Where do you call home?
Actually, I have two homes. I am from Columbia, South Carolina, and it will always be my home. It is where my family is and the place I keep returning to. I also call Kuwait home. I am married and have children in Kuwait and I basically have lived there for the last 15 years. It is where my husband, children and I have roots.
Tell us about your parents/family growing up.
Daddy was in the army, so I am an Army Brat. I spent the first 18 years of my life flitting around the world. I went to 11 schools in 12 years and I loved every moment of it. My life on army bases and in town in places like Panama, Okinawa and Stuttgart played an integral role in shaping who I am today. I learned about different cultures, different beliefs and different perspectives and how to integrate the best of each into my life.
Can you describe your typical day?
Well, I am a Muslim. As such, my day begins with the dawn prayer. I believe that since God, Almighty Generously Gave us 24 hours to do with as we wish, we need to be grateful. As such, my day is divided into the five prayer times. Thus, I begin my day with prayer. Usually I sleep a bit more and the day begins. These days, I’m on sabbatical and I have no set schedule for research. As a Muslim, I have been instructed to gather as much knowledge as possible, so my year of research fits nicely with that goal. I break my days between writing my textbook, tending to the needs of my family and doing things that better me or my society. Since I have some free time, twice a week, I volunteer at the Islamic school and teach English to the Syrian refugee children who attend. On other days, I try to attend local community groups and offer my services where I have the ability to help. I also spend a lot of time with my mom and dad, trying my best to be of use to them, since I have spent so much time away.
What is your present state of mind?
I think the best word for my state of mind is content. I have finally reached a stage in my life and my faith that I can sincerely feel that whatever comes my way is good because it was sent by my Creator and Protector. My faith in my Lord is such that I know that even when I don’t understand the reason behind my situation, be it what I would have chosen for myself or not, that it must be good because Allah (God) would not send me anything that would harm me. So, I put my trust in Him and that makes my life smooth and easy.
Has there been a defining moment that set you on your current life path?
I am a woman of reason. Everything I do must be logical. I was not satisfied with my previous faith and life, because I couldn’t ‘logic it out’. I cannot survive on blind faith because I firmly believe that our Creator would not create us as intelligent rational beings and expect us to ignore reason and logic in finding and worshiping Him. The defining moment for me was when I studied the bible at its roots, the Greek, the Hebrew, and the Aramaic and saw that it had been drastically changed over the centuries. Then, I read the Quran and saw in it pure faith that was firmly embedded in logic, reason and intellectual clarity. Also, I saw that the concept of One God, without partners, is the same as the original documents that were changed and transformed into the modern bible. Added to this, the Quran being the only book in history that hasn’t changed even one word in 1500 + years, was amazing to me. On top of this, when I read the Quran and found in it scientific facts that could not have been known at the time of its revelation, I was intrigued. All of this together, convinced me of the truth of my religion, Islam. It changed my life and the lives of everyone around me, because it changed me and how I interact with the world.
Who do you depend on for support in your life … and who depends on you?
I depend on my Lord. This has been the most freeing experience of my life. People can help us, but we, as humans, are flawed. When I have a serious problem, I may seek advice from someone, but normally, I prostrate myself and seek help from my God.
As to who depends on me, frankly, I do my best to help as many people as I can. I hope my children, my husband, my parents, my siblings, my relatives and my community depend on me, but only those ways I can help them to help themselves and that I can teach them to turn to the One Who Can and Will Help them the most, Almighty God.
What does being a Southern woman mean to you?
Being a southern woman to me means drawing upon my heart when dealing with those around me. I look inside myself and think about how I would like others to treat me and act with others based on that. The true Southern woman is loving, hospitable and tough as nails. We know how to treat our families, our neighbors and our community and we will do whatever it takes to protect those we love. It saddens me to see so many of us lose this.
What is one change Southerners could make to improve our current culture?
Remember who we are. Remember our Creator. Remember that God, Almighty, Created us all and while we may look, act, worship, believe or sound different, we are one nation, one people, one race. We are the human race. We need to remember that we Belong and to Him we will most certainly return to Him, so we need to make our lives pleasing to Him.
Share an accomplishment that makes you feel proud.
I try my best not to be proud, because I know that anything I do is from the Grace of God. Nevertheless, I am human, so if I had to choose, it is my children. I know, they aren’t really MY accomplishment, but they have been my labor of love. I am proud of who they have become and what they can still accomplish. They are my greatest gift to the world, and I can only hope and pray that what I have done in raising them has been enough to shape them into honorable and beneficial members of society.
What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Relax and trust God, because it always works out. No matter how bad it gets, no matter how bleak it looks, it all works out and with every hardship you will suffer, there is going to be a plethora of ease and benefit.
Dukes, Hellmann’s, or Miracle Whip?