Tuesday, 5 February 2013
When Debbie Embraced Islam
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
The following is Debbie’s story on how she found Islam in her own words. I have edited for format and grammar only.
“I have always been interested in the unseen and believed that there is a lot more to life than we as humans comprehend. Mystical matters attract me like a moth to the candle; they frightened, but at the same time fascinated me. At the same time there is a logical side to me and this is why I am also equally fascinated by science; in particular biology, mostly human physiology. This is probably why I ended up working in the field of sleep medicine, an area that has held my attention for over 25 years. In this sphere, we deal with both human physiology and psychology. It really is the most mind blowing place.
A few years ago, I started to have some very vivid and symbolic dreams. On reflection, I have had several recurring dreams throughout my life. Only now, am I beginning to comprehend them. One of my dreams involved me standing at the bottom of a garden with what I think is a workman next to me - I never saw him, just heard his voice. We were stood looking at some trees. He was asking me what I wanted doing with them. I explained that many of the trees had branches that were of no use, twisted and diseased. I wanted him to remove these same branches. I pointed to the branches I wanted removing and each time they were hit by a bolt of lightning, burst into flames and fell away from the tree.
Another dream involved me standing in a hotel lobby. I went to the reception desk. I wanted directions as I had to be somewhere. I asked the receptionist who explained to me that the room I wanted was at the top of the hotel. She pointed to some lifts on her right. Try as I might, every time I stepped out of the lift, I came to rooms full of people enjoying themselves, but they ended there. I could go no further and still I had not come to the floor that I needed to be on, let alone the room. Then I had an idea so I returned to the ground floor and went into the kitchens of the hotel. There were many men and women there going about their work, preparing food and getting ready to clean the rooms. I asked if they could help me. They must know how to get to this room as they had knowledge of the hotel because they all worked there. A man took me back out of the kitchens, opened a small door and pointed up a small but very steep staircase.
At around this time I was also getting some very strange feelings in my chest. At times, it felt like my heart would burst and my ribs were going to snap. It took my breath away. I was a single parent with high blood pressure and a family history of cancer. I thought I was unwell. I was scared and frightened; especially for my children. I told no one except my GP. He gave me a referral for an ultra sound at the hospital in which I work, but I was too scared to take the letter to the department in question. For some reason or other which I cannot now remember, I was speaking to a woman from Canada on MSN. I mentioned the feelings I was getting and she became very animated. She told me about the surah in the Qur’an concerning expansion of the breast. I found it on the web:
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Have We not Expanded thee thy breast? ― And Removed from thee thy burden, that which did gall thy back? ― And Raised high the esteem (in which) thou (art held)? So, verily, with every difficulty, there is relief: Verily with every difficulty there is relief. Therefore, when thou art free (from thine immediate task), still labour hard and to thy Lord turn (all) thy attention. (Surah ash-Sharh:1-8)
I cried so much when I read it; the relief and emotional release was immense. Here in a book that I had never read was my answer in a few short sentences. I knew nothing of Islam at the time, just that I had to become a Muslim.
I went to the city of Leicester the same afternoon, I recall and drove around an area in which there are many mosques. Whenever a mosque came into view my heart would feel fit to burst. I waited until I saw the men coming out and rushed to talk to someone, anyone. I thought all Muslims felt this way. But, I was turned away. They must have believed me to be mad on reflection; this babbling, hysterical middle-aged woman who was totally incoherent. No one seemed to wish to help me. I simply drove home. But I was undeterred.
I work in a hospital where there are priests, rabbis and a‘immah on site. I made an appointment to speak to the imam and told him that I wished to become a Muslim. He said I could take my shahadah in front of him there and then, which took me back a bit. I was surprised but he said if I wished to do it, I should not really delay. After all, who knows what tomorrow may bring. I cannot even recall the day or time when I converted. I have no certificate, no celebration. All I know is that there was snow on the ground and it was a bright sunny day.
I had no knowledge of the implications of my being Muslim not only on myself but also my family. Maybe I should have researched this first. I have not touched alcohol since neither do I miss it. Ramadhan is hard due to my work but I have not missed a day of fasting since I converted. Zakat, I pay monthly simply because it's easier. I pray five times daily and love the dawn and evening prayers most of all. I do not miss being able to eat swine. In fact, I have become virtually vegetarian over time. I feel so much better both physically and mentally.
I am guided by my dreams still. They have helped me to come to terms with my past, make hefty decisions with regard to my life and the direction in which it is heading; plus, they inform me not only of my future, but life in general. I do not yet wear hijab but this is a conscious decision. There is something I have to do first; a stage I need to reach in order to be able to call myself a Muslim in the true sense of the word. I need simply to have faith and be patient. Insha’Allah, that day is not too far away now.”