My experience being a Muslim in the West

An experience by Yaf

Assalamu Alaykum
My experience as a Muslim so far has been an amazing journey alhamdulillah (All praise is due to Allah SWT). I could consider myself as a second generation Muslim living in the West. For the purpose of this article, I would mainly like to stick with my experience here in the West rather than talk about my time back in the days. 
So far, I could broadly classify my time in the West into two categories. One of them was the first 8 months before I joined college and the other one is after I joined college.

1. Before I joined College:
I got here in the winter of January 2010. It was my first time seeing the snowfall and the feeling was amazing. It reminded me of Allah SWT and His might. 
I knew that since I was the new kid, I had to adjust to the new surrounding and people, that I had to get accustomed to certain ways of doing things which I was not used to. To read the temperature in Fahrenheit instead of Celsius, pounds instead of kilogram, the format of the month, day and date are a few for example. But at the same time, I knew I will not compromise a bit when it came to practicing my religion, Islam. I was adamant that no matter what, I had to stick to my values of the traditional Islam which was passed on to me from the esteemed mashaykh from my former Islamic university.  
But the first 8 months were, subhanAllah, the biggest struggle of my life. I came to a place which did not call you to Islam, nor was the name of Allah SWT glorified here. One had to respond to the obligations with their own free will. In Islamic countries, the adhan which goes off five times a day reminds a Muslim to ‘rush towards success’ no matter what they are doing. But I was in a place, all by myself, with no practicing Muslims around, trying to get by and stick with the principles of my Deen. 
During the first few months, I looked up a mosque to go pray Jummah at. The mosque was about 40 minutes away and it was a struggle just to make it on Jummah on time. Then I started work and to pray on time became a even daunting task. I had to take my lunch breaks within a time where say for example if I was doing a night shift, I would place the lunch break during the end of Asr time and the start of Maghrib time so that I can quickly pray Asr and then wait a few minutes and then pray Maghrib once it is time for it. 
I also had no friends and this made it even more tough for me. Back home and I do not mean to brag but this is how things were, I was a very popular kid in school and due to my social nature, I naturally made and had loads of friends alhamdulillah. But in the USA, suddenly all alone with no one to hang out with, the time alone was affecting me adversely. In my leisure time, I tried my best to read the Qur’an, learn ahadith and read other books but I could only do as much. Months of depression followed and it really felt like I had nothing to look forward to. 
I tried to meet new people in the masajid but in that mosque, almost everyone was above 60 years old or something. 
By that time I had already applied in college and was awaiting my results of admission. [Ramadan] was also just around the corner so I was eagerly looking forward to that.
Spring came and went away and it was Summer time. The obvious shamelessness of the society was really getting to me. For the first time in my life I was exposed to such gross and disturbing scenes that I really thought the days could not get any worse. It was really a total shock and my worship and concentration was badly affected.
My family had already left and went back home and I was really in an environment which although let me practice Islam, but it hardly encouraged it. 
But then alhamdulillah I got accepted in my college and [Ramadan] also came and things began to change for the good and all praise is indeed due to Allah SWT.
2. After I joined college:
For the last 8 months, the ONLY dua I made almost every day was to grant me righteous companionship in this place. Being in Islamic countries, I always took it for granted, the value of pious companionship. But suddenly coming here in the West, it really hit me hard that not only having a pious and good surrounding is something blessed, but it is also a sort of a necessity to keep your Islam alive.
The first thing I did when I came to college was look for the Muslim Students Association.
I met my first friend during [Ramadan]. I was a very shy kid and was afraid to socialize with the brothers so I was minding my own business at first. I used to come in the prayer room, pray and leave. At the same time, I was getting used to my new surrounding in college and was getting to know the school, the facilities, the classes and so on. During that time, one brother was [advertising] for the MSA Iftar program and that is when I met my first friend. He was the VP of the MSA then and he was gracious enough to come and invite me to the program. Since it is a good practice to accept invitations, I did and went there and met many more brothers there. 
As many would say, I do not look like the typical man that people in my country usually look like so it was hard for many to believe where I was really from. At the same time, that fact, coupled with my social nature (I guess) and most importantly, with Allah’s blessing, I made many friends. 
Long story short: I believe the people I met in college will probably be my best friends for life insha’Allah. I love each and everyone of them and they are unique in their own ways and they all have their own strength and weaknesses. 
With all the above in mind, this is what I learned from my experience:
In an authentic Hadith, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
“A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend.” [reported by Abu Dawood & Tirmidhee].
Not only did my dua came true, I learned the wisdom behind this beautiful hadith. Once I started to hang out with [these] brothers, all my depression and anxiety went away and I began to love New York and the place and my life and everything alhamdulillah became very pleasant. 
Also I learned the beautiful wisdom of this famous Quranic verse:
“And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers.” Qur’an, 51:55 
My brothers in Islam became the means by which I was constantly reminded of Islam and was being always invited to good practices and manners alhamdulillah.
The last two semesters in college were one of the biggest learning experiences for me. In the process, I attended many halaqas, events, seminars, met many famous Ulemas [(scholars)], etc etc. 
I could not be more thankful to Allah SWT. 
One last thing is that, know that when you make a Dua from the bottom of your heart, the dua that is made in desperation, the dua that is made with a lot of sincerity, the dua that comes from the core of your soul – such a dua will never get rejected and I saw it come alive first hand when Allah SWT granted me such beautiful brothers in Islam. But a dua made without any care and just as a mere ritual, Allah SWT knows best what is going to happen with such Duas.  
So next time you are making dua, check if you are REALLY wanting what you are asking for or was it just a passing statement of request made to Allah SWT.
When the supplication is only offered by tongue, whilst the heart and mind are absent. “…And know that Allah does not answer a supplication that comes from a careless and inattentive heart.” [At–Tirmidhi] 
I finish with the following:
“When my servants ask you concerning me, (tell them) I am indeed close (to them). I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calls on me.” [2:186] and know that Allah SWT feels shy of turning the Muslim empty-handed so make dua and believe in your dua !!!
I guess this is it, it has been a long article and I am afraid that the founder of this website will get annoyed if I go any further.
Hope it was beneficial.
Just remember: Stick with good people and make [tons] of dua. Insha’Allah 🙂
Wassalamu Alaykum Warahmatullah

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3 responses to “My experience being a Muslim in the West”

  1. Ameen

    MashAllah it's true. Pious friends are a great blessing alhamdulillah. Many times when we make du'a and put our trust in Allah, Allah takes care of everything. Alhamdulillah. Jazak Allahu khayran. Life is indeed a struggle but with Allah's help all is good inshaAllah Allahu Akbar! May Allah Swt grant you the best of this world and the hereafter ameen ya Rabb

  2. My Dear Bro Yaf and the founder of this website DaBash,

    Assalamu Alaykum wa Rahamtullahi wa Barakatuh

    Your story is very inspiring alhamdulillah. I think thats what I'm gonna do insha'Allah to look for Muslims brothers in my community once i go home. insha'Allah