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”

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.

Shahada Story by Fatimah Madinah

My journey toward Islam took place two years ago, when my life was an absolute mess.  At this time in my life, I was in a very abusive marriage and extremely isolated from my family, and I was very depressed.  I was ashamed to tell anyone of the suffering I was going through.

I would go to church and pray, even offer prayers to saints, as most Catholics would do.  I remember one day I had the urge to go to confession and put my problems before a priest.  As I went into church I could see one of the priests getting ready to leave.  I said, “Please Father I need to make confession.”  He said, “You are late for confession; come again next time.”  I was shocked, and feeling worse than ever.  On my way home all I could do is think of dying, how I wanted my life to end.  I had no support from my family.  I was compelled to stay because my daughter was too young to be without a father.  Breaking a family wasn’t a Catholic thing to do, so I started drinking heavily, hoping I wouldn’t wake up.  But life couldn’t let me go; I would somehow wake up each day more and more depressed.  I was alone with no comfort.

I remember heading to Jamaica Ave just to get away from the house for a little while.  There was an herbal shop run by a woman who was fully covered, even her eyes, but she seemed of a gentle spirit.  She seemed to see a certain sadness about me and asked me if I was ok and if I wanted to sit and talk.  I couldn’t help the tears that began to fall.  This stranger who didn’t even know me was so willing to take time to listen to my drowning heart.  It touched me greatly and was far more comforting and helpful than the priest. As she listened to me, the woman advised that I hold on because God knows my suffering.  He is there for me, even if I don’t see it right now and she even gave me some Islamic stories to read.  I was reluctant and told her I was a Catholic, but yet I began to read them that night.

While my husband and I continued to have our problems, I began to try to ignore him by reading the pamphlets on Islamic faith.  As I read, I began to cry and wonder why in my faith I wasn’t respected like the Muslim women are, and how men are commanded by God to protect women, not to abuse them.  I read how Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would stop what he was doing to aid women who sought his help and I thought about how I sought help from a priest and was turned away.

Once again I visited the Muslim woman from the shop.  It was so peaceful to sit, talk, and be treated like a human being.  She told me her name was Maryam, a beautiful name I thought.  I began to question her on why women in Islam cover up.  She began to explain how women cover themselves to protect their beauty and modesty for God, and how only their husbands and close relatives are allowed to see them.  I thought, wow, here I was with my tight jeans trying to look appealing to a man who has no regard for me at all.  She invited me to come and visit her masjid.  I was worried about how I was dressed, but she insisted I come with her.  I was welcomed and was amazed by how these women interacted with each other and how they were dressed.

The women continued to invite me to join them at their social gathering, and I went thinking that this is a good way to stay away from the problems at home.  Little did I know how much my life would change.  The more I got to know these women, the more I felt a sense of peace and calmness.

One night I remember just crying quietly to myself thinking of the kindness of these Muslim women.  Here I was, dressing provocatively, wearing makeup, doing my hair nicely, yet I was treated like garbage.

As I continue to go to the masjid, I wanted to know more about Islam.  I continued to read more and observe more, especially the prayer.  I thought it was so beautiful.  One sister asked me if I was thinking about become Muslim.  I was scared, but I said maybe.  That night as I lay in bed, I started thinking about why Catholics didn’t seek God directly?  The more I thought about it, the more things just didn’t make sense.

When I went back again, I was asked by a sister if I would like to take shahada. I remember feeling scared, but this time I felt a sense of calmness and tranquility. Then I said yes. What a peaceful feeling that came over me as all the sisters embraced me. For the first time I was happy.  When I visited Sister Maryam at her shop to let her know I took my shahada, we both embraced with tears of joy.  I learned to let go of a bad marriage and the life style I was leading.  From the moment of my shahada, there was peace with Allah, for I totally submitted to Him only and not priests, saints, or anything else. This is how Islam found me.

