D. Jacqueline Cosens

D. Jacqueline Cosens

D. Jacqueline Cosens

D. Jacqueline Cosens

“Growing up, I had always doubted
my own beliefs, after years of being told what was right by
others […] I am now exactly in the spiritual nature which I am
supposed to be. Now, I wake up each morning rested, peaceful,
happy, and ready to be a Muslim.”

This story is
contributed to welcome-back.org by D. Jacqueline Cosens, now known as
Jumaana Salma Amatullah
. Amatullah worked in health care,
management, as an equine trainer, elementary tutor, newspaper editor,
researcher, and freelance writer. She spent spare times studying,
painting, writing articles, stories, and poetry, some of which were
published in the U.S. and abroad. She also painted ninety-nine paintings
in watercolors and oils on Islamic themes. Her business’ name is Niyyah
Design. Mother of two, she currently lives with her husband in New
England.

Although raised from
infancy in one of the many Christian religious sects, I never found
satisfactory answers to many questions of the teachings. Always curious
and filled with tremendous conviction, to find ‘Who’ my Creator was, and
what my existence and purpose was on earth, I began seeking various
doctrines and philosophies for decades. Covering the assorted divisions
in Christianity, and still unfulfilled, I progressed through many other
beliefs, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and on and on, until one day I
just decided it was all myths. Having come to that deadening conclusion,
atheism crossed my mind. That, in itself frightened me, and certainly
made no sense when one looks at the reality of the universe around them.

If there was no Creator, then there seemed no genuine purpose in living.
The modesty and caring, which I was brought up to believe in, seemed a
fruitless waste of time, especially in the ever sinful ways the world
seemed to be heading. The world I found as an adult, was not a modest
one, nor was it faithful or caring. I had been ridiculed for my
puritanical lifestyle, even by my first husband, father to my two
children. A party going lifestyle was just not my style. It bored me and
the people who lived that way bored me. Superficial, shallow, and
hurtful. After half a dozen years of marriage, my Christian husband
partook of one too many affairs, and one too many party drugs, and I
left him in Germany and returned with my two babies to go it alone, so
to speak, much to the dismay of the little baptist congregation and the
preacher who married us.

My life then became one lived for my children and whatever was best for
them. The people I met in work related fields, all seemed to have the
same idea of how ‘I should realize it was the twentieth century … I
should lighten up and have fun…I should do something wild and crazy for
a change and take a chance.’ I hadn’t been able to share in the same
party animal attitudes of those around me, so of course people just
drifted away. It never bothered me in the least that they had basically
abandoned me for newer and better friends. That is a common trait when
those types cannot get you to join in their “fun”. If you don’t fold,
they find others who they can change. I was happier when they left me
alone.

My children, writing, research, travel, and various studies filled my
life until 1987. Suddenly everything seemed to change. My father, whom I
was closest to died that year. I had never thought about losing him. It
just never crossed my mind. All the devotion, loyalty, and purity in the
world, hadn’t helped me in keeping him alive. I was unable to do
anything to help him, as I watched him grow more ill with each passing
day. When he was gone, I felt so incredibly alone. Sadness filled my
heart and every inch of my being. I wanted to die. I couldn’t see the
point of remaining in this life without my father. He had been the only
normal person I could remember in life. For the first time in my life, I
knew what it meant to lose someone so special. The sadness was
overwhelming, unlike any I had ever known. No one could feel it through
me or for me. It was ‘my’ sadness.

I began looking back. My life had been difficult and disappointing. The
only reason I felt I had to complete the life cycle, was because nearly
every religion I studied professed it a grave, horrendous, and
unforgivable sin to end one’s own life. So, that just couldn’t be an
option. I had to go on, regardless of how foolish I felt “life” was, if
for no other reason than to be there for my children if they should ever
need me. Finally, working through the grief process, I realized
everything I learned made very little sense. In desperation, I prayed
through tears of sincerity for ‘my Creator’, whomever that might be, to
guide me to the right path. My studies brought knowledge of Him in my
mind, but my heart just could not find Him. I knew I couldn’t do it
alone, so I prayed and sought after Divine guidance, continously, day
and night. I found myself wanting to sleep the rest of my life away, it
would be so much easier. Sleeping was like dying and I liked it. When I
was awake all I did was think, try to figure out the purpose of
existance. When I slept I didn’t think.

