Ever since I was a little girl, I was drawn to the divine. I felt an overwhelmingly strong connection to God and I was completely aware of the warmth of His presence in every aspect of my life. Much of my free time was spent in church, participating in various worship and prayer services, volunteering, attending church retreats and activities, and competing in Bible Quiz. You could always find me standing in the front row of the sanctuary with my hands lifted high singing my heart out to God.
However, at the age of sixteen, I began to lose my childlike faith. The imperfections of the church became alarmingly obvious and impossible to ignore. I could not help but feel something was undeniably wrong and doubts began to flood my mind, heart and soul. I felt spiritually dead and my connection with God became cold and silent. It was at this point in my life that I began searching and embarked on my spiritual journey.
My family and I took a vacation to Southern Spain later that year. I was absolutely struck by the beauty and history of the region. I was fascinated by the fact that Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived together in peace and prosperity for 800 years. My father told me about my Sephardic Jewish ancestry and I began exploring my Jewish roots.
I studied Judaism for a few years, but there were some beliefs that I could not accept, such as the denial of Jesus as a great and important Prophet of God and I never felt accepted into their community since my mother was not Jewish.
It was around this time that 9-11 occurred. I remember I went to the gym that morning and I was on the elliptical machine as I watched the first and second plane slam into the World Trade Center towers. Shock, fear, and anger shook my body and I cried and cried the entire day. I was terrified for all my friends and family that lived and worked in New York. My uncle is an NYPD officer and I listened in horror as he described stories from that day and sifting through the rubble in search of human remains.
I could not, and to this day I still cannot, understand what could possess human beings to commit such an atrocity, especially in the name of God and Islam. This Islam did not correspond to the Islam I had learned about in Spain. I wanted to uncover the truth, so I began to intensely study Islam. I read the Quran. I read books and books and books. I asked questions to imams, pastors, rabbis, and friends. The more that I studied Islam the more my doubts disappeared and it was through Islamic prayer that I rediscovered my connection with God.
After I graduated from college, I moved to New York, where I met more Muslim friends and I began attending the Islamic Center of New York on 96th Street and 3rd Avenue. One summer day in July 2006 I was walking home from the subway and it was pouring rain. I was completely drenched. I felt the rain was just washing away all the negativity and impurity in my life and this feeling of absolute peace and happiness came over me. I must have looked like a crazy person because I was laughing and skipping through the rain. Earlier that day I had memorized the Shahada and I just began to say it over and over again. It was at that moment that I became a Muslim. Later on I said my Shahada in front of my Muslim friends, but it was that day in the rain when it was just God and I that I truly reverted.
I feel so unbelievably lucky that God has blessed me with this beautiful deen. My family had and still has a difficult time accepting my reversion, but I say InshAllah they will eventually accept me and dare I say follow in my footsteps someday. I only recently discovered the M.E.C.C.A. Center and I am so thankful I have it in my life. I have never met such genuine, humble, and kind people in my life. They have fulfilled me and brought me such joy. They are truly like family. I am currently getting my masters and I hope to dedicate my life to educating people about Islam and eliminating all the misconceptions that are plaguing our world today.