by Tahira Taylor
As the descendent of Ghanaians on one side and Senegalese on the other I come from a family of Christians, Muslims, and Agnostics. I being who I am, or rather, who I was, chose the easiest route, which was to be an Agnostic—I chose to believe in God, but relied on doubt and uncertainty when it came to choose a religion.
Last year, I spent several months living in a Muslim village in Ghana. The great thing about it was that I had full hands on exposure to Islam. I was awakened from my sleep in the middle of the night to the sounds of grown men crying to Allah; interrupted five times a day while the villagers left to go pray. The remembrance of Allah seemed so effortless. Several conversations and several months later, I returned home with an enlightened outlook on my life.
For me, the revelation of Islam took a significant 23 years. I took shahada on my twenty-third birthday, because it was this moment that my heart was moved. More than any other religion, worldly view, opinion or otherwise, Islam just made sense.
This was the same day as one of New York’s worst snow storms in years—and looking back, my experience was so symbolic to what happens to many new shahadas. I took my shahada, got hugs, kisses, welcomes, instructions on ghusl for when I got home… and then I was literally left alone in the cold, waiting for the bus to get back home… I wasn’t even offered a ride. This would have been a problem had I not found a resource as beneficial as M.E.C.C.A. Islam is not as easy as Calculus or Organic Chemistry—you can only learn so much from the internet before you begin to feel helpless, confused or forced to give up.
I knew that this wasn’t something I could tackle on my own. I found M.E.C.C.A. through the same resource I’ve relied on for years, shamelessly I admit that resource is Google! I entered my search query: “class for muslim converts nyc” and among the first few results was M.E.C.C.A. – a house full of light. My timing was perfect, the New Muslim’s Program started in about three weeks. I downloaded my “How to Pray” instructions, and impatiently awaited my first class.
By now, after my Kifayah, Aqidah, and Perfecting Prayer class, I almost feel like an expert. The knowledge I’ve gained from my teachers has been immeasurable, and in the past four months, I feel like I’ve grown more in my spirituality than I have in any other mental or physical aspect in my life. What the M.E.C.C.A. Center has done for me is given me the foundation on which to perfect my iman. For the rest of my life, no matter how far I go, I will go confidently knowing that M.E.C.C.A. gave me all the materials to lay down the first brick in my personal growth within Islam.