Background to me
My name is Layla-Amaya and my birth name is Bianca. I embraced Islam when I was 16 years old mashaAllah tabarakAllah. I have been Muslim for 5 years which has flown by. I canít believe 5 years subhanAllah it has gone so fast. I came to Islam as I firmly believed it was the truth from a young age. But growing up things became clear and I couldnít run away from believing.
Part 1 Ė Interested in Islam
I was showing an interest in Islam, as far as I can remember when I was 6 years old MashaAllah. I use to put a scarf on my head and show my mum that I was Muslim. I actually really wanted to cover my hair. I had an obsession with scarfs and whenever I could at home I would put a scarf on and long clothes to cover up my body mashaAllah. There was a childrenís madrasa across the road from my house. The children went every weekday for about 2 hours. I always wanted to attend and see what was inside the room all the children went into. All I could see from the doorstep that they left their shoes in the porch. The widows were always open and I could hear the children reading the Qurían. I use to stand by the fence and listenÖ aaah subhanAllah it was so beautiful. I didnít know what they were reading all what language it was, especially in the summer when it was hot and I could hear the reciting and the cool breeze against my face aah I remember that like it was yesterday. One of the things I would never forget I must have been about 7. I was on the number 6 bus on Stratford road by the park. I was sitting at the back of the bus after school. There was a Muslim women sitting next to me she was covered from head to toe in black wearing a niqab. I looked her up and down and I wanted her to be my mum in that instance. I didnít want to leave I wanted to go home with her. My mum called me Bianca it was our stop to get off the bus. I didnít move from my seat I sat looking at the covered women. She turned to me and said is that you, I nodded, it was like I couldnít talk still looking at her. I then left to go get off the bus with my mum.
Growing up in the area that I did it was literally all Muslims but I did not know anything about Islam! My family didnít know anything either. Mainly because I went to a Roman Catholic primary school and they didnít teach us about other religions. The Catholics are very strict with their religion I would say. Every Wednesday we had hymn practise and every Thursday we had Mass service. We would do Bible study every day, say our prayers when starting the school day, before lunch and when leaving school. I didnít take my Holy Communion at school so I never got to the taste the bread that Ďfatherí use to give out even though I always wanted to have a taste of it. I had to cross my arms and he would put the sign of the cross on my head in ashes.
Part 2 - Moving on to secondary school
I was more into Islam when I started secondary school. Alhamdulillaah started religious education classes in year 7 and from there I didnít look back. For the first time I was learning about what I always had a yearning for but I didnít know what it was at the same time for all the years growing up.
One day after school my friend invited me over to her house, I was 12 years old when I started to go to her house after school. Her auntie at that time taught Qurían to children. I was allowed to come. She showed me how to do Wudu and I put a scarf on with my school uniform. I went with her into her living room I was scared because there were others in the room mainly younger than me. Her auntie taught me some letters from the Arabic alphabet. I was so happy for few days after that I could read some letters that just put a big smile on my face. One occasion I was at the same friend house in the night it was Ramadan. I broke my fast with her family. We were sitting in the garden together her mom came outside and said to me. ĎBianca you would make a good Muslimí I was like wow it was my 1st fast that I had done. After that I would regularly go to her house after school, sometimes spent Eid with them.
Thinking about it, it was when I was 13 that I started to read books in the library and take them home and hide them under my pillow. I made so many notes in books. It was like I had a new love in my life. Every day I had to read something.
I would go into Town into Waterstones and read the Qurían. I was so shocked when I saw the Qurían in Waterstones I never knew you could buy a translation in the shop. I thought it was only in Islamic shops. I remember being in the car with my mom and every time we passed a Islamic shop I would look inside I really wished I could go inside and speak to someone.
My mum always knew that I wanted to embrace Islam but I feel she was trying her hardest to put me off Allahu alim. Whatever she said I wouldnít take notice off I knew how she described Islam wasnít true. From the age of 14 I told my mum firmly I wanted to become Muslim, I started to leave books and leaflets around the house hoping she would read them. Only once did she mention anything about but she didnít want to carry the conversation on. I had a bigggg desire to become Muslim at 14. I thought well I could live like one eat halal meat, go the masjid, go to classes, wear hijab but what would be the point as I might as well accept the faith altogether. I didnít really think much about it after that. We had moved to a new area, I started chilling out late at night without my mum knowing. She would go to bed and I would sneak out for a few hours. Literally I would have my pyjamas on and clothes that I was going to wear in a bag. I had to pass my mums bedroom to go down the stairs and change my clothes. My heart would be racing so fast whilst I would be passing her bedroom scared if she woke up and saw me. I would fling the bag in the bushes and go and meet my Ďmatesí for a Ďnight of fun.í I was nearly caught once, I came back home about half 5 in the morning. I was a bit tipsy I got into bed with my clothes on. Just as I was laying in bed, my mum opened my bedroom door and told me to turn the TV off. I thought close call if she knew where I was she would be mad really mad. Believe me when Black parents beat their kids itís like a horror scene. As my mum use to say when me and my siblings were growing up and we did something naughty ĎYou will leave my house in a black body bagí me and my big sister Jade still laugh about that with my mum.
