March 27th, 2014:

hijaabserenityWe prayed over my dear mother today and buried her. Tonight will be the first night in her grave. Subhan'Allah, I always wondered about this day, which will come for us all. My sister and I were talking this morning about how serene and peaceful we feel despite the chaos and cries of people around us. Perhaps it's because we saw her struggle through her illness and took care of her throughout that time, or perhaps it's because she looked so tranquil after her death, or perhaps we are at peace because she is finally at peace. But ultimately, we know it's because Allah is truly Merciful. He literally removed the sharp grief and sorrow associated with the death of a beloved mum, and kindly replaced it with calm, composure and serenity in all of us.

I remember my friend talking of this when her own mother passed away, and I didn't understand it back then because I couldn't imagine losing my mother. But today I understand it very well. Allah saves a person when their world crumbles. He gives you strength at difficult times - the kind of strength that you just know is not from you but can only be from Him. And He allows your soul to soar when it is pushed over the cliff by the calamities of life.

Alhamdulillah, the funeral turnout was incredibly huge. The masjid had to open up another whole building to accommodate for the large number of attendees, and there wasn't a single person who didn't have something good to say about her. When news of her death went around, you could see how it affected the community both here and abroad. She used to do a lot of good deeds in secret, and it's only now that it's all coming out because people are coming forward to speak of it.

Two women couldn't stop sobbing because she was the one who brought them into the community after they felt outcasted. A grown man was crying in town saying that she helped him set up his own business and get on his two feet. Numerous couples say they are indebted to her for her great ability to reconcile between quarreling couples and rebuild broken families. Countless people back home who are in poverty weep today because she always gave to them, and made sure they had something to eat and live on. I personally remember the day I found out she had been sponsoring at least two hafidh students of knowledge (for a few years) who were too poor to continue with their Shari'ah degrees - she had tried to keep it a secret but I pushed her until she told me and wow, was I surprised seeing as though she is always giving sadaqah masha'Allah. She didn't just help people. She rebuilt lives and slowly changed communities.

She did so much for others, but what she did for us is beyond my ability to tell. She was the one who facilitated all my learning. After Allah, if it wasn't for her I would never have learnt any Arabic or Qur'an or anything, let alone teach any of it. One day I decided to surprise her by calling her after I completed my hifdh of Qur'an. Wallahi, just as I stepped into class for my khatmah, I received a call on my phone. It was my mother calling to surprise *me* with a gift to go on 'Umrah for my efforts with Qur'an. She had no idea that I was finishing my khatmah and that I was planning on calling her in just an hour. But that was my mum; always a step ahead in charity, gifts, and goodwill. You could give her a river and she would give you back the ocean.

I can never do justice to you dear mummy, because you will always be a million times better than anything I could ever say about you. You were my best friend and confidante, my key adviser and helper. You were our mother and so much more. You were loved by the people of this earth and I'm sure this is a sign of Allah's Love for you. May the Lord of the Worlds accept you into His Mercy this night, shower His forgiveness upon you, and prepare your grave tonight as the best of earthly abodes; spacious and filled with light. I ask Him to open the window of Paradise to you, and fill you with peace and happiness. May the Angels greet you as they greet the Prophets, truthful ones, martyrs, and righteous, and may you be accepted as one of them.

"Gardens of everlasting residence; they will enter with whoever were righteous among their fathers, their spouses and their descendants. And the angels will enter upon them from every gate saying, "Salamun 'Alaikum (peace be upon you) for what you patiently endured. And excellent is the final home." [al-Ra'd: 23-24]

May Allah be pleased with you, ameen.

For those who asked, my mother died at the young age of 56.

31st March, 2014:

As my siblings recall our mother's many good points, one thing that stands out is what a good wife she was, masha'Allah. When people hear 'good wife' they might think 'submissive, meek, easily-controlled' etc., and this is such a fallacy and so far from the truth. On the contrary, my mother was strong, reliable, active, and was always there for everyone. Every sadaqah drive, she was there, every event that needed hands (weddings, funerals, fundraisers, mosque activities etc), she was always there. She had her own life and worked for her Akhirah, but this was never at the expense of her marital and home life.

She was a woman who controlled her tongue and only said goodly words. Her respect and love for my father was unmatched, and in turn, my father loved to listen to her, value her opinions, and treated her better than he would a queen. Their relationship was so beautiful that you couldn't tell where or who the goodness started or ended with masha'Allah. I always marvelled at the statement of Imam Ahmad when his wife passed away: "Umm Salih (his wife) lived with me for twenty years and she and I did not argue at all."

But today I marvel at something else... When my mother passed away, we were with her in the hospital, and my father stood next to her with the local Imam, family and friends. He stood there and said this magnificent statement that I will never forget in my life:

"We've been married for 30-odd years and she's never said a word that upset me. You people are the witnesses of Allah on earth. Be witness that I am pleased with her."

And everyone, including the Imam, just teared up.

Charity started at home, and her beautiful & respectful relationship with my father and all of us simply spilled on to the larger community and internationally. See, you can never really have an impact on the world if your own home is in shambles, because ripples work outwards, never inwards.

Rahimakillah hooyo (mother)...

hijabmaroonImaam Ahmad (may Allaah shower him with mercy) is without a doubt one of the most influential scholars of the Ummah. He learned from the best scholars of his time, and was a great example and teacher to those who came after him in Hadeeth, Fiqh, Zuhd, Wara’, Piety, and Patience.

One of his oft forgotten teachers who played an undeniable role in shaping his personality and character, and had a deep, profound influence on him, was his Mother: Safiyyah Al-Shaybaniyah (may Allaah shower her with mercy).

No one doubts the depth of a mother’s influence on her children, and in the case of Imaam Ahmad (may Allaah shower him with mercy), his mother was no different. Rather we would not be far off if we were to count her on the top of the list of his most influential teachers.

Like his father, she was also from the tribe of Shaybaan. Her grandfather, ‘Abdul-Malik, was from the distinguished people of the tribe of Shaybaan, and used to host the Arab tribes who passed by his tribe. Imaam Ahmad was conceived in the city of Marw in the state of Khurasaan and the family soon moved to Baghdad while Imaam Ahmad was still an infant. Imaam Ahmad is reported to have said:

“I was brought from Khurasaan while I was still an infant, and was born over here, and did not see my grandfather or father”.

Imaam Ahmad’s father, Muhammad ibn Hanbal, died at around 30 years of age. He left for them an estate in Baghdad which brought them an income of 17 Dirhams every month, from which they used to spend. This left the young mother, who refused to remarry, to bear the burden of raising her son Ahmad on her own with the very little income they had.

Imaam Ahmad grew up seeing how his mother had forsaken the pleasures of this worldly life in order to care and provide for him, which had a profound impact on him, as can be witnessed in the great Zuhd he demonstrated throughout his life.

Through her knowledge, piety, and patience, she taught him to be patient over the hardships they faced, not in a theoretical way, but rather in a practical way. She withstood the burdens of teaching him and raising him in a pure Islamic upbringing, living with him under the shades of his uncles, and not looking to get remarried or at the other adornments of this life. Her only concern was her son and how to raise him.

Safiyah, Umm al-Imaam Ahmad, was the one who started him in the road of knowledge. She planted in him the first seed for his love of knowledge which knew no bounds.

Imaam Ahmad is reported to have said:

يقول الإمام أحمد عن نفسه : كنا نعيش في بغداد ، وكان والدي قد توفي وكنت أعيش مع أمي ، فإذا كان قبل الفجر أيقظتني وسخنت لي الماء ثم توضأت – وكان عمره آنذاك عشر سنين – يقول : وجلسنا نصلي حتى يؤذن الفجر – هو وأمه رحمهما الله – وعند الأذان تصحبه أمه إلى المسجد وتنتظره حتى تنتهي الصلاة لأن الأسواق حينئذ مظلمة ، وقد تكون فيها السباع والهوام ثم يعودان إلى البيت

My mother used to wake me up before Fajr, when I was 10 years old. She would have the water warmed up for me before I woke. I would perform Wudu’ and we would both pray until the Call of Fajr. She would then walk me to the Masjid, as it was far away and the roads were dark.

Notice, may Allaah shower you with His blessing, how she got her son at this early age connected to the Masjid, notice how at 10 years old she got him used to Night Prayers!

He remained consistent upon these acts throughout his life, and he is reported to pray 300 Rak’ahs every day and night! Even when he was beaten during the Mihnah, and was weakened after all the torture and punishment he was subjected to, he used to pray 150 Rak’ahs! He used to take a small nap after Isha, then wake up until the morning praying and supplicating.

When Imaam Ahmad grew a little older, his mother started sending him to the Masjid on his own to pray and attend the lessons of Hadeeth, which took place after Fajr. Imaam Ahmad is reported to have said:

ربّما أردت البكور في الحديث ، فتأخذ أمّي بثوبي وتقول : حتّى يؤذّن المؤذّن

I might have wanted to leave early to attend the Hadeeth sittings, but my mother would hold me by my clothing and would say: Wait until the Prayer is called for (i.e. meaning until the Athan of Fajr Prayer is called)!

Not only do we see in this an indication of how Imaam Ahmad developed this eagerness for knowledge from an early age, as he wished to leave for the Masjid even before Fajr just to get a chance to sit close to the teacher and able to hear him more clearly, but also notice two things about his mother,

Firstly: That she was the one who directly supervised her son and encouraged him to seek knowledge and did not leave that responsibility to someone else.

Secondly: That her natural love for her only son and her fear for him and his safety did not act as a barrier that prevented him from seeking knowledge, rather she maintained a balance between her fear for her son’s safety and her encouragement for him to seeking knowledge. We see how she would advise him to wait till the Morning Prayer is called for, since at that time people will be heading to the Masjid and she will be more assured about her young son’s safety, instead of him walking alone in the dark empty streets.

Imaam Ahmad was aware of his mother’s care and concern for his safety that he did not wish to do anything that would upset her, or increase her worries for him and his safety.

وكان الإمام أحمد بن حنبل في الخامسة عشرة من عمره، وجاء إلى بغداد عالم عظيم وأقام على الضفة المقابلة لدار أحمد بن حنبل وفاض نهر دجلة وأغرق ما حوله حتى ترك الرشيد قصره وركب طلاب العلم الزوارق إلى دار العالم الوافد، وتنادوا على أحمد بن حنبل، ولكنه رفض العبور معهم قائلا : أمي لا تدعني أركب الماء في هذا الفيضان كان خائفا عليها أكثر من خوفه على حياته، وعاد إليها لتطمئن عليه.

It is narrated that when he was around 15 years old, a big scholar came to visit Baghdad and the students of Hadeeth flocked to meet him and learn from him. However, that scholar stayed in the opposite side of the river from where Imaam Ahmad lived, and the Tigris River was flooding at that time of the year. The other students of Hadeeth rushed to take small boats so that they maycross the river listen to him, and called Imaam Ahmad to join them. But he replied:

I fear my mother may not permit me to cross the river in this situation!

He then returned home to his mother after missing this opportunity out of concern for how his mother may feel about it. Notice (may Allaah shower you with his forgiveness) how not only did she demonstrate great care and concern for the safety of her only son, but, in return, he demonstrated a great example of love and obedience for his mother, and care for her and her feelings, in such a way that his fear of upsetting his mother was much greater than his fear for his own safety!

Imaam Ahmad’s mother made sure to teach him the Arabic Language and gave special care to teaching him the Quran until he had it memorized at an early age. She taught and pushed him to learn Prophetic narrations and Athaar from an early age as well.

It is reported that she even taught him Persian, which she had learned during the time she used to reside in the city of Marw. She spoke to him plenty about the glories of Islam and the Arabs, about their qualities and characters, and their days of glory.

She narrated to him poetry, specifically that which mentions the virtues and glory of the tribe of Shayban (the tribe of Imaam Ahmad), who were decedents of Adnaan, and whose lineage met with that of the Messenger of Allaah at Nizar ibn Ma’d ibn Adnan. She told him the stories of the companions and their narrations, especially that of the Rightly Guided Caliphs.

In addition to all that, she made sure that there was a strong connection between him and the scholars of Baghdad, its Muhadithun, and other teachers. Since he memorized the Quran as a young boy, he took from them treasures of the Sunnah and the Seerah and the stories of the Muslim Battles. She planted in his inner self – from his early childhood – the love of purity, zuhd, and knowledge.

After Imaam Ahmad had learned plenty from the Scholars of Baghdad, his mother told him:

يا بني سافِرْ في طلب الحديث؛ فإن طلب الحديث هجرة في سبيل الله

O Son, travel to gather the traditions [of the Prophet of Allaah], for travelling to seek the traditions is indeed migration for the Sake of Allaah.

She prepared for him some barley bread and salt to take on his travel, and packed for him other needs for his travel, and told him:

ثم قالت: إن الله إذا استُودِع شيئًا حفظه، فأستودعك الله الذي لا تضيع ودائعه

O Son, Indeed whenever Allaah is entrusted with a matter He preserves it, and I entrust you to Allaah, whose trusts are never lost!

With these words from his mother, he travelled to Medina, Mecca, San’aa, and many more cities learning from its Scholars and gathering traditions and narrations to come back after that as one of the most influential scholars of his time.

At the time of her death, Imaam Ahmad was in his thirties. She had lived to see her son grow to be one of the trusted scholars of his time. Imaam Ahmad remembered her actions and sacrifices. He mentioned her, followed her in her footsteps, and imitated her in admiration and sincerity; a matter which had an effect in his Fiqh pertaining to women in general and mothers specifically.

So may Allaah shower her with mercy and gather her and her son, along with the Messenger of Allaah, in the highest of Paradise.

[1] Adapted from Al-Sirat Al-Mustaqeem from: ‘Fuqahaa Munadillun’ by Dr. Muhammad ibn Ibrahim p. 136-138; Other online references were also utilized.

The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu' alaihi wa sallam) drew four lines on the ground, then he said, “Do you know what this is?” We said, “Allaah and His Messenger know best.” The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu' alaihi wa sallam) said: “The best of the women of Paradise are Khadeejah bint Khuwaylid, Faatimah bint Muhammad, Aasiyah bint Mazaahim the wife of Pharaoh, and Maryam bint ‘Imraan." (Reported in the Musnad of Imaam Ahmad 2663 and it's Saheeh )

*Please click here if you can't see the above video.


The story of Uwais Al-Qarni was mentioned in Sahih Muslim as well as in other books. Now even though he was from the Taabi'een and did not see the Messenger [Sallah Allahu 'Alaihi wa salam], the Messenger [Sallah Allahu 'Alaihi wa salam] had advised 'Umar ibn Al-Khatab [Radiya Allahu 'Anhu] that if he meets [Uwais] then he, 'Umar, should ask [Uwais] to ask Allah to forgive him and to make supplication for him.

Asir ibn Jaabir radhiallahu 'anhu narrated:

Iran   MazandaranWhenever people would come from Yemen, 'Umar radhiallahu 'anhu would ask them, "Is Uways Al-Qaranee amongst you?" until, one year, he met Uways.

He said, "Are you Uways Al-Qaranee?" He said, "Yes."

'Umar continued, "From Muraad, then Qaran?" He said, "Yes."

'Umar then asked, "Were you once afflicted with leprosy and your skin healed except for a dirham's area?" Uways said, "Yes."

'Umar finally asked, "Do you have a mother (that is alive)?" He said, "Yes."

'Umar then said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah – sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam – say, 'Uways ibn Aamir will come to you with the delegations from Yemen, from Muraad, then from Qaran. He was once afflicted with leprosy and his skin healed except for a dirham's area. He has a mother, and he treats her kindly. If he was to ever swear by Allah (for something) Allah would fulfill his oath. If you can, request that he ask forgiveness for you."

'Umar then requested from Uways, "Ask forgiveness for me." And Uways Al-Qaranee did. (Sahih Muslim)

Recommended further reading: I met Uwais Al Qarni.

Quranmushaf8My journey to Islam is similar to many. I was raised a Muslim and my family moved to the United States when I was 15. In a matter of a few years I managed not only to lose my religion as a result of company and environment but also developed a skeptical attitude towards religion especially after a couple of philosophy courses.

I believe my journey back to deen was divine intervention. It was in New York that I began exploring what Islam meant to me at the age of 19. New York is an incredible place. It's probably one of the most diverse cities on the planet. I was exposed to a diversity of groups all claiming to represent Sunni Islam.

As I would start sitting in study circles of one group, over time I would get to hear about the deviations of the 'other' group that is literally down the street. I would learn about how lost, confused, misguided or even dangerous to my own salvation they are. For better or for worse, I developed a pattern of learning. Every time I heard about a deviant sect or group (in the eyes of the people I would be taking from), I would make it a point to go and speak with the 'deviants' and learn what they had to say in order to hear it directly from the horse's mouth. Looking back I realize that was a dangerous thing to do at that age I was but that was the approach I took to come back to Islam in the first place.

I wouldn't have considered turning back to deen unless I had some degree of open mindedness in me. I couldn't just turn that part of myself off. I had to consider what was being said for myself. After studying some Arabic and being exposed to several schools of thought ranging from the ultra-traditional, movement oriented, literalist, western academic to name a few, I came to certain conclusions about my religion that I still hold dear. In this brief article I want to share those with you.

  • That main stream Islam as is manifest today is not a monolithic thing. Pretending that it is amounts to a denial of reality. Muslim thought varies on some core issues within that spectrum but there is also a tremendous amount of agreement.
  • That I will remain true to myself, loyal to my Messenger salallahu alaihi wasallam and sincere to my Master to the best of my ability. As a result I will disagree with ideas, theories and verdicts respectfully even if they are coming from sources whose judgment in other matters I find sound if in my conscience I cannot reconcile them with the Islam I continue to learn and love.
  • That I will not voice my personal disagreements in the public sphere because no benefit comes from it. I've been around debates, daleel battles and name calling long enough to distinguish all of that from pointless bickering.
  • That I will voice my disagreements in private settings with the scholars and intellectuals who hold those views not to debate but to better understand the basis for their positions. That I will remain completely open to the possibility that I may have been wrong in my own assumptions about that particular issue.
  • That I will take my Qur'an studies very seriously throughout life and will respect both classical and contemporary scholarship on the Qur'an even if I find things stated that are unsubstantiated (based on my limited knowledge). I will not dismiss an author because he/she says something on a particular issue I completely disagree with. I will continue to benefit from such an author while maintaining my respectful disagreement on whatever that issue may be.
  • That I will seek counsel of multiple scholars on difficult tafseer issues before holding an opinion.
  • That I will not be moved by the ideological labels and boxes that so many Muslims have become obsessed with today. That I will refuse to reduce people to labels. I will fully endorse truths that are being said regardless of who is saying them.
  • That I will not be intimidated by the allegation that agreeing with one statement someone makes is tantamount to me agreeing with everything that individual has to say on any issue; that somehow agreeing with someone on one issue is a blanket endorsement of them.
  • That my own life is very short and I will spend whatever little energies I have spreading and sharing what I believe to be good and not exhaust my energies refuting ideas of other Muslims even if I completely disagree with them. I won't do so because I believe a sound education in the Qur'an and Sunnah will automatically diminish the significance of those fringe ideologies. The extremes in any religion feed on conflict and attention. I won't be duped into thinking that somehow I'm 'forbidding the evil' while all I'm really doing is perpetuating an endless debate that produces no tangible good in my life or anybody else's.
  • That I will acknowledge good qualities and contributions of Islamic efforts even if at a grand scale I don't agree with the strategy or vision they may have adopted.
  • That outside of the authentic noble hadith traditions that speak of good manners, the merits of deeds and encouragements, I will not be citing ahadith in any of my talks. I will do so purely out of love and respect for the hadith tradition. I don't have the scholarly and academic wherewithal to know the complete context, in-depth analysis and historical discourse among the great scholars on the hadith so I think it dangerous to simply cite it. It is dangerous because conclusions from that hadith drawn by me or the common Muslim may actually contradict the Sunnah.
  • That the one contribution I think I can make for my own benefit, the benefit of my children and Insha'Allah other Muslims is furthering a love, appreciation and understanding of the Qur'an. I will continue to have the utmost regard for all other Islamic sciences. Because I recognize them as specializations, I will continue to rely on scholars I have had the honour of knowing personally in issues pertaining to them.
  • That my efforts will be driven by what I believe is the single biggest problem of the ummah today; raising children that love Allah, His Book, His Messenger SAW and the struggle to expose the beauty of this religion to humanity with their positive contributions. We are losing our youth spiritually, morally and even in terms of their identification as Muslims and it all goes back to sound parenting. My children aren't any safer from the fitnah of our times than yours. We are all in this together and we have to help each other raise tomorrow's ummah.
  • That I will not deal with issues of fiqh publically for same reasons I won't discuss ahadith beyond my intellectual and academic capacity. It is a specialized science and you should speak with a specialist just like I do when I have a question.

I shared some of these thoughts with you because I get constantly asked 'what' I am. People will continue to wonder 'what' I am based on the lens they view me through. My own description of myself is that I'm an average Muslim who loves Allah's Book and is trying to learn and teach whatever little he knows from it.

Ustaadh Nouman Ali Khan
Founder & CEO, Bayyinah Institute
HOTD Columnist

norwayskyUmar (radhiAllahu 'anhu) one night went in disguise with his companion Ibn Abbas (radhiAllahu 'anhu) to check the condition of the people on the outskirts of Madinah. They strolled from one quarter to another. At last they came to a tribe where very poor people lived. While passing by a small hut, the Caliph overheard voices from inside. A mother was telling her daughter that the amount fetched by her that day on account of the sale of milk was very little. She told her that when she was young, and used to sell milk, she always mixed water with milk, and that led to considerable profit. She advised her daughter to do the same.

The girl said,

"You diluted milk, when you were not a Muslim. Now that we are Muslims, we cannot dilute milk."

The mother said that Islaam did not stand in the way of her diluting the milk. The daughter said,

"Have you forgotten the Caliph's order? He wants that the milk should not be diluted."

The mother said, "But the Caliph has forgotten us. We're so poor, what else should we do but dilute milk in order to survive?"

The daughter said,

"Such living would not be lawful, and as a Muslim I would not do anything which is against the orders of the Caliph, and whereby other Muslims are deceived."

The mother said, "But there is neither the Caliph nor any of his officers here to see what we do. Daughter you are still a child. Go to bed now and tomorrow I will myself mix the milk with water for you."

The girl refused to fall in with the plan of her mother. She said,

"The Caliph may or may not be here, but his order is order, and it must be obeyed. My conscience is my Caliph. You may escape the notice of the Caliph and his officers, but how can we escape the notice of Allah and our own conscience?"

Thereupon the mother remained quiet. The lamp was extinguished and the mother and the daughter went to sleep.

The next day, Umar (radhiAllahu 'anhu) sent a man to purchase milk from the girl. The milk was undiluted. The girl had kept her resolve. Umar (radhiAllahu 'anhu) turned to Ibn Abbas (radhiAllahu 'anhu) and said, "The girl has kept her resolve in spite of the demands of her mother. She deserves a reward. What reward should I give her?" "She should be paid some money" said Ibn Abbas (radhiAllahu 'anhu).

Umar said,

"Such a girl would become a great mother. Her integrity is not to be weighed with a few coins; it is to be measured in the scale of national values. I shall offer her the highest award in my gift, and which shall also be in the highest interest of the nation."

The Caliph summoned the daughter and the mother to his court. The mother trembled as she stood before the mighty ruler. But the girl faced Umar (radhiAllahu 'anhu) with a calm repose, and there was an impressive dignity about her.

