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The winner of the September 2018 writing competition is Sabrina Azhar with her poem titled 'A Message to the Youth'

How the Qur'an and Islam Should Influence Our Day-to-Day Lives - Interview with Sister Jamila Jones


I’ve been once again blessed to have the opportunity to interview a Muslim sister who is very active in the Muslim community; locally and globally. Sister Jamila Jones is a Muslimah who loves seeking knowledge and making a difference in her community by raising awareness, educating, and volunteering her time to promote events and activities. Let’s talk to Jamila and find out more about her.

1. Umm Sumayyah: Assalaam ‘Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah wabarakatuh sister Jamila. How are you doing my dear sister?

Jamila Jones: Wa ‘alaikum salaam warahmatullah wabarakatuh. Alhamdulillah, I am good my sis.

2. UmmS: I’m happy to have the opportunity to interview you today and can’t wait to find out more about you. Could you please give us a brief summary of who Jamila Jones is?

Jamila: Yes, sure. I am a revert to Islam. Allah guided me to this religion back in April 2004. I am also a self-employed virtual assistant, I assist small business owners to maintain their websites and social media platforms. I am also a mother and a wife. I have two grown children and I’m blessed with a grandson.

3. UmmS: Maa shaa Allah! You’ve been a very active blogger and share knowledge from the Qur’an. In addition, you volunteer in your local community by creating awareness and raising funds to help those in need. Please tell us a bit about that.

Jamila: Well after accepting Islam, I had such an overwhelming thirst to understand the Quran, so the first thing I did was to take classes that taught Quranic Arabic. Over the years I attended numerous classes and took several online courses. A friend of mine asked me to teach her the word-to-word English translation of the Quran. I was reluctant at first, but the sister reminded me that the Prophet (pbuh) said: “Convey from me, even if it is a verse.” So, we met every Sunday at the local Masjid. We were soon joined by another sister, and before you knew it, we were a circle of twelve seeking knowledge. This was why I started the blog. It was primarily for these sisters to access resources and information on the lessons we were studying. The sisters and community embraced me as a new Muslima. I learned so much over the years by just observing and being in their company; taking in the Islamic etiquettes. What I learned from books, I saw being implemented by these sisters. They were especially active in raising funds to support the community, so I also became a volunteer.

4. UmmS: What an amazing journey, Allahumma baarik 'alayki (may Allah bless you)! I’m glad they were able to convince you to share the knowledge Allah blessed you with. We can sometimes be shy to share what we know, but doing so takes away from us progressing as an ummah. 
What does seeking knowledge mean to you?

Jamila: Besides it being a requirement of every Muslim, seeking knowledge for me opens up my understanding. Wanting to understand my purpose in life and seeking the answers is what led me to Islam.
Why is it important? Islam is the religion of knowledge. The first instructions our Prophet (pbuh) was given was to read. The Quran and the Sunnah are a gift for those who believe. It contains everything we need to be guided through this life, how to eat, how to pray, how to trade, how to treat your parents, what to say when you enter your house, how to be with your neighbours, what to say when you sneeze; all these are acts of worship. So, it’s important to seek knowledge for our own guidance and our own salvation.

5. UmmS: Subhanallah! I couldn’t have put it any better! Basically, Islam is a way of life. And just as you said, it encompasses everything we do in our daily life. So TRUE; it must be important to seek knowledge to live a fulfilled life and gain salvation! Subhanallah. 
What made you decide to get involved in your community?

Jamila: Although the sisters and the community were very welcoming, I felt there was a lack of integration within the different pockets of the community. Leicester is a very multicultural city with Asian, Somalian, East and West African, Arab and Caribbean communities. But, I found it difficult to penetrate the cultural barriers. And I being new to Islam, I questioned why as Muslims we were not working together as one. So, this was why I got involved. I wanted to see all these diverse groups and cultures come together and unite as one, and that’s how our charity developed.

6. UmmS: I 100% agree with this! I’ve noticed the same issues in the different communities I have lived over the years. Despite us being very diverse as an ummah, we DO lack integration and even representation. Sadly, not much is being talked about this issue. But, Alhamdulillah, the few who are taking this matter seriously can definitely make a difference and a greater impact over time. It’s all about consistency, hard work, and good intentions. May Allah make us overcome this problem as an ummah.
Do you think there’s a relationship between seeking Islamic knowledge and volunteering our time in our communities?

Jamila: Definitely. Before Islam, I used to volunteer for organisations, but my sole focus was to gain work experience for my career. But after gaining knowledge, I learned about the importance of our intentions. If you make the intention to volunteer for the sake of pleasing Allah, you will be rewarded for your actions in this life and the hereafter. So, if I had not sought knowledge, I wouldn’t have known anything about the importance of niyah (intention).

7. UmmS: That’s very true. Would you advise other Muslims to take a similar path? If so, why?

Jamila: The Quran and Sunnah instruct us to provide support for each other, especially new Muslims. We all have our own journeys in life. There may be some who are able to dedicate a lot of their time towards helping in the community and some who are not given the opportunity. So, I would say, if you are able and would like to gain reward by helping others, then I would encourage you to do so. It’s a good way of providing support for each other as well as new Muslims and the community. You will gain work experience, new skills, and make friends. 

