Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A while back I had intended to write my story of how I came to Islam and never did so I decided tonight is the night. Here goes....As most of you know I am Egyptian. I was born in Egypt to two Egyptian parents. Both my parents are doctors, but my dad joined the American Air Force as a Forensic Pathologist when I was very young and that's how we ended up in the states. My parents immigrated to the US and I was basically raised between the U.S. and Germany (military dad got stationed there). I did live in Egypt though from age 5-9 when my parents divorced ( best years of my life). Anyways back to the subject.....My parents were not religious. My mom used to talk to me about the hellfire and Allah, but as a teen I wasn't very interested and just did what I wanted to do anyways. I was a baaaaaaaaaad girl. AstagfirAllah I drove my mother crazy....my father too, but I was living with my mom for the most part so it was really hard on her. By the way, my parents married and divorced one another twice. Once when I was 5 (that's why we moved back to Egypt) and the second time when I was 12. My younger brother and I lived with my mom, but we got to see our dad often. He was living in the same city until he got stationed in Germany. I know my mom didn't want me to commit sin because it was haram, but my dad was a different story he didn't want me to do what I was doing for his own reasons which had little to do with religion. I was raised in a good family.....please don't get me wrong, but we weren't a religious one.

Anyways my dad moved to Germany with his non-Muslim fiance who was only 10 years older than me, married her there and I soon followed. After driving my mom nutts and running away numerous times, she sent for my dad and he came and took me with him to Germany. This was one of the hardest decisions my mother ever made. I guess she felt that this was the time he needed to be there and try to control me. Well that didn't work. My step-mom and I just didn't get along so to keep the peace my dad got me my own apartment downstairs from some Coptic Egyptian friends of his. They were actually his landlords too. Anyways I was very close to them and loved living by myself downstairs. What 16 year old rebel wouldn't????? Anyways BIG MISTAKE on my dad's part. As if things couldn't get any worse.....they did. I made BIG MISTAKES. May Allah forgive me.

This went on for a couple of years and I drove my dad nutts. He says most of his grey hairs are from me. He now has a full head of grey, but my step mom contributed a lot to that as well. So I just lived......Went to high school and did what teens do.....screwed up!!!! I met my military ex-husband my last year of high school. I was 17 and he was 20. He was security police and very very handsome masha Allah. I was immidiately infatuated and thought it was love. He asked me to marry him 2 weeks later and to make a long story short......after I graduated my mom saw that I wasn't leaving him and so she had to act fast. She told him that if he wanted to marry he would have to convert......Are you willing? He said yeah and he believed in Islam, but he wasn't practicing and neither was I so it was just words to us to get us what we wanted; married.

So we got married and even before then he was not very good to me. I think I stayed with him because I didn't want to go back to my parents. I guess I figured this was a way to be free. WRONG!!!! Anyways we had two beautiful baby girls together and were married for 5 years. I forgot to mention that when I married my ex my mom was becoming more religious and at that point had been wearing the hijab for a while. Way to go MOM. If it wasn't for her du3a then I wouldn't be where I am today. I started praying when I was pregnant with my first daughter, but it was not on time and I still made biiiiig mistakes. Sometimes I would pray all five prayers all at once at night. Who knows if it is even accepted, but alhamdulillah it was the start to my hidaya. I got better as time went on.

After sept. 11 is when my life took a spin I didn't expect. That day I remember I left my ex at home with the girls and I left the air force base where we lived to go get my eye brows waxed (a3uthoo billah) and on my way back to the base I noticed something very wrong. What should have been a 10 minute trip back to the base ended up taking me an hour. Traffic was horrible and all I could see were military hummers and tanks going off the base. Then I realized that he was at home with the girls and I was positive they had called him in to work, but he couldn't leave till I got there. While I waited in traffic....I listened to what was happening on the radio and was horrified. Finally I made it home and he zoomed out the door to work. I can't even remember when he made it back home. I was in utter shock that day and I couldn't keep my eyes off the TV screen. That was the day my life was changed. That day Islam was in the limelight and it made me think. I knew Muslims....True Muslims couldn't have done such horrible things. This is not the Islam that I know. Well I really didn't know Islam, but I knew this wasn't it. So what was it? Why did they do this? Why? Why? Why? At this time I guess I had a need to connect with Muslims. I needed to say hey this isn't Islam right??? Why? I don't know, but I did. I tried going to the masjid, but I didn't find what I was looking for there.

