7:15 AM

Life Story: Finding the Apple Grove

Wrote: American Muslima Writer |

I finally figured out that I'm a Red juicy Apple in a pile of Oranges. I figured this out one boring night at home, in front of my PC, on August 4th, 2001, when I was 17. I was sick of the chatroom where everything is so false and meaningless. I was sick of my neopets game where you play games to trade for coins to buy things for your pet online. I was so sick of everything and wanted something new and exciting to look up. Suddenly subhanAllah I was flooded with memories of many things that all added up to one thing. **My 10th grade teacher writing the five pillars on the chalkboard because today we would learn about Islam and I doodle the actual pillars into my notebook where for once I listened to her lecture instead of ignoring her daily lesson of the religion of the world.** **How much I was moved by the movie the 13th Warrior.** **My favorite history to learn in school was the Ancient Egyptians.** **The beauty of the movies the Mummy and the scene where she wears local dress of niqab** **My possible future of going to the U of A and studying sociology in Saudi Arabia** **My 10th grade teacher speaking of the charity and helping the needy that Islam follows and there is no one between you and God.** **My accepting that there is a God just a month earlier after being hard core Atheist for 4 years.** And soo much more.

It all pointed towards looking up ISLAM. So I typed it into a search engine and it came up with a few websites (this was 2001 people before the rush of net knowledge about Islam post Sept. 11th) and browsed them and was intrigued with my findings. Lots of praying, lots of charitable acts, "some guy named Muhammad who led them all and revealed their holy book", fasting for a month, once in a lifetime to hajj in Mecca. I felt I belonged with this. I googled Muhammad and found a horrid website calling our Prophet the worst of names and i don't know why I just blindly believed the website but at the time I did but I still loved the principles of Islam. (I didn't know it is Kuffur to believe these things about Prophet Muhammad[saw]). So I read that you have to say "Shahada at a masjid witnessed by two people" I read the shahada to myself to try it out on my tongue and it felt nice. Eager and excited that this is where I'd find my true place finally I rushed to the living room where my father sat reading a book in peace. (Sorry Daddy by the way for shocking you that night.) Normally if he wants to respond to anything I say while he's reading he just looks up from the page and answers then goes back to the book. "Hey Dad, can I have the keys? I need to drive to the mosque at dawn tomorrow and become a Muslim." He looked up slowly absorbing he words I just uttered. He carefully and calmly set down his book on the arm of the chair and folded him hands. "Have you thought about this? Have you learned about this?"

he asked. "Oh yeah I've learned about it in school and just now I was researching (for a whole 15 minutes) it online. I like it and I belong with them and I'm going to be Muslim so I have to have the keys please." I assured him breezily wondering why he wasn't hauling out the keys yet. "This is a big step and it's your life and all but maybe you need to go think about things again before you rush into something you might regret later." He advised and I frowned knowing i didn't need to re think about it. Didn't he understand I just had an Epiphany! But my father knew me way too well that when something is on my mind I just do it.. following my heart at the drop of a hat. So I agreed to think it over for a while. I went back to the PC and knew there was nothing to think over so I googled the location of the masjid and got the address and phone number. I got my father's map and tried to locate the masjid on the map. It was very hard. Then I sat and read a few more sites about Islam and thy said the same five pillars as the first. Finally about an hour had passed and I figured my father would think that was enough time for thinking so I went back. "Yup, I still want to be Muslim!" I said. He sighed and reached into his pockets. "It's your life and you can do what you like but just be careful and know if anything bad happens we will be here for you." He said. I grinned and took the keys and thanked him and then went to my room to check the map again. I set my alarm for dawn. And went to bed.

August 5th, 2001 I woke early to my alarm and woke up excited and happy. I got dressed in a long black skirt and a long sleeve black shirt with a modest neckline since i read they dress modestly. ( I do love black before i was muslim) Then I took my map and keys and climbed ungracefully into my Dad's Chevy truck. I saw the dawn sky brightening and the birds all chirping gaily and there was a crisp feeling in the air. The world knew my excitement. I had see this "odd" building many times in Tucson. It's completely white with a dome on top and I always told my parents I wanted a house like that they said it's a place where some people pray and I thought that was a beautiful place to pray (another clue I was always attracted to Islam). So I went there and it was located on 1st Street or 1st Place on of the two. SO I step out and look around the gated area. There was no one there much less anyone praying. I check the sky and the sun is just rising. I look again at the street sign and my written address. Oopsy the masjid address says 1st street (or place I've now confused the two over the years). I checked my map again and got lost trying to find the real masjid/mosque. Finally I spotted it near the campus of the University of Arizona. So I pull up in front of the masjid and hop out of the truck and lock the doors. I look at it and it is soo beautiful with a shiny copper colored dome. I pass a few men who look at me oddly and I give a tentative smile but keep going up the few stairs. I enter and am totally confused. There are racks lining the room and a large sign saying Please take off your shoes. I guess that is for the carpet area. It's a lovely plain blue carpet stretching without break all the way to the other side of a large empty room. Where are the seats? I wondered. There were about five random men praying by themselves in various positions which i had never seen before. Also there was a group of about 7 men sitting in a circle reciting something. I didn't want to intrude upon their religious things but I DID want to join them somehow. So I carefully kept my shod feet off the carpet and leaned in and looked around the doorway to the seated men.