8. UmmS: Right; together, we can make a greater difference. It’s all about each person doing his/her part.
What are some of the challenges a person may face on the road to seeking knowledge?

Jamila: There will always be challenges in life, but I truly believe that there are no barriers in seeking knowledge, except if you are not granted Tawfik from Allah. If Allah does not grant you the time and opportunity to learn, then it is from you and Shaytan. But Allah is Merciful. There is so much knowledge available to hand; we have no excuse. Allah has made it easy for us. We have easy access in our reach; both text and visual, YouTube, television, internet, social media, and eBooks. It’s so easy. I remember visiting a sick friend in the hospital; she was gaining knowledge by listening to lectures on her phone. In the times of the Prophet (pbuh), they used to travel to far lands to gain knowledge.

9. UmmS: It is true that knowledge has been made easier to gain today, but, don’t you think that challenges can naturally occur without it being one’s fault? I mean, for example, there are some Muslims who have been tested with deafness and may find limited resources to seek knowledge. There are others who are tested with blindness, or even multiple forms of disabilities that make access to knowledge even more difficult. In addition, not everyone has access to the internet to listen to lectures or read the endless books available online. On top of it all, with so much information online, it can be very confusing for many to know what is
authentic and what isn’t. 
What do you say about that?

Jamila: I mentioned earlier if Allah does not grant you Tawfiq, which also includes ability, then it is from ourselves. Allah will test us with many things, and having a disability may be one of them. But, Iman lives in the heart, and there are many with disabilities who still seek and apply knowledge. The Prophet (pbuh) told us that his ummah will split into 73 sects which definitely causes dissent. But those who follow the Quran and authentic sunnah will surely be on the right path. But again, ultimate guidance and Tawfiq is from Allah. We can only do our part just as the Prophet (pbuh) did; by delivering the message.

10. UmmS: Got it! What are some practical steps you would advise a person ready to learn about
his/her deen?

Jamila:
• First and foremost, to seek the correct knowledge from Quran and Authentic Sunnah.
• Learn Tawhid; the Oneness of Allah. The Prophet (pbuh) taught tawhid for a decade before migrating to Medina.
• Build a structure in your life by learning the 5 pillars of Islam.
• Approach your local masjid and tell them you want to learn about Islam; they will embrace you and help you.
• Connect with a sister or brother that can help mentor you or become your study buddy.
• Find a teacher who has a high degree of learning, who takes both the Quran and Sunnah into account.
• There are so many classes open to us now online. The majority of my learning has been online because that’s the way I love to learn. I have listed the courses I followed on the About Me page on my website.
• Pray to Allah for guidance and have faith.

11. UmmS: Maa shaa Allah, great practical tips. What would you advise those wanting to volunteer their time in their communities?

Jamila: Again, connect with your local masjid; this is where you will meet other sisters or brothers who are already involved in their community. If you cannot physically go, try connecting to online communities on social media, such as Global Support for Muslim women and Revert Muslimah Islamic Group. Both groups are on Facebook and are very active in their communities and can give guidance.

12. UmmS: What’s the greatest life advice you would give to a Muslim?

Jamila: Trust in Allah.

13. UmmS: Easy, true, and straight to the point! Maa shaa Allah.
Is there anything else you would like to share?

Jamila: Hold on to the Rope of Allah and learn Islam. Study the Quran and Sunnah and implement it, and teach what you know to others. I learned a lot about Islam by just observing other Muslims. So be mindful of your actions; you never know who you may affect.

14. UmmS: That is VERY true! Even though Islam is one thing, and Muslims are another, but we do have to strive to represent Islam through our actions. Living Islam is first and foremost for our own good, but, it can also be a form of da’wah (inviting others to Islam). 
Some of our readers may want to connect with you; where can they find you?

Jamila: You can contact me through my website, Students Of Quran. Drop me a line anytime. I usually respond within 24 hours.

15. UmmS: Baraka Allahu feeki sister Jamila for taking the time to talk with me. It was an absolute pleasure and I’m sure an eye-opener and reminder for many of the readers! I wish you all the best on your journey, my dear sister. Assalaam ‘alaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuh.

Jamila: Wa ‘alaikum salaam warahmatullah wabarakatuh.

UmmS: Sister Jamila is right in saying that it is much easier for us today to gain knowledge as opposed to those in the past; for the most part. We have to take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way. I’m once again humbled and reminded that there’s no time to waste; we have to make the most of the short time we have on this earth. What stood up the most to me in this interview was when she said, “A friend of mine asked me to teach her the word-to-word English translation of the Quran. I was reluctant at first, but the sister reminded me that the Prophet (pbuh) said: ‘Convey from me, even if it is a verse.’” This hit right home for me. I tend to be shy to share what I learn, but that’s nothing but the trick of Shaytaan that I allow. Knowledge isn’t learned to be hidden; it must be shared. Granted, we should also try our best to make sure it’s authentic. May Allah guide us all and grant us authentic knowledge.

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