Aminah Assilmi

Aminah Assilmi

A Girl On A Mission

Aminah Assilmi

“I am so very glad that I am a
Muslim. Islam is my life. Islam is the beat of my heart. Islam
is the blood that courses through my veins. Islam is my
strength. Islam is my life so wonderful and beautiful. Without
Islam I am nothing, and should Allah ever turn His magnificent
face from me, I could not survive.”

It all started with a computer glitch.

She was a Southern Baptist girl, a radical feminist, and a broadcast
journalist. She was a girl with an unusual caliber, who excelled in
school, received scholarships, ran her own business, and were competing
with professionals and getting awards – all these while she was going to
college. Then one day a computer error happened that made her take up a
mission as a devout Christian. Eventually, however, it resulted into
something opposite and changed her life completely around.

It was 1975 when for the first time computer was used to pre-register
for a class in her college. She was working on her degree on Recreation.
She pre-registered for a class and then went to Oklahoma City to
take care of a business. Her return was delayed and she came back to
college two weeks into the class. Making up the missed work was no
problem for her, but she was surprised to find that the computer
mistakenly registered her for a Theatre class, a class where students
would be required to perform in front of others.

She was a
very reticent girl and she was horrified to think about
performing in front of others. She could not drop the class for
it was too late

to do so. Failing the class was also not a choice, for she was receiving
a scholarship that was paying for her tuition and receiving an ‘F’ would
have jeopardized it.

Advised by her husband, she went to her teacher to work out some
other alternative to performing, such as preparing costumes, etc.
Assured by the teacher that he would try to help her, she went to the
next class and was shocked by what she saw. The class was full of Arabs
and “camel jockeys”. That was enough for her. She came back home and
decided not to go back to the class anymore. It was not possible for her
to be in the middle of Arabs. “There was no way I
was going to sit in a room full of dirty heathens!”

Her husband was calm as usual. He pointed out to her that God has a
reason for everything and that she should think about more before
quitting. Besides, there was the scholarship that was paying her
tuition. She went behind locked doors for 2 days to think about. When
she came out, she decided to continue the class. She felt that God gave
her a task to convert the Arabs into Christianity.

Thus she found herself with a mission to accomplish. Throughout the
class, she would be discussing Christianity with her Arab classmates.
“I proceeded to explain to them how they would
burn in the fires of hell for all eternity, if they did not accept Jesus
as their personal savior. They were very polite, but did not convert.
Then, I explained how Jesus loved them and had died on the cross to save
them from their sins. All they had to do was accept him into their
hearts.”
They still did not convert, and so she decided to do
something else: “I decided to read their own book
to show to them that Islam was a false religion and Mohammed was a false
God”.

At her request, one student gave her a copy of the Qur’an and another
book on Islam. With these two books she started on her research, which
she was to continue for the next one and half years. She read the Qur’an
fully and another fifteen books on Islam. Then she came back to the
Qur’an and re-read it. During her research, she started taking notes
that she found objectionable and which she would be able to use to prove
that Islam was a false religion.

Unconsciously, however, she was changing from within which did not
escape the attention of her husband. “I was
changing, just in little ways but enough to bother him. We used to go to
the bar every Friday and Saturday, or to a party, and I no longer wanted
to go. I was quieter and more distant.”
She stopped drinking and
eating pork. Her husband suspected her of having an affair with another
man, for “it was only for a man that a woman
changes”
. Ultimately, she was asked to leave, and she soon found
herself living in a separate apartment.

Watching A Rose Open – Petal By Petal

Aminah Assilmi

“When I first started to study
Islam, I did not expect to find anything that I needed or wanted
in my personal life. Little did I know that Islam would change
my life. No human could have ever convinced me that I would
finally be at peace and overflowing with love and joy because of
Islam.”

Throughout these times, she continued studying Islam and
although she was changing subtly from within, she remained a devout
Christian. Then one day, there was a knock on her door. It was a man in
traditional Muslim robe, who appeared to her as a
“man in a long white night gown with a red and white checkered table
cloth on his head”
. His name was Abdul-Aziz Al-Sheik and
he was accompanied by three other men in similar dress. She was very
offended by Muslim men coming to her in nightgowns and pajamas. She was
further shocked when Abdul-Aziz told her that he understood that she
waited to be a Muslim. She replied that she was a Christian and she did
not have any plan to become a Muslim. However, she had some questions to
ask if they had the time.

