After thirteen years since I took my shahaddah, I am now a teenager in Islam. I hope I don't break out in acne and need braces. Inshahallah, it will be less of a major shift and more of an impending arrival.
I do need a place to simply "be".
The place isn't outside of me so much as inside me.
I need this year to be at peace.
One of the reasons I was so eager to accept Islam is that I was searching for peace. Like most of life, I didn't need more; I needed less. That's why "revert" truly does make more sense than "convert" because I
This week, my mom and I talked over what it meant for me to have taken this path.
"Don't you think my life is better for having done this?" I asked her.
"We'll never know will we," she replied.
At the same time, I know that there wasn't any other way for me to go.
It's like when my husband asks me, "Do you love Islam?" and I answer, "Do I love breathing?"
I can't NOT be Muslim. It's how I stay alive.
I felt very alive the morning I woke to begin my thirteenth year in Islam. I'm praying at 4:30 and it's working for me. Somehow I do find the way to pray fajr and it's normal now. The fact that it's an integral part of my daily routine means that I have achieved a level that I didn't have before. It has been a process and I have advanced from 2002's "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!" to "It makes total sense."
Turning on the radio and listening to Quran is another part of my day that I need. It centers me and calms me. It's funny to remember how in America I used to wake to rock n' roll and DJs talking over current events.
Yes, as I get ready I need my hijab. It's been hot and humid with scattered sandstorms so I can't say that I love to wear hijab. However, I need it. I feel the power of it and know that there's protection in it for me.
There is also a protection from my husband. He is by my side when we leave. Before, I would be so independent and go, do and say ANYTHING. I don't now. I realize the very real limits here in Egypt and I am safer with a husband. In many ways, my life is improved by having him. Alhumdulillah.
We headed out to the bus stop. While waiting there, I saw these beautiful jewel-like shapes coming towards me. It was patterned marble on the back of a truck. It was for a new mosque. My husband told me how the biggest piece was the mihrab which shows the direction of Mecca. How wonderful! I felt very special to have witnessed its journey.
Once on board the bus, my son and I could do our remembrance of Allah on our fingers and we could listen through headphones to our surahs we've been trying to remember. We can, in other words, be Muslim in our daily life. This hasn't always been an easy possibility for me and it isn't a possibility at all for some believers. I'm grateful that I can openly be Muslim in this country.
What's great is that so many others are quietly (but not secretly) following their faith around me. While we were heading down the road, my eyes looked out ahead at the pick-up truck in front of us. There was this beautiful young girl all in purple. When her family's cargo on top of the truck shifted, she crawled out of the truck bed and sat on the tailgate to fix the problem. She had no idea that I could see her and no clue that I was praying for her safety and well being. I breathed a sigh of relief when she sat back down and we took a turn for the Ring Road.
As we sped down the road, our bus was neck and neck with another bus. The workers in the bus next to ours were obviously headed for manual labor. Maybe it was factory work because there are a lot of factories in the suburbs. I realized that while some were asleep, others had a small Quran out and were reading it as if their life depended on it. I loved that.
It's been thirteen years. It's been a long journey. I'm grateful for the moments along the way when I have found joy, beauty, comfort, companionship, knowledge, and inspiration. Unlike my trip to school, I haven't arrived at the end yet. I pray most sincerely to not be done until I've reached the highest level of faith possible for me.
Wherever you are on your path, know that you are not alone.