Then one day while I was shopping off base with a friend at a store similar to IKEA.....I saw them. Two women I never met, two women who if I ever run into again I would never know it was them, two women who didn't even look at me, two women wearing hijab. I was dressed soooo unislamically. I wanted to say as salamu alikum to them, but I was too shy. What would they think of me? They would never think I was Muslim. Look at how I look. I felt really ashamed and sad. I really wanted to talk to them......to connect, but it didn't happen. They probably didn't even speak english. They looked turkish to me so they probably only knew how to speak turkish and German. I didn't lose hope though.

That night I made du3a in my own way and asked Allah to bless me with a Muslim friend. Subhan Allah!!!!!! A week passed and I was shopping at the base exchange store down the street from our housing when I saw a woman in the kids clothing wearing a HIJAB!!!!!! YA ALLAH!!!! YAAAAY! I was thrilled, but still I wasn't sure if she spoke english. Then I quickly realized that she must speak english... she is on an American Air base. So I took a chance. On this day it was cold out so I was dressed more appropriatly so I said, "As salamu alikum" she smiled and replied "wa alikum as salam." That was the start of my finding Islam.

Now look at the list of things she and I had in common.......She had two daughters, and so did I. She married an american and so did I. He converted to marry her as did my ex. She wasn't always relgious just like me. My husband was shipped out for 6 months after sept.11 and so was her husband (at the same time....we met while they were away). Get this she lived in the building behind my building and I never even knew she was there. Even her phone number and building number were very close to my own. The strangest part of all is.... we were born August 15 but on different years. She is a couple of years older.

She and I talked and talked and talked. We had so much in common. She invited me over later that day. We spent a lot of time together and she discovered that I really wanted to wear the hijab through our talks, but that I was too afraid to take the step. She never pushed, but she encouraged me. My mother encouraged me too. She told her to tell me that if I wear the hijab, she will buy me new clothes......lol. Tempting mom, but I couldn't do it for that reason. I struggled......to wear or not to wear!!!!

This friend taught me a lot. I didn't know music was haram before I met her, or pictures, etc. I didn't know who the Companions (rah) were or what nasheeds were. I didn't know we couldn't have statues. She flipped my world!!!! I felt overwhelmed and didn't know where to start, but I knew that I didn't want to die not having worn the hijab. I asked my ex if it was ok for me to start while he was away and he gave me the green light and there you have it.

I did it. It was nerve wrecking, but my mom told me something that helped make it easy.....she said that if you do something to please Allah then Allah will make the people pleased by you, but if you do something to please the people then Allah will turn the people against you. So there you have it. That was the start of it all.

When my ex came back he didn't like the changes and I was taking in so much so fast that I didn't like how we lived anymore. We didn't have anything in common. By this time we had moved to Alaska and I was (I think) the only Muslim in my area so I had no support. There was nothing there and I was a showcase. People were not mean, but I was still on display because it was rare to see someone with hijab on an air base in alaska of all places. Anyways the wedge between my ex and I grew bigger. I wanted Quran and he wanted MTV. We were going down two different paths so I made istikhara and Subhan Allah......Here I am!!!! And alhamdulillah Allah put me where I am because his life is an utter mess. My life may seem like a mess, but I know it could be worse and that I have much to be greatful for. Alhamdulillah 3alla ni3mit al ISLAM!!! Alhamdulillah for the blessing of ISLAM!!!!

7 comments:

Safa said...

Masha Allah....as interesting as it is to hear how someone finds islam....it's even more wonderful to hear how someone finds their way back....May Allah always make that path clear in front of you....Ameen...

Honorary Arab said...

Asalamalaykom Sister Vena,

Mashahallah! I am so pleased that you opened yourself and your history to us. JAK. No doubt, you have helped some person come closer to Islam by being truthful.

There are no saints in Islam, just real people, and ellhumdullah, your life is a perfect example of an imperfect life wanting to be better. :)

May Allah continue to be the guiding force in your life.

