knew that Aasiya would be the best person for the job. He hired his wife as an assistant, and she started working from home. They were soon overjoyed by the arrival of their first child; a beautiful little girl that they named Aaliya.
Aaliya was almost two years old when Ibrahim started having some problems with his business. He had to go back to India and make sure everything was under control. However, he hadn’t paid a visit back home for the past six years and was afraid that his parents might be angry with him for that reason. He wanted to make up for his mistakes and get them to meet his new family. Aasiya agreed to visit along with him, as she was curious and excited to meet his family. Although she did not know what was waiting for them in India.
No one came to pick them up from the airport. They took a taxi and drove more than two hours to get to Ibrahim’s parents’ house. It was huge. There were only two old people sitting on a bench right in front of the gate, looking directly at the new arrivals. She felt scared and uncomfortable. The air was not welcoming and Aasiya sensed tension between them, as the father and son hugged each other. They were directed to a nearly empty room where they put their luggage. That night, both Aasiya and her husband realised that coming to India was a big mistake.
Ibrahim’s parents were Muslims and they owned a big business. They did not accept their new daughter-in-law and their granddaughter with an open heart. They accused Aasiya of leading their son to the wrong path and forcefully marrying him. They also told her, being a new Muslim, she did not know anything about Islam, and so she was obliged to follow their ‘family’ religion. They also took Aasiya’s passport and all of their travel documentation, so that they would not return to the United States, unless allowed to do so. Aasiya was supposed to cook, clean and manage the entire house and if she did not, she was harshly scolded and sometimes beaten up by her mother-in-law. She was not allowed to talk or even read the Quran loudly. Despite all the hardships, she remembered to pray Salah and recite the Quran. She searched online for someone who could teach her how to recite the Quran properly, and that is when I was introduced to this amazing woman. I started teaching her the Quran and Duas online. She was so punctual for her lessons and such a great student, Masha’Allah. I never felt any bitterness or pain in her tone. She used to read and practice her lesson secretly at home, just so she could read it to me without any mistakes.
Today, as I sit here with my laptop, I am thinking about her, her life and her attitude towards it. Aasiya is still in India serving her family with a very firm faith that Allah (swt) will never leave her alone, and He will reward her for all the pain that she went through. Her daughter is 4 years old now, Masha’Allah. Aasiya is determined to get her out of that environment and bring her up in a peaceful, Muslim home. Whenever I talk to Aasiya, I hear firmness, sweetness and faith in her voice, and she inspires me to bear every hardship with patience and perseverance. I make Dua that Allah (swt) protects her and guides her family to the truth. May Allah (swt) make it easy for her and reward her immensely for her patience. Ameen.
(Inspired by a true story)