Resilience: The Gift of the Converts’ Conference 
By Irene Kapustina
A community is a group of people who care about each other. This is the definition of what community is that I have worked out for myself throughout the years of doing community work. And our endeavors at the Convert Engagement Committee aim to do just that: develop a group of people who genuinely care about each other and who are invested in each other’s success. Because, at the end of the day, if there’s no understanding, kindness, and compassion within a community, its prospects are quite bleak: at the core of resilience lies love. 
Our annual converts’ conference exemplifies our work philosophy fully. It has been a true gift to the community. It is in its third year and has proven to be a unique space of opportunity to connect, learn, reflect, and, most importantly, empathize.
This year, through lectures, discussions, and workshops, we learned about our individual and collective challenges and how to develop resilience to overcome them. The closing ConverTsation session was a poetry writing workshop: we wrote poems inspired by our conference takeaways; it truly was a poignant reflection in action. I am honored to share these poems with you here:
by Majd

Fast adaptability

Resolve Innovate Pray

Connected Brave Challenged Hopeful


By Kevin Martinez

Molded Steadfast

Knowledge Ability Wisdom

Action is 50% wisdom


By Brian Maldonado

Patience-Sabr Adab-Manners

Silence Reflection Perspective

Allah is in Control


By Saym Basheer

Fall, only to rise up

I fail when I give up

When everything seems to crumble

Resilience is to remember

From Him I come and to Him I will return

By  Syeda Mohammed

Show perseverance in every performance

Show Strength with Sabr

In order to be successful – work hard  or show resilience

Be strong every second and stay healthy

Be resilient, show your smiley face to your enemy

By Moises Dorantes

Self-love Worth

Struggle Problem Overcome

Sadness Happiness Trauma Healing


By Moises Dorantes

Resilience is a lifetime process.

My wonderful beautiful self-love.

You can carry mountains on your back and universes in your mind.

Every single day you wake up thinking about the things you have overcome

Because you love yourself

And know how special you are.


Allah has given me strength to overcome

Given the guidance to what is unknown

The test may be easy or hard for some

Having the feeling of being alone

Allah gives me patience for others

Things they may not understand

He talks to me through verses

I follow through with each and every command

Allah is all forgiving

He was there since the beginning

He was what was missing

And I was yearning for the love he was giving

By Anonymous

Patiently persevering

Firmly standing upright

Safely rooted in Islam

Proudly focused

By Michele Shaar

Strength and perseverance

Adapting growing improving

Empowered protected, calm steady


By Hannah Gallinatis

Becoming unbreakable

Deep seeded roots

Remain strong and hardship


By Anonymous

Acceptance conformity

Take charge control decisive unyielding

Peaceful Relentless willful


By Umm Ruqayyah

Malcolm X

Intentional Fearless Intelligent

Grateful Proud Unapologetic Dignified

El Hajj Malik Shabazz

By Vilma

Fortaleza   Flexibilidad

oración   atención   llorar

calmada  energética  emocionada  feliz


By Aladean

Because I am resilient

 I need to carry the load

 I need to do it alone

 Only I can do it

 Only I can bear it

 Only I can carry it

 It does not matter how heavy it gets

 How many bricks highly they put

 I will carry all of them alone

 Like Bilal, I will scream, “Ahad! Ahad!”

 Because I am resilient

 I will give people three choices

 Move over

 Get run over

 Or open the door for me as I pass by

 I am the Muslim pharaoh

 It is my work

 It is my accomplishment

 It is me, me, me

 Always alone

 I am the Muslim pharaoh

 Because I am resilient

 I need to share the load

 Need to share the spotlight

 I need a shoulder to cry on

 I need to share where when I am hurt

 I need to say when the load is heavy

 I am going to give people three choices:

 Let me pick you up

 Or you pick me up

 Or let’s share the load

Nanci McAtee

Tenacious ability to bounce back

learning from the experience of mine and others

challenges are no longer scary

hardships turned into peace

perseverance permeates my life

By Christy “Noreen”

Role model

Four Queens.

Houses in Jannah.

Maryam Asiya Khadijah Fatima.



 Four husbands.

 First fourteen children.

 Lost eight in infancy.

 Four buried her.

YAYA, my grandmother!

Sabr and Shukr

 Beautiful patience.

 Worship selfless service.

 Mindfulness, yet setting boundaries.

 Gone at 39.

