I will try to tell you my 46 years of life story in just a short few moments, because this very moment is significant in my journey.
I didn’t bring notes and I’m thinking I should have because I may forget something, but I guess the whole reason why I’m here tonight is just to share again a short story of destiny, because that’s something that I’m accepting and I’m learning as a new revert.
So I’m going to, just like I said, tell you my story in a nutshell.
The Struggles of a Single Parent
I have a daughter that is 21 years old. She will be 22 in December. And I have a 17-year old son.
Other Inspiring Journeys to Islam
I guess 23 years ago I was a young woman and I started off life. I married and I had a pretty happy marriage for 14 years and two amazing beautiful children. And then all of a sudden that just ended. That’s another life story but not tonight.
And so probably for the next 10 years I spent those years as a single parent raising my children. So I knew what it was like to go through financial struggles, to raise two children on one income. And not only that but oh my goodness you are coming home and you have to eat dinner and you have homework and, oh my goodness, I have to take a bath?! And, you know, so all the little struggles of life I kept on enduring.
I was sitting in a meeting one time, as I’m a teacher also, and behind me I heard some teacher saying “Well if ‘those’ kids from ‘those’ homes had support, then we teachers would have good scores”. And I remember thinking “Don’t look back, don’t look back” and something just hit me and of course I had to look back. I just couldn’t believe that I heard that. Those were I guess fighting words that put a spark into my soul, and I said “From then on, I would work really hard to make sure my children knew God. My mission from that day was to show my children that our home was not broken, our life was not bad.” And again those were fighting words, and I took on a new mission in life.
And so for about ten more years I went through this whole single-parenting thing, and then I decided without consulting God that I go ahead and get married again. And I was so completely unprepared at that point because I didn’t know how difficult that was going to be, that someone would not really love my children like I loved them. So another failed moment in my life happened.
And like I said, just coming to grips with the whole destiny. And anyway, so about five years ago I began reading books about Islam, the Middle East, the covering, and the veil just from my own curiosity.
A Trip to Jordan
|I instantly fell in love with this family. I fell in love with their way of life|
Then three years ago my daughter married an amazing young man from Jordan. So two summers ago I was able to go to Jordan to experience a little bit of their life. And of course I instantly fell in love with this family. I fell in love with their way of life. When I say Islam I say the way of life because that’s what I experienced when I was in Jordan. As a young woman who was trying to raise these kids alone I always thought you know you had to pray in private, you had to be silent.
And when I was in Jordan and I experienced just watching the practice of Islam just like a way of life, I would see the parents would pray the grandchildren would ride them like a horse, and so I thought this is the most beautiful thing in the world, nobody has to go hiding praying, everything is just if it’s time to pray you start to pray. And I never knew anyone that prayed five times a day, it was just so impactful to see that. I had never experienced that before.
So anyway coming back home from Jordan the month that I spent there, I was really trying to soul-search so I thought “You know, I have to go back to church one more time,” and just to see what needs to happen so I went to church to this service called 605, and during the entire service my heart was in so much pain. I just was not feeling something there, and yet I was feeling the emptiness.
Learning About Islam
So, as I told Aisha, I went home and I just broke down because what I heard in the church was completely against what I had watched as I lived the experience. And so at that point I said “I’m going to find a place where I can study Islam. Maybe that is not right for me, maybe it’s not right at all. I just want to know because I had watched that in my extended family.”
So my intention was that I was going to go to the Dallas Islamic Center, I guess in Parker road or somewhere, and I had made plans to go to the Quran study there. Well there was rain and terrible traffic, and everything that had to go wrong went wrong. I guess not really, at the end all went right! But I couldn’t find my way there and my GPS wouldn’t work. And somehow I ended up here, and I met I guess a janitor in the hallway; I don’t know who I met. I was looking for a class. I was just looking for, you know, just a class that was open to the public and this person said “Well here is a lady,” so he sent me to a lady and she said: “Oh, there is a ladies class upstairs”.
So they took me in and as some of you may even remember, this was in May. When I was here, I came in completely unprepared to be here. Aisha was in the middle of a lesson and so I thought “Wow, that lesson was just amazing,” but when it was over, I met her and I believe I met you and maybe some of you other ones, and I was trying to politely sneak out of here. I wasn’t covered, I wasn’t prepared in any sense of the word to be here, and it was time for prayer. And instead of being able to sneak out, you guys pulled me in and I thought “Wow, I never even prayed.” I didn’t even know how to do the prayer, and one of you, I don’t know even who it was, someone said quietly “Just follow us.” And I said “OK”.
So I did, and from that moment I was introduced to Aisha by complete accident, but we know now it was pure destiny. And from that she introduced me to another lady named Shazia that put me in touch with some wonderful people at EPIC, and they had a class for new reverts and so I started going, and the Imam came one day and was giving an amazing lesson and I thought “This is time! This is time for me to take my Shahadah” So at that point I did it.
Peace with Destiny
|I accept whatever destiny that took place, and even more of it to come!|
And from that point, which happened in May, and since then I had just really made peace with destiny. And every little issue and every little mountain that I felt like I had to climb, everything that could make me angry, I felt like I could go back and check that and say “It was in the plan. It may not be the greatest but it was in the plan, and I accept that and I accept whatever destiny that took place, and even more of it to come!”
So I will end by saying from that point I was on my way home, I actually had travelled at that time and I was thinking I want to do something and to really give back and be able to try to inspire someone who may have gone through road blocks like I have gone through, and just all of a sudden this little inspirational moment happened and the word lights came to mind. L.I.G.H.T.S And I thought and grabbed a paper and pencil and I started writing what’s light? What does that mean?
And I just wrote out” “Living. Interested. Giving Hope To Sisters.” And so I thought, you know, maybe that is a little piece of my destiny by sharing my story, maybe I can give hope to someone. We run into people all the time that we don’t know if they are hurting, we don’t know they may look like they are not hurting, but they are hurting so we all need to be a light. We need to be a light to everyone.
And so again that’s my story. And three weeks ago, my beautiful amazing daughter took her Shahadah. And my lovely son that is going to turn 17 in a few days, he takes all this in and, you know, he is such a typical teenager! He is the reason that it is so easy for me to pray five times a day because he is a typical teenager. I could pray ten times a day, and the ones who have teenagers can understand that. Five times that’s nothing. We need ten!
But, anyway, I’m so inspired to be a Muslim and I really want to share my story because like I said I just had wonderful people who I know they have been placed by Allah to touch my life because I didn’t seek them out, I wouldn’t even have known how to go and seek them out. So all of you were very significant in my life because it was just getting lost and ending up here at this very place that really helped me to move on to learning what I need to know now and having some truth and some fulfillment in my life.
And again I don’t know what the rest of my destiny is because we could end right now, but it’s the most amazing peaceful feeling that I have ever had in my life.
So I thank you all for letting me share my story with you tonight.
Watch sister Tammy describe her journey to Islam
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