She Struggled to Read the Quran

quran2My Quran Reflections Journal
Gems from Taleem ul-Quran 2015

Day 18 Reflection

(Al-Baqarah 2:121)

Last week, I met a lady at Al Huda Institute, Canada. She was struggling to read Surah Al-Fatihah just like a child begins to read: letter by letter. She fumbled, made mistakes and stammered… but didn’t give up. She kept on trying to read the Ayahs one by one till the end. Seeing her determination and sincerity, I asked her with tears in my eyes, if she was a revert. Her answer was affirmative. She asked me how I had guessed it. I told her that it was obvious, gave her a warm hug and congratulated her. She was amazed by my welcome, while I was stunned by her love for her newly adopted religion, Subhan’Allah!

She told me she could recite the Surah verbally but just couldn’t read it. Excited to have found somebody, who could understand her dilemma, she started reciting Al-Fatihah. How beautifully she recited, Masha’Allah!  She didn’t even know the translation or meaning of it; yet, there was such depth in her voice and shine in her eyes, which I cannot express in words. I was mesmerized. I didn’t even notice that tears started to flow out of our eyes at the same time. Such is the power of Allah’s (swt) Book, Masha’Allah. After finishing the recitation, she told me that she was learning to read the Quran there at Al Huda.

Ashamed, I thought to myself that so many of us take for granted the ability to read Quran. And there was an exemplary revert sister (formerly Christian), who was doing her best to learn to read the language of Allah (swt). It gave me goosebumps and reminded of the following verse:

“Those (who embraced Islam from Bani Israel) to whom We gave the Book [the Taurat (Torah)] [or those (Muhammad’s Peace be upon him companions) to whom We have given the Book (the Quran)] recite it (i.e. obey its orders and follow its teachings) as it should be recited (i.e. followed), they are the ones that believe therein. And whoso disbelieves in it (the Quran), those are they who are the losers.” (Al-Baqarah 2:121)

Back to My Deen


jankie / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

And that was the moment of dawn. I had always been negative about my family being too pressing about practicing the Deen; even the very minute details of it. Sometimes, I felt it just got too hard on me. I – being a typical teenager, studying the typical academic curriculum in a typical academy. Yes, I was no different from the typical Karachite teenager girl. My family wasn’t that typical though; they were conscious Muslims, pushing me onto the As-Sirat-e-Mustaqeem to their best, while I stayed persistent in my search for new excuses to fend away their instructions.

All praise to Allah (swt) only, the blissful day came, when I finally agreed upon getting enrolled in an Islamic institute for a formal Islamic education. At the time of admission, I was a tad bit distressed to see the staff wearing a scarf and gown, scurrying about. The very thought of picturing myself in the same attire was quite nabbing. Since I had missed out on the orientation day, the management offered me to join that day only so as to avoid missing out on the following day’s work. I hesitantly agreed and was led to the lecture hall.

The air inside was grasping. Hardly a moment after my entrance, the period was signalled over by the mesmerizing recitation of the Quran, resonating through the insulated walls. And much to my disbelief, the only sound that reverberated in the midst of the recitation breaks was that of ruffling bags and a soft thump of books being placed against the desks. Not the slightest of whisperings could be heard from the tired dozens, nor could I spot them mouthing signals to each other. All I saw was a multiple pair of hands raised to their chest level, eyes focused upon them, mouths vibrating to the playing audio. As the Dua finished, I looked around and found the most charming and polite girls in such a big number altogether; they filed out neatly for some other activity. I joined them up, my heart trembling with the uncertainty the future is impregnated with.

The next two days proved to be of some of the best days that I treasure. All around me were girls fairly my age, exhibiting lovely smiles and offering lively Salams. Although, I would feel odd amongst them intermittently, the feeling was not that much dominant, and I was often at ease. They all seemed to be a part of one family, and I – a newcomer to them. Basically, the general impression that I perceived was that they all belonged to highly religious, dedicated families, even more than mine, and were perseverant Muslims as individuals.

Days passed, and the new month began. The van fee was due by the fifth of that month. My dad dutifully cleared the charges well in time. On the morning of the fifth, as I sat with my new friends in a circle before the lessons started, the talk was casually diverted to our social problems. I was much taken-aback and awed, as I intently learned the mind-boggling scenarios they were captured in. One of them, a fresh-graduate dentist, lamented about her dad’s resentful attitude towards her Islamic affiliation. He termed her as an ‘extremist’. Another eighteen-year-old narrated with sagging shoulders but gleaming eyes: “My dad already has big problems with my scarf. I wonder the shock he’ll be in, when he sees me veiled, Insha’Allah.” A third one had a similar story, too. “My parents reckon I’m going wacko with my veil and gloves and shoed feet, compared to my previous exhibition of the latest fashion, they totally think so.”

