الحَمْد لله Praise be to God.
Over a year ago, I was approached by a few girls at the recreation center at UC Irvine in between a game of basketball. I had gotten to know them by face, I spent almost every day on the courts playing, and played a lot of games with them. They were some of the better players in the whole gym. When they approached, they asked me if I wanted to be a part of the Club Basketball team they were starting at UCI, as a head coach. I believe I asked why, and they said that when we play I was one of the few guys that didn’t treat them differently on the court. Strangely, that thought never crossed my mind, it didn’t make sense to me why anyone would. They were better than me, I was the one that felt lucky to have such a good team to play on most of the time. Flattered by their offer, I took some time to think it over and eventually accepted.
Thanks to the Women’s Club basketball, my last year in college was my most memorable. I made new friends, travelled, and really devoted my time and effort into the team. I, along with the other coaches built a strong bond with girls, and we were pretty successful in our first year. My coaching style was very laid back, it was the first time I had ever done anything like this. I had never been in a position where I found myself having to spread knowledge of something I somewhat-knew about. I often turned to my religion, Islam, to help me with all the things going on that year. It may sound silly, but balancing school, an internship, and coaching a club team was pretty stressful. I took advice from the teachings I had grown up with to try to maintain this balance.
One day, one of the girls on the team began to ask me about my faith, about Islam. I believe it was around the time of Ramadan (the month in which a muslim fasts). I’m no scholar, but I answered to the best of my abilities. I let her know if she had any questions she could text me any time and I would try to answer it. She was extremely curious! She contacted me a lot, and even asked if she was burdening me with all the questions. She even fasted for more than 3 weeks because she wanted to experience this tradition. I bought her an english Quran and a book about how to perform salah (prayers) and encouraged her to give it a try if she was really interested.
As a Muslim, it is our duty to provide and spread knowledge of Islam when someone asks. This is something my Grandfather (Amiruddin Khan), whom I am named after, devoted his entire life to. He traveled all over the world and went door to door teaching Islam and inviting people to come learn more about our religion. Time passed, and her intrigues grew more and more. She joined the Muslim Student Union on campus, started attending Friday prayers, and befriended a great group of Muslim girls. I had seen all this progress over my time as her friend, and it was truly inspiring. She had given me a reason to turn back to my religion and expand my knowledge, just from her own curiosity. This in itself was a blessing.
She gave me a call a couple weeks ago and gave me some great news. She told me that she had decided that she wanted to become a Muslim. I did whatever I could to make sure I could be there. Something as simple as following the teachings of Islam, answering questions about it, and encouraging and supporting someone who is interested can greatly impact a person’s life. I encourage all my brothers and sisters to reach out to anyone and be a resource for your friends, and do as much as you can to spread knowledge. It is truly one of the greatest things you can do.
مبروك (congratulations) my dear friend and sister Nefertiti Rogers, thank you for sharing this journey to Islam with me. I wish nothing but the best for you and make prayers that Allah keeps you happy and successful in all things.