I was born to American christian parents in Arkansas in the United States and that is where I was raised also. I am known as white-american to my arab friends but al7amdolilah that Islam knows no color, race, or natioanality.
I was raised in the country on a farm. My father worked on our farm and also preached in our local Baptist church. Baptist is just a sect of Christianity such as Catholics, Methodist, etc. They just have different doctrines. But basically they believe in the trinity and that Jesus (pbuh) was God's son. My mother stayed at home. I am an only child.
The town I was raised in was completely white raced and all christian. There were no other religions or races with in 200 miles of us for years so I had never been exposed to anything out side of our little town. I had always been taught that we were all created equal in the eyes of God. Later I found out that this was not really how my parents, family or friends felt. But as long as these other people didn't bother them, then these were very easy words to speak. This too would soon change.
The first time I ever saw a muslim was while I was in college at the Univerity of Arkansas. I will admit that at first I stared at the strange clothing the muslim women wore.... and could not believe that they covered their hair. But I am a curious person so I introduced myself to a muslim girl in one of my classes the first chance I had. It was a meeting that would change the course of my life.
I will never forget her. Her name was Yasmine and she was from Palestine. I would sit for hours and listen to her tell me about her country, culture, family and friends that she loved so much, but even more so was the love that she had for her religion, Islam. Yasmine had an inner peace about her like no one I had ever met. She would tell me stories of the Prophets (pbut) and about the one-ness of Allah(swt). This was when I learned that they didn't worship some other God, it was just that in arabic, Allah meant God. Everything she told me made so much sense to me and was so pure. Even though I had never voiced this to anyone in my family nor my friends, I had never believed in the christian concept of the trinity and why I had to pray to Jesus (pbuh) and not to God directly.
Yasmine did everything she could to convince me that Islam was the only true religion and that it was also a way of life. The most important thing to her was not this life but the hereafter and that someday her and I would meet again in paradise. When she left to go back to Palestine we knew that we would probably never see each other again here on earth and she cried and begged me to continue to learn about Islam so we could meet again ......but in heaven I can still hear her words in my ears. Yasmine had called me Amirah from the first time we met. Amirah means princess in arabi. So when I did embrace Islam, I chose this as my legal muslim name in her honor. So no I am not a real princess, but Islam treats me and makes me feel as though I am.
Two weeks after Yasmine returned to her country, she was killed by Israeli soldiers outside of her home. My soul mate was gone...and I felt like a part of me had died.
During our time together in college I had met and made friends with alot of muslims from all over the Middle East and it was also during this time that I came to love the arabic language. It was so beautiful, especially when I would listen to them read from the Holy Qur'an. I still love having someone read to me from the Qur'an or listening to it on tape and even though most of the time I have no idea what is being said, it still touches my heart and soul. I am trying very hard now to learn to read Qur'an and write arabic, and with time and practice I will, insha'allah. But for those of you that chat with me on the internet and have seen me type the Arabic/English, or have heard me speak it, they can tell you that I have a long way to go, but I thank all my friends and muslim family for their patience and tutoring.
After I left college and returned to my little community, I didn't have the honor of being around muslims any longer. But the thirst for Islam and the arabic language never left my heart. Which I might add upset my family and friends very much.
Years later, Allah(swt) brought someone into my path that was such a wonderful example of what Islam really was that once again I began to ask questions and read everything I possibly could about this religion. For months and months I read and prayed....and finally on April 15th, 1996 I embraced Islam. It wasn't one thing in particular that convinced me....it was everything about Islam that did and I will never ever give my Islam up. La ilaha illa allah wa Mohammed rasool allah, which simply means, there is only one God and Mohammed is his messenger.
When my family and friends discovered that I was studying more about Islam they were enraged and rarely spoke to me. But, when I embraced Islam (converted) they totally dis-owned me and even tried to have me committed to a mental hospital. They were convinced that I was crazy. They didn't succeed, alhamdolilah. All of this was very destroying to me....as I loved my family and friends with all my heart, and I still do. Occasionally they will call and wish hell on my head...but even these calls have become less frequent. I just thank Allah(swt) that my eman(faith) was strong.
I spoke to my family two days after the bombing in Saudi Arabia. They called to tell me that my Uncle had been killed and that me and my terrorist friends were responsible, and that his blood was on my hands. I cried for days and days...but again my eman stood strong and I continued. I have made repeated attempts to contact my family but still they refuse me and have went so far as to have their phone numbers changed, some have even had legal bans put on me so that I can not go near their homes, my mother was one of them. But insha'allah I will keep trying to reach them but it has now been over 9 months since I have heard from them.
About four days after the bombing, I returned from shopping and found the words "terrorist lover" spray painted down the side of one of my vehicles. When the police arrived to make a report I asked them to check for any damages that might have been done to it that would keep me from driving it to a place of safety...as I no longer felt safe in my home. They refused, stating that I could have had some of my terrorist friends plant a bomb for them somewhere on the vehicle. I could not believe what I was hearing. But things were only going to get worse. A lot worse in fact.
I was attacked in a parking lot one night by a man that proceded to beat me and stabbed me. He was caught....and is now serving his punishment......doing community service which entails picking up trash in the street and highway, mowing the mayors yard and running errands for the police department, but yet we wonder why we have such a high crime rate here in the US. I have had the brake lines cut on my vehicles so many times that I have lost count. I have been attacked in my home by an unknown man. The ringing of gun shots is a very familiar sound...as they stand outside and shoot at my home. A dry cleaners in town conveniently lost all of my Islamic clothing, which included my jilbabs, abayas, hijabs and niqabs.....strange that all my western clothing was returned.
These people here including my family and friends have taken away a lot of things and destroyed a lot of things...but the one thing they can never take away is my Islam and they will never destroy my eman and al7amdolilah Allah(swt) has always protected me.
At the time of this editing I am fighting in court for a matter which I am not at liberty to discuss here in public, but no I didn't commit a crime....but the courts have forbidden me to leave this town. But insh'allah in the end they will not win this battle.
What little knowledge I have about Islam and continue to gain is from what I find on the internet and from books and materials that are sent to me by my true muslim friends and family on the internet. I thank them for sharing their knowledge and for their prayers and words of encouragement. All my respect and prayers are with each and everyone of you.
To Yasmine.....my friend and sister in Islam and who was the first person to share with me about Islam....I know that when I embraced Islam you smiled and gave Allah(swt) all the praise and glory...and I will see you in paradise, insha'allah. I love you, Sis.
I am not writing this in hopes of gaining pity or sympathty. I do ask that you keep my in your prayers. But the injustices that we muslims face all over the world has got to come to an end. It is time that the media be made to print the true" side of Islam, and not what ever they chose to print or show. And if they insist on making sure that when there is trouble in the Middle East or here in the US and muslims or Islam is attached....then they need to be made to attach Christian or christianity when something horrible happens. They would run out of ink though.
For us as muslims we have to put aside our traditions, cultures and governments and just be the Muslims that Allah(swt) intended us to be. As for being an american muslim female....we have faced prejudices against us from the Islamic countries because we were not born muslim and from parents and families that judge us on our race, color and nattionality when we should be judged on our Islam. Culture and traditions are very important to each and every one of us...but are we truly going to put it above our Islam? If we don't support and help each other, then who will?
My thanks and appreciation to the owners and editors of the papers in UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and the US where my story will appear.
Sincerely Your Friend and Sister in Islam,
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