Choice of a Lifetime
Often we look back on our life, and in hind sight we see many steps that led us to where we are now, yet at the time they seemed so insignificant. Like the time my parents asked me to take a baked dish to one of our neighbors who happened to be a foreign student from Lybia. He requested time to pray before returning the dish to me, so I asked if I could watch him. It was one of my first exposures to Islam and I found it strange and something which stuck in my mind forever. Later I studied about Islam during world religions in High school. At that time I thought that Islam was a strange religion that worshiped a different god than the Almighty God. However, during the class I found out I was wrong.
Later on in college I was exposed to many people from all over the world, and many were from Islamic countries like Malaysia. One lady was dressed in long flowing dresses and long head coverings. I used to wonder how could she handle the hot Arizona desert heat with all those clothes! One day I approached her and we ended up talking for a long time and she tried to explain about her way of dress. The way in which she explained it seemed so simple and correct, and I left her wondering why it was that we westerners had such a difficult time understanding it, accepting it let alone dealing with it.
During the spring semester I enrolled in an Islamic civilization class for my humanities credits. It was such an interesting class but raised so many more questions for me. One day my friend gave me a copy of the Qur’an in English which is only a translation. Once it is translated, its not the Quran anymore because man has changed its form. But at least I was able to get an idea of what the meanings were. Many things had to be explained. Many things in the Qur’an I learned cannot just be read at face value without understanding the background behind it. And statements, or verses, cannot be taken out of context. It is not like the bible. Everything is written in context.
During my readings I came across a verse which mentioned mountains being bulwarks so I asked a class mate to translate the Arabic and explain it for me. He described it saying that mountains have roots like teeth do to hold the continents and make them more stable. When I went home I began to think about this– and I said to myself, if this book was written by a human, how could he have known this information 1400 years ago? He could not have dug in the earth to notice these bulwarks. If you are inside of a forest, you will see only trees!! It was at this moment and many to come after it, that I realized the Qur’an was, and must be without a doubt, the word of God Almighty.
So this was not written by man. It also astounded me that there were still 4 origional Qur’ans in the world so that no changes could be made to the current versions of the Quran. There is no way to cheet. The fact that the Quran itself is always checked for mistakes, or accidental or purposefull changes is, in itself, amazing to me. The fact that only the origonal Arabic text is considered Quran is also great because in this way no changes can be made. It is still in its pure form. No deviations have been made. The copies printed today are the same as those printed hundreds of years ago.
It was during this time that I began to struggle with two ideas. Becoming a muslem and deciding to put on the scarf or hijab as its called in Arabic. Both were such tremendous life changing decisions, I could not take them lightly. When I studied about the religion and was convinced about its authenticity, and that submission to God was the true path to follow, I accepted both Islam and the dress prescribed by God, and in doing so I found such a wonderful sense of peace and tranquility and on top of it, a sense of freedom that I had not been expecting. I was free from the stereotypes put on women and seen for who I was and not for how I dressed or the clothes I chose, and I no longer felt like I was forced to be in competition with the other girls on campus.
Instead, when I went out to the shops, men started opening doors and treating me with an utmost amount of respect that really shocked me. One older gentlman even appoached me and comended me on my dress and said he liked it so much better as he found it much more feminine to be covered and respected. Of course there were times when I recieved rude comments but I was prepared for that and knew that it was out of ignorance and fear. But I have not regretted my decisions and find that there is beauty and grace in the woman who wears hijab. I just wish that people could realize that most women who do wear it love it alot, and its a form of liberation for us, not oppression.
Do you feel a Nun is oppressed when she chooses to worship God by wearing her habit? Then why is it that a Muslim sister is oppressed when she chooses to dress in a modest way similar to a Nun? Are not both a form of worship and a way of pleasing God Almighty?? It was a choice of a lifetime to realize that I was worshiping God the Creator, instead of His creation, Jesus. Instead I could accept Jesus for what the Bible itself does proclaim him to be, the way to God by following his teachings and his way, his examples because he was a chosen prophet of God Almighty, and he is the Messiah, but he is not God whom we worship and pray to.
I am grateful to God, Dieu, Gott, or Allah, which ever language one is speaking in, that I realized that Islam is pure monotheism, and there is no fear in that.