In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
There is no deity but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.
In this blessed month of Ramadan, we hope and pray that Allah will allow us to increase our recitation of the Qur’an simultaneously with our relationship with the Qur’an. Moreover, we pray Allah enables us to learn lessons from the lives of our predecessors for us to increase our self-awareness and reach our full spiritual potential. Ameen.
I will be sharing my reflection on the third Juz’, which starts at ayah 253 of Surah al-Baqarah (The Cow) and continues to ayah 91 of Surah al-Imran (The Family of Imran). I reflect on the themes mentioned in these surahs in the story of Maryam (peace and blessings be upon her) and the story of Isa, from his birth, as well as the relationship between the Muslim believers and the people of the book.
When I first learned about the story of Mary in the Qur’an, I was empowered by her love, worship, and dedication to God. Her spiritual state made her a knower of God, and Allah elevated her due to her spiritual power. “Mary, God has chosen you and made you pure and exalted you above all the women in the world.” (3:42)
You see, I am a convert of Haitian descent who grew up Catholic. I learned about Mary according to the Christian faith. Although Mary is highly revered in Catholicism, her profound spirituality and reverence for God in Islam are unequal. Her story demonstrates the gift of a mother’s du’a and the fact that she wanted nothing else for her daughter than to be at the service of her Lord. In response to Maryam’s mother’s sincerity and purity of intention in dedicating her children to Allah, her Lord accepted her (Maryam) with gracious favor and enabled her a good growth (3:37). A daughter, who later on became a single mother, raising a son, Isa the Messiah. A son who was rejected by his people, similar to our Black sons and the dismissal they face in society.
Her spiritual state made her a knower of God, and Allah elevated her due to her spiritual power.
This past December, we had the honor of sharing lessons from Maryam’s life as a single mother at our virtual Rabata Masjid. On Friday night we held a webinar where two teachers shared their experiences as single parents. I had the blessing of MCing the Qiyam program, where we spoke about how to support single mothers in our community. As a single mother, Maryam’s story reminds me of the many Black mothers raising their sons independently. The story of Maryam can be used to inspire and remind Black mothers that Allah is their guardian, and the du’a of their hearts are being heard by the All-Mighty. Nothing is impossible for Allah, he hears the unspoken du’a of our hearts and will provide for them as He provided sustenance for Maryam. Reliance on Allah was demonstrated here through Maryam’s unshakable tawakkul in God despite adversity.
As a convert care coordinator for Rabata, I often speak to converts who face many types of adversities in and after their conversion to Islam. For example, many of them don’t know how to interact with their non-Muslim parents and family members. Juz’ 3 allows me to help female converts on their journey when engaging with the idea of family. Though there may be differences in our beliefs, we remember that Allah knows our heart and theirs. It is our task to show them respect and honor. They are still people of the book, the term Christians and Jews are referred to in the Qur’an. We hope for Allah’s mercy when thinking about our extended Christian family and remember the verse that unites us, “People of the Book, let us arrive at a statement that is common to us all: we worship God alone, we ascribe no partner to Him, and none of us takes others besides God as lords…” (3:64).
During this time of Ramadan, we should take the opportunity to connect to our Christian and Jewish neighbors, classmates, and coworkers. We should invite them to discover the beauty of Islam and Muslim hospitality. There is nothing more marvelous! Islam highlights the diversity and variety of cultures worldwide. We should remember when welcoming non-Muslims to show how Islam allows people to embrace their culture and identity, especially through food.
In this blessed month, let us reflect on Juz’ 3. Let us remember the story of Mary, mother of Isa, the single mother who was a devotee of God and whose worship and loyalty to her faith elevated her amongst all human beings. Let us read the verse which teaches us about the people of the book and reach out to people of other religions and invite them to Islam. Lastly, let us find ourselves in the lessons and stories found within the pages of the Qur’an.
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Emmanuelle (Eman) Manigat was born and raised in Montreal, Canada from Haitian parents. She converted to Islam 23 years ago and is the Convert Care Coordinator at Rabata. She is currently a student at the Ribaat Academic Institute where she is studying sacred Islamic Sciences and Arabic under the tutelage of Shayka Tamara Gray. She also teaches a Rabata women’s halaqa. Eman is one of the admins on the popular Muslim Women Convert Circle FB page, exclusive to convert women of all backgrounds and locations. Furthermore, Eman is the Lead for the Rabata Toronto Chapter where she strives to follow Rabata’s ethos of positive cultural change. She is also on the steering committee for Black Canadian Muslim a non-profit organization who’s mission is to enhance the lives of Black Canadian Muslims of the African diaspora by reviving a sense of community based on Islamic principles, education, art and support. Eman resides in Toronto with her two beloved children and husband. She is currently working on completing her master’s in Pastoral Studies with a Certification in Spiritual Care and Psychotherapy at the University of Toronto.