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Fatima on Worshipping Together

Friday, May 20th, 2011

“When I first moved to this area, it was a difficult transition. I had been living happily in New York for eight years, and was very active in the Muslim community there. I was involved with the Dutchess County Interfaith Council and taught religious school. My job moved me here, and then six months later discharged me to work remotely. I found myself grieving leaving a community that I loved so much.

“I live near Owing Mill, Maryland and went in search of the Muslim community there. I found the local mosque and went every Friday for a year to worship and try to meet other people. I tried to make connections there, but people would not greet me. I can’t tell you exactly why, but I think that it has to do with the fact that the mosque is within a couple of miles of the FBI offices. In the past, they had some infiltrators. The community there is South Asian, and I am very obviously white and American. Just talk to me for ten minutes, no talk to me for two minutes, and you’ll know that I’m American right down to my bones. But, I am also a Muslim.

They accepted me as I am, which was my salvation.

“It has been some 18 years since I converted. I was living in Washington State, the great green Northwest, and I was practicing as a Catholic. I was very active in the community, but also had a lot of questions that had been dogging me all of my life. No matter who I asked or how I asked, they kept saying, it is a matter of faith. I thought that if God wanted to communicate with his creation, which I do, he would communicate in a way that we would understand. That started me on my journey for answers by looking to the other religions.

“Around that time, I met and fell in love with a man. I invited him to go to church with me, which is what you did in Washington, it was no different than inviting someone to meet your parents. He said that he was a Muslim and preferred not to. I thought, what was so bad about being a Muslim that you couldn’t go to a church that was open to everybody. It was an impetus for me to start asking questions about Islam. I asked him, but he could articulate it and guided me to the Sheikh Idris Mosque, which was the first mosque built in the Arabist style west of the Mississippi.

“There, I started going to women’s meetings on Fridays. There were Muslims and non-Muslims who created a wonderful support network. I have always had a very spiritual guiding, so I just sat and tried to connect spiritually with Islam. You don’t have to speak Arabic to know how poetic and beautiful it is. And when I saw people prostrating together and putting their heads on the floor, that, for me, was it. I knew that it was my religion. It was the true religion. I waited about ten months to see if I could handle the obligations like covering my head and wearing the clothing, and then converted. For me, I knew I was a Muslim when I changed my pronouns. In the beginning, I would say, they say this or they do that. At some point, I would say, we do this and we do that. When I included me in them, I realized that I was them.

“Since then, I have lived my life by the rules of Islam. That’s what made me so angry about my experience at the mosque in Maryland. I speak as a Muslim. I treat people as a Muslim. I dress as a Muslim, and they would not accept me. I was at the point of jumping ship and leaving Islam. I did not want to call myself a Muslim anymore.

“I started looking for alternatives, but also thought that there had to be something else out there for me in Islam. I went to, of all places, to find other Muslims. I didn’t care if they were getting together to play bridge, I was going to find other Muslims that I could interact with. Through Meetup, I found Muslims for Progressive Values. When I came to the first meeting, I was floored. There were Americans and immigrants, conservatives and liberals, gays and straight, and men and women. They accepted me as I am, which was my salvation. I found them at the moment when I was ready to say, to hell with all of this.

“I have a deep seeded belief that we are not put on this earth to worship alone. There is something about community worship that is important. That group makes you feel whole and connected to something larger than you. I don’t think there is one right religion out there. It turns out that for me, Islam was right. For you, it may be something else. It is just important that we all find something and feel connected to the greater good.”

Learn more about the D.C. chapter of Muslims’s for Progressive Values.

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Topics: All Stories,Neighborhoods — Tags: Danny @ 9:38 am


  1. Danny – thanks for listening to my story.
    I am not sure which is more painful … living it or reading it in black and white.
    Either way, recognizing the truth and living it goes a long way towards healing and moving forward in life.
    I love your project and am honored to be included.
    Live and Light to you and your readers. 🙂

    Comment by Fatima Thompson — May 20, 2011 @ 11:40 am

  2. This is so powerful. Bless you for finding your people and preaching a message of faith and truth.

    Comment by Willow — May 20, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

  3. Thanks sister for speaking your truth.

    Comment by Fatema — May 20, 2011 @ 1:04 pm

  4. Really great and powerful story. Thanks for sharing, Fatima. I think that many people have similar questions about religion, but push them aside because it’s the easy/ comfortable way out. It takes a lot of courage and persistance to follow-through these types of questions with concrete actions.

