July 16, 2011

Umm Hernan on Accepting Dawah from Our Children

Umm Hernan is an Ecuadorian mother of two, currently living in New Jersey, U.S.A. She is the owner and manager of Modasty Designs, an online Islamic clothing company.

Question 1: What was your spiritual life like before learning about Islam?
There was a time I wanted to be a nun because I wanted to serve God. My parents refused to help me, believing that I had not yet lived the life that I was just beginning. Like any human being, I made mistakes and wondered why I’m here. I wandered aimlessly, doing as my parents pleased. I was young, so perhaps they thought it was best for me.

The priest to whom I confessed told me that if I couldn’t be a nun, I could serve God by marrying, having children, and raising a family. At the age of 25 I married and had two beautiful children. I was pleased with God because my wish for my sons to finish college was fulfilled. I was happy when my children were young because they needed me all the time, but when they grew up and didn’t need me as much and I lost energy. Naturally, I started to feel alone and asked God to guide me.

I was constantly trying to better myself by attending seminars and reading books, but nothing filled my heart. There was no response to my pleas and I continued to drift. My children stopped going to church and I didn’t have the drive to force them into something they didn’t want to do.

I stopped thinking that I was Catholic. I didn’t like to go to church anymore. It was just a custom. I still believed in God as One and I believed in Jesus as well. Not Jesus as God, but Jesus as the son of God.

Question 2: Tell me the story of how your children exposed you to Islam.
One day my oldest son came and said, “Mom, Dad! I accepted Islam!” At that moment we were watching the news on TV of 9/11. I asked my son, “And what is that?” He told us Islam is the religion of Allah (God). I asked him if he was sure and he said “yes”. So I told him, “Son, any way that takes you to God, then God bless.” But we were in fear. It was a time of terrorists and we were afraid that something would happen to my son. But in the end I had peace of mind and was confident that God would take care of him.

Then he began to talk to me about Islam and told me what would happen on the Day of Judgment. I became afraid and my skin bristled when I heard the stories. But I was glad to hear him speak of it. His face and eyes held something different, something clean, and I liked it.

A month later my second son accepted Islam and they both began talking more and more about the religion. They told me I had to accept Islam and told me about the Prophet Muhammad. I thought Jesus was the last prophet but I was wrong. My sons brought me books and I read them and I asked God to guide me. As we prepared for Christmas and made our arrangements as Catholics to pray to Jesus, I realized I was doing wrong. If realized that if God was going to guide me, I had to change and stop praying to Jesus.

One day before Christmas, I sat with my children in the direction of the Ka’bah, discussing why I wasn’t accepting Islam. I told them then that I would accept because I believed in Allah as One and I believed in the Prophet Muhammad as His last and final Messenger. My sons said, “You did it! You said the words to become a Muslim!” I said, “Really?!” They took me to the bathroom and showed me how to make wudu so I could pray with them.

Question 3: How did you adjust as a new Muslim and how do feel now being Muslim for eight years?
The situation was difficult in the beginning. I didn’t know how to pray or say the prayers in Arabic. I wasn’t wearing hijab all the time. Even my sons were still learning. I thought that being a Muslim was too hard with too many rules.

I started reading the Qur’an and Islamic books. I attended conferences, especially when my sons were giving lectures to the students in the University. I learned a lot from them, mashaAllah.

I still have my faults; I’m human and make mistakes. I ask Allah’s forgiveness all the time. My faith is great, but not yet completed. The greatest satisfaction of all is that I found the truth of why I’m in this world and what my purpose is. I got married, built a family, came to the U.S., and had two children who, in time, became Muslims and returned to teach me the way of truth, alhamdulilah.

Question 4: Do you still believe that being a mother and raising a family is a good way to serve God?
Yes, alhamdulilah. God created us to worship Him. Being a good mother, loving our husband, raising our children and teaching them the right way to worship Allah are all ways of serving Allah. It’s important for us to be there for our families and children and set good examples and teach them the right way.

Question 5: Was it difficult for you to take knowledge and advice from your children, when it’s usually the other way around?
It wasn’t difficult at all because my sons explained everything in a clear way. When my son started with the Day of Judgment, it gave me strength to accept the rest of the religion easier because I was afraid to go to Hell.

Question 6: How did your experience accepting Islam through your sons affect your relationship with them?
When I accepted Islam, my sons and I were finally on the same path, alhamdulilah. But it didn’t change our relationship because we always had a strong bond. It did, however, change my relationship with my husband. Accepting Islam made me a better person and allowed me to be pleased with whatever my husband gave me. It made me a better wife.  

Question 7: Do the three of you try to give dawah to your non-Muslim family members?
We tried to give dawah many times. At first, my sons pushed too much, especially with their father. But when they learned that pushing was not the right way, they eased up. We continue to give dawah to our family, but now it’s mainly through our actions. It’s difficult for family members to change their thoughts and ways through conversation, but when they see how we behave as Muslims it stays with them.

Question 8: What advice would you give to parents whose children try to encourage them to accept Islam?
I would advise the parents to inform themselves about Islam so they can learn why it’s good for themselves and their children.

Question 9: Is there anything else you would like to add?
I'm happy being Muslim because I  have Allah in my life. Accepting Islam is the best thing I ever did, Alhamdulilah. I’m proud of my sons, my daughters-in-law and my grandchildren. Alhamdulilah, Allah blessed me with this wonderful family and I encourage everyone who isn’t Muslim to learn about this beautiful religion and accept Islam, inshaAllah. 

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