Published on March 19th, 2013 | by Tanya Cantu0
Gift of Islam
There was a wooden shelf in the corner of my parents’ bedroom with a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and every Sunday my father replaced the flowers in a vase that was set by the statue. I remember him so clearly as he stood in front of the shelf which also had many other statues and he prayed with such strong belief. When I was nine years old, before his passing, he taught me many prayers, and I was taught to perform a spiritual cleansing of the evil eye (in Spanish “mal ojo”).
Soon after my father passed, I started catechism (principles of the Christian religion) classes, and I spent most nights and Sundays at church. I received the communion as a Catholic and also the sacrament of confirmation, but I never felt close to God. During most of my younger years I had the Catholic religion forced upon me by my family; it wasn’t a choice to attend classes or mass, it was just obligatory in my home.
As I got older, my mother distanced herself from the church as she became busy with her full-time job and we weren’t practicing our religion much anymore. In my mother’s bedroom was still that homemade shelf my father had built and all the statues he prayed to. But no one placed any flowers in the vase or prayed as my father had done.
By my high school years my life had changed tremendously. I had become a very rebellious teenager. I was definitely lost. I experienced so many unwholesome things during my teenage life and I had lost my faith and didn’t believe in God.
Alhamdulillah, after my daughter’s birth when I was 27 years old, I realized it was time to change the way I was living. I was introduced to Islam by a few friends online and I will never forget the first time I heard the Qur’an recited—I felt a connection with God! I felt something that I had not felt before in my life. Even though I had no idea what was said during the recitation, I fell in love with the Qur’an.
I was blessed to be in contact with many wonderful brothers and sisters who provided me with the information I was looking for. It wasn’t long after that I decided to become Muslim. I took shahada in 2006, alhamdulillah. Today I know why I fell in love with the Qur’an; I know why I felt an instant connection with Allah SWT. Allah the Almighty Says: “This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favor upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion” (Qur’an 5:3).Islam is beautiful and Allah SWT has granted us the greatest gift possible and that is the gift of guidance to His religion, the complete and final religion.
My life as a Muslim woman is amazing. My days are filled with so much peace and contentment — my family, home, and daily efforts are continuously blessed and it only gets better alhamdulillah. Muslims are bound together in heart and this unity is the means of strength for the Muslim ummah. In fact, it’s a divine gift that we Muslims must make use of. “And the believers, men and women, are protecting friends one of another; they enjoin the right and forbid the wrong, and they establish worship and they pay the poor-due, and they obey Allah and His messenger. As for these, Allah will have mercy on them. Lo! Allah is Mighty, Wise (Qur’an 9:71).
That we are meant to be supporters of one another means so much to me. I want for my brothers and sisters what I want for myself, and after contemplating for months I finally decided to launch an effort that would be of benefit to my sisters in Islam. In May 2011 I established Muslimahs Covered With Care (MCWC). This initiative is designed to provide hijabs and abayas to Muslim women. I personally understand the difficulty in adopting the Islamic attire and I understand the number of reason why some Muslim women do not cover.
Presently the MCWC team consists of seven wonderful women and others are always encouraged to join us. We have coordinators in the US, Europe, Canada, Australia, and the UK. Join our team in helping Muslimahs around the world to dress modestly, one hijab and one abaya at a time. Visit www.muslimahscoveredwithcare.org for more information.