Then before the gathering, Umar (radhiAllahu 'anhu) related how he had overheard the mother and the daughter, and how in spite of the pleads of the mother the daughter had kept he resolve.

Someone suggested that the mother should be taken to task. The Caliph said that ordinarily he would have punished the mother, but he had forgiven her for the sake of her daughter. Turning to the girl Umar (radhiAllahu 'anhu) said,

"Islaam needs daughters like you, and as a Caliph of Islaam I wish to reward you by taking you as a daughter".

The Caliph called his sons, and addressing them said:

"Here is a gem of a girl who would make a great mother. I desire that one of you should take this girl as wife. I know of no better bride than this girl of sterling character. In matters of wedlock, it should be the character, and not the stature in life that should count."

Abdullah and Abdur Rahman (radhiAllahu 'anhumaa) the elder sons of Umar (radhiAllahu 'anhu) were already married. Asim (radhiAllahu 'anhu) the third son was unmarried, so he offered to marry the girl.

Thereupon with the consent of the milkmaid and her mother Asim (radhiAllahu 'anhu) was married to the girl, and the milkmaid became the daughter-in-law of the Caliph.

From this union was born a daughter, who became in due course the mother of Umar bin Abdul Aziz - who later became a Caliph. While other Caliphs of the Umayyad dynasty lived in luxury, Umar bin Abdul Aziz upheld standards of austerity and simplicity following in the footsteps of Umar the second Caliph of Islam. It is said that if ever there was a noble Caliph after the 'Rightly Guided Caliphs', such a man was Umar bin Abdul Aziz. He inherited the noble qualities of the milkmaid who married the Caliph's son, and those of Umar Farooq (radhiAllahu 'anhu) who had the eye to discern the noble and honest qualities in a poor girl.

Source: "Tareekh Demashq" by Imaam Al-Haafidh Ibn Asaakir.

pink-flowers-bokeh-wallpaperThe exceptional characteristics some people display are quite dumbfounding really, particularly when you put yourself in their shoes. This story published in Saudi Gazette (Feb. 18, 2010) is one such.

JEDDAH -- The love between an Islamic preacher with special needs and a Holy Qur'an teacher has turned into marriage.

Abdullah had almost drowned in a swimming pool at a sports club in Jeddah. He had remained underwater for 15 minutes. This caused a great deal of damage to his brain which resulted in his paralysis.

The incident made him change his life completely by dedicating it to Islamic work.

The touching story began when Abdullah Banimah, who is completely paralyzed appeared on a satellite television program talking about spreading the message of Islam in several countries in the world.

When his future wife saw the program she immediately told her father about her desire to marry him because she admired him for courageously facing up to his disability and for dedicating his life to Islamic preaching.

Their dream turned true Tuesday when their friends queued along the road leading to the Al-Salam Wedding Hall in Jeddah to wish the couple a happy married life.

Dhaiffallah bin Saad Al-Ghamadi, the bride's father, said:

"My daughter, who works as teacher for one of the Holy Qur'an memorization schools in Jeddah, chose Abdullah on her own. After insisting she wanted to get married to him, I bowed to her will."

Dhaifallah said the reason for marrying Abdullah is for them to work hand-in-hand in the way of Allah.

Omar Banamh, the groom's father, said:

"I have nothing to say but to pray to Allah to crown this marriage by blessing them with pious offspring."

He said he hoped Abdullah will see his children grow up with no disability.

Abdullah was ecstatic about his marriage.

"In the beginning I could not believe this was her desire. She really surprised me. I will never ever forget her noble stand and insistence on accepting me as her husband. I pray to Allah day and night to enable me to make her happy for the rest of my life."

He said he will never forget, for the rest of his days, the many people who had gathered to wish him a happy marriage."

Whew! What a story. Number of points here:

1. There do exist such people Mashaa' Allah. The daughter, her father, her family should all be praised. Imagine yourself in that situation. Would you do that? Or would you allow your daughter to marry a crippled man? What about the extended family? She belongs to Al-Ghamdi family, which means she comes from the so-called "high society". And he is a Hadrami. How difficult would it be for people to disregard social honor and societal pressure?.

This is why these people are special, mashaa' Allah. May Allah increase their guidance and bless them with good in this life and the hereafter. These are the role models of a society. They deserve coverage in the media. People need good examples.

2. Look at the zeal they have for Islaam. Look at how this man's life changed after a tragedy. So the tragedy was the beginning really. A beginning of a journey insha Allah to achieve the eternal.

3. Despite all difficulties, if Allah wants to bless someone with something, it will come to you. Who would have thought a paralyzed man would get married in the first place? He not only got married, but got a wife who is Inshaa' Allah better than many women.

4. Look at the noble way in which the woman approached the issue of marriage. She fell in love -- a genuine liking for the man and wanted to marry him. She spoke to her father and her father approached the man's family. This is so noble. It's the pure path Islaam has facilitated for men and women -- marriage. At stark contrast is the lewd path, where men and women fall into Haraam and illicit relationships. A slippery slope that pulls people down the pit of lust. There's no love, purity or chastity -- there's only pain, selfishness and desires that turn human beings into animals.

sisterparkTABUK — Marzooghah Al-Blewi of Tabuk refused an offer of property and millions of riyals to pardon the man who took her son's life more than two years ago.

Instead, in a dramatic scene after the sentencing in court, the mother of the victim asked to see her son's murderer after which she said that she forgave him without conditions. This was documented in the presence of the judge, and the grateful young man asked the woman to accept him as her son to serve her for the rest of her life.

The victim's mother said that she could not forget the night when her 19-year-old son Suhail was murdered, while she was waiting for him to drive her to visit some relatives.

She accepted the matter as fate and test of her patience from God. She said the killer's family had constantly contacted her offering property and money and seeking forgiveness to spare their son from execution.

She said she resides in Prince Sultan Charitable Housing with her three orphaned daughters, one of whom is completely paralyzed, and her 80-year-old father who is also partially paralyzed.

They live on her deceased husband's pension of SR2,000 in addition to SR1,000 from social insurance. She forgave her son's killer seeking God's recompense.

The perpetrator's father, Ayed Al-Blewi, spoke of the many attempts to have the distraught mother drop the charges by offering SR2 million and his property, but she refused many times, until that day in court.

He offered his sincere thanks to her and to the relatives of the deceased.

"... They should rather pardon and overlook. Would you not love Allaah to forgive you? Allaah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Qur'aan, 24:22)

Source: Saudi Gazette


Sheikh Mustapha al-Majzoub from Sydney, Australia has been martyred in Syria. A truly beautiful brother who benefited so many with his knowledge. One of his last statuses before he was martyred was,

"Inshallah this Eid is going to be special, wallahi the spirit is high and the achievement is great."

Subhanallah how true were his words. Insha'Allah he celebrates his Eid in the heavens.

Words of Sheikh Mustafa Majzoub about his wife.

keep going"Wallahi, if there is anyone I'd like to describe as a warrior and a hero, it'll be my wife Rawya (Umm Amaar) she made the great sacrifice of sending her husband across the oceans and the lands, she gave up her comfort of being close to her husband for the sake of benefiting people she never met, she carried the risk of never seeing her husband again in this world, she carried the heavy load of looking after our 3 children alone and never complained. Wallahi when she found out I'm travelling far away she didn't complain once, rather she only said "I hope to be with you in Jannah if we don't meet again in this world" and she said to me not to worry about my children and that she'll never marry anyone again if I was to be martyred. I thank her for everything and I thank Allah from the bottom of my heart for blessing me with her and I ask Allah to reward her immensely for being the best friend I could ever have.
Wallahi I would never think of having any other wife second to her because "She's all I can ask for".

Subhaan'Allaah. May Allaah Almighty bless this Sister. Aameen.

A Lecture by Sheikh Mustafa Majzoub:

Tears of the Brave

greenniqbThis story was recounted by Prof. Khalid Al-Jubeir, consulting cardiovascular surgeon, in one of his lectures:

Once I operated on a two and a half year old child. It was Tuesday, and on Wednesday the child was in good health. On Thursday at 11:15 am – and I’ll never forget the time because of the shock I experienced – one of the nurses informed me that the heart and breathing of the child had stopped. I hurried to the child and performed cardiac massage for 45 minutes and during that entire time the heart would not work.

Then, Allaah Almighty decreed for the heart to resume function and we thanked Him. I went to inform the child’s family about his condition. As you know, it is very difficult to inform the patient’s family about his/her condition when it’s bad. This is one of the most difficult situations a doctor is subjected to but it is necessary. So I looked for the child’s father whom I couldn’t find. Then I found his mother. I told her that the child’s cardiac arrest was due to bleeding in his throat; we don’t know the cause of this bleeding and fear that his brain is dead.

So how do you think she responded?

Did she cry?

Did she blame me?

No, nothing of the sort. Instead, she said “Alhamdulillah” (All Praise is due to Allaah) and left me.

After 10 days, the child started moving. We thanked Allaah Almighty and were happy that his brain condition was reasonable. After 12 days, the heart stopped again because of the same bleeding. We performed another cardiac massage for 45 minutes but this time his heart didn’t respond. I told his mother that there was no hope. So she said:

“Alhamdulillah. O Allaah! If there is good in his recovery, then cure him, O my Lord!”

With the grace of ALLAH, his heart started functioning again. He suffered six similar cardiac arrests till a trachea specialist was able to stop the bleeding and the heart started working properly. Now, three and a half months had passed and the child was recovering but did not move. Then just as he started moving, he was afflicted with a very large and strange pus-filled abscess in his head, the likes of which I had never seen. I informed his mother of the serious development. She said “Alhamdulillah” and left me.

We immediately turned him over to the surgical unit that deals with the brain and nervous system and they took over his treatment. Three weeks later, the boy recovered from this abscess but was still not moving. Two weeks pass and he suffers from a strange blood poisoning and his temperature reaches 41.2°C (106°F). I again informed his mother of the serious development and she said with patience and certainty:

“Alhamdulillah. O Allaah! If there is good in his recovery, then cure him.”

After seeing his mother who was with her child at Bed #5, I went to see another child at Bed #6. I found that child’s mother crying and screaming,

“Doctor! Doctor! Do something! The boy’s temperature reached 37.6°C (99.68°F)! He’s going to die! He’s going to die!”

I said with surprise, “Look at the mother of that child in Bed #5. Her child’s fever is over 41°C (106°F), yet she is patient and praises Allaah.” So she replied:

“That woman isn’t conscious and has no senses”.

At that point, I remembered the great Hadith of the Prophet (Sallallaahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam): “Blessed are the strangers.” Just two words… but indeed two words that shake a nation! In 23 years of hospital service, I have never seen the likes of this patient sister.

We continued to care for him. Now, six and a half months have passed and the boy finally came out of the recovery unit – not talking, not seeing, not hearing, not moving, not smiling, and with an open chest in which you can see his beating heart. The mother changed the dressing regularly and remained patient and hopeful. Do you know what happened after that? Before I inform you, what do you think are the prospects of a child who has passed through all these dangers, agonies, and diseases? And what do you expect this patient mother to do whose child is at the brink of the grave and who is unable to do anything except supplicate and beseech Allaah Almighty? Do you know what happened two and a half months later? The boy was completely cured by the mercy of Allaah and as a reward for this pious mother. He now races his mother with his feet as if nothing happened and he became sound and healthy as he was before.

The story doesn’t end here. This is not what moved me and brought tears to my eyes. What filled my eyes with tears is what follows:

One and a half years after the child left the hospital, one of the brothers from the Operations Unit informed me that a man, his wife and two children wanted to see me. I asked who they were and he replied that he didn’t know them. So I went to see them, and I found the parents of the same child whom I operated upon. He was now five years old and like a flower in good health – as if nothing happened to him. With them also was a four-month old newborn. I welcomed them kindly and then jokingly asked the father whether the newborn was the 13th or 14th child. He looked at me with an astonishing smile as if he pitied me. He then said,

“This is the second child, and the child upon whom you operated is our first born, bestowed upon us after 17 years of infertility. And after being granted that child, he was afflicted with the conditions that you’ve seen.”

At hearing this, I couldn’t control myself and my eyes filled with tears. I then involuntarily grabbed the man by the arm, and pulling him to my room, asked him about his wife:

“Who is this wife of yours who after 17 years of infertility has this much patience with all the fatal conditions that afflict her first born?! Her heart cannot be barren! It must be fertile with Imaan!”

Do you know what he said? Listen carefully my dear brothers and sisters. He said,

“I have been married to this woman for 19 years and for all these years she has never missed the [late] night prayers except due to an authorized excuse. I have never witnessed her backbiting, gossiping, or lying. Whenever I leave home or return, she opens the door, supplicates for me, and receives me hospitably. And in everything she does, she demonstrates the utmost love, care, courtesy, and compassion.”

The man completed by saying,

“Indeed, doctor, because of all the noble manners and affection with which she treats me, I’m shy to lift up my eyes and look at her."

So I said to him: “And the likes of her truly deserve that from you.”

The End…

Allaah Almighty says: {And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient; Who, when calamity strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allaah, and indeed to Him we will return.” Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided.} (Surah Al-Baqarah 155-157)

Umm Salamah (the wife of the Prophet) said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) saying:

“There is no Muslim who is stricken by a calamity and says what Allaah has commanded him – ‘Indeed we belong to Allaah, and indeed to Him we will return; O Allaah, reward me for my affliction and compensate me with that which is better’ – except that Allaah will grant him something better in exchange.”

When Abu Salamah [her former husband] passed away, I said to myself: “What Muslim is better than Abu Salamah?” I then said the words, and Allaah gave me the Messenger of Allaah (Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) in exchange. (Saheeh Muslim)


shineflowerIt is with heavy hearts that we would like to inform you all that our dear beloved sister who worked so hard and sincerely in the main SOLACE team has returned to her Lord today at the tender age of 22.

Hikmah Adetunji, who coordinated all new SOLACE volunteers and was an integral part of the set up of this organisation to support revert sisters in difficulty was an example to us all. She played an important part in our organisation. She was always full of smiles, laughter, Naseehah and reminders of Allah.

We remember her fondly at our first initial meeting when SOLACE was simply an idea. Her excitement at the prospect of setting up SOLACE was contagious - she was full of ideas and was so excited of being a part of something that Allah would be pleased with.

She was a sister who was so sincere in everything that she did and particularly in her love for the aims behind the work that SOLACE does. There were many times that Sister Hikmah thanked Allah for the opportunity He gave her to support reverts who were less fortunate than she was. Her concern and her love for her work was evident right up until the last weeks of her life despite the way in which she was suffering.

The Director of SOLACE went to visit her in hospital as she battled with cancer and despite the excruciating pain, she asked after the sisters that SOLACE helps and apologised that she could not do the work connected with her role.

All at SOLACE loved her maashaa'Allah and she is going to be missed so very much.

We ask you all to please remember Hikmah Adetunji in your duas now that she faces the next part of her life - her grave. We ask Allah to illuminate her grave - to make it spacious, to forgive her, to shower his Mercy and blessings on her and to admit her into His Beautiful Gardens. Aameen. Please also remember her husband and family in your duas.

Hikmah's janazah will take place tomorrow (25th June 2012) at East London Mosque after Dhuhr Salaah. Please try to attend if possible and please do not forget this beautiful sister of ours in your duas.

We will miss Hikmah so much and we have truly been honoured to have her as part of our main SOLACE team.

Please donate to this noble cause.


flower-tulip-water-drop2Science lecturer Najma Yasmin Gani from South London passed away at the age of 34 on 10 March 2012 after a six-year battle with leukaemia (blood cancer). Babar Ahmad writes about the correspondence he exchanged with her from prison during the final months of her life.

The first letter I received from Najma was in October 2010. Enclosed with the letter was some money and words of encouragement for me. At the end of her letter were a couple of lines requesting that I pray for her, since she was in the final stages of acute myeloid leukaemia.

I wrote back to Najma thereby starting a cycle of correspondence that was to last until shortly before her death. Sometimes she would reply promptly; at other times she would reply after several weeks apologising for the delay due to her being in hospital. She told me the story of her battle against leukaemia since February 2006, describing in detail the types of treatment she was undergoing. One thing that struck me about her letters was the matter-of-fact, at times even humorous, way in which she would describe horrendously painful medical procedures.

Recounting a four-month course of arsenic chemotherapy whose "side- effects are worse than the actual cancer, " she wrote,

"Due to the known damage arsenic has on the heart, I spent a lot of time on the Intensive Care Unit and Cardiac Care Unit ... The heavy-metal constitution of arsenic meant that lumps of it, painful hard lumps, accumulated on my skin which had to be surgically cut away."

She went on to detail her past week of treatment involving six-inch needles into her pelvic bone and bone marrow, three intravenous lines in her hand,

"the removal of my Hickman line (attached to my jugular vein, requiring seven stitches and a lumbar puncture - spinal cord injection), " and daily blood tests. At the end of this passage she wrote, "I am still smiling though."

Despite all these medical procedures, her letters would be full of concern for other people. She would tell me about her work with, a charity seeking bone marrow donors for sick children in the Asian community. I was particularly touched by the story of Amun Ali, a cute and chubby 10-year old boy from Birmingham with a bone marrow disorder that had already claimed the life of his 4-year old brother. I would ask Najma for regular updates on his situation. On 19 June 2011 Najma replied,

“Before I update you about my health, let me inform you that Amun Ali passed away in March this year. We found a bone marrow donor for him. However, the entire process is very aggressive and his young body couldn’t it...Truly devastating for all of us.”

Her concern for others began with her own parents before anyone else, especially her mother. She wrote,

"But perhaps the worst thing about my cancer is the effect it has on my parents. I don't know what it feels like to be a parent, so cannot fathom how my mother stops her own life just to put some comfort into mine ... She has never left my side since the first day I was diagnosed ... She is so firmly committed to my care, she never stops smiling and praying for me every time I catch a glimpse of her. Parents are such a mercy, even at my age I need her. I feel so humble as I promised I would always look after her, and be there for her, but it seems to be the other way round.”

Every now and then, however, Najma would reveal the true extent of what she was going through:

“I’m tired and exhausted and in pain most days ... My dreams are a respite from the painful, invasive, draining and toxic treatment I have to endure daily... Sadly my bones remain in agony and I refuse morphine simply because I feel numb and emotional ... I have had a 6-inch needle into my spinal cord. It really hurts, in fact it burns. It's a level of pain I never knew existed ... I don't know why I am still alive...”

Najma's unshakeable faith in God and the After-life is what fuelled her determination to bear her ordeal with dignity:

“I know my Creator is a Merciful One and I know I shall be rewarded for my struggles and that fact alone makes my journey bearable ... When I think of Allah's love, it makes some of this pain bearable... In the blood cancer unit, I see tragedy, pain, helplessness and misery most of the time. But there is something very special about believers: they never complain, not to others anyway. Their resolve comes from knowing that we shall only be transient in this world ... And Allah knows best. "

Najma's last letter to me was written on 20 November 2011, from her hospital bed, where she had been for several weeks by then. Unlike all her previous letters, this one was written in poor handwriting with disjointed line structure.

"I wrote this letter from my room in the ward. I can barely lift my head up; it might even be incoherent... The chemotherapy has damaged my eyes so I can barely see on some days ... I am still vomiting from the chemotherapy and most of my hair has fallen out ... "

Despite her condition she still enclosed some money for me and went on to congratulate me for receiving 140,000 signatures in the e-petition campaign:

"We are all praying for relief from your hardship. Nothing can remain the same. Things will change. "

She continued,

"Sickness teaches you so much: humility, mercy, obedience, the list is endless... Patience is a hard lesson, but very beneficial indeed. I was always impatient and in a hurry, rushing around wasting my life away until sickness entered my life and I was forced to reflect ... Some days I think I won't make it through but those days are the ones that I forget that Allah has already written it down for me ..."

During Najma's final weeks and days my family visited her in hospital many times. As her condition deteriorated I sent her one final card in which I encouraged her to look forward to the reward that God had prepared for her in Paradise. My mother told me that Najma spent a long time reading and re-reading the card.

graveblackThe next day, on 05 March 2012, she was taken to the Intensive Care Unit and she passed away a few days later, on the Saturday afternoon of 10 March 2012. All those present testified to the look of extreme peace and serenity on her face after she died. After a funeral attended by hundreds of people, she was buried in the Gardens of Peace cemetery in Ilford, Essex. May God have mercy on her and reward her for her patience through suffering.

I have learnt from my journey through life that there is rich inspiration to be gained by sharing the living moments of those who, for whatever reason, have been deprived of life. Whenever I have met cancer sufferers, the crippled, prisoners in indefinite detention, the blind and the dying, I have seen them attach a value to life, people and friendship that is unseen in others. To pass objective judgement on something, one must be external to it. Since they live in the twilight between life and death, they are able to see life for what it really is. They value every second of their existence and the people around them because they know that everything in life is temporary. In doing so, they increase the value of their own lives and the lives of those whom they touch.

The name 'Najma' in Arabic means 'star'. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) once said that one of the reasons God created the stars was to act as beacons for those who want to find their way. Najma's life was a beacon to any of us who have lost our way. Her life (and death) was the inspiration to many people, most of whom had never met her, even though she never realised it.

Through her six years of hell, Najma taught us how to be pleased with God's destiny and how to confront hardships with dignified patience. She taught us how to cherish everything you have and how to value people because you don't know how long you will be with them. She taught us how to smile in the face of suffering and how reaching out and helping others in pain can relieve our own pain. Through her life, Najma taught us how to die. And through her death, she taught us how to live.


Former tv actress and star, Sara Chaudhry has recently completely changed and now wears the veil, submitting herself completely to what Allah Almighty says. May Allaah grant us all Tawfeeq. Aameen.


madiinah67Al-Hasan Al-Basree, the leader of the disciples of the Companions of the Prophet was, in fact, the son of Yasar the slave of Zayd Ibn Thabet Al Ansari. His mother Ummul-Hasan was a slave woman of Umm Salamah, the wife of the Prophet (peace be upon him). So he was born in the house of the Prophet, and his father's master was one of the famous scribes who recorded Divine revelation for the unlettered Prophet.

Yasar, father of al-Hasan was a slave captured in Meesan between Basra and Waset in Iraq. He lived in Madinah where he was liberated from slavery. Then he got maried two years before the end of Uthmân's caliphate.Al-Hasan was brought up in Wadi Al Qura. Another report says that Ummul Hasan was captured and taken prisoner of war when she was pregnant. She gave birth to al-Hasan in Madinah. What is sure, however, is that al-Hasan was the son of two ex-slaves.

Muhammad Ibn Sallam says that Umm Salamah used to send Ummul-Hasan to do anything for her. Al-Hasan used to cry in his mother's absence; so Umm Salama would breast-feed him for some time. She would also bring him out to the Companions of the Prophet while he was still young. They would pray for him. Once Umar Ibn Al-Khattab said:

"O Allah! Make him well-versed in religion and make people love him."

Al-Hasan al-Basree was as his name implies, the greatest scholar of Basra city. He met Uthmân, Talhah and a number of other senior Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Abu Hilal says:' I heard al-Hasan say:

"Moses the Prophet of God, used to cover his private parts whenever he took a bath."

Ibn Burayda asked al-Hasan: "Whom have you heard this from?"

"From Abu Huraira", he said.

Al-Hasan says:

"I used to enter the rooms of the Messenger of Allah during the caliphate of Uthmân; I would touch their ceilings for I was a grown up boy then. I was 14 years old when Uthmân was killed".

