Shawwal / Dhu'l-Qa'dah 1423 H
Volume 16-01 No : 193
Camps \ Workshops
"The universal brotherhood visible in Makkah during Hajj greatly impressed me. I would like to return to Makkah frequently in order to refurbish my spirit"-Fatimah Abdur Rasheed
Fatimah Abdur Rasheed is a former member of the Russian Parliament. She embraced Islam in 1994 and has performed the Hajj too. She had studied Islam in the Islamic University of Kazan in the Republic of Tartaristan. Here she recounts her experiences about Islam, her earlier state of disbelief and the pressures of the new society.
What difference you find between your earlier life and now?
I feel a revolution within myself. I was socially active from the beginning. So it was not much difficult for me to get elected as a Member of the Parliament. But there was always a rankling sense of disenchantment within me. I felt a vacuum within myself. So I had decided from the beginning that I have to fill this vacuum with the guidance of Allah. And Islam was my choice of faith. After converting to Islam, I suffered a boycott from my husband and other members of the family. But that did not bother me. I remained steadfast. This led my sister and my son to join the fold of Islam.
How do you feel when you recite the Holy Quran?
I am overwhelmed with a sense of repentance on my past life which I passed without this gift of God. The description of heaven and hell leads me to the heights of skies in imagination.
Where did you study Islam?
I studied Islam in the Islamic University of Kazan in the Republic of Tartaristan. It was a four-year course in Islamic Studies which taught me Quran, Hadith, Jurispurdence, Seerah etc. I had four other Russian batchmates with me in the course.
Did you feel any difficulty in changing over to the Islamic dress code?
Yes I was under tremendous pressure from various quarters of the Russian society. But since my conscience had been aroused fully, I withstood all the pressures.
How do the neo-Muslim fare in the Russian society?
Family situations have deteriorated considerably in Russia. Since most Russian women work, they cannot pay due attention towards kids. Those who do, cannot work and have to suffice with just one income. This is a terrible situation. Russian converts to Islam are put to great inconvenience. Just one income cannot buy you all the essential amenities of life. Hence neo-Muslims avoid marriage and family responsibility.
What aspect of Islam did you like most?
I had been to Hajj pilgrimage in 1994. Makkah held great attraction for me. It was an unforgettable sight to see the tawaf (circumambulation) around Kaaba in Makkah. The universal brotherhood visible in Makkah and during Hajj greatly impressed me. I did not come across any beggars in the holy city. Makkah’s upkeep and the high standards of hygiene and sanitation and the sublime nature of its residents too had a magnetic pull for me. I would like to return to Makkah frequently in order to refurbish my spirit time and again. It gives me immeasurable peace and serenity.
When did you come across the personality of Prophet Muhammad, (peace be upon him)?
I read about him in 1994 itself. But then I was scared to touch the Holy Quran, considering myself to be too inferior a being to approach this holy scripture. But then later I realised that Quran is a mirror in which we can find our image.
Where did you listen the azaan for the first time?
In fact, my initiation with Islam began in 1994 where I heard the azaan for the first time. It left me shivering. I got to know the meaning of the azaan. But then the popular misconceptions about Islam kept haunting me. A day came when my heart developed complete satisfaction. I was at peace with Islam. I could no longer resist Islam. Allah bestowed his special favour upon me and I recited the shahadah.