Then one morning I rose from sleep, turned on the television, trying
desperately to fill my mind with nothingness, and trying to distract
myself from the constant nagging thoughts about religions and beliefs.
On the screen, believe it or not, was Phil Donahue, the popular talk
show host. He was interviewing a man who spoke with a foreign accent
about Islam. Next to him was the man’s wife, a white American woman, who
had converted to Islam. I was paying much attention to what the woman
was saying, because I had known numerous women who converted to their
husband’s religions. I had always rejected that type of behavior, as I
felt that one’s beliefs should be because of one’s own personal
convictions and relationship with the Creator.

However, as she continued to speak, I saw and felt something very
different. She was sitting there, in a long most modest type of dress,
her head covered with a scarf. It was beautiful. She looked pure and
happy, spoke intelligently and without the crazy antics, that usually
emerged from most of the talk show circuit guests. It didn’t matter that
you couldn’t see her shape or what her hair looked like. It was all in
her eyes and in her voice. She was telling about her conversion to
Islam. She seemed very much Muslim and believed in Islam. I became very
interested in what she was saying. So much of what she talked about was
exactly the way I had believed and how I had lived, in spite of all the
craziness around me. They called themselves Muslims and said they
followed Islam.

Since the only Muslims I had ever heard about in America, were connected
to some racist group, who hated anyone with different color eyes and
hair than they had, and Islam was also part of the name for their
organization, this didn’t make a lot of sense at first. Assuming they
were the same people, there must have been some radical change that
occurred from when I was a youngster. I quickly became glued to the talk
show and learned that the true Islamic Faith, which began in Arabia, did
not have any kind of prejudices involved. True Islam does not propagate
any racism or hatred for anyone. The more I heard, the more I was
interested. Having had one idea of what Islam was or wasn’t had come
strictly from the media, which of course projects whatever they want
people to believe. I had fallen victim to that kind of brainwashing. I
had assumed that if a group uses the name Islam in their title they were
the same as all Muslims who practice the Islamic Faith. One should never
assume anything, I learned that quite quickly. The more I listened, the
more I learned.

I wondered: could I ever be accepted as a Muslim, by other Muslims? Were
there other blonde -haired, blue-eyed, female Muslims around? I knew so
little about this new religion, but something was happening to me even
then. Something or someone had drawn me to that talk show that
particular day, as I generally was not a television watcher. My heart or
my soul, something within me, was being drawn to listen, and it had
actually been the visual alone that had made me sit up and take notice.
I liked the unusual dress styles and had worn those very styles myself,
in spite of what fashion dictated out in the world. I could feel my
depression, from my father’s passing begin to disappear. In fact, I felt
connected again and my attention was clearer than ever.

Everything in life has a prescribed timing, at least I see that now.
That day, it became the time in my life, that I was to hear of this
thing called Islam. I had no understanding of the religion, which for me
I now consider a way of life, rather than just a belief. I can’t
remember much of what else was being said that day, as the show
progressed, but there was a serious conviction growing deep within my
soul. There was talk about something called ‘Qur’an’, about staying
modest in this perverted world, about husbands being faithful and loyal
to their families, but none of it seemed to be the hype religions use to
manipulate their practitioners. It all made perfect sense. It seemed
logical and dealt with reality. These Muslims worshipped the Creator,
not a man and I liked that. I wished I’d known about Islam growing up.
I’d always kept an open mind, never judging acquaintances from the way
they lived, but I could never change to live the way they did, although
it ruined many relationships. But here, in front of my eyes, seeping
into my ears, were words that fit the way I thought, lived, and
believed. But now, I did have a word that fit my beliefs. That word was
‘Islam’.