I was 15 nearly 16 when someone tried to take advantage of me as they has seen me out nearly every night. I knew then I had to run away from the road I was going to take myself down, a road of destruction by mixing with the wrong crowds. After that I never went back out late again. I changed my number I didnít want to hear from the people I was chilling with. I stayed at home after school and on the weekends I would stay with my dad in his area so they wouldnít see me around by my mumís house. My dad said to me Ďare you using me and your mum against each otherí I had to laugh because deep down I knew he was right. Before I decided to change I would tell my mum I was going to be with my dad for the weekend or the night. As they donít speak to each other I knew I could get away with it as there was no one to confirm the details apart from me. After all my late nightís out I knew the only thing left was for me to become Muslim like ASAP.
To be honest I didnít know becoming Muslim would be so hard. No one wanted to help me seriously I contacted so many organisations telling them I want to become Muslim all I need is support no one got back to me or they didnít want to know. I actually contacted someone on Youtube who lived in America a sister. I asked her for help. I remember her reply to me was so mean. She said something like becoming Muslim isnít a magic potion that you say. I was disheartened. I watched videos again on again on Youtube on people reverting and then I saw a video by a sister explaining that if a person really wants to become a Muslim they should go to the masjid and grab anyone they see and tell them they want to become Muslim. So then I had a challenged to go to a masjid and tell them I want to accept Islam. But I was so scared I didnít want to go by myself and I didnít want no one else I knew knowing either. So I was stuck. I really wanted to tell my friend whose house I have been going to for the past few years. In the end I found a website through Google called MuslimIn. The website is for people who are interested in Islam, reverts and Muslims that can help other Muslim in any way possible. I decided to register and give things ago. SubhanAllah a lot of people where emailing me showing so much support. Some sisters where really far away so we didnít keep in contact after a few emails. Far as Africa one sister emailed me subhanAllah. Till this day I have her emails. MashaAllah she was a beautiful sister just from her words alone I felt uplifted that someone was listening to my cries. Then in the end a sister called Ameena that moved to Birmingham got in contact with me. Yess! The lifeline I was waiting for. We swapped numbers and spoke for about a week, then after I didnít hear anything from her. I thought ok I will find someone else to help me I was on a mission that I would become Muslim soon. How crazy is it that I went back onto the website and I emailed someone I genially thought it was woman. subhanAllah it turned out to be sister Ameenaís husband. I basically said I want to become Muslim and no one is helping me.
He emails me back. He explains that Ameena has gone to visit family and will be back in two weeks. And he can pass my number on to a sister that can help me. After that I was so blown away that out of all the people from the website, I contacted her husband. He stood by his word and a few days later I had a lovely phone call from a lovely sister mashaAllah. Just speaking to this sister on the phone she was full of life she gave me hope. We arranged for me to take my shahada the following Friday.
Part 3 Ė The week leading up to my Shahada.
In school I didnít tell anyone that I wanted to become Muslim. I was so excited but nervous at the same time. I was sitting at the end of my bed thinking OMG Iím going to be a Muslim in two days ooh the excitement this is what I have been waiting for my whole life it is going to become a reality. The day before accepting Islam I was in a reversion lesson for my GCSE Islam exam I asked the teacher a question on what happens when a person says there shahada. She wanted to know why I asked so I told her I am going to become Muslim tomorrow! She was happy for me as she was Muslim herself there was only a few students in the class so I didnít mind them knowing. The day of my shahada I didnít go to school. I went out with my mom and sister all day I was watching the time as I knew I had to be home by 3 oíclock to get ready. I remember sister Ameena telling me to have a bath before coming. That was the day I told my mum I am going to become Muslim. She said no youíre not we havenít spoken about it properly. I didnít care I asked for the key to the house and Iím going home. On my way home on the bus I was feeling very panicky. I was planning through in my head what I need to do soon as I get home. I was worried in case my mum would come home and stop me from going out. Alhamdulillaah I managed to get ready and I left my house in hijab hoping that everything would go to plan and inshaAllah I would return as a Muslim wearing hijab. That happened.
