April - June 2005, Quran

The Qur’an Saved Me

By Daoud S. Ali

I was born in Los Angeles and then lived in Mexico for eight years. When my parents divorced, my mother brought my brother and me back to the United States. We settled again in Los Angeles.

I had a very modest upbringing. As a single parent, my mother did her best to provide for us. She worked as a seamstress in a sweatshop making minimum wage for 13 years.

Like many Mexican-Americans, I grew up as a Roman Catholic. I only went as far as my first communion and was not particularly devout. By the time I entered college, I was not thinking very much about religion.

During my first year in college, I read critiques of Christianity by Nietzsche, Feuerbach, and others, and this moved me further away from faith.

Then during my senior year, I met a beautiful young lady I found irresistible. She told me she was Muslim and answered some of my questions about Islam. I fell in love with her.

She told me that the only way we could marry was if I was a Muslim. By this point, I was more familiar with Islam, and the idea did not frighten me.

We married in 1994 following my college graduation. For the next four years, I was a nominal Muslim. I was not practicing as I should be. I was absorbed by a high-paying, high stress job at an IT firm and made little time, if any, for worship.

This all changed one night while driving home from work after a 36 hour shift. I began to feel dizzy, my heart was pounding, and my chest constricted, so I couldn’t breathe. I pulled over at the nearest exit and miraculously a hospital was right across the street.

That night, six years ago began my battle with panic attacks and anxiety. At the beginning, there were days when I could not imagine how I’d live until the following day.

During the darkest moments, it was the Qur’an and Allah’s mercy that pulled me through. I could not sleep and could barely eat for weeks on end.

As I lay awake every night, I would read the Qur’an. I read it cover to cover several times, each time seeing something new that touched my heart and made me reflect. Since then I have not abandoned prayer. While the panic attacks are gone, my love of this Deen remains.

Today, I live in Springfield, Massachusetts with my wife and two daughters. There are a lot of Latinos, mostly Puerto Rican. In the recent fire that burned Masjid Al-Baqi in Springfield, three Latino youth are the prime suspects.

Now more than ever, it is time for us to help present the message to Latinos. I launched Al-Mizaan (The Balance) Newspaper because I want to do something meaningful with my life for the sake of Allah SWT.

Daoud Ali is founder and Editor of Al-Mizaan Newspaper, a Muslim paper serving the New England Muslim community and its neighbors.