At her invitation, they came inside. She now brought up the questions
and objections that she noted down while she was researching.
“I will never forget his name”, she said of
Abdul-Aziz who proved to be a very patient and soft-mannered person.
“He was very patient and discussed every question
with me. He never made me feel silly or that a question was stupid.”

Abdul-Aziz listened to every question and objection and explained it
within the proper context. “He explained that
Allah had told us to seek knowledge and questions were one of the ways
to accomplish that. When he explained something, it was like watching a
rose open – petal by petal, until it reached its full glory. When I told
him that I did not agree with something and why, he always said I was
correct up to a point. Then he would show me how to look deeper and from
different directions to reach a fuller understanding.”

It would not be long before she would externally submit to what she had
already been submitting to internally during the last one and half
years. Later in that same day, this Southern Baptist girl would declare
in front of Abdul-Aziz and his companions: “I bear
witness that there is no god but God and Mohammed is His Messenger.”

It was May 21, 1977.

A Sacrifice For Faith & Conviction

Aminah Assilmi

“I embraced Islam about 24 years
ago to the consternation of most of my family. The reaction of
my family was so severe that one member of my family actually
tried to kill me … And yet by applying Islam to my life, by
living Islam, most of my family is now Muslim. The thing is that
everywhere you go, if you actually are living Islam, if you are
demonstrating Islam, you will impact people. And you will change
mindset.”

Conversion to Islam, or to any other religion for that
matter, is not always a simple thing to do. Except for a few fortunate
ones, a new Muslim usually face consequences. The convert may face
isolation from family and friends, if not pressure to go back to the
family faith. Sometimes, a convert may even face sever economic
hardship, as in the case of those who are asked to leave the house
because of converting to Islam. Some converts are fortunate to continue
to be well respected by family and friends, but most of them face minor
to severe hardship especially during the first few years after the
conversion.

But the difficulty that Aminah Assilimi had to go through and the
sacrifice that she had to make for the sake of her conviction and faith
is almost unheard of. There are few who could rely so much on Allah as
she did, standing firm and meeting the challenges, making sacrifices,
and yet maintaining a positive posture and influencing people around
with the beauty of what she found and believed in.

She lost most of her friends, for she was “no fun
anymore”.

Her mother did not accept her becoming a Muslim and hoped that it was a
temporary zeal and that she would soon grow out of it.

Her “mental health expert” sister thought that she lost her mind. She
attempted to put her in a mental health institution.

Her father was a calm and wise man. People would come to him for advice
and he could comfort anyone in distress. But when he heard that his
daughter became a Muslim, he loaded his double-barrel shotgun and
started on his way to kill her. “It is better that
she be dead rather than suffering in the deepest of Hell”
, he
said.

She was now without friends and without family.

She soon started wearing hijab. The day she put it on, she was denied
her job. She was now without family, friends, and job. But her greatest
sacrifice was yet to come.

She and her husband both loved each other very much. But while she was
studying Islam, her husband misunderstood her for her apparent changes.
She became quieter and stopped going to the bar. Her changes were
visible to him and he suspected her of having affair with another man,
for whom she must have been changing. She could not explain to him what
was happening. “There was no way to make him
understand what was changing me because I did not know.”

Eventually he asked her to leave and she started living separately.

After she openly accepted Islam, it went worse. A divorce was now
inevitable. This was a time when Islam was little known, much less
understood for what it is. She had two little children whom she loved
dearly and whose custody should have rightfully be given to her. But in
a grave violation of justice, she was denied their custody just because
she became a Muslim. Before giving the formal verdict, the judge offered
her a harsh choice: either renounce Islam and get custody of the
children, or keep Islam and leave the children. She was given 20 minutes
to make a decision.

