Have you ever wondered your purpose in life? What you’ve been put on this Earth to do? Why you’ve been created; just for fun, eat, sleep and then die?
When I was young I had a feeling that something Higher was watching me, that I would be held accountable for everything I did. I just didn’t know how to acknowledge Him or worship Him. And that’s how I found Islam.
I remember my friend asked me if I believed in heaven and hell. My response was ‘hell is on Earth and heaven is when you die’. I was adamant on this fact. My Mom was raised as a shia Muslim, but she never really practiced it.
Unfortunately, I born into an abusive home. My father was Muslim, but wasn’t practising. My earliest memories from childhood, is my father trying to kill my mom and the memory still haunts me to this day.
We subsequently ran away when I was four years old and went from refuge to homeless shelters for over a year. Mom was finally given a house but we had nothing to make it a home. All six of us, slept on a mattress whilst my mom stayed awake making sure we were comfortable (May Allah be pleased with her aameen).
We were quite poor for a while, until we received financial assistance from the government. Unfortunately, because Mom ran away, her family also disowned her. Being divorced in Persian culture is seen as a huge shame. So not only did I enter this world without knowing the love of a dad; I also didn’t enjoy the love of an extended family.
I went to a predominately south-asian school, and was severely bullied until the end of high school. This was the main reason why I didn’t really believe in God. I mean, how could God let cruel people beat me and bully me on a daily basis? Where was the justice? And I still don’t know why I was bullied. The only thing I can think of, is being raised in a broken home. I was asked a lot where my father was and my reply was always the same ‘I don’t know but let me know when you find him’.
As I was always trying to find myself in life, I appropriated different cultures. Sometimes I would hang with the black kids, then other days the white kids. And the asian kids occasionally. People ask me why I don’t know anything about my culture. Well, my mother was to busy trying to survive as a single mother with six kids. She didn’t know what her own culture was, as she was raised to just cook and clean.
Christianity to Jehovah
Mom was always searching for her purpose in life. As kids we used to go to church with our christian neighbor. She was really lovely and always made sure we were well looked after. I remember going to Sunday service and not really understanding what’s going on.
We read the Bible and the only thing that didn’t make sense to me, was Jesus being God and the Trinity concept. Time passed and then we turned to Jehovah Witness. This was when I was around 12-13 years old. I remember going to their services with a notepad, writing things about the apocalypse.
As Mom was searching for validation, she would ask questions at the service and one of them was about accountability. Jehovah witnesses don’t believe in a soul and to this my mother disagreed. So we stopped going and remained plato for a while.
After leaving school I started modelling. I went through a rebellious stage where I stayed out most nights and partyed. Most of my friends at this time were Muslim, but I didn’t really know what Islam was. I knew Muslims prayed and I sometimes prayed. Praying was like deep meditation for me. But in my heart I still did not believe. I followed the crowd as I wanted to fit in. Growing up without a father, aunties, uncles and grandparents made me drift between different cultures, in the hope of just fitting in. But I didn’t. I actually used to believe that Islam was run by male chauvinists, who believed women are created to just cook, clean and have babies.
I wore the hijab once and Mom completely disapproved of it because she believed it was dictated by men. She actually didn’t like Islam at this point. I think she was dwelling into Hinduism because she would mention there were many Gods. So I just carried on modelling, partying and being a rebellious teenager.
God wasn’t a part of my life at this point, but it was always at the back of mind. Modelling was just a hobby for me; I actually despised it. Being on show for the validation of men (all my go-sees were men telling me how to look), made me sick to my core. But I wanted to be accepted and I felt this was the only way how.
Around the age of 20 I got involved in the wrong crowd, thus compromising my studies at Uni (I was studying law). The only way for me to move forward in my life, was to move out of mom’s home and to another city. It was hard at first; I missed my family and the comfort of my mother’s love. Soon enough I was going back to my old ways and that’s when it happened.
The turning point
When I left home I met some Muslim sisters who are still dear friends to this day. As I was trying so hard to just be accepted; when asked if I was a Muslim my answer was yes. Even though I wasn’t.
I attended a few of the ISOC meetings and really enjoyed the sense of belonging, love and warmth that I received from these sisters. And that’s also how I met my husband. In fact, he was also studying Law and we just so happened to be in the same lectures as each other. But he was extremely shy and never approached me.
As I was a lazy student (I seriously don’t know why I studied Law), I would miss most of my lectures and seminars. So, I embarked on a mission to find someone’s notes that I could copy and it ended up being my husband. As we were discussing the lecture outside he abruptly said he had to leave to go pray. At this point I didn’t know that he was a Muslim.
My reaction was to ask ‘oh to Jesus’, and he said ‘no to Allah’. Honestly, my world stopped when I heard these words. First of all, I had never met a Black Muslim and secondly just hearing him say Allah, made my heart stop. I was wearing a short dress and just remember having an overwhelming feeling to cover up.
As I had many Muslim friends I began quizzing him on the 5 pillars of Islam etc and he answered them all correctly. Let me tell you, I was in complete awe like I had discovered something completely new.
I didn’t see my husband for a week or so after this encounter, but the profound effect had me searching for answers. When I finally bumped into my husband again, the first thing I asked was ‘why do women wear hijab’? He said that he would have the answer, by the end of the day.
So I waited and he presented me with an A4 piece of paper titled ‘The Pearl” (I still have it this day, bless him!). He’d gone out of his way to type up all the reasons why women wear hijab and asked me to read a chapter from the Quran called Al-Ahzab. I immediately went home and looked up this chapter and stumbled across this verse;
O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allaah is Ever Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surah Al Ahzab:59)
As I looked further into this verse I found the following hadith;
May Allaah have mercy on the Muhaajir women. When Allaah revealed the words “and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)”, they tore the thickest of their aprons (a kind of garment) and covered their faces with them. (Sahih Al Bukhari)
SubhanAllah, it sent shivers down my spine. These women, were acting on their own accord. No husband, father, brother, uncle or grandparent forced them to cover their faces. They did it out of fear of their Lord.
At this point my world just felt completely different. I felt complete, like I had found the missing piece to the puzzle. All my life I had been searching, my soul was yearning for peace and I finally found it. I broke down and cried, asking Allah to forgive me and to accept me amongst his believers. Then I recited the shahadah, with no hesitation. Whilst saying it, I felt a HUGE weight lift off of me, like I was a brand new person. I stayed up all night crying, praying, thanking Allah for guiding me. I too wanted to be like the Muhaajir women, so I made a scarf into a niqab and wore it to Uni the next day.
And Lord did the crowd go wild! Literally. Walking into that lecture hall was probably the most exhilarating experience of my life. Everyone was figuring out who I was and when they realized; some greeted me whilst others shunned me away. But I was so content I couldn’t have cared less.
And oh yes, I married my husband 3 months later alhamdulilah.