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Letters to the Editor

lettersDear Neighbors:

I am writing to you because I do not know the address of the Mosque I pass on my way to the Farmer's Market on Alemany Boulevard, nor how to write to the people who shop at the market with me. I hope you will pass my letter on.

I want to tell you how valuable it is to me that we share this community. I'm so glad to live somewhere that everyday reminds me that my small way of life may be different from my neighbor's and, that we can still live together peacefully and fruitfully.

I especially love my Saturday morning trips to the Farmer's Market. I cross Mission Street and pass the Mosque, often just as people are standing outside talking. It reminds me that the sun is up, or rising and it reminds me to thank God for my day. The market is a microcosm of how the world could be: everyone being themselves, rejoicing in shopping with others who are very different from them. We share recipes and explore new flavors. I have learned from a Muslim woman in a shawl how to use the mysterious leaves I see everyone buying and from a Chinese woman with big strong hands how to prepare lemon grass. I've shown an Afghan man in a wool hat how to prepare and eat an artichoke.

I know that you have been attacked, sent hate mail and suffered threatening telephone calls. I hope this letter of friendship and thanksgiving that you are my neighbors will in some small way help to heal the wounds that should not have been inflicted upon you.

In God's love,

Martha Stookey
San Francisco, CA


Dear Editor:

My husband and I are originally from Detroit, Michigan and converted to Islam sometime ago. I had been reading and following your newsletter while I was living in the US. To learn more about this beautiful religion, we moved to Makkah, Saudi Arabia. My family always looks forward to every issue of your newsletter. I wanted to share this letter with other readers about my mother-in-law.

We used to discuss the religion of Islam with my husband's family. When my oldest daughter was a little over a year old she had pneumonia and was eventually hospitalized. My mother-in-law came to stay with us and help. During that time she asked us about salat (prayer) and even had me show her how to make wudhu (ablution). She was very close to becoming Muslim, but felt that she would be betraying God, to whom she had always turned, by joining another religion. We explained to her that it was the SAME GOD and that Islam was His religion. She hesitated and then returned home when all was well with our family.

Years passed and we continued to discuss things with her. She was the most open of his family; his father, the least open. About 15 years ago his father died. We still talked to her but she was hesitant and then finally, one day after a frustrating argument about the prophets, peace be upon them, I told my husband that I didn't think that she would ever become Muslim. May Allah forgive me. I read a hadith (sayings of the Prophet PBUH) a long time ago (don't ask me for the source) that said words to the effect that you should never say that the people are finished.

My mother-in-law (she was 70 years old then) came to visit us from the States. We took an apartment in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia which was located near a masjid and stayed there for a month. When she first heard the adhan, she said that she had heard it in her sleep years ago - she lived in the midst of Detroit where, at that time, there were no mosques in the area where she lived. When we went to the souq (market) and she saw how the shops all closed for salat, she said, "This is truly a people who think about God."

Unbeknownst to us, she was asking our children how to make wudhu, how to pray, and about various beliefs. Subhaanallah, they never told us anything! At the end of a month, she came to us and told us she wanted to become Muslim. It was a shock, a pleasant shock! We went down to the court; she declared the shahaadah and the next day we packed up and headed for home - Makkah.

We made Umrah with her and performed made many salats in Makkah, at the Haram. She was really cute on Umrah. We had completed 2 saie (rounds) and she turned to me and said, "Well, that's not so bad." I smiled and told her that we had 5 more to go.

We proceeded slowly, stopping and sitting on the side once or twice. When it was completed, she said she was glad that it was encouraged to do at least once in a Muslim's life. I laughed. At one gathering, we were sitting on the side and I was trying to tell her that she was of an age where she didn't have to wear hijab. I was trying to put it in a nice way that once a woman reached an age where she no longer was of marriageable age, she did not have to wear it. Before I could get the words all the way out, she cut me a look that let me know that SHE didn't consider herself in that category, so I just dropped it.

We taught her salat and I made diagrams for her with transliterations of the words with the meanings. Unfortunately, all of this coincided with the war. Her daughter and sons in the States kept calling and telling her to get out of Saudi Arabia because there was going to be a war. We sent her home reluctantly. I wanted to work more with her on her salat. It was really sad to see her go. She was a tall, proud looking woman who got on that plane wearing hijab and a beige abaya (cloak).

We kept in constant touch. About 9 months later she excitedly called to tell us that she had memorized Suratul Fatiha (Opening Chapter), and was trying to keep her fast for Ramadan. Due to the fact that she had hypertension and had special medication to take at certain times during the day, she was extremely saddened that she was unable to keep her fast. That following Hajj, my husband performed Hajj on her behalf.

During the summer when school let out, we were headed back to Detroit-- tickets in hand and all. My husband's sister called and gave us the devastating news that my mother-in-law had died. I was so stunned and saddened that we would not see her again that the telephone slipped out of my hand. We rushed home to lead her Janazah (funeral). His sister arranged that her grave be in a separate plot in the cemetery FACING MAKKAH. We did not even ask her to do that. SubhanAllah, I always thank Allah that there was not a lot of disagreement involving the funeral and washing the body, etc., as can happen when one person is Muslim and the rest of the family is not. Many people came to the funeral and as a result asked my husband many questions about Islam. I constantly pray for Allah's mercy and forgiveness for the woman who gave birth to the man I married, who became Muslim with me on the same day as I did, who fathered my 6 children and remains with me in Makkah to this day. She was the best possible mother-in-law. She was my sister and mother in Islam. I pray for her and my daughters after every single salat. May Allah grant her Paradise and may we be able to join her on that DAY of days.

O Allah, grant us the good of this life, the good of the next life and protect us from the Fire. O Allah, let our last days be the best days of our life and our last deeds be the best of our deeds, and let the best day be the day we meet You.

Umm Rafiq
Makkah

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Please participate in this Newsletter by sending us your letters, comments, or suggestions so we can make this newsletter your favorite. All correspondence should be addressed to:

The Editor of the Islamic Bulletin
P.O. Box 410186, San Francisco, CA 94141-0186

December 2001
Ramadan 1422
Note from the Editor
Letters to the Editor
Islamic World News
Many in Hawaii
Turning to Islam
Surviving Our Enemy
Women in Islam
The Miracles of Zamzam
Islam is the Fastest Growing Religion
Dawah - Our Obligation
Wisdom in Islam
Stories of the Sahabah
Events Foretold
in the Quran
Math in the Quran
Letter From Mecca by Malik El-Shabazz
Why I Embraced Islam
Eating Together
Fasting
The Miracle
of the Ant
Sand and Stone
Ramadan Soup
Kid's Corner
Mother
Imagine When
You Die
Eid Stamp & Poster