Out of all of the religions, of all the paths you could have chosen, why Islam?
My friend posed a valid question. For a young woman that grew up in the Bible Belt (I was raised Protestant) where Islam was equivocated with hatred, falsehood, and fanaticism, why did I feel a deep and unquestionable calling to join THIS faith?
I sat for a moment, pondering all the reasons for my reversion I had shared with a few close friends and sisters. Islam had aligned with many of my own personal convictions. Growing up, I had felt convicted to stop eating pork on numerous occasions, found beauty in the modesty of covering ones hair, and agreed with the scientific principles in the Quran. I felt discontent with the institution I devoted so many years, feeling as though I was trying to please a panel of judges, waiting eagerly to see if my efforts were worthy of their time. I had researched Judaism and Catholicism in depth, but was unsettled when imagining myself as part of these congregations.
My friend kept pressing. It was not an inquiry of frustration or desperation, but one of acuity. She wanted the REAL answer, the one that I had yet articulated, because it was so deep in my heart.
I shared, in just a little over a week after reverting, I found a community of sisters who were genuine and loving. I felt supported by so many individuals, whether it be in comfort for struggles in my daily life, the gift of a book that touched and protected their hearts, helping to further cultivate my spirituality. These gestures were not grandiose, forced, nor fake. They were gestures of genuine love and kindness. In fact, it was small kindnesses like this from a Muslim family that Allah put in my life years ago that gave me my first Quran over a year ago, and individuals in a Quran discussion group that profoundly outlined the traits of Allah and our daily choices to follow Him, that initially showed me the beauty of Islam lived out through simple, yet astonishingly touching actions. This love they showed was not a love of self, but a love for Allah Subḥānahu wa ta’āla.
So that’s it. It’s “LOVE”. My friend was right. A devotion to Allah, a love for Allah Subḥānahu wa ta’āla that penetrated into every part of these individual’s lives, be it in prayer, dress, speech, or action. They did not realize how powerful these examples were when they interacted with me, as it is so ingrained in them. I saw it in these sisters, and I wanted that same love in my life. A pure, humble, unabashed love for my God that would not just be reserved for the Sunday church service, but for each and every breath I live on, in sha Allah. A devotion that is not just in part, but in the whole of life.
I took my shahadah July 16th, during this blessed month of Ramadan. The peace I felt took my breath away. The joy I experienced was greater than any gift I had ever received. I felt, for the first time in a very long time, I was exactly in the right place, where I belonged.
A brother said to me the day after I took my shahadah, “I saw you yesterday and thought that you had been Muslim for a long time.” Though the spoken act had only happened hours before, Alhamdulillah, because of His grace and mercy, my heart’s desire to follow Allah had begun years ago.