This piece is named after Ashley Atwi who was born and raised in Edmonton. Ashley was raised by a single mom in a Lebanese household, and came from a small community. When asked who has had the biggest influence on her life she explained it was her husband Mohamed and her best friend Reema. They grew up together in the faith, praying together, going to the Mosque, and attending deen classes. They taught her a lot and were always very supportive, answering any questions she had and helped her to seek more knowledge. Becoming a Muslim has really helped shape the person she has become and she will forever be thankful to them for their support. When asked what attracted her to Islam, Ashley explained she wanted to be closer to Allah (swt). Initially what attracted her was to have the practices of praying, fasting, and reading Quran. She then began to meet a lot more Muslims and they were so kind and welcoming, she thought if they follow a religion that contributes to these amazing attributes, why wouldn’t she want them for herself. Islam to Ashley is inner peace because she said you always feel like you have a place to turn and it is such an amazing feeling to feel the hardness of your heart begin to soften. When Ashley converted, she found it was a bit of a touchy subject between being a Muslim and still being part of her community. But with continuous love and support from her family, none of that stuff mattered to her anymore, she remained the same daughter and sister. Since becoming a Muslim, she has realized that it makes her very proud to live in a country that accepts diversity and the freedom to practice ones faith. The thing that Ashley would hear the most after converting was, “oh are you marrying a Muslim guy?” It was assumed that she had converted to be with a guy. She doesn’t think it is appropriate to ask someone why they have converted to Islam or to make assumptions. She continues to stay that it is quite offensive when it is assumed it was for any other reason besides getting closer to Allah (swt). She had a lot of Muslim friends and she admired their faith and their practices. She began to learn more and started to read the Quran. There wasn’t a day where she was like “okay today I am going to convert.” It was a process. She took her time and asked a lot of questions. One day she asked to meet with a few friends as she had some questions. In her heart she wanted to do it but she was scared, she didn’t know if she would feel different or how it would change her life. But her good friend said “if you already believe and feel it in your heart then you have nothing to be scared of.” In that moment she repeated the Shahada and that was it. It was so easy, it wasn’t made this huge deal or this huge event. It was just an overwhelming feeling of peace within herself. What she would want the general Muslim community to know is it is between you and Allah (swt) and doesn’t have to be made into this huge deal. The biggest challenge for Ashley was putting on the hijab. Not the decision to put it on but what she was afraid would come with it when she did. Women would tell her “when you know you know,” in regards to wearing the hijab. She remembers sitting in a deen class and was connecting with the topic so much she had to leave the room where she began to cry and in that moment she knew. The reason it was a challenge was because she didn’t know how she would be perceived. She was nervous about going to work but she was pleasantly surprised to be greeted with compliments and everyone was curious asking her questions. She picked her husband up from the airport that night and he had no idea that she was putting it on. When he saw her, he told her she looked beautiful and was very proud of her for coming as far as she did on her own journey. Ashley explains that the Muslim community needs to help and make converts feel more welcome. They convert and they practice but don’t have anyone to participate with. For example they become the only person in their household who is fasting during Ramadan, so inviting them to Iftars where they can break their fast with other Muslims. The way Ashley deals with Islamaphobia is to try and be an example of the Islam she fell in love with. She would like to think that by being an example it could change the minds of the ignorant.
*The model is wearing a small*
Small: Chest: 20" Length: 34"
Medium: Chest: 21.5" Length: 36"
Large: Chest: 22.5" Length: 37"
Extra Large: Chest: 23.5" Length: 37"