Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuhu!
It's been a long time since I last blogged, but here goes a lovely interview with Sister Kasiya Higgins. This should have been put up on the blog even before Ramadhan, but I was a bit busy afterwards. Here's the interview anyway. May Allah make us all benefit from it, In Sha Allah!
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR LIFE BEFORE ISLAM
My life before Islam, was a life without purpose, chasing Dunya, and living a illusion. I was Christian, but wasn't really a practicing Christian since my 15 years old. I had my belief in Almighty God, but I was not satisfied with the answers I got, priests used to tell me - you know, it's fine, don't worry, when you older you will understand; but as I grow I still couldn't understand. I wasn't satisfied and the all explanation of the Christianity belief was so confusing and just not enough and not rational to me, so I put it behind me, and from time to time when I remember, I used to say a word to God, before I fall asleep at night. And that was it. My life was full of Dua's that wasn't answered, but I was too blind to note that a statue or a cross obviously can't do a thing for me.
I left home with 17 for traveling out of my country. Went to Milan, China and then Indonesia in a space of 1 year, and was in Jakarta where my life started changing. My heart was urging something, and I felt so lost and empty inside and I used to think of all the blessing I've got but I weren't satisfied because still there was some important thing that was not there. I realized I wasn't praying, I had nothing, no purpose, nobody to cry to, and I realized I needed God and I also realized that I didn't really know what was my belief.
I was against religion, for me it was a thing used on people's mind to control them but then I came to know that a religion teaches you to reach God. I surrounded myself with Muslims, my boyfriend at that time reverted, and I came to see so much things, and understand so much, and I got so much love and understanding, and patience from Muslim people, who welcomed me in their houses not pointing fingers or judging me, such good and honorable character, and at same time I came to know the right belief in the oneness of Allah - which was choking because everything I had believed was a lie - and I realized that Allah has chosen ME, out of so much people in ignorance, He, the Lord of mankind and jinn and all that exist, allowed me to see the truth and called me to the religion He perfected Himself.
Finally one day I decided to change, my Muslim family arranged everything, and Alhamdulilah I took my Shahada, 5 days after been a Muslim, I got married to my beloved, having the parents of our Muslim family, and the oldest brother and sister representing my parents and my husband's parents. And since then Alhamdulilah we striving together to became better as person and as Muslims.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO ACCEPT ISLAM?
What inspired me was the message itself, the Oneness of Allah; and the character of a true Muslim the love, the patience, the understanding, the support I got from them. I also wanted to have my heart in peace, and a purpose of life, something to relief my grief and anxiety, and you can only have it if you have Allah. AllahHu Akbar.
WHAT IS THE GREATEST CHANGE YOU SEE IN YOURSELF AFTER YOU ACCEPTED ISLAM?
The greatest thing I see in myself after reverting to Islam, is that I strive each day to be better, to have self-control, to be grateful, to understand that nothing is going to happen if is not Allah's Will, and Allah has a reason behind every thing He does, and that He will not give you something you not able to handle, and besides it all, He is there 24/7 to listen to you, AND to answer you. He will either say yes or give you something better, and He will give it to you when it's best for you. You only have to try to respond to Him, be obedient for your own good and safety, seek work and the bounty of Allah, make the effort and keep dutiful to Him, and He will give you everything and pay you in full for every deed, even though He doesn't need you. Subahan'Allah. The best thing in been a Muslim is that makes you want to be better and strive for a good character.
ANY TIPS/ADVICE YOU CAN GIVE TO ANYONE OUT THERE WHO ARE INTERESTED IN ISLAM BUT ARE AFRAID OF ACCEPTING IT?
It's not easy to give advice but, if you are really thinking to change, it's because your heart is telling you that you need Allah in your life, and you can only have Allah if you listen to Him and embrace Islam. If you are thinking of changing it's because you believe in Almighty God, Who created you. You fear people, but what can they do for you when you have the Lord, your Creator by your side, calling you, choosing you to be on the right Path. You really have nothing to fear. Know that difficulties will come and will hurt you, but it's worth because Allah sees it all and He will reward you for obeying Him. He will comfort you, and in the end of all, everything you fear will perish and Allah is the only One to remain and the only One Who can be there for you.
