Thoughts, Uncategorized

Thriving Alone During Ramadan

Assalaamu Alaikum everyone!

We are 5 days away from Eid al-Fitr which means Ramadan is almost finished. It was my goal to fill this blog with articles before and during the holy month with helpful tips and lessons that Iโ€™ve learned. Instead, life took over and I became fully immersed in simply trying to experience and make it through the month. In reality, life does not stop for times such as these. If I could have had it my way, I would have spent this month with my husband and his family overseas. I would have opted to bypass all of the stressful hurdles that come with life change so that this month I could have focused solely on my iman and staying on my deen. I would have surrounded myself with friends and family who are of the same faith and lifestyle as myself instead of eating iftar alone.

I won’t lie and say it’s been easy. Ramadan is a time that emphasizes spending time with our loved ones and sharing in this fast together. When your family is not on the same path as you and if you’ve struggled to make friends in the local Muslim community, this seems like the perfect time to feel self pity. It’s easy to feel down and alone, like you’re struggling. But you can’t. Ramadan isn’t simply about family, it’s also about personal growth in our iman, a commitment to our deen, charity, worship, and prayer. This is definitely not the time to feel sorry for oneself no matter the situation. I know that it’s difficult, especially when you can see families eating together and celebrating Eid together and when you see friends spending time together to distract each other from the hunger. When you don’t have that, it seems like the most precious thing in the world and it’s all you want. So how do you thrive during this holy month when you don’t have that?

As I’ve gone through this month, I’ve found that this time alone is a blessing. The only distractions are ones that I choose to let in so I have no excuse to miss my prayers or to neglect studying the Quran or to forget about charity. Being alone, there is less a chance to be influenced into negative behaviours. I learned that creating a healthy, productive schedule for the day starting with suhoor puts us in the direction we want to walk in for the rest of the day. Don’t rush, take your time with preparing the food and eating. I like to keep this meal simple, healthy, and easy to digest. I follow this same mentality with iftar as we are told to eat for nutrition and avoid excess. I make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the evening and early morning so that I do not find myself overly dehydrated during daylight hours.

This is also a wonderful chance to commit to praying on time and with great care. Take the extra time to pray the sunnah prayers as well and memorize a few supplications so you can make dua by heart. After your prayers and if you have time, study the Quran. During this month, I would recommend letting go of modern entertainment and look to Islamic books and speeches instead. As you are going about your day, listen to Islamic speakers and podcasts to fill the silence but to also learn and find solace in the fact that you truly arenโ€™t alone in this world. Many of these episodes and speeches can be perfectly applied to everyday life and can give you much encouragement if you are feeling down or lost.

If you are blessed to have family and friends close by whom you love and enjoy spending time with, make an effort to be around them. Even if they are not Muslim, being in their company still gives you a chance to practice compassion, educate if they are curious, and establish good representation for the Islamic faith and lifestyle. If you do not have family and friends close by, find ways to volunteer around your community. You can also reach  out to your local masjid to see if they hold any classes for women or if they have any female activities.

You can also develop a daily routine and stick to it, no matter what. This will encourage you to be productive and not spend the day in bed, although it is so tempting! Set a goal for yourself this month like reading through the entire Quran, learning Quran, reading through a good Islamic lifestyle book, writing, creating art, deep cleaning your house, spending time with a neighbour in need, learning something new, etc. Make sure to get adequate sleep, take naps if you have to, and donโ€™t stay up later than necessary. Cook real food for iftar and suhoor and make sure they are balanced and healthy meals. If you have a day off, cook a lot of food that day and freeze it so that you can save time and energy on cooking every day.

Iโ€™ve seen a lot of posts lately surrounding the topic of self-care. Most of these center on buying gimmicky products and treating ourselves to unhealthy habits. While buying a new face mask and indulging on that cupcake from that one Instagram-worthy bakery (or during this month, binge-watching Netflix) can make you feel good temporarily, Ramadan is not about these quick fixes and over-indulgences. To me Ramadan is a time to focus on lasting, beneficial change. Throughout this month, Iโ€™ve come to realize that my attitude needs adjusting sometimes, I can be self-centered, I put too much time into worthless things, I practice a few bad habits, and Iโ€™m not as committed to my deen as I could be. So my version of self-care is to stop with the self-sabotage. It looks like eating healthy, small meals and going to bed on time only after praying on time. It also looks like working on my attitude and putting the petty away when she tries to come out and play. It looks like not complaining about horrible drivers during my commute to work (Iโ€™ve failed at this practically every day). It looks like being quiet and listening instead. It looks like reading good books that call me out on my negative habits (Purification of the Heart, anyone?). It looks like loving my husband unconditionally and treating him with as much respect and care as he deserves. It looks like being grateful for all that I have been given and all that is to come. It looks like being positive. It looks like taking naps instead of perusing the internet. It looks like putting my all into my work and not half-heartedly approaching anything. It looks like self-discipline in the face of anything. It looks like letting go of control and trusting in Allah (SWT) to take care of it all.

