Saturday, July 31, 2010


This was from our mail box... honest!  It couldn't have been the Mr.Postman who had done it, could it?  Nope!  It's the Mr.Snail then?  Nope!   lemme tell you... It's the soft, longish ants with light red color which hatched, lived and hibernating in there (the mail box)... Urgh!!!!!

This is not the only mail they had their bites on... our water bills, electricity bills, mails, brochures... all were sharing similar fates.... OHhhhhhhh literally everything we missed picking up promptly!!! Unfortunately this mail happened to be a script of Hafiz's (my only son) exam results...  The ants have shared the joy of getting good passing grade....

fancy that!

pictures are from my fon cam.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010



PUTRAJAYA, July 27 2010 (Bernama) -- The country's two women Syariah judges, who will take up appointment officially on Aug 2, paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at his office here Tuesday.

Rafidah Abdul Razak, 39, and Surayah Ramlee, 31, met with Najib for about 30 minutes from 9am.

Also present at the meeting were Najib's wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom and Chief Syariah Judge and director-general of the Malaysian Syariah Judiciary Department Tan Sri Ibrahim Lembut.

Rafidah will serve at the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur Syariah Court and Surayah at the Putrajaya Syariah Court.

Najib had announced the appointment of the two women Syariah judges early this month, and said it was to enhance justice in cases involving families and women's rights and to meet current needs.

Jamil Khir told reporters Najib advised the judges to discharge their responsibilities well and to be impartial in making judgments.

Rafidah and Surayah said they would heed the advice of the prime minister to carry out their duties to the best of their capabilities in accordance with the law.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010


MIRI, July 22 2010 (Bernama) -- The 1Malaysia concept is also about strengthening national unity and national integration in a multi-racial country, said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak Thursday.

The Prime Minister said he had pondered long and hard on how to have strong national unity and national integration given the multi-ethnicity in the country.

"Our multi-ethnicity can be our strength. On the other hand, it can be a big problem if we choose to look at our differences in race, religion or culture," he said at a meet-the-people session in Bekenu town.

"If we look at things positively, we can be very compatible with each other. All depend on our mindset.

"And if we can uphold the principles of 1Malaysia, we can co-exist very compatibly and we can be very strong," he said.

Najib said this was why the country's administration would be a blend of the principles of social justice and meritocracy and other considerations, besides implementing policies for the benefit of the people.

"We have been successful fortunately. The best example can be found in the awarding of the Public Service Department (PSD) scholarships where we have based this on the principles of meritocracy and social justice," he said.

He said based on the principles of merit, the government had given scholarships to all students who had scored 9As and above to study at local and overseas universities, irrespective of race or religion.

"But at the same time, we need to help those from the socially disadvantaged group due to their natural environment and other factors.

"There is no way for a student from Long Banga in the interior of Baram in Miri to be able to compete with a fellow student, say from Kenny Hill (Bukit Tunku) school in Kuala Lumpur," he said.

He said if the government were to solely decide based on meritocracy, the student from Long Banga or other interior places in Sarawak would have no way of becoming graduates and being successful.

Malaysians, he added, must realise it was vital for them to have a government which appreciated and recognised such factors.

On another note, Najib said in implementing its development policies and projects, such principles too came handy for the government.

"Folks in Sabah and Sarawak will have different priorities from those living in Putrajaya or Klang Valley. This we must accept," he said.

Najib also said the government, through prudent management of the country's resources and fund, had been able to overcome the challenges of the global economic crisis.

At the function he announced projects totalling RM22.63 million for Bekenu and other neighbouring areas.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

How I came to Islam

How I came to Islam

26 Jun 2007
Yusuf Estes
Many people ask me how a preacher or priest in Christianity can ever go to Islam, especially considering all the negative things that we hear about Islam and Muslims everyday. I would like to thank everyone for their interest and offer my humble story, God Willing.
A Christian Priest