Before it got too long, I shot an inquisitive look at the many distressed, endeavouring souls and inquired plainly: “Err, I can empathize with you. I mean, I really feel sorry for you, but surely, they are your parents and they love you and all, so it’s just a bunch of intimidating responses for the time being, right?” The dentist managed a hoarse snort-kind-of-laugh and explained: “The time being? I wonder if it would ever end before the finish of this course. Do you know we’ve been holding off the van driver for our fee payment these past five agitating days? Can you imagine the utter shame and abashment we get drenched in, as we walk out of our bungalows each morning, the driver’s judging gaze whipping us up expectantly, his tongue going haywire inside his mouth, as he resists an accountability from us, the luxury of our shipshape houses mocking at our failure to produce a skimpy amount of fee for our daily conveyance, just because our parents are adamant to have us leave this place.”

The mesmeric recitation began, and I was cut short. I thanked Allah (swt) for His countless blessings upon me, and for the timely commencement of the Tilawah, for I was lost speechless. And that precise moment, it dawned upon me that all through my life, I had been a Muslim by chance, rather, by force. With the Ameen of the Al-Fatiha echoing in my ears deafeningly, I solemnly pledged to myself to become a Muslim by choice – a choice that only the chanciest of people get to avail.

My Life – Story of a Revert Muslimah

islam__beautiful_saings_1_by_strugaartdollo-d494gfnDaiga, a convert Muslim and a mother of five, lives in Latvia, a tiny Eastern-European country. There are no other Muslims in her hometown, except her. Her unusual ‘virtual’ conversion story and her full of determination new life in Islam are truly manifestations of the most amazing ways Allah (swt) can guide people towards Islam.     

 (1) What was your experience with religion before you encountered Islam?

Being a Catholic by birth, up till thirty years of age, I truly believed in Catholicism – it was not just a formality. I attended church together with my grandmother and mother and deeply believed in the values Catholicism stood for.

(2) What was it that turned you towards Islam?

It is difficult to pinpoint the very first influences. Around thirty years of age, due to several reasons, I was going through a crisis of personal values. The deceitfulness of Catholicism had extinguished in me the faith in the values I had believed in, and I found myself in some sort of a religious vacuum. I never lost faith in God. I am talking only about the form of religion – about the fall of Catholicism as a religion in my eyes and my heart. Essentially, it was due to the gap between what was preached in church and what was happening in the real life – both in the doctrines of the church and in the lives of the people around me. I was especially deeply affected by some of my mother’s beliefs – this was, most probably, among the strongest reasons that pushed me out of Catholicism.

My first meaningful encounter with Islam (before that it was only curiosity) came through online talks with a Muslim man from Morocco. I had never before met anyone so frank, sincere and clean. It was a great surprise that in today’s world there could be someone so sincere in intentions and thoughts. This made me interested in the reasons that let people keep their thinking and attitude towards life so pure. It was Islam.

(3) Can you describe the time, when you were moving towards Islam? Which angles of Islam influenced you the most and why?

It was not an easy time for me. After years of discords in family life, which ended with a divorce, I felt confused about my feelings and emotions. I had reached the critical point of needing stability – something, which would be permanent and profound. Since my faith in church was lost and the advice of my mother went against my convictions, I needed something to believe in. In Islam I saw what I had been missing – invariable and unchangeable values, stability, peace.

(4) What was the final drop towards accepting Islam?

In a sense, it was like a revelation. At some point, I got the feeling that, yes, this is what really matters. God is One, and things happen with me only by His mercy. Only the trust onto the One gives meaning to my life. When I internally accepted that Islam is what I have been missing, I felt complete happiness. I can say that I know and can describe what happiness is.

(5) How, where and to whom you said your Shahadah?

My Shahada, just like my second marriage, which followed after it, are virtual. I said my Shahadah over the Internet through Skype to my Muslim friend in Morocco and his friend.

(6) How did you begin practicing Islam?

I began practicing Islam right after my Shahadah. I was convinced that if I am a Muslim, then I have to do everything the right way. Initially, before memorizing the text, I was reading my Salah from paper and learned the recitation through computer softwares. I stopped wearing skirts above my ankles. In about a week, I accustomed my work colleagues to the idea that I will be wearing Hijab. On the first day, I came to work with a small scarf covering just my forehead and ears. After a couple days, I put on a small Hijab, which covered my entire head and was tied behind my neck. After a few more days, I was putting on Hijab properly – so that only my face could be seen. I had to start buying my clothes in second-hand store, because only there I found long enough skirts and blouses that were loose fitting and long.

(7) What was the reaction from your family like? And what about your work-place and hometown?

At work I was accepted almost without any comments. When I came in Hijab, somebody asked, if I would be coming now like this always, and I answered – yes. I think colleagues talked about it behind my back, but nobody said anything in front of me. However, they still cannot understand why I refuse to participate in company outings.

