بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Today, AlHamduliLlah, I met Jameela: Jameela, London’s first hijābi (i.e. headscarf-wearing,) firefighter.
My friend ج and I had attended an ‘Afternoon Tea’ event, hosted at a centre called ‘Revert2Reality’ in East London: a centre/organisation that looks to take care of Muslims who have reverted into the faith.
You can actually: take your Shahādah there, I think. And they: present new Muslims with a gift basket, it seems. And a certificate. And they organise nice things like this tea, and care for people. Hold educational sessions too.
Today, we’d met: a Mexican sister who’d reverted, accepted Islam, some seventeen years ago.
And there’d been: a nice little family, complete with one of the cutest little kids I have ever seen in my life, Maa Shaa Allah! Malia, what a little cutie-pie. Her little tracksuit, and her earrings. And she just kept running around everywhere, being adorable…
There’d also been an elderly English woman present at the event, and she’d been in a wheelchair. She’d accepted Islam after her daughter had:
Her daughter had been studying to become a marine biologist at university. Had met, fallen in love with, and married, a (presumably Muslim) man who’d studied to become a GP (doctor. General practitioner).
At first, the (now-elderly) lady had been against the idea of accepting Islam. But: (we love interesting stories, don’t we…)
As Qadr would have it…
The lady had ended up falling sick. She went to live with her daughter for a while.
And: in spite of, for example, the media’s constant spew of blah blah blah,
She’d seen, through the living example of her daughter (whom the lady describes as being, Maa Shaa Allah, something of a little genius!) what it truly means, to be Muslim.
She accepted Islam. Came to the event today, assisted by her daughter’s friend, another Muslim sister. Wearing a pink headscarf, and a straw hat on top of it.
Now: she’s working on her husband, the lady in the wheelchair remarked. Getting him to see the truth of Islam.
Back to Jameela, and her story:
Jameela is originally from Poland. Her previous name had been something else. When you accept Islam as a new Muslim: you can either keep your ‘old name’, or you can choose to change it to something else.
Jameela chose ‘Jameelah’: ‘beautiful’ in Arabic.
As aforesaid, Jameela is a firefighter, Maa Shaa Allah. She wears a headscarf, an ‘Abaya, and I think also a Niqāb.
And, presumably: a headscarf and baggy uniform when she’s on duty.
She told us about some of the difficulties that are part-and-parcel of having such a role:
Things like… seeing dead bodies. Blood. And so on.
Many of Jameela’s colleagues — maybe about 90% of them — are male. And quite a few of them: are curious about Islam. She’s a visible Muslim: she gets asked questions.
Back in Poland, Jameela explains: people often hate ‘others’. Some people hate anyone who isn’t ‘from there’, anyone who is Muslim.
In Ramadān, for example, masjids are sometimes burned, attacked.
[Side note: a boy who’d attended the same secondary school as me had been half-Polish, half-Algerian. And, even though he doesn’t really ‘look’ Algerian: I think he’d received some hate from certain Polish people throughout his life, whenever he’d gone back there.]
Jameela had been enrolled at security school back in Poland. But: a career in security had not ‘worked out for her’ [Plan of Allah].
She’d passed an English test, came here to England. Became a firefighter.
And: she’d had no real knowledge about Islam. Save for the whole ‘Muslims are t*rrorists’, ‘Islam oppresses women!’ narrative that can often be spewed through certain European/American media outlets.
That is, until:
She’d been staying at a particular hostel, in a group with others. The others had been into the whole: drink, stay awake until 3/4 AM sort of lifestyle.
Meanwhile: Jameela would listen to a (fellow) European man. Tall and built. A Muslim, a revert to Islam.
He wanted to tell people about his beautiful faith. Few people at the hostel had listened, but Jameela wanted to. She learnt a lot, I think she’d explained, through listening to him speak.
Jameela recalls having one day seen a Muslim woman out on the street. Wearing a scarf and an ‘Abaya, all covered. She didn’t really ever see herself following suit.
There’d also been an old man who’d lived nearby. English. And racist. He’d been shouting at the Muslim lady walking by.
He also, it seemed… had a crush on Jameela. Would buy her gifts and so on.
Three months after seeing the Muslim lady on the street, and perhaps wondering why she dresses like that, Jameela had accepted Islam. Subhaan Allah. Allah Loves and Guides whom He Wills.
Anyway. The racist old dude… fainted upon finding out that Jameela had become Muslim. He hated Islam, with a passion.
And now: unfortunately… whenever it would be Ramadān time and so on, this guy would do all sorts of dumb idiotic things. Like: come prayer time, (Maghrib,) he would…
Open his door. Blast music. And stand there… (naked) so that the Muslim women walking past to go and pray, including Jameela, could see. He must have been bored. And uniquely disturbed.
Jameela’s family, her ‘people’, had not been happy with the change. What?! Betray your people, and your religion (Christianity. But Jameela explained that: she’d stopped going to Church, really. And would only read the Bible once every Christmas, pretty much,) for Islam?!