She loved her children very dearly. It is perhaps the worst nightmare
that a mother can have: asked to willfully leave her child – not for one
day, month, or year, but forever. On the other hand, how could she keep
the Truth away from her children and live as a hypocrite?
“It was the most painful 20 minutes in my life”,
she said in an interview. Those of us who are mothers and fathers,
especially of young children, little imagination is needed to feel the
pain and torment that she must have passed every second in those 20
minutes. What added further to her pain was that according to doctors,
she could never bear another child because of certain complications.
“I prayed like I had never done before … I knew
that there was no safer place for my children to be than in the hands of
Allah. If I denied Him, there would be no way in the future to show my
children the wonders of being with Allah.”

She decided to retain Islam. Her two dear children – one little boy and
one little girl – were taken away from her and given to her ex-husband.

For a mother, is there a sacrifice greater than this – a sacrifice that
is done for no material reason but only for faith and conviction?

“I left the court knowing that life without my
babies would be very difficult. My heart bled, even though I knew,
inside, I had done the right thing”
. She found comfort in the
following verse of the Qur’an:

Allah! there is no godBut He – the Living,

The Self-subsisting, Eternal.

No slumber can seize Him

Nor sleep. His are all things

In the heavens and on earth.

Who is there can intercede

In His presence except

As He permitteth? He knoweth

What (appeareth to his creatures

As) Before or After

Or Behind them.

Nor shall they compass

Aught of His knowledge

Except as He willeth.

His throne doth extend

Over the heavens

And the earth, and He feeleth

No fatigue in guarding

And preserving them

For He is the Most High,

the Supreme (in glory).(Quran 2: 255)

 

Help of Allah Is Always Near!

Aminah Assilmi

“This veil warns people upfront
that I am not a woman to be messed with. It shows that I am a
woman with a mind and that I know I am more than a body. In no
way does this veil equal oppression and we don’t want you to
feel sorry for us.”
Or do ye thinkThat ye shall enter

The Garden (of Bliss)

Without such (trials)

As came to those

Who passed away

Before you?

They encountered

Suffering and adversity,

And were so shaken in spirit

That even the Messenger

And those of faith

Who were with him

Cried: “When (will come)

The help of Allah?”Ah! Verily the help of Allah

Is (always) near!

(Quran 2: 214)

Perhaps the air of Colorado was too thin for justice. Or perhaps
there was a plan in Allah’s greater scheme of affairs. Aminah Assilimi
later fought back and took her case to the media. Although she did not
get custody of her children again, a change was made in the Colorado law
that one cannot be denied child custody on the basis of his or her
religion.

Indeed Allah’s love and mercy engulfed her so much that, as if, she has
been granted the touchstone of Islam. Wherever she goes, people are
touched by her beautiful words and Islamic manners and become Muslim.

By accepting Islam, she became a changed person, and a much better
person. So much so that her family, relatives, and people around her
started appreciating her mannerism and the faith that brought about such
changes in her. Despite her family’s initial reaction, she remained in
touch with them and addressed them with respect and humility, just as
the Qur’an enjoins the Muslims to do. She would send cards to her
parents on different occasions, but she would always write down a verse
from the Qur’an or the Hadith without mentioning the source of such
beautiful words of wisdom. It was not long before she started making a
positive influence among her family members.

The first to become Muslim was her grand mother. She was over 100 years
old. Soon after accepting Islam, she died. “The
day she pronounced Shahada, all her misdeeds had been erased, while her
good deeds were preserved. She died so soon after accepting Islam that I
knew her “book” was bound to be heavy on the good side. It fills me with
such a joy!”

Next to become Muslim was her father, the one who wanted to kill her
after she became Muslim. Thus he brought alive the story of Umar ibn
Khattab. Umar was a companion of the Prophet who persecuted the early
Muslims before he converted to Islam. When he heard one day that his
sister became a Muslim, he went out with an open sword to kill her. But
upon hearing some of the verses from the Qur’an that his sister was
reciting, he recognized the truth and went straight to the Prophet and
accepted Islam.

Two years after she (Assilmi) accepted Islam, her mother called and said
that she appreciated her faith and hoped that she would keep it. Couple
of years later, she called again and asked her about what one would need
to do to become a Muslim. Assilmi replied that one had to believe that
there is only One God and Muhammad was his Messenger.
“Any fool knows that. But what do you have to do?”,
she asked again. She replied that if that is what she believed, then she
was already a Muslim! At this, her mother said,
“Well … OK. But let’s not tell your father just yet”
.

