Laila Franklin-Yildirim (37) is a nurse who lives in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. She has a Master of Business Administration and Healthcare Management. She also has three children (and a cat). Her passion is working with the non-profit organization that she has founded, the House of Muslimahs, which provides Islamic education to Muslim women in the Atlanta area.
How did you come to embrace Islam? Is there any "one" incident you can pinpoint?
I was first introduced to Islam in college by my ex-husband and another college friend. After receiving written information I had the opportunity to see a transformation in another associate who had accepted Islam and it was beautiful.
What was the process of conversion like? What becomes different in your life when you convert?
The process of conversion for me was very peaceful, but at the same time scary.I was raised a Baptist and came from the southern part of the USA. At first I said my prayers in secret and didn't wear my hijab unless I was attending Jumah.The difference in my life after my conversion was that I feel closer to God then I have ever been in my life.
How did people, such as your family, respond to you converting to Islam?
My family responded with caution. This was related to the examples that they had encountered which did not present the best picture of Islam. My family thought that I would no longer be permitted to work, have to wear bed sheets for clothes,and would be beaten by my husband.
How can you compare the notion of prophethood in Christianity and in Islam?
In my opinion, in Christianity anyone can be a prophet and the prophets will continue to come until the end of time. In Islam, the last Prophet has already come and gone, and none shall follow. The Islamic notion of prophethood just felt and feels right to me.
What did you find closest to your heart about our Prophet? What was the most appealing thing about him?
The stories that tell of how the Prophet treated people, even people who treated him badly, with kindness. How great is a person who can let the person that killed your beloved family member walk away without retaliation.
How is the Mawlid of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) celebrated in the part of the world where you live?
Here in Atlanta, Georgia USA we have several Mawlids with prayers, nasheeds, Etc.
In Turkish culture, the "rose" is a frequently used symbol for Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Have you ever heard of this? Do you have such a symbol for our Prophet (pbuh) in your culture?
I have heard of this and in certain communities it is used as a symbol for him also.