By Rumina Rizvi
All across the country, according to Statistics Canada, Muslim population is growing at a rate exceeding other religions. National Post, a Canadian daily, cited the National Household Survey of 2013 to report that the Muslim population is growing even faster than the number of Canadians identifying as having no religion, though just barely.
According to Wikipedia, there are 1,053,945 Muslims in Canada or about 3.2% of the population, making them the second largest religion after Christianity and the fastest growing religion in Canada. In the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), 7.7% of the population is Muslim, making GTA the highest concentration of Muslims in any city in North America.
The New Muslim Care program is an engaging program that creates a positive impact on the lives of those who accept Islam and begin a new life as Muslims. Every participant goes through a cycle which includes components to assist them with various educational, emotional, and social needs. Through this approach, new Muslims are able to sustain their faith and remain steadfast in times of adversity.
Working with the New Muslim Care Halton Chapter, I get to interact with many reverts and also those who are interested to learn about Islam and experience it while being amongst Muslims. With the progressive numbers of Converts to Islam increasing every day, I decided to ask two sisters about their journey to Islam.
Personal stories of two Sisters
Alex, now Sister Madeha*, was born into a strong Christian family. Her upbringing was all about following Christian values as put in the New Testament. She went to public school in Hamilton for primary schooling and then a Catholic High School though it had mostly Muslim students. At that time, she says, she was a racist but that was only since she didn’t know much about Islam. Now she’s a practicing Muslimah Masha Allah and this is her story, in her own words.
“Years later after school and college I met someone who started teaching me about Islam and it intrigued me. I kept learning regularly, becoming more fascinated every day. Finally I realized I want to become Muslim.
“I started with asking my Muslim friends questions about culture and religion difference. I assumed maybe I’m being dumb but these questions needed to be asked. I started reading the Qur’an for my own understanding. I got struck by every word and was totally into it. I was living and breathing Islam. That’s all I had on my mind and about the past life.
“I then met the New Muslim Care Chapter and they had wonderful people to help and guide me. With them I could learn the daily rituals, greetings, mannerisms and etiquette. A lovely sister taught me things that are wowing me now. She taught me how to perform Wudhu and pray Salah with khushu and khuzu. I was taught how to wear a head scarf (hijab) by two little girls.
“I went to the Dar us Salam Mosque and declared my intention in front of few witnesses Wa ash-hadu anna Muhammad ar-rasullallah. Then the Takbeer… Allahu Akbar! was said aloud by everyone present.
“I’ve stopped listening to music, smoking, drinking or wearing revealing cloths. I was exiled from my family at first but with efforts and will of Allah swt we meet sometimes and they’ve accepted my new identity as a Muslim. Alhamdulilah I’m proud to be a Muslim and humbled by the constant guidance and help I receive from my New Muslim Care Sisters.
*Actual name was not disclosed due to request from the sister.
Another personal story of inspiration and reverting to the Deen is that of Sister Tahira. She too converted to Islam recently.
“After meeting and becoming friends with many Muslims from my university and asking hundreds of questions, I contacted community members that attended the local mosque and they guided me to New Muslim Care Sisters group. I gathered all information and every single word I wanted know about Islam. Once convinced that I wanted to make the final decision of entering Islam but there was a hurdle I had to pass.
“How I should tell my family. I decided that I was going to tell my mother before I converted, as I respected her a lot for raising me and taking care of me my entire life. I love her, and felt it was the right thing to do. I told her a few weeks before Christmas, and her reaction was hard to handle. She cried and wouldn’t talk to me for days, but I knew this is what I wanted to do, and I felt nothing should come before God. I was glad I told her before I went to the mosque, because one day she’ll realize I respected her enough to tell her beforehand.
“I was looking forward to the day I would go to the mosque. I continued to read, study, and memorize the Quran, and now, I am going to the mosque to convert (revert), Alhumdulillah, I have never felt this content before in my life. Ever since I started my journey to becoming a Muslim, I have felt at peace with my life, and I thank Allah every moment of the day for granting me the knowledge and wisdom to continue on my journey and guiding me on the right path. It was difficult with my family, but my mother is beginning to accept it, and one day, maybe she, too, will realize that Islam is the true path. Converting to Islam has honestly been the best decision I have ever made. Praying five times a day, giving up eating pork, gelatin and family (Christian) holidays was challenging initially but I feel pure now.
Advice for Convert Sisters
Although it all seems strange and new at first, keep praying and reading the Qur’an. You will find peace and strength in doing that. Talk to the sisters you see at the Mosque. I’ve found that people are more than happy to talk to new Muslims but you have to approach them first. Don’t be afraid to admit to other Muslims that you don’t know things, and ask questions. Make Dua and ask Allah to guide you and give you strength.
About the author:
Mother to two wonderful kids, Rumina Rizvi works for an Islamic Education Academy, catering to a large community of Muslims, conducting Quranic and Islamic studies. She also works with New Muslim Care Halton Chapter for our New Muslim Revert brothers and sisters and feel sprivileged to be living in this part of world, learning and exploring knowledge of Deen and contributing to her community.