Genesis 11:5

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

Christians who recognised the Prophet

( صـلى الله علـيه و سـلم ) 
"You really hurt me tonight," she remarked. I took a deep breath, silently, and held it. Less than an hour prior she pulled into the Giant parking lot, just I was carrying my groceries to the car. She was smiling, and she acknowledged me, and I was wearing hijab. She rolled down her window and I tossed a bag of her favourite dark chocolate to her. She kept smiling. When I pulled out of the parking lot, I glanced into my rear view mirror to see her sitting her car eating the chocolate. When she got home, she was congenial, aside from the brief comment about how the neighbours "want to know what happened to you." We chatted about her work and my evening out without a problem. So how had I hurt her? And why did she not mention it in the parking lot, or ignore me? The reason I am driving and going to the store without her is because she is ashamed of me, and will not appear with me in public. Usually she says that I hurt her by wearing the hijab. But this time, what had I done? Apparently, by buying her too much dark chocolate, I caused her to eat too much, because she cannot resist it to save some for the following day. I exhaled, taking a sigh of relief. I pretended that I wanted to eat the excess chocolate, compelling her to leave some for me. As I hid it away for tomorrow, my heart rested for a moment, because for just once her common accusation that I 'hurt her' was not connected to religion.

Later on, we were reviewing a map of the Middle East, and I pointed out a few Sunni majority and Shia majority regions. She asked me relatively easily, "Which one are you?" "Sunni" I said, and explained why. Without raising her voice, my mom asked, "So why did you become Muslim? How did you become Muslim?" The aim in mentioning this is not to elaborate on my answers. There are countless reasons why I am happy to be Muslim, but my intention is to highlight that my mom and I sat together at the end of a long day, at the end of our oak dining room table, and she asked me a few questions about Islam. Albeit mom fairly quickly starts condemning our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the message of Allah in the Quran, and the entire faith as a lie. But to have her ask me, and listen for a few minutes to my perspective is priceless, is a gift. 

My mom being Greek Orthodox, I tried to provide some examples of Christians at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who recognised his Prophethood, even at a young age. These Christians knew of him and recognised him prior to the Prophet (peace be upon him) receiving any revelation of Quran from Allah. Although I find these stories to be profound, these are not the types of accounts that convince me. I mean, I learned about the following two examples after my reversion. Therefore, I find them to be more affirming than convincing. Nevertheless, she listened as I told the story of Bahira the Monk from Busra, Syria. The young Muhammad (peace be upon him) was only 12 years of age when he travelled with his uncle Abu Talib on business to Syria. When their caravan entered Busra, Bahira the Monk observed a cloud hovering over them, shielding them from the sun as they walked. When the caravan stopped, the cloud remained stationary, shading them. When Bahira spoke with Abu Talib, he told him what he observed. Also, Bahira attested that the rocks and the trees were prostrating to the boy as he walked by, which they only do for a prophet of God. The Christian monk also recognised the seal of the Prophet on young Muhammad's (peace be upon him) back, which he said was stated as a sign of the next Prophet in Christian books.

Next, the companion Salman al-Farsi (may Allah be pleased with him) also was informed by a Christian bishop of three signs of the coming Prophet. Salman al-Farsi (the Persian) was living in a Persian land, and was a custodian of the fire which his father and other followers of the Magian religion worshipped. By chance, one day Salman encountered a group of Christians, and was completely captivated by their religion. Against his father's will, Salman converted to Christianity, and escaped to Syria. There Salman directly served three consecutive bishops of the Christian church. The last bishop Salman served, prior to Salman being sold into slavery, informed Salman of the three signs: (1) the coming Prophet would not himself consume sadaqah (charity), as he will known as al-Amin (the Trustworthy) (2) the coming Prophet would accept a gift (3) the coming Prophet would possess the seal of the Prophets. The full story contains details about how Salman al-Farsi met the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and confirmed all three of these signs, which he learned from Christians. SubhanAllah.

Something Better

It's Friday night, and my wish is for quiet, to sit beside my open window and listen to the rain falling on the pavement, on the tree leaves, in the puddles. I tell you that the thunder struck fear into my heart. I rushed while washing the dishes for my mom, just so I could bow before Allah in magrib as urgently as possible. I fear Allah with the flash of lightning and the crash of the thunder. SubhanAllah who else is the source of nature's power other than Allah? I sense the provision and solace of Allah when I hear the rain fall. Truly this blessing is a gift from Allah. Oh how we need the rain, oh how completely helpless we are without the provision and mercy of Allah! 

Still, a cross hangs from a nail on my bedroom door, and an icon of Jesus faces me, as I lay in my bed. This is a according to my mother's wish. When I took down all of the pictures in my room a couple of weeks ago, I flipped the icon around to display the Lord's Prayer in Greek, which I could bear. But just the other evening I returned home from work to find that my mom had turned the page over to display the icon of Jesus, once again. I'm now afraid to switch it. 

إِنَّا للهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُوْنَ، اللَّهمَّ أْجُرْنِي فِي مُصِيْبَتِي، وَاخْلُفْ لِي خَيْرا ً مِنْهَا. 

 ‘To Allah we belong and unto Him is our return. O Allah, recompense me for my affliction and replace it for me with something better.’

I'm so eager to learn more, to absorb explanations and teachings of the Quran and Hadith. I feel that I am constantly reading, listening to, or studying lessons about Islam, and the more I learn, the more I am aware of how much that I do not know. I do not imagine that I am only acquiring this knowledge for myself. No, I often imagine my children. I want to be prepared to teach them. I want to have memorized stories and teachings to impart habits and lessons, so that Islam will be easy for them. I look forward to having a family one day, a family that can celebrate the beauty of this faith together. 

Recently I've benefited from a series entitled Children around the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). What a valuable perspective of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him)! I've listened to the entire series twice, and I expect that I will again. Today I also finished my second round of Mothers of the Believers. Each time I understand better the lives of the wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), and the divine purpose of these marriages. Alhamdulillah I am grateful that it is not necessary for all understanding to be achieved immediately. Just as the Glorious Quran was revealed over a period of 23 years, and Muslims gradually came to learn how they were to  practice the religion, Allah is patient as born Muslims and reverts learn over our lifetime how to best be Muslims. 

For example, tonight when I was praying Isha, my mom called to me from downstairs. The question then is, "Oh Allah, my mother or my prayer?" since the prayer cannot be interrupted. In the moment, I knew that not responding would only anger my mother, so I answered her. I then sought some guidance on whether it was permissible to interrupt my prayer in this case. I am grateful that so many of such questions have been asked by Muslims in the past, since such questions about very specific situations and concerns are encouraged and taken seriously. I was praying an obligatory prayer, which is clearly not to be interrupted, even for the sake of respecting one's parents. However, because my parent 'will not make excuses, or will want an immediate response,' for the moment it seems that responding to my mother was urgent. And Allah knows best.