Things are pretty crazy right now. I’m scared, worried and overwhelmed. It came to me that the time is now. I want to be 100% transparent and want you to have the opportunity to get to know me better. I want to break down the barriers between us. I want to make a positive and empowering difference for the community and people around the world. I’m starting here and thank you for being here with me.

I am a Muslim Woman.

Born in Canada to an Italian-American and Canadian mother and Afro-Guyanese father. Growing up so light skinned (white basically) I was constantly trying to find my place. People always treated me differently then who felt I was. Sometimes I would be asked if I was adopted or get the side eye. I was told I’d never truly understand racism because I wasn’t dark enough. I understand that statement as it’s hard for people to understand things that they themselves don’t experience.

I’ve always been really interested in and conscious of God. My family is Christian so I’ve had my first communion and went to church. I liked going to church so much that I used to go with neighbors or my Auntie as my parents didn’t often bring me themselves. Loved those Sunday chicken patties! I was in Christmas plays and sang in the choir. But in the background of my mind I began to question Jesus’s position with God. I never understood and naturally questioned how Jesus and God could be the same. It just wasn’t something that ever made sense to me. At the end of the day it was something I just didn’t believe in. I believed in Jesus but not as Jesus being God.

I also studied with Jehovah Witness’s for about a year. Not sure why my parents allowed it but they did. It was a very interesting experience.

When I was 17, I came to realize about Islam as many of my neighborhood friends were Muslims. My cousin also was thinking about becoming Muslim and brought me to a few study groups. I started to become interested. I decided in December 1995 to take my shahada (profess my faith and believe in God (aka Allah) and to accept Prophet Muhammad as his messenger (along with all the prophets and messengers)) and become Muslim. I recall the wonderful Palestinian family that took me to to masjid to take my shahada. How beautiful it was. How I felt such a weight lifted off my shoulders and I swear to you I stopped being a worry wart. I had faith and my heart was and still is light and happy.

So why did I choose Islam? What were those deciding factors? For one, I didn’t have to give up anything that I already believed in. I felt that Islam was true extension of the faith I already had. I also always loved Jesus. After all, my first born is named Jesus (Isa is the Arabic translation of Jesus). We as Muslims believe in the return of Jesus as well. In this faith I fully believed in One God. It was natural to me. Since 1995 I never doubted my faith and my heart. Something that makes you strive to be a better person is exactly the path I wanted to be on and who I saw myself as.

My journey in faith was a slow progression. My family definitely was not happy but they came around to learn to accept and love me for who I am. I’m really blessed and grateful to them. I met my husband and partner Jamal in 1998 and we got married after just 1 month of knowing each other. Crazy right?! Now we have 6 beautiful and extremely active children. We have common goals and out looks on life. I’m very blessed to have been fortunate to find such a great partner. I thank God for everything.

When I started to cover my hair with hijab I was treated differently. I started to experience discrimination and people presumed things about who I am. I’m not complaining but stating this to give an example of how we really shouldn’t judge a book only by it’s cover. There is a whole lot more to a person then meet’s the eye. I love it when people feel comfortable enough to approach me and ask questions. I’m always open to questions even if you think they might be silly. It opens the floor for discussion.

The amazing thing is that we are just like you. We are simple every day people who love our communities. We care about each person that touches our lives. We want for you what we want for ourselves. Through what we do here at Henna Sooq, we can continue to spread the love. Henna truly builds bridges not walls. It brings us together from all walks and paths of life. Without henna I would have not had the opportunity to meet amazing people like you. I’m so happy the simple henna plant can be imported into Canada and the USA so that I’m able to spread health and wellness, positive energy and beauty within our communities. I’m grateful for the people in other countries who are gathering henna for us to share worldwide. It’s time we all looked at the bigger picture called life. Know that each one of us has a purpose here. Only good can come from unity. We don’t have to be scared of each other. Embrace each individual for who they are. The “texture” of each person is so beautiful.

If you have questions please don’t hesitate to ask. Post in the comments.

Thank You for Being my Sister.

Created by Artist Debra Cartwright

And my brother. Thank you for your trust, care and love of henna. It’s because of you that every day I’m motivated to do new, innovative creations with henna in both natural hair and body art. Thank you!