Assalamu alaikum, I’m not sure why I was reminded of the below story that I’m about to relate, but I remembered it a couple mornings ago, as I was getting ready to go to work. And in my bid to try to be more positive regarding my “convert truths”, I thought I’d share.
I used to live in Northwest Indiana, in a town called East Chicago, which is between the Illinois border and the towns of Hammond, Gary and Whiting in Indiana. A sister I’d met in Chicago came over to visit me and we agreed to go to Jumua that day, for some reason settling on one of the small masjids in Gary. I’m not sure exactly why, though. I think it was because when I found their number and called them, a small child answered the phone with an enthusiastic “Assalamu alaikum!”, I asked about Jumua prayers for that week, what time they were, etc., and the child went to get an adult, who happened to be a man (can’t remember his name though), who proceeded to let me know of the time, address, etc. I also remember when my sister friend and I took the train from East Chicago to Gary, a brother actually giving us a ride back to the downtown Gary terminal which serves as the Gary bus, south shore train, Amtrak, and Greyhound terminals, as we’d taken the city bus from that terminal to get to the masjid, and he’d wondered why we didn’t just call the masjid when we got there as they could have given us a ride. But anyway…
My friend and I got to the masjid which looked like a converted house, but it was nice and clean and roomy, everyone prayed in the same room. The congregation was primarily if not exclusively African-American, but given that Gary has a predominantly African-American population, I was not surprised by this, and my friend also informed me that this was a “W. D. Muhammad” masjid, which didn’t bother me either, even though some Muslims had discouraged me from attending these masjids though I’m not sure why now. And I have to say, I had a pretty good experience there. I enjoyed talking to the sisters, and I really did want to come back, and I think they’d have helped me get there, however, I was married to my first husband at the time, he was quite abusive, and I think if he’d have observed me going to the masjid, by myself, on a regular basis, etc., he’d have either stopped it (because he would have seen it as me trying to be better than him or something), or he’d have put me down in some way. So I just never went back. I wish I would have, though.
There is also, or was, another small masjid in Gary, I’m not sure who owned the building or anything like that, but that was the masjid where I said my shahadah, but this masjid was attended mostly, it seemed, by a few Arab/Jordanian/Palestinians, and they only seemed to keep the masjid open during the specific prayer times. The biggest masjid is in Crown Point which at the time was way out of my reach, most of the time anyway, as I hardly ever had transportation to get there, and I didn’t know much about the masjids in Chicago or the South Suburbs or any other masjids that might have been easy to get to via public transportation to just show up at one of them unannounced. The end result being that I didn’t go to the masjid that much when I lived up there. Though I wish I would have.
So anyway, my point in relating this, though much of the details I can’t remember anymore, is just to say that my “convert experiences” haven’t been all that bad.