Grace is raised in a Catholic family in the US and found the light of hidayah when she was an undergraduate. After graduation, she got married and moved to the UK. She now has a beautiful daughter named Maryam. We asked her a few questions about her new life, her faith and what our approach to reverts should be. Here are Grace’s enlightening responses to our questions:
How has your life changed since graduation?
Grace: Since graduating, I became a wife and mother. My daily dynamic has changed from primarily being only concerned with myself to constantly taking care of my family. I ensure that the needs of my husband and baby are completely taken care of before I think about myself. This has been very good for my iman because it teaches me patience and humility. Also, having much less time to myself forces me to make the most of every moment and not waste it.
How is the life in the U.K.? If you were to compare the UK to the US, which one is easier to live for a Muslim?
Grace: Alhamdulillah, the UK, London especially, is a very good place to be a Muslim. A stronger emphasis on multiculturalism prevents the English from feeling threatened by perceived outsiders as in America. I’ve consistently been able to interact with non-Muslims without any awkwardness and I don’t worry about any hostility directed towards me on the street. Also, there is such a huge Muslim community here! It feels very inclusive; like we are truly part of a larger whole rather than a small group on the fringe.
Since you became a mother, has your perspective in life changed?
Grace: Having a baby meant that I suddenly took on responsibility of another person’s life! I am constantly aware that Maryam is an amaana from Allah and I am responsible for laying the foundations of her deen. I’ve realized that I have to model the characteristics that I want her to have. She has to see salah and the Quran as basic elements of my life if they are to be the same in hers. I also like to think of the rewards that I’ll get, inshAllah, for fulfilling my duty in taking good care of her and raising her up to be a pious muslimah.
Are your parents more accepting of you since it has been a few years after your conversion to Islam? Your relationship with your mom, your sister, your grandmother, your dad?
Grace: No member of my family has become more accepting of Islam. I have a good relationship with my mom and sister. My mother’s side of the family has gradually started talking to me again after my daughter was born, but my father and his side of the family have remained silent.
You are a strong Muslim woman. Would you like to give some advice to woman whose faith is being tested, who are going through hardships in their lives?
Grace: The most important thing to remember during times of hardship is to keep up the salah. It’s so easy to feel discouraged and to feel distant to our prayer or that it doesn’t help our situation. This is exactly what shaytan wants us to think. The salah is our time to stand in front of Allah SWT and how can we expect Him to relieve our difficulties when we are distracted when we are with Him or when we don’t even show up to our meeting with Him. The next thing to remember is to realize that these tests come because of something we are or are not doing. If we are committing sins, we must strive to cut them out of our lives before we can expect our situation to improve. We must increase our daily levels of remembrance and reflection because in remembrance of Allah our hearts find rest and Allah is with those who remember Him. This is definitely a very difficult thing to remember when we feel oppressed with darkness and trials. However we have to remember that these tests are sent by Allah to bring us closer to Him, that relief will always follow difficulty, and that Allah SWT is with those who are patient.
It is sometimes challenging for muslim women who were born and raised muslims to understand what their new sisters are going through. What advice would you give to these women in their relationship to sisters who are new comers to the deen?
Grace: Probably the most useful thing for Muslims to remember about reverts is that we have no Islamic background to fall back on. If a revert begins to slip, there is no reminders from family members, no Quran on the shelf, no childhood memories to fall back on. Reverts truly are islands of iman surrounded by an ovean of kuffir and it is so easy to slip back and drown in those waters. A newcomer to Islam can fall back to disbelief from something as big as a sustained attack from her family or something as small as an unkind look from someone at the masjid. There is no Islamic anchor in a fresh Muslim’s life and so there is nothing she can rely on to bring her back when she starts to drift, unlike someone raised in Islam who stopped practising her faith. The best way to help with this is to approach these new sisters with love and patience and most importantly with support. There isn’t anything in a revert’s life prior to Islam to support her in her deen, we have to make sure that she gets that support from her Muslim friends.
Interviewed by Melek Hilal YAZICI