I was far from Islam
I remember, as a child, a teacher at Sunday school gave me a dirty look for leaving my hair uncovered. It made me never want to go back. I stayed as far away from the Masjid as possible.
As I entered my teenage years, depression crushed me. I had little self expectations. I felt that everyone hated me at times. I felt that no one knew my problems. And worse, that no one cared. It would be impossible to count the number of times I cried because of how messed up I felt about my life
Guilt for not practicing Islam gnawed me from inside, but, for a few years, I continued to push it aside. But there was only so much I could bear. I was overwhelmed by how I felt. In desperation I turned to Allah and begged him to guide me and help me practice Islam.
Soon after that, I decided to tag along with someone as they went to an Islamic class. In that class I experienced Islam like I had never known. I saw sisterhood. I saw happiness. That was the moment that I felt my life begin to change. I could not believe that I had been ignorant about this beautiful, indescribable sisterhood that Islam was giving me.
That year, I began the slow process of becoming a stronger Muslimah. I started shedding bad habits. I would focus on my prayer. I even worked up the nerve to wear the Hijab. (No credit to the Sunday School teacher). After I made the decision, my friends at school started distancing themselves from me. People would talk behind my back.
It was hard. I had nowhere to turn except Allah. I asked Him to grant me good, genuine friends. He blessed me with the best. He led me to Young Muslims.
I met people who positively influenced my life in ways that I can’t begin to describe. I started looking forward to Fridays every week because I wanted to be with these sisters. They broke the stereotypes I had about practicing Muslimahs. They were fun. They joked around. I could talk to them with ease. They were human!
I learned from them. I looked up to them. I am grateful to them. They probably don’t realize how much they’ve influenced my life. In the past few years, I have became more confident and gained self-esteem and respect for myself. I could never have imagined that my life would change so much.
Please please please, if you’ve had bad experiences like I did – where people made you feel like dirt – don’t take that for Islam. Islam is meant to uplift not to degrade. Enroll in an Islamic class, join a youth group, learn more about your religion.
There will always be people who discourage you, judge you, look down on you, and make you feel like you could never surmount to anything. But ignore them. You might even feel like I did, “I’m a terrible Muslim, how could I of all people change?” Never be hopeless of Allah’s limitless Mercy.
Take the first step. Allah knows your potential. Just keep asking from Him. Raise your hands to Him. Make dua to Him. You’ll be surprised.
- A YM Sister