Connect with us

Opinion

422 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn -Ruth Nasrullah

Published

If you’ve heard me talk about how I became Muslim, then you know that my attraction to Islam began while browsing in bookstores in the Brooklyn neighborhood where I lived 20 years ago. I bought a copy of the Qur’an and on reading it felt instinctively that its words were true.

By whatever idle twists and turns internet surfing sometimes takes, I ended up at this street map of the old ‘hood. Scroll east and at about the middle of the block you’ll see a building that’s labeled both “Edit Head digital video” and “4-story brick residence” – 422 Atlantic Avenue. I lived on the top floor of that four-story brick residence for four years. (Apparently one of the apartments now houses the “Edit Head” enterprises.) I was among the first wave of people who moved to Brooklyn from Manhattan to escape Manhattan’s rising rents. I read that one of the units in my old building recently sold for a quarter million. I paid $400 a month in the early 80s. Stupefying.

Believe it or not, I lived at 422 Atlantic Avenue longer than anywhere else in my adult life. I was married and my daughter was born while I lived there. I moved there when I was 21 – more than half my life ago.

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Many of the neighboring businesses have changed, but some – incredibly – remain. The laundromat I used and the YWCA where my daughter went to day care are still there. If you continue scrolling east you’ll see how many Islamic bookstores and mosques and other Muslim and Arab businesses are there. It was meandering up and down these blocks with my daughter in a stroller that led to my discovery of the Qur’an in one of these bookstores. I still have that Qur’an. It’s stamped inside:

Madina Perfumer
Brooklyn, Tel. (718)875-6371
Quality Body Oils * Container
Incense * Rugs * Books

 

Madina Perfumer is still there, at 568 Atlantic, between 3rd and 4th Avenues.

There was also an American Muslim woman who had a dress shop down the street in the other direction and I used to stop in and chat with her; she also influenced me to see Islam as something positive. I’ve tried to figure out which building that was, but my memory is fuzzy. There’s a private residence at 418, and that may be where she did her tailoring. I’m not sure.

I did a lot of meandering back then. I realize now that my life was very lonely then. When I lived in Manhattan I had a few friends from my brief attendance at Barnard College and a bunch of party buddies, but when I moved to Brooklyn I became kind of isolated. There was no place in my new part of town to hang out with people my age, and the commute from my old haunts was much longer than when I lived in Manhattan. Getting married added a husband to my life (which was sometimes more work than fun), but I didn’t really have any friends that I called up or had dinner with. When I had my daughter I spent a good deal of time just walking around the neighborhood with her in the stroller, and that’s how I ended up in the Madina Perfumer shop.

I know many women who converted to Islam during difficult times – lonely times, transition times, stressful times. They’re attracted, I think, to both the stability and certainty offered by faith in one God and one way of life, and to the community Muslims share. I’ve never felt so accepted anywhere as I do with my Muslim sisters and brothers, and I have complete confidence that they will support me when I need help and that they will do their best to ignore my faults. Those are both fundamental Muslim values that I can rely on.

Atlantic Avenue is far away and long ago. But what I discovered there has endured, even through times when it seemed all but abandoned. I look at that map and recall a life-changing discovery made while navigating my daughter’s stroller over the cracks and bumps in the sidewalk, gazing in store windows and wondering at what my life had become.

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. AnonyMouse

    November 19, 2007 at 11:50 PM

    Awwwww, masha’Allah!
    I love this post… I love reading/hearing about people’s reminiscences, especially about times/ places/ people who played an important role in their lives.

    May Allah keep us all upon Islam to the end of our days, with firm belief and taqwa in Him, ameen!
    :)

  2. inexplicabletimelessness

    November 20, 2007 at 12:24 AM

    “Barnard College ”

    Cool mashaAllah! :) Your post overall is very nice, and like AnonyMouse said, it’s great to hear nostalgic memories.

    Ameen to the du’as.

  3. ruth nasrullah

    November 20, 2007 at 9:56 AM

    Did you go to Barnard?

    I was there from 1979-80, dropping out in the first semester of my sophomore year.

  4. ...

    November 20, 2007 at 12:18 PM

    Asslam ALikum Sr Ruth, i live in BRooklyn and i was at Atlanctic and 34rd aven last night to shop for some Hijabs.

    I must say that i love the people who live there, they are so respectful MashaAllah and not to forget they close the stores to go and offer the Salah =)

    I graduated from BErnard Baruch =)

  5. inexplicabletimelessness

    November 20, 2007 at 1:25 PM

    “Did you go to Barnard?”

    No but I was excited to see you went there because I’m applying there for college inshaAllah! :) Go women’s colleges :D

  6. MR

    November 20, 2007 at 7:42 PM

    Where Brooklyn at! Where Brooklyn at! Where Brooklyn at!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Trending