Saturday, September 12, 2015

After 13 Years

Asalamu Alaykom,

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 went have been going back to my original state of being.


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.

She's right.

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.


Anonymous said...

Assalamu Alaikum sister YUSRA.
Very beautifully explained post.Also inspiring.
I think visitors like me need more to know about your changes in (Islamic) life since you converted to Islam in 2002.

Party of 5 said...

Wow, I woke up thinking about some of these things this morning, and interestingly I thought about my mom and what a conversation with her would be like.
I haven't done much reflecting on my life as a Muslimah lately, but when I do, it's the same old questions: where would I be if...and if NOT Islam then what?

I am going through something with family and I guess it has me reflecting but not really connecting with my thoughts...hard to explain.

Thanks for this.

Yosra said...

Wa Alaykom Asalam MAK,

Thanks for reading. I'm glad you found something which was meaningful for you. The whole blog has explanations about where I have been and where I am now in my journey in Islam. If you search my past postings, you'll see important moments like when I took shahaddah; when I was fired for wearing hijab; when I went through divorce from my son's father; when I was very alone and searching for a way to survive; and when I made hijrah. I don't really stop here. I'll always be continuing to add more milestone---I just don't know what they will be.

Asalamu Alaykom Salma,

Nice to hear from you. We are strangers in the world but we are somehow united in our strangeness :) Muslims aren't really supposed to be connected to our non-Muslim families. We're suppose to respect them and help them but at the same time stay more connected with other Muslims. I understand how difficult that is! It's even more difficult as our parents grow older.

Whatever you are going through with your family and your faith, know that if you are true to your faith then everything good follows.

Wishing you the best there is!

Love and light :)

Anonymous said...

Assalamu Alaikum.
Your own conversion story-video-on you tube channel..but sorry to say,poor video and audio quality..If you could suggest how can I re-upload with better quality,please let me know.


Yosra said...

Wa Alaykom Asalam MAK,

Thanks for your efforts. It looks like you've taken a video of my video. It's on youtube already and I have a link to it on the blog

:) Eid Mubarak

Anonymous said...

Thank you sister.

I just typed the following on its description for the people who are thinking of converting Islam.

If you are not agree with that, I can delete it if you really do not want those words there.
YUSRA's (Catherine) Blog :

If you are thinking about converting to Islam, or fully stressed due to emotional problems You can contact her for advise and know better understanding of the faith and the real God.

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom MAK,

I'm not really sure what's happening now. I'm getting a bit confused. The original video, in my opinion, is best on its own. There doesn't need to be another copy on youtube. Since it is a video of me, I'm going to ask respectfully that the poorer quality not be posted.

I don't agree with putting "Catherine" after the name "Yusra". Please understand that I am not two people. I don't like associating the two names as if "Catherine" were my real name. Yosra (note the spelling) is my real/legal name and the only one I use. Only my mom and dad can still call me this.

As for those interested in Islam contacting me personally---please no. I am not in a position to be so hands on with those seeking Islam. I write this blog. Within this blog are many questions and answers. Anyone interested in Islam can read it and gain from it what they are ready to receive. I'm a wife, mother, and teacher and I really don't have the time to be counseling. No insult to anyone. I'm being realistic. It's a HUGE responsibility to help those seeking a better life. At this time, it can't be me.

Lastly, I do sincerely appreciate your high esteem of me. Please don't be upset at my wishes for you to stop these actions. You had good intentions and I know that. My ways are maybe different from yours but we both want the best for others.

Maybe a good effort on youtube could be a channel for reverts with playlists of those who reverted to Islam. You could be the person who converses with those seekers. Just a thought :)

May Allah reward you for your efforts.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for hurting you.

My Dua's
Jazakallah Khair.

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom MAK,

No hurt; just setting boundaries. Even though I put myself out there, I still need to protect how my image and my message is portrayed.

Alhumdulillah we were able to come to an understanding.

My Best Wishes :)