Children accepted me. May be because they did not really have a choice. I am the only one, who takes care of them, so they try to respect me. Time to time, I do hear rebukes from my eight-year-old son. He feels hurt that his mom is not like other moms. May be at school somebody has said something or laughed about him.

With my own mom I had (and still have) painful problems. Once, when we accidentally met on the street, my mom could not control herself and began yelling at me. It was a big shock for me, because usually she does not show her emotions openly, not even talking about public places. I got the feeling that I had hurt her so deeply that she would never be able to forgive me. At the moment, our relationship is better, but only till the moment my way of dressing or religion come in question.

In my hometown, I am the only one wearing Hijab. I have heard laughing, cursing and swearing. Even on the Internet I have read remarks that in Jekabpils (Daiga’s hometown) one is going around in ‘those rags.’

(8) Have you had any pleasant surprises after becoming Muslim?

The time, when I daily searched for, found and studied the materials on Islam was truly beautiful. I did not have surprises – it was a steady feeling of happiness. Islam really is a total model of life given to people by Allah (swt). If this model would be adhered to, people would live in harmony. The actual encounter with people in Islam has somewhat deteriorated my notions about Muslims, but not about Islam.

(9) Have you experienced any hurtful incidents because of your conversion?

I do not want to talk about the negative. I have had verbal attacks, painful feeling that my relatives are suffering.

(10) Are you keeping in touch with the local Latvian Muslim Ummah?

As far as I know, in Jekabpils there are no other Muslims except me. I have been a few times in the mosque in Riga (the capital) and attended the Eid celebrations. However, due to several reasons, I cannot attend the events in the mosque on regular basis. I have not met any Muslim for quite long now. Time to time, I correspond with sisters over the Internet. I am really longing to meet other Muslims for refreshing the feeling of unity, for strengthening my Imaan.

(11) Can you tell a little about your second marriage after conversion to Islam?

I divorced my first husband prior to accepting Islam. After becoming Muslim, I realized that I want to have a family in the true sense of this word. Not only my five children, but also a husband. After reading about Islam, I really liked the Muslim family model. I longed for being a good wife and mother.

Since in my surroundings I do not have any Muslims, I put an advertisement in a Muslim matrimonial website www.qiran.com. Letters poured. Initially, I was surprised that among Muslim men there are so many, who are ready to accept me with my five children. Only later I found out that just a small percentage of them have clean intentions. For some time, I was corresponding with quite many Muslim men. The experience ranged from unpleasant to shocking. Then, through the same website, I got a letter from a man in Makkah. He already had a wife and a large family. I was offered to become the second wife. Originally, Abuhamed is from Morocco. He has studied in France and now lives in Makkah. Although he had a degree in engineering, he is committed to studies of Islam and writes books.

After a virtual meeting with Abuhamed, his wife and family, I accepted his proposal. I was given many promises – that soon I would not have to work any more, so that I can become a full-time mother and wife, that he would come to Latvia for getting to know my children and that afterwards we would be able to live in KSA or in any other country of our choice. We were planning that I would help him with online Dawah activities. I was truly delighted!

However, life has put many hurdles in the way of our new family. My husband has dedicated his life to studies of Islam and writing about Islam, while I am working for earning at least a decent living for my children. We have met two times in Istanbul, Turkey. He was refused visa for Latvia. He is continuously asking me to come to Makkah, but how is it practically possible, if I have neither a Mahram to travel with, nor money for buying my ticket? It is also not possible for me to uproot my children from their current lives and ‘throw’ them into a completely different environment than they are used to. I keep praying to Allah (swt) for uniting our family soon.

(12) What is it that keeps you steady on the Path of Allah (swt), despite the difficulties you face?

My relationship with Allah (swt) is guided by internal conviction, not by any external reasons. The difficulties, which come about due to external obstacles, cannot become a reason for doubts in the matters of faith. Faith can get affected only if a person has internal insecurities and lacks confidence in himself/herself.

Fitrah – Revert Support Programme

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The word ‘Fitrah’ refers to one’s inborn disposition towards virtue. It is the faculty of knowing Allah (swt) with which every child is created. Consider the following Hadeeth:

Abu Hurairah (rtam) reported: The Messenger (sa) said: “No one is born except they are upon natural instinct; then his parents turn him into a Jew or Christian or Magian; as animals produce their young with perfect limbs, do you see anything defective?” (Muslim)

Fitrah is a revert support programme. Functioning under the umbrella of Alwasila Trust, Fitrah’s aim is to “provide assistance and support to Muslims who are new to the Deen of Islam through educational, financial and social support.” Alhumdulillah, 12 individuals have accepted Islam through Fitrah. Families initially stay under Fitrah for three months, where they are given support in the form of food, housing, transport, education, etc. After that, they are encouraged to start their own business supported by Alwasila Trust’s “Rozgar” scheme.

