Sister Rushda narrates her struggles as a revert muslimah having to live with her non-muslim parents during the lockdown
This article is part of Arriqaaq Magazine - Unfurl
More often than not, we take things for granted and do not acknowledge our Creator, Al Latif, for His subtle blessings. Our beloved parents and the family we are blessed to be born into, is the only "safe place" most of us recognize. That first call we make after a small success or a big achievement is to our mother, knowing fully well that she would share our excitement, perhaps shout from the rooftop about how talented her child is! When in trouble or difficulty, we'd run home, hoping, almost sure that our father has that quick-fix solution!
So what is one to do when all of a sudden, that ‘home’ that they always called theirs doesn't feel safe anymore? When your father stands against you and your beliefs instead of standing by you... When your mother seems to be torn between her love for you and obedience to her husband?
How would you feel if you had to hide in the deepest corners of your own home to worship Allah, fearing your loved ones might walk in and cause you trouble? When holding on to your deen and hijab, literally feels like holding on to hot burning coal...
When you relate more with the stories of difficulties and trials faced by the Prophets (may peace be upon them all), when you feel immense closeness to Allah because there is no one else who would understand you, no one else you can have a heartfelt conversation with, when you yearn to quickly go through this life so Allah may enter you into His Jannah out of His Mercy, when you want nothing but a safe place to practice your deen in, to peacefully sit in prayer, in remembrance of Allah; perhaps then, we would begin to see the gift of Imaan and the blessing of Islam. This is a narrative of sister Rushda’s experience as a Muslim convert, who struggled to safeguard her connection with her Rabb when she had no choice but to stay with her non-Muslim family during this pandemic."
Don't marry a born Muslim" says her mother!
Rushda (Name changed upon request) is a convert to Islam, who was living a quiet and peaceful life in one of the metros of India. Her journey to Islam is as beautiful as the myriad stories of people embracing Islam, but we will save that for another time.
Her parents who aren't Muslim, have been urging her to get married. They conveniently try to hide the Muslim identity of their daughter, and prefer to keep pretending as normal, in order to appease their extended family and society. Her mother remains adamant that she only marries a convert from a well to do family and not a born Muslim, because then they could just pretend that the couple married and converted together - reasons the mother seems convinced would suffice!
Life Went On...
Initially Rushda wasn’t bothered much by this as she was living in a different city, far from her hometown. She continued leading a life of contentment having found her true calling, oblivious to her parent’s taunting. Islam is all that she needed to carry on with her life; she busied herself with the Qur’an, inspirational videos, newfound Muslim friends and she was ecstatic.
However, the pandemic struck and Rushda lost her job during the lockdown. After a few months of searching for a new job, and living off her parent’s support, she was forced to go back to her hometown. There, she was coerced to not wear her hijab, pray secretly and toe her parents’ lines and her woes still continue.
She has still not been able to find a decent halal source of income. Most born Muslims are averse to marrying a revert and she is thereby, part of the many sad stories of revert sisters staying single due to being unable to find a suitable spouse. She is one of the many sisters silently struggling to hold on to the rope of Allah amidst these trials and tribulations.
She goes through mixed and complex emotions every day trying to hold on to her deen. She is yearning to break free but remains caged; fervently hoping for help from Allah in the form of a job or a suitable man of taqwa!
Rushda was kind enough to recount her experience and shared some beautiful advice for all of us to take note of and act upon, In shaa Allah.
Locked-down with Non-muslim parents..
Her lockdown story moved us to tears; it broke our heart into a million tiny pieces; but more importantly, Rushda’s narration in her own words rekindled in us the desire to fall in sajda to Allah, out of immense gratitude for the life of blessings upon blessings we are leading now. It forced us to introspect deeply, to want to "wake up" to worship Allah in tahajjud. It made us yearn for the closeness to Allah that she experiences at this given moment of difficulty. Perhaps, Allah loves to hear her heartfelt duas as He has chosen her to stand before Him during the special time of the night when He descends to the lowest heaven. What wouldn’t we give to experience this? - our blessings are our trials. May Allah save us from all kinds of fitan in our deen, imaan, dunya and akhira. Aameen.
Tell us about your experience, sister:
"Let me tell you, it is not easy for converts/new Muslims. We don’t have it easy, yet when I see some born Muslims who I think have been born with a silver spoon and they don’t even pray, I feel blessed that at least I have been given Islam, so I can’t complain, Alhamdulillah.
