Huda Tonight With Raya Shokatfard
Channel: Haleh Banani
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Salam aleikum. I'm Hala Banani Welcome to inspirations on Hooda. Tonight Bismillah was salat wa salam ala Rasulillah Are you guest today started her career as a model and a successful real estate broker, driving her Rolls Royce with a license plate that had her name on it. RIAA. Even though she mingled with the rich and famous and was and was successful according to most standards, there was a deep emptiness inside that no amount of wealth, fame or entertainment could fill. She went on a spiritual quest to find meaning in her life and a sense of purpose, from Hinduism to Buddhism.
to seven years of joining Christianity to finally embracing Islam at the age of 35, this spiritual journey had many twists and turns with many unexpected realizations Find out how at the age of 73 She memorized the Quran, mashallah, toa Tabata Allah, defying all myths and stereotypes about aging. Our guest today has spent the past 30 years dedicated to learning the Quran by moving to Egypt, and then sharing her love for the Dean by moving to Malaysia on the island of Langkawi to endow her and teaching her on to mothers and children. It's a pleasure to introduce my dear friend sister, Raya, Shadowcat Salam Alikum Sariah and welcome to the show.
Riley kind of spell our cat on Thank you, Sister.
Haha, well, we have known each other now for the past, I believe it's about 15 years we met in Egypt and it was such a joy you would come for slumber parties when the kids were little.
Those were fun days.
Yes, it was beautiful to be grandma for your kids. Nice. It was really nice. And now, after 10 years, we've had a reunion you it's been such such a pleasure having you stay at our home the past few days, and you're recording from my home. And it's great to have you Mashallah. Thank you very much, sister. It's a pleasure to be here and see all of you. It's such a beautiful family here, very connected together, very united together. It's a blessing to be here with all of you. Alhamdulillah blessing to have you now before becoming a muslim, you were a model a real estate broker in Los Angeles. And many people are striving to have that life and they think all their problems would be
solved if they were just rich and famous. Tell us what was your life like?
Relax, as you said, rich and famous. I had pretty much in my 20s I had pretty much everything I wanted to I drove a Rolls Royce, which is a you know, kings and queens car. I had a beach home overlooking pacific ocean I traveled I had pretty much because it was really spoken I was really an ambitious. So I achieved my financial goal in the age of 2020 is 2526. And that's how my life was.
Mashallah, so, at such a young age, you were able to achieve so much. But how did you feel inside? Was there a feeling of contentment? Did you have it? Did you have a sense of fulfillment?
While at the beginning, I felt like I had a sense of achievement because my goal was financial, you know, freedom to have financial ability to travel is like as a young person most young, it's normal for young people want to do a lot of things, whatever I wanted to I was very goal oriented. So I was achieving it.
And then when I got what I wanted it life looked very empty. At that time, it was empty. It was empty inside and then how did you try to fill that emptiness?
Well, at that time we the mindset that I had, I thought the emptiness would be fulfilled with getting married and having a husband and
I thought if I achieved that goal, then I'm going to be in good shape. So I did get married and had a couple of kids in about less than five years that marriage failed. Oh, wow. So you were thinking that okay, all I need to do you experience the success. That didn't give you fulfillment. There was a feeling of achievement, but there was still emptiness. And he thought the solution is to get married, the marriage failed, and you were feeling you were still searching. So what? And you went from Hinduism to Buddhism to Christianity? What did you feel was missing from those religions?
Well, to begin with my motivation to join this religion was because the failed marriage and everything else didn't work, I, I really needed peace. So if anybody had peace in their faces, I wanted to have whatever religion they had. So a lot of I saw that in practicing Hindus, I joined them, and then Buddhism and Christianity what I found. The problem with that is all of them had idolatry, worshipping other gods. And then with Christianity worshipping Jesus as God, I could never do that I was looking for God, but the gods that they were introducing to all the newcomers, it was not the God that was looking for. So I was going from one to another, and I thought Christianity was
the last one. And now I could never worship Jesus as God, the Son of God and Father, Son, Holy Spirit. It was not the path I was looking for. I kept moving on. So you were searching for that peace. And whenever you saw peace, or serenity on someone's face, you thought the answer is their religion, you pursued it, you went after it. And each one you felt was what was missing was the fact that there was idolatry and you were looking for the one true God. So what was the most significant turning point in your life?
