Conversion Story For Anissa Al HassanPublished on 21 Apr 2020
My name is Anissa Al Hassan. I was born in Memphis, Tennessee. I came out here when I was five years old, to stay with my father, me and my sister. My stepmother raised me, she adopted me and my sister and she raised us as we were her own. They were Christian. My mother was a Christian, I used to go to church every Saturday and Sunday, all during the week. My belief was straight in God as I was a young person, but I liked going to church because it was all about God, and something doing right. But I read the story in the Bible about Abraham, how he believed and he was one and how his father did things to him. So I kind of kept a strength and followed in his faith. And that's what kept me.
All my family are Christians, I have maybe one cousin who's a Muslim. As I converted into Islam, I met a brother, who brought me into Islam when I was about 23 years old. He was a believer in Allah, he just wasn't practising. My first step was the Nation of Islam, and as I was going to their services classes, one day, they told us, we have to write a letter. And we have to write a letter to Allah in Chicago, to get our names. And I'm like, if Allah is in Chicago, then I'm fixing to go to Chicago. So I left the Nation of Islam. Then I went to Sunni Islam, we went to Sunni masjids, and was uncomfortable there because they didn't treat us right. And like I said, my husband, I didn't know anything about Islam until I met him. That's how I came into Islam. When I got married, he was teaching me about Allah, and I believed already because I believed in God, and when he was telling me about the things about Allah, and the things that we have to do, I accepted it. And we went to the masjid, and he told me I had to cover so I did cover. I covered just for him at that time, because I was learning.
We got married at the masjid in Long Beach, under Islam, and then we had our first son, which was Ali, I have a son by him. But after that, that's how we proceeded on to Sunni Islam and I continued to learn. And like I said, I got so uncomfortable, because the foreigners were so disrespectful that I stopped going to the masjid. I told him to go and learn and come back and teach me. So he stopped going, they wouldn't give me salams, or they wouldn't talk to me, only maybe one or two people talked to me. I would sit there by myself, so I wasn't learning anything.
So basically they wouldn't talk, they’d look at you all crazy...and it was just all kinds of stuff that I wasn't comfortable with, so that's why I didn't go back to the masjid, so I basically studied at home. And then when I came, I haven't came to Shia Islam yet. I decided one day when we separated - me and my husband separated - I decided to move back to LA.
There was a brother that I wanted to get in contact with, when I came back to LA that I met when I was a child, when I was 16 years old, he was very interesting to me, so I moved back to LA to look for him. In the meantime, that's when I ran into the Moors. The Moors taught me Shia Islam. I ran into them, and basically, it was a brother that was in the Moor that I had taught when he was little and from Long Beach and he had seen me, and so he brought me into the Moors. And so what they taught me about the Ahlul Bayt, and ever since then, I've been a Shi'a.
And I have never took Shahada by the way, until I met the Moors, and that was in 1993. I was making salat, praying but never knew about taking Shahada, that's how much I didn't know about Islam because of the Sunni, they didn't tell me that. So anyway I got Shahada from the Moors al-hamdulli-Lah.
Well, it was the stories - we always read the Quran anyway, so I believed in the Quran from you know, my husband, when he brought me into Islam, but when they taught me about the Ahlul Bayt and the stories about Imam Husayn alayhis salam, about the Prophet, about what he knew was going to happen to his family and- that's what turned me even more because that's kind of relationship to our ancestors, our history, how we’ve been killed and hanged and our heads chopped off. You know I have family that was you know, killed and enslaved, like right now my mother, she lives on a plantation right now in Mississippi, you know. So I had experience in knowing this so when they told me these stories I just cried, I just- I said that’s just like us, I couldn't believe it, and this has been hidden from me.
This deen, this Islam and about the Ahlul Bayt, the family of the Prophet, the story of Karbala, basically, because when they were talking about how Imam Husayn, when he was getting ready to leave and he was going straight there, to his martyrdom, I mean that right there. That's interesting because who would go to some place to die. It's hard. And then they killed his family and children. That's horrifying. So that inspired me. I don't know what more to say but- what more I can say but like I said it reminds of our stories, our history, of the things that happened to us in this country and it's still happening.