During that time, I was living alone in my home in a little town in the
deep South. There were no books on Islam at the library. When I asked,
they told me they pre-read all their books and a committee approved
which ones they would shelve. Having been born and raised in New York, I
knew more ways than one, how to get information others might consider
‘censored’, out in some hill-town. So, I began asking way too many
questions, but in the end the results paid off. I was told there was one
Muslim, a Math teacher at their little high school, living in the town
and married to a Methodist woman. I called the Methodist Church,
explained who I was trying to locate and they gave me the name of the
family. I called, even though basically I remain timid around those I do
not know, and I asked if he might know what translation of Qur’an was
best and where I might acquire one. He gave me a name, I found a
bookstore a hundred miles from where I was living, and I ordered a copy
of the Qur’an. When I got my copy in the mail, I read it cover to cover
in two days. It was poetry to me. It was in that moment, when I embraced
Islam and was embraced by Islam.

I was like an addict. Never before was I so obsessed with anything in my
life. I couldn’t get enough of it. I came up with the idea to call the
Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington, DC. Within a week my mailbox was
filled with beautiful brochures containing precious information. I
literally holed up in my home, locking doors, lowering drapes,
unplugging phones, not speaking to anyone. Everyone thought I had left
on a trip. I didn’t want to be disturbed from my newly found treasures.
I was absolutely in paradise. Everything, every word, every explanation,
every answer I read suited me. I saw through the messages and words the
way, I had believed all along. I had not been old fashioned or wrong.
Modesty was modesty, plain and simple. Having tried to fit into other’s
people’s ideas of how I should live just never fit me. It was always a
disastrous end. Now, finally, I had the answers. I had found my
Creator’s wishes, commands, and the reason for living. It had been with
me all along. Where I would go from that point, I was sure would be
limitless … not accepted by others perhaps, but limitless for my own
life and heart.

I absolutely believe Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta ‘ala) would forever more,
direct my steps in whatever way He chooses. I thought back of how I
prayed so hard and for the first time, the Creator had answered through
a talk show, one that had lasted only an hour out of decades past in my
life. Incredible? Yes! Eventually I did find a place for books, tapes
and prayer rugs. I ordered everything I could. I received another copy
of the Qur’an. Such beautiful words filled the thick, green and gold
hard-cover book, in Arabic with the English translation. In reading it
again, from cover to cover, I began dreaming about Masjids, one in
particular with a walled and protective courtyard out back, beauty in my
dreams, which I had never dreamed about before. I felt protected inside
myself then, knowing finally that all my differences and desires to find
the answer for being on the earth, had finally come to fruition. It was,
is, and will always remain, to worship the Creator Allah, and to submit
to His Will in everything. My dreams had always been disconnected
before, and suddenly after embracing Islam, they became lucid,
protective, and special. I never really understood all aspects of the
meanings, but they bring me so much peace.

Growing up, I had always doubted my own beliefs, after years of being
told what was right by others. These beautiful dreams were a
verification for me, that Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta ‘ala) did guide me to
Islam and that I am now exactly in the spiritual nature which I am
supposed to be. Now, I wake each morning rested, peaceful, happy, and
ready to be a Muslim. I continue to read passages from the Qur’an every
night. My closest extended family, whom I consider only my grown
children and grandchildren, and who are not yet Muslim, are accepting of
my change. Others are not, but then I do not seek the approval of anyone
other than Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta ‘ala). I dress Islamically and
practice the Five Pillars of Islam. Since those days nearly a decade
ago, Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta ‘ala) has blessed me with a wonderful
husband and an adopted son, changes in my life that I would have never
expected or planned. But Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta ‘ala) knows best and for
me, I will accept whatever He Wills. By remaining in submission to Him,
I have discovered that my life has been in harmony, which certainly was
not the case when I thought I was in control of it prior to becoming a
Muslim. My hope is Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta ‘ala) will continue to lead me
to the correct ways, laws, and prayers, that will allow me to live in
the fullest for Him, and to fully develop the true Islamic lifestyle in
everything I do. What I do know, is that I have finally found the way,
not just knowledge of the mind like the many times before, but now, deep
inside, I found what had always been the part of me that seemed to be
missing …The Heart of a Muslim.

 

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