by Ayah Bia
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Brazil? A few expected answers would be carnivals, soccer, parties and so on. This is partly true. To me Brazil is the country of my birth and of my family. It is a place with its own unique identity and culture, the place of my childhood. Growing up in Brazil, I always felt different like I did not belong there. I felt there was something missing from my life. I had constant feelings of emptiness inside.
So I found things that would fulfill this emptiness inside. Going back to my high school years, I had made it a habit of waking up early in the morning so I could watch the sunrise. At night I sat under the stars, (my house was on a hill) and thought about life as I admired the tremendous city and the beautiful stars above. Each day and night of my ritual of admiring the created things, I got closer and closer in finding my peace and witnessing that miracle, I was searching for. Until today, I could not really explain how I felt that moment but it was inspiring. Waking up early in the morning and watching the stars at night gave me strength for the days to come. One morning I decided to share these feelings of inspiration with my parents. They decided I needed to follow my heart and they sent me to the United States to study English.
A year and half went by and I was in a community college in the U.S. It was here that I came across Islam for the first time. As a typical western girl, I was very resistant and a bit careful with forming friendships with Muslims. To my surprise, as time passed, I had a whole group of Muslim friends. I realized that although we came from different parts of the world our values were the same. I was amazed with their generosity, humbleness and hospitality. These feelings made me curious and I started researching Islam on the internet. I was trying to understand women’s roles and rights in Islam. My only understanding of this was that Muslim women are oppressed and submissive.
A few months passed and Ramadan came. The first time I heard about fasting I was perplexed. I said to myself, “Fast for what???…You can’t even drink water for the whole day…that is not good for your health.” Something changed in my heart that Ramadan. I actually fasted for a few days at the end of the month and realized that it wasn’t bad or hard at all. From this point on and in small steps my life started to make sense. I began to understand why we (human beings) are here and where we are going. I came to the realization that everything is a test from Allah (S.W.T) and that everything has its purpose. This was the day my life changed. Not only did I understand what Islam was about but my life became full with Allah (S.W.T). I found harmony in every moment of my life. This is why Islam is a lifestyle because Allah is part of every action we take. Realizing that made me see that I would be grateful for even the smallest things that happened in my life and I would say, ALHAMDULILLAH!!!(All praise is to God).
Three years later I found out about M.E.C.C.A. This organization has been great to me. Through them I was blessed by being surrounded with great people and a place where I was able to learn about the foundations of Islam. Today, M.E.C.C.A is a place where I can continue my studies and increase my knowledge of Islam- to be closer to Allah (S.W.T). M.E.C.C.A has become my second home.