"Uh, excuse me, how--" I began and was cut off by a man jumping up and shouting,

"No no, go around, you can't be in here. Go the other way." I was all taken aback and shocked and was totally like WTF in my head. At my totally perplexed look and obvious a lack of hijab he calmed down and asked a bit more quietly and a lot less rudely, "What do you want?"

"I want to join you. You know be a muslim." I was really afraid i was sounding quite stupid now. He paused then sighed. "Go sit on that chair and we'll be with you in a while." So I went and sat on a folding chair and watched as guys slowly filtered out and put their shoes on. The whole shoe thing was really weird for me. While I waited 20MINUTES! I checked out the dome and the beauty of it and had lots of time to worry about if I had done something wrong to offend that guy. Finally he and another man came over to me along with an elderly man with a dyed red beard (henna I later figured out). They explained this was a travelling sheik who would witness my shahada. "So did you think about this?" He asked. What was he my father? I sighed "Yes of course" "Do you know about Islam?" He asked. "Yes I researched it on the Internet." I was nervous they weren't going to let me be Muslim if I didn't know anything so I was using my bluffing voice. "OK well you need to say Ashadu-illaha-illallah-Mohammadur-rasulu-llah." He wrote it out and I stumbled over the words but got them out finally enough for them to except it. They smiled now. I sat there like ok now what. Then a african brother came over and was like do you have time for me to run to my house and get a few things for you and I was like sure. (I had all day because I didn't know how long it was going to take to become muslim) SO the man ran off. I waited and watched as the other men too soon began to leave leaving only two. Finally after about 7 minutes the man came back and gave me a book on how to pray and the times of prayer and tried to explain to me how timing goes. He gave me a copy of meaning of Qur'an in English with arabic too (still my favorite version of the qur'an I have and currently opened under my monitor). He also gave me two head coverings one creamy and the other white & a beautiful green colored prayer mat with a masjid on it. I thanked him for it then asked, "So how much is all of this?"

"it's free." he said confused and still smiling. I innwardly rolled my eyes. I wasn't born yesterday. The book alone was very expensive. It's thick well binded and beautifully decorated green with gold decor so therefore it must be worth something. "No, seriously I HAVE money." I explained.

"No, no it's a gift. Really it's free." He said again his smile loosing strength. I looked at him dubiously NOTHING WAS FREE -especially all this. At my expression and stony silence he tried to explain better "It's a gift for you becoming Muslim! We want to help you and make it easy for you. Just put this scarf on and pray like it says in the book." I smiled then warmly.

"Well thank you very much." I then stood and went back to my car feeling so free and light and everything looked so beautiful. I sat in the drivers seat and pulled out the cream colored hijab and folded it to a triangle and tried to wrap it around my head and then tried to figure out how to tie it to cover my neck. I tried a granny knot but my neck still showed. Frustrated of trying for a good five minutes i went back inside the masjid holding it. The brother looked at me confused.

"Umm, how do you put this thing on?" I asked and held it up. He laughed and was like "I have no clue but I think you use some pins or clips. Maybe if you come back at the next prayer then there will be women here to ask them." I said ok and then went to my truck and then tried again. I came back at the next prayer but no women were there still. S0 much for all Muslims praying 5 times a day at a masjid I thought to myself. Though I did see men praying formally for the first time and I admit it scared me a little I actually thought for a moment DID I JOIN A CULT? Then it passed from my mind and I reviewed the pillars in my head. Then I drove home feeling happy and heady and in love with this life Allah had given me and a new way to look at the world.
It took time to adjust to my new life and for others to adjust to me adjusting mine and that will be another post later :)

3 intelligent thoughts:

Anonymous said...

Asslamu alaikum, I loved this story. I converted as well, or reverted. Your wrote on my blog on two of my posts, thanks for your comments, yours are the first ones. May Allah bless you sister and thanks again for the comments.

American Muslima Writer said...

You're welcome :)

ammena said...

masha'allah, such a nice story. Im glad that your father was so accepting of this. Do you think he would have been different if it was after 9/11?

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