What brought me to Islam?
Maybe it was watching Muslims pray in Mecca on the National Geographic channel as a child that piqued my interest. Maybe it was my admiration of the recorded speech I heard as a teenager from the late El Hajj Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X) expressing the beauty of the worship he witnessed during Hajj.
I later learned that it was none of those things in and of themselves that led me to Islam. They are only physical manifestations of the religion; indications. It was Allah guiding my heart that brought me to Islam.
All praise and thankfulness is due to Allah for guiding me to accept, and not reject, the inborn nature placed in the human being to worship the One True God.
To be the only Muslim in my family and to watch very close and loved ones live and die as disbelievers, is a sign that should humble me every single day. I know that, if Allah willed, I could have remained in that state of disbelief or that I can return to that state.
I grew up in a Christian family but many of the beliefs I found hard to accept. For example, when someone would die, people from the church would say “so-and-so is in heaven looking down on us and smiling or so-and-so has gone to heaven and has become a guardian angel.”
The religious books we read never mentioned any of this and there was never textual proof presented to support these sayings. If death is such a serious matter, I questioned “why are we making up these stories to make ourselves feel better rather than ponder on the realities of death so that we can prepare for it?” When I would approach a Christian about this, they would not want to discuss it.
I went searching for the truth. There were no masajid in my city but there were lots of churches. I visited a new church every week. I did this for a while, but nothing grabbed me and I wasn’t satisfied.
I bought a translation of the meaning of the Quran from my local Barnes and Noble and read it cover to cover. I felt that I had found the truth.
I remember drawing a diagram comparing Islam to Christianity. On one side, I drew one circle representing the oneness of God, on the other side, I drew three circles next to each other, representing the trinity. I said to myself, “It’s time to choose. What will allow my heart to be associated with?” I could no longer follow the Christian belief. I choose the oneness of God.
I did not personally know any Muslims but I did some online research about taking the Shahada. I took it one day, alone. I found an English transliteration of the Shahada and read it very slowly and I read its English meaning.
I instantly felt such peace, like a light shower of calmness descending upon me. Someone later told me that when a person takes their Shahada, their previous sins are forgiven.
A few months later, I started college and my dormitory roommate happened to be a Muslim sister and we discovered there was another sister who lived in the dorm room right next door. Ourselves, and a few other sisters, all bonded that year, with a bond that still exists to this day. They became my new Muslim family. They taught me a tremendous amount about the religion including how to make the daily prayers and fulfill my other obligations as a Muslim.
I took this as a mercy from Allah and a sign that I was on the right path. Although I had taken my Shahada alone; I was not alone. Allah had brought people to me that helped me grow within the religion.
Now, ten years after taking my Shahada, I find myself at MECCA. It is another part of the journey that Allah has decreed for me where I am able to sit and learn from teachers educating us in traditional Islamic knowledge. I am grateful for the administration, the teachers and volunteers at MECCA that give generously of themselves. MECCA is like a light illuminating the path for me so that I can walk in the right direction.