Shahada Story by D. Fuentes

In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

“La ilaha ila Allah; Muhammadur-rasul Allah.” “There is no God but Allah; Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” By pronouncing these words and finding out the meaning of them, I took one of the most important steps towards Islam, the testimony of faith. This wasn’t the first or the last step on the road to learn Islam, but it was one of the most important. Becoming Muslim is a spiritual and personal commitment one must be willing to make, along with feeding the soul and letting it grow continuously. It is a process that takes time, effort and dedication, especially when one wants to implement this way of life in order to enrich one’s blessings and please Allah alone.

My interest in Islam started two years ago, after meeting someone who was full of faith, honesty, respect, and spirituality. It greatly impacting me, and little by little I began to become interested in knowing how I could acquire these characteristics. I was introduced to new terminology and methodology that at first was hard to understand. I learned a lot from books, documentaries, and the internet. I met amazing people that helped me and taught me many things, things I didn’t even know I was looking for.

For a long time I was interested in finding a class where I could fortify the knowledge I had acquired by my efforts, and receive guidance. I had a difficult time finding one.  Then one day, after looking over and over again everywhere, I found something that interested me, “Muslim Education and Converts Center of America.” I quickly went to M.E.C.C.A.’s website and was surprised by the variety and number of programs. I immediately enrolled in the “New Muslims Program.” Although I was a few weeks behind, I was quickly able to catch up with the help of the amazing teacher and all the wonderful sister converts I met. A lot of my doubts were resolved and I learned a lot.  I then signed up for a second class called “Perfecting Prayer,” which reinforced and refined my prayer.  After completing both of these classes, I am pleased with my developing connection with Allah now.

This was a beautiful experience, and it is one that will last for the rest of my life and afterlife. I’ve learned that it’s important to feed oneself every chance you get, ask questions, and be unstoppable on your quest for knowledge.  At the end of it all is the most magnificent miracle, closeness to Allah.

 

 

Conversion to Islam by Henry C.

Bismilah ir Raham ir Raheem

First and foremost, peace and blessings on the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), his family (may Allah be pleased with them all), and the righteous companions (may Allah be pleased with them).

As salaam alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh. My name is Henry Chelune, Jr. To give the reader some context, I was born and raised in New York City. My parents baptized me Catholic, and I was raised in the Methodist church. We attended the Methodist church because that was where the food pantry was. I grew up in an underserved community. I would frequent the church’s youth group on Wednesdays only for the free pizza. I was unwillingly active in the church routine of youth group meetings, Sunday school, communion, confirmation, and, of course, Sunday worship service. Due to this, I became somewhat versed in the Bible. I have always believed in God, so I had a genuine desire to understand what I was being taught. Even to this day, I am able to hold my own in a conversation on the Bible. I often questioned the Sunday school teachers and youth group leaders. Their answers never satisfied me. “It is the mystery of God,” they would say.

I NEVER accepted the concept of trinity; I knew that God was One with no partners. Even during my extremely wayward days as a youth, I viewed Jesus (AS) as a great man, and prophet. As I came to understand it, he was no different than the prophets from the Old Testament. What made that idea stick was that NEVER in the Bible did he refer to himself as the Son of God, but ALWAYS as the Son of Man. Rather than inspire hope in me, the crucifixion story scared me. It also made no sense; punishing someone for another’s sins is unjust. I knew that God is not unjust.

My first real exposure to Islam came in 1998 during a high school Global Studies course. This course gave me a very general and vague idea of Islam. The class discussed all world religions with no specifics on Islam. Islam would not reappear in my life until 2005.

In 2005, I was attending college for my Associates Degree, while struggling through my third bout of homelessness. It is in that school where I met some wonderful Muslims from Bangladesh. They were females; I not knowing the Deen or customs approached them. I never had the opportunity to ask practicing Muslims about their faith. I asked general questions. The questions surrounded the Islamic position on Jesus (AS). I asked if Islam believed in Jesus (AS), they replied “yes.” What about Mary (AS) being a virgin? They responded in the affirmative. The final question on Jesus (AS) blew my mind. I asked if Islam taught the Second Coming? They responded with “Yes we do believe Isa (AS) will return.” I was dumbstruck. I was under the impression that only Christians felt this way about the Second Coming. My last question was regarding the concept of trinity. They told me that God is Uniquely One. He does not have any sons, daughters, etc.

