Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Monica's Story

"I was guided to Islam by my heart and emotions"

I was raised in the technologically-advanced atmosphere of Japan. I lived a peaceful, sedentary life and was blessed with a caring family and the tools to succeed in my studies and work. All avenues were open for me to enjoy an easy and fulfilling life.

My family was religiously Buddhist like many Japanese people, however my connection to Buddhism had been poor since my early childhood, and my parents were unconcerned with my devotion. Nevertheless, since my earliest days, many questions regarding the universe, existence, and life circled in my mind. They would remain with me until I reached the age of twenty when I finished my collegiate studies and began to work amongst the clouds as a flight attendant for a Japanese airline. I hoped to find peace and meaning through work but rather a great emptiness in my life persisted. There was something missing from my life and I desperately hoped to find out what it was.

Allah, the Controller of all affairs, willed that in 1988 I would work as a translator for a Japanese delegation to a tourism agency in Egypt for the duration of one year. Through my new colleagues, I came to learn about Islam. After completing the year abroad, I returned to Japan and decided to study Islam in the hopes that I might find the answers to my lifelong questions.

The information that I had previously gathered about Islam from school and television was not only extremely limited but also severely distorted. Such is the same with most Japanese people who read and hear about nothing but violence coming from the Muslim word.

When I returned to Japan, I went to the Islamic Center in Tokyo and asked for a translation of the Holy Qur'an in Japanese. I would visit the center repeated over a period of three years as I studied Islam with the local scholars. With the passage of time, my understanding and appreciation of Islam increased remarkably. I found the answers to the philosophical questions that had been hounding me for so many years in this beautiful religion.

I was impressed by the status of women in Islam. The Muslim woman is protected and honored, and her feelings, mind, and decency are respected much more so than I had previously imagined. I began to seclude myself and ask Allah to guide me to the Truth and educate me about it. I began to meditate upon the created world in order to see the Hand of Allah behind it. I would meditate upon the trees, flowers, birds, animals and the carefully crafted design and balance that ruled them. I felt that Allah had in fact two books: the spoken book in the form of the Holy Qur'an and the silent book in the form of the universe and all its miracles and majesties.

Thus, I saw Allah in His creation and I was guided to Islam by my heart and emotions. I felt the Light of Allah fill my heart. An overwhelming happiness overcame me as my imaan (faith) grew and I felt as if Allah was with me at every moment.

Allah, the Controller of all affairs, willed that I would work as a flight attendant on a particular flight to and from Indonesia for the period of a year. I was taken by the Indonesians' temperament and their adherence to the Qur'an in their daily lives. The Indonesians that I befriended helped me to understand Islam better and increase my love towards it.

I faced several difficulties with my family but I had resolved that I must be a Muslim despite all hurdles that lay before me. I began to perform the five prayers in their correct times, and I exerted great effort in memorizing verses of the Qur'an to enable me to do this correctly.

In 1991, I traveled to Egypt to announce publicly my conversion to Islam at the famous al-Azhar University. I found work in Egypt to live on and soon married an Egypt Muslim man. I remained in Egypt and with time, Allah blessed me with a beautiful daughter named Maryam - the only female name specifically mentioned in the Qur'an.

al-Hamdu lilah (all praises be to Allah), I currently live a happy life with my new religion and my new Muslim family. I am spending a lot of time and effort memorizing the Qur'an, and whenever time permits, my husband and I study the Qur'an together and read certain Islamic texts together. I hope to one day guide my family to Islam, in shah Allah (God willing) soon. Generally speaking, the Japanese people are missing a major component of a happy life, despite their technologically-advanced civilization. I believe that great numbers of them would enter Islam in if they had the proper understanding. They are looking for such answers, and there is no doubt that they are in great need of them.