I was inspired to travel and do photography and it ended up bringing me Islam.
Who are you?
AsSalaamu alaikum, my name is Lisa Vogl-Hamid and I’m an international wedding and fashion photographer. I currently live in Las Cruces, NM with my wonderful husband and mother-in-law. However, more importantly I am a convert to Islam.
I’m originally from East Lansing MI and have 5 siblings- 4 sisters and 1 brother. My parents divorced when I was just an infant but my father was still very much a part of my life. In fact, he is a big part of who I am today and is a man I really look up to in many ways.
My conversion to Islam was pivotal in my life and looking back at my journey it was as if I was always destined to be Muslim. The trials I faced due to my conversion I believe are minuscule compared to the blessings that came to me because of Islam.
At the age of 19, I moved to Morocco for three months to live with a Moroccan family and have a cultural adventure. It was quite an experience for me. I had traveled quite a bit before but had never encountered such a different way of life. It was very eye opening in many ways. Truthfully, I didn’t come back with the need for Islam as the trip was more of a cultural experience. I came back with an appreciation for the life that God provided my family and myself back home. Simple things such as taking a shower became a luxury as I lived in a home with no hot water and no toilet while in Morocco.
After my trip, I came back to finish my B.A but decided to transfer to a private all girls school. I majored in Cultural studies and Marketing. To graduate from my college, you must complete a tutorial (essentially, writing a book a topic of your choice). I chose to write about women in the media and their exploitation in western society. Looking back at my choice, I never realized that subconsciously my trip to Morocco must have given me a different perspective on women and how they should be viewed by society. As I’ll explain later, it was hijab and the rights of women within Islam that led me my interest to study Islam in depth which would ultimately lead me to converting.
After my gradation, I took a corporate job and quickly realized that a desk job was not for me so I dropped everything to go to photography school. A few months in to school we were given an assignment to do a two-minute documentary on whatever subject we wanted. I decided to do it on the hijab. I never really asked why women wear it, which was surprising considering I wore it myself for 3 months while in Morocco. I just looked at it as more of a cultural attire rather than religious. But needless, to say when you really look at the way western society exploits women through media you realize that the hijab within Islam protects women and raises our status. After the completion of my documentary, I became extremely interested in Islam. I studied the religion for several months and then took my Shahada on July 29th 2011. It was the best decision I ever made.
After my experience, looking back, I realize that if I hadn’t gone after my dream to be a photographer, I may not have had a reason to study Islam. So If there is any advice I can give anyone its if you’re inspired to do something do it! You never know what will come your way. In my case, I was inspired to travel and do photography and it ended up bringing me Islam.
Give us your favorite quote and tell us why it means so much to you:
Here is a quote that I love among many others from Mother Teresa:
“Peace begins with a smile”
I love this quote! It kind of reminds me of something my mother would say to me. I remember as a child that when my sisters and I would fight (like most siblings do at a young age) she was say how can we complain about wars when we have one in are own home. That always stuck with me because Peace begins with you and with me. Peace starts from your actions and simple things such as a smile. And not to mention the most important part of all that its Sunnah to smile! 🙂
What Ayah of the Quran do you hold close to your heart? Why?
“Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear…” (Qur’an, 2:286).
I believe this is close to my heart because there were quite a few trials I faced after converting to Islam and I knew that if God took something out of my life it was because he was going to place it with something better.
What Hadith do you wish more non-Muslims knew about? Why?
An Arab is not better than a non-Arab and a non-Arab is not better than an Arab, and a red (i.e. white tinged with red) person is not better than a black person and a black person is not better than a red person,3 except in piety.}
I love this hadith. And truthfully, I wish that Muslims really took this one to heart more because I do think that muslims tend to separate themselves based on culture. However, culture doesn’t get you in to Jennah religion does. If this were more widely known I believe that it would give a different perspective to non muslims about Islam. It shows that we are equal in the eyes of Allah and that is what really matters.
1. What is your favorite book?
My Favorite book was one that I read when I was about 12 or 13 its “The Twelfth Angel” by Og Mandino. Its very inspirational!
2. Who inspires/inspired you?
Its cliché to say and many might have the same answer but it’s really true. My mother is someone who has inspired me. I’d say much of who I am today is because of her. She is by profession a motivational speaker so it was ingrained in me at a young age to go after my dreams and not to quit no matter what came in my way.
3. What is the best lesson your mother/mother figure taught you?
I guess the above answer answers that question as well.
4. What advice would you give your 13 year old self?
It’s ok to fail. And to never compare yourself to others. God blessed everyone with something special and we’re all unique for a reason so its important to we stay true to ourselves.
5. What are your hopes for your daughter(s)?
My hopes for my future son and daughters is that they go throughout life staying on the right path towards Allah and that whatever worldly success comes their way they don’t think that’s real success because real success is reaching Jennah.
6. What is the biggest trial you went through in your life and how has that changed you?
Having to start over in my late 20’s. and realizing that what I had been praying for wasn’t what Allah SWT wanted for my life. But I learned to not pray for what I think is best and just make dua’a that Allah keep me on the right path. It was a hard lesson to learn but I am so glad that Allah put me through it. I am SO thankful to Allah that he has steered me on the right path. Alhamduililah!!!!
7. Any regrets? What’s something that you wish you’d thought about more before you did it?
Not feeling like I had to rush in to a career at the young age of 20 and finish a college degree. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do and if I had just taken my time to realize what I really wanted I don’t believe I would have wasted time or money. But SubhanAllah if I didn’t take the path that I took I may not be where I am today so I don’t have any regrets.
8. How do you stay grounded in your work and/or spiritually grounded?
I think I constantly check my intentions. I know that if I don’t put Allah first that Allah won’t bless anything else in my life. I think that keeps me grounded. It’s important that if I have tons of success or none at all that I know what’s really important in my life. God and my family
9. How do you bring about real change?
I think people think you have to have a huge following in order to create change but bottom line if you’re passionate about something and determined you’ll find a way to create change. Its important to organize and when one door shuts another opens. If it’s something for the best Allah will help you in your efforts. I really believe that.
10. What do you hope to be remembered for?
I hope to be remembered for being a genuine person. Its important to me that I treat everyone with kindness and respect I want to always stay true to who I am and never change my values.
Video Message from Lisa:
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