There is a lot of mobility in American life. It is estimated that on an average one family does not stay in one place for more than five years. In that sense my family was a true American family. We moved from Seattle to suburban Los Angeles, California. Our nearest Muslim neighbor was brother Abdul Wahab. We not only met in the mosque daily, but also regularly shared a cup of tea. One day Abdul Wahab described the challenges and tests he went through preceding the acceptance of Islam by his wife, Rehana. He described their story:
“When I married Rehana, I was a non-practicing Muslim and she was also a non-practicing Christian. I rarely went to the mosque and she never went to her church. In due course of time Allah blessed us with children. I tried to talk to her about going to a mosque, however she bluntly refused. To my surprise, she even started going to a church. Moreover, the more I invited her to the mosque, the more she ran to attend church. Nobody ever wins against a woman anyway. I offered her a compromise very gently and respectfully. One weekend we will both go to a church and the next weekend we’ll go to a mosque. She reluctantly agreed. In this way I wished to give her some exposure to Islam.”
“I realized I must become a good practicing Muslim and have the best Islamic manners at home and with others around me. This is the only way she can discover and cherish true Islamic values. I shaped up. The merits and negative aspects of the husband and wife cannot remain hidden from each other since they closely interact with one another on a daily basis.”
“This was a new but beautiful lifestyle for me. I had to act as a role model to see positive results. Rehana started understanding Islam very gradually, but surely, through positive experiences at home and in the Muslim society. Her appreciation of Islam grew day by day. Finally, she embraced Islam. All Praise be to Allah!!!”
Rehana was now a different woman. She covered her head like a model Muslim woman. She wondered why many women born as Muslims do not adhere to the Islamic dress code. She wanted her children to be educated in a full-time Islamic school. She was continuously educating herself. She asked her husband for copies of the Islamic lectures offered in the mosque by Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi on fiqh(Islamic jurisprudence) to enhance her educational activities and Islamic growth.
Abdul Wahab’s problems were over and Rehana’s problems had just started. She struggled hard to learn more and more about Islam. Whatever she learned, she wanted to put into practice since it was very satisfying for her heart and mind. She absorbed Islamic values very cool-mindedly. Whenever we talked to her, we found her to be a better Muslim than those who were born as Muslims. Her love for Islamic practice was inspiring to us. Rehana was very grateful to her husband for this extraordinary gift of being a role model of the Islamic faith and its values.
Her parents were residing in Chicago. Her acceptance of Islam was a big shock for them. They reacted very adversely. Her father was very rigid, rough and blunt. Her parents even stopped visiting her. Rehana considered it her duty to visit them hoping to guide them to the right path. She used to come back to Los Angeles worn out from her visit. Rehana used to take the children with her to Chicago. The grandparents were surprised and impressed by the wonderful behavior and manners of the young Muslim children. Deep in their hearts they started feeling that perhaps Islam is not that bad, to the degree that her grandparents agreed to visit Rehana in Los Angeles.
I invited Abdul Wahab’s family over a dinner. I also invited Mr. and Mrs. Naseem, since Mrs. Naseem was also a new American Muslim who always observed the Islamic dress code. Our intention was to give the grandparents more exposure to Muslims. We had a wonderful evening and stayed up late together. The grandparents became very friendly. We all left each other around 1a.m. in a good mood.
Here a side note is necessary. Rehana and her family walked to their home. Mr. and Mrs. Naseem had to drive about twenty miles to Riverside during the late hours of the night. Drunk driving is very treacherous at such late hours. Mr. and Mrs. Naseem were hit hard by another car. Both were thrown out of their car. Mr. Naseem lost consciousness and was lying on the roadside. Mrs. Naseem had severe bone injuries but was still in her senses. She was sitting beside her husband and loudly and continuously reciting the Quran. Paramedical personnel arrived on the scene. They saw there a strangely dressed woman and heard her talking in some foreign language. Their first question to her was, “Do you speak English?” Mrs. Naseem answered them in English and told them that she was reciting the Quran in Arabic. After many months of hospitalization, both were up and running again by the Grace of God Almighty.
Rehana’s grandparents went back to Chicago after a brief stay. She wished that somehow they would accept Islam. One day my wife told me that Rehana was crying because her mother was seriously ill. Rehana was worried that her mother might die before accepting Islam and thus she would suffer the consequences in the Hereafter. Unfortunately, her mother died as a disbeliever.
It was now even more difficult to talk to her father. All of us were trying to help the situation. Abdul Wahab used to visit his father-in-law in Chicago without annoying him. Rehana’s father was my friend too. I wanted to do my part.
I moved to Detroit, Michigan at that time. I called Rehana’s father from Detroit and invited him to visit us since we were not too far away from him. Unfortunately, the image of Detroit was tarnished at that time because of the foul play of some policemen in that city. Rehana’s father answered favorably, “Imtiaz I would love to see you, but I will try my best never to pass through Detroit in my life.”
May Allah guide Rehana’s father to the right path.