Unbeknown to me 1996 was a year in which my life would change dramatically.
I was in the second year of my post-qualifying job and generally speaking my life was relatively okay. I had many plans for my future - of travelling the world and earning lots of money.
However my plans did not seem to correspond with what Allah (swt) had planned for me. And much to the shock and horror of my family and friends I embraced Islam at Regents Park Mosque, London.
Prior to embracing Islam I had never had any contact with Muslims and I literally did not know anything about Islam except what I had seen on TV. Moving from a rural area to a city to study was to lead to my first encounter with the Muslim community.
Having my first conversation with a Muslim confirmed to me that I knew nothing! Now the first seed had been sown, I gradually began to read some Islamic literature. What initially struck me about the stuff I was reading was that some of it I had already thought about but had never articulated before. It made a lot of sense to me.
I contacted an English convert who invited me to a regular study circle at the mosque. I was now learning some basic things about Islam, and the experience was difficult to put into words as to how it made me feel inside. It was as though a whole new world was opening for me.
Meanwhile my friends, family and colleagues had all adopted a sudden interest in Islam and were very keen to express their negative views on what their perception of Islam was all about. I found myself having heavy discussions with them trying to pass on what little knowledge I had.
Gradually I was getting more deeply involved and inwardly I found I was embracing Islam.
Embracing Islam officially seemed like the natural next step for me I had always been known as a radical Feminist and had dutifully continued the family tradition of following in the footsteps of my great-grandmother, who was a suffragette.
Much to my greatgrandmother ’s horror (if she were still here to express it) I was soon to discover that Feminism and Islam went together like oil and water.
It was through Islam that I began to understand Feminism in its true context, and realised Feminism promoted the very thing it protested against: oppression of women. Well you can imagine the look of horror and disbelief on the faces of my friends when I attempted to enlighten them of my newly found ideas. They were not accepting any of it and thought that I had gone mad!
No matter how hard I tried to make them understand that Islam was totally divorced from any of the typecasts portrayed through the media, my attempts were futile. When I began wearing my Hijaab full time that was the icing on the cake for both my friends and family - they thought I had completely lost the plot.
Why on earth would a woman want to cover her hair? Unless she’s had a bad perm or she’s completely mad! Well, being none of those, Alhamdulliah, like most other sisters I continued to wear hijaab despite the opposition.
The best response I had was from a colleague at work who pretended not to notice. On the outside I may have appeared to some as looking like a stereotypical, downtrodden, second class, non-existent Muslim woman. Obviously this could not be further from the truth.
All those years of fighting for the rights of women, making very little difference within a patriarchal system, wasting all that energy when my rights had always existed.
What immense relief I felt, no more fighting for a lost cause, Peace and Submission to Allah (swa). Inner peace at knowing that a complete way of life had been prescribed for humankind, from how one should express joy to how one should handle their economics.
All this governed by a Divinity unaffected by any human weaknesses. Who could possibly want for more equality than that which has been given to us from the most kindest and compassionate of all judges, ar-Rahman ar-Raheem.
Looking back I think I was desperate to have Islam in my life. Now my view on the world and humanity has changed very significantly, rejecting the Kaafir way of life has been a saving grace.
Now when I see large numbers of non-believers I feel very sad for them as they remind me of rats or gerbils in cages going round and round on a treadmill, believing that they are fulfilling their sole purpose in life and reaching their true destiny (which is Argos). If only they could uncover their eyes and see the damage they cause themselves and to their children.
I feel certain that if they were to have a tiny glimpse of what Islam could give them they would be queuing outside of Mosques to read their Shahadah instead of queuing outside of nightclubs.
There would be Mosques on every corner instead of pubs. Alhamdulillah as one of many I am so thankful that my veil was lifted allowing me to see all of the chaos I was once part of.
If you wish to make contact with Sr. Khadija to gain advice or simply gain some motivation contact The Revival.