    Comment by Natalie — May 20, 2011 @ 1:23 pm

  5. salaams sister,
    I’m happy that this worked out for you-I’ve got a version of your story and it’s still in limbo. I have only had muslim friends but now-I’ve moved and have found none. Cultural Islam is whats going on where I live, so i don’t fit in. I’ve now dissolved into the world of Christian and no one knows what I am.
    Pray for us sisters who are displaced and looking-I don’t even have any hope of remarrying-there is no one around…
    anyway-mabruk to you and have a wonderful time with the sisters,
    F Karimah

    Comment by Fkarimah — May 21, 2011 @ 12:46 pm

  6. Thank you for posting this and thank you Fatima for sharing. We all have a story to tell and yours is one of hope and community. It makes me proud to work with you in making our community to stronger and more diverse. Shukran.

    Comment by Yarehk — May 22, 2011 @ 10:54 am

  7. Thank you for this story, Fatima! I had a similar experience as you. I do believe people have an innate need to be together, which is why I was not content to practice my Islam only at home, but I did not want to compromise my values either. I believe that is why groups like MPV are a valuable addition to the Islamic community!

    Comment by Kelly — May 22, 2011 @ 1:09 pm

  8. […] Here is a link to a post that I found very interesting. I think that Fatima’s story is a lot like my own, and that many associated with the AIF would find familiar as well, regardless of their individual religious expressions. Masha’Allah we have a place to gather together! […]

    Pingback by Fatima on Worshipping Together — May 22, 2011 @ 9:25 pm

  9. Sister,
    Satan will never leave you alone for a moment specially if you are in pursuit of truth – he will try all his tools to drag you away from that pursuit or at least put some doubts about it.
    You should not look Muslims as representatives of truth rather they too and most of them are influenced by Satan – lost and ignorant. Do self-study of Islam’s holy book Quran and prophets teachings and you will feel real peace in your heart.
    Do not sway away by Satan’s tricks as he made some people behave badly – he wants to put hatred in your heard about truth and shows you something better than truth but in fact it is not. Satan wants you choose bad than good so that he win and you lose.
    What you actually need is a cold head some patience and some time for more painful research I would say and if you are unprejudiced in seeking truth Allah will guide you to the right path.
    And on top of all ask directly to Allah what is right and ask his guidance for it what else a better guide and helper you can ever find. There is only Islam and nothing like Progressive Islam, Multicultural Islam, Modern Islam or Conservative Islam etc. Just try to look for original Islam and you will love everything of it.

    A well-wisher of a sister in Islam.

    Comment by Abdul — May 23, 2011 @ 12:45 am

  10. i am not impressed by your story. I think salvation is a relative sense. if some one think that s/he got salvation, s/he may have salvation in vivo. It doesnt mean that s/he has real salvation. if you are christian then go through gospels. if you are muslim then go though quran. try to address the issues u r facing. Nothing like progressive islam. and definitely nothing like progressive muslim. Islam is a practical religion. interactive thoughts are there. i hope our [you 2] ultimate solution is lies in the The holy verse. Ultimate salvation is Islam. if you follow the holy verse you are a real progressive with divine values/

    Comment by Nick abdullah — May 23, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

  11. I felt the same sense of disconnect from the muslim community when moving from a northern state to Maryland. Couldn’t understand it. I thought I was the only one who had experienced this. Thanks for sharing your story. I think you are doing a wonderful job with this organization. Keep up the good work!

    Comment by BB — June 1, 2011 @ 3:46 pm

  12. Asa! Hey Sis! I recognized you from masjid al noor. Hope you’re well!

    Comment by Safiyyah — June 6, 2011 @ 3:37 pm

  13. The hate that I feel in my heart is real,But these are feelings that I don’t want to feel.Please Allah help me to be snrotg,As I know feeling like this is wrong.You know the pain and anger that I feel in my heart,Please take it away, make it depart.I’m so tired and weary Dear Lord,These feelings I cannot afford.I want to feel alive, I want to feel free,I want to be the best Muslim that I can be.Please take this pain, throw it away,I need to prostrate to You and pray.Please Allah forgive my anger,These feelings are from Shaitan- I’m in danger!Please calm my heart, calm my mind,Let me feel the peace that I yearn to find.Thank You Allah for hearing me out,Thank You Allah for allowing me to take the right route.VA:F [1.9.7_1111]please wait…VA:F [1.9.7_1111](from 0 votes)

    Comment by Britteny — October 21, 2012 @ 4:44 am

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