I was born into a very strong Christian family in the Midwest. Our family and their ancestors not only built the churches and schools across this land, but actually were the same ones who came here in the first place. While I was still in elementary we relocated in Houston, Texas in 1949 (I'm old). We attended church regularly and I was baptized at the age of 12 in Pasadena, Texas. As a teenager, I wanted to visit other churches to learn more of their teachings and beliefs. The Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, Charismatic movements, Nazarene, Church of Christ, Church of God, Church of God in Christ, Full Gospel, Agape, Catholic, Presbyterian and many more. I developed quite a thirst for the "Gospel" or as we say; "Good News." My research into religion did not stop with Christianity. Not at all. Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Metaphysics, native American beliefs were all a part of my studies. Just about the only one that I did not look into seriously was "Islam". Why? Good question.
Anyway, I became very interested in different types of music, especially Gospel and Classical. Because my whole family was religious and musical it followed that I too would begin my studies in both areas. All this set me for the logical position of Music Minister in many of the churches that I became affiliated with over the years. I started teaching keyboard instruments in 1960 and by 1963 owned my own studios in Laurel, Maryland, called "Estes Music Studios."
Over the next 30 years my father and I worked together in many business projects. We had entertainment programs, shows and attractions. We opened piano and organ stores all the way from Texas and Oklahoma to Florida. I made millions of dollars in those years, but could not find the peace of mind that can only come through knowing the truth and finding the real plan of salvation. I'm sure you have asked yourself the question; "Why did God create me?" or "What is it that God wants me to do?" or "Exactly who is God, anyway?" "Why do we believe in 'original sin?" and "Why would the sons of Adam be forced to accept his 'sins' and then as a result be punished forever. But if you asked anyone these questions, they would probably tell you that you have to believe without asking, or that it is a 'mystery' and you shouldn't ask.
And then there is the concept of the 'Trinity.' If I would ask preachers or ministers to give me some sort of an idea how 'one' could figure out to become 'three' or how God Himself, Who can do anything He Wills to do, cannot just forgive people's sins, but rather and had to become a man, come down on earth, be a human, and then take on the sins of all people. Keeping in mind that all along He is still God of the whole universe and does as He Wills to do, both in and outside of the universe as we know it.
Then one day in 1991, I came to know that the Muslims believed in the Bible. I was shocked. How could this be? But that's not all, they believe in Jesus as:
·                       A true messenger of God;
·                       Prophet of God;
·                       Miracle birth without human intervention;
·                       He was the 'Christ' or Messiah as predicted in the Bible;
·                       He is with God now
·                       And most important, he will be coming back in the Last Days to lead the believers against the 'Antichrist.'
This was too much for me, especially since the evangelists that we used to travel around with all hated Muslims and Islam very much. They even said things that were not true to make people afraid of Islam. So, why would I want anything to do with these people?
Meeting the First Muslim

My father was very active in supporting church work, especially church school programs. He became and ordained minister in the 1970s. He and his wife (my stepmother) knew many of the TV evangelists and preachers and even visited Oral Roberts and helped in the building of the "PrayerTower" in Tulsa, OK. They also were strong supporters of Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Fae Bakker, Jerry Fallwell, John Haggi and the biggest enemy to Islam in America, Pat Robertson.
Dad and his wife worked together and were most active in recording "Praise" tapes and distributing them for free to people in retirement homes, hospitals and homes for the elderly. And then in 1991 he began doing business with a man from Egypt and told me that he wanted me to meet him. This idea appealed to me when I thought about the idea of having an international flavor. You know, the pyramids, sphinx, NileRiver and all that. Then my father mentioned that this man was a 'Moslem.' I couldn't believe my ears. A 'Moslem?' No way. I reminded my dad of the various different things that we had heard about these people, how they are; terrorists; hijackers; kidnappers; bombers and who knows what else? Not to mention that: they don't believe in God; they kiss the ground five times a day and they worship a black box in the desert.
No. I did not want to meet this 'Moslem' man. No way.
My father insisted that I meet him and reassured me that he was a very nice person. So, I gave in and agreed to the meeting.
But on my terms. I agreed to meet him on a Sunday after church so we would be all prayed up and in good standing with the Lord. I would be carrying my Bible under my arm as usual. I would have my big shiny cross dangling and I would have on my cap which says: "Jesus is Lord" right across the front. My wife and two young daughters came along and we were ready for our first encounter with the 'Moslems.'
When I came into the shop and asked my father where the 'Moslem' was, he pointed and said: "He's right over there." I was confused. That couldn't be the Moslem. No way.
I'm looking for a huge man with flowing robes and big turban on his head, a beard half way down his shirt and eyebrows that go all the way across his forehead.
This man had no beard. In fact, he didn't even have any hair on his head at all. He was very close to bald. And he was very pleasant with a warm welcome and handshake. This didn't make sense. I thought they are terrorists and bombers. What is this all about?
Surprised At What Muslims Believe

Never mind. I'll get right to work on this guy. He needs to be 'saved' and me and the Lord are going to do it. So, after a quick introduction, I asked him:
"Do you believe in God?"

He said: "Yes." (Good!)
Then I said: "Do you believe in Adam and Eve?"

He said: "Yes."
I said: "What about Abraham? You believe in him and how he tried to sacrifice his son for God?"

He said: "Yes."
Then I asked: "What about Moses?"

Again he said: "Yes."
Then: "What about the other prophets, David, Solomon and John the Baptist?"

He said: "Yes."
I asked: "Do you believe in the Bible?"

Again, he said: "Yes."
So, now it was time for the big question: "Do you believe in Jesus? That he was the Christ of God?"

