The defining moment.

Living in Connecticut, I have the opportunity to experience all four seasons, the new beginnings of spring, the lush greens and abundant vegetation of summer, and the fresh cleanness from new fallen snow in the winter. But my favorite time of year is the fall…. Autumn in New England!

When I was  young, I used to call fall “crunchy leaf season” because of the sound the leaves made as I walked through them, kicked them, or jumped into the big leaf piles. The crunch as I stuffed handfuls of leaves into old jeans and shirts for scary Halloween decorations to be placed outside on the porch to scare trick or treaters coming to the door in search of candy.

Today, I still love the smell of  the autumn air and the fallen leaves, the change in the air from the summer heat and humidity to a nice crisp coolness. I love to watch the trees changing colors and I love to drive through the hills and hike through the many trails I grew up near, to see the foliage.  And, I love to being able to experience the most amazing sunsets of the year.

                              Subhan’Allah. (How glorious and amazingly perfect is God)

It was during the fall season, when I was in my first semester of graduate school heading from one end of the campus to other end for class with fellow students, when my outlook on life began to change. The day was gorgeous. The wind was blowing lightly causing a whirlwind effect of leaves spiraling down to the ground. “It’s such a beautiful day, I love this time of year”, I said to my classmates. “Just smell the air, feel the crispness. Its sweatshirt season again! I love this!”

Just then, a fellow student, a Muslim brother said to me: “You know what is beautiful? “What?” I asked. His response was “it is beautiful that not one leaf falls without the permission of Allah (SWT).”

“And He knows whatever there is in (or on) the earth and in the sea; not a leaf falls, but he knows it” (6:59)

I stopped suddenly, unable to move. I looked up towards the sky as I watched one leaf break from a branch and slowly fall to the ground ever so gently. Then, another gust of wind came along and hundreds of leaves came down.  I thought, “Oh my God……what?  What was that he just said? That was so beautiful.” I was suddenly filled with an emotion that I had never experienced before. I felt a sense of overwhelming gratitude and awe and I actually began to tear up.

What just happened? Why did that statement have such a profound effect on me? What did I just experience?

Alhamdulillah. (All praise is for Allah)

You see, I had been struggling with my beliefs, or non-beliefs, for several years. I was raised Catholic, but it never made sense to me. What I was learning seemed to contradict itself all the time and I never got any clear cut answers to my questions that made any sense to me.  I stopped going to church as soon as I could figure out a way to do it without my parents catching me (although, I am sure that they figured it out).

I wasn’t kidding anyone, especially myself.

As I grew and matured, I continued to have this feeling that I had a purpose in life, and that this purpose was definitely not linked to what I was doing, or how I was living during that particular period of my life.

What was my purpose? Was it to be a good mother, a good wife, what was it?

I, along with most of the other people I hung with, was not concerned with anything but that very moment in time. I was not concerned with what occurred yesterday, or what may or may not occur tomorrow. But, I still had this undefined “feeling.” The feeling that this life, the here and now, today, is not what it is all about.

I started to notice that the people I surrounded myself with would simply do the same things over and over again (having fun doing stuff of course), but there was no purpose other than to catch up with one another to do the same thing again. “I soon began to view things from outside of this cycle of “sameness” or “purposeless.” What I once considered fun did nothing for me anymore. I would rather sit home and do nothing than go out and party with friends.  I struggled with depression and often felt alone and sad.

Through all of this, I had this inner drive to find my purpose, but I was too wrapped up in my own stuff to even know where to begin. I often brushed off my feelings as “being to analytic” or I would have the “come, on, just snap out of it” attitude.

But…….I knew that there was a truth out there somewhere. I just didn’t  know where or what it was. I knew that there was something to believe, some purpose, some truth.  But, what was it?

Well, amazingly, the remark that the Muslim brother said: “Not one leaf falls without the permission of Allah (SWT)” was probably THE defining moment of when I began to realize that this emotion, this “feeling” that I just experienced, has something to do with my purpose in this life.

If something so simple, so insignificant (or so I thought) as a leaf does nothing without the permission of Allah, then what is my purpose? What am I supposed to be doing?

