Islam, Oct - Dec 2003

The Smallest Action

By Rebecca Qaoud

Assalam Waleikum brothers and sisters,

I want to share a little about my own experiences about when I was still a new Muslim and also about how happy I am today. I was searching for a formal Latino Muslim community. As a convert, I desired to share my feelings, how happy I was for being a muslimah but I did not have the support from my own family. I was eager to learn from others how they were about to manage similar situations. Alhamdulillah, I had a wonderful husband who supported me in my transition to my new way of life.

However, I was still looking for other converts like me, to be specific, my Latina sisters. I met a few Latina sisters, and I was very happy as you can imagine. There were some social gatherings. However, I wished to have classes with the purpose of strengthening our iman, or faith. I also felt as if I was in a boat on the ocean by myself. Imagine the sudden change. For example, my old friends would call to wish me “Merry Christmas.” To let them know that I don’t celebrate anymore would be very difficult.

Somebody said that every change in life is painful. Of course, life was painful for me somehow. One wish, I had was that we, Latino Muslims, would come together and support each other in our transition to our new way of life…and to do more on other aspects, too. Insha’Allah.

I once read the following by Jerry J Farber, “The littlest action may be the one with the greatest impact. Every action you take has a ripple effect. It impacts people and situations way beyond your sight. You may never know the impact your actions have, but it just may change someone’s life. Don’t you want that life-changing action to be what you’re proud of? It’s almost impossible to realize your dreams and reach your goals alone. It’s important to build as many solid relationships as you can along the way. Treat everyone with respect and good humor. Each person with whom you interact is a link in the chain that will eventually lead you to your goal.”

In Islam, we are called to be kind and generous to each other. I needed to put this into practice. My eagerness to learn more about Islam made me pick up the phone to a local dawah organization. I asked for a knowledgeable sister in Islamic studies. I was provided with such information. I invited this sister and other women to my house to study more about Islam. I invited all the sisters that I had already met. About eighteen sisters came that day. We also had dinner.

I was very happy and impressed. Because I wanted this to happen again, last September, I invited sister Mary Ali again, but this time, we held the sisterhood event in the mosque. Alhamdulillah, now the Latina sisters had a place for the event in the mosque. Because the office people from the mosque did not know us, they wanted to charge $100 for a room. Thank Allah we had the opportunity to meet sister Mary Ali who requested a room for the Latina sisters for dawah purposes. We got the room for free. She was the link in the chain that led us to our goal.

Since this March, the Latina sisters have had regular classes every other Saturday afternoon. Alhamdulillah, every time we meet there are new sisters. They share their stories and experiences as new Muslims. They remind me about when I was a new Muslim. Now, I don’t feel as if I am in a boat by myself in the ocean. Alhamdulillah, Allah is great and gave me the opportunity to meet my sisters in Islam, and I am eager to learn more.

In addition to the classes, we held a conference this summer. We had a family picnic. The month of Ramadan was a huge blessing for us, because we had iftar get-togethers in different sisters’ houses. We also held the Laylatul Qadr prayer in a sister’s house. Recently, we had our first Eid festival organized by Latino Muslims from here in Chicago.

Can we work together? Yes, insha’Allah. Every little action is important! Every one of us is a link to a big chain that leads us to reach our goal. A few years ago, I missed saying “Merry Christmas.” Now, I look forward to having a great celebration after Ramadan on Eid Al-Fitr. Now, I receive messages of “Eid Mubarak,” and I say “Eid Mubarak” to you.