lori2Bismillah. For the 14th day of Women Inspire Generations we have selected the beautiful Dr. Lori Maria Walton, PhD, DPT, MS, MPH. Here is her bio:

My decision to take Shahada began after studying Quran for many years and working along side Muslim women across the world. My journey began 18 years ago when a Palestinian Muslim female patient provided me with a copy of the Quran and invited me to the local Masjed for Friday prayers. I was so impressed by the sincerity of faith, the beauty of the recitation of Quran, and the actions that followed from the Muslim women I met that my heart continued to be drawn to the beauty of Islam. As I learned about Islam, I realized that from every point I studied it (science, literature, language, philosophy, psychological, health, sociological or law perspectives), it was an amazing revelation of truth that could not be denied. It was like being in great darkness for a long time and someone finally turned on this magnificent light that was pouring in all around me.

I recently moved the scarf I had always worn on my shoulders to now cover my head at work in my university. Ten days after wearing the Hijab to my university, my contract was changed from recommendation to continue with pay increase and excellence in teaching, research and service to a “non-renewal contract based solely upon my declaration of faith (Hijab was my declaration) of adherence to the religion of Islam”. Alhamdulillah, I received one of the highest faculty evaluations at Andrews University, a Seventh-Day Adventist Christian University, this year and was given recommendation for continuance with pay increase just a week before wearing hijab and getting this notice. At first I felt abandoned by those who claimed to be my family, then I felt sad because the knowledge of how close Islam is to Christianity was not commonly understood at the university I worked. For them, it was perfectly acceptable to hire other non-SDAs, but somehow it was “unacceptable” for them to hire a Muslim, even though Muslims also believe in Jesus as Messiah and worship the same God as Christians and Jews, and within the same Abrahamic Faith Tradition. It made me realize the responsibility we, as Muslims, have to provide the truth about Islam, to build bridges of knowledge, understanding, mutual respect, and peace between all humans. I know that nothing happens without the permission of Allah (SWT) and that Allah(SWT) is the best planner for all of our lives. “Indeed amazing are the affairs of a believer! They are all for his benefit. If he is granted ease of living he is thankful; and this is best for him. And if he is afflicted with a hardship, he perseveres; and this is best or him.”(Muslim)

Hijab is much more than the outer covering we, as Muslim women, place on our heads and to cover our bodies… it is the hijab of the eyes, the speech, hearing, beliefs, the ego… and the piece of scarf that went from my shoulders to my head was a reminder that I am constantly in need of Allah (SWT) to guide me to the best for those around me, worship only Allah (SWT), and to constantly strive for the sake of Allah to become a better Muslima within my heart, mind and soul and to work constantly for the benefit of those around me. We don’t realize how one smile, kind word, forgiveness, mercy, or action can make a difference for another person in this life and in Jannah. It is our duty as Muslim women to point to that “Nur” (light) in this time of great darkness, where people have distorted our beautiful religion for their own profits and greed and tried to destroy the Ummah. Only by returning to the beauty of Islam, the teachings of our Beloved Prophet Muhammed (SAW) and providing sincere support for each other and our neighbors, despite their behavior, can we change the world around us. “Allah does not change a people’s condition until they change themselves”. Quran 13:11

“Not equal are the good deed and the evil deed. Repel with that which is fairer and behold, he between whom and thee there is enmity shall be as if he were a loyal friend.”- Quran 41:34

Dr. Lori Maria Walton completed a Master of Science Degree from Andrews University, a Doctorate from Creighton University in 2005, and a PhD from NSU in fall 2012. She is currently pursuing a MPH with emphasis in Epidemiology & Biostatistics from Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Walton is currently a Professor and Director of Research for the Physical Therapy Program at Andrews University in Michigan, USA. Dr. Walton’s research is focused on international maternal and fetal health programs, specifically in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. She has published over fifteen peer reviewed journal articles and has presented at state, national, and international conferences on the subject of obstetrics and gynecology in physical therapy.
She was inducted into the International Scholar Honor Society, Phi Beta Delta, for Scholarly Research in 2011. She has published and presented peer refereed research, both nationally and internationally, with a focus on maternal health for women living in Southeast Asia. Dr. Walton has also been an invited speaker at hundreds of national and international conferences focusing on Muslim Women’s Issues related to health and quality of life. She is a Board Member for Hope Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh, and a Consultant for the Center of Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed in Dhaka, Savar, Bangladesh (www.crp-bangladesh.org). She currently participates in pro bono physical therapy work in the local region on a weekly basis and international volunteer work for vulnerable populations across the world.

Dr. Lori Maria’s first love and the delight of her soul are her three sons. Harun, Kashif, and Cyrus.