And then Fatima alayha assalam, her story, how she had a baby and after she had the baby, she went straight to salat. Oh my God, you know, most women can’t do that right now because they have menses, a lot of things. So I accepted it, you know. And hadith al-Kisa, they used to recite that all the time, the story of the blanket. I love that story and that just keeps me going. And I like the way they make salat, prayer, because when I was making salat the way the Sunni made I couldn't make that salat because it wasn't inspiring. I didn't feel anything. So when I got with the Moors- the Moors were taught by Shaykh Hamza, those were his students, hamdullilah. And as I make the salat, the prayers, I feel the prayers. I feel this- you know, the duaas, I feel them and it's a blessing inshaAllah, and I’ve seen miracles, I've seen things happen, al-hamdulli-Lah.
Anyway, as I go further into learning with the Moors. At that time when they met me, I was raising my sons, my nieces, my nephews, and other children in the neighborhood. So I had, like, 16 children in my house at that time. So what they did was help me teach them and train the children and teach them Islam. So my nieces- majority of my nieces and nephews have Shahada al-hamdulli-Lah. And so later on, like I said, when I moved back to LA, the person that I was looking for, I didn't know it was going to be Shaykh Hamza. He was the person that I met when I was 16 years old. And so at that time, he had heard of me over in Florence and Normandie teaching students so he was trying to find me, so Allah made it where I met him through one of the sisters.
And she told me that there was this brother who has two wives already, and he can help you with those brothers, the citizen brothers over there, but that's if you accept him with his two wives and he's poor. I said, all I need is that brother to teach these citizen brothers over here and help me with my children, and I have no problem, this is about Islam. And so that's how we met and so we brought up both our Jamaats together as one. And so we had Jumu'a at our house, we kept serving Allah, we were doing Dua Kumayl and everything that I had I put it to Islam for them, and so we tried to go to the masjid. And so because of our- our house got too full and we couldn't you know, load everybody there. And so as we went over there we started practising the deen, started doing the things that we’re supposed to do for the Ahlul Bayt and we got locked out.
So most of my students are now grown you know, and they have children so they’re all scattered out right now, all students. So right now, I feel this is a blessing from Allah. Allah’s answering right now for us because we need help, we are oppressed over here, the Shias, the real believers in Islam and the Ahlul Bayt, we are oppressed because we have no funding, most of us are homeless. They're being oppressed by the police. Because most of the young brothers, the brothers that became Shia - I don't know if you remember or not when we had the riot on Florence and Normandie, the last riot, well all those brothers are Shias now, and some of them have returned to Allah already.
But you know, we've been oppressed by the police in the neighborhood, you know, we don't have a masjid, we really don't have a masjid. We need a masjid here in South Central, a masjid, a school, housing, so we can develop jobs and stuff for us in our community because we don't have that. We steady struggling, us as the Ahlul Bayt. No, slavery has not gone away, we are oppressed here in this world, we are still enslaved, and not- because we're not conscious of it, they still have us enslaved by the police coming around and still attacking the African Americans, that’s still the laws of the past slavery, you know. We are oppressed here, like I said, the things that they're doing to us in our neighborhoods, like, you didn't know brother but last week, my house was - how do you call it - search and seize, because I have not just sisters here, I have a brother here who's on parole and he has a thing on his leg. And so they came and did a search and seizure while I was gone out of town.
But that was the first time they did that, but they just picked on him at that time because they wanted to because he didn't do anything that they find he did they took him to jail. It was a past case. Why would you do that? See that's the type of thing that we are being oppressed, they try to do right, and they still come out and arrest you and torture you and do the things that they're doing.
Myself, what I do in the community, I'm retired from work disability. So my whole income that I use, which I know is a blessing from Allah, goes seven times because I feed everybody in the community that I can: the homeless and those who are in need. Now there are sisters and brothers who are homeless in this community. So I try to house them in my house, you see how little my house is, I only have a one bedroom, each room, someone living in it- even in my garage, there's someone living in my garage.
So when they move out, there's someone always coming in. I house Christians here as well, they didn't want to leave, but I couldn't let them continue to stay because they were Christian and they didn't want to serve Allah. So we got into some conflicts sometimes but I was humble enough to let them stay here and I tried to take them to Christians who would help them. But what I do in the community, I do a lot of work. You know, I work seven days a week for Allah. All I do is pray that I continue to do work for Allah.
And like I said, we have Muslim sisters and brothers who need housing, and for a while I didn't have a stove. You know, it was a Christian man that I met he said you don't have a stove, he gave me the stove just like that. Muslims knew I didn't have one -I didn't have a stove for five years, but hamdullilah it was a blessing that this Christian man had donated the stove, that was a blessing for the cause of Allah, and I want to get to heaven inshaAllah, I do not want to go to hell, you know, and I love Allah, and I love the Ahlul Bayt and I love my people, I know what they're going through, I know that they don't- they're not conscious, you know, what's happening to them and some Muslims not even- a lot of Muslims not conscious either, so I try to help them as well, inshaAllah.