I am not sure if I would have realized all of this if I had not been alone. To sit and reflect on oneself and life without distraction is such a beautiful gift. Through all of this, my eyes have been opened to so much and I could not be more grateful. As I said before, it is easy to feel the sting of loneliness and descend in to self-pity. But that will lead to nowhere. I believe aloneness is a gift from Allah (SWT) to recenter and focus us on what matters. It is a gentle but effective way to remind us to return to the practices He has commanded of us and to see so very clearly, the areas in which we need development. I hope that for all of my sisters out there who have experienced being alone or struggling through this Ramadan, Allah (SWT) brings you happiness and peace. Have a blessed Ramadan!

Thoughts, Uncategorized

What to Expect When You Cover Your Hair in America

Every revert’s story is different. We all come from different backgrounds and lifestyles which can greatly determine the level of ease our assimilation into this new life will have. This is such a deep and individual process that for this article I will stick to the basics of what a female revert will probably experience when she starts covering her hair. What can you expect from the world around you? From your friends and family? From future employers and strangers?

I’m going to be real with you. As I’m sure you already know, there is a lot of misinformation and fear-mongering surrounding Islam that I hope to dispel as I continue writing on this blog. Your decision to embark on this journey is not going to go down well with a lot of people. It is very realistic to assume that your family will express disappointment in you, maybe even go so far as to cut you off. You will see friends that start to avoid you or pretend to be interested but slowly fade away. Coworkers will question your decision and, perhaps crack jokes or make you feel silly for it. If you choose to cover your hair, you can expect to have to learn how to control every word that comes out of your mouth. People will feel uncomfortable around you and you will be subjected to a level of surveillance that no one else has to go through. You will get dirty looks while you’re in the grocery store minding your own business. If you work with the public, you can most certainly expect comments ranging from curious to ignorant to downright degrading.

People will all of a sudden think that it is appropriate to discuss topics with you that they would avoid with anyone else. There will be people who think that simply because you cover your hair, that you are open and comfortable with discussing hijab and women’s rights in Islam. All of a sudden, you will become a poster child for hijabis and Islam, whether you like it or not. You will also meet people who feel that it is their own, personal mission to “save” you. They will see you as oppressed and confused, in need of confidence and freedom. They will feign concern for your well-being and worry about your own personal decisions. They will attempt to be saviours who debate with you until you see the light. And there will be some people who won’t talk to you at all and some who will be a little too friendly.

I will also advise that you use caution if you are going out alone in certain areas of the States. I don’t recommend going out alone once the sun has set and use your discretion when going into certain places. The key is to know where you are welcome and to use common sense. I live in the southern United States which means that there are certain restaurants and stores that cater to a group of people who have a tendency to hate Muslims. There are certain cities nearby that have a very small population and consist of the same type of people. I will not find any allies in these areas so I stay away. 9/11 didn’t just hurt and kill the Americans in those buildings. It brought on terror, threats, and death to the Americans who just so happened to be true followers of the religion that an evil group of men used as a scapegoat to commit terrorism. While American Muslims prayed, provided aid, and condemned the acts of these men, America turned on them and has sought to hold innocent people accountable ever since. There are too many stories of Muslims being harassed and killed here to take anything lightly now.

Life as a hijabi in the States isn’t a living nightmare but it does require some adjusting to how you would normally interact with others and carry yourself. I have personally chosen not to talk in depth about my faith with others. If they ask then I will answer, but it stops at that. Don’t make apologies for your beliefs or try to explain or justify any of your decisions. You don’t need to prove to anyone that you are an empowered woman with your hijab. You don’t need to reassure anyone that you are free or that you feel beautiful and confident. We should have love and patience for everyone that we come across, but we should not sacrifice our beliefs or well-being to cater to the ego of someone who chooses to remain ignorant and hateful in a world that offers plenty of opportunity to be the opposite. I love America and I am so grateful that I was born here, but this love for my country doesn’t mean that I should refrain from reality. Islam has given me so much more freedom and passion for life than I’ve ever had before. I cover my hair proudly now and I am so proud of each and every one of you beautiful women who have chosen the same path. This is a beautiful journey that brings so many benefits and as with every beautiful thing, there are those who try to stifle it. Trust in Allah (SWT), hold your head high, be prepared, and speak the truth.

Ps: And you know what else you can expect? The flood of support and love you will receive from other hijabis whether it’s on the street, in the store, online, in the masjid, etc. You are going to face some negativity but you will always have a support system of other Muslims behind you. Don’t forget that.

Thoughts, Uncategorized

Imposter Syndrome: Revert Edition

When I first reverted, I was alone. I found myself in an area that was very much lacking in a strong Muslim community and so resorted to internet research and books to grow in my deen. It wasn’t until I met my husband, that I finally had the opportunity to connect with other sisters and brothers in Islam. I traveled to London to meet his family and felt like I blended in as soon as I landed. There were women in hijab EVERYWHERE. No one was giving me dirty looks, I was invisible, and I loved it. But something also happened, I started to feel like an imposter. Sitting there with my husband’s wonderful family, getting to know everyone, I realized how little I actually knew about Islam and how underdeveloped my iman actually was. I had so much to learn and part of me began to feel almost foolish due to my lack of knowledge. How could I sit there wearing hijab and claim to be Muslim when I knew so little?

