What Do You Think When You Look At Me?

daliaAsalamu Alaikum

Sister Dalia gives an enlightening speech hosted by TED. There is closed captioning (CC) and an interactive transcript for those who require it. What Do You Think When You Look At Me?

Interesting facts:

  1. More women than men revert to Islam, debunking the myth that Islam is an oppressive religion for women…

“The reason why women why women are turning to Islam must certainly have something to do with the honor that Islam gives them and the equality with which it deals with people, not only in gender, but also in terms of race, nationality, class etc. However, the overriding reason why I and so many others like me were attracted to Islam was because Islam answered the most important question which I had ever asked: ‘Why am I here on this earth?’ So I crossed the divide and managed to see what lies on either side…Alhamdulillah I chose Islam.” (Why Women Are Coming to Islam, Ad-Da’wah ilAllah – A Womens’ Islamic Magazine, Zawaj.com)

Related video, “Women Are Converting to Islam More Than Men”

2. There was an increase in Islamic reversion after 9/11…

“Muslim American reports in the Arab press indicate that Muslim proselytizing efforts have been unusually successful since the September 11 attacks. ‘Alaa Bayumi, Director of Arab Affairs at the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), wrote in the London daily Al-Hayat that “non-Muslim Americans are now interested in getting to know Islam. There are a number of signs…: Libraries have run out of books on Islam and the Middle East… English translations of the Koran head the American best-seller list… The Americans are showing increasing willingness to convert to Islam since September 11… Thousands of non-Muslim Americans have responded to invitations to visit mosques, resembling the waves of the sea [crashing on the shore] one after another… All this is happening in a political atmosphere that, at least verbally, encourages non-Muslim Americans’ openness towards Muslims in America and in the Islamic world, as the American president has said many times in his speeches…” CAIR chairman Nihad Awad told the Saudi paper ‘Ukaz that “34,000 Americans have converted to Islam following the events of September 11, and this is the highest rate reached in the U.S. since Islam arrived there.” (Al-Hayat, London, November 11, 2001, Excerpts from “Muslim American Leaders: A Wave of Conversion to Islam in the U.S. Following September 11” © Middle East Media & Research Institute, Sultan.org)

Further reading of an old article I wrote, “The Muslim Woman”




Blessed With Islam

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Tara bint Curtis Gregory
October 26, 2002

I was born and raised in the Midwest, but both sides of my family are from the South. They are Christians and as far as I know I am the only one blessed with Islam. My mother was
raised as a Baptist Christian and later switched to Methodist. My father died when I was 19, one year before I became Muslim, so I never had a chance to understand what sect of
Christianity he was from. I do know that his father was Baptist and his mother was Catholic but switched to Baptist after she married my grandfather. My mother believes in God and
so did my father, they taught my siblings and I that there IS a God. They didn’t force us to become Christians and we were never baptized. My brother doesn’t believe in God…at
least that is the impression that I get from him. My sister believes in God but is confused as to which sect of Christianity she should belong to. I, however, was left upon the fitrah. I
did not have a religion and called myself non­denominational. I believed in God, that He was everywhere (in His knowledge) and that He was a light. I prayed only to Him and I didn’
believe that Jesus was the son of God. I read the first three pages of the Bible and put it down because it was confusing and hard to understand. I think that this early experience
helped ease my transition to becoming a Muslim.

After I met my ex­husband I was so interested to know about Muslim culture and counrties and especially Muslim women. I was like a sponge soaking up water in my pursuit of
Islamic knowledge. I could never get enough! I read Islam for about five years before I made the first trip to Morocco. I would talk to the natives and they were tickled pink to know
that I knew the history, culture, and most importantly the religion of their country. One Moroccan made a comment that I sounded like I was already a Muslim, alhamdullilah. Back in
America, I remember I used to watch my ex­husband pray in the bedroom and I would sit up on the bed and watch him. It was very nice to observe. At other times I would
accompany him to the mosque. I would go sit in the back of the women’s prayer area and watch them praying. And when everyone said “ameen” together there was a shiver that
went up my spine. What a wondeful practice and I felt so left out! There was something missing from my life.

My ex­husband gave da’wah to me and told me that he was afraid that I was going to hell unless I became a Muslim. Maybe this type of approach would scare others away from
Islam but it worried me. Meanwhile I was still reading about Islam and suddenly one day I asked my ex­husband out of the blue to teach me how to pray. He agreed and drew
illustrations but sometimes he was too impatient with me. However I do thank him for enlightening me. I declared to him that the next time we go to the mosque I was ready to take
shahada. And May 1996 that is exactly what happened! The Imam and my ex­husband witnessed my shahada. At the time I struggled to repeat the kalimah in Arabic but I said it in
English too. A feeling of peace came over me and I felt as if a great weight had been lifted off of my shoulders.

I was very happy and wanted to announce to everyone that I was Muslim! But when I told my mother and sister they were angry and ganged up on me. They said that I chose Islam
over them and accused my ex­husband of brainwashing or forcing me to convert. How funny since I had no religion before! And how scary because this coming from the people I
loved the most. I cried but was adamant and wouldn’t leave the fold of Islam.

For a while my mother didn’t believe that I was Muslim and had stopped eating pork. She would try to tempt me with pepperoni pizza or ham, two of my favorite foods before I
became Muslim. In spite of my mother and sister’s disapproval of my new religion they never stopped talking to me or disowned me as often happens to new reverts. These days
they are more understanding and accepting. They realize that in the beginning they were wrong in believing that my ex­husband forced me to Islam because now I am divorced from
him and still Muslim alhamdullilah. Finally, they recognize that it has brought about only good changes in my life.

And no matter what bad happens to me I will never leave Islam insha’Allah. I live for Allah and when I die I hope that His name is on my lips before I take my last breath.