Again he said: "Yes."
Well, now, this was going to be easier than I had thought. He was just about ready to be baptized only he didn't know it. And I was just the one to do it, too. I was winning souls to the Lord day after day and this would be a big achievement for me, to catch one of these 'Moslems' and 'convert' him to Christianity. I asked him if he liked tea and he said he did. So off we went to a little shop in the mall to sit and talk about my favorite subject: Beliefs. While we sat in that little coffee shop for hours talking (I did most of the talking) I came to know that he was very nice, quiet and even a bit shy. He listened attentively to every word that I had to say and did not interrupt even one time. I liked this man's way and thought that he had definite potential to become a good Christian. Little did I know the course of events about to unravel in front of my eyes.
First of all, I agreed with my father that we should do business with this man and even encouraged the idea of him traveling along with me on my business trips across the northern part of Texas. Day after day we would ride together and discuss various issues pertaining to different beliefs that people have. And along the way, I could of course interject some of my favorite radio programs of worship and praise to help bring the message to this poor individual. We talked about the concept of God; the meaning of life; the purpose of creation; the prophets and their mission and how God reveals His Will to mankind. We also shared a lot of personal experiences and ideas as well.
One day I came to know that my friend Mohamed was going to move out of the home he has been sharing with a friend of his and was going to be living in the mosque for a time. I went to my dad and asked him if we could invite Mohamed to come out to our big home in the country and stay there with us. After all, he could share some of the work and some expenses and he would be right there when we were ready to go to out traveling around. My father agreed and Mohamed moved in.
Of course I still would find time to visit my fellow preachers and evangelists around the state of Texas. One of them lived on the Texas -- Mexico border and another lived near lived Oklahoma border. One preacher liked to a huge wooden cross that was bigger than a car. He would carry it over his shoulder and drag the bottom on the ground and go down the road or freeway hauling these two beams formed in the shape of a cross. People would stop their cars and come over to him and ask him what was going on and he would give them pamphlets and booklets on Christianity.
Group Discussions on Faith

One day my friend with the cross had a heart attack and had to go to the VeteransHospital where he stayed for quite a long while. I used to visit him in the hospital several times a week and I would take Mohamed with me with the hopes that we could all share together in the subject of beliefs and religions. My friend was not very impressed and it was obvious that he did not want to know anything about Islam. Then one day a man who was sharing the room with my friend came rolling into the room in his wheelchair. I went to him and asked him his name and he said that it didn't matter and when I asked him where he was from he said he was from the planet Jupiter. I thought about what he said and then began to wonder if I was in the cardiac ward or the mental ward.
I knew the man was lonely and depressed and needed someone in his life. So, I began to 'witness' to him about the Lord. I read to him out of the book of Jonah in the Old Testament. I shared the story of the prophet Jonah who had been sent by the Lord to call his people to the correct way. Jonah had left his people and escaped by boat to leave his city and head out to sea. A storm came up and the ship almost capsized and the people on board threw Jonah over the side of the ship. A whale came up to the surface and grabbed Jonah, swallowed him and then went down to the bottom of the sea, where he stayed for 3 days and 3 nights. Yet because of God's Mercy, He caused the whale to rise to the surface and then spit Jonah out to return back home safely to his city of Nineveh. And the idea was that we can't really run away from our problems because we always know what we have done. And what is more, God also always knows what we have done.
After sharing this story with the man in the wheel chair, he looked up and me and apologized. He told me he was sorry for his rude behavior and that he had experienced some real serious problems recently. Then he said that he wanted to confess something to me. And I said that I was not a Catholic priest and I don't handle confessions. He replied back to me that he knew that. In fact, he said: "I am a Catholic priest." I was shocked. Here I had been trying to preach Christianity to a priest. What in the world was happening here? The priest began to share his story of being a missionary for the church for over 12 years to south and Central America and Mexico and even in New York's 'Hell's Kitchen.' When he was released from the hospital he needed a place to go to recover and rather than let him go to stay with a Catholic family, I told my dad that we should invite him to come out and live with us in the country along with our families and Mohamed. It was agreed by all that he would so, he moved out right away.
During the trip out to our home, I talked with the priest about some of the concepts of beliefs in Islam and to my surprise he agreed and then shared even more about this with me. I was shocked when he told me that Catholic priests actually study Islam and some even carry doctors degrees in this subject. This was all very enlightening to me. But there was still a lot more to come.
After settling in, we all began to gather around the kitchen table after dinner every night to discuss religion. My father would bring his King James Version of the Bible, I would bring out my Revised Standard Version of the Bible, my wife had another version of the Bible (maybe something like Jimmy Swaggart's 'Good News For Modern Man." The priest of course, had the Catholic Bible which has 7 more books in it that the Protestant Bible. So we spent more time talking about which Bible was the right one or the most correct one, than we did trying to convince Mohamed about becoming a Christian.
At one point I recall asking him about the Quran and how many versions of it there were in the last 1,400 years. He told me that there was only ONE QURAN. And that it had never been changed. Yet he let me know that the Quran had been memorized by hundreds of thousands of people, in it's entirety and were scattered about the earth in many different countries. Over the centuries since the Quran was revealed millions have memorized it completely and have taught it to others who have memorized it completely, from cover to cover, letter perfect without mistakes.
This did not seem possible to me. After all, the original languages of the Bible have all been dead languages for centuries and the documents themselves have been lost in their originals for hundreds and thousands of years. So, how could it be that something like this could be so easy to preserve and to recite from cover to cover.
The Catholic Priest Converts to Islam