A beautiful tradition reported by al-Hasan al-Basree on the authority of Anas Ibn Malek is the following. He said:

'The Messenger of God peace be upon him used to give the Friday sermon while standing near a piece of wood against which he would lean his back. When the number of people increased in the Masjid he said:
"Make a pulpit of two steps for me", which they did. When the Prophet stood up to give the sermon on Friday the said piece of wood moaned as if it expressed its feeling of missing the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). Anas comments: "I was in the mosque and heard the piece moan. It continued to moan until the Prophet descended to it and embraced it. Then it was silent."'

As a matter of fact, whenever al-Hasan narrated this tradition he would cry and say: O slaves of God! A piece of wood misses the Messenger of God! It is you who should do so.

It may sound strange how can a piece of wood moan and feel sorry and miss the absence of the Prophet. First of all there are other authentic traditions that confirm this incident. As Muslims we believe that everything in this world glorifies the praises of God. Trees and stones used to greet the Messenger of God, which is one of his minor miracles.

Rabeeah Ibn Kulthoom quotes al-Hasan al-Basree as saying:

'We learnt from Abu Huraira the following: "The Prophet ordered me to do three things: To take a shower every Friday, to finish my prayers nightly with one final prostration and to fast three days of every month."

Muhammad Ibn Saad says in his famous encyclopedia called Al Tabaqat that al-Hasan al-Basree was all embracing in his knowledge, a real scholar of a high standard, one who excels in jurisprudence, reliable as a source, trustworthy, a sincere worshipper, overflowing with learning, outspoken, beautiful and handsome. He was also one of the bravest men. No one looks like him except a prophet. That is why Ibn Burda says:

"No one is similar to the Companions of the Prophet as he was."

Thus Abu Qatada says:

'Keep close to this old man, for I have seen no one whose opinion is like that of Umar as al-Hasan is. Anas Ibn Malek says: "Ask al-Hasan for he still remembers while we forgot."'

Muath Ibn Muath says: I said to Al Ashaath: "You have met Atta and you had questions to ask why didn't you ask him?" He said:

"I have never met anyone after al-Hasan al-Basree but was small in my eyes."

Hammam says:

"It is said that the earth will never be lacking in seven men; through them people will get rain, and with their blessing they will be defended and I hope that al-Hasan is one of them."

A man asked Atta about reciting the Quran on the funeral. He said: "We never learnt or heard that it is recited upon." The man said: "Al-Hasan says that we have to recite." Atta then said:

"Follow this, because al-Hasan is a great scholar."

Abu Jaafar Al Razi says: I remained a student of al-Hasan for ten years during which I always heard something new. Once al-Hasan described the effect of the Quran on the believer. He said:

"Son of Adam! By God if you recite the Quran then believe in it then your sadness will be long in this life, so will be your fear and your weeping."

That is why one contemporary of al-Hasan says:

"I never saw anyone who had such a long time of sadness as al-Hasan al-Basree. Everytime I met him I thought he had a new misfortune."

Imam Al Qasseer says: Once I asked al-Hasan about something. Then I said: "Scholars of jurisprudence say so and so". He said:

"Have you ever seen a real scholar of this category. Such a scholar is he who is not interested in this life, who knows his sins and who continuously worships his Lord."

Khaled Ibn Safwan was a close neighbour of al-Hasan al-Basree. Describing him once he said:

"I never saw a man like him. His outward appearance is identical to his inner reality, his words are identical to his deeds; if he enjoins what is right he is the first to do it, and when he forbids what is wrong he is the farthest one from it. I found him never in need of other people, but people were in need of him."

Al-Hasan al-Basree once swore by Allah that he will be humiliated by Allah (i.e.:) who honours money. That is why he said:

"Two bad comrades are the dinar and the dirham. They are useful to you only when they leave you."

Hajjaj Al Aswad says: A man once expressed the following wish. He said:

"I wish I were a hermit like al-Hasan, as pious as Ibn Seereen, as a good worshipper as Ubadah Ibn Abd Qays and as understanding jurisprudence as Saeed Ibn Al Musayyib." Those who heard these wishes said:

"All these are found in al-Hasan al-Basree."

Iyas Ibn Abi Tameema says: 'I saw al-Hasan in the funeral of Abu Raja. He was riding a mule and Al Farazdaq, the famous poet, was along his side on a camel. The latter said to al-Hasan: "You and I are higher than all those attending the funeral. They will say: 'Look! The best and the worst are together alone.'" Al-Hasan very humbly said:

"O Abu Firas. It may be that a bad looking person is much better than me; and you are better than many old men who are polytheists. What have you prepared for death?"

Al Farazdaq said: "The testimony that there is no diety except God." Al-Hasan said:

"It has its own conditions. Don't attack chaste women in your poetry."

Al Farazdaq asked: "Is there any chance for repentance?" Al-Hasan said:

"Of course there is."

Sahl Ibn Hussayn Al Bahilee said: "Once I sent (a message) to Abdullah, (the) son of al-Hasan al-Basree, and asked him to send me all the books of his father."

He wrote to Sahl saying: "When my father became seriously ill he asked me to collect them which I did. Then al-Hasan ordered his servant to burn them all except one paper which he sent to his son. When the latter came to his father al-Hasan he asked him to read the contents of the paper which he did and al-Hasan approved it."

Some of the wise sayings of al-Hasan:

· Saleh Al Murri said, al-Hasan said:

"Son of Adam! You are nothing but a number of days, whenever each day passes then part of you has gone."

· Mubarak Ibn Faddalah said: 'I heard al-Hasan say the following:

"Death has shown the reality of this worldly life. It did not leave any happiness for those who are wise."'

· Thabet quotes al-Hasan as saying:

"The laughter of a believer is a sign of the inadvertence of his heart."

· Talha Ibn Sabeeh said: al-Hasan said:

"A believer believes in what God has said. He is the best of men in his deeds, but he fears God most, so that if he spends the size of a mountain of money, he would not be sure of his reward until he sees this with his own eyes. The more righteous and charitable the believer is, the more afraid of God he becomes. While the hypocirte says: 'Men are too many, I shall be forgiven. There is no harm on me.' Thus he acts badly, but wishes many things from God."

This wise saying of al-Hasan al-Basree reminds me of another saying which describes real faith according to Islam. Faith is not mere wishes but what you have in your heart which is confirmed by your deeds. This means that deeds are the real test of faith.

Younus said:

'When death approached al-Hasan he began to say:

"We are from God and to Him we shall return."

When he repeated this his son said:

"My father you make us sad for your sake. Have you seen anything around you which you don't like?" Al-Hasan said:

"It is only myself nothing is more heavy for me than it is."

Hassan Ibn Hisham says: "We were with Muhammad Ibn Seereen on Thursday evening when a man told him about the death of al-Hasan al-Basree. He was so sad that he kept silent and the colour of his face was changed. He lived after al-Hasan for one hundred days only. May God be pleased with both."


Abul-Mundhir Ash-Shareef (Mansoor Al-Barakaati), from the Ahlul-Bait (Direct Descendants of the Prophet (peace be upon him)'s family), Makkah, Arabian Peninsula. Killed during a Communist mortar attack on Qandahar, South Afghanistan, Summer 1990. 1st Hand Account.

"Never in my life have I seen one man love another man as much as I saw Abu Muhammad love Abul-Mundhir..." [Sheikh Abu Sulaiman]

kabahshareefBorn into a family who were direct descendants of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Abul-Mundhir grew up in Makkah with his five younger brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, he found bad company even in Makkah itself and began to drink alcohol within the Sacred City of Makkah. By the time he reached his late teens, both of his parents had passed away and he was left with the responsibility to bring up his five younger brothers and sisters, being the eldest of them all.

In 1987, at the peak of the Afghan Jihad, one of his younger brothers left the house without Abul-Mundhir's permission and he travelled to Afghanistan to join his brothers in the Jihad there. When Abul-Mundhir found out, he was furious. He tried for several months in vain to get his brother to return, but it was no use. Having exhausted all other means, Abul-Mundhir was left with no choice but to travel to Afghanistan himself in order to bring his brother back personally. Full of anger, he travelled to Afghanistan in the summer of 1987 with the intention of bringing his younger brother back home. However, Allah had willed another purpose for his visit to Afghanistan.

The moment he crossed the Pak-Afghan border and entered Afghanistan, he felt his 'heart shake' as he himself later described. He experienced feelings of all types as he entered into Afghanistan, feelings that he was entering a divine and blessed place. Instead of searching for his brother, Abul-Mundhir decided that he may as well as get some military training whilst he was there and see for himself what all the uproar of Jihad was about. He thus travelled to Jalalabad and entered one of the training camps. He stayed there for approximately two months.

By the end of his training, his mind and heart and turned around 180 degrees. He was no longer interested in returning home himself, let alone search for his brother in order to send him home. As he left the training camp, he said to brothers with whom he had developed a close friendship:

"From Afghanistan, lights will shine all over the World."

After spending some time on the Front in Jalalabad, he travelled to the Southern city of Qandahar, where some of the most vicious fighting in the whole of Afghanistan was taking place, due to the vast open, barren areas around Qandahar, hardly containing any natural cover. He stayed in Qandahar, fighting the Russian Forces and displayed unbelievable feats of bravery and heroism.

During one reconnaissance patrol, he ventured alone to the positions of the Russians in order to obtain intelligence about them. As he was approaching their positions, he came across a Russian post manned by six Russian soldiers and one Afghan Communist. Undeterred, Abul-Mundhir removed the safety catch from his assault rifle and quietly crept up to the post, without the enemy noticing. Once he was within five or xi metres of them, he opened fire on them. With the Help of Allah and his advantage of surprise, Abul-Mundhir was able to kill all seven of the enemy soldiers without receiving a single scratch. He gathered their weapons and walked back to the Mujahideen camp.

It was similar feats to this, together with his lovable personality and incredible popularity amongst the Afghan Mujahideen, who would normally keep to themselves and not mix too much with the Arabs, that he was chosen to sit on the Mujahideen Command Council for the entire Qandahar region. It was only a matter of time before the Council, together with all the other Afghan and Foreign Mujahideen in Qandahar, decided who they wanted to be their leader. After all, who else could they choose for their leader, other than the direct descendant of the Prophet (peace be upon him), who was, at the same time, brave, wise, intelligent, lovable and an excellent leader? In late 1988, Abul-Mundhir was made Ameer of the entire Foreign Mujahideen forces in the Qandahar region.

At that time in Qandahar, there was not a single man loved by as many people than Abul-Mundhir. Both the Afghan and the Foreign Mujahideen used to jokingly say to him:

"You are the Mahdi! You are our Ameer and you are the Ameer-ul-Mumineen (Leader of the Believers) since you are from the Quraish Tribe and a direct descendant of the Prophet (peace be upon him)!"

Abul-Mundhir would become angry at the brothers for saying that to him and he would seek forgiveness from Allah for them attributing something to him which he felt he was not worthy of. The Mujahideen also made many poems and songs about him to this effect and they would tease him with them. Whenever a successful operation would be carried out against the enemy, the Mujahideen would jokingly say to each other that Allah gave the Mujahideen success in the battle because of the presence of the Mahdi (i.e. Abul-Mundir) in their ranks. Abul-Mundhir would become very angry at such suggestions and would leave their company to sit by himself and seek forgiveness from Allah for what they were saying.

And so, month after month passed and the Mujahideen witnessed victory after victory until the Soviet Red Army withdrew from Afghanistan in February 1989, defeated and humiliated. The Jihad continued against the Communists and was not much lighter than the Jihad against the Soviets, since the Communists were still being helped by Soviet weapons, officers and logistics. Abul-Mundhir remained with his brothers, patient under fierce aerial bombing attacks and harsh conditions.

His Martyrdom

Thus came the summer of 1990, by which time Abul-Mundhir had spent over two full years in Afghanistan of which one year was spent as the Ameer of the Mujahideen in Qandahar. Abu Muhammad, the beloved companion and best friend of Abul-Mundhir, describes what happened on that midsummer evening, just before Maghrib (sunset) time.

"I was on a motorbike and had just returned to the Mujahideen base from the village nearby. I glanced in the distance and about 30m away I saw Abul-Mundhir sitting alone on a chair on the roof of a small stone house. The sun was about to set and the sky was filled with the reddish glow of Maghrib time. Abul-Mundhir was alone on the roof of the house and he was looking at the sky, making the remembrance of Allah. I looked at him and shouted to him,


No sooner had I said that, that a 120mm mortar shell landed on the house and exploded. The force of the explosion knocked me off my motorbike and I fell to the floor. Once the dust and daze of the explosion had gone, I stopped worrying about myself, but immediately thought about Abul-Mundhir. I looked to the house and could only see rubble. All the brothers rushed to the house to see if Abul-Mundhir was OK. One of the brothers helped me to go there.

We reached the house, and there, in the midst of the rubble, Abul-Mundhir was lying, loudly shouting:



'Laa ilaaha illallah'.

Large chunks of shrapnel had sheared open the side of his stomach and his inner body parts had spilt out. He was bleeding heavily. Immediately, the brothers rushed him to the Mujahideen ambulance and began the journey to Quetta, across the Pakistan border, where he could receive expert medical attention."

One driver and two brothers accompanied Abul-Mundhir in the ambulance. One of these brothers was Julaybeeb, from Makkah, and the other one was Sheikh Abu Sulaiman, also from Makkah. Sheikh Abu Sulaiman describes the journey:

"Night had fallen and the sky was dark by the time we joined the main road to the Pakistan border. The driver was driving without lights, since the enemy would almost certainly have bombed us had they seen us. Abul-Mundhir had lost a lot of blood. He was still conscious, but in a daze. He was saying to me:

'O Abu Sulaiman! I love Allah! I love Allah! I love Allah! O Abu Sulaiman! I am fed up from this worldly life! I want to go to Allah and rest once and for all, away from this World! O Abu Sulaiman! I really love Allah! I really love Allah!'

I replied to him, 'O Abul-Mundhir! What are you saying?! You are the Ameer of the Mujahideen! You have only received a slight injury. Soon we will be in Quetta, have your injury attended to and then you'll come back!'

However, he kept on saying to me:

'No, O Abu Sulaiman! I have had enough of this world and want to rest! Abu Sulaiman, I really love Allah! I really love Allah!'

Saying this, he fell asleep. The journey was long and we had now been travelling for several hours into the night. A little distance before we reached the Afghan border town of Spin Boldak, I fell asleep but Julaybeeb remained awake."

Julaybeeb describes what happened next:

"Sheikh Abu Sulaiman was very tired and had dozed off to sleep. Abul-Mundhir was also asleep. A little while later, Abul-Mundhir suddenly opened his eyes. He stared into the distance, raised his right index finger and began to say:

'Laa ilaaha illallah Muhammadur-Rasoolullah', 'Laa ilaaha illallah Muhammadur-Rasoolullah', 'Laa ilaaha illallah Muhammadur-Rasoolullah'.

full_moonAfter saying that three times, he closed his eyes and his pure, innocent soul (we hope from Allah but do not sanctify anyone above him) left his body to join the One he was impatient to meet.

As that happened, I witnessed two things for which Allah is also Witness. The entire ambulance filled with a beautiful scent the likes of which I have never ever experienced before in my life. Secondly, I heard a sound inside the ambulance, similar to the sound of the humming of bees and the chirping of birds, even though we were in an ambulance in the middle of the Afghan desert, in the middle of the night."

Sheikh Abu Sulaiman later commented that this sound was probably the remembrance being made by the Special Angels of Mercy who descend and personally witness the great ceremony of the Shaheed's soul leaving his body to join its Creator.

The ambulance continued to the town of Spin Boldak, near the Pakistani border, where Abul-Mundhir was buried. Sheikh Abu Sulaiman himself placed Abul-Mundhir's body into his grave, where it remains to this day to be raised up infront of Allah on the Day of Judgement, from a blessed land; the land on which there fell the blood of caravans upon caravans of martyrs in order to bring life to the Muslim Ummah.

Sheikh Abu Sulaiman and Julaybeeb returned to Qandahar with the sad news. This news hit the Mujahideen like a thunderbolt that devastated them. The Mujahideen began to weep at the loss of their dear friend, brother, leader, fighter, warrior, example, and direct descendant of the Prophet (peace be upon him). That day was not the day that only the Foreign Mujahideen wept, but it was also the day when hundreds of the Afghan Mujahideen, who rarely weep even when their parents die, wept at the departure of Abul-Mundhir from this World on his journey to the Eternal Paradise in the Company of His Beloved.


sceneryAllah has set forth the wife of Pharaoh as an example for all the believers when she said: "My Lord! Build for me a home with You in Paradise (al-Jannah), and save me from Pharaoh and his work, and save me from the people who are Dhaalimoon (polytheists, wrongdoers, and disbelievers in Allah)." (Soorah At-Tahreem, 66:11)

Pharaoh was among the most haughtiest and disbelieving of people. Yet, by Allah, his wife was not harmed by her husband's disbelief and instead obeyed her Rabb.

Abu Ja'far Ar-Raazi relates that Abu 'Aaliyah said: The Eemaan of the wife of Pharaoh came through the wife of the treasurer of Pharaoh.

She (the wife of the treasurer) was sitting and combing the hair of Pharaoh's daughter when the comb fell from her hand. She exclaimed:

"Wretched is the one who disbelieves in Allah!"

The daughter of Pharaoh said, "Do you have a Rabb (Lord) other than my father?" She replied, "

My Rabb, your Rabb the Rabb of your father and the Rabb of all there is!"

The daughter of Pharaoh slapped and hit her for her statement and then went to inform her father Pharoah of this incident.

Pharaoh sent for her and said, "Do you worship a Rabb other than me?" She replied,

"Yes. My Rabb, your Rabb and the Rabb of all there is and He alone do I worship."

Pharaoh then tortured her and had her bound to a stake, tightly tying her hands and legs; he set vipers upon her and left her in that state for some time. One day he came to her and asked, "Do you give up?" She said to him,

"My Rabb, your Rabb and the Rabb of everything is Allah!"

So he said to her, "I will slaughter your son in front of you because of your mouth (i.e. statement) if you don't stop." She replied,

"Do what you will."

He then slaughtered her son infront of her, while which her son's soul gave her the following glad tidings:

"Glad tidings my mother, you will have the reward of such-and-such from Allah."

She then became patient and forbearing until Pharaoh again came to her one day and said the same as he had before. She replied as before, so he slaughtered another of her sons infront of her and his soul also gave her the good news,

"Be patient my mother, for you will have the reward of such-and-such from Allah."

Aasiyah's Trial - Narration one

The wife of Pharaoh heard the speech of the eldest son's soul and then the younger one as well. So the wife of Pharaoh believed and Allah took the soul of the wife of Pharaoh's treasurer. The veil (of darkness and misguidance) was removed from the wife of Pharaoh until she could see her (i.e. the woman's) reward, her station and her honor in Al-Jannah. This gave her faith, surety, and absolute veracity and sincerity.

Ibn Jareer (rahimahullah) narrates: "The wife of Pharaoh asked:

'Who was the victor? (i.e. between Pharaoh and his magicians and Musa and his brother)'

It was said: 'Musa and Haaroon.' So she said,

"I believe in the Lord (Rabb) of Musa and Haaroon."

This was when Pharaoh sent for her and ordered:

"Look for the biggest boulder you can find and if she sticks to her words cast her upon it. If she takes back her words then she will remain my wife."

Ibn Jareer (rahimahullah), after mentioning another chain of narrators, wrote:

"The wife of Pharaoh was tortured under the sun; when he would go away from her they (the birds) would cover her with their wings. She was then even shown her home in Al-Jannah."

When they went to her she raised her eyes to the sky and saw her home in Al-Jannah. This made her stronger and so she stuck to her faith in Allah Almighty. When her soul was being taken out of her, she felt nothing; nothing was thrown onto the boulder except a soulless corpse.

Regarding her words, "My Lord! Build for me a home with You in Paradise (al-Jannah)", the scholars said:

"Aktaaratul-Jaar qabl ad-Daar (She chose the neighbour before the dwelling i.e. Allah Almighty.)"

Aasiyah's Trial - Narration two

Pharaoh said to his cronies, "What do you know about Aasiyah Bint Muzaahim?" They proceeded to praise her so he said to them, "She worships other than me." So they said to him,

"Execute her!"

She was put on a stake and her hands and feet were tied tightly on it and she called upon her Rabb. She said,

"My Lord! Build for me a home with You in Paradise (al-Jannah)!"

and this was accepted for her in Pharaoh's presence so she laughed when she was shown her dwelling place in Al-Jannah. Pharaoh said:

"Aren't you astounded by her madness?! She laughs as I torture her!"

Thus Allah took her soul to Al-Jannah, radiAllahu 'anhaa.


"My brother, will you keep a secret for me until the day I die?"

holyQuranHis Name: al-Yaman al-Aswad
Kunyah: Abu Mu'awiyah
Status: Later generations
Location: Tarsus (located between present-day Syria and Turkey)

He is Abu Mu'awiyah bin al-Aswad, from the greatest of the awliyaa' (allies, friends) of Allah. He was a companion of the great scholars Sufyaan ath-Thawri, Ibrahim al-Adham, and others.

Abu az-Zahiriyyah narrated: "I went to Tarsus, I met Abu Mu'awiyah al-Aswad after he had become blind. In his house, I saw a Mushaf hanging from the wall and so I asked him, "May Allah have Mercy on you! A Mushaf when you cannot even see?" 

He replied,

"My brother, will you keep a secret for me until the day I die?"

I replied: "Yes." He then said to me:

"Indeed, when I want to read from the Qur'an, my eyesight comes back to me."

Abu Hamzah Nasir bin al-Faraj al-Aslami - and he was a servant of Abu Mu'awiyah al-Aswad - narrates something similar:

"Abu Mu'awiyah had lost his eyesight. If he wanted to read from the Qur'an, he would search around the room for the Mushaf until he would find it. As soon as he would open it, Allah would return his eyesight to him. As soon as he closed it, his eyesight would leave him."

Source: Gems from 'Sifat us-Safwah' (The Characteristics of the Most Excellent) by Imam Ibn al-Jawzi. His story is also featured in 'Siyar A'lam an-Nubala'' [8/43].


pretty-autumn-leavesBishr ibn Al-Harith ibn Abdur-Rahman ibn A'taa bin Al-Marwzi was also known as "Bishr Al-Haafee" (Bishr, the Barefooted). He was born in Marw in 110AH and settled in Baghdad where he lived and passed away in 227 AH.

He was known for being an ascetic, intelligent, knowledgeable, correctness of Madhab (school of thought), living in minimum and giving up what was more than needed. He was very cautious when narrating Prophetic Narrations, fearing to narrate something which maybe weak or fabricated. This is why he said:

"No one should ever narrate a Hadith until he is sure it is authentic."

He was companion and friend of Imaam Ahmad ibn Hanbal. That's why we find 'Abdullah ibn Ahmad narrate that when Bishr passed away, '...I advised my father, Imam Ahmad, about his death so my father said:

"May Allah bestows his mercy upon him, we always enjoyed his remembrance."

Then he left and witnessed his funeral.' Furthermore, Ibn Hibbaan said in his book "Ath-Thiqaat":

'Bishr was following the Madhab of Sufyaan Ath-Thawri in his Madhab.'

This proves that he was not a Sufi heretic.

