Monday, April 2, 2012

B is for...


I have one brother. He is older than me by five years. We are the only two my mother was able to have because of complications, even though she wanted to have more.

When we were growing up, we weren't really very close. He graduated from high school by the time I got into middle school so we never had any similar friends or even spent time in the same places as I was growing up.

We didn't really become friends until my brother went into the army reserves when I was in high school. I wrote him letters while he was in basic training and he would send me some of the cartoons and grafiti style art that he did when he had free time. I loved getting his mail, I thought it was so cool getting to know my brother and realizing that he thought of me.

When he went to further training after basic, he was allowed to use the phone again and we got to talk every couple of weeks. This is when my brother told me he realized I was a "real person." I wasn't just a little sister anymore; we actually became friends.

At this time my whole family moved to a different town. My parents both got new jobs and I was going to a  new high school for my senior year. My brother had dropped out of college after his first semester and he stayed for a while in my home town and worked.

After I started university, my brother decided it just wasn't going to work that his little sister got her bachelor's before he did, so he went back to school as well. He went to community college for a while to establish a grade point average and then started attending my university. For the first time in our lives we actually went to the same school. We would see each other on campus and edit each other's papers. Our friendship built even more.

During the second year of my bachelor's degree, I started making friends with ESL students, especially Muslim ones. I started learning about Islam and learning about Christianity. I was raised as a Baptist (that is a group of generally American Protestant Christian). The more I started questioning Christianity, the more religious my brother became. We had many arguments discussions about religion and what we each believed and what we learned. Even when we got frustrated with each other, we ended every conversation with "I love you, talk to you tomorrow." No matter how hard we argued, I never doubted that my brother loved me and respected me even if he was frustrated that I didn't agree with him.

Eventually I converted to Islam alhamdulillah. I started wearing hijab and dresses right away and a few weeks later took 3abaya full time. However, I didn't tell my brother and father right away. They saw me for months in 3abaya before I actually told them I was muslim. I decided that I would wait to tell them and let them adjust slowly and share my knowledge of Islam and let them see how I had positively changed before I dropped the bomb, but that if they straight up asked me I would not lie. If they asked if I was muslim, I would say yes.

One day in a car ride back from from visiting my mother's family, my brother asked me "So you consider yourself muslim now?" and I replied "Yes, I do."

He was upset because he loves me, and he was so worried about me because he believes only Christians will go to heaven. But he also realizes that I practice what I preach to the best of my ability. He tells me that I am a better person and that his faith is based on belief while my faith is based on actions. I told him that I never felt like I was a good Christian until I became a Muslim.

When my brother got married, his wife asked me to be a brides maid in their wedding. Honestly I was very uncomfortable with the idea of being on display that way, especially wearing a fancy dress instead of 3abaya and standing up in front of a lot of people that I'm not even related to. My mom and brother were upset that I wanted to wear hijab to his wedding, but my sister-in-law was so supportive mashaAllah.  She told me she couldn't care less what I wore, she just wanted me to be there to stand up for her. So we found a way for me to wear a big purple prom dress with a long loose cardigan and a nice embroidered chiffon scarf. I was a bit uncomfortable, but I was so happy to see my brother settling down.

He still doesn't agree with my choice of Islam, but he respects me. He has two little girls now with a third on the way. When he needed a nanny for his girls, he asked me. My friends in the masjid asked if he was uncomfortable leaving his children alone with a Muslim? When I asked he said that I'm the best person he knows, and he would be honored if I rubbed off on them alhamdulillah.

The level of respect I have from my brother, even when we don't agree, is something that is so important to me and I don't tell him often enough.

Are you close with your siblings or family? Are you closer with your friends?


  1. Nice post mashaAllah =) Your brother seems like a really nice guy!
    I have one brother who is about 2 years younger than me. We are completely different in character and looks. You could say he is my opposite: very outgoing, always away from home, popular etc. We didn't get on well while growing up, and had a lot of fights. There was a time he used to be really mean to me, like a bully. Now it seems we are indifferent to each other. I've been to Egypt for 5 months and he didn't contact me once, and I know we won't be in touch when we move out of the family home. He is not religious, and knows very little about Islam, only the stereotypes, which he sometimes throws at me in his arrogant and bossy way. I don't really feel sorry I'm not closer to him, because I don't think it would work anyway.

    1. My brother was this way for a while too, from when I was around 3 or 4 until I was about 18. He changed a lot at that point though, but it seems like your brother hasn't really grown as a person...

      My brother sometimes throws stereotypes at me as well about Islam. He reads about Islam from Christian people instead of from Muslims.

      May Allah guide him to change his heart ameen, I know it is hard when family is not the least bit supportive.

  2. This made me tear up. I love that you were a bridesmaid and that your brother is able to separate his opinion from his love and respect. I have a brother and sister and we are very close friends, even if we each live in a different country. Great post!

    1. alhamdulillah yeah, we have stayed close even though we don't always agree. our parents did a good job of raising us this way I think mashaAllah. Even if you can't look at your family without wanting to punch them, you still love them :-P

  3. This is such a poignant post, lovely.

    I don't have a brother, but I have two amazing sisters who I'm super close to!

    1. I always wished that i had a sister. I was hoping me and my sister in law would be close, but it didn't really work out that way but alhamdulillah.

      I got a buuunch of sisters when I converted to Islam :-P

  4. I love your post, it's a very beautiful story!

    I have one sister, we were not close at all as kids. We became very closed when she moved to Ireland, we lived together. Then I met my husband, we grew apart unfortunately. This time apart was very hard but we both had to deal with our own issues.
    Now thought we live in different countries, we talk to each other twice a week. We are rebuilding our relationship. She is great.

    Have a lovely Monday dear!

    1. It seems similar to me and my brother. When we moved apart we actually got closer...

      I'm so glad that you are able to rebuild, some people just give up you know?

  5. MashaAllah on your conversion, You should also check out heart Hijabs, you will love there hijabs.