Stories Of New Muslims


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  • Stories Of New Muslims


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    3. Celine

    Salam Alekhum.

     

     

    I became
    Muslim almost three years ago, right after Ramadan in between the two
    Eids. My spiritual search lasted over thirty
    years. I was born a Catholic and found many things I did not agree with: I
    believe in Jesus, but did not believe that he was the son of God, nor that he
    was God. I concluded on my own that he was a rabbi, since he was a learned Jew
    and a teacher. Because of this I went and studied under rabbis and learnt the
    Tanakh, the Torah and some of the laws of Judaism. I learnt the Kosher laws and
    the proper way of cooking, and the rules of being a woman. It became natural
    that men and women prayed separated as the women were together.

    Though Judaism was not
    the answer for me, I gained an understanding of its religious and spiritual
    ways. I then looked into women spirituality but found that it was lacking
    something, it was not always monotheistic in practice because they believe in a
    Goddess, and disclaimed many teachings by re-inventing a new way of life. I had
    a great deal of problems with God being a woman since I did not believe He was
    a man either. I liked the Judaic way that God was unseen and unknown. Because
    of this I could not understand their teachings but I did agree in the equality
    of men and of women. Because of this I respect their search but their methods
    did not appeal to me. In 1990, I learnt about native spirituality. Though they
    believe in the Creator and the oneness of the world I could not become native -
    I had to find my own spirituality. I was shocked when my country Canada went to
    war against Mohawks in 1990. I fought side by side with them for about five
    years. I was working but at that time I was offered a choice, I saw two paths
    in front of me: one the path of God, the other the path of man. I made a
    conscious commitment towards God, that I would serve Him and use my talents to
    propagate His word and His message, that is, one of Peace and of Justice
    through his laws. I chose the path of God instead of that of "man" -
    in this case human. When the crisis was finished after five years, God guided
    me back to my spiritual roots.

    Most of my life I had
    friends that came from North Africa and the Middle East. They were Jewish,
    Christian and Muslim, but whether they observed their religion or did not, it mattered
    little to me, as I did not believe in organized religion. I have strongly
    believed all my life that I should talk directly to God and ask what I needed
    and thank Him for what He gave me. I also strongly believe in the equality of
    men and women, and the equality of all races in front of God and of people.
    Christianity taught me about Jesus, whom I believed in. Judaism showed me I
    could talk to God directly, that men and women should worship separately, and
    that God had dietary laws. Mohawks showed me that men and women were equal
    though they had different obligations. Where could I find all of this. No
    religion, no teachings could offer me all of this, but God was there to guide
    me.

    When I was twenty-five
    years old, I met and fell in love with a young man. He was Iraqi by birth,
    Jewish by religion, and lived in Israel for many years. He came to Canada in
    the 1970's, and we met and fell in love. Then there was a war in between Israel
    and Lebanon. We were to get married and he decided to go back and fight in the
    army. Sadly, he was killed. For many years I kept the hurt bottled up inside of
    me. But Allah protected my heart and gave me a great gift. I met a Lebanese
    Muslim girl. She was not very religious but she was proud to be Muslim. We
    talked and I told her what happened, she looked at me with tears in her eyes
    and told me she lost her brother during that same war. To this day we do not
    know if her brother killed my boyfriend or vice versa, maybe they did not kill
    one another that too is a possibility. What came out of this, after the tears
    and the hurt is that we became very good friends, and she helped me heal my
    aching heart. I also saw the horrors of war and it's evilness, how people get
    hurt.

    In 1995 there was a
    controversy in Montreal about women wearing
    Hijab, so I decided to document this myself, and look for interviews since I
    had a spot on the radio for about 4 years, doing Native, North African and
    Middle Eastern news. I met through a friend this very kind woman, she is Iraqi
    - Allah does work in unusual ways - who spoke about the importance of wearing
    Hijab and what it meant to her. What struck me
    with her was her deep commitment towards God whom she called Allah. I was
    impressed by her truthfulness and her kindness of heart. She explained to me
    what was Islam. She told me that "There is no other GOD but GOD". Men
    and women were equal, that all races were equal in front of GOD, that Jesus was
    a Prophet not a rabbi, that Maryam his mother was a great example, and that the
    dietary laws were less strict than in Judaism. To my astonishment this is what
    I believe in. I started being friends with her and within one month I became
    Muslim like her. I recited my
    Shahada with her.

    This was three years
    ago. I now wear Hijab and I am very happy. I have gone back to
    University and am studying religions. My field is Islam, and I would like to go
    as far as my doctorate and become proficient in law for women, and Hadith. I am
    presently writing a book about women and Islam in the 7th century in English. I
    now have a radio show which I co-produce with my friend through whom I became
    Muslim. It lasts half an hour. We talk to women from around the world and from
    various religious denominations. I try with the help of teachers and religious
    leaders to de-mystify Islam and the message of Islam. I am also trying to
    document in film the life of Muslim women and their role in society. Allah
    guided me and gave me what I was looking for through Islam. Because of this I
    try to use my pen and the airwaves to give a broad picture of all the facets of
    Islam and see the unity in the diversity that is Islam. My Muslim name is
    Um-Khalthum, like the daughter of Prophet
    Muhammad. She has inspired me to be a good Muslim as she too was a convert or
    revert to Islam.

    This is my story. My
    first love was for an Iraqi Jewish young man, who died stupidly in a war, my
    heart was broken. I was left in pieces in Lebanon, yet a Lebanese Muslim woman
    started the mending process. But my heart was healed by another Iraqi, this
    time a Muslim woman, because she introduced me to Islam and invited to become
    Muslim. From the pain of loss the joy of finding a way of life that brings me
    closer to Allah.

    May Allah guide all of
    those who have a broken heart. And remember that the message of Islam is that
    of peace and of harmony. Before we heal we must talk about the hurt, and Allah
    does heal our hearts by putting people in our path that are there to guide us
    to HIM.

    Ma Salam

    Um-Khalthum
    (Celine)

     

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