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33. SUZAN

Suzan married Abdul Qadar, a Burmese Muslim residing in Maryland. He was a manager of a shoe company and frequently attended Sunday services in Laurel Mosque. One day he expressed his difficulties to me. He said, "I am married to a Christian lady. We are blessed with twin daughters. I am worried about the future of my children. I tried my best to bring my wife to this mosque but she refused totally. What should I do?" I advised him to bring her to our house for a dinner. She will meet my wife and would feel more comfortable. This approach worked. Suzan started coming to the mosque and also started attending adult sessions for Tafseer of Quran. Few weeks passed very well. One Sunday I was conducting the Tafseer Session. I gave an explanation of a few verses of the Quran and then I invited questions from the participants. Suzan asked a question. Another gentleman responded even before I could say anything. To my surprise Suzan started crying bitterly while sitting in the session. Everybody was confused. Abdul Qadar led her out of the mosque and drove her home.
Later on I asked Abdul Qadar the reason for her crying. He said, "Suzan refused to go to mosque again. She felt that her question had annoyed the person who answered her with a very serious face. She did not like to annoy anybody."
To the best of our knowledge and judgement the respondent was not annoyed. He only had a serious look. I said to Abdul Qadar, "Please explain to her calmly and cool mindedly that most people from India and Pakistan have serious faces. You can see this at any airport or bus station or shopping center. This is our cultural drawback." Suzan gradually digested this idea and after few months returned to the mosque. She learned more and more about Islam every week. She found question and answers session very beneficial in understanding Islamic values and faith. She developed friendship with many other ladies in the mosque and received lots of encouragement and respect.
She liked this new way of life and wished to embrace Islam. I had the honor to make her recite Shahada, the Islamic pledge. After that she was a Muslima and our sister. I also performed the Islamic marriage between them in the mosque the same day. Suzan was enjoying a new life under the blessings of the Islamic faith.
During the Islamic marriage I explained them that it was mandatory for the husband to give Mahr to his wife. It can be in coin or kind. I also reminded them that Mahr is the personal property of the wife and she can use it the way she chooses. Husband has no say in it throughout his life. Abdul Qadar eagerly agreed to pay Mahr. Suzan was amazed to see the respect accorded to a woman in Islam and the way her rights were preserved. It definitely strengthened her Islamic Faith. This situation took place in the State of Maryland.
It will be very interesting to mention another similar situation that took place in the state of Michigan a few years later. As Imam of the Tawheed Mosque, it was one of my duties to perform marriages in this State. A Muslim youth requested me to perform his marriage with a lady. I explained them the rights of men and women in Islam and about the Mahr. Both of them filled the prescribed forms for the marriage and the form for payment of Mahr. After that I asked them if they had any question on their minds before entering into a marriage bond? The lady said, "I have no question". The young man said, "I have an important question to ask you". He said, "I understand that I am supposed to give her Mahr and that will be exclusively her personal property. Is she not similarly supposed to give me Mahr?"
I told him that in Islam the Mahr is for wife only. He was very much surprised to learn this. The lady was amazed, like Suzan, to see the dignity and honor accorded to a woman in Islam. She was also somewhat amused by this conversation.
She chose to be called Saeeda since she was very gentle and nice to everybody. She embraced Islam with clear knowledge, utmost sincerity and full commitment. She immediately started observing full Islamic dress irrespective of fear from neighbours and general public. Her daughters were going to elementary school at that time. She motivated them and asked them to wear scarf in school in spite of the fact that the children tried to make fun of them. I told her that it was not necessary for the young girls for the time being to face the difficult situation in the school. But Saeeda emphasised that they should learn and observe Islamic way of life from their younger age. Saeeda and her two young daughters dressed in accordance with the Islamic code looked very outstanding and graceful when seen in shopping center or other public places.
This was her level of faith and commitment. Her husband used to laugh at himself. He felt that we born Muslims take Islam very easy and hence our commitment is shaky. Abdul-Qadar and Saeeda have a very peaceful and enviable family life.


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