My Name Is Najmah.

My name is Najmah.  On my Shahada, choosing a Muslim name became less difficult for me against when I was simply browsing through websites of Islamic names.  Friends who were with me suggested nice names too.  But to some of those suggested I really felt so ambitious to even sport them.  And to some of the other names, like Kadeeja or Aisha being the first and the favorite wives respectively, of the Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him),  I felt I couldn’t relate to them as I have been nobody’s wife for the longest time.

So they said that I should choose a name that would be most comfortable for me.  So I asked what was the Arabic for “star”.  Hence, NAJMAH.  As to why I chose the Arabic for star for my name is pretty effortless for me.  My blog title “LIGHT IN THE DARK” spells it out for me.  I want to shine amidst the darkness not exactly to be followed (but of course Inshaallaah) but to lead those who are still astray back home to the true Faith.

From my family who are devotees to the Catholic Church, I stand to be the first Muslim, Subhanallaah.  And the next ones, of which when revealed to me made me extremely emotional, are my daughters.  Inshallaah, I aim to take them with me on my journey to 7th heaven.  It’s never easy.  At least not with what I had to go through to prepare for this for the first half of my life.  But I do not regret my experiences since now I understand, as Allah SWT has provided for me to understand Subhanallaah, that it all just made me stronger and even more courageous to seek my way back home.

Coming across this Ayat in the Qur’an, let me share with you what Allah SWT has enlightened me with:

“About the Stars.  Abu Qatadah mentioned Allaah’s statement: ‘And We have adorned the nearest heaven with lamps. (V. 67:5) and said, ‘The creations of these stars is for three purposes, i.e. as decoration of the (nearest) heaven, as missiles to hit the devils, and signs to guide travelers.  So if anybody tries to find a different interpretation, he is mistaken and just wastes his efforts, and troubles himself with what is beyond his limited knowledge. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 4. Chap. 3, P.282)” [Footnote to (V.6:97)].

Thus is another quest.

My name is Najmah.  And this is my purpose:  To be worthy to serve Allaah by shining forth so that more people will see especially those who know me and love me, that Allaah SWT is indeed Oft-Forgiving and Most Merciful.  Because He is The One.

Bismillah Ar Rahman Ar Rahim. Say O Mohammad SAWS: ‘He is Allah, The One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto him [112:1-4]. ”  

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I AM HOME!

Bismillah Ar Rahmanir Rahim.

August 20th 2011 Manila Time. August 19th 2011 Riyadh Time. 19 Ramadhan 1432 Higri Calendar. Finally, I have arrived.

I had a bad dream the night before. I dreamt I was with my whole family and my cousins (mom-side). And I heard the Adhan or the call to prayer. Then I left my companions and searched for a place to pray. I saw people from my local community praying in their own plain clothes on individual sujadas (prayer mats) on two rows. I placed mine somewhere close to them but in a peculiar corner to be discreet. And then while I was prostrating in prayer, these men touched me, my body, my face, and mocked me. I ran in fear. But suddenly I realized that I had to fight back. So I ran back to the men and hit them back. Alhamdulillaah I woke up right after. But I was panting. Scary. Freaky.

Although I was on day-off for this particular Friday, I wasn’t really planning to go anywhere except to Batha with my friend to find this particular copy of the Qur’an. So we went to the “headquarters” of the mottawa (which I call Bulwagan ng Mottawa in Tagalog) to ask about it. The people outside said that particular copy was not available and that Qur’an was never sold. And then my friend resolved to enter into the dreaded headquarters, in my mind, just to ask. And then she finally surrendered me to perform my Shahadah.  Finally.

Coming into this tent was usually scary for many because this was the place where the erring Muslims or non-Muslims would be brought to be apprehended for violation of Muslim rules.  But I was kinda flat affect.  Adee.  Arabic for “usual” or “normal”.  And then this woman started to approach my friend and I.  And then she started to talk about Islam, Muslims, Allaah, Prophet Mohammed.  I listened to her very intently as I imagined I was hearing what I have already read.  I felt so good to hear about what I had already read.  It affirmed my understanding.  After over an hour or two, I spoke to this Arab man right behind the wall.  One of his questions was “Are you 100% sure?”  I said “No. 101% sure.” And I heard him laugh.  And then he asked me another time.  And I said “102% sure.”  And I heard him smile and he said “Fi zayada ithneen huh? (Increased by two!)”  And I said “if you ask me another time I will tell you 103% sure.”  And then he said, “You are now a Muslim and your children are automatic Muslims too.” Alhamdulillaahi Rabbi Al Ameen!

This is a most wonderful surprise for me!  Indeed a prayer is answered.  And I am so forever grateful!  What made it so emotional was that the Mottawa mentioned that my children are automatically Muslims too!  And I have prayed all this time for a way to make them be brought here for them to become one Inshallaah.  Subhanallaah!  I find them so lucky because my daughters need not struggle so hard to start their quest for the truth.  Mumay is here, my dear ones.  I will be like the star that will shine your way in the beautiful darkness of the sky.