His Repentance

It was said that he used to be a thief and one day he found a piece of paper with the name of Allah Almighty on it, thrown in a dirty place. He became upset, picked up the paper and cleaned it. He only had one Dirham and with that he purchased perfume. He perfumed this paper and placed it on a wall.

After this incident he went to visit his friend. His friend informed him of a dream he had seen, the like of which he had never seen in his life and said to Bishr,

'I will not tell you the dream until you tell me about something you did in secret and which only you and Allah know about.'

Bishr replied: 'I do not recall anything but…( he mentioned his story of paper).'

The man told him his dream and said 'Someone called out to me and said:

"Tell Bishr you raised our name to glorfy it and we will raise your name in this life and hereafter."

Source: Tahtheeb At-Tahtheeb by Ibn hajar and Tahtheeb Al-Kamaal by Al-Mizzi and Ath-Thiqaat by Ibn Hibbaan.


desertgoodpicOmar Mukhtar (rahimahullah) (1862 - September 16, 1931) was from the tribe of Mnifa, born in a small village called Janzour located in the the eastern part of Barqa- not to be confused with the city of western Libya called Janzour which is more well known. He was the leader of the resistance movement against the Italian military occupation of Libya for more than twenty years. In 1912, following the Italian capture of Libya from the occupying Turks the previous year, Omar Mukhtar organized and devised strategies for the Libyan resistance against the Italian colonization.

Italian Invasion

In October of 1911, Italian battleships reached the shores of Libya. The Italian’s fleet leader, Farafelli, made a demand to the Libyans to surrender Libya to the Italians or the city would be destroyed at once. The Libyans fled, but the Italians attacked Tripoli anyway, bombing the city for three days and thereafter proclaiming the Libyan population in Tripoli to be "committed and strongly bound to Italy." The event marked the beginning of a series of battles between the Italian occupiers and the Libyan Omar Mukhtar's forces.

Guerrilla Warfare

A teacher of the Qur'an by profession, Mukhtar was also skilled in desert tactics. He knew his country’s geography well, and used that knowledge to his advantage in battles against the Italians, who were not accustomed to desert warfare. He repeatedly led his small, highly alert groups in successful attacks against the Italians, after which they would fade back into the desert terrain. Mukhtar’s men skillfully attacked outposts, ambushed troops, and cut lines of supply and communication. The Italians were left astonished and embarrassed to have been outsmarted and tricked by mere "bedouin."

Concentration Camps

In an effort to weaken the resistance movement led by Mukhtar, the Italians imprisoned Libyan men, women and children in concentration camps. By holding these people in the camps, the Italians were attempting to weaken the Libyan resistance in two ways: one, they were cutting of all food supplies so they would starve , and two, they were preventing more men from joining omar mukhtar's forces. About 125,000 Libyans were forced into these camps, about two-thirds of whom died.
Despite the imprisonment of his people, Mukhtar was determined to continue the struggle, to continue fighting for the liberation of his country and people.

Capture and Execution

Mukhtar’s nearly twenty year struggle came to an end when he became wounded in battle and was subsequently captured by the Italian army. The Libyan hero was treated like a prize catch by the Italians.

Though in his sixties, Mukhtar was shackled with heavy chains from his waist and wrists because of the army’s fear that he just might escape. Mukhtar’s capture was a serious blow to his people. However, his resilience had an impact on his jailors, who later said they were overwhelmed by his steadfastness. His interrogators later confessed that Mukhtar looked them in the eye and read verses of peace from the Qur'an as he was tortured and interrogated.

Mukhtar was tried, convicted, and sentenced to be executed by hanging in a public place. The fairness of his trial has been disputed by historians and scholars. When asked if he wished to say any last words, he replied with the Qur'an: "From Allah we have come, and to Allah we will return." On September 16, 1931, in the hope that the Libyan resistance movement would wither and die without him, Mukhtar was hanged in front of his followers on the orders of the Italian court.

Today his face is shown on the Libyan 10 Dinar bill. His final years were immortalized in the movie The Lion of the Desert (1981), starring Anthony Quinn, Oliver Reed, and Irene Papas.

May Allah bless him with Jannatul Firdaus. Aameen.


returnReturn of the Pharoah relates how, falsely accused of conspiring to kill Jamal 'Abd an-Nasr, the author was arrested and imprisoned. While awaiting trial she was subjected to the most terrible and inhumane torture. This book describes in a captivating manner the ordeal which this Muslim activist went through in the notorious Egyptian prisons. Instead of dampening her enthusiasm for Islaam and the Islamic movement, the afflictions and savageries in Nasir's prisons increased her commitment and dedication to the cause of Islaam. This autobiographical work can be considered a historic document in that its author was an active witness to one of the most volatile periods of Egypt's contemporary history.

The full PDF of this book can be accessed and downloaded from here (please be patient as the book loads).

Some excerpts from "Return of The Pharaoh" ("Ayyaam min Hayatee"):

The condition that she made to her husband prior to their marital bond is as follows:

"However, I believe one day I will take this step that I wish and dream of. If that day comes, and because of it, a clash is apparent between your personal interests and economic activities on the one hand, and my Islamic work on the other, and that I find my married life is standing in the way of Da'wah and the establishment of an Islamic state, then, each of us should go our own way."

"I cannot ask you today to share with me this struggle, but it is my right on you not to stop me from jihad in the way of Allah. Moreover, you should not ask me about my activities with other Mujahideen, and let trust be full between us. A full trust between a man and a woman, a woman who, at the age of 18, gave her full life to Allah and Da'wah. In the event of any clash between the marriage contract's interest and that of Da'wah, our marriage will end, but Da'wah will always remain rooted in me."

"I accept that ordering me to listen to you is amongst your rights, but Allah is greater than ourselves. Besides, we are living in a dangerous phase of Da'wah."

The response of her husband was: "Forgive me. Carry on your work with Allah's blessing. If only I could live to see the establishment of an Islamic state and the Ikhwan's goal achieved! If only I was still in my youth to work with you!"

Description of the persecution on her in prison:

"The next moment the door was locked and a bright light switched on. Now their purpose was revealed; the room was full of dogs! I could not count how many!

Scared, I closed my eyes and put my hands to my chest. Within second the snarling dogs were all over me and I could feel their teeth tearing into every part of my body. Clenching my hands tight into my armpits, I began to recount the Names of Allah, beginning with 'O Allah! O Allah!'…. I expected that my clothes would be thoroughly stained with blood, for I was sure the dogs had bitten every part of my body. But, incredulously, there was not a single bloodstain on my clothes, as if the dogs had been in my imagination only."

"I do not know how but I fell asleep while invoking Allah, and it was then that I experienced the first of four visions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that I was to see during my stay in prison. There in front of me, praise be to Allah, was a vast desert and camels with hawdahs as if made of light. On each hawdah were four men, all with luminous faces. I found myself behind this huge train of camels in that vast, endless desert, and standing behind a great, reverent man. This man was holding a halter, which passed through the neck of each camel. I wondered silently: 'Could this man be the Prophet (peace be upon him)?'"

"Silence has no safeguard with the Prophet, who replied: 'Zaynab! You are following in the footsteps of Muhammad, Allah's Servant and Messenger.'"`

"I remained in my cell for six consecutive days: from Friday 20th August to Thursday 26th August 1965. My cell door, during these six days was never opened. I was given neither food, drink, allowed to go to the toilet nor any contact with the outside world, except my warder who, now and then, peeped through the small hole in my cell door. You can imagine, dear reader, how a person can live in such circumstances."

"Write down the names of all your acquaintances on the face of this earth. If you don't, we will shoot you where you stand. Write down the names of all your Ikhwan acquaintances and everything about your relationship with them.

They then left the cell, closing the door behind them. I wrote: 'I have many friends, in many countries, who have known me through Islamic da'wah. Our movements on this earth are for Allah, and He leads those who choose His path. This path is the same as that which the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions followed before us. Our aim is to spread Allah's message and to call for the implementation of His rule. I call you, in the Name of Allah, to leave your Jahiliyyah, renew your Islam, pronounce the Shahadah and submit and repent to Allah from this darkness that has swathed your hearts, and which prevents you from doing any good deed. If you do so, perhaps Allah will take you out of this abyss of Jahiliyyah and bring you to the light of Islam."

"Then, at the Adhan of Fajr, I prayed, raising my hands and invoking Allah: "O Allah! If You are not angry with me I don't care, but Your grace is more befitting to me. I seek refuge in the light of Your Face, That which has enlightened darkness and on Whom the matters of this life and the Hereafter have settled, that Your Curse does not befall me. To You is our obedience until You are pleased and there is no might or strength except with You."

"His whips found every part of my body, the cruelest thing that Jahiliyyah had known both in terms of cruelty and bestiality. As the torture and pain intensified, I could not suppress my screams any longer; I raised my voice to Allah. I repeated His great Name: 'O Allah! O Allah!' Whilst the whips tore into my body, my heart found contentment and affinity with Allah. I lost consciousness but they tried to arouse me to take more punishment. Blood poured from my feet, and unable to pull myself up, I tried to lean on the wall. Safwat persisted with his whip. I begged to be allowed to sit on the floor but Shams Badran shouted: "No! No! Where is your God now? Call Him to save you from my hands! Answer me, where is your God?"


Imaam al-Bukhaari, Abu 'Abdillah Muhammad Ibn Ismaa'eel Ibn Ibraahim Ibn Al-Mughirah Ibn Bardizbah Al-Bukhaari, was born in 194 AH/810 CE in Bukhara in the territory of Khurasan (West Turkistan).

Imaam al-Bukhaari was one of the greatest compilers of ahaadeeth (Prophetic Narrations). His father died while he was still in his infancy and his upbringing was left entirely to his mother, who looked after his health and education very carefully and spared nothing in order to provide him with the best education.

Historians relate a remarkable incident that occurred during the Imaam's childhood. He became blind at a young age. He had recourse to many famous and skilled doctors of his time but their treatments made no difference. His mother was a pious worshipper and a righteous woman. She cried to Allah the Almighty for help for her child and begged for the restoration of his eyesight.

Because of the endless prayers of his mother and her nights spent weeping, the Imaam's sight was miraculously restored. The Imaam's mother was informed by means of a dream in which the Prophet Ibraaheem ('alayhis-salaam) appeared and said:

"Allah has restored the sight of your son because of your intense and beautiful invocations."

In the morning, as Imaam al-Bukhaari got up from his bed, his eyesight was fully restored.


purple_darkish_skyFrom the time I could remember, I mostly saw sadness and a concern over my mothers face. She, who should not be so old looking in her age, looked about ten years above her age.

She would spend time thinking about matters, thinking very deep. I used to wonder what made her so old so soon…

She told me that she never liked sins even from her childhood and whenever a sin was thought of, somehow Allah took her heart away from it. She once told me how, (before I was born), her friends would come to take her to the cinema and she would go there.

But she said,

‘Not one night could i think of what was happening in the film.’

For her thoughts went beyond what was on the screen; she said she thought about all the sins and free mixing which was occurring and how she felt fear of Allah.

This was when she was about 25-35. She then began making excuses to her friends, they understood and left her alone.

Although she was formally educated, as she was from a noble family as in tradition, she never knew much about religion. But it's strange that I would always see her holding on to whatever she did know. I would see her praying all the prayers and the mandatory prayers.  I saw her reciting the Qur'aan every day. This was before she knew the straight path (i.e. before she gained more knowledge about Islaam). I used to observe that she would very strict in the matters of Islaam which were common in our society and culture. Whenever music was played she would say,

‘It is the singing of shaytaan’.

It was like this until a change came into our house…


We as a family were not living according to the Sunnah (Prophetic Guidance) but this was later introduced in to my house. It was my mother who was the first to adhere to this path. At that time the people who acted on Sunnah were very few, just a hand full. People used to mock my family members due to our acting on Islaam (fully). A big change was seen in her after she started practicing the Sunnah. She was even more firm in her belief and actions.

quran_karimHer daily routine would be that she would awake for tahajjud (the night vigil) and after praying tahajjud she would recite Qu’raan in the night. I used to hear her voice when I awoke. She would sleep half-an-hour before Fajr (the obligatory Dawn Prayer) and get up for Fajr again. After Fajr she would recite the adhkaar and then go and prepare breakfast. After preparing breakfast she would be seen doing house chores. After she was done with this, she would be seen reading the translation of the Qur’aan and believe me that was all we had of books. She never abandoned Dhuhaa - four rak’ats always and as for tahajjud, I think she prayed 5-7.  She was always seen fasting on Mondays and Thursdays. Then she prepared lunch and prayed Dhuhr (the obligatory noon prayer). After Dhuhr she would serve us lunch and after finishing that, she would again be seen reciting the Qur’an and then she would take a siesta.

She would awake for 'Asr (the obligatory mid-day prayer) and after 'Asr she’d prepare some tea. After completing a few housechores, she’d be seen reciting Qur’an and reading adhkaar. She’d always be ready for prayers. Seldom, would I see her not ready for prayers when the prayer was called for. After Maghrib she would again recite Qur'aan with its translation. After a while she would prepare dinner and after 'Isha she would sleep early. She was a very kind women who spoke little. I never heard her backbite or involve herself in gossip.  Rather, I saw her sometimes stop her friends in a very kind manner by which none would be offended.

The neighbours would never hear her voice spoken out aloud. Never did I hear her laugh out loud; her laughter was such that a sound could not be heard. She was known for her good behaviour, (as) she would never argue with anyone. She would always forgive and would advice me to do the same. She didn’t hold a grudge with any one except the taaghoots (false deities) and their allies. She was greatly harmed by our neighbours due to their criticizing, as they detested us for practising Islaam. Also before that (i.e. before we became practising) many would be jealous of us. However my mother was extremely kind and lenient towards them.

She would take out for them some of what she cooked. She never frowned while she spoke. Even her enemies testify that she was an extremely pious woman and would repay bad with good. I remember one of our neighbours who would harm my mother with her tongue a lot, until sometimes my mother would be seen crying due to what our neighbour said, but my mother was always kind to her and treated her exceptionally well. After sometime, this woman was struck with poverty and my mother used to always ask her about her health and still be kind to her to the extent that this woman cried one night in our house, saying to my mother,

‘How good and generous you are!'

I always remember that my house was never empty of a stranger who would come to eat. These were mostly little children with poor clothes on. Later I came to know that they were cast aways and orphans whom my mother used to take care of.

She would always send me with some food, like a rice bag or flour or money to houses in different places. All of this was charity. Infact alot of her spending was not known to us until she passed away, for when she passed away many poor people came and said she would always send them money and take care of them…

purplescarf_copyShe loved the religion so much that she was called ‘leader of the sisters’ by all the practising brothers in our place who were very few. She was always praised by the brothers and sisters. They would say about her (not in front of her) 'a living example of Islaam' and they would all call her ‘mother’. When we started practicing the Sunnah she was almost in her fifties. She would always invite brothers and sisters for some food. Many decisions for marriage would pass by under her consultation.

She was also tried by the apostate so called Islamic regime of our country and was jailed thrice because she practised Islaam firmly without compromise. But that never changed her stance, for she was seen even stronger after they released her. The periods of imprisonment were for a small period each time. She was even feared by the investigators, as these investigators would beg her not to pray against them for they saw that her prayers would be accepted…

This made her have an evident stance regarding the government and its false scholars. She would say in anger that she would slay so and so because they mocked the Sunnah of the Prophet (salallahu 'alayhi wassallam).

As for her connection with me, she was a very soft mother but very harsh on religious matters. She prayed for me a lot and sent me to study Islaam abroad when I was young. She loved me a lot and would cry a lot due to my absence when i studied abroad (my sisters said she almost fainted the first time I left to study although she was the one who sent me there. Also the reason I first went to study Islaam was due to her crying and appeal that I must learn Islaam. At that time i didn't want to, but later on Allaah put love of it in my heart).

She would always advice me in her letters to act on what I learnt. She never encouraged that I become just a Shaykh with a mere certificate but rather a person of action. Her advise for me was short and concise. She said,

“Study Islaam, act upon it and preach it. Be patient over what you face, and don’t come back to see me again. Rather after you study, run to the fields of Jihaad and seek martyrdom, for I hope we will meet in Jannah! Inshaa’ Allah (Allah willing).”

I saw tears flowing out of her eyes after she said this.

She passed away in an accident which occurred in a foreign country while she was in her early sixties. Many mourned her death and praised her.

It was only later on in her final days that I came to know about what the sadness was, the sadness which she used to hide under her smile.

It was her fear of Allah.


kabahshareefSeven centuries had passed since the Zubaydah canal, which brought water to Makkah from outlying springs, had been constructed. The passage by now had reached a bad state of repair, with the wells and springs having dried up and the canal now being full of sand and stones.

It was 965 AH (1557 AD) when a Turkish princess Fatimah, daughter of the Uthmaani ruler Sultan Salim came along. She took on the task of rebuilding the 'Zubaydah canal'. The rebuilding of the canal was extremely difficult and involved Egyptian, Syrian and Yemeni engineers and masons.

On the canal's route, there was a large rock 50 feet wide and 2000 feet long which looked as if it was going to stop their efforts. The chief leading the project lost heart and had fear of not being able to overcome it. Fatimah refused to accept this as a permanent obstacle.

At that time dynamite did not exist, the only way to cut through such large rocks would be to heat them up with coal to high degrees and then cut the stones with sharp tools. It took hundreds of workers, who burnt millions of tons of fuel. In 979 AH (1571 AD) they were successful and the rock was overcome.

Soon afterwards water again began to flow to Makkah by way of the repaired Zubaydah canal and the event was celebrated with a great feast.

Due to her commitment to rebuilding the canal, Fatimah was nicknamed 'Zubaydah Thaani' (Zubaydah the second).

This demonstrates to us the power of persistence.


beautifulbluepurpleThe people of Maisan (a valley of many small towns between Basra and Wasit in Iraq) had collected an army against the Muslims. Mughirah bin Shu'bah took the Muslim army and went out to wait for them at Al-Murghab (a river) but the enemy did not appear straight away. Azdah, who was with the women back at the Muslim base camp, said,

"Our men are busy in combat with the enemy and I do not feel secure, as the enemy might turn back upon us, and we do not have anyone here to prevent them.

And I also fear that the enemy may be too great for the Muslims and that they may defeat them. If we go out, we can be secure from what we fear, and the pagans will think that we are reinforcements coming in aid of the Muslims, which will surely break them."

She thus strategized.

The women responded to what she wisely planned. She made a banner out of her khimaar (headscarf) and all the women made banners out of their khimaars and marched, with her in the lead, voicing out poetry for the victory of Islaam.

They reached the battlegrounds when the pagans were battling with the Muslims. When the pagans saw the banners, they believed the Muslims were being reinforced with more troops, they thus retreated and the Muslims chased them.

Thus the Muslims conquered that region. May Allah have mercy on Azdah, the wise.

Source: Translated and abridged from Umar Kahhala's Aalaam an-Nisa, vol. 1.


catholic priest 1Jakarta | A catholic priest from the island of Java in Indonesia who has woken up from a 17 month long coma has converted himself to Islam after the man claims Allah spoke to him and showed him “the beauty of the heavens”.

The 87-year old priest from Spain has lived and preached on the island for more then 43 years and is fluent in Javanese and various dialects of the different ethnic groups of the island and is a well known and respected figure amongst all religious groups of the area.

The man who has suffered a cardiac arrest while helping local volunteers to fix the roof of his own church and fell an incredible two stories high has managed to survive and come out of his coma, in brittle shape, yet a changed man.

catholic priest 2
                                                (Priest Eduardo Vincenzo Maria Gomez weeks before his tragic accident)

“I know nothing of Islam. Never once have I read the Quran but God spoke to me and asked me to follow him to the heavens and the Holy light shone through my entire being and behold the golden gates of heaven appeared before me and God told me his name and it was Allah” told the newly convert to a journalist of the Kalimantan Press.

The man who miraculously suffers no spinal injury should be able to walk soon, admits the physician who took care of him at South Jakarta’s Metropolitan Medical Centre. “This must be the strongest 80-year old I have ever seen. His bones should be smashed to pieces” ponders Jim Won May, who has practiced medecine for over twenty years. 

His conversion to Islam took most of his church followers by surprise, but interestingly enough, already half of his christian followers have showed interest in converting to Islam. “If Allah is the true God, I don’t want to be misled in the wrong direction on judgement day. I trust Father Eduardo. We all believe in him” explains one of his followers.

The priest who is still under medical attention has already ordered the construction of a new mosque and his followers are already hard at work to find the funds necessary for the task. “We owe it to Father Eduardo for all he has done for us” comments one of the devotees of the old catholic church, that is now for sale.

Source: World News Daily Report.

candle78This report is about a man who lived inhuman life of untouchables in India but rose to the pinnacle of the field of his artistic endeavors and then ... As he says" The whole process started with a sequence of dream. It was in 1988. I was in Malaysia and had a dream of an old man who was asking me to embrace Islam"

MINA, 12 January 2006 — From a non-believer to a worshiper; from polytheist to monotheist; from Dileep Kumar to Allah Rakha Rahman, the famous music wizard has come a long way. This journey, he says, has completely changed his outlook toward life.

Rahman is well-known in India. He revolutionized Bollywood music, giving it a new direction. But in Mina, the man was spiritually charged, relaxing in his camp after Isha prayers, remarkably very far from the rhythm of success.

He said that in India’s film world, people change Muslim names to Hindu ones to get success but, “in my case it was just the opposite from Dileep Kumar to Allah Rakha Rahman — and I’m very proud of it.”

Rahman’s music is everywhere: in discotheques, in malls, at wedding parties, on satellite channels, in taxis. He is a celebrity in his own right. His face adorns the cover of every album he cuts. Autograph hunters hound him wherever he goes. A couple of companies have tried to lure him into product endorsements, but he refused, preferring to distance himself from the glare and the sometimes self-indulgent afterglow of fame.

Such was his attitude when Arab News met him yesterday in Mina after a hunt of five hours that had started just after Maghreb prayers.

Once a practitioner of idolatry, Rahman now talks about Islam like a scholar. He winced as he spoke about the ignorance of some Muslims and the divisions among them on trivial issues.

Rahman, who has come to perform his second Haj with his mother, utilized every bit of his stay in Mina, Arafat and Madinah in prayer and remembrance of God to “cleanse the inner self.”

He said Islam is a religion of peace, love, coexistence, tolerance and modernity. But due to the behavior of a few of us, it’s labeled as an intolerant orthodoxy. He says that the image of Islam is being tarnished by a small group of people and that Muslims must come forward to present before the world the correct picture of their divine faith.

“The enormity of their ignorance of the Islamic history and its code of conduct is mind-boggling. We should be united in fighting these elements for the cause of Islam,” he said. “Muslims should go to lengths to follow the basics, which say ‘be kind to your neighbors, keep smiling when you meet others, pray and do charity.’ We should serve humanity. We should not show hostility toward others, even to the followers of other faiths. This is what Islam stands for. We should present before the world a model through our behavior, nature and presentation.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) never used his sword to spread Islam; rather he spread the religion through his virtues, behavior, tolerance and righteousness. And this is what is needed to change today’s distorted image of Islam.”

Talking about his Haj, Rahman said, “Allah made it very easy for us. And up until now, I have enjoyed every bit of my stay in the holy land and I pray to Allah to accept my pilgrimage.”

For him, the stoning ritual is a physical exercise that symbolizes internal struggle: “It means the defeat of temptation and killing the devil inside ourselves.”

“I would like to tell you that this year I got the most precious gift on my birthday, Jan. 6. Allah gave me the opportunity to confine myself inside the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah and pray all through the day. Nothing could match this experience and that too on my birthday; I am extremely delighted and thankful to Allah,” he said.