So before going to take my shahada I went to sister Ameena house. She was excited as I was. She invited a few sisters round for some nibbles and to have a general chat. In the evening we left Ameenaís house about half 6 to travel to Small Heath where I would be taking my shahada. I didnít know exactly where I would be going in Small Heath I was told it was a Islamic centre. Going inside through the doors seeing loads of children didnít really know anyone I felt a bit intimated. I was taken into a room Ameena sat next to me. And 4 other sisters where present whilst I took my shahada. I said my shahada alhamdulillaah! I did have to repeat some words think my penoucation was off key. It literally takes a minute to say the words on the tongue and mean it in your heart. The sister I took my shahada with who I still speak to till this day gave me two lovely hijabs, a bonnet and pins. Aw I remember one sister asked me to make duíaa I didnít even know what duíaa was. I said no I donít want to as I was feeling so shy plus I didnít know what to say. The sisterís present made duíaa for me. After we left the room and went into a sisterís Dhikr gathering. Something which Iíve never seen before or heard about. The room was full I was sitting at the back with Ameena and another sister I met that same night. I thought what they were doing was so heart-warming. I was trying to keep up with the translitlation in reading Qurían but I couldnít. After the gathering I was introduced to loads of beautiful sisterís mashaAllah one of them is my lovely Zahra whoís known me since the day I reverted and I love her loads amazing sister right there mashaAllah. I have to say whenever I need advice; need any questions answering she does her best to help.
May Allah reward you immensely sis! May grant you Jannah, Jannah al firdous! Aameen.
Part 4 Ė My life as a Muslim the first year
Wallahi I didnít know becoming Muslim would be so hard trying to find people to help me revert but what I was about to face in front of me the trails and hardship I went through subhanAllah I was not expecting that but al Hamd is for Allah and after hardship comes ease. It was tough because I was a new Muslim and then family issues. After a few months I left home I was living with my sister for about 6 months. But we didnít get on living together I felt like a stranger in someone elseís home. I didnít want to sleep in the same room with her so I slept on the sofa which was comfortable. I tried not to make much mess or eat much food as I didnít want to be a burden on her. I got so depressed there my Deen suffered as I wasnít active in seeking knowledge or I didnít know how to pray. One day I woke up and I wanted to change the situation. I brought a DVD on how to pray. Iím sure most Muslims have watched the video on Youtube Ďpray as you have seen me prayí I practically learnt from there with some input from other sisters. I would say a line of Soorah al Fatiha every day. I left my sisterís house as I couldnít practise there and moved into a hostel. I thought that was the best option for me, allows me time to grow and stand on my own two feet. I moved in at first I didnít know how I would cope by myself but with Allah on my side I could do it. I didnít speak to my sister or mum for over a week. One night my mum rings me she tells me she misses me and am I ok? The next evening I went to see my mum and older brother at my sisters. Mother was so happy to see me she told me I look well and happy J
So my family issues where starting to sort itself out. Everyone was happy we all had our space to breath. I was doing fine in the hostel for all girls. I was still going to college and seeing my family regularly. It was time for me to concentrate on Islam. I taught myself how to pray but I wasnít praying. I knew I needed to get that on lock ASAP but it was so hard praying 5 times a day. Sometimes I would miss all 5 prayers a day sometimes I would pray all 5 and other times I would do some prayers. I was on and off for quite a while with my salahís. I was attending this new Muslim course which I later on found out it was run by Shiaía. The brother would give a certificate for finishing the booklets. Sisters you should be careful these brother stand in town pretending to be on the Sunnah. If youíre a new Muslim you wonít know any better and attend their classes. Like what I did I was in town on a Saturday afternoon I wasnít wearing hijab. He thought I was a non-Muslim I told him Iíve been Muslim for a few weeks now. They tell you stuff like itís a class and you will learn about Islam. SubhanAllah you go to their masjid they donít have any proper Islamic classes running as they said in town. As I thought it would be a class with other sisters. No! Allahu Mustíaan itís a brother in a room in his office with sisters on their own. I thought it was so weird at first so after the first time I didnít go back. The brother emails me explaining that his daughter will be present next time. I went again it was a little girl about 3 years old not his oldest daughter which at the time was 15. After that I didnít go back and he said I could do the course online. May Allah keep us away from the evil they spread amongst the Muslims. Btw I know all Shiaís are not all like this but even so be careful inshaAllah.
