This is not the first Easter I haven't celebrated. I remember that last year my mom said that she did not understand why God was blessing me (with an unexpected income tax refund), even though I do not celebrate Easter.
I remember my interest in Islam prior to heading off to England. I spent time watching videos online about the life of Muslims in Essex, just out of curiosity. I was eager to learn. In some sense, I went seeking something. Perhaps I was interested in learning about Islam for political reasons, and in order to be more culturally aware. This was on the surface. I can't be surprised now that in the end I chose to embrace Islam. I think that I am now happier and more content than I've ever been. Now, the things in life that used to worry or annoy me, make me angry, or discourage me, I am better able to keep in perspective.
I doubt that several years ago I would have gotten down on my knees to massage my mom's feet, and count it a privilege. Now, I can literally sense the honour it is to have the feet of my mother above my head. She deserves it more than anyone, for she has given me life, she carried me, she took care of me. Never when I was a baby and crying with hunger or discomfort did she tell me that she was too tired or too busy to help me. She sacrificed everything for me, and I should do my best for her. I'll never be able to repay my mother for the love that she has given me, but I must strive to.
For some reason society frowns upon change in an individual, whether it's noticeably negative or positive. It's hard for us to respond well when anyone we know, friend or family or enemy, is suddenly not the same person we first knew. For example, the way I dress today is quite different from how I dressed as a teenager. It was common for me as a teenager to wear shorts and a t-shirt. Even in college I tried to show more skin to attract the attention of young men. And now I prefer covering my hair, I wear long sleeves, and I would not wear shorts but inside my own home. I am currently reading Naked Ambition by Jad Adams, a biography of Gandhi. Although I've learned that Gandhi was not exactly an agreeable character, there are a couple aspects of his life that I resonate with. Jad Adams points out that in 1921 Gandhi first began to attend meetings wearing nothing but a loincloth. I do not intend to comment on whether or not this attire is appropriate. What is striking to me is that "Thirty years earlier in London he had been wearing a wing collar and a top-hat." Gandhi explained that the evolution of his dress code was "a natural progression of the way his thinking had been taking him."
I do not believe that we should be ashamed of a progression of thought, or changes in our beliefs or behaviour over time. Life is short. What are we doing on earth if our beliefs do not change as a result of our experiences, or knowledge that we gain? For this reason, I cannot be embarrassed about who I was as a Christian child, young adult, or college student. All along, I've been learning and at this given moment, I'm living as close to truth and goodness as I can imagine living. Who is to say what I will learn in the coming years of my life, and who I will be? Allah knows best.
In reference to changes in his thoughts and beliefs throughout his life, Gandhi unashamedly said
My aim is not to be consistent with my previous statements on a given question, but to be consistent with truth, as it may present itself to me at a given moment. The result has been that I have grown from truth to truth.
Even the beliefs of an incredible nonviolent leader of our time looked different in the end from what they were in the beginning:
What I am concerned with is my readiness to obey the call of Truth, my God, from moment to moment, and therefore, when anybody finds any inconsistency between any two writings of mine, if he has still faith in my sanity, he would do well to choose the later of the two on the same subject.