Rahman said that prayers release his tension and give him a sense of containment. He performs prayers despite heavy work pressure. “I am an artist, but despite tremendous work pressure I never skip prayers,” he said. “I am very punctual in offering the day’s all five prayers on time. This releases me from tension and gives me hope and confidence that the Lord is with me, that this is not the only world. It reminds me of the Day of Judgment.”

It was in the year 1989 that he and his family embraced Islam.

Talking about his reversion, Rahman said, “The whole process started with a sequence of dream. It was in 1988. I was in Malaysia and had a dream of an old man who was asking me to embrace Islam. For the first time, I did not take it seriously, but then I saw the same dream several times and I discussed it with my mother. She encouraged me to go ahead and to respond to the call of the Almighty. Also, in 1988, one of my sisters fell seriously ill and in spite of the family’s effort to cure her, her health deteriorated by the day. Then under the guidance of one Muslim religious leader we prayed to Allah, which did wonder for my sister and she made a miraculous comeback to life. Thus, began my journey from Dileep Kumar to A.R. Rahman.”

He said the decision to embrace Islam was a mutual one with his mother. Not one to normally discuss this aspect of his private life, after taking a pause, Rahman narrates succinctly, “My mother and I resolved to follow one faith … we wanted to cleanse ourselves of our sorrows.”

After initial doubts, his three sisters also embraced Islam. For them he has tried to be a role model, he said. However, his eldest sister was divorced later.
Rahman began learning piano at the age of four. But life was not all that hunky-dory for the young boy who lost his father at the age of nine.

The responsibility of supporting his mother Kasturi (now Kareema Begum) and three sisters soon fell on his young shoulders. He began his prosperous musical career at age eleven out of necessity.

Rahman is married to Saira. They have three children: two girls, 10 and seven, and a three-year-old son.

Rahman performed his first Haj in 2004. This time, he is accompanying his mother.

“I wanted to bring my wife also for Haj this year, but since my son is only three years old, she could not make it. God willing, I will come again — next time with my wife and children,” Rahman said.

disheartened*Click here if you haven't heard Mike's reversion story.

John: Hi Mike. How are you?

Mike: Well, I've just had my cardiac pacemaker replaced and I now have to use a C-pap machine to help me breathe when I'm asleep, but apart from that...

John:'re fine?

Mike: I guess so. I can still get around. I thank God for what I can do; I could be much, much worse. The main problem I have is tiredness, lack of energy. Strange how it comes on when there are dishes to be washed...!

John: Yeah, right! What's on the agenda work-wise, then?

Mike: I'm still working on my book on the Essex case with John Triplow. Completing the last few chapters has been a painstakingly slow process, but we're nearly there. The problem is that the case is still on-going, so we could still be adding chapter after chapter, but you have to draw the line somewhere. Neil, Mark and Chris came to visit us recently, and it was good to see them again.

John: Are they three of the principal witnesses?

Mike: Yes. Their collective experiences could fill a library.

John: What else are you working on at the minute?

Mike: I'm still working on a history of the Jinn; a race of creatures Muslims believe were created after the angels but before humankind. Their activities have been documented since the dawn of history. They are invisible to us, but they are very, very real. Some of the Jinn are good and are happy to co-exist happily with humans, but many of them are vindictive and deceptive. The latter type revel in tormenting and teasing humans.

John: Are they mentioned in the Qur'an?

Mike: Yes. There's a common misconception that Satan is a "fallen angel" or "demon". He isn't. You can actually work out from the Bible indirectly and the Qur'an explicitly that Satan - or Shaitan, as Muslims call him - is a Jinni.

John: Do people ever criticise you for believing in the Devil?

Mike: Do you mean do they think I'm nuts? Of course. The problem is that the Shaitan of Islam is nothing like the stereotypical Devil of Christianity. The Shaitan of Islam is a much more believable. There are over two billion Christians in the world as well as over one and a half billion Muslims. The vast majority believe in Satan or Shaitan, as do the adherents of many other religions, so its not as if I'm in a minority. The flak tends to come from the usual suspects; local skeptics and, recently, some rather vicious mouthpieces in New York who seem to think they have the religious status of prophets and the intellectual powers of Einstein. The truth is they're bonkers. You could fit their entire membership into a garden shed, but they're the only ones who allegedly have "the truth". Bonkers, bonkers, bonkers. Apparently I'm now going to Hell because I don't share their views about, uh, Hell, amongst other things. Weird...

John: Have any researchers suggested that your perception that all paranormal phenomena are related to the Jinn is too simplistic...that's it's a "one size fits all" solution that is just too convenient?

Mike: No one has ever said that to my face, but I know some think that way. Instead of saying, "You know how you believe the Jinn do this or that...?" they'll say, "You know how you believe the Jinn or whatever they are do this or that...?" They'll drop subtle hints like that which indicate they aren't sure my view is correct. The truth is they don't need to, because I fully understand that people may not share my views on Jinn theory, and that's okay. They don't need to be tactful, although I appreciate their good intentions.

John: Don't minority opinions go down well in the world of paranormal research, then?

Mike: Jinn theory is not a minority view. It is shared by over one and a half billion people on this planet. All I've done is to express it as a explanation for paranormal phenomena as well as believe in it as part of my faith as a Muslim. And I'm not the only one. A growing number of Muslims are openly suggesting that the Jinn are responsible for a wide range of paranormal phenomena, including apparitions, cryptids and UFOs. The more one studies Jinn theory the more sense it makes as a comprehensive explanation for what non-Muslims call "the supernatural".

John: Is Jinn Theory perfectly compatible with conservative Islamic theology?

Mike: Yes, and I wouldn't promulgate it if it wasn't. I'm not a minority-sect Muslim. I'm mainstream. Innovation against the accepted teachings of Islam as found in the Qur'an and the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) is a serious error in our religion. You can't be a Muslim if you don't accept those two sources of information as authentic, so if an aspect of Jinn Theory is incompatible with the teachings of my faith, then that aspect of Jinn Theory goes out of the window, plain and simple.

John: Couldn't that be interpreted as nothing more that blind faith in your religion?

Mike: Maybe by some non-Muslims, but it all comes down to who or what you trust. I have no doubts about the trustworthiness of the Qur'an and the teachings of its Prophets (PBUT), and there wouldn't be much point in me being a Muslim otherwise. The fact that Jinn Theory fits so perfectly with the teachings of my faith only convinces me more that the teachings of my faith are authentic.

I don't think its blind faith, then, but a faith which is compatible with everything I see around me, including what years of research have told me about the nature of paranormal phenomena.

John: Have any of your Muslim teachers ever tried to dissuade you from your research?

Mike: Absolutely not! Research is encouraged in Islam more than any other religion I know. We are urged to study history, theology, hermeneutics...Islam is not a faith of ignorance. That's why if you watch the debates on YouTube between Muslim and Christian scholars of equal calibre the Muslim scholars nearly always win hands-down. I'm not being arrogant; its just a fact. Its easier for a Muslim to prove his faith from the Bible than it is for a Christian.

John: Don't you respect other religions then, like Christianity and Judaism?

Mike: Of course I do. I have great respect for them, but every Jew, Christian and Muslim is aware of the fact that there are substantial doctrinal, theological and eschatological differences between our faiths. That's just the way it is. We can disagree with each other, but at the same time be respectful in our disagreement. We can all learn by engaging in cordial dialogue.

John: After your book on the Jinn is finished, what's next?

Mike: I'm seriously thinking of writing a purely theological-cum-historical book. I'm fascinated by the radical differences in the way Christians and Muslims believe Jesus' life on earth ended. Christians believe he was crucified, Muslims believe he wasn't. Both sides claim that they can defend their own stance from both Biblical and non-Biblical sources. I'm considering writing a book analysing all the available evidence and demonstrating that the Christian view that Jesus (PBUH) was crucified is a historical impossibility.

John: The Christians are going to just love you for that...

Mike: I don't want to upset Christians, but if Jesus (PBUH) wasn't crucified then they need to be aware of the fact, otherwise their entire faith is based upon a lie.

John: They're never going to accept that though, are they?

Mike: It depends on two things; how open-minded they are, and how well I present the evidence. I know that many Christians will never accept that the crucifixion of Jesus (PBUH) never happened, because their entire faith is based upon the premise that it did.

John: And that's definitely going to be your next project?

Mike: I can't be absolutely certain, but its a strong possibility.

John: Why is so much of what you write controversial? Is it deliberate?

Mike: No. Understandable, but not deliberate. I'm an investigative journalist, and there isn't much point investigating something which has already been solved and put to bed. When you investigate historical mysteries, its inevitable that much of the time you'll uncover new evidence that forces you to reach unorthodox conclusions. Now, if there are others who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, and promoting an orthodox view of history, they aren't going to be happy when someone comes along and says, "It ain't necessarily so". You can't help but precipitate a degree of controversy when you work on this field and do what I do. I don't enjoy annoying people, but I'm certainly not going to keep quiet just because some guy in Boise, Idaho gets his long-johns in a twist because I don't subscribe to his particular brand of religion, or whatever.

John: Do you think you'll simply swap one set of critics for another, then?

Mike: Some I'll leave behind. I'll also collect new ones who are more interested in religion than the paranormal. Some will follow me and criticise me whatever I write, because its me they don't like. I can live with that.

John: As always, thanks for your time, Mike

Mike: No problem.

Mike Hallowell was born in South Shields, Tyne & Wear, in 1957. He was educated at Jarrow Central School before starting an apprenticeship in Dental Technology. He then changed his career path several times before spending a number of years in the Police Service. Finally he launched his own media business and became a full-time freelance journalist.

Drawing on over four decades of research, Mike specialises in writing about the supernatural and paranormal phenomena, although he also pens books and features about local history and other subjects.

Mike has written over twenty columns during his career, including WraithScape, which is the longest-running paranormal newspaper column in the UK, and From Across the Pond, a UFO-centred blog for the IRAAP website which has been running since 1998. Mike also penned Mike Hallowell's Backlight for UFO Matrix magazine and currently writes the Geordie Monsters blog for the website of the Centre for Fortean Zoology.

Mike has lived all of his life in the north east of England, and is passionate about his Geordie roots. He has been married to his wife Jackie for over thirty years, and has three children and three grandchildren.

In 2007, Mike was diagnosed with the brain disorder narcolepsy. His symptoms have been described as "moderate to severe", and he needs to take a number of different medications to enable him to function "with anything akin to normality". Mike also suffers from a potentially fatal cardiac condition called ventricular standstill which came very close to killing him in 2006. His near-fatal episode made the headlines, but he survived and is now kept alive by a pacemaker buried within the muscles of his chest. Despite his poor health, he continues to write and broadcast unabated and once said he is determined to do so, "until the Grim Reaper sends me an e-mail telling me that my services are needed elsewhere".

Mike's books include the now-infamous South Shields Poltergeist (co-authored with Darren W. Ritson), Invizikids, The House That Jack Built, Ghost Taverns (Also co-authored with Darren W. Ritson), Paranormal South Tyneside and Christmas Ghost Stories.

Michael J. Hallowell penned over a dozen books before his conversion to Islam. Some were on subjects such as herbal medicine, others on local history. The majority were on various aspects of the supernatural, although since embracing Islam his views have changed regarding the origin of many paranormal phenomena. He is currently writing books on the same subject, but from an Islamic perspective. Notification of their publication dates will be made on his page:

sisteronbeachThe challenges faced by British women who have converted to Islam have been investigated in a study by the University of Cambridge Centre of Islamic Studies (CIS) and the New Muslims Project.

Thousands of British women have converted to Islam but nobody has ever studied the difficulties they face in being accepted, says Shahla Suleiman, the project manager for the study for which 47 converts were interviewed.

"Considering the stereotypical and largely negative picture Islam has in the media and society at large ...we wanted to understand the seemingly paradoxical issue of why highly educated and professionally successful Western women convert to Islam."

The report says more support is needed for converts, but also recognises the potential converts can have on the heritage Muslim community and British society as a whole.

The Catholic child
Imelda Ryan, a charity sector worker from Oxfordshire tells the BBC, with a wry smile:

"My conversion was about, 26/27 years ago. I still haven't gone back to Catholicism yet".

Ryan was brought up by her mother in an Irish Catholic single parent household in the UK. As a child she aspired to be a nun, but during her teenage years she broke away from the Catholic faith.

By her late twenties, with a successful career in the charity sector, financial security and many friends, Imelda felt something was lacking in her life. The mother of four said:

"I joined the Samaritans as I wanted to do something, so called, meaningful with my life".

She worked with Muslims, and fondly looks back on the time when they would try to convert her to Islam. Many of her colleagues suggested reading the Koran, but it was reading a book explaining Islam, that brought about her conversion. Mrs Ryan said:

"In that book it sort of gave an a-z of what a moral, ethical, spiritual, person should be.

"It just knocked me over. This book is saying, what you would like to be is Islam."

Mrs Ryan recalls her own conversion, and how telling friends of her new faith was relatively easy. However telling her family was more of a challenge.

"When I told my mum, understandably the question was, if you want to be religious, if you want to be spiritual, why don't you come back to Catholicism? Why did you go to another religion? Why didn't you come back to your own religion?"

Everyone's religion
Unlike some of the women taking part in the study, Imelda was able to maintain a close relationship with her mother. She told the BBC:

"I had to explain to her, actually, Islam is everyone's religion. If you read about Islam, it incorporates Christianity, Judaism, it's a religion for all people, of all faiths."

Mrs Ryan thinks the strength of her mother's faith made it easier for her to understand her daughter's conversion. She didn't need to explain to her mother the need for spirituality in her life, as it was already an integral aspect of her mother's life.

In fact Mrs Ryan thinks her religious and moral upbringing was the natural starting point for her journey to Islam. She recalls telling her mother:

"I'm coming from a place you began, it's a continuance for me, and a fulfilment of the person, you wanted me to be."

After her mother's death Mrs Ryan found a letter she had written to her. It said 'I know one day you will come back to Catholicism.'

"That made me very sad, it's not that she didn't accept me, we had a wonderful relationship, but there was a tiny bit of her that hoped I'd sort of made a mistake."

Mrs Ryan is able to reflect on the changing perception of Islam over the last 26 years. She said:

"I think since I converted that so many more people know about Islam, the saddest aspect of that is they know about it through 9/11 and 7/7...We want to say this is not in our name."

Wearing a hijab
Mrs Ryan believes the decision to wear a head scarf is down to the individual. One of the reasons she has chosen to wear a hijab is to be recognised by other Muslim women.

"I'm proud to be Muslim I don't shy away from it ... but actually in terms of negativity and positivity I think there are many more positive things that have happened as a result of me wearing than not." Mrs Ryan said.

The report found the experiences of women wearing headscarves varied depending on the environment they live in. Muslim women are often far more visible in British cities.

Mrs Ryan lives in a quite Oxfordshire village, and jokingly describes herself as 'the only Muslim in the village'. She enjoys the conversations that start because she is wearing a hijab and answering questions for the curious.

Ruqaiyah Hibell is the author of the report and a researcher for the New Muslims Project. From her own experiences converting to Islam, she can empathise with and help new Muslims. She told the BBC:

"The basic set of challenges that they all face are, how to integrate into existing heritage communities. How to retain contact with their original heritage while moving on and being the person they want to be within a new environment as well."...

The report found many converts keep their faith a secret, afraid to share their spiritual journey with family and friends. Mary Batool Al-Toma, director of the New Muslims Project told the BBC:

"I think spirituality in itself draws from people around a variety of different responses. Some of them not so pleasant, some of them quite positive and wholesome."

But there are problems facing all British Muslim women, whether recently converted or born into the faith, they all face a general lack of inclusion in mosques.

Mrs Al-Toma compares the situation, with her own experiences attending a Catholic church in Ireland as a child. She recalls how men and women were separated into two lines as they approached the priest.

The report also highlights the need for sermons to be conducted in English, alongside other languages.

The research shows the huge variety of experience and challenges Muslim converts face, and some of these challenges are universal.

Imelda Ryan worked hard to maintain the loving relationship she had with her late mother. She told the BBC:

"I hope she realised as a Muslim girl I was a better daughter, maybe a better mother, a better wife I don't know."

Source: BBC.

ArnoudVanDoorn1Former Dutch Islamophobe Arnoud Van Doorn unveiled plans to produce an international film on Prophet Muhammad and Islam to "repair the damage" he believes he had previously caused.

In an exclusive interview with Okaz/Saudi Gazette, Doorn, who reverted to Islam last month, said that he will devote his life fully to spread the true message of Islam and the Prophet of Mercy through promoting the film across the world.

"I will spare no efforts to protect the rights of Muslims in all European countries as well as to serve Islam and its followers throughout the world. I will try my best to repair the damage that I caused to Islam and its Prophet through the film 'Fitna'," he said.

Doorn, a former leading member of far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders' party, visited Saturday the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah to pray and say sorry for becoming part of the blasphemous film. Doorn was among the Freedom Party leaders who produced the film, Fitna.

After visiting the Prophet's Mosque, he arrived in Makkah Sunday and performed Umrah. Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, head of the Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, and other presidency officials received him.

In the interview, Doorn said that he regrets being a part of such an offensive film.

"However, now it is a closed chapter and absolutely I don't want to recall about it. The film that sparked widespread reactions was a totally wrong step on our part as it contains a lot of misleading and incorrect information that are nothing to with this noble divine religion and its Prophet (pbuh)," he said,

- adding that he wants to do some remedial work so as to minimize the damage caused by 'Fitna.'

Doorn said he decided, in cooperation with the Toronto-based CDA, to produce an international film aimed at removing misgivings about Islam and its Prophet.

"I will use all my experience in producing an alternative film, which will speak about the true image of Islam and all aspects of the personality of the Prophet as well as his great qualities."

Doorn repented for his involvement in the blasphemous film.

"It was unfortunate that I did not make any efforts to know what really Islam is and who is the Prophet before blindly believing in the misinformation campaign being unleashed by the anti-Islamic forces. When I came to realize that it was not Islam, I decided to study about the religion and that led to my conversion," he said.

"Now, I am really enjoying the beauty of Islam and am extremely delighted in Allah's great blessing to guide me onto His path. It is an explicable experience for me," he said

-adding that his former colleagues in the Freedom Party are angry at his acceptance of Islam, which is still a bête noire for them.

"The party stands against Islam and its spreading in Europe. Some of them now consider me as a traitor."

Doorn has a message to those who oppose his reversion to Islam.

"Let me tell them that this is my personal decision and I see a new life in Islam that I don't want any way to give it up. I happened to see on social networking sites several comments, expressing feelings of antagonism and hatred toward me," he said

- adding that all these sprang out of ignorance, contempt and animosity against Islam and the Muslims.

He also thanked all those who supported him and commended him for beginning a new life as a Muslim.

Referring to his visit to the holy land, Doorn said:

"Had anybody mentioned me about visiting the land of the two holy mosques earlier, I would have called him a lunatic.
"But what happened now is realization of a dream and it is still unbelievable for me that I am now in the holy city that hosted the Prophet (pbuh)."

He continued saying:

"I couldn't control my feelings when I stood in front of the grave of the Prophet (pbuh) as well as in Rawdah Sharif, near the pulpit used by the Prophet (pbuh). When I prayed at Rawdah Sharaif, my eyes were full of tears as I had the feeling that I am in a part of the Paradise."

Doorn said that he was amazed to see the intensity of love and affection the Muslims have for their Prophet (pbuh).

"I also realized the intensity of hatred that some Westerners have against Islam and the Prophet (pbuh) and that was based apparently on their ignorance and prejudice.

"Therefore, I decided to make endeavors to repair the damage caused by the offensive film, which was produced with an ulterior motive of creating sedition in between Muslims and non-Muslims," he said,

- adding that he took a pledge in front of the grave of the Prophet (pbuh) that he would strive to spread his true message and his great qualities that are instrumental in promoting peace and harmonious relations among the people worldwide.

While thanking CDA for introducing Islam to him, Doorn unveiled his plans to associate with its Dawa wing, which is comprised of several well-known Islamic preachers and scholars.

He also had the  privilege of sewing the Cloth for the Ka'bah which will be placed on the Ka'bah this year:


SubhaanAllaah, the title says it all. A Muslim telecommunication worker gives an old Belgium woman a call mistaking her for payment on an internet bill. The conversation which follows is just amazing...

Note: At 1:51, the old woman (I believe) meant to say "chosen" is one of the names of the Prophet (pbuh) but said Allaah.

*Please click here if you can't see the above video.


DeenMohammadShaikhSuch are Deen Mohammad Shaikh's powers of persuasion that he has converted 108,000 people to Islam since 1989, the year he left his birth religion Hinduism behind.

His multi-coloured business card describes the Matli dweller as the president of the Jamia Masjid Allah Wali and Madrassa Aisha Taleem-ul Quran – an institute for conversions to Islam.

The reedy 70-year-old brandishes an embellished cane. A red-and-white keffeiyah perched on his shoulder offers people a hint to his theological leanings.

As he speaks to The Express Tribune, his arm slices an invisible arc through the air. He is gesturing to a vast expanse of nine acres of donated land where converts are invited to pitch a tent and stay.

"My heartfelt wish is that the entire world becomes Muslim,"

- comes his response, when asked about the en masse conversions. His piety is matched only by its ambition.

But contrary to the grandiose proclamation, this preacher isn't a repository of rehearsed sound bites. It is only after he settles down on a charpoy that he deigns to embark on the journey of a Hindu named Jhangli who became an expert in evangelism.

"I always loved Islam," he begins. "I read the Holy Quran and realised that 360 gods were not of any use to me."

At first he had to study the Holy Quran in secret. There was the risk of being misunderstood if a Muslim caught him with the holy book. He started fasting and in fact he would begin a day before Ramazan started.

Shaikh's mother grew alarmed at her son's forays into another faith. She thought that if she married him off, he would not 'leave'. Thus, he was barely 15 when his wedding took place, followed by a quick overtaking by nature – four girls and eight boys.

But despite this, he was drawn back to his curiosity and managed to find a teacher, Sain Mohammad Jagsi, who instructed him in the Holy Quran and Hadiths or sayings of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh).

Fortunately, Shaikh's uncle was of the same mind and the two men agreed that they would give each other the strength...

After his conversion, Deen Mohammad Shaikh made it his mission to woo others. He began in his own backyard, preaching to family, before venturing beyond this comfort zone. Encounters with the rich and powerful helped pave the way. Retired Pakistan Army general Sikandar Hayat, who owns a sugar mill in Matli, offered Shaikh money, which he turned down. Instead, he urged Hayat to give jobs to some of the new converts. Hayat and his daughter proved extremely helpful in providing assistance.

Now, Shaikh says, his fame has spread and people come to him from as far as Balochistan, members of all religions and sects, who would like to convert. A small mosque has sprung up in his residential compound along with a number of rooms where children – mostly girls – are taught how to say their prayers and recite the Holy Quran.

One of the teachers is 14-year-old Sakina, who is just 15 days into the job. "Only a few students are difficult to teach," she says while commenting on their ability to recite a text in an unknown language.

Shaikh is aware of the difficulties converts face while taking on what appear to be the initially daunting rigours of a brand new system. He makes life easy for the first 40 days. "They only have to pray farz!" he says while referring to the mandatory parts. This relaxed schedule ensures that they can 'confirm their faith'. He understands that if he demanded they start out with praying five times a day to offer even the optional and 'bonus' parts, "They would run away!" as he puts it with a look of mock horror on his face.