Anyway, one day the priest asked the Mohamed if he might accompany him to the mosque to see what it was like there. They came back talking about their experience there and we could not wait to ask the priest what it was like and what all types of ceremonies they performed. He said they didn't really 'do' anything. They just came and prayed and left. I said: "They left? Without any speeches or singing?" He said that was right.
A few more days went by and the Catholic priest asked Mohamed if he might join him again for a trip to the mosque which they did. But this time it was different. They did not come back for a very long time. It became dark and we worried that something might have happened to them. Finally they arrived and when they came in the door I immediately recognized Mohamed, but who was this alongside of him? Someone wearing a white robe and a white cap. Hold on a minute! It was the priest. I said to him: "Pete? -- Did you become a 'Moslem?' He said that he had entered into Islam that very day. THE PRIEST BECAME A MUSLIM!! What next? (You'll see).
I Follow Him and Submit Myself to God

So, I went upstairs to think things over a bit and began to talk to my wife about the whole subject. She then told me that she too was going to enter into Islam, because she knew it was the truth. I was really shocked now. I went downstairs and woke up Mohamed and asked him to come outside with me for a discussion. We walked and talked that whole night through. By the time he was ready to pray Fajr (the morning prayer of the Muslims) I knew that the truth had come at last and now it was up to me to do my part. I went out back behind my father's house and found an old piece of plywood lying under an overhang and right there I put my head down on the ground facing the direction that the Muslims pray five times a day.
Now then in that position, with my body stretched out on the plywood and my head on the ground, I asked: "O God. If you are there, guide me, guide me." And then after a while I raised up my head and I noticed something. No, I didn't see birds or angels coming out of the sky nor did I hear voices or music, nor did I see bright lights and flashes. What I did notice was a change inside of me. I was aware now more than ever before that it was time for me to stop lying and cheating and doing sneaky business deals. It was time that I really work at being an honest and upright man. I knew now what I had to do. So I went upstairs and took a shower with the distinct idea that I was 'washing' away the sinful old person that I had become over the years. And I was now coming into a new, fresh life. A life based on truth and proof.
Around 11:00 A.M. that morning, I stood before two witnesses, one the ex-priest, formerly known as Father Peter Jacob's, and the other Mohamed Abel Rehman and announced my 'shahadah' (open testimony to the Oneness of God and the prophethood of Muhammad, peace be upon him).
My Wife and My Father Follow and Convert to Islam

A few minutes later, my wife follow along and gave the same testimony. But hers was in front of 3 witnesses (me being the third).
My father was a bit more reserved on the subject and waited a few more months before he made his shahadah (public testimony). But he did finally commit to Islam and began offering prayers right along with me and the other Muslims in the local masjid (mosque).
The children were taken out of the Christian school and placed in Muslim schools. And now ten years later, they are memorizing much of the Quran and the teachings of Islam.
My father's wife was the last of all to acknowledge that Jesus could not be a son of God and that he must have been a mighty prophet of God, but not God.
Now stop and think. A whole entire household of people from varying backgrounds and ethnic groups coming together in truth to learn how to know and worship the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. Think. A Catholic priest. A minister of music and preacher. An ordained minister and builder of Christian schools. And they all come into Islam! Only by His Mercy were we all guided to see the real truth of Islam without any blinders on their eyes any longer.
Phenomenon of Priests Converting Islam

If I were to stop right here, I'm sure that you would have to admit that at least, this is an amazing story, right? After all, three religious leaders of three separate denominations all going into one very opposite belief at the same time and then soon after the rest of the household?
But that is not all. There is more! The same year, while I was in Grand Prairie, Texas (near Dallas) I met a Baptist seminary student from Tennessee named Joe, who also came to Islam after reading the Holy Quran while in BAPTISTSEMINARYCOLLEGE!
There are others as well. I recall the case of the Catholic priest in a college town who talked about the good things in Islam so much that I was forced to ask him why he didn't enter Islam. He replied: "What? And loose my job?" - His name is Father John and there is still hope for him yet.
More? Yes. The very next year I met a former Catholic priest who had been a missionary for 8 years in Africa. He learned about Islam while he was there and entered into Islam. He then changed his name to Omar and moved to DallasTexas.
Any more? Again, yes. Two years later, while in San Antonio, Texas I was introduced to a former Arch Bishop of the Orthodox Church of Russia who learned about Islam and gave up his position to enter Islam.
And since my own entrance into Islam and becoming a chaplain to the Muslims throughout the country and around the world, I have encountered many more individuals who were leaders, teachers and scholars in other religions who learned about Islam and entered into it. They came from Hindus, Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses, Greek and Russian Orthodox, Coptic Christians from Egypt, non-denominational churches and even scientists who had been atheists.
Why? Good question.
Advice Regarding Seeking the Truth

