Hi my name is Kim, I reverted to Islam on 19th of Ramadan, tow Ramadan’s ago. the journey has been up and down for a variety of reasons, but I’m from Canada. so I’m I’ve been very blessed to have a multicultural background in my friends and my family and so I think that made me very open to being accepting of a new faith. when I grew up I was Catholic and my grandparents were lovely devoted Catholic spiritually based people who gave a very good example about how to be present in faith and over my adult life.
I sort of lost touch with religion in general and then was luckily enough to have whisperings from God, call me back into finding myself in faith again and after searching both the Bible and other, a variety of different religions then I was able to make it an educated and a very conscious decision to follow his them.
I can’t say that I ever had a negative image of the Prophet.
I was blessed to have Muslim friends growing up in grade school here in Canada long ago. they were one of the I mean it was one of the first Muslim families to come my area and she quickly became one of my best friends and still is one of my good friends to this day.
So learning about the prophets family on the other hand was eye opening to me and to think of sometimes like I reflect on the knowledge that the Prophet had of what was going to happen to his family and it makes me sad.
It makes me think you know as a grandfather knowing what’s going to happen to those to his grandchildren and their children and it makes me astonished about his level of peace and his level of compassion and his sheer brilliant and calm nature because for someone to be able to see that far ahead and know what was going to happen and still be willing to forgive and still be willing to fight and it just it, it’s inspiring and it amazes me.
I was introduced to the stories of karbala first through some videos by seyed Amara Knox Ronnie when I was preparing to accept Islam I had a wonderful friend suggest different lectures to look at and one of them was the stories of Imam Ali and I adore Imam Ali. I think that my entire life I’ve been seeking justice and so when he was the first personality that I was introduced to, I mean it solidified my faith in this religion now.
Karbala, on the other hand when i when i SAT through the end part of the much less I was devastated I was I hid in my room I cried for about two hours and it was the story of Ghasem and I just it was to visual for me it was overwhelming to me, to think that there would be any human beings who would be so willing to treat a child in that manner. it just absolutely broke my heart and as a maybe as a mother maybe as a teacher I didn’t I don’t know it just it made me struggle to understand humanity, it made me struggle to understand some of the present day arguments and that the different sects of Muslim face and I mean you just think if everyone knew these stories if everyone understood that these are the things that happened. maybe they could put some of those differences aside and hopefully rise above that and not fall back into the same patterns that have happened at karbala because there’s no good reason for that to ever happen.
So I was lucky enough to also watch some videos by brother Khalil jaffer and he would he was telling the stories of Abbas and and of course the final days for Imam who’s saying peace be upon him and it just made me feel, it it brought back this sense of purpose for me, because while I always believed in justice and I always believed in truth and so I could immediately you know I could immediately understand the teachings of Imam Ali peace be upon him when I learned about the stories of Karbala.
It gave me a reason to take action and I think that that was something I was seeking because for him and the group of companions to have that level of courage and to know going in that the outcome there was going to be no there was going to be no outcome other than what had happened and they knew that they walked into a situation where they knew they would be murdered and that’s a courage that I hope to have some day to be able to face things head-on and not not fear what what the lasting effect would be on them.
It took me a little while to tell my extended family I my mom lives with me alhamdulillah so you know I was a little nervous talking to her. She’s Catholic and telling her and my two children was it made me a little bit nervous but I’ve been blessed with the most understanding and positive family that anyone could ever ask for and my mom. you know we only allow house we you know there’s no there’s no questioning about what you know what, why am I doing this, it’s that’s never been a question that’s been asked in my home. my children will watch me pray or you know my youngest daughter has come to some of the Iftar for Ramadan and enjoyed it, and so we’re very open and I’ve always raised my children to find their own faith as it was anyways and so they are witness in their mother, do that and find their own find her own fake. my extended family I decided to inform them via email which which for me was the safest way to do it because it’s a very big family and I wanted everybody to hear it at the same time and they were all very positive.
I had some of my cousins ask questions and said that they had they had themselves gone on you know, they’ve looked for at different religions to seek personal satisfaction from religion.
I have one aunt who only has the best in you know the biggest heart she questioned you know politely and kindly and you know we had a conversation about the reasons and not the stereotypes of what she understood from the media and I think that it brought about an awareness to her and the fact that they realized that I’m not a different person I’m the exact same person that I was, I’m just you know I’m learning to be a better person every single day by following this religion and so I think that she appreciates that and I, you know I don’t force it on them any more than they force, you know their religious beliefs on me and we can have very open discussions about things and be very respectful of each other so it’s been overall very positive.
It is different and it takes a lot but I think for me it’s the emotional difference, it’s when I hear it doesn’t matter if I can fully understand, if it’s something in urdu even though I’m not understanding the words you can feel, the grief you can feel the loss and you are part of this community that is suffering the worst kind of loss knowing, that we have got to as a community step up.