Other than this, he is reluctant to actually explain how he influences the people. All he offers is a nugget of fire and brimstone:

"I tell them that I was a Hindu too and that they would burn in Hell if they are not Muslim."

More than saving a soul

There are other practical considerations that accompany conversions. In order to 'save' the converts from influential Hindus in other districts, Shaikh packs them off to Hub Chowk while the Kalima is still moist on their lips. "Their families would beat them up (for converting) otherwise," he explains. This trick of the 'trade' he learnt from personal experience.

He says that he was kidnapped along with his daughter-in-law by influential Hindus who threatened him so that he would stop converting people.

"They don't want these poor Hindus to stand up to them when they become Muslims," Shaikh maintains.

Despite 108,000 conversions, for which a record is kept, Shaikh still doesn't feel his work is done. He wants everyone to be a Muslim and learn from his example. 

NiqaabipurpleglovesHer conversion from Ibiza party girl to hijab-wearing Muslim in barely three months may well raise a few eyebrows – and she admits that her friends probably think it's another one of her fads.

But trainee teacher Heather Matthews, 27, says Islam has brought her 'love and happiness' that she never found in her old 'shallow' lifestyle.

Mrs Matthews, a mother of two, converted to the faith four weeks ago – two months after returning from a holiday in Ibiza. And she says that the photographs of the 'old her' taken on that trip show all that is wrong with Western images of beauty.

She said:

'I thought I needed to act and dress in a certain way to feel good about myself. I see girls now and think about what image they are portraying to other people, especially men.

'It is about self-respect. If you dress and act in a certain way, rightly or wrongly, you'll be treated in a certain way.

'Islam has taught me about real love, not false passion and lust. I can even see the logic in arranged marriage.'

A study by multi-faith group Faith Matters found the number of Muslim converts in Britain has now passed 100,000, doubling in ten years.

The report estimated nearly two-thirds of the new converts were women, with an average age of 27 – like Mrs Matthews.

Her path to conversion began when she tried to convince her ex-husband Jerrome, himself a Muslim convert, that the religion was wrong. She was 'very suspicious' of the faith, and began reading up on it to support her arguments.

Although they separated last year, she continued to learn about Islam – and identified with it more and more. Then, four weeks ago, she completed the 'revert' process. She said:

'I underwent the 'Shahadah' ceremony of conversion to Islam by repeating a declaration of faith in front of the Imam at my local multi-faith centre.

'I had several Muslim sisters with me and they bought me a hijab and Islamic books to celebrate. It was wonderful.'

But she admits that her friends have been shocked at her conversion to a religion which is often seen as being oppressive towards women.

'People are probably thinking "Oh, it is just another one of Heather's fads". It isn't. It is what I've been searching for during the times I've been filling my life with instant gratification,' she said.

Mrs Matthews, from Preston, has also had a cautious reaction from her family. But it is the response from passers-by that surprised her the most – especially the effect of her headscarf.

'No men try to chat me up. It is an idiot repellent. When I'm wearing the headscarf I can smile at people without them thinking it is a sexual advance,' she said.

'I definitely agree with Islam's principles of not having sex with someone you're not married to and to save your beauty for your husband. So I think my next partner would need to be a practising Muslim to understand.

'It is easy for me to say this now, with hindsight, having made the mistakes, but I think I would have been better off with partners who my parents thought were suitable, learning to love them through friendship first.'

Mrs Matthews has given up alcohol, sticks to a halal diet and plans to fast during Ramadan. She has an English-language Koran which she reads daily, and wants to learn Arabic so that she can recite prayers five times a day.

But she will not be forcing Islam on to her daughters – Ellah, five, and two-year-old Halle – from her marriage to Jerrome.

'People think I must be oppressed but I'm a strong, confident and free woman,' she said. 'I know I'm one of the most unlikely people to revert to Islam.

'It astounds me. But I've done it for love and happiness and it has completely changed my life.'

Source: Daily Mail.

currentaffairsEVERY year, more than 5,000 Brits convert to Islam.

More than half of those who make the switch are white – and 75 per cent are women.

But what would make someone want to change their lifestyle so dramatically? Police Community Support Officer Jayne Kemp left her Catholic roots behind after "falling in love" with Islam while helping victims of so-called honour violence.

Here EMILY FOSTER, JENNA SLOAN and EMILY FAIRBAIRN speak to Jayne and three other women about why they decided to become Muslim.

PCSO Jayne, 28

iwasntlookingforareligionJAYNE KEMP patrols her beat wearing a traditional hijab headscarf and even works extra time after shifts so she can attend Friday prayers at her mosque.

Devout Jayne converted to Islam last April and even plans to change her name to Aminah.

The single mum, who patrols Eccles, Gtr Manchester, as a Police Community Support Officer, says: "I thought Islam was all about women being forced to slave away in the kitchen — but I found out it was about being generous with your time, and patient and respectful of others.

"As I looked into it, I saw similarities with Catholicism and noticed values such as looking after your neighbours and cherishing the elderly, which is something older people say younger people don't do any more.

"I wasn't looking for any religion at the time but for every question I had answered about Islam, I had five more. I think I fell in love with it."

Devoted Jayne even missed out on celebrating Christmas with her son, nine, and daughter, seven. She sent them off to their dad's and cooked her own meal so it would be halal — the meat slaughtered in the manner prescribed by Sharia law.

And despite the drastic change, Jayne says colleagues at Greater Manchester Police and her family have been supportive. She is now helping to design a regulation police hijab and tunic — as one has never been needed before.

Jayne says: "I was worried about what my colleagues would think but they have been so understanding.

"People in Eccles have been great too — most don't even mention it. If my children had struggled with me covering my hair I wouldn't have done it.

"They have both asked a lot about it but I would never push Islam on them and they will be brought up Catholic.

"I just hope by speaking out I can show it is OK for a Muslim woman to work in the police force and change negative Islam stereotypes.

"My family, in general, are supportive. If I'm happy, they're happy. My sister said I'm the happiest she's ever seen me."
Jayne was inspired to convert to Islam after chatting to other Muslims on Twitter.

Muhammad Manzoor, who runs Muslim Twitter account Local Masjid from his home in Whalley Range, Manchester, helped her make the transition.

He said: "I was humbled Jayne was asking me these questions.

"She has found this religion for herself and hopefully it shows Muslims can mix in society without compromising their faith."

Student Alana, 21

beautiful flowerALANA BLOCKLEY, a media student who lives in Glasgow, converted to Islam after meeting her husband Abdul on holiday in June 2010. She says:

My family are all travellers and we live on a caravan site. I was baptised as a Christian but church and religion were never a big part of my life.

I was 18 when I decided I wanted to go out to the Canaries. I wanted to work as a club rep and have the experiences people say you should when you're young.

I arrived in Fuerteventura and after a couple of days, a hotel maintenance man offered to take me out for a coffee. He was Abdul, a Muslim from Morocco.

When I got home he asked me to come back and visit him – and after three visits we knew we wanted to be together.

I started to research Islam because I wanted to know more about his life.

I decided I wanted to convert. I was worried about telling my parents and burst into tears. Mum thought I was pregnant and my dad thought I'd crashed my car.

I started to wear the hijab last summer. We got married in a Muslim ceremony earlier this month in Fuerteventura.

I miss eating Parma ham but I don't miss alcohol.

I celebrate Eid now, but I compromised with my parents and we all had a halal Christmas dinner.

I hope I'm going to heaven now and I like the rules of Islam.

Jobseeker Claire, 24

purplegoldenroseCLAIRE EVANS converted to Islam last July after researching it following a break-up. Claire, from Bridgend, South Wales, says:

After my heart was broken by a Muslim man, I wanted nothing more to do with the religion – I thought it was cruel and unkind.

But my mum started looking up more about Islam and pointed out the way this man had behaved was contrary to the faith's teachings.

I read up on it and discovered that Islam actually promotes tranquillity and peace.

I wasn't religious before I converted. I didn't really believe in God. I now cover my hair and wear a hijab, which was a big decision. My dad doesn't like it, though, and I don't wear the hijab when I'm with him.

At first I got some stares and nasty comments but in the past six months I've grown in confidence. Now I go to the mosque once a week and I pray every day.

I also took a Muslim name, Safir, but I still use my old name of Claire too. I have a new partner too, who is a Muslim, but we're not settling down just yet.

Islam has made me calmer and, for the first time in my life, I feel accepted.

There's not much I miss about my old life, except the odd sausage roll – I can't eat pork now.

Model Ayesha, 24

turqoiuseflowerglowingAYESHA OLUMIDE, from Edinburgh, is a model who works under her original name of Eunice. She converted to Islam in 2009 while at university. She says:

Before converting to Islam I was a Christian – but where my family is from in West Africa, Islam and Christianity are both practised. But it wasn't until I started studying philosophy at university that I began to learn more about Islam.

At first I was worried it would be too extreme but when I studied the Koran it blew my mind. The theories about nature and science appealed and I felt enlightened. You can't always explain everything in a scientific way and Islam helps me with that.

I was first scouted as a model while a 15-year-old tomboy. I was into football and athletics – but a career in fashion is all about looks. Converting to Islam made me realise how much we value people if society thinks they're beautiful.

At the mosque, women cover their head and dress modestly, so no one is judging you on what you look like. At first I found it hard to square being a Muslim with being a model. But I spoke to a Muslim sister and she said Islam is not an extreme religion, so if it felt too extreme to me it probably wasn't right.

Now I cover my hair for 99 per cent of the time but if I don't want to when I wake up one day, I don't. And I don't do any bikini or underwear shoots.

I don't have set days at the mosque but I do go often and I pray every day. I would like to start a family in the future but don't think I'd marry a non-Muslim.

Source: The Sun

Offering help to a victim of domestic violence has led a British policewoman to revert to Islam.

"I wasn't looking for any religion at the time but for every question I got answered about Islam I just had five more," Jayne Kemp, a police community support officer, told Manchester Evening News.


"I think I fell in love with it."

The 28-year-old Briton came to know about Islam while helping a victim of domestic violence in Eccles, Salford.

"It started when I had a woman approach me at work who was experiencing honor-based violence," she said.

Interested in knowing more about the faith, the mother of two began speaking with other Muslims on Twitter.

"Where I work in Eccles there's a big mosque and big Muslim population, so I thought I should find out more about it," she said.

Jayne, who now goes out on PCSO patrols while donning hijab, recalls that she has always heard that Islam exhorts persecution of women.

"I'd thought Islam was all about women being forced to slave away in the kitchen," said, Jayne, who pronounced the Shahadah (proclamation of faith) in April and plans to change her name to Aminah.

"But (I) found out it was about being generous with your time, patient and respectful of others.

"As I looked into it I saw similarities with Catholicism and also values like looking after your neighbors and valuing the elderly that older people say younger people don't have any more."


policeofficer1Jayne says her decision to revert to Islam has been welcomed by her colleagues and family.

"I was worried about what my colleagues would think but they have been so understanding," she said.

"People in Eccles have been great too – most don't even mention it."

"My family in general are supportive. As long as I'm happy, they're happy," Jayne said.

"I was very open about my reading and studying Islam. My sister said the other day I'm the happiest she's ever seen me."

The Muslim convert says that she would not impose her new faith on her two children.

"If my children had struggled with me covering my hair I wouldn't have done it," she said.

"They have both asked a lot about it but I would never push Islam on them and they will be brought up Catholic."

The policewoman was helped to know more about Islam by Muhammad Manzoor, who runs Muslim Twitter account Local Masjid from his Whalley Range home.

"I was humbled Jayne was asking me these questions as it made me find out more about Islam too," he said.

"She has found this religion for herself and hopefully it shows Muslims can mix in society without compromising their faith."

Jayne hopes that her reversion to Islam would help clear misconceptions about Muslims and their religion.

"I just hope by speaking out I can show it is OK for a Muslim woman to work in the police force and also change negative stereotypes about Islam."

Britain is home to a Muslim community of nearly 2.5 million.

A Financial Times opinion poll showed that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.

A poll of the Evening Standard found that a sizable section of London residents harbor negative opinions about Muslims.

Renowned female Islamic Activist Maryam Jameelah reverted to Islaam at the age of 27; she has died this year (Oct 31st, 2012) aging 78 after prolonged illness. 

flowerofinnocenseMaryam Jameelah (Margret Marcus), born in New York to a Jewish family in New Rochelle , New York, on May 23, 1934 explored Judaism and other faiths, converted to Islam in 1961 and emigrated to Pakistan. She was an author of over thirty books on Islamic culture and history and a prominent female voice for Islam.

The deceased was suffering from illness from the past several years because of her age for which she was also shifted to hospital at times.

She was brought up in a secular environment, but at the age of nineteen, she developed a keen interest in religion.

On her way of finding the righteous Deen, she was greatly influenced by Marmaduke Pickthall's 'The Meaning of the Glorious Koran' and by the works of Muhammad Asad who himself reverted from Judaism.

She embraced Islaam in New York on May 24, 1961 and soon began began writing for the Muslim Digest of Durban, South Africa where she became familiar with the writings of Mawlana Sayyid Abu Ala Mawdudi, the founder of the Jamaati Islami, who was also a contributor to the journal.

On the advice of Mawdudi, Jameelah traveled to Pakistan in 1962 and joined his family in Lahore. She then got married to Muhammad Yusuf Khan, as his second wife.

Her writings include marvelous religious and intellectual materials. A list of her articles and books is mentioned below:

  • Islam and modernism
  • Islam versus the west
  • Islam in theory and practice
  • Islam versus ahl al kitab past and present
  • Ahmad khalil
  • Islam and orientalism
  • Western civilization condemned by itself
  • Correspondence between maulana maudoodi and maryum jameelah
  • Islam and western society
  • A manifesto of the Islamic movement
  • Is western civilization universal
  • Why I embraced Islam?
  • Islam and the Muslim woman today
  • Islam and social habits
  • Islamic culture in theory and practice
  • Three great Islamic movements in the Arab world of the recent past
  • A great Islamic movement in turkey
  • Two mujahidin of the recent past and their struggle for freedom against foreign rule
  • The generation gap its causes and consequences
  • Westernization versus Muslims
  • Westernization and human welfare
  • Modern technology and the dehumanization of man
  • Islam and modern man

Below is her letter that she wrote to her parents from Pakistan:

"Dear Mother and Father,

ladyofdeenI have now been living in Pakistan for more than twenty years during which time you have acquired an entire additional family of loved-ones there, adding much to your happiness. You have reached a ripe age, thank God, living longer in good health than I had ever expected. You have read all my books and Islamic literature I have sent you with a broad and open mind. Therefore you need no introduction to the subject I wish to discuss with you now and nothing I have to say will seem strange and new to you.

I wonder if you realize fully how very fortunate you are. So long as you can keep in reasonable health and are able to take care of yourselves, you can continue to enjoy a pleasant life. But do you ever think of the tragic faith of those hundreds of thousands of other older Americans, the victims of chronic illness and infirmities, who crowd to over-flowing hospitals and nursing homes (which are really charnel houses), the old-age homes and the senile wards of mental institutions? And do you ever think of those still greater numbers of older people who are widowed and live their lonely lives confined to their dingy rooms in constant fear of muggings, physical attacks and robberies by juvenile delinquents who prey on the old and infirm with no remorse or fear of punishment? The maltreatment of older people is a direct result of the collapse of the home and extended family. Does your elder sister – my aunt Rosalyn, a great-grandmother lovingly sheltered in a close and adoring family and a happy home, ever think how lucky she is and how few of her advanced age in America are left like her?

You must know that society in which you were brought up and have lived all your life is in a state of rapid disintegration on the brink of collapse. Actually the decline in our civilization was evident as far back as World War I but at that time few people except some intellectuals and artists were aware of what was happening. But since the end of World War II and especially during the last two decades, the rot has reached such a stage of advanced decay that nobody can any longer ignore it.

The moral anarchy in the absence of any respected, fixed standards of behavior and conduct, the obsession with perverted sex over the entertainment media, the mistreatment of older people, the divorce rate which has climbed so high that among the new generation, an enduring, happy marriage is becoming rare, child abuse, the destruction of the natural environment, the prodigious waste of scarce and valuable resources, the epidemic of veneral diseases and mental disorders, drug addiction, alcoholism, suicides as leading cause of death, crime, vandalism, corruption in the government and contempt for the law in general – all of this has a cause.

The cause of this is the failure of secularism and materialism and the absence of absolute, transcendental theological and moral values. Deed does in the final analysis depend upon creed because if the intention is wrong, the work always suffers.

No doubt that it may bore you to read this. You will protest that if you are not theologians, philosophers or sociologists, then why bother about such "deep" matters when they do not seem to be of any direct concern to you? After all, you are happy and content living just as you are. You only wish to enjoy life right now, live entirely in the present and accept each day as it comes. If life is a journey, is it not foolhardy only to be concerned with pleasant and comfortable accommodations along the way and never to think about the journey's end? Why were we born? What is the meaning and purpose of life, why must we die and what will happen to each of us after death?

Father you have told me more than once that you cannot accept any traditional religion because you are convinced that theology conflicts with modern science. Science and technology have indeed given us much information about the physical world, provided us with abundant comforts and conveniences, increased efficiency and discovered remedies for many diseases that used to be fatal. But science does not and cannot tell us about the meaning of life and death. Science tells us "how" but it never answers the question "why"?. Can science ever tell us what is right and what is wrong? What is good and what is evil? What is beautiful and what is ugly? And to whom are we accountable for what we do? Religion does.

Today America is in many ways a repetition of ancient Rome in the terminal stages of her decline and fall. Thinking people know that secularism has failed to be a sound foundation of our social order. They are anxiously searching in other directions for a solution to the crisis but do not know yet where to find it. This is not of concern only to a few sociologists. The disease of national disintegration directly affects you and me and each one of us.

During its most critical period, ancient Rome adopted Christianity as its salvation and henceforth the Church dominated Europe for more than a thousand years. This put an end to many of the worst social and moral evils of decadent Rome and greatly raised the moral and spiritual standards of the people. Unfortunately during the formative period of its history, the Church compromised with paganism and secularism, adopting an elaborate priesthood and incomprehensive theology which could not resist the impact of the renaissance, the revival of the natural sciences and the radical secularism of the French Revolution. While Christians in Europe and America have deserted their faith wholesale leaving the churches almost empty, the missionaries continue to represent the vanguard of western imperialism and exploitation in Asia and Africa .

After Christianity, the Jews comprise the second largest religious group in America who dominate politically, and economically, as well exercising considerable control over the media. But Judaism has always been parochial and tribal, seldom welcoming converts. It is not and has never been a universal faith. The Zionist movement which resulted in the establishment of the state of Israel, is the secular expression of Jewish nationalism and tribalism. The dreadful atrocities committed by the Israelis in occupied Palestine, the unprovoked aggression in Lebanon and adjacent areas and attempted genocide of the Palestine Arabs, depriving them of all human and political rights, is the logical result of this same narrow parochial outlook. This is the reason why even the most orthodox of the rabbis refuse to believe that Israel can do any wrong and uncritically support everything she does. These glaring moral and spiritual defects automatically disqualify Judaism as the faith of the future.

onedgeThe Muslims comprise the third and fastest growing faith in America today. No longer is Islam confined to remote regions of the deserts and jungles of Asia and Africa. No longer is Islam foreign to the American scene. There are more than three million Muslims in America today and their numbers are increasing fast. There are thousands of students from all Muslim countries studying in American universities, and well-educated, highly-trained Muslims are busily at work in all professions. In the last two decades, hundreds of native-born American converts have swelled their ranks. At first most of the converts were black people who found in Islam, dignity, honor, self-respect and racial brotherhood as did Malcolm-X, but in recent years more and more white converts of European origin, searching for guidance in all the affairs of their formally chaotic lives, have also embraced Islam, making many sacrifices and enduring much hardships to do so. Few of them are fortunate as I am to have loving parent like you. Most of them suffer severe frictions with their non-Muslim parents and relatives. Today churches and synagogues are almost deserted but the newly-built mosques and Islamic centers, springing up in every important American city and town, are attracting rapidly growing numbers. Most of the new Muslims in America are young, intelligent and well-educated. What attracts so many young Americans to Islam?

Americans today, both young and old, are desperately searching for guidance. They know from bitter experience that the personal freedom and opportunities they as Americans enjoy are meaningless and self-destructive without reliable guidance, direction and purpose. Secularism and materialism are powerless to provide any positive or constructive moral values for Americans either individually or collectively. That is why after Christianity and Judaism have failed them, more and more people in America today are turning towards Islam. In Islam as new Muslims, they find a sane, healthy, clean and honest life. And for Muslims, everything does not come to an end at death. They look forward to an Eternity of bliss, peace and perfect happiness (in the Hereafter).

This Guidance found in the Holy Qur'an and the recorded words and deeds of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace, is not only for foreign races in some far-away corner of the East, centuries ago. Here are to be found the solutions to all economic, social, moral and political problems which face us right here in the West today. Furthermore, Islam is not cold, remote and impersonal. Muslims have complete faith in a very personal God who not only created, sustains and rules the universe but also loves and deeply cares about the fate of each of us. The Holy Qur'an tells us that God is nearer to everyone of us than our jugular veins!

Since the Holy Qur'an is Divine Revelation, it cannot and will never be changed. Because it is perfect, it cannot be improved, revised or reformed. Since Muhammad, upon whom be peace, is the final Prophet, his guidance can never be superseded by any other. The Qur'an and Sunnah are addressed to all peoples, in every country of the West as well as the East. Since it is relevant for all times, in all places, it can never become obsolete or out-of-date.

You are both of very advanced age and there is so little time left. Yet it is not too late if you act now. If your decision is positive, your ties with your loved ones in Pakistan will not only be by blood but also in faith. You cannot only love them in this world but be all together with us forever in eternity.

If your decision is negative, I am very much afraid that your happy, comfortable and pleasant life will very shortly come to an end. As soon as the inevitable occurs, it is too late for remorse and regrets. The punishment will be terrible from which there is no refuge and no escape.

It is as your daughter who loves you and hopes to the end that you will be spared this fate. But the decision rests entirely with you. You have complete freedom to accept or reject: Your future depends upon the choice you make now.

All my love and best wishes.

Your devoted daughter,

(Maryam Jameelah).


twowaysAngelene McLaren is a journalist who works for a Wisconsin(USA)-based Islamic magazine while living in Detroit. A prolific writer and PR woman, Angelene has worked for various magazines and PR firms in the US during the last one decade. She recited the Kalima some six years ago and took the new name Sumayyah bint Joan. Here she records her encounter with Islaam.

Ever since I was a little girl, I've always had a profound relationship with God. Even though I was raised a Catholic, with all its ambiguities, contradictions and confusion, I did my best to stay God-focused and not to give in to the teachings of the Church, because even to me as a child, they seemed to go against the grain somehow. During my high school days, I made a conscious decision to apply myself more thoroughly to my faith. I attended mass twice a day, every day, went to the confessional at least once a week, and did all the ritual practices my priest insisted upon; all in an effort to draw closer to a God. The church failed to me to answer all of life's most pressing questions; who am I, who and what is God, why am I here, and what should be my relationship with this superior being who created the universe? How am I supposed to live my life? Who is my role model, and how should I follow him or her? Why does God need to have a son now, when He was alone in the creation of all that is, and need no partner or intercessor before? My priest was unable to answer my questions, beyond stating that I should have faith, and that it did not all have to make sense as long as my faith was strong enough. This did not satisfy me, and on finishing high school, I left the church and set out on a quest to find the correct way, belief and religion.