She was not aware that her husband (Assilmi’s step father) had had the
same conversation with her a few weeks earlier. Thus the two lived
together as Muslims for years in secret without knowing that the other
was also a Muslim.

Her sister who wanted to put her in mental institution accepted Islam as
well. She must have realized that becoming Muslim is indeed the most
healthy and sound thing to do.

Her son, upon becoming adult, accepted Islam. When he turned 21, he
called her and said that he wanted to become a Muslim.

Sixteen years after the divorce, her ex-husband also accepted Islam. He
said that he had been watching her for sixteen years and wanted his
daughter to have the same religion that she had. He came to her and
apologized for what he had done. He was a very nice gentlemen and
Assilimi had forgiven him long ago.

Perhaps the greatest reward for her was yet to come. Assilmi later
married another person, and despite the doctors’ verdict that she could
never conceive another child, Allah blessed her with a beautiful boy. If
Allah (swt) makes a gift to someone, who can prevent Him? It was truly a
wonderful blessing from Allah (swt), and so she named him “Barakah”.

Radiating With Allah’s Love

Aminah Assilmi

“It did not take me long to start
being aware of His blessing … I learned how very important it
was for me to share the truth of Islam with everyone. It did not
matter if people, Muslim or not, agreed with me or even liked
me. The only approval I needed was from Allah. Yet, I discovered
more and more people who for no apparent reason loved me. I
rejoiced, for I remembered reading that if Allah loves you, He
causes others to love you. I am not worthy of all the love. That
means it must be another gift from Allah. Allah is the
Greatest!”

The sacrifice that Assilmi made for the sake of Allah (swt)
was tremendous. And so Allah (swt) turned in mercy to her and rewarded
her with enormous blessings. Her family discarded her after she accepted
Islam, and now by Allah’s mercy, most of them are Muslim. She lost her
friends because of Islam, and now she is being loved by so many.
“Friends who loved came out of nowhere”,
she said. Allah’s blessings came upon her so much that wherever she goes
people are touched by the beauty of Islam and accept the Truth. Both
Muslims and non-Muslims now come to her for advice and counseling.

She lost her job because of wearing hijab, and now she is the President
of the International Union of Muslim Women. She delivers lectures
nationwide and is on high demand. It was her organization that
successfully lobbied for the “Eid Stamp” and had it approved by
the United States Postal Service, but it took many years of work.
She is now working on making the Eid Day as a national holiday.

She has tremendous trust on Allah’s love and mercy and she never looses
faith on Him. She was once diagnosed with cancer some years ago. Doctors
said that it was in an advanced stage and that she would live for
another year. But her faith in Allah (swt) remained strong.
“We must all die. I was confident that the pain I
was experiencing contained blessings.”
As a brilliant example of
how much one can love Allah, she mentions about a friend of her named
Kareem Al-Misawi
who died of cancer when he was in his 20’s:

“Shortly before he died, he told me that Allah was truly Merciful.
This man was in unbelievable anguish and was radiating with Allah’s
love. He said: “Allah intends that I should
enter heaven with a clean book.”
His death experience gave me
something to think about. He taught me of Allah’s love and mercy.”

All praise is due to Allah, she continues to live in good health. She
now thinks that having cancer was the greatest blessing that she ever
had.

Assilmi’s is a story of faith and conviction. It is a story of test and
tribulation and success. It is a story of triumphant victory of faith.
It is a story of inspiration for the rest of us, and it is a story of
confidence and reliance on Allah. It is story of Allah’s love and mercy,
and it is a story of Allah’s promise come true.
“True, Allah has tested me as was promised, and rewarded me far beyond
what I could ever hoped for”
.

May Almighty Allah continue to shower His love, mercy, and blessings on
this wonderful Muslima. May Allah grant her long life and enable her to
do more and more work for Islam. May Allah benefit more and more people
by her story and example, and turn their hearts to the Message of Truth,
and to His love and mercy.

 

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