Aliyah J. (Brisbane, Australia)

Aliyah J. (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia) 


In the Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Giver of Mercy

I'd like to share my story of becoming Muslim, All Praise is for Allah. I think that there are many people out there who are not yet Muslim but are thinking about it & it is my hope, insha'Allah (God Willing), that my story will inspire them to take the shahada (confession of faith), the first step to becoming a Muslim.

From Lycra to Niqab: COMING HOME TO ISLAM

This is my story of my journey to Islam....

Islam has intercepted my life since adolescence. It has crossed my path many times; in the form of friends & acquaintances and also in the form of an inexplicable interest in anything Islamic or 'middle- eastern'. Of course, Islam is more than just an Arab phenomenon.

Only after graduating from university, working and travelling the world did I return to a question which had eluded me since my teens: Which is the right religion? I had investigated my Jewish roots in my mid-teens. I found out a little information about Judaism and then summoned the courage to call the local Jewish Synagogue. I hit a dead end though; the rabbi I contacted told me there was no way I could become Jewish if my mother was not Jewish (my father is Jewish but my mother is Mormon). A classmate at high school, who I helped sometimes at the library with his English assignments, was a Muslim. Unbeknown to me at the time, this man, after not seeing him for 15 years, and then after me becoming a Muslim, he is my husband now!!

I have been married previously, to a Jehovah's Witness. I thoroughly researched what the JW's taught (well, they kind of push it on you!)- but I didn't buy it.  I just couldn't accept the 'God has a son' thing or the fact that they are false prophets- re: 1918, 1974 - Armageddon prophesies. I lived a very comfortable if wealthy life with my previous husband. It just wasn't enough, money is not everything. I was searching for something to make my life worthwhile. I knew that if I really prayed sincerely, from the depth of my heart, that God-the Creator of all that exists, would answer me. I had such strong faith that He would. One day, I knelt on the floor, with my feet underneath me (unbeknown to me then, in sajda – prostration, like how the Muslims pray) and prayed, really prayed from the bottom of my heart for God to lead me to the right way to worship Him. I fell down into prostration, with my hands & forehead on the floor, calling out to Him, silently but with all my heart, "Please God, please God, please lead me to the Truth!"  I learnt how to pray properly the day before I decided to become Muslim, to say shahadah (confession of faith/acceptance of Islam) and you can imagine my shock to discover that unbeknown to me, I already had prayed exactly as a Muslim when I beseeched God for help to guide me!

Little by little, the pieces of the puzzle in my search for the True Religion started to fall into place. I had a friend who worked at a nightclub. She introduced me to some Muslims she knew from work. I was curious about their religion-they lamented that they didn't have strong enough faith to be religious & practice Islam properly-may Allah guide them, which became obvious to me later as I learned that to work in such a place is not suitable work for a Muslim. Another piece of my puzzle clicked into place-they weren't practicing Muslims but they loved Islam and were so passionate about it! I was curious about September 11 too. I did some research on the internet about Islam. I never saw them (those Muslims) after that but my thirst for learning about Islam was insatiable. An incident that also made a lasting impression on me was this: one day, I was driving my friend home from work at around five in the morning (remember she worked in a nite club), and we drove past a few men with big beards, dressed in white robes walking one wintry morning. I wondered out loud at who they were & where they were going. She replied that they are probably Muslims on their way to the mosque which she pointed out as we past by. I remember being so amazed at their dedication and felt more than a little ashamed at myself; coming home from a nite club and feeling seedy, and they just having had a good nights sleep, feeling refreshed and making such a wonderful start to their day by going to prayer!  I really started to take a second look at my lifestyle. When I discovered that the Qu'ran has not changed, not even one letter, since its revelation, I was amazed! While studying with the JWs I was almost going to start learning Hebrew and Aramaic to get the real meaning of the Bible. And here was a book, revealed from God in the original language that people can read for themselves! And it has never been changed since it was revealed not even one letter (note: the Arabic text which is the real Qur'an has never been changed but translations of the meaning may change). This is what I had been searching for!!! That really was the last piece of the puzzle that fell into place.

I learned much more than the few things I've so far mentioned but everything I subsequently learned about Islam just seemed so natural to me. The expression 'coming home' really is the right way to describe the way I (and other new Muslims) feel when they accept Islam. I never questioned why I had to do certain things (like pray, fast or give charity). Covering my hair when I went out took about three months for me to do fully. I started by going to Islamic ladies functions or to the shops with a scarf and little by little my dress became more modest and after about six months I wore an abaya (modest long loose dress) too. I felt such a hypocrite to wear it some places and not others so I just made the decision to wear it all the time. The saddest and most difficult thing I had to do was to give away my beloved puppy dog, for the sake of Allah, all praise if for Allah, because unless the dog is a working dog (guard dog etc), Muslims are not allowed to keep them as pets. I was sad for losing her but happy to do it to please Allah. I am surprised now to say it but that it was even sadder for me to give away my dog than to part with my now ex-husband as he did not wish to enter Islam, although we were having many difficulties anyway.

Work was harder too as a Muslim. As a non-Muslim Pilates Instructor, I wore Lycra & short tops to advertise my skill as a teacher though I cringe now to think of what I wore to work, demonstrating acrobatic positions to my clients, half of which were men. Some clients thought I was playing some kind of joke the first time I wore a scarf to work with my already adopted looser clothing. That really did hurt - that people thought Islam is something someone would joke about. I don't work anymore-my boss wasn't very Muslim-friendly. As my clothing became more and more modest, she withdrew more and more too. I guess in her feminist eyes I was standing for everything that she was trying not to be. I could only take so much pressure. After I was married and then had a miscarriage, she suggested I take some time off work and we would have 'a talk' in a few months-she never called and I didn't bother either. I got tired of defending myself everyday-call me chicken but I just had enough! I now wear a niqab (face covering) also and I feel as though my life has been further blessed by Allah because of this step.

Well, that's the short version! Allah the Almighty has made things easy for me though. While He has tested me, He has blessed me with a truly wonderful husband (the one I knew from school) who loves and fears Allah maybe even more than me. The Praise is for Allah!

Aliyah from Australia


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