May I suggest to the seeker of truth do the following NINE STEPS to purification of the mind:
  1. Clean their mind, their heart and their soul real good.
  2. Clear away all the prejudices and biases
  3. Read a good translation of the meaning of the Holy Quran in a language that they can understand best.
  4. Take some time.
  5. Read and reflect.
  6. Think and pray.
  7. And keep on asking the One who created you in the first place, to guide you to the truth.
  8. Keep this up for a few months. And be regular in it.
  9. Above all, do not let others who are poisoned in their thinking influence you while your are in this state of "rebirth of the soul."
The rest is between you and the Almighty Lord of the Universe. If you truly love Him, then He already Knows it and He will deal with each of us according to our hearts.
So, now you have the introduction to the story of my coming into Islam and becoming Muslim. There is more on the Internet about this story and there are more pictures there as well. Please take the time to visit it and then please take the time to email me and let us come together to share in all truths based on proofs for understanding our origins and our purpose and goals in this life and the Next Life.
And once again I thank you for your email today. If you hadn't sent it, I probably would still not have completed this task of putting down the story once and for all of how "Priest and Preachers Are Coming to Islam."
May Allah guide you on your journey to all truth. Ameen. And May He open your heart and your mind to the reality of this world and the purpose of this life, ameen.
Peace to you and Guidance from Allah the One Almighty God, Creator and Sustainer of all that exists.
Your friend,
Yusuf Estes

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Aishah Schwartz

April 19, 2002 Marked the Beginning of...
Sister Aishah's Islamic Journey

Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh!

Insha'Allah, if you have found this page, you will find a blessing from 
reading some of the the stories I have written documenting my 
journey into Islam. It seems that since I came to embrace Islam, my 
mind has been flooded with thoughts and senses are 
keener than they have been in a long time, and I feel reborn!

There have been so many wonderful experiences along the path of 
this new life changing journey, that I found myself being led to begin 
to document some of them; whereupon I considered that the internet 
could quite possibly be the most effective venue through which to 
record them! Insha'Allah, hopefully Allah subhanaahu wa wa ta'ala 
will be able to use these experiences to encourage and strengthen 
those who may be led to read them!  

By way of introduction, you can read my "Shahada" story.  It seemed 
like a great idea to put this story together after I had been asked 
many times, "How did you become a Muslim?"

The presumption that my conversion (or reversion) had to be because 
of marriage,  or because of September 11th, was so predominant a 
first reaction in everyone's mind, that it had begun to drive me crazy!

No, I did not embrace Islam because of marriage, and I did not come 
into the religion because of September 11th!  Al-hamduillah!  I came 
into the religion because I was led by Allah subhannahu wa ta'ala!

After writing the Shahada story, my second article was inspired as my 
first Ramadan approached in November of 2002, and "Adopt A 
Ramadan Buddy" was born!

Al-hamduillah, when my first Ramadan came, I found myself writing 
the story of "My First Ramadan", and so the journey began!  Now 
there is a Journey Library! *smile*

Insha'Allah, if it furthers the purpose of delivering the message of the 
beauty and peace of Islam, then please feel free to share this page 
with your friends, Jazakallahu khayran (may you be blessed for doing 

Insha'Allah, if you drop in from time to time, I will do my best to 
keep these pages updated.

May Allah subhanaahu wa ta'ala guide us and bless each one.


~*Sister Aishah's Journey Begins...The Shahada Story*~

September 04, 2003

~*Sister Aishah's Journey Begins...The Shahada Story*~

[This item was originally produced as an interview and subsequent phamphlet that was circulated at the 39th Annual ISNA Convention; Almuslima, Inc., and its associated website,, are no longer active.] 

Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim 
Assalamu Alalikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh!

Almuslima, Inc. Joins in Welcoming You to the 39th Annual ISNA Convention! “Islam: A Call for Peace and Justice” More than 30,000 American Muslims gathered in the nation’s capital to attend the 39th annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America during the long, Labor Day weekend Aug. 30 through Sept. 2. (2003).

