Ama bint Khalid was one of the first young Muslimahs to grow up in a non-Muslim environment, and whose love for the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) blossomed in her heart before she ever met him. Her parents were amongst the earliest believers in RasulAllah, and were of those who made the first hijrah (emigration) to Abyssinia.
As a result, Ama was one of a handful of young Muslims who grew up in a distinctly Christian society. Though she undoubtedly faced difficulties and challenges, her identity as a Muslim was strengthened by her circumstances, rather than weakened or driven to compromise. Her parents would regularly share with her and remind her of the reason for which they emigrated: their belief in Allah and His Messenger. They would tell her stories about RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) – his kindness, his generosity, his concern for others even if they were not his family or friends, and how he worked so hard to save everyone from the terrifying punishment of the Hereafter. Long before she ever met him, Ama loved this amazing man of whom her parents spoke so fondly.
Ama was a young girl with faced with a massive challenge: living and growing up in a country foreign to her family, struggling to learn a new language and a new culture and, more importantly, retaining the faith for which they had emigrated in the first place. In the midst of this utter strangeness, she fiercely held onto her belief in God and His Messenger, her savior.
Today, young Muslims in the West have far more available and at their disposal than Ama bint Khalid had over 1400 years ago. Masjid youth groups, Islamic schools, youth conferences, CDs and DVDs; these resources provide not only knowledge, but a strength of solidarity for young Muslims growing up in non-Muslim societies.
Teenage Muslim girls who are trying to juggle their non-Muslim school environment, culturally different home environment, and plain old teen hormones need look no further than Ama bint Khalid to feel both comforted and inspired. If Ama could do it – in a time when there was no internet, no halaal takeout, and no varieties of cute hijaabs – why can’t you?