I have hit two birds with one stone.  Within my prayers before wherein I do not know what else to ask for but that to open the hearts of the people I love, all the more right now, what is there that I need when Allaah has already sent this blessing to me and my children – this blessing that I feel have taken me a lifetime to long for.  There is nothing I shall want.  But I continue to pray that I be kept stronger and more steadfast in faith to deserve such wonderful blessings that is indeed a privilege for the chosen.  And that in being so, I shine brighter to show others the truth in Islam as there is no ‘real’ other.

My name is Najma.  And I’m so glad, I am home!

No Fear Now Fear

It’s not like someone just made me realize that I had been living in hell.   But this person rubbed it in too much that indeed I am far from being perfect.  Not also that I though that I had been living a righteous life.  Oh no!  Didn’t I say before that I do not normally conform with the culure wherein I was raised?  But it just sucks to know how far from the Right Path I had been traversing.

Since I had been feeling strongly this extraordinary beat of my heart that’s been jumping with happiness when I realized I have finally found the answers to my endless questions, deep inside, suddenly there’s this certain fear.  And it’s one fear that I have never felt before.  I can’t actually explain what this is. Because I would usually be not really daredevil but someone who would go the distance fearlessly.   But now it gives you this creepy feeling that

hey! you’re being watched!

This journey admittedly is something I am so excited about.  This is a fulfillment for me should I succeed in this.  I have longed to be in Allaah’s ‘arms’.  Inshallaah.

Muslim By Heart

I have been through an almost fatal accident that caused me to succumb into a comatose.  I have also braved riding a tourist bus that turned turtle at the edge of a cliff after swerving several times on a mountainside highway.  I have survived an attempt of rape that resulted to eight stabbed wounds from my skull down to my rear on my second trimester of  my first pregnancy.   I have succeeded the national Nursing board exams one time big time with an ailing memory after my coma.  Subahanallaah!  Subhanallaah!  Subhanallaah!  But by far, there is yet the most difficult quest in my life: to find the truth is never easy.

A colleague who knew my biggest secret told me something that struck me big time.  He said that to be a Muslim or to embrace Islam in that light is like holding on to a flaming charcoal.  It takes a strong man to hold on to his religion.  Or must I rather say to a religious way of life?  At the back of my mind, I thought, does that explain why I had to go through a lot first before I got to where I am now?  Alhamdulillah.  Alhamdulillah.  Alhamdulillah.   I felt I passed a qualifying test.  But I am not celebrating yet.

As I try to recall  experiences that seemed not to conform with the norms of the culture where I was raised since my childhood.  it dawned on me why I feel differently strange about a lot of things.  I do not mean to justify juvenile disobedience.  Nor the typical curiosity of a preschooler.  Nor the adventurous saga of an adolescent.  Nor the mixed temperament of the mid-life crisis.  More than anything that I can explain, Subhanallaah, this explains why I pester my religion teachers with questions that seemed senseless.  Or why I was burdened to ask each and every saint to intercede for my intentions.  Or why I always awakened by someone on a public address before the break of dawn who call on people to what I thought was an exercise program.  Or why I was denied admission to the nunnery.  Or why I believed my Dad was right somehow about his questions about dogmas.  Or why  I was led to a revolutionary life.  Or why I was so comfortable up our rooftop conversing directly to The One.  All because there is Only One.  No if’s.  No but’s.  Subhanallaah.

Hence my quest remains to be a secret to most people I know who knows me.  Because I feel that I need to be validated yet.  Not by any religious police or teacher.  I feel I do not need to explain myself to anyone else.  But I feel that I need to purge myself more for Allaah to be worthy to be even called a Muslim.

Allaah, the All-Knowing, knows no doubt what is in this sinful heart.  Allaah, the Beneficent, the Merciful, the All-Merciful, knows how my heart cries in repentance for my ignorance all this time.  Though I claim to know not beyond what Allaah allows my free will to comprehend, what I am certain is that Allaah has caused all things to happen to send me back home to the true deen.

I have just arrived.  And this is just the beginning.  I struggle to perform Salat in the way the Prophet [SAWS] has prayed.  I commit myself to learn about Islam everyday in every way that I can.  I strive to educate myself of  the completeness of the Qur’an to guide me through my quest.  And then Inshallaah I will be called Muslim not because I declare my Shahādah but Allaah kareem from within me, Inshallaah others will see the light in the dark and that more people will be led back to the right path to Allaah.

Alhamdulillaah.

 

Wireless Connection to Heaven

Alhamdulillah I had been surrounded with a lot of reading materials about Islam: Tawheed, the Prophet [SAWS], concepts, habits, etc.  published by the Cooperative Office for Call and Guidance Al-Batha, Darussalam, Islamic Propagations Office in Rabwah, The Islamic Center at Old Senajah, and Zulfi Foreigner’s Guidance Office to name a few.

