It was my first time. I was shy and just did not know what to expect.
I went in and performed my two rakats of tahiyatul masjid which I had just learnt about. By then, I wasn’t told that Muslim sisters were exceptionally kind. I heard whispers of asalaamu ‘alaikum with a big smile from the womenfolk but I still felt out of place. Oh have you noticed how sisters are also so touchy feely? Yeah took me time to get used to the hand shake, holding hands each time and hugging etc.
Everyone at the masjid was reading from a mushaf and I only had my iPhone as by then I couldn’t read Qur’an. The letters seemed like something I could never be able to read. It felt uncomfortable. I didn’t even have a proper abaya at the time but kept admiring sisters in all black. What is there to admire in just a simple and plain all black abaya with scarf without embellishment anyway ?
Everyone seemed to fit in but me. I had to remind myself that I was in the house of Allah and it shall be ok as I solely went for worship. It was in the month of Ramadan and I went to perform the Taraweeh salat in jama’at at the masjid. I turned around and heard the sister sitting beside me asking if I was ok. I was shy but we managed to hold a decent conversation. Couple of other masjid trips despite sitting on a different floor in the women section, for some reason, the same sister always sat right next to me! Allahu Akbar!
I mean what were the odds eh? Not like I had her number for us to discuss what time we should meet up or what floor we preferred. You know, as friends do. Anyway, on the day of Eid I decided to walk up to her, send salam and asked for her number so we could keep in touch. There was just something welcoming about her. She still argues that she could tell I was a loner and needed someone but yeah, yeah, I’ll stick to my on version of the story and this isn’t a love story either.
We met few more times, did abaya shopping together at Whitechapel which I believe ended in me coming home with a jilbab one time and whenever we had to meet, I ensured I dressed just like her coz she seemed so beautiful in an abaya and it just fit well. Looking back, I thank Allah for guiding me and blessing me with friends that could help me on deen. Good companions that will give you da’wah each time you talk. Our conversations never end without a helpful reminder.
Whenever I read the hadeeth narrated by Aisha RA : “I heard the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) saying: ‘Souls are like conscripted soldiers; those whom they recognize, they get along with, and those whom they do not recognize, they will not get along with.’” (Saheeh al-Bukhaari, Kitaab Ahaadeeth al-Anbiyaa’, Baab al-Arwaah junood mujannadah), I smile and think of her and the other sisters who I call my very own soldiers! I don’t know if we really knew each other before but we get along fine and I pray Allah preserves our friendship.
A piece of advice to everyone trying to be on this beautiful journey, surround yourself with good people, those who have the same zeal as you. The ones that will remind you to stop when you are about to backbite or commit some other act of haram. Of course sister Zaynab wasn’t the only one that helped. Haha let me humble her a bit.
I met some other amazing sisters at Tayyibun Institute where I learnt Qur’an and oh how I wish we could take other courses together where I always looked forward to dinner and some dessert at one of the restaurants in E1. Walahi I’m sure we have visited almost 75% of the restaurants / dessert places near East london Masjid where we always discuss blogging about halal restaurants in London.
My first Islamic course on whatsapp was on the fiqh of Ramadan and was conducted by a sister from Gambia who appeared so matured and I initially thought was way older than me only to find out that I am actually older. The depression Umm Aamir gave me that day. Masha Allah I can’t believe I’m reaching 30 in few years. Oh boy!
The love and support I got was just amazing and I each day remain grateful for all the people Allah سبحانه وتعالى put in my life! Alhamdullilah for my best friends and family too. My flat mates whom I can never thank enough for their love, advice and support.
I think starting to wear hijab can make one question a lot and have fears for you’ll just look different. Living in the west, although I’ve been spat on once in the streets of London for being black and Muslim, I’m glad I had the support I needed from the community of sisters around me. If there is anything that I’ll stress on and advise anyone when it comes to being a new Muslim or a Muslim starting to wear hijab or niqab, will be to have or associate yourself with those on the same mission as you.
It is true Allah guides whom he wills but to stay guided, we need to try and keep the Qur’an , the sunnah , du’a and good companions as our best friends .
May Allah preserve our sisterhood and let’s also try and open up to others. Be a helping hand. Support each other. We need one another, the community needs us and the ummah at large needs us. Perhaps the next sister you’ll see after reading this post is trying to learn about Islam but doesn’t know who to reach out to or wants to start wearing the hijab or niqab but is struggling and needs that one friend to guide them. For some, all it takes is just a little inspiration from someone close. Be that sister, be that person to guide them on the right path. After all “By Allah, if a single person is guided by Allah through you, it will be better for you than a whole lot of red camels.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Barakallahu feekum and Asalamu 'alaikum Your Sister in Islam (Umm Yusuf / Mina)
Photo credit: Al Manhaj Al Nabawi telegram channel
Mushaf- Qur’an written in Arabic script
Jama’at – congregation
Daw’ah – inviting/calling others to Islam
Taraweeh – Sunnah prayers performed during the holy month of Ramadan after Isha prayers.
Tahiyyatul Masjid – Greeting the mosque. A two rakat sunnah prayer that is performed when one enters a mosque and before sitting down.
Abu Qataadah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “When one of you enters the mosque, let him not sit down until he has prayed two rak‘ahs.”
Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1167; Muslim, 714