Some time later, they enabled me to obtain a copy of the Holy Qur’an. I read it thoroughly. It was the first religious text outside of the Bible I had ever read; I loved what was inside. Prior to this intense exposure to Islam, I had developed ideas on God. I always believed these ideas grew organically. I quickly realized that the tenants of Islam shared many of the concepts I often pondered about: the creation and role of Jesus (AS), the strict Oneness of God, praying directly to God, no crucifixion story, the Universe being created in six eons (not six twenty four hour days). There were times I had the Bible in one hand and the Qur’an in the other comparing and contrasting. As I read and researched, I soon learned there was no other option but convert to Islam.

I finally embraced Islam in January of 2006 at the Jamaica Muslim Center with Imam Shamsi Ali presiding over the Shahada. I did not change my name to an “Islamic name” out of respect for my father who is Henry Chelune, Sr. However, at a recent event at the Jamaica Muslim Center, I had the privilege of meeting renowned speaker Yusuf Estes, who conferred on me the name Hauron. I’ve since decided to use that name within Islamic circles.

I have now been a Muslim for seven years. I have yet to make Hajj (“anyone want to sponsor me?” in sha Allah) Since my conversion, I joined the United States Army, where I served one year in Kandahar, Afghanistan. I am currently a senior at Lehman College, City University of New York. I am applying to graduate school for Urban Affairs & Planning (please make duaa for my acceptance!). Allah has helped to turn my life around full circle.

This past summer, I started a daw’ah organization called the Ridgewood Daw’ah Project. My purpose is to invite the people of Ridgewood, Queens, along with Bushwick, Brooklyn to Islam with a bilingual approach. In addition to daw’ah, I am attempting to reawaken the Islam of the existing Muslim community. Since July, I have supplied non-Muslims with over 500 Qur’ans in both English and Spanish. In addition to Qur’ans, almost a thousand pamphlets on various topics in multiple languages have been distributed. If you or anyone you know would be interested in volunteering or helping out in other ways, please contact me!

Wa alaukum assalam

Contact info: Twitter: @RidgewoodDawah

Email: Ridgewood.Dawah@gmail.com

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/islam-in-nyc/x/5436067

 

By Anonymous

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.

By Anonymous

I never wrote my shahada story before because I was afraid to be judged. Of course I gave my 20 second version of finding Allah (swt) to relatives, at sisters circles, to my Muslim friends who asked, but I never told them the real story of my conversion. I think a lot of that has to do with my reluctance to expose my old self, the person I used
to be before my conversion.  When I was asked by a sister at the Mecca Center to write my story, I reluctantly agreed.

You see, I came to Islam as broken and defeated. During my teenage years into my twenties, I looked for love in all the wrong places with all the wrong people. I used and allowed myself to be used by whoever wanted me—always noticing but never acknowledging that the hundreds of people that wanted me only wanted me temporarily. I prided myself in being a-religious. Instead of putting my faith and trust in God, I put that trust in humanity. Yet it was this very trust in humanity that left me empty time and time again.

The highest and lowest point of my life came when I was living in the Middle East. I was completely alone there, caught up in the glimmer and glam of the material world and all of the horrors it had to offer me. It was while I was there, at this stage in my life, that I
actively sought out Islam as a crutch– a possible savior I could turn to in order to get myself out of the mess I was in. While I was succumbing to the horrors around me, there were other sisters that lived right next door that seemed happy and content with their lives. They seemed like they had a purpose. I observed these women: as they prayed, as they spent time with their families, as they fulfilled their roles as mothers, sisters, and daughters.  I, too, wanted a purpose. I wanted to emulate them. I questioned their beliefs and their morality and decided that in order to transform, I needed to start over. I packed up my bags and left.