Those who are spending money on masjids, yes, should be spending money on the cause for us, for the oppression that we are going through, for schooling, and housing for us that we need here in this country and jobs, we need jobs inshaAllah. But you know, I love masjid, we need masjids, but we got so many already, you know, I'm talking about building one in South Central LA, but it will have a school, housing and jobs. But all these masjids don't have that, and we need that here in our community, especially in the Shi'a African American community. If we get those things here with the real believers, we can help other countries that what they're going through, inshaAllah.
Also the khums that are being collected here in this country that have been sent over to the other countries. We are the oppressed here and I believe that those khums should be given to us here in America, for the Shias here in America, who are oppressed here. We started a program, a class at Masjid Rasul. So we started a program there, and it was for the prisoners who come out of prison, because we don't have a place for Shi'a prisoners, Muslim men and women, when they come out of prison, there's no place for them to go, they have to go to a Christian facility to practise their deen and that's hard on them. And so we started a program called Eclipse. When we tried to get this program out together, eventually people who tried to stop the Eclipse which they did, they didn't do the things they were supposed to do, like file the taxes on it, or donate money. And people stole money from the money that was donated, and it didn't get accomplished like what we were supposed to do.
Sister Salima, the sister that you interviewed earlier at the masjid, she gave birth to 11 children. I took her into my home over 15 years ago, before she had 11 children. And she had 3 girls, they came into my home and I taught her Islam, gave her Shahada, her and her daughters, housed them and fed them. So now she moved on and she accepted the Ahlul Bayt.
Sister Fatima, the sister sitting next to me right now. I took her out of the community that she was in, her family are drug infested on crack, cocaine, things like that, and her father right now is on the street. So she is staying with me now, we had her since she was 16 years old, and taught her Islam, taught her how to pray, and married her to my son, one of my sons Ali, who was 14, he was married- he got married at the age of 14, to her in nikkah and they've been married for over 20 years. I also helped different other sisters like Shahada, who's a mental patient, subhana Allah. She came in, I helped her in my home, she has four children, and I had her to stay here with me as well and I fed her and taught her Islam but she didn't accept the Ahlul Bayt, but she does accept Islam. Some people that I have taught, couldn't accept the Ahlul Bayt, they didn't understand, their mind wasn't just conscious enough.
We were feeding the homeless at the masjid once a week. We had to stop feeding because we couldn't afford the funds anymore because I couldn't support and brother Amir couldn't continue to provide and we tried to get money from the community and from, you know, the imams, the shaykhs and stuff but they didn't fund us for our program. So right now, I still do community work once a month, we feed the elderly at the Metro Center. We do that still once a month, and that's a program through Sister Wajiha, inshaAllah. And I also still do teaching, I teach a lot of people in the community in my house, in this neighborhood, all my neighbors, they’re not Muslim, but they respect my Islam and they respect us here inshaAllah.
This neighborhood is nothing but gang-infested, but because of my prayers and duaas and my kindness to the neighborhood, it had changed a lot of people in this neighborhood. So like I say, they respect us. Anything that happens, they come over and they let us know or they watch my house, they watch my cars, they do all these things, and they give us the respect that we need, and that's a blessing.
The homeless people that got the food, they were very grateful for getting the food that we cooked at the masjid. As a matter of fact, they were always there. Sometimes they’d come there on Thursday while we are not there asking where the food is, because they love the food, they love the cooking, because people in the neighborhood, they tell us that we thank you guys for doing this because everybody's not doing that in the neighborhood, and they're grateful and they love the food that we give them. So like I say, they come over and when we feed them, they come over and take out the trash, they come over and help if we need any help over there. They come and help, and they give us salams. I could walk down the street and a homeless person would say; assalaam aleikum. Al-hamdullil-Lah, that's a blessing, and he'd be down on his knees or whatever, and he'll look at me like “Sister; assalaam aleikum.” And it’d shock me, I was like Al-hamdullil-Lah, that's a blessing.
So I know our work isn't being in vain, but the thing is, we just don't have the money. We need funds, and we can't get funds because nobody's giving it to us even in our own community, because they don't want us to flourish and proceed in what we are really supposed to do for Islam, so we got people stopping us, tyrants, you know. So if you can help us, we appreciate it, inshaAllah.
This video was first published on 25 May 2018 by ABTV Reborn as Reborn - Islam in the projects of LA. We are grateful for their cooperation.