40Days to transform my life!

Feel like you are letting yourself down? Know you can do better but aren't sure how? Make great resolutions but don't follow through? Sounds just like me. Which is why I am resolving to commit 40Days to making a lasting difference to my life, insha Allah. This blog is the online home of my personal 40Day Challenge - you can join me or simply follow my progress (or lack of it!).

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Life as a Muslim woman in Britain - Part 1

Islam took me by surprise: Na'ima B Robert's religious journey
Na'ima B. Robert was brought up in Leeds and Zimbabwe and led a typical Western lifestyle before she unexpectedly discovered Islam while holidaying in Eygpt
Na'ima B. Robert

I didn’t become Muslim for any of the reasons for which people often assume Western women decide to convert.

Our perception of Islam is such that we view conversion and, in particular, female conversion, with a sense of incredulity, of mistrust, perhaps even of pity. After all, what woman in her right mind would leave the comforts of a Western lifestyle, the freedom of an emancipated age, the promise of a secular future, for a life of God-consciousness, devotion and prayer – not to mention hijab?

There must be a plausible explanation for such a conversion.

It is often assumed that there is a Muslim man in the background, pulling the strings, offering marriage and family if she agrees to become a Muslim. Another explanation is that she has been brainwashed by a group of religious zealots and just needs time and patience to grow out of this “phase”. Other explanations include a desire to rebel against family and society, to make a political statement, to opt out of normal life, or simply cry out for attention.

But I did not become Muslim for any of these reasons. Before accepting Islam, I was at the height of a successful university career, had a great circle of friends, an active social life and a sense of confidence far surpassing my achievements to date! I wasn’t empty or lost or searching for the meaning of life: the desire for a deeper understanding of my life’s purpose was to come later.

I suppose you could say Islam took me by surprise. I wasn’t looking for it, didn’t expect to find and then, all of a sudden, there it was, on a trip to Egypt: this way of life, rooted in faith, grounded in firm moral principles, based on a belief in One God.

It’s simplicity and the clarity of its message took my breath away: there is only one God worthy of worship, without any partners, and Muhammad (peace be upon him) is His slave and messenger. It was, quite simply, the truth.

I read the Qur’an, that message revealed over 1,400 years ago, and it made sense to me. It was something I could believe, could uphold, could live, even in the UK, in the 21st century.

Unlike some, I admired Islam’s austerity, appreciated the emphasis on conquering one’s ego, of submitting to God with full submission. And so, through questions, debates and patience and prayer, God tamed my rebellious heart and I opened up to His service.

I accepted Islam after researching it for six months. And it’s ironic that, after 10 years as an orthodox Muslim, a niqab-wearing one at that, I look at my life today and find that, once again, I am at the height of a successful career (writing this time), have a great circle of friends, an active social life and a sense of confidence far surpassing my achievements to date. So, no, my life didn’t end when I embraced Islam.

It was just the beginning of a wonderful new journey, one I feel honoured to undertake. I wait to see where it takes me next.


Copyright: Na'ima B.Robert


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