WHAT WAS THE FIRST VERSE OF THE QURAN YOU READ AND HOW DID IT AFFECT YOU?
I don't really remember because I started reading the Qur'an from cover to cover and was a very high English so I could only understand the main message of the Qur'an. But the one real open eyener for me is: "Know that the life of this world is only but play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children. (It is) as the likeness of vegetation after rain, thereof the growth is pleasing to the tiller; afterwards it dries up and you see it turning yellow; then it becomes straw. But in the Hereafter (there is) a severe torment (for the disbelievers - evil doers), and (there is) Forgiveness from Allah and (His) Good Pleasures (for the believers good-doers). And the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment." Surah 57. Al- Hadid verse 20
A WORD OF ADVICE AND CONSOLATION TO NEW REVERTS TO ISLAM
The greatest consolation for a revert is the Promise of Allah. He forgives you, He helps you, and He rewards you. People will judge and hurt you, and the oppression of your family really gets you and puts you down. They say and do things that tear your heart in pieces and specially because they are deprived of Allah's message makes your more sad and hurt inside your heart, but it will calm down. They can do nothing - you just have to give it sometime and they will carry on with their lives and get used to the fact that no matter what they don't have a say in your decision. It's hard but Allah makes easy for those He wants, for those Who striving for His sake. Allah doesn't let any deed go wasted. Just believe Him, seek His help, trust Him and things will naturally fall into its right place.
ANY ADVICE FOR SISTERS WHO DON'T WEAR THE HIJAAB YET?
First of all Hijaab is a command. You must make Dua to Allah put it into your heart and make it easy for you, and make the intention to start wearing it. Things does get time to change, you must change gradually so you won't get tired and leave it all behind. If you accepted and you claim to believe, know that Allah only tell you to do it because He is the All-Wise. The Hijaab is your protection from evil, protection from harm by sick minds of man out there, and it's a great gift from Allah.
Alhamdulilah it was something much great for me, and it does not deprive you of having a social life. You can start cutting off the use of short and tight clothes, if you cannot start wearing full Hijaab at once, make a change, start wearing long shirts, with not so tight jeans, cover yourself with long and loose pants and long skirts, long sleeves shirts, and then you try the Hijaab on, then you move on to a Hijaab and Abaya. And change your behavior also if you have male friends - don't shake hands or give hugs, don't talk with them for long and unnecessary things, don't keep on chatting to them on your phone or social pages as twitter and facebook, start lowering your gaze. That's how I made my change, slowly but surely. In the process, keep making Dua and intention, and your mind will naturally start to set up on that way In Shaa Allah and then when you get into Hijaab, ask Allah to straighten your heart to be obedient to Him and allow you to keep on doing it all.
WHAT IS THE REAL DEFINITION OF "FREEDOM OF WOMEN" AND IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU THINK MUSLIM WOMEN ARE MOST LIBERATED?
The real definition of 'Freedom of woman' is to go wherever she wants, without being annoyed by strange men, have the rights to study, have the right to work if she wants, have the right to earn her money and do whatever she wants with it, have the right to been supported and protected, and the greatest freedom is to cover yourself knowing that you ARE beautiful and you don't have to prove it to people. You are covered BECAUSE you are beautiful, and you want to protect yourself from envy, jealousy and physical and emotional abuse by other people. That's the real freedom, people must deal with your brain, and not with your look, and that is so beautiful Subahan'Allah.
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Jazakallah Khair for the great and insightful interview, Sister Kasiya! May Allah protect you, bless you and reward you with the best of this world in the Aakhira too, In Sha Allah!
Note: If you would like to be interviewed for our blog, leave us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get back to you, In Sha Allah. Sisters only.