ISNA’s annual meeting is the single largest congregation of American Muslims each year, and the first event of this scale since the Sept. 11 tragedy. Al-hamdu illah! Almuslima, Inc. would like to take this opportunity to announce the launch of their new website,, and to introduce to the Muslim Community, one of its newest members, Sister Aishah Schwartz! Subhanallah! Almuslima had the opportunity to interview Sister Aishah, on Saturday, August 16, 2002. 

Below is just a small portion of our interview. 

Almuslima: When did you become a Muslim, Sister Aishah? 

Aishah: I officially embraced Islam on Friday, April 19, 2002. 

Almuslima: Subahanallah! Please, Sister, tell us how you came to Islam! Aishah: Oh, wow…are you sure you have time? It has been quite a journey… Almuslima: Take as much time as you need, Sister!

Aishah: Okay, here goes! I came to Washington, D.C. about 2½ years ago, after living in a small southern town for the previous 18 years of my life. After about three weeks of earnest legwork on unfamiliar streets, taking buses, trains, and cabs to navigate my way through the city, I landed a job with a reputable law firm. Working with attorneys is what I have done throughout my adult life. I threw myself into my work, striving to prove to everyone that this small-town girl could make it in the big city. I found myself working very late hours, sometimes not leaving until 11 or 12 o’clock at night at least 4 out of 5 days of the  week. Unbeknownst to me when I started my new job, the team I joined happened to be in preparation for a major trial! Amongst the benefits of working with the firm was the provision of transportation home at night if you worked overtime. It was late one evening into my second month on my new job when I happened to call for a cab, and I quite unexpectedly became friends with the driver, who, as it turned out, happened to be a Muslim! I have always believed that everything happens for a reason and in retrospect, I know that God brought that person into my life, at that particular time, because He had a plan...and He knew a friendship would be cultivated that day that would ultimately peak my curiosity about the religion of this new friend. The friendship grew because whenever I called the cab company for my nightly ride home, I would request the same cab! The relationship had its ups and downs, as do most relationships, but the resounding proclamation, “You don’t understand me!” seemed to have become all too familiar over the long run, and given my natural inclination to try to figure things out, and because Allah (swt) seems to have given me a heart filled with compassion, I began to consider that perhaps if I tried to learn more about the religion of my friend, that I would come to have a better understanding of him. This decision marked the beginning of my journey. Even though I was working many hours at the time, I found myself staying behind at the office, well past the time that I had clocked-out for the day, scouring the internet for information about Islam. Having been raised in a Baptist environment, I also researched Islam from the perspective of Christianity. This pattern or searching for information continued for about two months. I had grown totally fascinated with each passing day, and as I passed through website after website, printing article after article, clicking on link after link, and after exhausting myself out at my desk, I would make my trip home with an armful of print outs, and stay awake even longer after arriving at my apartment, devouring the material I had printed like it was some kind of treasure…little did I know… 

Almuslima: So you researched Islam on your own? Subhanallah!

Aishah: Yes. I researched it from every angle, of course having spent so many years working with attorneys, you might imagine I am not one to formulate an absolute opinion about something without giving it full investigation, so in order to explore the pros and cons from every angle, not only did I print articles on Islam from Christianity’s viewpoint, I even engaged in an email exchange with a Christian who converted to Islam, and then re-converted back to Christianity! Subhanallah! I did not listen to that person, as Allah (SWT) was already working in my life and I immediately dismissed that persons attempt to dissuade from my quest. And even though I had printed so much material on the Christian perspective, I did not waste much of my time reading it, as it seemed to me that the truths I had found in my research were speaking to my heart, and something inside kept me pressing forward.

Almuslima: Was there something in particular that you found when you were reading that influenced your decision to become a Muslim?

Aishah: I wish I had an easy answer for that but I don't really... it wasn’t exactly one particular thing…but what I did find fascinating was what I learned about the respect and the fairness with which the Qur’an seemed to instruct men to treat women. It also became clearer and clearer to me that the Qur’an is a blue-print for how we should conduct ourselves in our daily lives, and how we should treat other people, and  that if a person lives their life according to its instructions, that person could expect to receive blessings and reward beyond anything previously imagined in his/her wildest dreams! And sure enough, from what I have experienced so far…

Almuslima: Since your Shahada?

Aishah: Yes, since April 19th,of this year! Subhanallah! Every time I think about the things that have happened in my life since that date, I am overcome by emotion! Every person I have encountered, and everything that has happened to me since that day, has been linked in one way or another to a wonderful walk through blessing after blessing! 

Almuslima: Al-hamdulillah! Sister, what has been happening? 