I moved back to my hometown to stay with my parents, after I lost my job during the Covid-19 lockdown. I have had to forcefully remove my hijaab, I have to pray in secret and I face continuous taunts from my mother, even though she used to support me before, knowing I became Muslim. This is mainly because I have lost my job, I am unmarried, and I am now facing health issues due to which I have even put on weight. She will remark “What has your Allah given you? What has Islam given you? You have lost everything you had - your job, your beauty, you haven’t even found a good life partner. Weren’t you better off before Islam?” From the worldly point of view, I was doing quite well in life prior to Islam; now as a Muslim, my mother likes to point out that I haven’t gained much. I am constantly judged for my looks, for being jobless. My constant dua is just “Yaa Allah! Just give me a job so I can be financially independent". As if to test my imaan, I began to get job offers from companies that dealt in haraam commodities like alcohol companies, and I deliberately performed badly in my interviews because I did not want them to hire me; however I had to at least go for the interview in order to pacify my mother.
Allah, above all else..
Like all parents, they were once very caring and supportive of me, but all that changed now that I am a Muslim; as a Muslim daughter, they do not find it in their hearts to support me. My father is extremely anti-Muslim and I am scared of him. My younger sister accepted Islam when she was just in the fourth grade, and so she has been smarter than me in tackling our parents, she knows how to deal with them as well as how to keep her faith hidden from them. I on the other hand, am living in fear of my father, of what he would do should he walk in when I am praying, so I even end up breaking my salaah hurriedly if I hear him coming into my room. I struggle to find the balance between loving my parents for the sake of Allah, and keeping them happy; because having a good relationship translates into them wanting me to accompany them to the various poojas, and visiting religious priests, partaking in their festivals, etc. which when I refuse to obey, they become extremely disappointed. It is very difficult to keep parents happy as well as keep a good relationship with them. My sister and I cannot even wear new clothes on Eid and sit with them; my father will give us glaring stares and ask us why we have worn new clothes. I long for a day we can celebrate Eid, with a family of my own, wear new clothes and enjoy with my family.
I also feel like a hypocrite - when I was living away from my parents, I was practicing my Islam properly, I wore hijaab, but now since moving to my hometown these past weeks, I had to remove my hijaab because my parents don’t want anyone to know I am a Muslim. At times I just feel like blurting everything out to my father, even though I am so scared of him; I just want to scream and tell him, once and for all, that “Yes I am a Muslim now”, and leave my parents’ home and go back to living on my own. But my mother is scared of what will happen to her after I say all of this and leave. She says my father will blame her for her upbringing and for my accepting Islam. So she stops me. “You will go and live your life while here your father will make my life hell”, she says.
When asked “What keeps you steadfast sister? What keeps you from leaving the fold of Islam, under all of this duress?”, Rushda takes a huge breath and replies: “What makes me firm and not give up, not lose hope, is when I see the people around me having everything they could ever want in this worldly life, but they don’t have Imaan in their hearts, they don’t have Islam. I might not have all that I want right now, but I have Islam. I love Allah. I want to see Him in Jannah. There is a strong close connection I feel with my Rabb. Allah says that He tests those whom He loves, so I know this is my test. He says He does not burden a soul more than it can bear, that’s how I know I can get through this, this is definitely something I can bear because it is my Rabb’s promise.
One day, all of this will surely come to an end. One day, in Jannah, all of this will feel like it was nothing. With one foot inside of Jannah, by His Mercy, Allah will cause us to forget all of the sorrows of this world, in shaa Allah. I have been given the gift of Islam, and so I am the one truly blessed."
She further adds, “Islam taught me that happiness is not about getting all the things which we wish for, as we human beings are ever greedy and never content but happiness is to able to ask Allah for what we want knowing HE is the only provider and by these trials He is teaching me Sabr”.
“All of us, especially us as converts, should understand that just because we have accepted Islam doesn't mean paradise is guaranteed, Allah subhanahu wa ta’la will test us and the real test is to be able to feel and say Alhumdulillah when we are in difficulty and to be strong enough to trust Allah's plan and say Allah is enough for me”.
With these good thoughts about Allah, she gets through another day, making du’aa and hoping for a promising future.
“We must expect good from Allah, we must think good of Allah, because Allah is with us how we think of Him to be.. so why shouldn’t I ask from Him all that I want?” - Rushda. May Allah swt ease her pain and fulfill her halal needs and enable her to remain steadfast upon His path. Aameen…
There is a need for a support system in order to provide convert sisters with assistance in their life post Islam and in terms of facilitating their marriages.How blessed are we to have a job even when so many have been left jobless by this pandemic?How many blessings we have that we take for granted, that someone is so desperately making dua for? If you would like to offer help or reach out to this sister, please email us at email@example.com.