Well, if you're ready to cry, I can tell you otherwise, I won't tell you
actually no you will. If you see my video you will cry. But however, what it was is the pastor told me right I've been with a seven and a half years and you have not been baptized you're not officially a Christian but you and you know, the Bible, I was I knew the Bible even better than the Christian was even teaching the Bible. I was very, I was even went to Christian University studying Christian theology. So he he he noticed that I am serious learner, but why is it that you have not become a Christian? I said, Give me four days. And I will come back to give you the answer. He said, Okay. So that is when, you know, when I got the moment I got married to my husband, everybody err on
it was used to your code only had the English Arabic and had translation.
We never opened it up. So at this time, I took the Koran and I took the Bible, I went to some remote hotel by the mountains. And I sat there and I really, I really cried to Allah pantalla and I just said, I've been looking for you for 15 years and I have found people worshiping other than you please guide me, tell me what to go where to go How can I find you? So I have a Bible so I opened up all anti stratified
I opened the Quran to threaten spatter and of course, I'm reading the English part what I'm reading of course, because of lack of time, I cannot tell you all the meaning of the eyes but the eye as you know,
my lucky young 18 For example, He is the Owner of the Day of Judgment it is like it's like shock my system how come all of these people believe in reincarnation believe in other than the day of judgment so he I cannot go to the year can assign You alone we worship and from you we seek help.
Look at all these people and God the bulk of the people worship and Allah is telling us you alone telling us to tell him you're alone we worship and from you, we seek help Akena Salah tanomo stuttering Sara Lavina and I'm Tala mitered, my Bucha learning while asking us to tell him guide us to straight path that are those who have received your mercy not those who have and how's your anger and your wrath? When I read this,
I painted I passed out some Kool Aid don't know for how long. All I know is when I came to myself. I was sweating. I had fever. I was shaking is like a child
that finally found the missing mother. He was back on on. Even as I talked with you, my hair stands up this is how many years ago.
So, at that time I asked a local forgiveness ask Allah you know that Forgive me that I have gone astray, I was looking for you truly looking for you and I found you. I went back to the pastor.
I thank him for asking me to decide he was very, very happy. So you're really now ready to be Christian. I said, Now I'm ready to be a Muslim.
That's not the answer. He was waiting for seven years, seven years he was patient and Subhan Allah, how did he react?
He said, I will pray for you. And I looked at him very kindly. I said, I will also pray for you. And that's the last time I saw the pastor and the church and Christianity. I went
into Islam. Islam, what is it? I live in? Mountains, Northern California, not one Muslim mosque. Nothing. I had no one. All I had was one Quran with Arabic, English and some app see. And that's when my journey began to learn. So
what what an amazing story See, I got teared up. And you know, the fact that you had to decide and you went into seclusion. And this is an important lesson for all of us. When we need to decide on something we need seclusion, we need to focus and you plead it to Allah and anyone who has embraced Islam. I've had a shift use of STS here and he said the moment before he took his shahada, it was he asked for that guidance. There are so many people when you search for that and you pray and you cry for that guidance Allah provided you and in the on the first page of the Quran with Surah Fatiha Subhan Allah that that is what moved you. You got a fever you were overwhelmed. And you decided so
that is that's a pretty incredible story Mashallah.
Mashallah, and it took you 30 years to memorize the Quran first, I want to know what made you want to memorize the Quran? And how did you do it since Arabic is not your native language?
Well, I have to tell you that people who are born and raised as Muslim they pray and they do the normal the norm. And maybe they take it for granted. And they say okay, I'm Muslim, but for someone who has searched for all these years and finds Islam, and of course I research understood the Quran is the word of Allah is authentic. This is the only thing the only holy book that is authentic. I'm looking at the Quran, every word is the word of Allah. So, I have been yearning to know Allah's pantalla How do we know? That is through the whole this whole book, I started reading and instead of taking word by word, putting numbers on it, put in a three by five card, there's no internet
nothing. It was the stone age.
And I started memorizing these words, would I buy it and whatever I could see in the tab, serial debugging the Quran I would read, I would not go from one idea to the other I unless I knew every word the meaning of every word. Mashallah, I want to pause right there because this is such an important part of memorization, many people who memorize the Quran they do it and is just simply memorizing words without understanding the meanings. And how significant is it to understand exactly what it is that you are memorizing? Absolutely, you know, everybody has to ask themselves about their own intention. Why am I reading vulgar and why am I memorize what is the purpose some people
memorize the Quran in two years is the purpose is to memorize the Quran. Later on, maybe they would reflect on the words for me, I have come to a treasure. I had a treasure in my hand. I wanted to know Allah I looked for you unlock for 15 years now. I wanted to know Him. To know him. I have to know the meaning in order. Knowing the meaning was not enough. I wanted to pray. I wanted to know what I'm saying. I wanted to memorize what I'm saying. So it started really small, but my intention was not to memorize the entire code and that was not my original intention.
was your love love for Allah, right?