Queenie said...

salaams

such are the blessing and mercy of Allah. Allahu Akbar.

while reading your story i thought of something.

do u guys think its easier for a woman whose been married beofre and has kids and is now divorced to accept polygamy into her life

why i ask this is becos if i look back at my own life and i think of my attitude when i was still single, i think it would have been much harder on me to settle for being married to a man that already has a wife and or kids. i wonder if that makes me a hypocrite

also if the tables were turned and i was a first wife, i wonder how readily would i have accpeted my hubby taking a second wife. once again does this make me a hypocrite

ive reached a stage in my life where i dont seem to know who i am anymore or what im about

if i really am pro polygamy, how accpeting would i be , if my hubbyb were to marry a third wife? someone please help me make sense of what im saying.

sorry to ask all this on ur blog. maybe ill pose the same questions on my own blog

vena said...

Salam sis.....These are wonderful questions. I will try to answer from my own perspective insha Allah.

"do u guys think its easier for a woman whose been married before and has kids and is now divorced to accept polygamy into her life?"

Yes I think it is easier when the woman is divorced and has kids to accept polygyny in her life for several reasons. Let's face it....not too many single guys out there are willing to marry a woman with children. That's not a bad thing, but maybe he wants to experience all these firsts with a single woman and if he married a divorced woman then she has already experienced life and family before him. That's not to say that there aren't any single men willing to marry a single mother (I had a few offers), but it's rare. I think it's easier for a woman to be with either a divorced man with kids or a married man because she knows he has experience with family life. He MAY BE more patient and mature and responsible than a man who has never been married before. Key word: MAY BE!!! Again this is the exception, not the rule. I think sometimes it is in a different way less of a risk to marry a married man than a divorced man because divorce means problems and the problem might have been him.

You said: "I think of my attitude when i was still single, I think it would have been much harder on me to settle for being married to a man that already has a wife and or kids. I wonder if that makes me a hypocrite."

No that doesn't make you a hypocrite. You have the right to have prefrence to the man you want to spend the rest of your life with. No woman wants to share her husband and if she thinks she does then she is probably lying to herself. And if she's not lying to herself then she is a rare case. I know that I wouldn't not want to marry a married man if I was single unless he was a "must have." Even then I would have my doubts. He would have experienced life already without me and I don't think I would want that. Besides there are plenty of single men looking for single women. So why have a part-time husband when you can have him full-time?

You also said: "also if the tables were turned and I was a first wife, I wonder how readily would I have accpeted my hubby taking a second wife. once again does this make me a hypocrite?"

Again no this does not make you a hypocrite. The first wife usually goes into polygyny blindly or not knowing what to expect. She has to totally adjust her life from what she knew to what is now new and unfamiliar. Usually the second wife has a little bit of a heads up as to what she's getting into so it is slightly easier to handle. I think it is normal when you are a second wife not to want a third to come along because at that point you're put in the position of the first wife where someone is stepping into your territory even if it was a shared one. Let's not forget that the best of the best (The Mothers of the believers) had these same thoughts and feelings so this is nothing strange just a fact of life.

You know after my husband married Lisa I used to say that I wouldn't mind him getting a third wife....Why? Cuz it would make Lisa feel what I felt. Yes she and I get along, but I can fantasize can't I? I also thought about finding him a third at one point so she would leave him because she said she would probably leave him if he married another because it would be less time then we already have. Lately she has changed her tune a bit and I am not gonna wish for something that may actually cause more headache. At least with Lisa I am safe insha Allah....Who knows what kinda witch could end up with him and make my life a living hell? I will just say alhamdulillah for what I have.....no additions needed!

Queenie said...

thanks for taking time to answer my questions. u have a good heart, may Allah reward u for that

Musleema said...

Alhamdulilah, that's awesome. Inshallah, your story will be a inspiration to others. I think after reading your journey to reaffirm your Islam, a lot of your other blogs make more sense, at least to men it does. Past life experiences are important factors in shaping our outlook on things in the future. May Allah bless your family and you.

Muslim Flower said...

Salam alaikum sister this was much of a suprise that you were not brought up in an "Islamic" family. It's true we should never assume things. Allah bless you. Salam alaikum