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A Catholic Woman Discovers Islam

Jan 14, 2015
By Maryam Eustathiou

Being brought up in a Catholic Christian household I always felt the importance of being in a religion, and respecting the will of God. However even from an early age I sensed that the religion I was brought up in was not quite what I expected. My earliest memories bring me to a typical Sunday scene sitting in church and looking around me, not digesting what the priest was saying, and staring at a hall full of statues and paintings of various religious scenes and persons.

I always remember asking myself: can this be it? Is this the truth? Somehow I felt inside me, that something wasn’t quite right. The mere fact that Jesus (peace and blessings be upon him) was given a godly status in the Christian religion instead of being accepted as one of Allah’s Prophets made my stomach twist and turn. It was something which I just could not accept, and this was the first sign that made me understand that I was no longer Christian, but something else.

After just turning 18 I decided I would go to University and get a degree, but at the same time, find the chance to get out of the Christian household I was in, and find the peace and freedom to do some soul searching! Indeed Allah blessed me with this chance, since it proved to be the best decision I made in my life. Attending university I came across many cultures and backgrounds, and many people who would come in and out of my life who helped me in my path. My first encounter with Islam was through different Muslims from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, Italy, United Kingdom and many more countries. All these friends in fact came into my life at the most appropriate time, a time when I needed information about religion.

But I do remember an occasion in 2001 (which I think was my first REAL introduction to Islam) when I visited a friend and seeing for the first time the Quran standing directly opposite me on a bookshelf. Just by looking at it, I got this urge and curiosity to look and read what was inside. Naturally it was written in its original language, in Arabic, and I couldn’t understand a thing, but my friend began to calmly explain what I was seeing! Was it a coincidence that most people I came across were Muslims? I think NOT.

My reversion to Islam happened quite gradually after that, approximately 1 year later. I specifically remember saying to myself one day just before the beginning of Ramadan in 2002 “Shall I go to church today?” Why should I go? Who am I kidding? I don’t believe that Jesus (peace and blessings on him) is the son of God, so why should I go to church. I am not going to church to please my parents, nor am I going there to please other Christians any more. I want a religion that pleases God and is for God and only God. I want to thank God more than once a week or twice a week for all the blessings I have. I want to thank Him every day, 5 times or more if I can, not every Sunday. This on its own made me think, it made me think that I was happy to believe in God as one complete whole, not divided into three parts.

Reading the Quran and the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him) I came to realize that I did believe he was a messenger of God, and in fact the last of God’s Messengers. I also began to pray at this time, and started my first fast ever that year in Ramadan. After obtaining a lot of information about Islam and asking all the questions I needed to know their answers; I finally came into the world like a new-born child. What can only be described as “LIGHT” was suddenly shone upon me. I decided when Ramadan had finished and we had celebrated `Eid that there was no way I was going to be anything else BUT Muslim, and that was my deciding moment.

After so many years of being blind, and walking in the dark, one day, Allah the Most Gracious Most Merciful shone the torch in my eyes, and I woke up from the trance, from the illness, from the blindness I was trapped in for so long. My reversion to Islam has let me be more peaceful as an individual, I feel I make the correct Insha’ Allah decisions most of the time and above all I feel that I try to live my life in light of Allah’s wishes. What made me do it?

The simple and so logical words. The clearest and most perfect words that have ever reached human ears. “La ilaha il Allah, Muhammed Rasoull Allah”. This sentence was the defining moment in my life which made me become a Muslim, and to this day, I have never looked back. Allah is One and Whole and Perfect and Muhammad was His last Prophet.

The Quran for me is like a manual, just like a car needs a manual to function properly, the Holy Quran is the guide -book to life, and something which covers all areas and is something which we cannot live without. I am proud to be Cypriot and Muslim Alhamdullah. This is not because I am proud of my ethnicity, but it is because Allah’s power crosses barriers and reaches to all corners of the globe. Living in the free part of Cyprus unfortunately means access to Muslims, Islamic books and centres is sparse. Does this discourage me? Not at all! In fact I love Islam more every day because of it!

My parents found out about my reversion to Islam during Ramadan 2005, and this was because I felt it was better to tell them my news while I was near them and not away studying at university. I felt that it was important to be around them when I delivered this news, so that they knew I hadn’t run away from them and deserted them. In fact I wanted them to see me and how I had become because of Islam, and to slowly Insha’ Allah enter the faith themselves by trying to set a good example.

My father reacted very well to the news, and appreciates my views as an individual and Al-hamdu lillah has shown willingness to read some books about Islam; however my mother’s reaction was not as calm. I feel that this is more because she is afraid for me, due to the fact that she knows little about Islam, but Al-hamdu lillah we have also began to talk about the faith and she also is becoming more accepting.