One person remarked that she looks like a “nun” wearing ‘that’. To which Jameela had laughed and said:
I don’t care.
*She pointed out, also, that according to the Bible: Christians shouldn’t eat pork. Christian women are told to cover their hair. And so her grandma used to consistently have her hair covered. Hair-covering had been etched into European society for a while, for as long as European society had been… ‘Christian’.
The tea event had been nice, Maa Shaa Allah. I actually only ate vegetarian food, AlHamduliLlah: trying to ease up on the amount of chicken/meat I consume, for (preventative!) health reasons. And
As far as people embracing Islam goes:
Often, it’s through the hearts and smiles of beautiful people that we feel attracted to it. People who truly embody the religion, Maa Shaa Allah.
And: as far as repelling people away from Islam goes…
It’s the opposite sorts of people who are often so guilty. The mean-hearted, vile-with-their-words-and-actions.
The brutal, the fault-finding backbiters. The people who seem to act as though they are somehow ‘above and beyond reproach’. But they’ll brutalise, show such cruelty towards:
Others who might have made these (human) mistakes, or those. Try to berate others, on account of…
Doing these things so ‘wrong’, or ‘those’ ones. Like everything good is with them, and everything flawed and unfavourable… is with others.
People who embody Islam… their souls smell like musk. They’re so gentle, Maa Shaa Allah. Their kindness, their smiles…
And then: people who embody arrogance, but who may use (a dummy version of) ‘religion’ in order to control, belittle, and abuse others… what foul smells they (metaphorically. And maybe also literally, if their levels of personal hygiene ain’t on point,) emanate.
And how: some people might look at them, be subjected to their horrendous abuse, and maybe want to move away from Islam. Because they come to think that that is what Islam… ‘is’.
- It can affect your self-image too. Including on the ‘religious’ level. But: you’re not whomever, whatever, those cruel loser individuals say you are.
You’re who Allah Knows you are.
Cringe. Olive you too homie.
So, today, from the things that are sold at the centre, for charity…
My friend Jade (Yorkshire lass who’d accepted and embraced Islam last year,) bought two olive soaps. Pure ingredients, made in Palestine. One for her, and one for me.
She basically said that it’s soap, so it reminds her of me. Always nice isn’t it: to be associated with… hygiene.
I love this bar of soap SO MUCH:
I haven’t even seen it outside of the box yet. But I just know that I love it. A gift from my lovely friend; a gift from Allah.
When the desserts had come out: Jameela (the awesome firefighter sister, Maa Shaa Allah,) had said that she won’t be having any. That the fruits that had been there: are her ‘sweets’. As part of her job I think, she has to maintain high levels of health and fitness.
The vibe in the R2R centre is, Maa Shaa Allah, super nice. People are easygoing, welcoming. One of the main sisters, I think she’d been, had explained the meaning/Tafseer (explanation) of a particular Surah in the Qur’an to us. I definitely learnt something new today, AlHamduliLlah.
There’s also a nice little café bit inside the centre. And the general venue is used, it seems, for things like fitness classes, events…
One day, In Shaa Allah, I’d like to be there to witness somebody take their Shahādah. Jameela, who is probably not a woman you’d wanna mess with, said her heart had been afire, basically, with emotion. And she’d cried so much.
Just like: how that (tall and built) European brother had bawled, unexpectedly, upon accepting the Truth.
One day, In Shaa Allah: I’d like to be honoured with the chance to teach at least one person how to pray. What a special thing: our Salaah.
And what a gentle thing a human being is. And how we like to learn, and be ‘told’ things. By nature: we’re attracted to Truth, Beauty, and Goodness.
[And repulsed by their opposites: falsehood, ugliness of conduct, and bad actions.]
If you want to pick up a free copy of the Qur’an, also:
You can walk into a masjid. And ask someone.
Sometimes, people hand some out outside train stations in London.
When I was about eighteen, and when I’d had questions, and wanted to know more about Islam…
A brother outside a Central London train station had given me a (translation) copy of the Qur’an. And: I needed to know if this is indeed the Truth. I got highlightin’. We went on a family trip to Turkey; I’m pretty sure I’d been highlightin’ on the plane.
Now: AlHamduliLlah. 100%. I know. This is the Truth, no doubt about it.
I’ll know the truth more than 100%. 150%, maybe. When I die. When, not if. And I return to my Lord.
Some more Notes on Soap.
In Bengali, which is my ethnic language:
The word for soap is: shabon or sabon.
In Spanish [my friend ج is half-Colombian. Random fact.] the word for soap is:
And: the influences of which language have greatly influenced both Bengali and Spanish?
The Arabic word for soap is:
Soap is said to have been invented by the Ancient Mesopotamians. Mesopotamia: a region in modern-day Iraq. [Thanks guys!]
In English, the word for turning something (e.g. pure Palestinian olive oil,) into soap is…
A very important aspect of Islam is: purification. Physically, and spiritually. And the physical and the spiritual are also interlinked.
That’s why we’ve got to try to sleep right, exercise right, and eat right. Hummus platters. And samosa chaat with pomegranate in it. For the win!