Born: Houston, Texas May, 1981
Currently Resides: Dallas, Texas
Status: Married to Hassan (Jordanian)
Occupation: Professional Photographer, American Muslim Activist, Public Speaker
A Little Background: Nicole Queen was named after her devoted Baptist Grandmother and still hopes to fill her shoes in regards to her relationship with God. ”My Grandmother is the most devoted Christian I have ever known, her relationship with God is something to be envied and I thank her for building a foundation in my heart that allows my faith to be where I am today.” Nicole remarks.
Nicole spent most of her childhood with her older brother Joey in Houston and Orange, Texas. At age 8, Nicole and Joey moved to a small town south of Dallas and stayed until her graduation. Nicole graduated from Palmer, High School at 17 years of age and moved into her own apartment to start her life. After sometime, she took a position at a photography studio, while in school and began her career in photography. Soon, Nicole was managing photography studios all over the U.S. After years of moving from city to city she began running a studio in New York. She later decided she missed her southern roots and returned to Texas to start her own photography business.
Throughout her years, living on her own and traveling for her job, Nicole had developed a taste for a wilder lifestyle. She never kept roots wherever she lived and looked at her life as one big opportunity to “have a good time”. She was a natural at socializing, from her experience at living in different cities and she learned to make friends quickly and leave them just as fast. It only made sense when she decided to focus her own photography business in the nightlife scene that she was so accustomed to. She quickly gained speed as the only female nightlife photographer in Dallas, and obtained some of the biggest clients in the party industry. Nicole was side by side photographing some of the biggest names in the media such as Justin Timberlake, Timberland, Kate Hudson, Tommy Lee, and countless pro athletes as well as other actors and musicians. ”I remember when I had to cover Tommy Lee, he was going to spin for the club that night. I was popping off so many shots while he was spinning and I knew my flash was going to get on his nerves. Then, I see him motion me up to him and I lean towards him and he leans down and I was so scared he was going to cuss me out or something, which wasn’t uncommon, but instead he grabs my face and kisses me on the cheek and then goes back to spinning. I felt bad because he was nicely saying,” Hey your flash makes me nervous!”. ”I rushed off to wash my face, LOL” Nicole recalls. Each night was spent at 2-3 different clubs and ended around 3 a.m., when she would stumble into her loft to sleep till noon and do it all again the very next night. Drinking became a normal habit and just part of her lifestyle.
Nicole’s soul began feeling lost and without purpose. Deep inside, she longed for more in her life and would involve herself in deep conversations with others about life’s existence. ”There’s gotta be more to life than this” was a commonly heard statement from her. After years of a materialistic lifestyle surrounded by parties and greed, she began embarking on a soul searching journey with no clue that within 2 years she would join the faith of Islam, a religion she knew nothing about. Having a vast variety of friends from all parts of the world offered her a diverse array of advice, when searching for meaning in her life. She had even made friends with a young man after shooting one night, who was a Muslim. She had plenty of friends who were Muslims but they all lived the same way she did. They never caught her attention as being religious people. Her new friend would talk with her for hours about her new soul searching adventure. They would talk about life, past, present, future and how they both felt they wanted to offer more to the world than their current positions. Nicole heard about Islam from many different sources but the biggest impact came from actual experiences with Islam, more so than just hearing about it. She was attracted to the discipline of the faith, how practicing Muslims could go their whole lives without drinking, or engaging in premarital relations and how life was more important to them than to waste it on the party scene. The same scene Nicole had grown bored with. She became obsessed with Islam online, staying up till sunrise sometimes to read and watch YouTube videos about Muslims converting to Islam. A lot of their stories were comforting to her because of the similar desires these people had found answers to in Islam. Could God really be her answer?