Upon coming to the U.S., I took my Shahada and became heavily involved in the Muslim community. I learned  how to pray and follow the basic Islamic principles. The first time I made ghusl I felt so pure and new. Sixth months after this transformation, I found a Muslim man who forgave me and loved me regardless of all my faults. I attribute my personal transformation to two things: maturity that Allah (swt) granted me and my pure love of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Without Islam, I would still be a broken woman—without love, without a family, and without purpose.

 

Conversion Story by Will Cheung

by Will Cheung

I grew up in a typical Chinese family where religion was not a major aspect of my life.  Like many immigrant parents, my parents encouraged me to go into medicine or engineering.  My years in middle and high school were filled with science classes where basics like DNA and mitosis were taught.  There was no mention of Allah in this secular and scientific environment.  My young mind didn’t question these facts.  I simply learned and memorized.

The first time my beliefs about faith were questioned was as a post-bacc student at a diverse city university.  I was taking a physics class to fulfill pre-med requirements when I became friends with a Muslim classmate.  She questioned me about my faith and I said that I didn’t have any.  I was a man of science and I fully subscribed to everything that it offered.  I remember going home that day and thinking how can Allah exist.  Coming from this scientific background, I needed proof in order to believe.  But deep down I felt there must be a higher being.  I can remember calling out to God as a kid if things weren’t going well in my life.  But I maintained my position with my new Muslim friend.  I would need something spectacular for my mind to be changed.

Being naturally inquisitive, I began researching Islam.  My opinion about the religion had to be informed so that my arguments against it could be valid.  However, the more I read about Islam, the more I admired it.  My interest also grew.  It represented many of the things that I personally believed in; things like peace, family and respect for all.  I remember watching a video of Muslims praying in Mecca during this time and hearing the Adhan.  The call to prayer transfixed me.  I didn’t know what the words meant at that time but I was drawn to it.  Yet I still could not believe in Allah.

The evidence for Allah came this past summer when I traveled to Peru with some classmates.  This was my first time outside of America and I was going to stay for a month with strangers in a strange land.  One of the travels involved a trip to Lake Titicaca where we stayed overnight on one of the islands.  The island was sparse, rocky and very minimalist.  There was a small village but there seemed to be more cows and chickens than people.  That night, there was a festival being held in the town square and we were invited.  When we stepped out of our room, we realized that the island didn’t have any road lights.  We would have to make a 25-minute trek in total darkness!  But it was in this moment that Allah chose to make his presence known to me.  As I looked out into the horizon, I could see traces of Allah; the pitch-black night with the full and glowing moon hanging mysteriously in the sky, the beams of moonlight bouncing off the gentle waves of the lake and penetrating the wispy, white clouds, the whistle of the wind as it passed by and the chill of the nighttime air.  I thought to myself, “How could science create this?”  This is too perfect and amazing to be a random act of molecules bumping into each other.  A higher being must’ve created this flawless view.  In that moment I thought about the enormity of the world and I felt like an ant.

When I came home to the States a few weeks later, I couldn’t shake the feelings that I had on the island.  I began to think more about the world and what my place in it was.  My life was insignificant compared to the vastness of this universe.  I must’ve been put here for a reason.  This was the beginning of my religious journey.  I started researching Islam again and I finally had the proof I needed.

 

Conversion Story by Noura E.

When I relay the story of how I embraced Islam, people rarely believe me.  I always get “you’re doing it for your husband” or “you don’t really believe in this” from many people.  I befriended a Kurdish Muslim in 2010 and he never pushed me towards Islam.  On occasion we would discuss our thoughts and beliefs on God and then we would move on to another topic without dwelling on principles.  After some time, I lost contact with him, but one day Khadija, a mutual “friend” on Facebook friend requested me.  Because I did not know who she was, and because I am somewhat paranoid, I googled her.

