SHAFAQNA- My name is Diva Allott, I’m a British Muslim Revert. Diva is my given name and I don’t have a Muslim name as after thorough research I never found it to have a bad meaning.
I reverted when I was 17 years old. The events that led to my conversion started in my adolescence; however the tip of the iceberg was when my father passed away suddenly, just a month after my 16th. birthday in November 2009.
After my father’s death, I began looking for answers within the Christian spiritualist church, and after a few months I realized that it wasn’t for me and it wasn’t providing me with the answers, morals and guidelines I had craved for so long.
My now husband who I had known from school and was my only Muslim friend provided me with basic books and contacts of other revert sisters. This was where my path to Islam began, other sisters and I would meet up most weeks and my knowledge of Islam would grow more and more.
Until, one day we walked to a predominantly Muslim area of Sheffield and went to an Islamic store that sells books, hijabs etc… the man in the shop gave me Dawah for 1-2 hours until I finally took my Shahada on the 18th. of November 2010. The relief was immense and I cried with joy with other sisters. Alhamdulilah (All praise be to Allah)
The year began to pass and I told my mum I was Muslim in February, and shortly after I became engaged to my husband whom I had known from school. The wedding approached and we were married on July 9th. 2011, just before Ramadan.
I moved in with my in-laws and awaited Ramadan with excitement. I spent much time thinking and wondering about how Ramadan would be, whether it would hurt, would I cope? Would I be able to carry on my daily life like working?
I had certain expectations of Ramadan that it would be an emotional, cleansing and spiritual month but I had also been told many things from my Muslim friends like it’s so hard, you won’t be able to keep them all (all my fasts), that it will be the hardest one with the longest days. I kept strong despite all the things that were scaring me and made me feel anxious, I trusted in Allah and I told myself that I can do it with the help of my Creator, Inshallah.
I must admit it that as I wasn’t sure what to expect from Ramadan as it was my first that I didn’t know how to make it easy as I was unorganized. I decided that my technique to coping was to take each day at a time and that suited me fine. My first day was the hardest, it was Suhoor time and I had a large bowl of cereal and a small glass of water. I couldn’t drink anymore as it made me feel sick.
The hardest part of the first day was my dry mouth and the desperation for water. The only thing that I could do to make it easy was to sit alone and think of how blessed I was to be able to have water when I wanted unlike people in deprived poor countries. This gave me the strength to get through each day and to thank Allah for all the blessings He has bestowed in my life.
Each day I was comforted in the knowledge that Shaytan (Satan) were chained up for the month and this gave me the opportunity to develop a strong, powerful relationship with God.
After the struggle of the first day with the lack of water, I made it easy by drinking regularly and small amounts beginning with straight from the Iftar. That night when I opened my fast at Iftar, I felt complete and overwhelmed and I couldn’t help but cry to Allah with gratitude.
Some mornings I really struggled to wake for Suhoor, so something that helped me was to get somebody in the same household to come and wake me up. However, if you are a new Muslim braving Ramadan alone, try setting your alarm in another room or getting a fellow sister to call you.
One of my major struggles in Ramadan was being a relatively new Muslim trying to develop in the Deenand having to fit in with my in-laws culture. This was very difficult and took much will power but I made it easy by making sure that Allah always came first and then the culture never really interfered.
With regards to funny incidents, they were many during Ramadan that made it all that more fun. My husband’s granddad was visiting from Pakistan, he was bored in the house, so we decided to take him on a walk through the woods. As we walked, my husband felt tired and weak and held on to his grandfather.
However, he slipped and accidentally dragged him into the river. The funniest part was that his granddad got up and carried on as if nothing had happened whilst my husband scrambled himself together. I was so intrigued by how his granddad could fast and be so strong and active; he inspired me to do more in Ramadan.
There were many other funny moments where me and my husband would plan what to do the next day like read Quran and then go for lunch, until about an hour later we remembered we were fasting, so lunch was out of the question.
Ramadan means so much to me, I really can’t explain it, as soon as it finishes I anticipate the next, it’s not about the food for me, it is about being able to spend that quality time with God and develop the relationship I have with Him.
I am always grateful for having this month as it provides us so many opportunities such as double rewards for good deeds, safety, peace, time to repent and also time to ask for what we really want and need in our lives.
This year is to be more organized. I am keeping a Ramadan diary with targets, such as learn 4 more Surahs for my Salah, what I want to ask for, what I must repent for, a timetable to fit in everything I want to do like read Quran, prepare the Iftar. Maybe this time next year, I could write this article and could have so much more to say about my 2nd. Ramadan.
I pray that Allah keeps you all in the best of health and iman and provides you with strength, knowledge and courage this Ramadan.