The young man Nicole had befriended, saw her attention and questions growing more and more towards Islam and used the opportunity to provide Nicole with her first English Quran. ”If people just sat and read this book, the way I did, they would totally want to be Muslim”, Nicole would say to her friend. He also told her about a Muslim class at the mosque, if she ever felt like learning more. Inside, watching Nicole’s appreciation for the beauty in Islam compared to her life, made him desire to be closer to Islam himself. They slowly drifted apart from their time together, each deciding to focus more on their own improvement. Little did they know God had plans in store for them. Months went by and slowly Nicole felt the love for life and God growing deeper and deeper inside her heart. Her “party” friends felt confused, seeing the drastic changes in her personality. ”Dude where are you anymore?”, they would ask her, when she stopped partying and only appeared on the scene to shoot her work and return quickly home to sleep. ”One day, it hit me like a freight train, I realized that I dressed like a cheap girl and had nothing appropriate to wear to the Muslim class at the mosque, nothing”, she describes her moment of zen. ”I remember ripping through my huge closet full of tight slinky dresses and tops, tears streaming down my cheeks. I DON”T WANT IT ANYMORE! I yelled as I tore out my glittery clothes and threw them into a pile behind me. Sadly, there wasn’t much left to wear after that, so I had to shop for clothes that I could wear and not feel naked in. First I wore capris, 3\4 shirts, and then I started wanting full length pants and long skirts and nothing with cleavage” she recaps. ” I couldn’t believe that I wanted to dress like this, I was the cleavage Queen and all the sudden I felt dirty to show myself that way. Then, my tanning membership became pretty pointless, since I wasn’t showing much skin anymore which was great because it really saved my skin!” Nicole says. Presently seeing her, one could never imagine a tan on her porcelain complexion. ”My husband says today, after not tanning, eating healthy and not drinking anymore, I look so much younger than when he first met me. That was like 4 years ago so I feel like “WOW!”, Islam is good for the soul and your looks! ” she says jokingly.
After studying Islam for 5-6 months and seeing the improvements in her life, Nicole decided she was ready to announce to others, what she already had felt in her heart… her shahada. Feeling shy and uncomfortable with making the arrangements, she turned to her old friend for advice. He was over-joyed and surprised to hear she was still devoted to her study of Islam and was so excited to arrange everything. Nicole, with a few new girl friends she made at the mosque, entered into the small clean office of the Imam. She had no one to be there with her that she had any history with. There was no one she had known for more than just a few months, and she longed for the comfort of her old friends, or family, to share something as big as this step in her life. Sadly, Nicole had lost most of her “friends” during her transition into Islam. Her family felt scared for her and confused by her decision, an understandable and common reaction. She knew it would take time for them and tried not to bring it up as much when she visited them. “There were a few months, they were the loneliest months I have ever experienced. I didn’t have any friends that I felt really knew me and I didn’t have a good relationship with my parents for a while. Also, I was not really fitting in with the Muslim community, being a convert and all”, she replies. Her new Muslim girlfriends helped her prepare for her shahada. They were sweet girls and she was thankful for them. Nicole had purchased a new long white linen skirt, it came down to the tops of her ankles, it was the longest skirt she had ever owned. She paired it with a pale yellow linen top and was given a plain white silk scarf, her first scarf, from one of her friends. The girls helped her preform wudu and pin her scarf and soon they were sitting and waiting for the Imam in his office. The Imam arrived shortly, a humble happy older man from Turkey with the kindest tone of voice and a funny accent, or so Nicole thought. Then there was a knock at the door, and in walked her old friend, the young man who had helped her arrange this and been such a support when Nicole first embarked on this journey. His eyes were bright, with their pale green shade and his light creamy complexion was red from his blushing late entrance. He brought another Brother with him to share the moment. An overwhelming feeling of strange relief came over Nicole, it just felt better knowing there was someone witnessing this that knew her from her past. Nicole looked down and blushed, realizing she had a huge smile on her face at their new audience. Soon it began, the Imam explained soothingly what she would be committing to, and made sure she understood. Then, he helped her to easily pronounce the most beautiful words that ever graced her lips. “There is no god, but the 1 God, and Mohammad was his last prophet”, she said in both English and Arabic. “You have great Arabic pronunciation!” said one Brother who was witnessing. Nicole blushed, feeling like her southern twang was drowning any attempts at sounding decent in Arabic. ”I remember thinking, Hey! how come the Imam doesn’t look me in the eye? I kept trying to catch his eyes with mine, thinking it rude that he didn’t give me proper eye contact! What an idiot I felt like, once I learned that it was out of respect and modesty that the Imam limited eye contact with me”, she recalled. ”For the first year as a Muslim, I felt like an idiot a lot of times! ” she says, laughing at herself.
After saying her shahada, Nicole started turning down jobs photographing nightlife, and found a new job working during the day for a large corporation in downtown Dallas. Her relationship with God grew and grew inside her heart. Where at one time, she spent her spare time drinking and partying, she now spent having her new friends over for tea, and attending events at the mosque. At one event for new converts to Islam, Nicole was asked to answer questions about her conversion while being filmed by a sweet, well known Sister named, Ruba Qewar. Ruba then placed the video on YouTube, where Nicole’s story caught the attention of millions of Muslims all over the world. ”I think people were so shocked that I left behind a glamorous American life to live clean and simple as a Muslim”. “I think they thought, “Why in the world would she wanna live like us?”, Nicole remarked. Her video gained momentum across the internet with millions of views and was shared with Muslim web sites across the world. She had yet to know what an impact that interview would have in Islamic communities and on her life and future as a Muslim.
