Islam Brought Me Happiness
C. Huda Dodge, a new sister in faith, noticed a great interest in reverts to
Islam as how are people introduced to it, what attracts people to this faith,
how their life changes when they embrace Islam, etc. She received many e-mails
from people asking her these questions. In this concluding part of her
narrative, she discusses how she came in touch with Muslims and embraced
I was still living in a campus dorm, and was pretty isolated from the Muslim
community. I had to take two buses to get to the area where the mosque was
(and where most of the women lived). I quickly lost touch with the women I
met, and was left to pursue my faith on my own at school. I made a few
attempts to go to the mosque, but was confused by the meeting times. Sometimes
I'd show up to borrow some books from the library, and the whole building
would be full of men. Another time I decided to go to my first Jumah (Friday)
prayer, and I couldn't go in for the same reason. Later, I was told that women
only meet at a certain time (Saturday afternoon), and that I couldn't go at
other times. I was discouraged and confused, but I continued to have faith and
learn on my own.
Six months after my shahada, I observed my first Ramadan. I had been
contemplating the issue of hijab, but was too scared to take that step before.
I had already begun to dress more modestly, and usually wore a scarf over my
shoulders. (When I visited the sister, she told me ''all you have to do is
move that scarf from your shoulders to your head, and you'll be Islamically
dressed.'') At first I didn't feel ready to wear hijab, because I didn't feel
strong enough in my faith. I understood the reason for it, agreed with it, and
admired the women who did wear it. They looked so pious and noble. But I knew
that if I wore it, people would ask me a lot of questions, and I didn't feel
ready or strong enough to deal with that.
This changed as Ramadan approached, and on the first day of Ramadan, I woke up
and went to class in hijab. Alhamdulillah, I haven't taken it off since.
Something about Ramadan helped me to feel strong, and proud to be a Muslim. I
felt ready to answer anybody's questions.
However, I also felt isolated and lonely during that first Ramadan. No one
from the Muslim community even called me. I was on a meal plan at school, so I
had to arrange to get special meals (the dining hall wasn't open during the
hours I could eat). The school agreed to give me my meals in bag lunches. So
every night as sundown approached, I'd walk across the street to the kitchen,
go in the back to the huge refrigerators, and take my 2 bag lunches (one for
fitoor, one for suhoor). I'd bring the bags back to my dorm room and eat
alone. They always had the same thing: Yoghurt, a piece of fruit, cookies, and
either a tuna or egg salad sandwich. The same thing, for both meals, for the
whole month. I was lonely, but at the same time I had never felt more at peace
When I embraced Islam, I told my family. They were not surprised. They kind of
saw it coming, from my actions and what I said when I was home that summer.
They accepted my decision, and knew that I was sincere. Even before, my family
always accepted my activities and my deep faith, even if they didn't share it.
They were not as open-minded, however, when I started to wear hijab. They
worried that I was cutting myself off from society, that I would be
discriminated against, that it would discourage me from reaching my goals, and
they were embarrassed to be seen with me. They thought it was too radical.
They didn't mind if I had a different faith, but they didn't like it to affect
my life in an outward way.
They were more upset when I decided to get married. During this time, I had
gotten back in touch with Faris, the Muslim Palestinian brother of my
conversation group, the one who first prompted my interest in Islam. He was
still in the Portland area, attending the community college. We started
meeting again, over lunch, in the library, at his brother's house, etc. We
were married the following summer (after my sophomore year, a year after my
shahada). My family freaked out. They weren't quite yet over my hijab, and
they felt like I had thrown something else at them. They argued that I was too
young, and worried that I would abandon my goals, drop out of school, become a
young mother, and destroy my life. They liked my husband, but didn't trust him
at first (they were thinking ‘green card scam'). My family and I fought over
this for several months, and I feared that our relationship would never be
That was three years ago, and a lot has changed. Faris and I moved to
Corvallis, Oregon, home of Oregon State University. We live in a very strong
and close-knit Muslim community. I graduated magna cum laude last year, with a
degree in child development. I have had several jobs, from secretary to
preschool teacher, with no problems about my hijab. I'm active in the
community, and still do volunteer work. We visit my family a couple of times a
year. I met Faris' parents for the first time and we get along great. I'm
slowly but surely adding Arabic to the list of languages I speak.
My family has seen all of this, and has recognized that I didn't destroy my
life. They see that Islam has brought me happiness, not pain and sorrow. They
are proud of my accomplishments, and can see that I am truly happy and at
peace. Our relationship is back to normal, and they are looking forward to our
visit next month, Insha'Allah.
Looking back on all of this, I feel truly grateful that Allah has guided me to
where I am today. I truly feel blessed. It seems that all of the pieces of my
life fit together in a pattern, a path to Islam. Alhamdulillahi Rabbi
al'alamin. ''..Say: Allah's guidance is the only guidance, and we have been
directed to submit ourselves to the Lord of the Worlds...'' [Qur'an, Surah Al-An'am,