Another factor that I believe contributes to this imposter syndrome, is how synonymous culture has become with Islam; specifically cultures arising from Asian and Arabic countries. Growing up in America, raised by a Black/Native American mother and a German/Welsh father, I shared a similar upbringing and lifestyle with many of my fellow mixed, American peers. Our culture here typically derives from a Christian background with a primarily secular lifestyle. Joining a new family and being surrounded by beautiful people from a completely different culture and a faith still new to me was fascinating and I am so grateful for it. But I cannot lie and pretend like I felt I belonged here. Just as the hijab set me apart from most people in the southern United States, my background and nationality felt quite alienating in my new Muslim family. Naturally, people who claim the same culture have a much closer bond. When I come across other mixed girls or other members of my family’s tribe, the connection is so much stronger then in my interactions with others. It’s simply how things are. So being a fairly new revert with distinctively different features from those around me, a Christian upbringing and an American accent felt so uncomfortably visible in a primarily Asian and Arabic community.

I began to feel the same way on social media as I followed more and more Muslim women. In every post I saw gorgeous traditions and cultural practices, and it seemed like everyone connected over these things so much more than anything else. Everyone I met had been born into a Muslim family, so all of this was so normal and essential to who they were. They were well-practiced Muslims who were familiar with the lifestyle and the teachings to back it up. I felt like I was playing dress up, trying to join the party. I didn’t have much in common with anyone around me here, no familiar life experiences or similar upbringing, simply a shared faith. Could I ever belong? Probably not. I can appreciate this culture but it will never be my culture. I can love the people so dearly but I will never be one of them. I can be obsessed with the traditions and the style of dress but it’s not my style. And that’s okay. Because being a Muslim has NOTHING to do with culture.

Islam is a religion, a set of beliefs that are set apart from culture. Anyone can be Muslim because you don’t have to be born into it, Alhamdulillah! Allah (SWT) has brought you into this faith, so you do belong no matter how you feel. The key is to remain humble. You will not know everything when you revert, you won’t know everything one year after you revert, and you STILL won’t know everything 50 years after you revert. It is about being humble, pursuing knowledge, and putting that newfound knowledge to practice over and over and over again. You are not joining a new culture, you are joining the Ummah (Muslim community). This community encompasses so many cultures from all over the world. It is a very intricately woven, vibrant web of people coming from so many different backgrounds to join together in worshiping the one true God. It is very easy to come across cultural traditions from primarily Arabic and Asian countries and think that this is what Islam is. And when we focus on these cultures, it becomes exclusionary. That is one of the many great beauties of Islam: that so many different people can come together and share this faith and this struggle. Islam does not exclude those that God has brought into it, Alhamdulillah.

Thoughts, Uncategorized


Assalaamu Alaikum.

Today I want to address a more emotional topic: loneliness. As a revert you experience this in a way that is so completely different from any other. I’ve lived alone in a new city, so I feel like I have a pretty solid foundation to compare this feeling to. Loneliness as a revert Muslim can isolate you even when you are surrounded by loved ones. It can be scary and frustrating, it can eat away at you and threaten to take you down. Being alone in this way most commonly means that you find yourself living in an Islamophobic area with very few, if any, fellow brothers and sisters in Islam.

It’s an isolation that is all-pervading and can be almost impossible to explain to anyone who was blessed to grow up in a Muslim family and/or in a strong Muslim community. How do you even begin? It’s as simple as this: it’s just you and Allah (SWT) and it can make or break your iman (faith). When you are lonely like that, the only One you can rely on is Allah (SWT). Your family may not understand you, you may lose friends, you may receive dirty looks in public, you may face harassment, and you may know no other Muslims in your area. You are tempted at every turn and it is easy to lose control of doing the right thing. Often times I find it far too easy to slip up with very little positive influence in my life. If I am not making a conscious and self-disciplined decision to study Quran and Hadith and practice what I learn, I don’t stand a chance. I HAVE to pray five times a day or it won’t happen at all. I have to structure my life in a way that pleases Allah (SWT) in every way, or temptation will take control.

Alhamdulillah, I have an amazing husband and family in London who I can talk to at any time and who have already taught me so much. I just joined a writing group called Hijabies Hood that I am so blessed to write with and learn from as well. And I was born in the age of the internet so I have almost unlimited access to information on Islam. When you are feeling this loneliness creep up, look at what and who you do have. Check with your local masjid to see if there any women’s groups or classes you can join. Look for ways to give back to the community that will also bring you in contact with potential friends. And above all else, cling to your iman! Dedicate yourself to sincere prayer and study. Don’t let up even when it gets difficult. I can promise you that it will get difficult and you will question everything, but that is only a sign that you are going in the right direction and you must keep pressing on. And if you have no one else to talk to and you desperately need someone to listen, drop me a message. Your sisters in Islam are not going to let you down, we’ve got you.