I have read and still continue to read about Christian and Muslim discussions, monotheism, etc.  But what struck me most importantly was the literature for prayers.  In the past, out of the habits I grew up with on how to say prayers, I always had a different way to prayer.  I always found a very private place where no one will see me and no one will ever know.  Now, though I was told that the way to pray was the most difficult habit to be learned by Non-Muslims, my first recourse was to learn how to pray just as how the Prophet [SAWS] have exemplified.

Indeed, it was not easy.  Although there were English translations and even Filipino translations of the prayers, I used these materials to understand what the Arabic prayers mean but I adhered to learning the prayers in its authentic Arabic literature.  What makes learning a lot more difficult was that since nobody around here knew that I had been learning how to pray, I had to discover things on my own and of course make a lot of errors along the way.  But Subhanallah, I was guided to more resources to learn better the ways of Salat.

However which way, it will always be my desire to learn the proper way to pray as well as the prayers themselves.  For one, this is my wireless connection to Allah [SWT] with unlimited capacity with its speed faster than a HSDPA.  And just to make sure that I am guided correctly, I have subscribed to various channels with crisp, clear videos that show details on how to pray.

Bismillah, to be continuously guided and to share the guidance as well, I upload the videos from the youtube channel of spectrum187  onto this article for the record.  Should there be any other comments, suggeztion, recommendations regarding my quest, please free to comment.  Inshallah, I will, and hope that more will be as well, be enlightened and reminded all the time the incredible value of Salat.  ]

The Fajr Prayer.  

The Asr Prayer.

The Maghrib Prayer.

The Isha Prayer. 

Out Of The Shadow

This trip was so unplanned.  At least by me.  Everyone in my family didn’t approve about my coming to this specific country.  Even my friends warned me that I may not be able to survive out here where there is no freedom.  Saudi Arabia has had this notorious reputation for cutting off heads of anyone who fails to obey their rules.  I must say they all know me.

I have always been a nonconformist.  I would always be a devil’s advocate.  At times, I was considered a rebel.  Had I lived in the Spanish Era, I would have been called this term for non-believers who would always question teachings.  That term though escapes me at this moment.  But yes, I am known to be that, too, especially in school when Catechism was taught.  I would throw a lot of questions that would pester the class at times and challenge the teacher as well.  But I sincerely wanted answers.  I just feel that there is more that I should know.

Not that I feel like I am a genius who does not get satisfied with shallow discussions hence I philosophize.  Nope.  My education inculcated in me this hunger for growth.  My teachers have always seen my potentials for reaching farther than just ordinary tertiary level education.  As I come from a very reputable Spanish exclusive school whose products have shone in different fields of endeavor.  We are the cream of the crop.  And beauty and brains is an ordinary experience.  Yet, in spite of all that, I remained lost somewhere.  Especially when the topic is about religion.

Should my siblings read about this, they must surely be confused.  My brothers are products of Jesuit education.  Another devout sect.  Strongly Christian.  Our parents sent all of us to the best schools in the country.  Alhamdulillah.  I know our parents wanted to secure us also spiritually that we were sent to Catholic, not just Christian, schools.  Because our schools must reflect the culture that we lived with at home.

At home, we pray the rosary.  Since I am a first born, I was taught very well early in my childhood about how to pray and to lead prayers like how old Spanish families are.  I memorized the Litany, responses to prayers, novenas, and even responses and the course at the Mass.    Yet on my own, I had a very personal relationship with my God that I have kept all this time to myself because I know had others known, they would think I’m all nuts.

My family and friends love me.  Alhamdulillah.  They all know me.  I have grown with them.  They know that I can be so strange at times with my ways.  Inshaallah,  when I break the news to them about my “homecoming”, they will understand that the strange ways headed to a better direction, if not the best.

Ramadan Kareem!

I arrived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on 2008. A few days after, Eid Il Adha was celebrated.  It was the end of Ramadan.  The year after, the holy month just passed me.  It was the first time that I really had an experience of the habits observed in Ramadhan. I  remember drinking and eating without anyone noticing.  Just as any other Christian amongst the Muslim populace of this country, I was careful in observing what was “haram” to keep my head safe.

Come 2010, the holy month of fasting and sacrifice took on a different face to me.  My Dad suffered from a stroke a month before Ramadan and his condition was very much unstable.  Although I was prepared mentally about the risks to  my Dad’s condition, my obligation to my parent prevailed in me and I insisted to come home.  So I did but not after Ramadan.  So during the holy month, it was my quest to purge myself to deserve acceptance by Allah of my prayers.  Indeed, my prayers were heard.

This year Ramadhan is unique to me.  Alhamdulillah the time of my retreat and my return to Islam coincides with this highlight.  Indeed, Allaah is All-Knowing, All-Merciful, Most-Merciful.  I pray that Allaah keeps me at the straight path to lead me to Him to deserve praising Him, to deserve His mercy, and to be able to offer a life in gratitude only to Allaah.