I woke up, prayed fajr and got ready for school. I have classes 1-3 on Fridays now, so I wont be able to make it to jumu’ah prayer ever this semester :/ But, this Friday i was able to get out of class early. The Khutbah focused on not letting your 5 minute fulfilment of a desire be the cause of you turning away from Allah. We have too many times where we are concerned with petty matters that quickly end, while forgetting that our relationship with Allah is permanent and ever-lasting.
I went to my first meeting for my research job right afterwards. He just spoke about safety rules and such, but he said something that stood out to me. “Dont forget that this is a privilege. There were hundreds who applied, and only you all made it. If you’re here to have something to put on your resume, leave now because you should only be here to learn and to gain experience.” The truth is that everything is a privilege, and our arrogance makes us forget that.
I was going to head home at 515 but realised that i would miss maghrib if I did that. And i thought about things from earlier that day… The desire of getting home quickly would be a barrier between me and Allah, and it was truly a privilege to have a mosque so close and be a Muslim and appreciate the act of prayer. I was sitting and waiting for prayer to start when I saw a girl around my age just standing at the front watching everyone. She didn’t seem to be Muslim, so I went to her and asked if she wanted to come sit with me. She said, “I was told to observe. I was told that you all would give me the answer after prayer finishes.” I didn’t want to impose and didn’t quite understand, so I took her to a seat, so she could sit and observe.
I went to her after prayer and asked if there was something I could help her with. She said, “I just want the answer. I will not deny the truth.” I asked her what her name was and she replied, “I need my name, but they told me my name would be Farah. I kept hearing the name Farah.” I was still a bit puzzled, but I asked what brought her here. She said that her and her brother drove from Alabama in search of the truth and that they saw signs that guided them here. I was just shocked and amazed. I really didn’t know what to say, but i recited the testimony of faith to her-There is no God but Allah and Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him is His final messenger and explained it to her. She replied to that by saying, “Allah is the truth, and I will not deny the truth.” Another sister and I tried to get the brothers’ attention to allow her and her brother to take the shahadah together. I sat down with her, her brother, a Muslim brother and a few sisters as everything was explained to them.
The Muslim brother, Ahmed Salim, actually posted a note about what happened after, so I’m posting it here: “With the curtain pulled back, we sat in the back of the prayer hall with a few onlookers and talked about the basics of what Muslims believe, and the responsibilities of being a Muslim. I asked them why they wanted to accept, and they said that all the signs lead them here. They were from Alabama, and through a series of events, they realized they needed to leave their negative surroundings and try to look for their friend here in Atlanta. They literally left without a plan, and in their search for him stumbled upon the mosque. They knew they had to come in. I asked them what they knew about Islam. “There is only one God, and He has no partners.” I asked them what they believed about Jesus, if they believed he was a prophet born of the Virgin Mary. The young lady said, “Yes, but we know that Muhammad is the last prophet.” That was the most suprising thing. They already knew. I asked them where they learned, and they had known a Muslim and read up on their own. I asked them if they had ever read the Quran, and they said they just recently bought one. I explained that if they accepted the beliefs and responsibilities of being a Muslim, all they had to do is make the testimony of faith. They accepted, so I led them in repeating the Arabic and English expression “I testify that there is no god but God, and I testify that Muhammad is the slave and final messenger of God.” It was my first time leading anyone in taking their shahada (testimony). Then, with a lump in my throat, I told them that everyone in this building was now jealous of them. Whatever bad they had done in their past was now all erased and that they now had a clean slate like newborn babies. That’s when they started crying softly. The brother turned to his sister and said, “And they were trying to keep us from the truth.” The two shared a hug. After a few reflective moments, the handful of onlookers greeted them warmly with more hugs and congratulations. I showed them how to wash up for prayer and took them through the steps and meanings of the Fatiha (the first seven verses of the Quran) and the full prayer. We gave them a little booklet on how to pray but told them to take things slow. When we showed them the main hall of the mosque, the brother said he felt at home. Before the Isha (night) prayer, they tried again to get in contact with their friend, but to no avail. They had no place to go without being able to get in touch with him even though they did have some money, so I decided to help them for the night. It was the least I could do. I introduced the brother to the imam after he showed interest in learning how to read the calligraphy on the walls, and then he washed up for prayer for the first time. He said he felt so pure. We completed the night prayer, and I told the congregation that he and his sister had just accepted Islam and for the congregation to warmly welcome their new family members. Everyone gave him hugs and congratulations and at least one person snuck money into his pocket as a gift. When some of the brothers, with their warm and smiling faces, embraced this stranger and said “welcome,” he said he felt so, so welcome.”
This entire incident was just absolutely amazing, inspiring, and eye-opening. I am very blessed to have witnessed this, especially because I rarely even go to that mosque. What I had learned earlier helped me understand all of this even better. This sister and her brother had left all of their desires and attachments behind to find the only truth, which is Allah. We are so blinded by all that goes on around us that we forget what both of them exemplified and believed so purely. What they sought is what all of us should continue to seek. And we should remember that knowing The Truth, believing it, and wanting to hold it close to our hearts is a privilege. Allah’s guidance will come to the one who seeks it. And “Allah guides man, whether he be grateful or not.” (Qur’an, 76:3) We are truly blessed and privileged to be where we are, experience what we do, and feel Allah in our hearts. Fighting the desires that will make us ungrateful is a struggle, but the beauty is in the struggle. And anything is worth gaining an eternal pleasant place with Allah. Alhamdulillah.