It was that day, that one brief moment in time, that I began to understand the Greatness of Allah (SWT).

Allahu Akbar. (God is the Greatest)

I began to listen to this brother talk a bit more. Things he said made so much sense, yet they were so simple! How could something so simple and easy to understand be IT, be part of my purpose?  I began doing some research, and was encouraged to seek information from someone with much more knowledge.  I met with a local Islamic scholar, each time learning more and more about the pillars of and basic beliefs of Islam.  Each time being given things to read and opportunities to ask questions. I continued to ask, to research, and to learn.

With all of this information, this new knowledge, I had to make a choice. I could:

(a) go on living the way I had been, rather recklessly and with no clear direction or purpose, or

(b) based on my new knowledge, embrace the fact that there is No deity worthy of worship but God (Allah), and that I am a servant of God. That was my purpose, to worship Allah SWT alone.

If I wanted any chance of true peace, of success in this world and in the next,  I had no choice but to embrace Islam.

Alhamdulillah. (All praise is for Allah)

So, I took my Shahada, which is the testimony of faith that one says when they embrace Islam.

“Ash-hadu An La Ilaha Illallah Wa Ash-hadu Anna Muhammadur RasoolAllah.”

“I testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and I testify that Muhammad is the final messenger of Allah.”

I began to realize that the feelings that I have always had when I experienced the beauty of this world, was my way to begin to learn about Allah SWT.  I have always loved to observe all of the natural beauty that surrounds me. I have always been in awe over the sighting of an animal in the woods, the sound of water as rivers flow past, the beauty of a sunrise or sunset, the sweet smell of fresh rain, the clean smell of snow, and all of the beauty that lies within this world.

It is when I am experiencing these natural wonders, that the Greatness of Allah is so apparent.

As a child, I was naturally attracted to nature. Since I was little girl, I have always found little treasures that I would bring home. Some piece of nature would find its way home with me. I could had a pocket full of sea shells from the Cape, a pocket full of rocks from a hike in the woods, a piece of driftwood or a bag of sand from a beach in Maine, a bouquet of wildflowers, or a snapshot of something beautiful I stumbled upon on my hike.  I now know that these items are my small tangible representations of a much larger truth.

I look at all of this beauty with absolute amazement and thankfulness to Allah (SWT). Every ant that crawls through the grass, every butterfly that soars by me, every step that I take on this earth that sprouts vegetation, every rain drop that falls from the clouds, every animal searching for food in the early morning hours, every waterfall, every mountain, every gorge, every leaf that falls……..all here because of the Greatness of Allah (SWT).

Allahu Akbar

All of this beauty that is found all over this earth, beautiful waters, beautiful forests, beautiful deserts, beautiful scenery, the many animals, the sky, the stars, the sun, and moon, all beautiful creations, all on a set course.

All of these creations of Allah SWT are in perfect harmony and there is no disorder. Each has a purpose, to obey and worship Allah (SWT).  And…we are able to experience this beauty because of Allah (SWT).

 Subhan’Allah

All of this vast beauty…which also has a purpose! The same purpose as me! To Worship Allah (SWT)!

He provides all that we need, Alhamdulillah.

The beauty of this world is just a small glimpse of what is to come for those of us who truly have faith and knowledge and follow the guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and worship Allah (SWT) alone.

“Those who believe and do righteous deeds, they are the best of creatures. Their reward is with their Lord: Gardens of Paradise beneath which rivers flow. They will dwell there in forever, God well pleased with them and they with Him. This is for those who hold their Lord in awe.” (98:7-8)

 

“Ash-hadu An La Ilaha Illallah Wa Ash-hadu Anna Muhammadur RasoolAllah.”

I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah. I testify that Muhammad (PBUH) is the final messenger of Allah.”

I call upon Allah every day in my prayers. I seek His forgiveness and I seek His assistance. I know that He provides for me and I trust in Him alone.

 I am truly a life long student, seeking as much knowledge of this beautiful deen as I can so that I continue on this beautiful path.