She is busy typing away on her laptop as she answers a question i had put forward regarding her reversion. In between the ‘interview’ she is munching away some French fries she had bought on her way to the library. Eyes are fixed on the screen, mouth devouring the fries while telling her story when my next query froze her immediately.
“What has been the hardest thing since you reverted?”
Then there was silence.
Palpable silence painfully coated with a layer of emotions and mixed perceptions.
Silence which, within its realm lay half a dozen untold stories eating away at her- a probable cause for her accelerated stomach ulcers.
Meet sister Aisha, your normal urbane campus girl next door who prior to her reversion in August this year did what every girl in her stilettos would do; club, drink, dance, love, hate, laugh, cry and above everything ‘live the life’ and ‘be happening’ with the usual reckless abandon of most girls her age.
In spite of this, she still found it within her disposition to keep her morals in check and require the same from her friends. She would ‘happen’ but within limits. Though not a serious church goer she would still take time to reflect on her spirituality, thanks to her mum who is a staunch Presbyterian.
Now, just in case you have never met a Presbyterian, they can be an overly stuck up bunch (no pun intended); well, at least the ones i know. They differ a lot from mainstream evangelical Christians since they tend to be rather conservative with a strict puritanical sense. They lack the ‘swag’ of the modern day outfits who have taken song and dance in church to a different level.
Then she stumbles upon Islam out of curiosity and before she could say ‘Halelluyah’ she was already on her reversion, which was a whole hearted choice she made under no duress or ill motives.
Her girlfriends at campus were astonished; they thought she had done so just to get an Arab boyfriend, or probably high on something. They dissuaded her, mocked her pointing to the Muslim sisters in Hijab and asking her whether she wanted to be clad like them – all black, hair covered, stereotyped as a ‘terrorist’ who no longer walks around with a boyfie happening every other Friday night.
It’s too hot, girl, they told her. You don’t want be covered in a black robe all day every day……..Step out of the kitchen before you get you manicured nails burnt!
The remarks hurt her a lot, more so because she was yet to arm herself with a quiver full of knowledge in comparative Religion. Her friends gave her a timeline of a few weeks to go back to her way, their way, wearing short dresses, leaving her hair uncovered to catch some wind etc but deep inside she knew that her previous life was just not going to take her anywhere other than to hell, in a hand basket….
And now here she is, almost five months down the line and strong as ever in spite of trials she has gone through due to her reversion. Currently she is doing the IOU New Muslim course at Abu Ameenah Centre in Mombasa.
But coming this far has been an uphill task for her. She has gone through unprecedented negativity from the people she has always loved-her parents. Her mum especially was rather offensive to a point she chased her away from home.
The act in itself is overly gross. One because she is a student who is still dependent on her parents; secondly because chasing away a girl who practically has no where else to go can bring about disastrous effects.
Alhamdulillah she ultimately settled at her elder brother’s place who pushed by guilt that his little sister could be suffering out there took her in. Of course it is Allah who softens the hearts of people and he still housed her despite him being a pastor with the weirdest opinions about Islam.
Then just last week he started raising some serious objections, claiming that for one to be a Sheikh they have to go through the strongest form of black magic using Jinn! This angered her more than it scared her. Either way, she told him that she could not offer an explanation until she researched on it.
And research she did. After visiting the library at our centre, she borrowed two books; Islam and Christianity in the Bible and Dr. Zakir Naik’s similarities between Islam and Christianity. With that she got enough Quran verses and Bible passages to debate on.
We also educated her about Jinn and Iblis and ‘what being a Sheikh’ really is!
Funny enough, her brother, who has studied Islam in ‘detail’, was astounded to learn some truths from the Bible he never thought existed, like women covering their heads and many others he did not want to admit!
So while on one hand her family think they are on the verge of convincing her to go back to Shirk by praying for her, they are in actual sense building in her a stronger Iman base as a result of continuous studying and researching about Islam.
Through her and with much reluctance from them, they are seeing Christianity from a different perspective which seems to challenge their thought process. Only Allah knows when and whether they will see the truth for what it is and make the right choice.
Back to the query that made her go silent….this was her answer:
“The hardest thing has been to see my mum exhibit this much negativity for a choice i have made as an adult. I mean, it’s not like am out there selling my body, i am worshipping God, and through Islam i have become a better person. I no longer drink or wear inappropriately. A mum is supposed to be happy if her daughter dresses decently………….
“And to be kicked out like a stranger is even worse. These are people i have known my entire life, people i should count on when I’m in trouble, but now they are the source of my trouble…….
“It hurts me to know my mum does not even want to see or speak with me…….hurts a lot!”