We have to follow the example of Imam Hussein and his companions we have to take action and try to teach other people about what it means and and the importance of his role on this on this earth. One of the things that had happened during Muharram is that you know there’s a lot of media scrutiny over as Adhadari, and you know our path the passion plays that may be put on and I know that there was a lot of there was a lot of scrutiny done by a certain media group and a friend had posted it on Facebook and so you know I was new to the religion and I was still feeling a little bit shy but I knew in my heart that I had to do something about that so I i messaged her and I you know I said I need you to take that off I need you to pull that like erase that post off your Facebook page and you know she questioned it and she wanted to know why and I said because you’re taking that entirely out of context and you’re showing you know it was it was like a you know a headline of local mosque is teaching children to I think teaching children to behead so unfortunately they had taken the entire muharram story, the the Battle of Karbala and they were turning it around and instead of it being weird learning about this is what we’re learning about this horrible thing that happened. They were trying to make it seem like it was a manual for teaching or educating children on becoming terrorists and I was so incensed and when I spoke to my friend I called her and I explained and and she said well why does it matter to you I said well number one it matters to me because as a human you need to have the right information out there, I said but number two I’ve also accepted Islam and I am I must them and she and she was shocked and she asked me lots of questions but also in that moment she started to say well I never really knew that and I said no and I appreciate that I don’t didn’t think that you were doing it intentionally to be disrespectful but I really social media needs to find a way to, I don’t know improve the quality of things that get posted on it because it’s just things are taken out of context and there’s no way to verify it unless people actually speak up about it, because I don’t necessarily understand the no has what i do is i tend to replay my understanding of the stories of the personalities and I you know I try to foster I try to bring about my grief that way but sometimes I think about very personal things. I mean losing my father losing my grandparents things that everybody can relate to that is an important aspect of really reflecting on these personalities because it’s not just about thinking about Imam Hussain, it’s about okay how does this how does this play out in our own lives because all of those personalities are giving us lessons to learn and things to apply to our own lives and we have to be we have to constantly be reflecting on that, so that we can do better for ourselves and we can do better for our community so the story of Karbala it reinforces the fact that you don’t have to have a majority behind you to be successful it reinforces that when you are on a path of truth and righteousness that you can accomplish what you’ve set out to accomplish.
Because Imam Hussein never went to Karbala thinking I’m going to defeat this army he went out saying I’m going to save Islam, and he did and he did through his sister and he did through the fourt Imam and so his objective was just to stand up and show people the right way to be and I I mean if you take that and you go with it in your own life you know that there is something positive that’s going to come out of that and it’s important for everybody.
I mean everybody should learn the stories of Karbala.
One of the one of my heart felt commemorations is for Sakina when she lies on her father’s chest and I reflect on my own dad and I reflect on what my children go through with myself and with their father that story is very personal to me so it is one that is hard for me to listen to you but I force myself to sit there and pay attention and feel that rush of emotion so that that for me is a huge point for spiritual personal growth.
On the other side there’s a nib and she is she’s the closest thing that I’ve ever had to an actual hero somebody.
That I personally every single day think you know if I can take something from her if I can you know if I could choose to behave in a certain way or rise above the challenges that I might face in a day than I’m being true to her because you know the 14 infallible we can’t be that there’s no possibility for us to achieve that but Zeynep we can do that every single one of us can do that we can stand up we can you know we can continue to spread the messages of the elevate and we can continue to strive and speak out with this level of class and character that you know is amazing and you just eloquent, if I could be you know that intelligent and that brave and and that caring I mean she was caring for her family all while she’s standing there being the beacon of hope for our religion.
I mean it’s amazing to me it makes me you know makes me want to go and stand up and and do things and so I mean there’s certain projects that I’ve decided to take on because of it because I think okay this is you know this is what she might do in this situation providing food to families who need it and it’s done in such a wonderful way that it gets delivered to these people’s homes instead of forcing them to come to one location and feel the shame and embarrassment of having to come and get charity basically and so we go and deliver it like any kind of grocery delivery service and I think it gives them a much more positive way to accept that so that was one of the things that I was inspired to become part of.
And the other is at work I work at a private school and so some of the teachers we’ve decided that we’re going to work toward raising funds to build a school in one of the Middle Eastern countries I’ve been lucky to find some picture books that I can use to teach my children about Islam and to give them an understanding I’ve yet to find anything.
I think that adequately explains the stories of Karbala in a way that they would understand what I do is I sit with my children and I try to explain what’s going on and so they know the Muharam coming up and that it’s going to be a little bit quieter for me that I’m more likely to be a little bit more emotional during that time and so when they question and the reasons for that then I’ll be prepared to talk to them talk to,you know my two girls about what it means why we’re commemorating Muharram for 10 days and you know the importance of the different personalities from there in a more simplistic way so that they can understand.
And one of the reasons why we cry every year during Ashura is because globally the lessons haven’t been learned that we cry for the grief that we feel in our communities today of the oppression and we cry for Humanity who still haven’t learned in all of the lessons about Ashura and the strength of what Imam Hussein stood for and I think it’s important to keep that grief alive.
So that we can continue to go out and strive to teach that message because if we were complacent about it if we just you know it’s just another it’s just another day it would no longer be important it would no longer carry the same weight it wouldn’t carry the same importance, as you know there’s this feeling when you’re crying during AShura and it’s like a wave and it’s almost as if there’s a point at least for me where it almost feels like a law is reaching down and patting you or comforting you because he can you know because the grief is so intense and so by commemorating Ashore every year and grieving it we do you get closer to Allah we also keep the spirit of our Imam is alive and refresh and knew the importance of following the teachings of elevate I’ve made the decision to go into this different culture to you know integrate myself into this different group of people. It’s my responsibility to make sure that I’m educating myself and understanding what’s going on and it’s the same way that as you know as we in Canada have a vastly wonderful immigrated population they had to do the same thing they had to learn it and so I think maybe having the right attitude about it and being open to learning helps because the sisters you know they help when they can and I would never want them to feel like they should have done more for me because honestly they do so much they do probably too much than they should.