I investigated a number of religions in an effort to get rid of this internal emptiness. I practiced Hinduism, Taoism, Zen Buddhism, and in later years even dabbled in White Witchcraft. Now, most people may find this crazy, but you have to understand that I was searching, truly searching, but all these left a void, and just never seemed to fit. Then one day my sister came to see me and what I saw took me by surprise. She entered the house with a very long dress and was covered from head to toe. Her hair was covered by an opaque scarf and came right above her waist. After asking her why she was dressed like that in the middle of summer when it's at least 85 degrees outside, she explained to me that she was a Muslim.

Now of all the religions I looked into, I never thought of investigating Islam, mainly because there didn't seem to be a lot of information readily available, and because I carried a lot of the Islamic stereotypes in my head, that I now have to deal with in other people. So I left my family and moved to California, still without a religion, or a sound relationship with God.

At that point I gave up, and just decided to go with flow, and not worry about it. I did this for two years, and although I found love and got engaged to marry to my college sweetheart; something was still missing. In the back of my mind, there was always that nagging voice that kept telling me that my life was out of order, but I would do my best to ignore it, until one fateful night. Right before I was due to leave California, and return to my home state to be with my fiancee and begin building our lives together, I had the scariest dream I've ever had in my life.

In this dream, two very tall men dressed in white were standing at the foot of my bed. As I looked at them, I thought they were either aliens or angels, I wasn't sure which, but I was very afraid and was trying my utmost to get away from them, but the harder I tried to get away, the closer to them I got. Eventually, we ended up on top of a very high mountain, with a sea beneath us as red as blood and as hot as lava. The two men pointed and instructed me to look into the sea. What I saw will stay with me until the day I die. The sea was full of naked people, being turned over and over, like meat being roasted over a fire, and they were screaming, "Help us, help us!" Needless to say, I felt I was getting a fist-hand glimpse of Hell, and I was terrified. I told my fiancee about the dream, and he just laughed and said that I had an overactive imagination, but I couldn't dismiss it so easily.

When I returned to Michigan, I found out that my other sister, and my cousin had also embraced Islam during my absence. This made me curious, so I asked my sister to give me some books to read, and one of the first was, /Descriptions of the Hell Fire/. Everything that was in my dream was in this book. I was floored. So I began reading and reading, and going to lectures and asking questions, and the more I learned about Islam, the more my head and heart told me that this was what I was looking or all along. I had made up my mind to embrace Islam, but I had one small problem, my fiancee. He was adamant that he was not going to be a Muslim, so I had to choose between the man I loved, and doing what I knew in my heart was right.

Allah, (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'ala), says that if you say you truly believe in Him and His Messenger, (Peace be upon him), He will test you, and
this was my test. Despite the great amount of pain it caused me at the time, I did choose Islam over my fiancee. That was almost six years ago, and Allah Ta'ala has since blessed me with a wonderful husband who loves Him and His Messenger, and a beautiful son. Allah Ta'ala says for all who truly want guidance, He will lead them from darkness into light; and I know that is what He did for me.


hijabi56Being human beings and not angels we often desire material comforts and worldly recognition. Many rich and famous personalities who have searched for happiness and success in material things have reached the end of the rainbow and indeed found no pot of gold. Indeed Allah Ta’ala has kept the real pot of gold i.e. true happiness, peace of mind and eternal prosperity ONLY in his deen (Islam). This true happiness we will not find anywhere else but in the Deen of Islam.

Allah Ta’ala the Most Wise says: “Whoever desires (and strives to gain) the harvest of the Hereafter, We increase him in his harvest; and whoever desires the harvest of the world (material things), We grant him out of that, and he has no portion in the Hereafter.” (Qur’an 42.20)

The following is an inspiring story of a Muslimah who had “reached the top” materially and then later discovered that true success and happiness lies not in worldly riches, pleasures and fame and but in the sublime and noble Deen-ul-Islam.

Queenie: A famous Philipino Singer Actress

Queenie Padilla shares her rebirth after performing Haj in Makkah (in 2011).

By all accounts, a young Filipino singer-actress dubbed "the future leading lady" was on her way to stardom before she had a spiritual rebirth.

Queenie Padilla was starring in primetime TV shows and would sing and dance in production numbers on popular variety shows in the Philippines. She was the other half of a romantic pairing ("love team" in local showbiz parlance) meant to set hearts aflutter. At 20, she was living her dream — or so she thought.

"It was a deceiving dream," Queenie told Arab News as she sat wearing an abaya and a veil on her head. Devoid of makeup, her face is just as angelic and even more beautiful than when she was all dolled up for guest appearances and shows.

The Saudi media had recently picked up on the story of the Filipino celebrity who went to Makkah and came back with Islam reignited in her. After performing Haj for the first time, she declared to all and sundry that show business was now behind her. 

What triggered a 180-degree turn for the young lady who was dead-set on pursuing a showbiz career a mere four years ago? How did the decision come about? And, how did she break it to her fans?

Queenie said she had been so worried what the producers, directors, managers, and especially, her fans would think. Everyone had expectations of her and she was feeling the pressure. She had to ask herself: “Am I going to live my life disobeying Allah or am I going to make the final decision in living my life as a good Muslim and really practice Islam the right way? There was a struggle but I had to make a choice. So I made that choice. I quit.”

Queenie calls herself a revert to Islam because it was only eight months ago that she embraced her faith wholeheartedly after visiting her mother in Australia, where she grew up nominally Muslim with her two sisters and their youngest brother.

Her father Robin, who comes from a big showbiz clan, famously married Queenie's mother in Muslim rites inside prison as he was serving a 21-year sentence for illegal possession of firearms in the early 90s. He was pardoned by the then president, and he left jail in 1998 no less famous than when he entered it. He remains one of the Philippines' most bankable action movie and TV stars to date.

The busy life of a celebrity didn't leave much time for Robin to educate his family about Islam as much as he would want, but Queenie credits him nonetheless, because if it weren't for him they would not be Muslim.

“When I went to the Philippines, my father told me to wear a hijab and pray. But I didn't know why I was praying. I was ignorant about Islam and about being Muslim. At that time I hadn't yet tasted the sweetness of faith. I think that's why I was misguided.”

Their mother started practicing Islam herself just two months before Queenie did, and she let her eldest daughter know her desire for her children to become good, practicing Muslims. Queenie says that when she first saw her mother after the latter rediscovered Islam, she was pleasantly “shocked.”

“I saw this glow in her that I've never seen growing up as a child. Everything that came out from her mouth was all about Islam and Allah. And she was reading the Qur'an constantly and listening to lectures and she wore the hijab. I asked her if she was afraid of wearing the hijab in this society. She said she wasn't because she has piety, and that's all that matters."

Over dinner, they would have conversations about the Hereafter and whether or not they obeyed Allah with their deeds and actions.

“It got me thinking,” she said. “I started evaluating and asking myself if I was really happy with my job, and I realized that there was something missing in my life. There was emptiness inside. I wanted to feel what my mother was feeling because she was so happy and content — and peaceful. I told her, ‘Oh please, I want to learn more about Islam.”

And she did. As she learned more about Islam, she knew she had found what would fill the void she was feeling: renewed religious fervor.

“It was an amazing feeling. I think it was a calling from Allah. The more I learned about Islam, the more it became my passion. And every day, when I gained more and more knowledge, the missing parts of myself began to grow. The emptiness is gradually going away too,” she added.

Queenie went to the Kingdom solely as a pilgrim and not an actress, although she met the Filipino community just the same. She visited the International Philippine School in Jeddah and other Saudi private schools where the students' reception was uniformly warm.

Her most unforgettable experience in her brief two weeks here, however, took place in a hospital where she visited a 30-year-old Filipino woman with a rare form of cancer. Queenie prayed for the patient who dreamed of going to the Kaaba. Shortly after, the woman reverted to Islam and declared her formula of faith in Islam, making Queenie “the happiest person alive.”

“The patient awakened me in a way; she reminded me that sickness or death could hit us anytime. Every day as Muslims, we should prepare,” Queenie said.

Queenie’s parents, now married to different people, are very happy over her decision to fully practice her religion. Her next mission is to share more about Islam with her sister Kylie, who is an up-and-coming star in her own right back home. Queenie also plans to major in business, and at the same time, take up Islamic studies.

These days, Queenie speaks with a conviction not previously seen in some of her TV interviews, in which she appeared reserved and even a little nervous. She has transformed into a lady who conveys the message of Islam to people with courage and confidence, even if she admits her knowledge is still limited.

Queenie — or Khadija, the Muslim name she recently adopted — is sure to lose fans once she leaves the glare of klieg lights completely, but she looks to have gained new ones in her journey of proclaiming her faith.

Source: Arab News


tree-sunlight_smallMy name is Cassie. I am 23 years old. I graduated as a qualified nurse this year and was given my first position as a home nurse.

My patient was an English gentleman in his early 80’s who suffered from Alzheimer's. In the first meeting I was given the patient’s record and from it I could see that he was a convert to the religion of Islam, therefore he was a Muslim.

I knew from this that I would need to take into account that some modes of treatment may go against his faith, and therefore try to adapt my care to meet his needs. I brought in some ‘halal’ meat to cook for him and ensured that there was no pork or alcohol in the premises as I did some research which showed that these were forbidden in Islam.

My patient was at a very advanced stage of his condition so a lot of my colleagues could not understand why I was going to such lengths for him, but I understood that a person who commits to a faith deserves that commitment to be respected, even if they are not in a position to understand. 

Anyway, after a few weeks with my patient I began to notice some patterns of movement.

At first I thought it was some copied motion he's seen someone do, but I saw him repeat the movement at particular times: morning, afternoon, evening. 

The movements were to raise his hands, bow and then put his head to the ground. I could not understand it. He was also repeating sentences in another language, I couldn’t figure out what language it was as his speech was slurred but I know the same verses were repeated daily.

Also there was something strange, he didn’t allow me to feed him with my left hand (I am left-handed).

Somehow I knew this linked to his religion but didn't know how.

One of my colleagues told me about Paltalk as a place for debates and discussions and as I did not know any Muslims except for my patient I thought it would be good to speak to some live and ask questions. I went on to the Islam section and entered the room ‘True Message’. 

Here I asked questions regarding the repeated movements and was told that these were the actions of prayer. I did not really believe it until someone posted a link of the Islamic prayer on YouTube.

I was shocked.

A man who has lost all memory of his children, of his occupation, and could barely eat and drink, was able to remember not only actions of prayer but verses that were in another language.

This was nothing short of incredible and I knew that this man was devout in his faith, which made me want to learn more in order to care for him the best I could.

I came into the Paltalk room as often as I could and was given a link to read the translation of the Quran and listen to it.

The chapter of the ‘Bee’ gave me chills and I repeated it several times a day.

I saved a recording of the Quran on my iPod and gave it to my patient to listen to. He was smiling and crying, and after reading the translation I could see why.

I applied what I gained from Paltalk to the care for my patient but I gradually found myself coming to the room to find answers for myself.

I never really took the time to look at my life; I never knew my father, my mother died when I was 3, my brother and I were raised by our grandparents who died 4 years ago, so now it's just the two of us.

But despite all this loss, I always thought I was happy, content.

It was only after spending time with my patient that I felt like I was missing something. I was missing that sense of peace and tranquillity my patient, even through his suffering, felt.

I wanted that sense of belonging and a part of something that he felt, even with no one around him.

I was given a list of mosques in my area by a lady on Paltalk and went down to visit one. I watched the prayer and could not hold back my tears.

I felt drawn to the mosque every day and the Imam and his wife would give me books and tapes and welcome any questions I had.

Every question I asked at the mosque and on Paltalk was answered with such clarity and depth that I could do nothing but accept them.

I have never practiced a faith but always believed that there was a God; I just did not know how to worship Him.

One evening I came on Paltalk and one of the speakers on the mic addressed me. He asked me if I have any questions, I said no. He asked if I was happy with the answers I was given, I said yes.

He asked then what was stopping me from accepting Islam, I could not answer.

I went to the mosque to watch the dawn prayer and the Imam asked me the same question, I could not answer.

I then went to tend to my patient, I was feeding him and as I looked in his eyes I just realized, he was brought to me for a reason and the only thing stopping me from accepting was fear.... not fear in the sense of something bad, but fear of accepting something good, and thinking that I was not worthy like this man. 

That afternoon I went to the mosque and asked the Imam if I could say my declaration of faith, the Shahaadah.

He helped me through it and I was shown and guided through what I would need to do next.

I cannot explain the feeling I felt when I said it.

It was like someone woke me up from sleep and I saw everything more clearly.

The feeling was overwhelming joy, clarity and most of all.... peace.

The first person I told was not my brother but my patient.

I went to him, and before I even opened my mouth he cried and smiled at me.

I broke down in front of him, I owed him so much.

I came home and logged onto Paltalk and repeated the Shahaadah for the room.

They all helped me so much and even though I had never seen a single one of them, they felt closer to me than my own brother.

I did eventually call my brother to tell him and although he was not happy, he supported me and said he would be there for me. I couldn't ask for more.

After my first week as a Muslim, my patient passed away in his sleep while I was caring for him. Inna lillaahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oon. 

He died a peaceful death and I was the only person with him.

He was like the father I never had and he was my doorway to Islam.

From the day of my Shahaadah to this very day and for every day for as long as I live, I will pray that Allah shows mercy on him and grants him the reward for every good deed I perform in the tenfold.

I loved him for the sake of Allah and I pray each night to become an atom’s weight of the Muslim he was.

Islam is a religion with an open door; it is there for those who want to enter it.... Verily, Allah is the Most Merciful, Most Kind.

* Note *

Our sister Cassie passed away in October 2010, Inna lillaahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oon, after she gave dawah to her brother, who accepted Islam Alhamdulillaah.

May Allah SWT grant sister Cassie Paradise, Ameen Ya Rabb.


Iran   MazandaranThe funeral of King Fahd, which was conducted in a simple manner in Riyadh earlier this month (1995), has encouraged a well-known Christian priest in Italy to embrace Islam, press reports said.

The priest, who watched the late king's funeral on satellite television, was impressed by the lack of pomp and pageantry in the royal funeral, Al-Riyadh Arabic daily reported without mentioning his name.

King Fahd was buried in Al-Oud graveyard the next day of his death after a solemn funeral ceremony attended by world leaders.

Islamic preacher Dr. Abdullah Al-Malik said the simple funeral of the king had a dramatic effect on the priest's mind, which led him to Islam.

"Although he had read several Islamic books before, they didn't have the same impact."

This is the second high-profile reversion to Islam by an Italian involving Saudi Arabia. Four years ago, Italian Ambassador to Riyadh Torquato Cardilli embraced Islam.

"The priest watched the funeral of King Fahd and another person on television and did not find any difference," Malik said.

"There was only a single funeral prayer for the two and both were buried in similar graves. This great example of equality influenced the priest and prompted him to embrace Islam," Malik said.

Muslim preachers in Italy had given the priest Islamic books and cassettes in the past 15 years, but what moved him was the simplicity of the royal funeral.

"I had read several Islamic books and heard many Islamic cassettes over the past years, they never moved me. But the simple royal funeral shook me and changed my mind," Malik quoted the priest as saying.

He said he believed the king's funeral would change the mind of many others. He urged Muslim media to focus on stories related to Islam's tolerance and equality in order to attract more people to the religion.

"I will work the rest of my life for the propagation of Islam," the 62-year-old former priest said.

Badr Al-Olayan, director of the Islamic Education Foundation in Jeddah, said the priest's reversion to Islam was "very good news." He narrated the story of another Italian who came to IEF office to embrace Islam after being impressed by the large and orderly congregation of Muslims at the Grand Mosque in Makkah to perform prayers.

"How can you assemble such a large number of people by just making a call. It's impossible. Only God can do that," he quoted the Italian as saying.

Olayan urged Muslims to do more in order to take the message of Islam to other people.

Ambassador Cardilli, 60, embraced Islam on Nov. 15, 2001.

"I am fully convinced of the truth of Islam through my regular reading of God's final revelation, the Holy Qur'an," Cardilli was quoted as saying at the time.



If you were being interrogated by the Taleban as a suspected US spy, it might be hard to imagine a happy ending.
But for journalist Yvonne Ridley, the ordeal in Afghanistan led her to convert to a religion she says is "the biggest and best family in the world".
The formerly hard-drinking Sunday school teacher became a Muslim after reading the Koran on her release.
She now describes radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri as "quite sweet really" and says the Taleban have suffered an unfair press.
Working as a reporter for the Sunday Express in September 2001, Ridley was smuggled from Pakistan across the Afghan border.
But her cover was blown when she fell off her donkey in front of a Taleban soldier near Jalalabad, revealing a banned camera underneath her robes.
Her first thought as the furious young man came running towards her?
"Wow - you're gorgeous," she says.
"He had those amazing green eyes that are peculiar to that region of Afghanistan and a beard with a life of its own.
"But fear quickly took over. I did see him again on my way to Pakistan after my release and he waved at me from his car."
Ridley was working for the Sunday Express at the time of her capture
Ridley was interrogated for 10 days without being allowed a phone call, and missed her daughter Daisy's ninth birthday.
Of the Taleban, Ridley says: "I couldn't support what they did or believed in, but they were demonised beyond recognition, because you can't drop bombs on nice people."
It has been suggested the 46-year-old is a victim of Stockholm Syndrome, in which hostages take the side of the hostage-takers.
But she says: "I was horrible to my captors. I spat at them and was rude and refused to eat. It wasn't until I was freed that I became interested in Islam."
'Flappy knickers'
Indeed, the Taleban deputy foreign minister was called in when Ridley refused to take her underwear down from the prison washing line, which was in view of soldier's quarters.
"He said, 'Look, if they see those things they will have impure thoughts'."
"Afghanistan was about to be bombed by the richest country in the world and all they were concerned about was my big, flappy, black knickers.
"I realised the US doesn't have to bomb the Taleban - just fly in a regiment of women waving their underwear and they will all run off."
Once she was back in the UK, Ridley turned to the Koran as part of her attempt to understand her experience.
Abu Hamza: warned Ridley risked "hellfire" until she fully converted
"I was absolutely blown away by what I was reading - not one dot or squiggle had been changed in 1,400 years.
"I have joined what I consider to be the biggest and best family in the world. When we stick together we are absolutely invincible."
What do her Church of England parents in County Durham make of her new family?
"Initially the reaction of my family and friends was one of horror, but now they can all see how much happier, healthier and fulfilled I am.
"And my mother is delighted I've stopped drinking."
What does Ridley feel about the place of women in Islam?
"There are oppressed women in Muslim countries, but I can take you up the side streets of Tyneside and show you oppressed women there.
"Oppression is cultural, it is not Islamic. The Koran makes it crystal clear that women are equal."
And her new Muslim dress is empowering, she says.
"How liberating is it to be judged for your mind and not the size of your bust or length of your legs."
The reporter spent the first night of war in a prison cell in Kabul
A single mother who has been married three times, she says Islam has freed her from worry over her love life.
"I no longer sit and wait by the phone for a man to ring and I haven't been stood up for months.
"I have no man stress. For the first time since my teens I don't have that pressure to have a boyfriend or husband."
But there has been a phone call from at least one male admirer - north London preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri.
"He said, 'Sister Yvonne, welcome to Islam, congratulations'.
"I explained I hadn't yet taken my final vows and he said, 'Don't be pressured or pushed, the whole community is there for you if you need any help, just call one of the sisters.'
'Straight to hellfire'
"I thought, I can't believe it, this is the fire and brimstone cleric from Finsbury Park mosque and he is quite sweet really.
"I was just about to hang up when he said, 'But there is just one thing I want you to remember. Tomorrow, if you have an accident and die, you will go straight to hellfire'.
"I was so scared that I carried a copy of the vows in my purse until my final conversion last June."
And the hardest part of her new life?
"Praying five times a day. And I am still struggling to give up cigarettes."

Source: BBC News


As 22-year-old Aisha Uddin recites Surah Al-Fatiha - the first chapter of the Koran - at home with close friend Sameeah Karim, she may stumble over one word but otherwise the text is perfectly recounted
Aisha Uddi
'It's a change I'm happy I've made'
But unlike Sameeah, 35, who has Pakistani heritage and grew up reading the holy book, Aisha is newer to it: she used to be called Laura and only converted to Islam two years ago.
She is pale and has bright blue eyes; originally from Birmingham, until recently she dressed like many other young white British women.
"Before it was the jeans, the hoodies, loads of make-up," she says.
Now Aisha wears a long black jilbab (a long flowing over-garment) and a cream-coloured hijab (headscarf).
"For me now, obviously it's a dramatic change, but it's a change I'm happy I've made, because now I don't have to prove myself to anybody out there."
Aisha took an interest in religion at school - and started quietly visiting her local mosque to find out more.
"Islam caught my eye and I wanted to look further into it - the people, the culture - and I carried on studying it and studying it, even after school. Living in Birmingham, I was surrounded by the religion."
She says she spent years finding out more about Islam before fully committing to the religion, changing her appearance and starting to pray five times a day.
"Life's changed dramatically, I was a rebel before, I was always getting into trouble at home, going out and staying out - not trying hard enough at school.
Conversions at Regent's Park Mosque in London happen on a weekly basis
"Then when I became Muslim, I sort of calmed down. I wanted to stay at home studying on the internet or reading books. And I'm more happy than I was - I'm proud of who I am, I've got a certain identity."
Aisha is one of a growing number of white converts according to a new study by Swansea University for the charity Faith Matters.
Using a number of sources, including a survey of more than 250 British mosques, census data from 2001 and conversion figures in Europe, the researchers estimate that there could be as many as 100,000 converts - of all ethnic backgrounds - in the UK. This represents an increase on an estimated 60,000 converts in 2001.
For an insight into the experiences of Muslim converts, the researchers spoke to 120 - mainly young, white women.
Many converts - like Aisha - reported experiencing hostility from their families. She says her parents thought her conversion represented a rejection of her upbringing.
Support network
"My family they weren't too happy about it, [saying] why change your identity? Why cover your hair? Why dress the way you dress?" says Aisha.
Sarah Joseph converted to Islam when she was a teenager
"Being in a society where there's so much bad press around... but if you actually get to know these people, they're the friendliest people ever. I'm proud to be Muslim, I don't care what my family say."
Aisha does have a wider support network now. She has recently had a traditional Asian wedding to a British Bangladeshi man and lives with her in-laws.
She also has a lot of friends, also converts, who she met at new Muslim groups.
Aisha pores over pictures of all the women lined up in their different coloured headscarves at her wedding.
"That's Lailah, that's Hanan, that's Mary… Sameeah's the only Asian one," she laughs.
At Regent's Park Mosque in central London there are many white faces among the crowd for Friday prayers.
Conversions happen here every week - largely on a Saturday, and they are mostly women.
Tony Blair's sister-in-law, Lauren Booth, is a recent convert and prays there.
One London imam, Ajmal Masroor, says the findings of the study come as little surprise to him. He says in his experience around three-quarters of converts are women.
'Personal journey'
"Many people are looking for a spiritual and fulfilling lifestyle rather than the hedonistic, materially-driven one that we have around us," says Imam Masroor.
"They find an answer in Islam. Women are hard-wired to reflect and think and take things more seriously, even from a young age.
"This has been going on for the last 20 years and more so since 9/11. People are curious, so they go to the book rather than the distorted media headlines.
"They learn that Islam is fulfilling as a personal journey as well as a collective conscience."
Sarah Joseph sits in her office studying the latest edition of Emel, the Muslim lifestyle magazine she edits.
She converted to Islam as a teenager and has adopted the headscarf, saying she was looking for something with more meaning.
"I'd grown up in a model agency and I'd been surrounded my whole life by external beauty, and the hijab was, and very much is, about the search for inner beauty," she says.
Despite the difficulties, Sarah says British converts have a vital role to play in explaining two sides - Britain's Muslim and non-Muslim communities - to each other.
"[Converts have] authentically belonged to two traditions and should act as a conduit to show each side that we share far more than we differ."

quran98As 22-year-old Aisha Uddin recites Surah Al-Fatiha - the first chapter of the Koran - at home with close friend Sameeah Karim, she may stumble over one word but otherwise the text is perfectly recounted.