As per their vision, the three-pronged approach of Fitrah works in the following areas:

Educational support: This includes the conduction of various courses as well as one-on-one counselling to introduce the beliefs and practices of Islam to the reverts.

Financial support: Zakat and Sadaqah are provided to the reverts as part of financial assistance. The idea is to relieve them from any previous loans and help create opportunities for entrepreneurship through Rozgar (another forum from Alwasila Trust that facilitates the lesser-privileged factions of the society to become economically independent).

Social support: This includes provision of emotional counselling in order to equip new Muslims to deal with the social struggles and opposition they might face.

So how does Fitrah choose the individuals to provide the aforementioned support? This is done through a systematic procedure in which newly-reverted individuals and families are adopted through Fitrah after a verification team reviews their background and authenticity. Currently, there are 16 individuals and 3 families under Fitrah’s care. Assistance is provided on various levels in order to ensure that a complete and well-rounded understanding of Deen is imparted to them.

Newly reverted men are enrolled in a weekly course that introduces them to the basic concepts and principles of Islam as well as fundamentals of the Quran and the Sunnah. Women are also sponsored for a Quran course. The duration of both courses is a year and a half.

Most families disown the members who revert to Islam. Hence, they are in need of housing. Initially the family is sponsored through a Zakat fund, which covers housing as well as the children’s education, if needed. A start-up loan for micro-financing is arranged through a Sadaqah Fund.

Counselling is offered to deal with emotional and social struggles met with during this period of change.

Brothers and sisters can support this effort by donations (as approximately PKR100,000- 150,000 is required to support one family through Fitrah).

Contact details

Website: www.fitrah.net

Email: info@fitrah.net

Dear Haadia

Question: I am a recent revert to Islam and want to learn and practice more and more every day. My family, unfortunately, does not approve of my inclination towards Deen. As a result, we are having constant friction at home. What should I do?

Answer: First, Barak Allah (swt) on your being a Muslim. Alhumdulillah. My dear sister, do remember the path to Jannah passes through many trials. This is the Law of Allah (swt) to strengthen and purify a Muslim’s Iman. As Allah (swt) says: “And certainly, We shall surely test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives, and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (patient).” (Al-Baqarah 2:155)

Also, never despair, as Allah (swt) promises us: “Verily, along with every hardship is relief, verily along with every hardship is relief.” (Ash-Sharh 94:5-6)

Now, what should we do when faced with such opposition, especially from our dear ones?

First of all, remember that God knows every iota of our intentions. So, we must begin with utterly pure intentions.

You must let go of all the things that you try to control in your life and recognize that God is in control. This is part of your fate.

Constantly analyze your behaviour. Allah (swt) states: “Invite (mankind, O Muhammad (sa) sa) to the Way of your Lord (i.e. Islam) with wisdom and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better. Truly, your Lord knows best who has gone astray from His Path, and He is the Best Aware of those who are guided.” (An-Nahl 16:125)

Stay firm upon Islam and your belief in Allah (swt), but continue to treat your family with respect and honour, in spite of their opposing beliefs. It is not permissible for you to obey your family, if they request you to act in disobedience to Allah (swt), because we are not to obey any of the creation, if it involves disobedience to Allah (swt) – our Creator. Allah (swt) has the greatest right over the human being, and Allah’s (swt) right to be worshipped and obeyed deserves to be fulfilled first and foremost. You should strive to please your family by showing them kindness and respect. Practically speaking, one may increase smiling and giving gifts, checking the tone of voice.

In the Quran, Allah (swt) has told us: “And We have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years give thanks to Me and to your parents. Unto Me is the final destination. But if they (both) strive with you to make you join in worship with Me others that of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not, but behave with them in the world kindly, and follow the path of him who turns to Me in repentance and in obedience. Then to Me will be your return, and I shall tell you what you used to do.” (Luqman 31:14-15)

So continue to be gentle with your family and return their harsh words with kindness and love. It will become increasingly difficult for your family to argue with you or treat you in a bad manner. With time and patience, your family will see, how Islam has made you a better person, and by the will of God, this will soften their hearts towards you and Islam.

Seek a support system by associating and bonding with practicing Muslims. This is extremely important for strengthening your Iman. “The believers, men and women, are Auliya (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another…” (At-Taubah 9:71)

Do consistently make Dua for your family to be guided to Islam. Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “And your Lord said: ‘Invoke Me and ask Me for anything. I will respond to your invocation.’” (Ghafir 40:60) Further, we need to realize the importance of Tahajjud prayer too, when Allah (swt) descends on the lowest heaven waiting for His slaves to ask Him for relief and assistance.

May Allah (swt) guide us all and our families to the straight path. Ameen.