After I graduated from University with my undergraduate degree and Masters Degree I am now working as a trainee in a large company and feel that Allah has allowed me to make great progress as an individual. If I could give any advice to anyone it would be; “listen to your heart, listen to the signs, listen to the words, LISTEN, the truth is there, embrace it, this life is not forever.” Maryam Eustathiou

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She was a student of Aisha RA, the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam)'s wife. After her husband's death she vowed not to lie in bed When she would fall asleep she would wake herself up by going for a walk and say to herself, "I won't let you sleep, you will have the chance to sleep well when you are in the grave". It is said that once when she fell ill, the physician advised her to take nabiz (a non alcoholic fermented beverage prepared from malt and dates). She held the cup containing nabiz and said, "O Allah! You know that Aisha RA conveyed the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam)'s word, as he had prohibited consuming nabiz".

UMRAH BINT ABDUR RAHMAN (d. 103 AH)
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AISHA BINT TALHA:
The grand daughter of Abu Bakr RA, and was taught by the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam)'s wife Aisha RA.Abu Zahra the early Muslim said, "Aisha was cited because of her authentic knowledge". Aisha was also graced with physical beauty. Once Caliph Hisham invited her to his court where she engaged dialogue with eminent scholars of different fields. The Caliph was so impressed with her knowledge that he gave her a gift of 100,000 dirhams.

HAFZAH BINT SIRIN (d. 101 AH)

The sister of the scholar Muhammad ibn Sirin, she had memorised the Quran by the age of 12, and by the age 14 she was well versed in the exegesis (explanation) of the Quranic verses. She became famous for her beautiful recitation of the Quran. Her recitation was of such a high standard that when her brother had difficulty with recitation he would ask her to correct him.

NUFAYSAH BINT HASAN (d. 208 AH)

Known for her committment to Islam, she would frequently fast, and it is reported that she performed hajj over 30 times. The scholar Imam Shafi, is said to have learned and been taught from her. Imam Shafi thought so much of her that he stated in his will that he wanted his funeral procession to pass by her home – and when it passed by her home she prayed the funeral prayer. She died during the month of Ramadan whilst reciting the Quran.

RIBAH QAYSI's WIFE
She was known for spending much of the night in prayer. In the early parts of the night she would begin to pray. She would wake her husband, but if he didnt wake up she would pray. Sometime later she would try again, but if he failed to wake, she would pray. And again, some time later she would try again. Sometimes she picked up straw from the ground and would say "By Allah, I regard the worldly vanities less than this". Occassionally she would dress in a shiny dress at night and ask her husband if he wanted her company (intimacy) in bed – the times he would say no, she would resort to prayer instead.

JAWHAR BRATHYAH:
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RABIYAH KHATUN
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UKHTUL MAZNI
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MULAYKAH BINT MUNKADAR
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SHAD KHANUM
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THE SLAVE WOMEN WHO CONVERTED THE MAGUS FAMILY

One of the leading scholars said that a slave woman would come to him to ask him questions about shariah (islamic law). Some years later he saw a man selling her in the market saying she was worthless. He enquired and the man said that his family were Zorasterians, they bought her beauce of her beauty. They would worship the fire and light. Some days ago a Muslim went to their house and recited the some words. Hearing these words she started to cry. From then she reused to eat their (Zorasterian's) food and she began to pray (like a Muslim). They tried to prevernt her but they couldnt so she was worthless. The scholar asked the girl if she was the same girl he remembered from years ago, she replied in the affirmitive. The scholar then asked her what verses that man recited, she said, "Therefore flee unto Allah, Lo I am a pla warner to you from Him". Hearing these words she became restless and said that is the condition she was now in. The scholar then offered to complete the rest of the verse, and said, "Lo Allah! He is the one who gives livelihood, the Lord of the unbreakable might". Hearing this she said, 'The matter, which is guarnteed by Allah livelihood) must be left unworried for'. (Basically she put her trust in Allah knowing that Allah would provide for her if she did the right things). Hearing this trust in Allah, the scholar was amazed. The scholar asked what her price was and wanted to buy her. The man trying to inflate the price said his cousin wanted to buy her. The scholar couldnt match the price, so the man sold her to his cousin. Now the cousin, also a Zorasterian was determined to convert her back to his faith. He set about trying to find a way to reprimand her. He decided to give her a purse of money to keep and protect or him for some time, a bag full of dinars. She took the money and kept it with her in a safe place. Later the man, when she was praying went to her safe place and took the bag. His intention was that after prayer he would ask her where the bag was and she would not be able to find it, so he would criticise her faith and tell her that she has to come back to Zorastianism. After the prayer he asked her to fetch the bag. She went and she retrieved the bag.The man was in shock, how could she have given him the bag which he took while she was praying? He concluded that she had help from a divine authority. Upon this, he decided to accept Islam. Upon this, his family, relatives and friends also chose to accept Islam. The slave girlthen lived with them, not as a slave girl, as she was set free, and she was invited to live with them as a member of their family.

MOTHER OF IMAM BUKHARI:
Imam Bukhari left with his mother and his sister to gain knowledge at the age of 14. All of his provisions were provided for by his mother and his sister.

[Ref: 'Leading Ladies: who made a difference in the lives of others, approved by Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani, and Mufti Abdul Qadir, published by Idara Talifat e Ashrafia]

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