 IYA, my mother.


Umm Musa!

Basket that baby.

Let River Nile roll with justice…

To Pharaoh’s feet!


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Ramadan Musings: Mecca Convert Community Reflections

Steps for the Sake of Allah SWT

By Irene Kapustina

My first Ramadan left a lasting impression on me. I was about a week into fasting, I was going to work, which was right in the heart of Times Square in New York City. And as I was rushing through the crowd, people pushing and shoving all around me, I slowly descended into a state of hyper awareness (which was probably induced significantly by my total lack of knowledge about proper nutrition during Ramadan and the importance of suhoor!). The world around me slowed down, it felt like I was walking in honey: every movement became a conscious effort. And as I was moving through the crowd I looked at my feet and thought, “I am taking these steps for the sake of Allah SWT.” I looked at people’s faces concerned with their daily tasks and thought, “I feel so special, I feel so grateful, because I, at this moment in time, know why I am here and Who I am doing it for.”

In my mind, I go back to this episode often, because it truly is a metaphor for how I, as a Muslim, hope to move through the world. Isn’t every move we make and every step we take for the sake of Allah SWT? I frequently measure my non-fasting self to the hyper aware Irene during that first fasting week of my life and remind and challenge myself to do better every day.





By Leana Kalinchouk

My first truly special Ramadan happened after I got married. I will never forget it. Being able to stand in salah with my husband and in-laws, and hearing the collective ameens radiate throughout the house is something that still gives me goosebumps to this day.  It was the first Ramadan where after breaking fast, I did not immediately get back to work, instead I finally broke my fast with family, prayed with them and had the most rich discussions about Islam. I had finally felt a sense of belonging. Before marriage, it was just me on my own, everyone was with their families and friends. And not to take away from the uplifting Ramadans I’ve had on my own, however being with family is a whole other experience.

This coming Ramadan, will be another really memorable Ramadan for me as my mom had converted to Islam this last Eid and it will be my mom’s first Ramadan as a Muslim, alhamdullilah! Being able to pray and worship Allah SWT with my mom during Ramadan is something I have never done. I cannot wait to break/start fast with her, to pray, to read, to discuss with her and see her reaction when she finds out just how special the rewards are during Ramadan especially with the last 10 days and Lailathul Qadr.




Recharging Spiritual “Batteries”

By Debbie Mageed

Ramadan has the effect of recharging my spiritual “batteries.” I feel Allah’s help in getting me through fasting by quickly answering my du’a when it’s difficult for me. I feel His Guidance to be a better Muslim than I was before. Since I started fasting before I converted, I can safely say that it’s the understanding that we are fasting for Allah which makes the feeling of hunger so much less important than our closer connection to our Creator, knowing that He is the only One who can reward us for our fasting.

Ramadan created a bond to my religion that I never had as a Christian. This month of fasting is the “glue” that keeps my faith strong and steadfast. It opens my heart to the suffering of those in need and the desire to help them.

To me, Ramadan is all about living my faith as best I can, having the knowledge that it is only in our devotion to our religion that will give us the peace to live in these times.





By Andriana Stratikis

My first Ramadan as a convert, I used to walk slowly as I passed the neighbors sprinklers on my way home from work.  It was the super long days in August and I was so incredibly thirsty but the feeling of cold water on my head felt so good. I was so proud of myself like I accomplished something so hard.  It was the same feeling that a kid gets when they learn to ride a bike. It was amazing.





Ramadan Reminiscing

By Beverly Thomas

Though I don’t remember my first fast, which was about 30 years ago, Ramadan is the most blessed month for me beyond the obvious glory of this beautiful month.  I fasted Ramadan for 10 years prior to taking Shahadah. Then, in 2001 around mid-Ramadan 1422, I took my Shahadah.  One year later, Ramadan 1423 brought my first child. Several years later, our family was blessed with twins born one week into Ramadan 1429.

The rewards of Ramadan fasts, praying Taraweeh and spending time worshipping with family and friends are unparalleled by any other time of year.  I’ve always felt a special closeness to Allah SWT during Ramadan and I pray that our newest brothers and sisters in Islam feel that special closeness too.

Narrated Abu Huraira:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “(Allah said), ‘Every good deed of Adam’s son is for him except fasting; it is for Me. and I shall reward (the fasting person) for it.’ Verily, the smell of the mouth of a fasting person is better to Allah than the smell of musk.”



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