Genesis 11:5

The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. Genesis 11:5

The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Part I
Standing outside now, you would not guess that the entire weekend has been baking and humid. Now the blessing of rain and coolness covers us. I've opened windows upstairs and downstairs, allowing for the draft of fresh rain throughout the house. It's quiet now, and has been for most of the day. Mom is at a wedding, a big fat Greek wedding. She does not want to appear in public with my hijab, so I could not attend. The past couple of weeks have been incredibly challenging, as I've had to choose between pleasing Allah and pleasing my mother. Surely Allah requires that I am kind and respectful and obedient to my mother, save cases in which obeying my mother would require disobedience to Allah. Since I've been home, I've removed my hijab when in public with her. But last weekend became quite intense, when mom refused to even appear at her church with me wearing a spring scarf around my neck. She sent me away, so I sat in Camp Hill and called the sheikh in London - I reached his voicemail, and learned that he does not work Sundays. I then rang a mosque in Philadelphia, and found a listening ear on the other end of the line. The gentleman took me seriously, and translated my story and concern into Arabic for the sheikh, whose answer was then translated to me in English. I must not remove my hijab for anyone, as this is a command from Allah subhana wa ta'ala, and we do not disobey Allah, our Creator, in order to obey Allah's creation. I must first please Allah, and then others will be pleased with me.

More and more I sense the brevity of this life. The more I meditate on the promise of the afterlife, the less difficult obedience to Allah in this life seems. I can count the number of hours, days, months, years that I will dwell on this earth - obedience in this finite period is well worth the sacrifice, in exchange for peace in the uncountable days of eternity. And I say that obedience now is well worth it, even if Allah does not grant me eternity. Obedience to Allah, adherence to Islam, to the best of my ability guides me to the remembrance of Allah, generosity, respect, conscientiousness, care for the environment, love for my family and others, and discipline. What wrong is there in this? Truly, this is how I want to live: humbly and thoughtfully. I am entitled to nothing in this life. Holding this thought at the forefront of my mind prevents me from allowing time to pass foolishly, by forgetting my Creator, Allah subhanah wa ta'ala.

This period of testing is not unique to me. My dear friend wrote to me explaining: "You are passing now through the stage that all new muslims have to go through when they convert into Islam. These people start having a stable spiritual life, but on the other hand they start facing difficulties in emotional and practical life. We call this critical stage "Ibtila" or "Bala." If you read the biography of the companions of the Prophet and the Prophet himself Peace be upon him, you would realise that they went through Bala'. Bala' is an exam from Allah in which a Muslim must show patience, tolerance and firmness."

Despite these challenges, feeling as if I've been abandoned by my own mother, family, and dearest friends, I am astounded by the beauty of Islam on a daily basis. The moments of strength can come from a friendly phone calls reminding me to be patient, a recitation of Quran, an explanation of Quran and Hadith, or meeting other Muslims. I am currently reading two books: The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology and The Sealed Nectar: Biography of the Noble Prophet (Peace be upon him).

Part II
Allah had mercy on me last night - when my mom came home from the wedding, which she was very angry I did not attend, she was peaceful and calm. Also, we had lunch with a strong Christian woman today, who I respect very much, but who I imagine would be quite shocked and confrontational if she learned of my reversion. Thankfully, she complimented my appearance, even though I was covering my hair with a small scarf (her husband was present), and discussions of religion remained neutral. All praise and thanks be to Allah for these mercies.

Today I'm making more of an effort to remove my photos on Facebook from the view of male Facebook friends. For the most part, I have been successful, although there does not seem to be a way to limit the viewing capacity of men when my photos have been posted by another friend. For now I am leaving those, because I don't want to lose those photos. Eventually pictures of me without hijab with not be visible to male Facebook friends.

My prayer this week is the Prayer of Musa (alayhi salaam) from Surah Al-Qasas (The Stories): "O Lord! Indeed I am in desperate need of whatever good You may bestow on me!" I've memorized it in Arabic {Rabbi Inni lima anzalta elaia min khairin faqeer}, and pray it regularly, particularly in reference to my desire to marry a man with certain merits, insha'Allah. You will find the prayer at minute 8:56 of the following recitation by Mishary bin Rashid Al-Fasy.

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