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Friday, June 09, 2006

Pieces of a Deen

I am a convert to Islam. One thing I have done since converting over 10 years ago is reflect on the little things that may have played a part in my becoming a Muslim.

When I was younger, about 9 or 10, my mom had a friend(J.) who was a sweet as could be. He had to go off to Iraq(Part 1) and I was so sad and worried about he and my father(who I didn't want to have to go and serve there). My father didn't have to go, but J. did. Man, he was so cool. He made it back in one peice. He brought me something back.

A Prayer Rug.

We didn't know what to do with it at first. My mom had placed it somewhere on display for a minute. A few months later, it ended up on my vanity. It matched nicely.

You see, I had this terrible problem of destroying my cherrywood finish with fingernail polish remover. My mom placed the prayer rug on the vanity as a solution. Problem was, now when I spilled the remover, it ended up attaching the rug to the finish.

Not the best use of the prayer rug. To this day, fibers from the prayer rug are on my vanity.

If it is any consulation, I did spend a lot of time with it. I did pray aroundit as I reflected on myself(literally). When I went to college, Mom-dukes had the urge to redesign my room. When I returned home, I was a "new shahada". I wanted to put my prayer rug to it's rightful use. Sadly, it was "M.i.A.". To this day, I don't know where my little prayer rug is.

My Uncle.

My uncle was really quiet and always smelled so good. He dressed kinda different and I thought it was cool. He had the "African" gear on, or so I assumed. Some of it was African, but in hindsight, it was really Islamic.

On my 16th birthday, my uncle took me to a restuarant run by Muslims called "Delights of the Garden". The food was straight-up ruffage! It was good though, and a nice change from my usual menu. All of the food was vegetacious! I felt healthier by the time I left.

rant: Now that place is some pub or something over on Juniper. They took that old house patio style from the Morehouse brothers! I resent it! If it's any consulation, Delights of the Garden is in Washington D.C., but I am not sure who runs it.

My Style.

In an effort to escape the glances of malintent(teen boys), I sort of made different wardrobe choices. I was still "fly", but my style was different. While on my quest to escape "the eyes", I discovered that there were many African Muslim brothers who sold beautiful African fabrics. I bought some. After struggling with the art of the headwrap, I had finally got it. I would bravely wear it to school the next day. It was well recieved. So much so that my classmates adopted the style as well. As you probably guessed, I continued to purchase yards of fabric.
note: This was BEFORE BADU aka BB.

Punks jump up to get beat down!

My friends in and out of school ended up being Muslims. Some devout and veiled, some not so much. A best friend and I have almost beaten a man down for calling my friend a "ninja" on the Marta train. Yes I was a rough one, but you DON'T go there. As much talk there is about the status of Muslim women elsewhere, they don't respect women here either, which is what made me "rough" in the first place!

No one made her veil, it was her choice. We admired that. She shouldn't have been ridiculed for that. We stopped preaching and threatening when the man apologized. If she had looked like a prostitute, what would he have said then? Punk.
note: I am not sorry.

More School More Books w/ Principals dirty Looks.

When my school had a principal change, I thought everything was cool. Then one day while donning the headwrap, my new principal asked me to take my scarf off. I looked him square in the eye and defiantly said," I am Muslim", and walked away. He looked pissed, lol. I shouldn't have lied, but I didn't think that it was his place to associate me with a gang which is what that "no hat/no bandana" rule was really for. I still have no doubt that he was trying to stifle me and my friends. Damned that.

Rough Language?

My school was a public school but because of it's Magnet program, it offered Arabic, Chinese, Latin, among the usual languages. I took French the first two years. My third year I decided to take Arabic, although I was done with the foreign language requirements. Arabic, to me, was a more "for me" language.
My Arabic teacher was a character. His accent was so thick, and we would laugh when he misused American slang. We gave him a hard time, but not really. By the time I left the class, I had learned so much.

A Different World.

Yeah so I went to college. My style was the same. Lots of room. Headwrap in place. My first experience with a Muslim on campus was not a good one. Like to see it? Here it goes:

Brother: "Excuse me, are you Muslim?"
Me: "No."
Brother: "Aight then."
Brother walks off.
Me: "How RUDE!"

Not good enough.

I never really considered becoming Muslim because I hadn't really thought that I was a "good enough" person. This "good enough" stigma has followed me everywhere and to this day, I wrestle with it. The brother who I thought was "rude" ended up being friends with another brother who would talk to me about Islam in a subtle way. I began to think about it, but I just didn't think I would be "good enough".

Shahada night.

I hadn't planned it, but it happened on my mother's birthday. While declaring shahada, I felt intense heat that I hadn't felt before or since. The heat left upon the end of the declaration. I know what that was all about.

After being Muslim for about 2 or 3 years I had discovered that I was born on the 19th day of Ramadan. I don't know if it means anything, but go figure.

Not really a shahada story, as that would take a book. Just bits and peices of things that may have prepped me during my journey to Islam.

6 comments:

  1. asalaam alaikum warahmat Allah sis,

    i'm glad u told that new principal u were muslim..even though u werent at the time :-)

    subhanAllah, me, having been muslim all my life..i did alot of things like fasting ramadan , praying etc.. because i was expected to do it by my parents. but honestly, i did it more for them..
    and didnt really fully invest in Islam until college alhamdulilah..
    so although im not a convert, i know what u mean that its those small pieces of life we reflect on that Allah has us experience that help us wake up..
    an everyday can be like that if we reflect..

    (& too my surprise i didnt realize u visit my blog..jazakAllah for putting a link of my latest post up:-)

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  2. Salaam Alaikum sis,
    I loved reading about those moments..great snapshots of a person's life.
    And we are all atruggling with the "not good enough" syndrome. I still haven't found a way to let go of it completely. Muslim guilt is a strange and wondrous thing to behold at times!

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  3. Walaikum salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu sisters,

    Suhaa: I am inspired that you could relate to my story. I guess all people have to go through such trials. Our DNA isn't that different afterall, lol!

    Irisblue: Alhamdulillah. It was my hope to shed a little light as to how I got "here". I have to agree with you on the "wondrous" aspect of the "not good enough" syndrome. I can't say that I haven't benefited greatly from it as much as I struggle with it. I've actually been saved by it several times, Allahu Alim.

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  4. jazakallah nicely written

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  5. Asalaamu alaikum.

    Thanks for posting this! It's so real. It's funny too, but in a good way. I relate.

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