Aishah: Prior to April 19th, it seemed that I had closed myself off from everything and everyone that existed in the world outside the walls of my apartment and the halls I walked throughout the day in the office  where I work. My sole purpose in life seemed to be to live to work. That was the sum of my existence, which doesn’t make for much of a life, by any stretch of the imagination! As long as I was at work I had a purpose. I knew what I was supposed to do when I was at my desk...There were so many times when I would leave the office late at night, or, well, for that matter, no matter what time I left the office, and as I  walked out the front door of the office building, I would feel the tears welling up in my eyes, and then they would stream silently down my cheeks, to be quickly brushed away before anyone could notice…I was absolutely afraid. I was afraid of getting on the bus - once I walked out the front doors of the office I had no control over anything, and I was afraid of everything; all I wanted to was run back inside the shelter of the office building! If I could have arranged a space with a bed and personal hygiene items for use in the locker room downstairs, it would have suited me just fine! The office was like my shelter from the rest of the world…I felt protected within the confines of its walls…I felt had a sense of appreciation for my efforts from the people I worked with, who are wonderful people - I am really so blessed to be employed by them…but at the end of the day, I had other choice; I had to go home! I would fight the tears on the ride home, and when I would get to my apartment, I would shut the door on Friday evenings, and never leave again until Monday morning when it was time for work (unless I was driven out by absolute necessity). It would not matter how beautiful the weather might be outside, I was petrified of everything…I don't know...I felt like I was, since coming to Islam…it has been literally like being re-born! Its like I have my life back! 

Almuslima: Sister, mashallah, I am so happy for you! 

Aishah: Subhanallah! I am amazed with each passing day the difference Islam has made in my life! I have always been a compassionate person by nature, but now I find such happiness in knowing that Allah (SWT) is using the talents and gifts he has given me to communicate with people in so many ways!!! And for some strange reason people seem to connect with me...I don't know why...and’s just been so amazing! Once you open up your mind and open up your heart and you let go of the control that you have been holding onto in regards to your will and life, and you let Allah (SWT) take charge, and let Him guide you…everything coming to you after that is inter-connected, and you find yourself becoming conscious of one blessing after another! Subhanallah! And even though I have gone through a difficult period...if I think about all the positive things that have happened to me, the bad days dim in comparison, you know? So, umm...if sharing all of that helps someone…well...Insha’Allah, it will! It has been such an amazing  journey...even though its been so short, already I just can’t help but feel and believe with all my heart that Allah (SWT) has something so amazing planned for the rest of whatever time, Insha’Allah, He is going to allow me to be on this earth…I don't know why, but the power of everything that I have felt happening in my life has been so energizing! Allah (SWT) seems to be making up for lost time in using me in so many ways…and I just feel so blessed, and so lucky that He would even consider me the slightest bit worthy of His mercy and blessings! I’ve grown to have such an acute awareness of His presence in my daily every little thing that happens...and even when I get frustrated...I’m reminded to say – Al-hamdul illah!

Almuslima: Can you share with us some of the ways your life has become different since you accepted Islam?

Aishah: Well, I guess I could start with the subject of prayer! A teacher from a Sunday class I have been attending at Masjid, introduced to me the prospect of this year’s upcoming trip for Umra, which, of course, at the time I had no concept of whatsoever! In a discussion one afternoon after class, my teacher suggested that I begin to prepare myself by getting up in the morning for the earliest salat. Well, at that time, the earliest prayer was in the 3:30 am time range! I thought to myself, “He must be crazy!” But I found myself obeying his instruction, and I began setting my alarm clock to wake me up at 3:30 am! Was I nuts, you ask? Some people might not rush to my defense too quickly! But, Subhanallah! Sister, you might not believe this, but within one week I had already begun to wake up automatically! It is as though I have a tiny guardian angel that comes to tap me on my shoulder...and I sit up to look at the clock, and it amazes me every day when I see the time…Al-hamdul illahi! It’s time to pray!

Almuslima: Subhanallah!

Aishah: Yes! I know! And I know a lot of people might think it impossible to wake up so early in the morning just to pray, but I promise you, considering how stagnant my life was before, and the way God has brought so many things and so many people into my life since I began to practice my new religion, its almost as though I have two full time jobs with all of the things that have come my way to do for the sake of Allah! (SWT). And just when I finish one thing, the next thing I know Allah SWT) is bringing me a new task! I just feel so blessed! I feel so much like...for each small task I accomplish, what comes back to me in return seems to be multiplied times ten! It doesn’t even seem fair or normal even, that good things, blessings and rewards, are now so much a part of my just amazes me each and every day! Al-hamdul illah! 

Almuslima: Please tell us more! 

