In The Name of Allah, The Most Beneficent, The most Merciful.
From Dancer to Deen
By Ruqayyah Dawood
Around four years ago I was sorting out my storeroom when I came across, amongst other dusty objects, a tenor recorder, a folder of certificates and photographs from my dancing days, a black velvet sash with many gold medals sewn on it, and four dancing trophies. My daughter, who was twelve at the time, had been laughing at my luminous pink ‘nikah’ dress and looking through artwork and writing from my school days when she became detracted. The hideous outfit, poetry and drawings of cats were soon forgotten when she eyeballed the tenor recorder.
“Oh, Mummy, did you ever play that? Can I have a go?”
As she tried to get a tune out of it, asking what other instruments I played, it hit me that my children probably don’t see me as a revert, even though they know I wasn’t always a Muslim. I’m just simply their ‘Mummy’ who reminds them to pray and discourages music even making them turn down the volume on their PlayStation. Certain characteristics they possess, such as an absence of racism and an open mind towards ‘not yet Muslims’ I find endearing and realise almost certainly it is because of me being a white revert myself, whilst their father is British Pakistani. It wasn’t unusual to hear my children explaining to other Muslim children that not all ‘white people’ are horrible to Muslims- “mummy is white and so is my nana, and they’re very nice!” I often heard them point out to friends, adding with pride, “And our Mum is a Muslim!” Nor was it infrequent for them to educate their mates, Muslim or not, that the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, was not Pakistani but an Arab! My daughter would often answer to those who enquired after her ethnicity, that she is half Pakistani, half white but really just human and Muslim!
So I reluctantly informed her that I played the cello and the piano a bit too, “BUT this was before I became a Muslim,” I emphasised!
So that was that. Or so I thought.