Name: Nuria Quintilla-Zanuy
Date of Shahadah: 01/08/2002
How did you become Muslim?
My first contact with Islam was probably in primary school in a History lesson through a chapter called the muslim empire where Islam was explained as another stage of history and the heritage left by it. I did not give much thought about that, it was the only information we had. After that the first contact with Muslims was through the immigrants who used to come to collect the fruit in the summer season, once again there was a big polarization of two worlds living together without knowing each other.
It was when I moved to London due to my studies that I came to know a different reality of Muslims and Islam. Being surrendered by international classmates and co-workers gave me another appreciation about the Muslims and the Muslim world. It was not until the summer of 2002 that my closest friends started embracing Islam. My reaction was very negative at first as I could not see any positive outcomes from embracing a lifestyle so strange to ours. My ignorance and blindness prevail for a while until a Muslim sat down with me and over a cup of tea was able to put things in a different perspective. Everything that had seemed to be obscure and strange became clear and familiar. I understood the difference between Islam and Muslims and to acknowledge the Shahadah is my heart was automatic, the hard part was to be able to accept it verbally as I knew I would have to make major changes in my life.
I was invited to a pakistani muslim family household for dinner who I had been befriending for a short time and made a very positive impression to me about what is like to be a Muslim and how a Muslim family functions. I was asked about considering being a Muslim and after a short deliberation I realized that Islam was really the lifestyle I wanted to live and that the Qu’ran could not be more than the word of God and that the Prophet Muhammed saw was verily the last of a chain of prophets and he came only to perfect good manners. Therefore I took my shahada on a Saturday afternoon and it felt as natural as it is accepting and acknowledging the truth about this life and its purpose. We were created to worship Allah and to follow the way of our beloved prophet Muhammed saw.
What is the thing you like the most of being a Muslim?
I love the fact I know my purpose in this life, that everything has a purpose, that there is a reason for everything we do and happens in life. I feel very much empowered by that sense of knowing that Allah is the Creator of all things, the beginning and the end.
I love the fact of presenting myself as a Muslimah in a society where Muslims are a minority and being respected and appreciated it by my intellect rather than my looks.
I love being able to see the bigger picture in life, understanding there is no point in getting upset or have arguments with people and being able to control myself in situations where others tend to lose it and when they ask me: how did you do that/how were you able to handle that situation…I love saying: because I am a Muslimah, and then is when the da’wah starts and people listen.
The thing I love the most about being a Muslimah is without doubt my dikr and my salat. The ability to remember Allah at all times, the eagerness to pray wherever we are.
What are the obstacles that the new Muslims face in Sheffield?
People come to Islam with different sets of dynamics. Some come to Islam with mortgages, with debts, with no education, being overqualified, with no job, with a career, with mental or physical problems, with addiction problems, with supportive families, with non supportive families, with no families at all, being abused, being over spoiled, being wealthy, being poor…and every situation has a solution, we just need to take the time to address each of them one at a time within an Islamic perspective, otherwise being a new Muslim becomes another problem instead of being seen as the major asset in life, the foundation to live a balanced and peaceful life.
The main obstacle that new Muslims face is the lack of a centre which offers a holistic approach to support and guide new Muslims in this new stage of their life and to guide Muslims in reconnecting with their true identity as Muslims living in the west.
Why would you like to be involved in a project/centre which will cater mainly new Muslims needs?
I would like to be involved in Al-Emaan Trust Centre because the Centre has the potential to become a role model for other centres and masjids in the UK in how to cater the needs of the most needy that is women, children and new muslims. If you support the foundation of the future generations that is women, their children and the new generations of new muslims verily you would have accomplished to make a great difference in people’s lives.
I would love to utilize my skills and knowledge to serve the muslim community and to be close to the ones who are interested in Islam and the Centre can be the best tool Muslims will have in Sheffield and surrounding areas.
I fully support the mission statement and the commitment of the Centre’s friends and supporters and I hope and pray Allah will let me take part in such an endeavour work and be able to share the blessings of supporting the needs of the Muslims in the Sheffield area and other cities insha’Allah.