But unlike Sameeah, 35, who has Pakistani heritage and grew up reading the holy book, Aisha is newer to it: she used to be called Laura and only converted to Islam two years ago.
She is pale and has bright blue eyes; originally from Birmingham, until recently she dressed like many other young white British women.
"Before it was the jeans, the hoodies, loads of make-up," she says.
Now Aisha wears a long black jilbab (a long flowing over-garment) and a cream-coloured hijab (headscarf).
"For me now, obviously it's a dramatic change, but it's a change I'm happy I've made, because now I don't have to prove myself to anybody out there."
Aisha took an interest in religion at school - and started quietly visiting her local mosque to find out more.
"Islam caught my eye and I wanted to look further into it - the people, the culture - and I carried on studying it and studying it, even after school. Living in Birmingham, I was surrounded by the religion."
She says she spent years finding out more about Islam before fully committing to the religion, changing her appearance and starting to pray five times a day.
"Life's changed dramatically, I was a rebel before, I was always getting into trouble at home, going out and staying out - not trying hard enough at school.
"Then when I became Muslim, I sort of calmed down. I wanted to stay at home studying on the internet or reading books. And I'm more happy than I was - I'm proud of who I am, I've got a certain identity."
Aisha is one of a growing number of white converts according to a new study by Swansea University for the charity Faith Matters.
Using a number of sources, including a survey of more than 250 British mosques, census data from 2001 and conversion figures in Europe, the researchers estimate that there could be as many as 100,000 converts - of all ethnic backgrounds - in the UK. This represents an increase on an estimated 60,000 converts in 2001.
For an insight into the experiences of Muslim converts, the researchers spoke to 120 - mainly young, white women.
Many converts - like Aisha - reported experiencing hostility from their families. She says her parents thought her conversion represented a rejection of her upbringing.
"My family they weren't too happy about it, [saying] why change your identity? Why cover your hair? Why dress the way you dress?" says Aisha.
"Being in a society where there's so much bad press around... but if you actually get to know these people, they're the friendliest people ever. I'm proud to be Muslim, I don't care what my family say."
Aisha does have a wider support network now. She has recently had a traditional Asian wedding to a British Bangladeshi man and lives with her in-laws.
She also has a lot of friends, also converts, who she met at new Muslim groups.
Aisha pores over pictures of all the women lined up in their different coloured headscarves at her wedding.
"That's Lailah, that's Hanan, that's Mary… Sameeah's the only Asian one," she laughs.
At Regent's Park Mosque in central London there are many white faces among the crowd for Friday prayers.
Conversions happen here every week - largely on a Saturday, and they are mostly women.
Tony Blair's sister-in-law, Lauren Booth, is a recent convert and prays there.
One London imam, Ajmal Masroor, says the findings of the study come as little surprise to him. He says in his experience around three-quarters of converts are women.
"Many people are looking for a spiritual and fulfilling lifestyle rather than the hedonistic, materially-driven one that we have around us," says Imam Masroor.
"They find an answer in Islam. Women are hard-wired to reflect and think and take things more seriously, even from a young age.
"This has been going on for the last 20 years and more so since 9/11. People are curious, so they go to the book rather than the distorted media headlines.
"They learn that Islam is fulfilling as a personal journey as well as a collective conscience."
Sarah Joseph sits in her office studying the latest edition of Emel, the Muslim lifestyle magazine she edits.
She converted to Islam as a teenager and has adopted the headscarf, saying she was looking for something with more meaning.
"I'd grown up in a model agency and I'd been surrounded my whole life by external beauty, and the hijab was, and very much is, about the search for inner beauty," she says.
Despite the difficulties, Sarah says British converts have a vital role to play in explaining two sides - Britain's Muslim and non-Muslim communities - to each other.
"[Converts have] authentically belonged to two traditions and should act as a conduit to show each side that we share far more than we differ."

Source: BBC News



Myriam Francois-Cerrah found fame as a child actress in the 90’s hit film Sense and Sensibility.  Now she’s known for being one of a growing number of educated middle class female converts to Islam in Britain.

Francois-Cerrah says the September 11 terrorist attacks evoked the same rage in her that they did in people around world. Subsequently, she read a book that called for the expulsion of Muslims from Europe. All of this, and the controversy that had been building around the faith, made Francois-Cerrah, a university student at the time, delve deeply into the subject of Islam. She says she found nothing in the faith that justifies terrorist attacks, and instead found Islam inspirational.  Ultimately, Francois-Cerrah converted. She believes the Prophet Muhammad was a man of peace.

She says,

“There were several things that were pivotal in leading to this change in me. One was looking into the Prophet Muhammad. I think he is one of the great misunderstood figures of history.”

Francois-Cerrah goes on.

“One of his favorite quotes was, ‘Forgive him who wrongs you. Join him who cuts you off. Do good to him who does evil to you and speak the truth even if it be against yourself.’”

Francois-Cerrah says the radical fringe behind terror attacks doesn’t represent the masses.

“Muslims as a rule, the mainstream, don’t look at these actions and think oh those Muslims over there are doing that. They think who are these crazy loons!”

Kristianne Backer was an MTV host in Germany when she converted to Islam. She moved to the UK when her conversion got a lot of negative press.

Backer says she has no regrets.

“I met a lot of famous, interesting people in life, but ultimately it was an empty life, so now I am from ‘Empty-V’, from entertainment to ‘inner-tainment.’ I had a crisis after a few years jetting around like a circus horse, on stage, home alone, empty and I didn’t know why I was doing it and Islam was somehow introduced to me.”

I asked editor of Emel magazine, Sarah Joseph, herself a convert, what is drawing women to the religion.

“People go to, travel to, Muslim countries, and see great beauty and hospitality and that draws them to it—the art and the architecture.”

Joseph explains that any negative press about Islam has not only served to repel some people, but it has drawn others.


pinkwithskyMyriam Francois-Cerrah says,

“There were several things that were pivotal in leading to this change in me. One was looking into the Prophet Muhammad [PBUH]. I think he is one of the great misunderstood figures of history.”

“My intellectual curiosity was sparked as a result of the backlash against my Muslims friends after 9/11 when I, like most people, was convinced that Islam was responsible for this atrocity. I wanted to understand why my friends would remain part of such a faith.“

“When I began looking into the faith, I realised how antithetical those terrorist actions are to the core message of Islam which enjoins peace, moderation and fairness. I then began to realise what was actually behind 9/11 was the distorted ideology of some political extremists, using Islam as a veneer to justify their actions.”

“Islam is about always having balance and I think the Prophet’s (PBUH) message was fundamentally about having balance and equilibrium in all that we do.”

“The Prophet’s message was always that you repel bad with good that you always respond to evil with good and always remember that God loves justice so even when people are committing serious injustices against you, you have a moral responsibility and a moral obligation in front of God to always appall justice and never yourself transgress those limits.”

She quotes a favourite quote by Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) such as

‘Forgive him who wrongs you. Join him who cuts you off. Do good to him who does evil to you and speak the truth even if it be against yourself.’”

“Islam’s beauty really becomes to its own when it becomes manifest and it becomes manifest when you make it into a tool for the betterment of society, human kind and the world.”

“The ideal from an Islamic perspective is for ethics to become lived ethics to become an applied body of values and not remain unfortunately as it often is cloistered in the mosque of somewhere which is some more divorced from reality.”

Myriam Francois-Cerrah became popular when she was a child for acting in the 90's hit film ‘Sense and Sensibility.’ Now she is gaining more popularity for being one of a growing number of educated middle class female converts to Islam in Britain.


hijaabieeIt’s a controversial time for British women to be wearing the hijab, the basic Muslim headscarf. Last month, Belgium became the first European country to pass legislation to ban the burka (the most concealing of Islamic veils), calling it a “threat” to female dignity, while France looks poised to follow suit. In Italy earlier this month, a Muslim woman was fined €500 (£430) for wearing the Islamic veil outside a post office.

And yet, while less than 2 per cent of the population now attends a Church of England service every week, the number of female converts to Islam is on the rise. At the London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park, women account for roughly two thirds of the “New Muslims” who make their official declarations of faith there – and most of them are under the age of 30.

Conversion statistics are frustratingly patchy, but at the time of the 2001 Census, there were at least 30,000 British Muslim converts in the UK. According to Kevin Brice, of the Centre for Migration Policy Research, Swansea University, this number may now be closer to 50,000 – and the majority are women. “Basic analysis shows that increasing numbers of young, university-educated women in their twenties and thirties are converting to Islam,” confirms Brice.

“Our liberal, pluralistic 21st-century society means we can choose our careers, our politics – and we can pick and choose who we want to be spiritually,” explains Dr Mohammad S. Seddon, lecturer in Islamic Studies at the University of Chester. We’re in an era of the “religious supermarket”, he says.

Joanne Bailey
Solicitor, 30, Bradford

“The first time I wore my hijab into the office, I was so nervous, I stood outside on the phone to my friend for ages going, ‘What on earth is everyone going to say?’ When I walked in, a couple of people asked, ‘Why are you wearing that scarf? I didn’t know you were a Muslim.’

“I’m the last person you’d expect to convert to Islam: I had a very sheltered, working-class upbringing in South Yorkshire. I’d hardly even seen a Muslim before I went to university.

“In my first job at a solicitor’s firm in Barnsley, I remember desperately trying to play the role of the young, single, career woman: obsessively dieting, shopping and going to bars – but I never felt truly comfortable.

“Then one afternoon in 2004 everything changed: I was chatting to a Muslim friend over coffee, when he noticed the little gold crucifix around my neck. He said, ‘Do you believe in God, then?’ I wore it more for fashion than religion and said, ‘No, I don’t think so,’ and he started talking about his faith.

“I brushed him off at first, but his words stuck in my mind. A few days later, I found myself ordering a copy of the Koran on the internet.

“It took me a while to work up the courage to go to a women’s social event run by the Leeds New Muslims group. I remember hovering outside the door thinking, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’ I imagined they would be dressed head-to-toe in black robes: what could I, a 25-year-old, blonde English girl, possibly have in common with them?

“But when I walked in, none of them fitted the stereotype of the oppressed Muslim housewife; they were all doctors, teachers and psychiatrists. I was struck by how content and secure they seemed. It was meeting these women, more than any of the books I read, that convinced me that I wanted to become a Muslim.

“After four years, in March 2008, I made the declaration of faith at a friend’s house. At first, I was anxious that I hadn’t done the right thing, but I soon relaxed into it – a bit like starting a new job.

“A few months later, I sat my parents down and said, ‘I’ve got something to tell you.’ There was a silence and my mum said, ‘You’re going to become Muslim, aren’t you?’ She burst into tears and kept asking things like, ‘What happens when you get married? Do you have to cover up? What about your job?’ I tried to reassure her that I’d still be me, but she was concerned for my welfare.

“Contrary to what most people think, Islam doesn’t oppress me; it lets me be the person that I was all along. Now I’m so much more content and grateful for the things I’ve got. A few months ago, I got engaged to a Muslim solicitor I met on a training course. He has absolutely no problem with my career, but I do agree with the Islamic perspective on the traditional roles for men and women. I want to look after my husband and children, but I also want my independence. I’m proud to be British and I’m proud to be Muslim – and I don’t see them as conflicting in any way.”

Aqeela Lindsay Wheeler
Housewife and mother, 26, Leicester

“As a teenager I thought all religion was pathetic. I used to spend every weekend getting drunk outside the leisure centre, in high-heeled sandals and miniskirts. My view was: what’s the point in putting restrictions on yourself? You only live once.

“At university, I lived the typical student existence, drinking and going clubbing, but I’d always wake up the next morning with a hangover and think, what’s the point?

“It wasn’t until my second year that I met Hussein. I knew he was a Muslim, but we were falling in love, so I brushed the whole issue of religion under the carpet. But six months into our relationship, he told me that being with me was ‘against his faith’.

“I was so confused. That night I sat up all night reading two books on Islam that Hussein had given me. I remember bursting into tears because I was so overwhelmed. I thought, ‘This could be the whole meaning of life.’ But I had a lot of questions: why should I cover my head? Why can’t I eat what I like?

“I started talking to Muslim women at university and they completely changed my view. They were educated, successful – and actually found the headscarf liberating. I was convinced, and three weeks later officially converted to Islam.

“When I told my mum a few weeks later, I don’t think she took it seriously. She made a few comments like, ‘Why would you wear that scarf? You’ve got lovely hair,’ but she didn’t seem to understand what it meant.

“My best friend at university completely turned on me: she couldn’t understand how one week I was out clubbing, and the next I’d given everything up and converted to Islam. She was too close to my old life, so I don’t regret losing her as a friend.

“I chose the name Aqeela because it means ‘sensible and intelligent’ – and that’s what I was aspiring to become when I converted to Islam six years ago. I became a whole new person: everything to do with Lindsay, I’ve erased from my memory.

“The most difficult thing was changing the way I dressed, because I was always so fashion-conscious. The first time I tried on the hijab, I remember sitting in front of the mirror, thinking, ‘What am I doing putting a piece of cloth over my head? I look crazy!’ Now I’d feel naked without it and only occasionally daydream about feeling the wind blow through my hair. Once or twice, I’ve come home and burst into tears because of how frumpy I feel – but that’s just vanity.

“It’s a relief not to feel that pressure any more. Wearing the hijab reminds me that all I need to do is serve God and be humble. I’ve even gone through phases of wearing the niqab [face veil] because I felt it was more appropriate – but it can cause problems, too.

“When people see a white girl wearing a niqab they assume I’ve stuck my fingers up at my own culture to ‘follow a bunch of Asians’. I’ve even had teenage boys shout at me in the street, ‘Get that s*** off your head, you white bastard.’ After the London bombings, I was scared to walk about in the streets for fear of retaliation.

“For the most part, I have a very happy life. I married Hussein and now we have a one-year-old son, Zakir. We try to follow the traditional Muslim roles: I’m foremost a housewife and mother, while he goes out to work. I used to dream of having a successful career as a psychologist, but now it’s not something I desire.

“Becoming a Muslim certainly wasn’t an easy way out. This life can sometimes feel like a prison, with so many rules and restrictions, but we believe that we will be rewarded in the afterlife.”

Catherine Heseltine
Nursery school teacher, 31, North London

“If you’d asked me at the age of 16 if I’d like to become a Muslim, I would have said, ‘No thanks.’ I was quite happy drinking, partying and fitting in with my friends.

“Growing up in North London, we never practised religion at home; I always thought it was slightly old-fashioned and irrelevant. But when I met my future husband, Syed, in the sixth form, he challenged all my preconceptions. He was young, Muslim, believed in God – and yet he was normal. The only difference was that, unlike most teenage boys, he never drank.

“A year later, we were head over heels in love, but we quickly realised: how could we be together if he was a Muslim and I wasn’t?

“Before meeting Syed, I’d never actually questioned what I believed in; I’d just picked up my casual agnosticism through osmosis. So I started reading a few books on Islam out of curiosity.

“In the beginning, the Koran appealed to me on an intellectual level; the emotional and spiritual side didn’t come until later. I loved its explanations of the natural world and discovered that 1,500 years ago, Islam gave women rights that they didn’t have here in the West until relatively recently. It was a revelation.

“Religion wasn’t exactly a ‘cool’ thing to talk about, so for three years I kept my interest in Islam to myself. But in my first year at university, Syed and I decided to get married – and I knew it was time to tell my parents. My mum’s initial reaction was, ‘Couldn’t you just live together first?’ She had concerns about me rushing into marriage and the role of women in Muslim households – but no one realised how seriously I was taking my religious conversion. I remember going out for dinner with my dad and him saying, ‘Go on, have a glass of wine. I won’t tell Syed!’ A lot of people assumed I was only converting to Islam to keep his family happy, not because I believed in it.

“Later that year, we had an enormous Bengali wedding, and moved into a flat together – but I certainly wasn’t chained to the kitchen sink. I didn’t even wear the hijab at all to start with, and wore a bandana or a hat instead.

“I was used to getting a certain amount of attention from guys when I went out to clubs and bars, but I had to let that go. I gradually adopted the Islamic way of thinking: I wanted people to judge me for my intelligence and my character – not for the way I looked. It was empowering.

“I’d never been part of a religious minority before, so that was a big adjustment, but my friends were very accepting. Some of them were a bit shocked: ‘What, no drink, no drugs, no men? I couldn’t do that!’ And it took a while for my male friends at university to remember things like not kissing me hello on the cheek any more. I’d have to say, ‘Sorry, it’s a Muslim thing.’

“Over time, I actually became more religious than my husband. We started growing apart in other ways, too. In the end, I think the responsibility of marriage was too much for him; he became distant and disengaged. After seven years together, I decided to get a divorce.

“When I moved back in with my parents, people were surprised I was still wandering around in a headscarf. But if anything, being on my own strengthened my faith: I began to gain a sense of myself as a Muslim, independent of him.

“Islam has given me a sense of direction and purpose. I’m involved with the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, and lead campaigns against Islamophobia, discrimination against women in mosques, poverty and the situation in Palestine. When people call us ‘extremists’ or ‘the dark underbelly of British politics’, I just think it’s ridiculous. There are a lot of problems in the Muslim community, but when people feel under siege it makes progress even more difficult.

“I still feel very much part of white British society, but I am also a Muslim. It has taken a while to fit those two identities together, but now I feel very confident being who I am. I’m part of both worlds and no one can take that away from me.”

Sukina Douglas
Spoken-word poet, 28, London

“Before I found Islam, my gaze was firmly fixed on Africa. I was raised a Rastafarian and used to have crazy-long dreadlocks: one half blonde and the other half black.

“Then, in 2005, my ex-boyfriend came back from a trip to Africa and announced that he’d converted to Islam. I was furious and told him he was ‘losing his African roots’. Why was he trying to be an Arab? It was so foreign to how I lived my life. Every time I saw a Muslim woman in the street I thought, ‘Why do they have to cover up like that? Aren’t they hot?’ It looked oppressive to me.

“Islam was already in my consciousness, but when I started reading the autobiography of Malcolm X at university, something opened up inside me. One day I said to my best friend, Muneera, ‘I’m falling in love with Islam.’ She laughed and said, ‘Be quiet, Sukina!’ She only started exploring Islam to prove me wrong, but soon enough she started believing it, too.

“I was always passionate about women’s rights; there was no way I would have entered a religion that sought to degrade me. So when I came across a book by a Moroccan feminist, it unravelled all my negative opinions: Islam didn’t oppress women; people did.

“Before I converted, I conducted an experiment. I covered up in a long gypsy skirt and headscarf and went out. But I didn’t feel frumpy; I felt beautiful. I realised, I’m not a sexual commodity for men to lust after; I want to be judged for what I contribute mentally.

“Muneera and I took our shahada [declaration of faith] together a few months later, and I cut my dreadlocks off to represent renewal: it was the beginning of a new life.

“Just three weeks after our conversion, the 7/7 bombings happened; suddenly we were public enemy No 1. I’d never experienced racism in London before, but in the weeks after the bombs, people would throw eggs at me and say, ‘Go back to your own country,’ even though this was my country.

“I’m not trying to shy away from any aspect of who I am. Some people dress in Arabian or Pakistani styles, but I’m British and Caribbean, so my national dress is Primark and Topshop, layered with colourful charity-shop scarves.

“Six months after I converted, I got back together with my ex-boyfriend, and now we’re married. Our roles in the home are different, because we are different people, but he would never try to order me around; that’s not how I was raised.

“Before I found Islam, I was a rebel without a cause, but now I have a purpose in life: I can identify my flaws and work towards becoming a better person. To me, being a Muslim means contributing to your society, no matter where you come from.”

Catherine Huntley
Retail assistant, 21, Bournemouth

“My parents always thought I was abnormal, even before I became a Muslim. In my early teens, they’d find me watching TV on a Friday night and say, ‘What are you doing at home? Haven’t you got any friends to go out with?’

“The truth was: I didn’t like alcohol, I’ve never tried smoking and I wasn’t interested in boys. You’d think they’d have been pleased.

“I’ve always been quite a spiritual person, so when I started studying Islam in my first year of GCSEs, something just clicked. I would spend every lunchtime reading about Islam on the computer. I had peace in my heart and nothing else mattered any more. It was a weird experience – I’d found myself, but the person I found wasn’t like anyone else I knew.

“I’d hardly ever seen a Muslim before, so I didn’t have any preconceptions, but my parents weren’t so open-minded. I hid all my Muslim books and headscarves in a drawer, because I was so scared they’d find out.

“When I told my parents, they were horrified and said, ‘We’ll talk about it when you’re 18.’ But my passion for Islam just grew stronger. I started dressing more modestly and would secretly fast during Ramadan. I got very good at leading a double life until one day, when I was 17, I couldn’t wait any longer.

“I sneaked out of the house, put my hijab in a carrier bag and got on the train to Bournemouth. I must have looked completely crazy putting it on in the train carriage, using a wastebin lid as a mirror. When a couple of old people gave me dirty looks, I didn’t care. For the first time in my life, I felt like myself.

“A week after my conversion, my mum came marching into my room and said, ‘Have you got something to tell me?’ She pulled my certificate of conversion out of her pocket. I think they’d rather have found anything else at that point – drugs, cigarettes, condoms – because at least they could have put it down to teenage rebellion.

“I could see the fear in her eyes. She couldn’t comprehend why I’d want to give up my freedom for the sake of a foreign religion. Why would I want to join all those terrorists and suicide bombers?

“It was hard being a Muslim in my parents’ house. I’ll never forget one evening, there were two women in burkas on the front page of the newspaper, and they started joking, ‘That’ll be Catherine soon.’

“They didn’t like me praying five times a day either; they thought it was ‘obsessive’. I’d pray right in front of my bedroom door so my mum couldn’t walk in, but she would always call upstairs, ‘Catherine, do you want a cup of tea?’ just so I’d have to stop.

“Four years on, my grandad still says things like, ‘Muslim women have to walk three steps behind their husbands.’ It gets me really angry, because that’s the culture, not the religion. My fiancé, whom I met eight months ago, is from Afghanistan and he believes that a Muslim woman is a pearl and her husband is the shell that protects her. I value that old-fashioned way of life: I’m glad that when we get married he’ll take care of paying the bills. I always wanted to be a housewife anyway.

“Marrying an Afghan man was the cherry on the cake for my parents. They think I’m completely crazy now. He’s an accountant and actually speaks better English than I do, but they don’t care. The wedding will be in a mosque, so I don’t think they’ll come. It hurts to think I’ll never have that fairytale wedding, surrounded by my family. But I hope my new life with my husband will be a lot happier. I’ll create the home I’ve always wanted, without having to feel the pain of people judging me.

Source: The Times.