A few months after Nicole announced her shahada, she began feeling an urge to see more about Islam, first hand. She felt a strong desire to visit a Muslim country herself, being a girl who had not really traveled far outside America. ”I really just wanted to learn more about life as a Muslim from people living in a Muslim country, like get a taste of history”, she says. Nicole mentioned this desire once while talking to the young Muslim man she had befriended so long ago. He quickly called his family in Jordan and arranged for Nicole to be able to stay with them. Arrangements were made and in November of 2008 Nicole made her first voyage to the Middle East. ”It was so exciting to go to Jordan alone, I wanted to see anything and everything. It was funny because people who saw me, assumed I was from there”, she recalled. “I packed a bunch of scarves and hijab style clothing because I assumed that most the girls there wore hijab. I also wanted to be respectful to my host-Mother, since she also wore the scarf”, Nicole said. She was a bit shocked to find that only about 30% of the girls actually wore hijab, the rest dressed in typical revealing western attire. Her host family treated her like a daughter and took her to their favorite restaurants, shops, and coffee houses. ”It’s so cool because you can drive north for an hour and it’s like the land that time forgot, but yet in Amman its a totally modern city with huge shopping malls!”, she says. Nicole enjoyed wearing the scarf each day while she was there, and knew that soon she would have to leave and return to Dallas and back to being “just another girl”. The hijab made her feel pure and brought so many compliments to her, boosting her confidence in modesty. She hated the thought of having to take it off when she returned home. Nicole felt sure of her decision to keep wearing the scarf and couldn’t imagine taking it off after wearing it for so long. ”I challenge anyone to wear hijab for 30 days, you will never take it off after that, it just feels too good!” she exclaimed. Nicole was excited as her flight landed back in Dallas, excited to be back in Texas and excited to share her new experiences with her friends. Life was all fresh and new to her, each day got a little better and better. When she saw the young Muslim man again, she talked his ear off about waking up with his Mother for Fajr prayers and watching the sun splashing so many colors across the white stone homes of Amman, at sunrise. She told him about the olive harvest at their farm in Irbid and how she shocked everyone by climbing up the trees to shake down the olives. His Mother had a fit and didn’t want Nicole getting her hands dirty with that work, but Nicole just smiled and continued to help. She told him how sad she felt when she left, and saw tears in his Mothers eyes, like her daughter was leaving to go back to America. ”I really felt like I was part of their family, they never judged me and I would talk to his Mom about so many things, even though we both didn’t speak each others languages”, Nicole replied.
Today, it has been 4 years since Nicole became a Muslim and she says it still feels new to her. Her Muslim friend, later embarked on his own personal journey and Hajj to Mecca. Not long after his return he proposed to Nicole and they had a beautiful wedding with his family in Amman, Jordan.
Hassan (Nicole’s Muslim friend) and Nicole live happily in the city of Dallas, Texas. With the support of her husband, Nicole continues her passion for life’s purpose through Dawah. She started her own Dawah webblog, www.QueensofIslam.com. ”I really felt like I wanted to reach out to others who might be struggling the way I did”, says Nicole of her blog. She also speaks regularly in her Islamic community about Dawah in America, Public Relations in Islam, and Converting to Islam. Nicole has been featured in documentaries such as AlJazeera’s “Islam in America”, Algeria TV’s “They Chose Islam”, and also Ambassador Akbar Ahmed’s “Journey Into America”, in which he also mentioned her in his latest book about that documentary. Recently Nicole and Hassan also took part in BBC’s documentary about Islam in America. You can find these documentaries on the VIDEO page of this site, and also the book in the BOOKS page. Her most recent project is working with Sheikh Yusuf Estes and GuideUS.TV, the first Islamic TV network in America. In the future, Inshallah (God Willing), Nicole hopes to host a series of Sisters programs on the network.
Hassan and Nicole were blessed with the birth of their first child, Talal Tahat, in early January. He is a blessing in their lives, Hamdulillah. ”There is truly nothing better for your life, than living it for God”, -Nicole Queen.