Shahada Story by Anonymous

My interest in Islam sparked from a trip I took to Morocco as part of my study abroad program in Spain. I was very attracted to the warmth of many individuals and the strength of the family structure. Later, after returning to Spain, I was researching the Albayzin neighborhood (Arab quarter) of Granada (the last Muslim kingdom in the Andaluz). There I met a Moroccan boy about my age who I became very close with. The way he treated me as a woman, with much care, concern, and respect, combated any negative stereotypes I had ever heard about Muslim culture. In fact, it made me see the way American men can treat women in a much more critical light. I think we as a white culture are so preoccupied with the behavior of individuals of other cultures that we sometimes forget that our own people are not perfect. So the Morrocan boy and I began to discuss religion, and I told him I wasn’t a practicing Christian and I really respected the Islamic faith, but I would have to learn it before I considered converting. Both of us agreed that belief in ONE God was the cornerstone of our personal beliefs.
Once I left Spain, I decided to get in touch with the local Muslim community. I figured that, worst case scenario, I would learn more about the faith and be able to understand Muslims better. Eventually, I was even able to observe one of my mentors praying the Maghrib prayer. For me, that was the moment in which I decided that I wanted to become Muslim. The prostration, dedication, and beautiful recitation of the prayer showed me a really profound side of this faith. The not only spiritual but also physical submission to Allah made me see how genuine this community believes in trusting God. What felt like it was “right” was that it answered a lot of the gaps or holes that I had found in the Christian branch of faith. I believe that Allah gave Muhammad the Quran to, for lack of a better phrase, “get humans back on track” and make clear the kind of disciplined lives we are to live for the sake of Allah.
My life has definitely changed since becoming Muslim just a short time ago. Most of the change has been positive as I have been welcomed so strongly by sisters and brothers in New York and my hometown. The love and friendship I feel is something I could not ever replace, and I’ve only been getting to know my new Muslim sisters and brothers for a few weeks. There, of course, have been challenges, however. Although I go to school in New York, my campus is predominantly Christian. It is a bit difficult to practice my prayer living with 3 non-Muslim girls and not knowing many other Muslims on campus. It is also pretty difficult to feel like some people do not take my conversion seriously or not feeling a strong presence of individuals who share my beliefs – but I know that will all come in good time. And lastly, the hardest part is to think about when I will be able to tell my parents. They are strong Christians and I have a feeling they will take it as a rejection, which makes me feel very sad. However, I know this is the right path for me, and inshaAllah one day the time will be right for everything to fall into place. This whole journey (or beginning of the journey) has been full of ups and downs, and I would never give up this new sense of purpose for anything else.