Yes, it was like it was like, literally I feel like this was a love affair.
I created who are you? What are you telling us? I wanted to know so I memorize like
A few sodas and an abuser has mood, the more I memorize, the more anxious I got. Oh, I'm sure there's some more that I don't know. Let me let me remember just one more surah.
For years, memorize, at least when I was in my 40s. And until now no memory, no distracted by that quite well. But as anyway, we'll talk about this later. But it was my love for a loss pantalla drove me to memory. Again, it was not originally my intention to memorize the whole answer, but I had no choice, I had no control. Once you go on the train, and train is going one direction, you're on the train. So
I keep going. Right. And, you know, I really love the fact that you, you said that you were searching for a love for 15 years. And you felt like you You found him and you wanted to know everything about him. And and you describe this at this as this amazing love. And it's like when two people meet one another, you want to know everything about the person and you have that passion and excitement for Allah? How beautiful is that, that you wanted to keep learning each verse and each Surah to get a better understanding of your Creator. And the fact that you understood the meaning is what gave it the depth. And I like to use the analogy that, you know, if you have an appliance, and
you you've watched the manual, you read the instructions, and if it's in Spanish, even if you can read it, right, you can read it, you can sound it up because the letters, but you won't get any explanation, no guidance by reading it. So it's so important to know the meaning thank you for emphasizing that. Now, there are many limiting beliefs about getting older. Many people think that you know, they're losing their memory and they can't memorize anymore. What would you say about you know about the role of aging? And did you feel like it got in the way at all?
Honestly, I never thought about aging. It was not in my mind. I had an aim. I had a goal.
Somewhere after I had memorized maybe a quarter of the Quran, that's when I realized I want to continue, and I want to finish. At this time. I never, not even once I never thought about aging. All I was focused on was my goal. My goal was to finish memorizing Quran, I never pushed myself. But one thing for sure. I did not miss a day of memorizing. If I memorize one I have if I had, I had to study CD at the time with CD that I could listen to him many times and I'm following him so I can recite like him. It was like day and night and I walked anywhere I went to different countries or everywhere I go, I'm memorizing the Quran, it occurred and never let me a day. This is why it took
30 years because I want to learn I want to know the meaning. I want to digest what I learned. I want to think about what I learned. So I have no problem taking 40 years 50 years, I'm not a sound.
So you bring up you bring up a few really important points. First of all, you focused on your goal goal was to memorize you want it to memorize, you didn't focus on the limitations you didn't think about your age, it was just about memorizing and you didn't give yourself like a time limit it was basically it could take me 3040 years no problem. So with that kind of mashallah motivation and positivity. Allah opened up the door and that's that's really really remarkable because you are now 75 Mashallah, you're thriving. And it's it's a beautiful example for all of us Mashallah. And some people talk about Aging Gracefully. But I think we need a radical rethink reframe of aging, and you
know, it really doesn't need to be filled with illness and debilitation so what do you think is needed in order to live a fulfilling life in your 60s 70s and even 80s?
Well, I can tell you something that I hope those who are hearing this who really really really are hearing me and that is, you have to have a purpose. In life, you have to have a purpose if you just feel aging, you just surrender to aging. You know, you 5060 7080 You know slowly you think your body is giving up you cannot walk you cannot exercise you cannot do this. So what happened purpose? There multiple things that the main thing had a purpose in your life what is what is why are you live
What is your purpose try to do something to help out reach out to other people and something that gives you purpose your you are not only helping yourself, you're helping others as well. And the other thing is you have got to really be in good shape mentally physically spiritually how to do this, how to this exercise it proper food read the bar and get close to our last one is a combination of all of this it brings you a good
Masha Allah that's amazing lessons amazing guidelines to follow. So, we have to have the right attitude first we cannot be overwhelmed right with this idea of growing older have a positive outlook you have to be active and you know as far as eating right exercising and and the idea of having a purpose which is so critical when a person doesn't have a sense of purpose, they wither and die or they just say they have hopelessness and depression and and they get overwhelmed with anxiety. So, such beautiful ways to to lead your life and tell us first of all, what is what is your sense of purpose in life.
My sense of purpose is at this time because I when I finished memorizing or I posted it on Facebook and literally 1000s and 1000s and 1000s of people responded.
So then I decided people contacted me they wanted to memorize the Quran with me they want manner as I'm not a teacher this was not my purpose of setting so I actually had several volunteers now I have like almost 35 40,000 Facebook.
