This American mother was angry that her 10-year-old daughter said, "I have become Muslim," and went to the mosque, to complain, where she ended up becoming Muslim too.
Interview: Gevriye Shamsidden - America - Thursday, March 23, 2023
Ms. Muslima, can you tell us about yourself?
My name is Muslima Habeeb-allah. When I became Muslim, I changed my name and got this name. During the years I became Muslim, it was customary to change one's name to a Muslim name after becoming a Muslim. But I would like to point out that I have never been a Christian. My parents were very devout Christians. They used to take us to church when we were little.
It was a trauma for me, I didn't like it at all. The songs, voices, shouts and noises they sang in the church for worship were very disturbing for me. Because of this, my parents used to take me downstairs to the basement of the church and make me wait in a corner until the mass was over. That's how they would discipline me for disrespecting the church. I can say that I was a little rebellious because of this, when I would go home, I would write a letter to Allah (hasha) and tell him that I hate this situation and that I don't like going to church at all, and I would put this under my pillow.
I was still in primary school those years. In 6th grade we had a teacher named Mary, she was a nun. She was covered, just like the Muslims, with her long black dress covering everything. When I saw her, I would look at her with admiration and say to myself 'I want to be like her one day'. How could I have known back then that years later, I would take the Shahadah, and cover my head as a Muslim and wear long clothes…
Her daughter, Iman, who became a Muslim before Ms. Muslima.
Where and how did you become a Muslim?
We had an acquaintance; she was my brother-in- law's stepdaughter by marriage. She was only 15 years old, but she had become a Muslim. Years later, I moved from Kentucky to Los Angeles where my sister lives; and later I learned that this friend also moved to Los Angeles. Our friendship continued. One day she asked permission to take my daughter to her daughter's school, and I accepted.
When my daughter (my daughter, Iman) came home, she said, "Mom, I became a Muslim." Honestly, I was very surprised and angry about this. I immediately called my friend and said to her, “My daughter is only 10 years old, how can they make my daughter take shahadah without my permission” and asked her to take me to the mosque. When we went to the mosque, I asked them, "How did you convert my daughter to Islam without asking me?" I said. When they started to tell me about Islam, to everyone's surprise, I decided to become a Muslim. I turned to my friend and said, 'I want to be a Muslim'. My friend was very surprised. Because of this friend, I knew a little about Islam. I became a Muslim on the spot by taking the shahadah. Alhamdulillah I have been a Muslim for over 40 years. They gave me a small book and a scarf as a gift, up to this day, I still have it as a memory of that day.
How did your family react to your conversion to Islam?
My mother had 12 children, I am the youngest. My family was against it at first. They thought that, I was joining some sect under the name of religion because of my rebellious attitudes from time to time.
I changed my name and asked them to address me as Muslima Habeeb-allah, although they thought I was a little rude, they finally accepted with respect. I was only in my 20s when I became a Muslim. But when they saw that, my rebelliousness changed to calmness and maturity over time, they were happy that I became a Muslim. Being a Muslim brought good qualities in me because I was among extremely kind and good-hearted people.
Before I became a Muslim, I became a vegetarian and did not eat meat, thankfully this prevented me from eating non halal meat, which is also forbidden.
You have been living in America for years as a Muslim, and you also wear a headscarf. Because of this, have you been subjected to any pressure or mistreatment in where? or in your work environment?
Alhamdulillah, I have never been subjected to any wrong treatment because of my beliefs, or my hijab anywhere. Allah saved me from such misbehavior. My hijab is like a part of me. I have many headscarves, I still have the first scarves given to me when I became a Muslim. I became a Muslim in my 20s. I hope to be 69 years old this May. I love Islam, I feel very good when I cover myself. People respect me, women come to me and tell me they like my clothes and my hijab. Men show me respect by holding the door.
Let me also point out; I wasn't used to wearing such inappropriate clothes since I was a kid. My mother was a very devout Christian, she would never allow inappropriate clothing. In the seventies, we used to wear trousers under our skirts when we went to school. If you're wearing something with half sleeves, your sleeves should be long enough not to show your armpit. Women and men were respectful to each other, women were submissive to their husbands. We did not grow up like today's generations, so it was very easy for me to become Muslim. Unfortunately, nowadays people and everything have changed a lot.
You are still working, but you are also retired. What jobs have you worked so far? What are you doing currently?
I have worked in many different jobs. I worked at the post office, in Germany for 6 years, I worked at the hospital in Behavior health, dealing with people who experienced domestic violence, and children who grew up in dysfunctional families and were placed in foster care. I worked at the army force hospital and retired from there in 2009. I've been working in the school system for 14 years now, I love kids and my job. Allah has always employed me in the right places. Alhamdulillah, neither being a Muslim nor wearing a headscarf has ever been a problem for me. I would also like to underline the following; I really love Islam. Because of Islam instructions in our lives, we have peace, tranquility and calmness. Wherever you go in this huge world, it includes you as a member of that great ummah of Muhammadiyya in that great circle of ummah. I am an American Muslim, Islamic culture fascinated me and made me fulfill who I am today.
How did you get to know the Risale-i Nur?
I lived in Lawton Oklahoma for 27 years. I saw these books in the library of the mosque. A brother from Turkey left his books in the library of the mosque, when he return to Turkiye.
I had never seen these books before.
I took one home to read it. Then the brother who had left the books returned and took his books back. I told him that I wanted to buy these books, and with his help I bought the four great books, Words, Letters, the Flashes, and Rays.
I try to read from time to time. I also read Bediuzzaman's biography. He have a very rare life and personality. These books have a very different narrative than the ones I've read so far. Of course, I'm a bit new to this subject, but I think it would be much more beneficial for me to read these books in a negotiated way. These books are full of interesting information, I think these are the best books to read along with the Qur'an. They are very useful works for us to understand the Sunnah of our Prophet (saas) and the Qur'an in the best way possible. I will continue to read even though I don't understand everything very well. I hope I can find someone to read with me, that would be better. Unfortunately, I'm no longer in Oklahoma. I moved back to Kentucky, where I was born and raised and where my family lives.