I was asked by one of my sisters in Islam Muslimah Ruqayyah to have an update of my Muslim life now. I told this sister I wouldnít know where to start. It has been up and down highs and lows. I couldnít sum up the past year in words to be honest. But inshaAllah I will give it a go.
Ok I will start from Jan - May 2011. I was finishing of my 2nd year at college I did Health and Social Care. The college I went to was just outside Birmingham there were no Muslims in my class or not that many in my college to be precise. I hanged around with non-Muslims girls. I changed somewhat then for a few months. The more I chilled with them the more my heart was influenced to there thinking. I didnít want to wear hijab, I didnít go to the masjid every weekend how I use to do for my Islamic classes. Basically I stopped practising I really wanted to get back how I use to be but it was so hard. I was actually appalled at myself one tutor in college asked me.. ĎAre you confused Bianca.í I said No why? She said ĎI see you were wearing your Muslim clothes a few weeks ago and now youíre not.í She told me to have a break from the religion because it is too strict to follow and follow it in a few years. Youíre a young girl you donít need to wrap your body up like that. She reminded me of my mum when she said that as my mum would say something like it. I finished college in June 2011 and I made a promise that I would never do something like that again. O Allah help all the Muslims to stay on the siratul mustaqeem You alone we serve. Anyone thinking about becoming a Muslim I will tell you straight up the guidance of Allah will set you free. Soon as you accept Islam as the true religion you want to follow, you will feel a big weight coming of your shoulders. Welcome to the religion of love and peace, welcome to the light, welcome to beauty, welcome to happiness xxx
They say Iíve changed, they say Bianca youíve changed. I didnít expect you to still be Muslim. I thought you became Muslim for a boy or you was forced. Years later they see me after leaving school and there shocked Iíve stayed true to my Deen. They tell me Iím a better Muslim then themselves. No only Allah knows what is in our hearts.
Sometimes I run away with my thoughts thinking about all the poor people living in poverty, the opposed my brothers and sisters in Deen ul Islam my eyes filled up with tears my heart breaking for them. Ya rabb! I just want to be free like the birds go wherever I like.
My life was negative. Islam gave me a reason to live. I now can see clearly the rain has gone, the pain of yesterday is still there but Iím strong enough to move on and keep my head high. I am a Muslim just one of many bani Aadam (alayhisalaam). What Allah has planned for my life is better than my dreams. I now walk with la ilaha illAllah moist on my tongue. Iíve swapped night outs for qiyam al layl, tight clothes for hijabs and jilbaabs, drinking alcohol for apple juice, not having a boyfriend waiting till I complete half my deen; nikah inshaAllah. You see Islam really does change a person for the better. Why would anyone in their right mind want their sister, daughter or even mother out late at night getting drunk and up to God knows what.
Message to my MumÖ Mum always wanted to say.. I love you loads and loads millions and trillions. Alhamdulillaah for a mother like you. I would love to be half the woman you are. I am so happy being a Muslim and there isnít any think else I want to be. I know you think you lost your daughter by Allah youíve gained a new me. A better daughter than before, Islam teaches me to respect you, to obey you, not even to say UFF too you as I donít want to anger Allah. Paradise is at your feet if you could see how beautiful Islam is your heart would melt. Please donít watch what all these Muslims of today are doing including me as Iím a sinner of the Most Merciful. The Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him was the perfect example sent to mankind if you want to see the true Islam look into his life and his companions and read the Qurían. InshaAllah you will find all the answers I canít answer as Iím not at that stage yet. Please even if you read one chapter from the Qurían that would make me so happy. As I know you said you believe in the Prophet Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him. O Allah help me to love my mother like she loves me.
Message to my sisters in IslamÖ Sisters I love you all fisabilillah. I donít get to speak to you all but I sincerely pray that Allah blesses you all with good in the Dunya wa Akhirah. This life is temporary while Jannah is forever and inshaAllah we will be able to enter through any door we wish. May Allah azzawajal raise our ranks and let us be with our beloved messenger Muhammad Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam in Jannah.
Letís us all strive to be better Muslimahís daily, take baby steps wallahi you will get to your goal. And if you hear that I have passed away please attend my janaza and make duíaa for me. Iím going to leave you with one of my favourite ayats from the Qurían.
Say ĎO Ďibaadi (my slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins) Despair not of the mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.Ē Soorah Az-Zumar Ayat 53
Waalaykumsalaam Layla-Amaya X
Ya Allah accept all of our good deeds and keep us away from the hellfire. YaAllah strengthen the Ummah of Muhammad Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam