Why Women Are Coming to Islam
Source: Ad-Da'wah ilAllah - A Womens' Islamic Magazine
There are many stories of conversions to the deen of Allah. Many are very touching and poignant and serve us as a reminder that Allah guides who he wills often in ways and in circumstances we would never imagine. We would like to highlight in this article that among the most inspiring and illustrative of the fact that a pure heart and intention is rewarded with guidance, are those stories of our Muslim sisters who have accepted Islam.
Considering the intense anti-Islamic and hostile media propaganda these past few years, some with a particularly strong emphasis on the 'supposed' degrading position of women in Islam, we feel that those women are exceptional who accept Islam and who were able to separate the negative stereotyping and nonsense from the reality of faith.
Women are most clearly the signposts of Islam and whether we Muslim men like it or not, we are often judged by the perception people have of just how we treat our women. Muslim women stand out more so than men when they fully practice their religion, one reason obviously being their observance of Islamic dress or hijaab that covers and obscures the shape of their bodies completely and in many cases the face as well. However, what most people are not aware of is what is 'beyond the veil' (to borrow a title from one of the plethora of anti-Islamic books on Muslim women).
Seeing Through The Fog
Muslim women, especially converts, are by no means the empty-headed, submissive, rejects of western society that some essays and articles written by so-called journalists and researchers would have us believe. Most of those non-Muslim writers in many cases just seek to find the sensational or even make it up to sell books or papers or to serve their own preset agendas or to validate their own philosophical or ideological positions. They usually fail miserably to understand or relate the true underlying reasons for so many Muslim women's acceptance of and strict adherence to Islam.
It is this writer's opinion that much of what is written by such people, especially the women amongst them, stems from their inability to face the reality of the true motivations of intelligent, thoughtful, western women, both young and old, for accepting Islam. It would be an indictment of the shortcomings within their own culture and lifestyles and perhaps force even their own personal revaluation which often involves the type of critical examination that most people simply choose to avoid. Biased, slanted, and incomplete reporting is often due to plain old ignorance and significant doses of arrogance and pride.
The acceptance of Islam by women has mostly nothing to do with mere rejection of cultural tradition, men, or economics so much as it does with a sincere search for the truth motivated by a strong desire to serve Allah properly. It becomes clear to the thoughtful, truth seeking woman that what western society and culture (or eastern for that matter), even at its highest levels has to offer, is a far cry from what they, and all women, need. Namely, true freedom from the oppression of men and the tyranny of religion. Spiritual fulfillment and right guidance and living that leads to real happiness and satisfaction as well as true success in this life and the life to come is what they seek. Only real Islam offers this.
We present the true stories of two such thoughtful women to serve us all as a reminder of the substance of this great deen and the kind of consideration each and every person should give to his or her role and purpose in life and their relationship with Allah. Some editing has been done only for the sake of space and minor grammatical corrections.
Background Of A European Catholic Girl
"As a child I believed in God. My family was Christian (Catholic). After the death of my mother ... we did not often go to church but Christian values were a part of my upbringing. I had a strong faith in God. At school we were taught that Jesus ('alaihi salaam) was the son of God who came down to earth to save us from our sins. For some reason, alhamdulillah, I never took these stories seriously. I believed of course in Jesus ('alaihi salaam) but not really as the son of God. Christians pray to Jesus ('alaihi salaam): I prayed only to God....
As a teenager I questioned my faith for the first time. I wanted spiritual fulfillment for I did not feel at ease in the culture I was growing up in. However, I always felt disappointed when I went to churches. I could not accept the words in the hymns and prayers that spoke of father God and a son Jesus. The church failed to touch my heart and so I turned away from religion altogether as many western people have done....For many years I was then lost and confused. Christianity, being the only faith I knew had let me down."
"Western culture promotes materialism at the expense of the spiritual. It pretends to have liberated women and the western media frowns upon Islam as oppressive to female rights. However, I struggles to fit into this culture. At the age of sixteen I remember feeling alienated, unable to fully participate in the social and cultural environment....
I became extremely conscious of my appearance at all times, insecure about the shape of my body and the clothes I was wearing. So much pressure is placed on women in the west to conform to an impossible ideal of beauty that demands them to be thin, fit and wear provocative clothes. Women are not allowed to grow old and their bodies are for public scrutiny. Eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia nervosa) are very common. At the same time they have to have brilliant careers and be good partners to their husbands, boyfriends and children. Family values are weakening amongst the youth so that there is an increasing number of single parents...."
Finding A Muslim And Islam
"I was clever at school, alhamdulillah, and came to study German and Russian at Cambridge....I was more concerned with seeking emotional, spiritual as well as intellectual fulfillment. Yet, at this point I did not know Islam....Thus the difficulties I encountered in trying to belong to a culture which was alien to my nature, in trying to conform to the social expectations of women, prepared me for (acceptance of) Islam, since it is in the light of these personal struggles that I was first able to appreciate its true sense and beauty; how it is really a religion which accords with human nature at the deepest level....I met a Muslim who inspired me with her serenity, the light which seemed to somehow emanate from her whole being; the light of faith, deep and untroubled. I still had many insecurities about myself and was unable to find a way out from my troubles which often seemed to engulf me completely as often happens when people do not know God....This friend told me of Soorah Al-Ikhlaas:
Say: He is Allah the One and Only
I became drawn to Islam, for this was of course what I already believed.... Alhamdulillah, the sisters in Cambridge welcomed me with their hearts and helped me to gain knowledge I needed to become a Muslim. After five months I knew that it was right and said the shahaadah....There is not a day when I do not thank Almighty for responding so completely, with such love and mercy to my needs. Alhamdulillah."
Allahu Akbar! This women is like so many others whom Allah has opened their hearts. Perhaps the non-Muslim reader of this will reflect. Read the next story of Sister Haneefah.
"As a Christian convert to Islam I can only present my personal experience and reasons for rejecting the "freedom" that women claim to have in this (western European) society in favor of the only religion that truly liberates women by giving us a status and position which is completely unique when compared with that of our non-Muslim counterparts."
"Before coming to Islam I had strong feminist tendencies and recognized that where the woman was concerned, a lot of shuffling around had been going on...new 'women's issues' being raised without the previous ones being satisfactorily resolved. Like many women of my background I would accuse Islam of being a sexist religion, discriminating, oppressing and giving men the greater privileges. All this coming form a person who didn't even know Islam. One who had been blinded due to ignorance and had accepted this deliberately distorted definition of Islam."
The Quest For Truth Reaps Its Rewards
"However despite my criticisms of Islam, inwardly I wasn't satisfied with my own status as a woman in this society....There was clearly a great contradiction between what women are told in theory and what actually happens in practice....The more I pondered, greater emptiness I felt within. I was slowly beginning to reach a stage where my dissatisfaction with my status as a woman in this society, was really a reflection of my greater dissatisfaction with the society itself. Everything seemed to be degenerating backwards, despite all the claims that the 1990's was going to be the decade of success and prosperity. Something vital seemed to be missing from my life and nothing would fill this vacuum.
Being a Christian didn't do anything for me, and I began to question the validity of only remembering God one day a week - Sundays! As with many other Christians too, I had become disillusioned by the hypocrisy of the Church and I was becoming increasingly unhappy with the concept of the Trinity and the deification of Jesus ('alaihi salaam). Eventually, I began to look into Islam."
"I was surprised. What I read and learned taught me a lot about myself as a woman, and also about where the real oppression of women lies: in every other system and way of life outside Islam. Muslim women have been given their rights in every aspect of the religion with clear definitions of their role in society - as have men - with no injustices against either of them.... So having amended my misconceptions about the true status of women in Islam, I was now looking further. I wanted to find that thing which was going to fill the vacuum in my life.
My attention was drawn towards the beliefs and practices of Islam.... By this time I had begun to meet practicing Muslim women and how I felt so secure and welcome in their company! There was a sense of humility about them and I wanted to share in that.... Alhamdulillah, I accepted Islam willingly."
Living, Learning And Never Turning Back
"Through my reading, researching and attending lectures, I have come to know my Rabb. I have come closer to understanding some of His names and Attributes.... I can appreciate much more why the true Muslim scholars emphasize so strongly for Muslims to learn about Allah - His Asmaa wa Sifaat - before trying to reason with Allah's laws.
Unfortunate I would have been had I taken the stance that 'Islam gives the best deal to women' and made this the reason for embracing Islam, because then my faith would have been without a firm ground and sooner or later I would have come across some laws ordained by Allah that I couldn't logically/rationally understand or see the wisdom behind. [Islamic law never contradicts sound reason and rationale, however each individual may or may not have reached understanding of it. The writer is making clear that she learned that one cannot make Islam into what they percieve it should be, but should rather accept it as it is. - Ed.] Had I not studied the foundation of belief, namely Tawheed and looked at how Allah describes Himself in His Book, perhaps I would still be in darkness."
The Main Reason For Women Turning To Islam In A Muslim Woman's Own Words
"The reason why women why women are turning to Islam must certainly have something to do with the honor that Islam gives them and the equality with which it deals with people, not only in gender, but also in terms of race, nationality, class etc. However, the overriding reason why I and so many others like me were attracted to Islam was because Islam answered the most important question which I had ever asked: 'Why am I here on this earth?' So I crossed the divide and managed to see what lies on either side...Alhamdulillah I chose Islam."
Well said. And may Allah reward you and all those brave women like you and keep you strong and growing in the Deen, Ameen.