, “Warn that there is no deity except Me; so fear Me”.} Yes, truly that is the greatest gift in our lives.
When I find myself going through a period of lack of motivation and I’m grudgingly performing the obligations of Islam, I remind myself of those who struggled and searched to find Islam and how they wished that they had been Muslim all their lives.
Yasmeen Rolland is an American, Muslim woman who never takes her Islam for granted. She holds it dear to heart, continuously thanks Allah, and helps share her gift of knowledge with all people, both Muslim and Non-Muslim.
Yasmeen’s story is an inspiration. Her family had been very active in church life, and as a child she accompanied them to the church regularly. She had a strict upbringing. As she grew up, unlike most American young women her age, she was not allowed to date, drink, stay out late, or even wear make-up.
Yasmeen started searching for a deeper happiness in her life. Her spiritual journey started when she asked herself fundamental questions. What do I believe about God? What is the right religion? What is the right path for me?
Yasmeen felt a calling that she was supposed to teach others about God. One day when she was at her family’s regular church, she walked up to the preacher and said to him, “I want to preach. I want to serve God and call people to God. I want to travel the world and teach about God.”
The preacher told her that her desire was very noble, but women could not do that in their church. That added to her questions about religion.
One year before her senior year in university, Yasmeen signed up for study abroad, and she went to the United Arab Emirates and studied an entire semester there. It was an amazing experience for her. It was her first time to see Islam in a different light. It opened her mind to Islam. Previously all she knew about Islam and Muslims was what she saw on TV on the news, which demonizes Muslims. Yasmeen realized that everything she had seen on the TV about Islam had been negative and not even true.
In the United Arab Emirates, she had the opportunity to see what it is like to be in a Muslim country. What are Muslims like? What are Arabs like? How do they live?
Yasmeen saw female university professors and doctors. She saw families having picnics on the beach. She was impressed by the cleanliness of the streets. She was captivated by the women wearing hijab and was attracted by the beauty of the mosques. She felt the hospitality and kindness of the people. She felt safe there, and not in any danger or threat, in contradiction to the warnings of her friends and family in the US that it was dangerous for her to go to a Muslim country.
What touched her heart the most and sparked her interest in Islam was the adhan, the call to prayer.
“You could her the adhan from every single place. Hearing the adhan five times a day had a great effect on my heart,” Yasmeen said to Fahad Al-Kandari on his program, Guided by the Quran.
Not only did the melodious sound impact Yasmeen, but also the words. She learned the meanings of the words of the adhan, but she did not seriously take up studying more about Islam yet.
After completing the university semester in the UAE, it was time to return to the US, and on her way back, she stopped for a short period in London. She walked into a coffee shop to get some Arabic coffee. There was a woman and a gentleman there and she chatted with them as she drank her coffee. When she told them that she had been in the UAE, the gentleman asked her, “Did you find anything about Islam in the UAE?”
Honestly, she did not know much. The gentleman offered to tell her more about Islam and she was eager to listen. The first thing he did was he recited to her Surah Al-Ikhlas, which is really the foundation of Islam. He explained its meanings and she was entranced.
When Yasmeen returned to the US, she immediately went to the local mosque to learn more about Islam. What drew her to Islam was the concept of monotheism and that the soul after death will be resurrected and will be held accountable for all our actions in this world, either good or bad. She learned about Islam’s strong stance against racism. Those messages of Islam changed her life.
Shortly after that, she pronounced the shahadah and embraced Islam. She says that she had never felt such peace and serenity in her life.
Yasmeen was quick to learn more and more. She adhered to the teachings and prohibitions in Islam. She moved to live right next to the mosque, so she could easily walk there for the prayers. She even traveled overseas to study Arabic and to study more about Islam. Yasmeen felt a sadness overcome her every time someone would recite the Qur’an and she was unable to understand it. She learned the Arabic language to be able to pronounce and read the Qur’an with ease and to understand.
Today, Yasmeen Rolland is a renowned national and international speaker on Islam. Her initial calling that she had experienced as a child, to call people to God, came true, but in Islam. She travels regularly to conduct seminars and educate people about Islam. Yasmeen Rolland is the national representative for the Islamic Online University and she works closely with great teachers, like Dr. Bilal Philips. Her mission in life is to share with others what she has learned about Islam, and to continue to grow spiritually.