We teach are on page with everything that's related to Iran. And my purpose is to bring people to the if I were to make it very short, I purpose is to bring people to the book of Allah. This is mashallah, how beautiful So, you're driven to bring people to the book of Allah, you have inspired 1000s of people mashallah across the globe and you want to continue and tell us mashallah, I know that we're running out of time but very quickly, how do you stay fit? How do you keep up mashallah, what is the daily activity How do you stay healthy mentally, emotionally, and physically? Well on a daily basis depending on my mood, sometimes I go climb 500 steps to the top of water
or maybe in the pool, maybe I go to the to the sea and swim there. Maybe I go walk one or two kilometers. Sometimes I bike is like there is no limitation. There is no limitation because of age. I don't think about aging. It all depends on my mood that morning. I just physically very active and also I am extremely mindful of what I eat. It is important I don't eat junk food I don't try food I mean I'm really careful with that. And and daily basis before after fetch I'm reading about and I'm contemplating is like having a balance of mental physical spiritual balance of the three. This is the definitely key to success. If we leave this forget one of them, then we will fall. So this is my
purpose, habit purpose and to achieve that purpose, I have to keep Masha Allah, just like Allah Hara and sister Raya Shadowcat for coming on today for sharing your inspiration, your inspiration to be healthy, your inspiration to be connected to the word of Allah. I'm sure all our viewers benefited and are inspired, inspired to get connected and to age gracefully in sha Allah and
it and thank you so much. You're quite welcome pleasure.
Thank you so much. We will take a short break and we will be right back with some reflections and salah.
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Salam aleikum, I'm Hala Banani. Welcome to inspirations and Ani. What an inspiring discussion with Sister Raya Shadowcat. She was searching for meaning for peace and purpose. And she searched and did so much in the field of studying Buddhism, Hinduism, and finally in Catholicism, and she found Islam and Hamdulillah. Now, each one of us are we are all on a spiritual journey. And I want you to reflect on that journey and see what is it that you're searching for? What is it that you're running after, because many times, we can make the adult you know, the idolatry. It doesn't always have to be someone or something that you've worship. It could be the dollar, it could be the fame, it could
be something in your life, whatever it is that you're running after, make sure that you don't have any form of idolatry in your life and your spiritual journey. Make sure that your daily you have a daily connection with Allah, asking for that guidance, asking for a sense of purpose. And just like, you know, Sister Raya showcard was telling us that what gave her the peace, it wasn't the fame, it wasn't the money. It wasn't all that came that we usually classify as maybe a success. It was knowing her Creator, how well do you know your Creator? How much time have you spent in getting to know your Creator and reading the book of Allah? How many times have you sat and reflected on the
meanings and not just memorizing it, not just reading it, but truly trying to understand this and seeing it as a love letter from Allah as a beautiful guidance and manual. If you have problems in your life, the answer is in the Quran. And each and every one of us needs to be motivated and to feel that connection that we are going to get the answers if we have an open mind and open heart and mashallah Another inspiration from SR. Rai Ashoka was the idea of it's never too late to learn and it's never too late to memorize the Quran, Masha, Allah, She memorized that at the age of 73. So there is no excuse. If you have not memorized yet. If you don't have a connection with Allah, it is
okay. Let's start from now I'm making a new commitment myself at this time and at this day, to reconnect on a deeper level with the Quran. And I want you to do the same reconnect, read it on a daily basis and make a commitment that you will start the memorization process. It doesn't matter how long it takes. Sister Raya showed us that as long as you stay consistent, and you have a sincere heart, you can achieve it. And really, it's about having the right attitude, having the positive attitude. And it doesn't matter how old you are. It's all a matter of your attitude, your activities, staying healthy, being fit, and having a sense of purpose. I can't emphasize the sense
of purpose in your life, how important it is. Anyone that I have worked with who loses a sense of purpose will go into a deep state of depression, anxiety and helplessness. So if you are feeling that way, if you are not motivated to get up in the morning if you feel that life has lost its meaning, I want you to find a purpose and that purpose can be as simple as checking on someone that purpose can be as as simple as feeding a homeless person. That purpose could be as simple as learning a new skill and reading a new book.
Find Your sense of purpose and when you have that, it will feel you to live a life with meaning and you will have the drive and, and enthusiasm. So thank you so much for joining us. We all were inspired by the example of sister Raya Showkat and sha Allah may Allah bless her and keep her strong in this purpose of wanting to inspire others to memorize the Quran. And I pray that each of you, you find your sense of purpose and your connection with Allah on a daily basis. Join us next week for another episode of inspiration to Zack allow Hayden Salam Alikum