When I typed in “Khadija,” a Wikipedia page came up with the story of the wife of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.  I started reading it, and although I questioned the reliability of all of the information, I continued reading.  I found myself riveted by her story.  I was truly fascinated by her, especially since she was a wealthy female business owner 1400 years ago, when history has always taught me that women didn’t have rights until the 20th century, and even then, they were underrated and underpaid.  In addition, the general consensus among non-Muslims was that Muslim women were not permitted to work and were almost always housewives.  When I read about how successful Khadija, may Allah be pleased with her, was, and how strong and independent she was, I was absolutely drawn to her.

I read for hours at work, and as soon as I got home, I continued this preliminary research by reading stories about the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and then I started reading about Jesus, may Allah grant him peace.  I was raised as an Episcopal, and I used to go to church, but as the reverend at our church always said, “to be a good Episcopal, you need only come to church 4 times a year.”  Needless to say, I did not consider myself at all knowledgeable in Christianity.

The more I read, the more interested I became. I started seeking out Muslim friends for answers. I contacted two Arab friends and spoke to them about the religion regularly. One suggested I read the Qu’ran.  To me, that was ridiculous because I had not even read an entire page of the Bible, how could he think I would read the entire Qu’ran?  I ordered it and started reading, and I just became more and more interested.  I started questioning all of the decisions I had made in my life.  Although I lived my adult years with the idea of “you live and learn and regret nothing,” I found myself deeply regretting a lot of decisions I made.  I needed to speak to someone who understood my fear and confusion, and who understood my interest in Islam.  I needed clarification on what was happening to me.

I had no idea where the masjid was near me, so once again, I found myself putting my faith in Google, and started researching.  I found a few Masjids and Islamic Centers within 15-20 minutes from me, and I called all of them.  Most of the time no one answered, and if someone did answer, they told me they didn’t speak English and to call back another time.  After weeks and weeks of searching, I started to give up.  Maybe this was a sign that my journey to Islam was over.  Maybe I was supposed to educate myself and not take it any further.  I began to lose hope.  Then one day, I was searching something online, and all of a sudden a listing for M.E.C.C.A. came up.  I opened it without thinking, and I felt like my heart fell to my knees.  It was like an answer to an unspoken prayer: a place dedicated to the education of Islam with a focus on reverts.

I waited until they were open, and when I called, Fatima answered.  I had so much to say and so many things were running through my brain that I couldn’t actually give her a coherent explanation as to why I was calling.  She was very patient with me and invited me to sit and talk.  I went there two days later and asked her a few questions.  We talked for about an hour and I said my shahada.

Initially I was terrified to tell my parents, afraid they would think I was manipulated.  I tried explaining it to them to no avail.  I wasn’t comfortable wearing hijab at work either.  But whenever I went to M.E.C.C.A., I would wear hijab, and when I wore it, I felt safe and secure, as if a sense of peace was in me.  It’s something I can’t explain because I don’t completely understand it myself.  When I was unable to wear it, I felt uncomfortable and almost naked, but I continued to keep my faith a secret from family, friends, and coworkers.  Earlier this year, I married in Morocco.  While in Morocco, I was wearing hijab regularly and it was great.  When I returned home, I started wearing it to work, and then out with friends, and now I wear it all the time.

It was hard for my friends and family to accept my decision, because most assume that my husband “forced” me to do this.  What they don’t realize or believe is that it was Islam that brought my husband and I together.  It was my journey to Islam that made us connect in a way that we never had before, and our marriage only came after I had already accepted and embraced Islam.  Now, I am happier than ever.  I feel at peace, and I have been incredibly humbled by this journey.  My life has changed dramatically for the better.  I am thankful to Allah Most High for guiding me to this beautiful place in my life and bringing me into Islam.

 

Conversion Story by Anonymous

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.