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Dawn of our correct belief

WE lived in Boston, USA in the worst possible neighborhood.

My husband was a law student at Northeastern University and we didn't have much money. I was pregnant, living in a new city after having spent all my life in San Francisco, California.

As for my religion, I had given up Christianity and was searching for something else. This was some 36 years ago.

Strangely or not so strangely, we had given up a lot of things that Islam forbids like eating pork. Looking back, I can see that it was Allah's guidance - we were drifting towards Islam without realizing it, but the quest was for the truth. Although I was raised as Catholic, I did not believe at that point that Jesus was the son of God, nor did my husband. We just believed in Allah.

I didn't like living in Boston. We had a nice clean apartment but it was in the worse neighborhood possible. On the way to the university or the supermarket or any store, we had to walk down the infamous Mass. Ave. where every dredge of humanity hung out.

On the corner of the street we lived there was a regular crowd of drunkards. They not only drank but were loud and boisterous as well. We could hear them late at night. I thought that they would soon be gone by the time winter arrived, but not so, they lingered and sat in cars. We would pass all kinds of prostitutes and pimps daily just to get to where we needed to go. The contrasts of life were really apparent at that stage of our lives. Neither of us had been raised in such an atomsphere, but it was not far from this setting that we met Muslims and began our dialogue.

It was coincidental, or so it seemed that one day, while my husband was driving around looking for an apartment in another part of town for us to live in, his friend's car broke down. They looked around for a public phone, but found none, so he went into a local shop. It was called the Muslim Bazaar.

He went in, asked to use the phone, used it and then began a conversation with the shop owner, Abdus Salaam. They talked for a long time about America, religion - Islam, Christianity, life and so forth.

Eventually, he found an apartment and I flew out from California. I was happy to be pregnant but one thing bothered me - I wanted to raise our child in a religion and at that point we didn't have one. We talked about this frequently: it was important to have a belief system in which to raise our child. It was important for us alone as a couple, but when you add a child to this combination, it becomes even more important.

He remembered the conversation he had with Abdus Salaam and took me there to meet his wife. There was no one in the shop, so we were able to talk to the owners freely. Rabiyyah, the owner's wife, was very kind and between the two of them, they answered many questions.

We went home and talked until two or three in the morning. Our minds were stimulated, excited (isn't that how it is when you hear the truth), we couldn't stop talking. We went again about a week later and had another conversation. We bought a book on Salah (prayer) and also a translation of the meaning of the Qur'an.

It was Ramadan and we decided to fast. My husband made it through the entire day, but me, about half way through I was feeling dizzy and ill (due to the pregnancy) so I broke my fast and did not try it again, but I read the meaning of the Qur'an a lot and when I came to the end of Surah Al-Baqarah, I decided to memorize the last ayah as it was a beautiful prayer. We took our Shahadah together about a month later. That was my first Ramadan as a practicing pre-Muslim.

The only books I had to read was the Qur'an and a book on Salah. We wanted so much more. But the Qur'an, Masha Allah, was amazing. Every time we had a question or a thought, the answer would come during the next time we read it.

Everything was so new. We looked again at those things around us, reevaluated everything through the newly-found "eyeglasses" of Islam. My brain was racing during that time. I reassessed everything I had been taught by my parents, in school, friends, neighbors if it fitted with the Criterion.

About a month after we took the Shahadah, my husband decided that his Islam and his aspired profession were in conflict so we left Boston, returned to California and began a new chapter of life as Muslims, Alhamdulillah.

Falaqi was born a few months later. Where did we get her name? I had called Rabiyyah from California and she mentioned something about a friend of hers named Falaqi - the name struck me and I asked her where it came from. She said it was from the Surah Al-Falaq. I thought it was a good name, it meant "Dawn." That was the beginning, the dawn of our correct belief.


By Dr.. Sadiqa Abdul-Alim, an Islamics Professor at Effat College, Jeddah.


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