Account of Ann Patricia Samia Sheikh
I was born in Liverpool on the 10th of April 1944. I was blessed to be able to accept Islam, Ahmadiyyat in the year of 1964. I have also been the Sadr of the Sheffield Jama’at around the year of 1980, almost at the beginning of our Jama’at in Sheffield, which consisted of a few families, three to be precise, and also a few students who came for a short period of time.
In the beginning there was no Mosque or Mission house, we used to gather in someone’s house or the upper floor of a shop. The bigger functions like Eid or any other Jama’at meetings, we would travel to Bradford or London and later on to Huddersfield.
Before I converted to Islam, Ahmadiyyat I was a devout Christian from the Church of England and I was also a Sunday school teacher. Religion is not something you change like your clothes. I find that if you do Tabligh to people who are set in their ways it is very difficult because they either don’t want to know or they listen to you just to be polite and forget everything you tell them after they go away from you. I knew a few Christian ladies who were married to Muslim men but this did not appeal to me. I wanted to find out what the right path was and I wanted to follow it.
I come from a family, which consists of my parents and four younger sisters. Both sets of my grandparents passed away before my birth. I had many aunties and uncles but we weren’t very close, we only got to see each other on family gatherings such as weddings, funerals and Christenings etc.
I studied up to my GCSE’s and after that I trained to become a nurse. By the time I got married I had finished my final exams for nursing. I had married a Muslim man whose name is Dr Mannan Sheikh. I was working as a nurse for the NHS hospital. I did not smoke or drink alcohol. As a hobby I loved to play badminton and netball. I also loved to read.
My husband was a big influence as to why I converted to Islam, because I saw the way he lived; it was beautiful and played a big role for me to convert to Islam. I do not know what would have happened if I had not met my husband. It is possible that I might have embraced Islam afterwards, but is very different when you have the opportunity to observe someone very closely.
I knew a little about Islam from the media and TV, but there weren’t many Muslims living in Liverpool where I lived.
Converting to Islam changed the way I lived my life. Instead of going to church weekly, I started to pray five times a day at home. My dietary habits changed. I wouldn’t drink on celebratory occasions, instead I thanked God for everything I have and all of His blessings that He gave me. But after my conversion, I felt that suddenly my family and friends start to drift away from me. As I have already mentioned that I did not have much knowledge about Islam, Ahmadiyyat. I met my father in-law who was visiting the UK. He was a very educated, pious and broad minded man. I told him about some of the difficulties I was having to face after converting to Ahmadiyyat in regard to my family and friends. He asked me to pray and seek the guidance from Allah. Soon I saw a dream, details of which I have not discussed with anybody, but it convinced me that conversion to Islam and Ahmadiyyat was the correct course for me. I have been a Muslim since then, by the Grace of Allah.
Initially my husband and his father guided me towards Ahmadiyyat. Later on I met other Ahmadis’ and my knowledge gradually started to increased with talking to other Ahmadi Muslims and reading a lot of literature.
I had the privilege to meet the Third Khalifa, Hazrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad, when he was visiting UK and the Fourth Khalifa, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, on many occasions. I have also seen the present Khalifa, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, may Allah strengthen his hand. I have also met with Sir Ch. Zafarullah Khan Sahib and Bashir Orchard Sahib to mention a few. All these outstanding personalities helped me to consolidate my newly acquired faith. In my younger days I have attended Jalsa Salana in Rabwah, Pakistan with my whole family.
Some of the challenges that I faced after converting to Islam, Ahmadiyyat were to live a life different to what I was bought up in. Some people have opposition from relatives and friends, I did not have many problems there.
I try to live my life according to the teaching of Islam. This includes following the five pillars of Islam, dress code, food, drink and dealing with others and contributing Chanda. Two years ago I was able to perform Umrah with my husband and daughter. I was at that moment in a wheelchair, due to Osteoarthritis. I had both of my knees replaced and I am getting better now. I feel much closer to Allah and have more desire to do good within my limit for other human beings. I say my five daily prayers by the Grace of Allah and go to the mosque whenever I can. I read the Holy Qur’an at least once daily, a few pages at a time. I pray that Allah accept my supplications.
Religion is a personal matter with a person and the Almighty. My decision to convert to Islam was accepted by my family. I try to remember Allah all the time in my daily tasks and ask my children to do the same. I am conscientious to always gain Allah’s pleasure.