am Fatima, a young Gambian lady born into a conservative muslim family. Did I
mention a strict practicing Muslim family? I live with my parents and two elder
sisters. My father is an Imaam and my mother an Islamic lecturer at the State
My mum often organizes free Islamic lectures for women and children during weekends. Non-Muslims are not an exception, by a virtue of the standing principles of our noble religion to treat all humans equally, one of the most interesting part is that the crowd gets bigger and bigger every week and my sisters are always there to help our mum conduct smooth lectures. They are very tolerant and ensure that everyone feels at home. The manner and modesty that underpins the way my mum patiently and confidently answer the many different questions that these people often raise , always amazes and inspires me, for I knew it takes patience to do such a task .
Not being too ‘religious’ as the rest of my family members, I’m not much bothered with what they do. I hardly render a helping hand during these moments nor do I attend a full lecture. Once my mum and sisters are busy on the lectures, I use that as an opportunity to sneak out to parties. I was different; the odd one in the family.
All these were happening as I was embracing the Teen age. My parents and siblings always wake up as early as 5.a.m for fajr prayers . As devoted Muslims, my family never liked missing morning prayers.It is a daily routine that every member of my family will read some portion of the Quran before dispersing to prepare for their daily activities. Every member of my family is well versed in the Quran except me. Being religiously and morally oriented, my sisters never leave the house without being modestly dressed in accordance with the acceptable norms.
My parents are very kind and supportive. They share every little thing they have and always encouraged us to do the same. Their piety led them to make sacrifices that most people would not have made. No matter their busy schedules, they always create time to spend with us. We may not have everything we wanted but we have each other in times of need. That’s how my family is.
Despite all that, I kept doing things against my parents’ wishes. I have a distinct way of thinking and acting according to my desires without considering how bad the outcome may be. When my parents noticed my impious and spurious behavior, they sat me down and advised me calmly hoping that will soften my heart and make me change my vile attitude. They told me about the importance of being obedient to the commandments of the Lord and even went as far as quoting verses from the Holy Quran, Al-hadiths , and bringing in my sisters as role models in order to solidify and make a compelling case to win my heart. My manners then was at best, off-hand, at worst totally ignorant. As the days passes, I became worst. I stayed extra hours in school to avoid the daily religious practices and my parents unending sermons.
My parents became very worried about me. Apparently, every member of my family is well committed to the practice of religion and so, my parents’ disquietude was the mysterious source of my ignorance. When they couldn’t solved my problem through dialogue, they resorted to using drastic measures. I got punished whenever I act erroneously.
In my determination to be at odds with everyone, I came up with a plan. I will dress modestly and then changed forthwith, potraying a totally different outlook as I does in my family house. My friends house was however a comfort zone and hub for this dispicable manners of mine. Anytime i reached their houses, I will comb my dark-curly hair, letting it bounce on my shoulders. My parents were not aware of all these. They were a bit relieved when I started dressing modestly and acting on the principles of Islam at “home”. They had not even the slightest idea that I was faking it all. I often became a different girl anytime I turned stroll the streets in my indecent outfits.
I was completely blinded by the negative influences of my friends. I was equally lost in all the praises the boys’ showers upon me on the street. I am strikingly beautiful. All the women in my family are indeed beautiful and light skinned, an attribute we inherited from our Moroccan mother.
One evening, something terrible happens which sparks a glow in my dark life. As I was walking home from a party, I was hit by a speeding Range Roger. When I opened my eyes the next day at the hospital, my parents were right there sitting next to my bed. I felt so ashamed of myself. I was not an obedient child. I lied to them that I was going for a group studies at school and ended up in a club, then a hospital. I was bedridden for almost three months, battling for my life. I regretted all the time I wasted, ignoring the advices of my family, and blindly following my desires.
Today marks two years since I left that hospital. I am now a changed person, no longer the odd one in the family. I am currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Comparative Religious Studies at the state University. I thanked God for showing me the right path through my family. There’s no benefit in the misguided life I was living. Now, I’m not just admired, loved and respected by many, but equally, I felt more comfortable, peaceful and happier than ever and I am committed that so shall be my way for life!
I have emerged from the ruins of a devastating episode of my life stronger and passionate to change myself and soceity through the lenses of solidarity and universal brotherhood.