Aishah: Well, I’d like to continue the subject of prayer…that's been a journey all by itself! And so important!! I have gone through different phases...after Shahadah...I sort of floundered a little bit…um…I kept trying to read and study the material I had gathered, and amazingly enough, still had not completely exhausted! I'd go home in the evenings and lay across my bed with the mountain of stapled, or paper clipped or binder clipped by subject material, and I'd sift through the stack until I came upon something that jumped out in my mind saying, “Read me! Read me!” I was still reading and trying to absorb the seemingly insurmountable material on the subject of prayer. Let me tell you, coming from a Christian background, the whole prayer issue was overwhelming to say the least! I'd read for a while...and then…I remember so many times just laying my head back and succumbing to the tears that would escape from my eyes…thinking, “This is too much, I can’t do it!!” and I’d say to myself, “God, I am going to rest now…let this sink in and I will come back again tomorrow...and, Insha’Allah, I will learn some more…” I could not help but believe that He heard my pleas, and hears them still today, as I have already commenced to memory the words, “Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful;” words that are laced throughout the text of the Qur’an! And then one evening I found an awesome website that had these wonderful little pictures and I printed the pictures…I call them my “cheat sheets,” and I have hand written notes on each one with my personal choices of surah’s (chapters) or ayats (verses) recited in different portions of the prayer, and I have English translations beside everything (as “Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful regarding the fact that I cannot yet speak Arabic!),.and this is how I began to learn and practice the 5 daily salats (prayers)! I’ll never forget the day I made it all the way through Surah Fatihah without looking at my “cheat sheets!” “Al-hamdul illahi!” I proclaimed! And one by one, I have, over a period of time, been able to put away the cheat sheets! Yes, I still keep them with me though, as I have not totally mastered the whole thing…and I use the sheets whenever or wherever I can in an attempt at every opportunity to master my prayer…even at work! 

Almuslima: Subhanallah! How have the people at your office responded to the changes in your life – and appearance?! 

Aishah: Insha’Allah, we will have to continue our conversation very soon! We are out of time today! But I hope the readers will visit because, Insha’Allah, I am looking forward to answering more questions, and being able to share with readers many other things that have been, and continue to happen since I came to Islam!! THE TESTIMONY OF FAITH The testimony of faith is saying  with conviction, "Ash hadu an la ilaha illa Allah wa ash hadu anna Muhammadar Rasul Allah." ("I declare there is no god but Allah and I declare that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.") The first part, “There is no true god but God,” means that none has the right to be worshipped but God alone, and that God has neither partner nor son. This testimony of faith is called the Shahada, a simple formula that should be said with conviction in order to convert to Islam. The testimony of faith is the most important pillar of Islam. 

Copyright ©2005, Aishah Schwartz Permission is granted to circulate among private individuals and groups, to post on Internet sites and to publish in full text and subject title in not-for-profit publications. Contact author for all other rights, which are reserved.

Friday, July 2, 2010


A woman, renewing her driver's license at the County Clerk 's office, was asked by the woman recorder to state her occupation.

She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.

"What I mean is, " explained the recorder,
"do you have a job or are you just a ....?" 

"Of course I have a job," snapped the woman.

"I'm a Mom."

"We don't list 'Mom' as an occupation,
'Housewife' covers it,a? Said the recorder emphatically.

I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself
In the same situation, this time at our own Town Hall.
The Clerk was obviously a career woman, poised,
Efficient, and possessed of a high sounding title like,
"Official Interrogator" or "Town Registrar."

"What is your occupation?" she probed.

What made me say it? I do not know..
the words simply popped out.
"I'm a Research Associate in the field of
Child Development and Human Relations."

The clerk paused, ball-point pen frozen in midair and
looked up as though she had not heard right.

I repeated the title slowly emphasizing the most

significant words.
Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement
was written, in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire.

"Might I ask," said the clerk with new interest,
"just what you do in your field?"

Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice,
I heard myself reply,
"I have a continuing program of research,
(what mother doesn't)
in the laboratory and in the field,
(normally I would have said indoors and out).
I'm working for my Masters, (first the Lord and then the whole family)
and already have four credits (all daughters).
Of course, the job is one of the most demanding

in the humanities, (any mother care to disagree?)
and I often work 14 hours a day, (24 is more like it).
But the job is more challenging than most

run-of-the-mill careers and the rewards are more
about the satisfaction rather than just money."

There was an increasing note of respect in the

Clerk's' voice as she completed the form, stood up,
and personally ushered me to the door.

As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my

glamorous new career, I was greeted by my
lab assistants -- ages 13, 7, and 3.
Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model,
(a 6 month old baby) in the child development program,
testing out a new vocal pattern.
I felt I had scored a beat on bureaucracy!
And I had gone on the official records as someone

more distinguished and indispensable
to mankind than "just another Mom."

What a glorious career!
Especially when there's a title on the door..

Does this make 
"Senior Research Associates in the field of Child Development and Human Relations"
great grandmothers
"Executive Senior Research Associates?"
I think so!!!

I also think it makes 
"Associate Research Assistants."

Please send this to another Mom,
And other friends you know.

May your troubles be less,
Your blessing be more,
And nothing but happiness

Come through your door!
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source : email