By Josenny Torres

Bismillah,

I was raised Catholic, as a child I would go to church but never felt a connection.  I knew there was a God; however I didn’t understand the beliefs of what the religion consisted of.  I never really gave the religion much thought and went about my life.  In 2011, I downloaded the Qur’an on my phone. During my commute to and from work I would read it, unfortunately I never finished.  In 2012 after writing a paper on Islam for one of my college courses, I decided to order a hard copy of the Qur’an.  Surprisingly it was delivered to my house a day before Ramadan started.   This time around everything was making more sense.   I didn’t understand why I was so eager to learn, but I just followed that feeling.  I ended up visiting a mosque with a close friend and enjoyed the experience. The 2nd time I went my friend came to me and asked “are you ready” I literally smiled from ear to ear and replied “just take my hand”.   Shortly after I was standing in a room full of sisters taking my shahada, I’ve never felt happier than I did that day.  Below is a poem I wrote about my experience.

Emotions of a convert
Caught up in this dunya, thinking it will get me by,
last 10 days of Ramadan really changed my mind…
A whole new life ahead of me,
that means kiss the norm goodbye..
wasn’t sure what would be instore for me but I was ready for the ride.

Shed tears
in fear, …
of those close by
simply because they may not understand me.
I Worried more about the outcome, and worse,
if I was left with no immediate family.

I cried, & cried, and asked god why?
I knew exactly what I wanted,
But i wasn’t sure why?

They said follow your heart,
It will never lead you astray.
So I made my way to the masjid and was enlightened by such praise..
The sight, the sound, the welcoming phrase,
The recitation of the Qur’an protruding through the speakers
Made its way to my heart and I was finally given my reason !

Not sure how to say it,
But I knew it made sense
The imam said repeat after me
So I took one deep breath.

“Ash hadu anlaa ilaaha illallaahu wa ash hadu anna muhammadar-rasulallah”

He said
“Takbir”
The sisters replied
“Allahu akbar”

Now in English
“I bear witness that there is no god except God and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.”

And just as the words flowed out of my heart,
I smiled with such ease
for this brand new start….

I stand here today
With confidence
And I pray
That the last breath I take
Will be for the words that I say
“Ash hadu anlaa ilaaha illallaahu wa ash hadu anna muhammadar-rasulallah”