By Samantha Young

Fifteen years old, Dance team captain, just a teenage girl living a normal life. That is the best way I can describe my life at the time, the five months before converting to Islam. My senior year of High school I befriended plenty of Muslims who were of Bangladeshi background and became interest in their culture. I was really interested in the culture and after meeting a Muslim brother I started asking him questions about his beliefs. A lot of my Muslim friends didn’t really know a lot about the religion to begin with and weren’t really practicing.

I started asking my friend more about Islam, some answers he provided and others he wasn’t very sure about. So I just decided to look it up for myself. I figured there isn’t much to do on the computer and Google is there so why not Google it! As much as there is a lot of false information on the internet I found a lot of great sites that provided me with sound evidence of true Islamic beliefs. Soon I started researching Islamic lectures, every time I got home I’d jump straight on the computer and start researching. After two weeks of doing this I was hooked! Every time I would see my friend, I’d ask him about the things I learned and shared them with him.

He was very happy to see that I took an interest and encouraged me to keep up the research. After the two weeks I really started to reflect on why I was a Christian. Why does anyone believe in the religion they follow? I came to the conclusion that a lot of us are only our religion because this is what our parents follow. It’s basically handed down to us. But we make so many choices in our life, and chose for ourselves what we want, so why should a belief or religion be any different. Was I Christian because I really believed in it, or was it because this is just what my mom taught me? Now I decided to forget everything I learned about religion and Christianity. Start from scratch, I knew there was a god because when I look at myself and the world it is obvious. I decided to research many religions and see is their really a truth to any, or are they just man made laws to control the masses?

For about 3 months I was always on the computer every chance I got, researching the history and origins of religions like Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and others like Buddhism and so forth. I knew monotheism was the way to go; it just made sense to my logic that there would be one creator and not more. After I got down to studying Islam more I just knew that no doubt this is the truth from the one who created every cell in my body. My heart felt at rest and I felt like a huge veil was lifted from my eyes.

I returned to my friend and said I want to convert! But he told me to take my time and not rush into things because it is something to take seriously. He gave me the number to an Imam so I can talk more about Islam. So I continued my research and by the 5th month I decided to call the Imam. I was nervous! I had no clue what to say or what to expect. I remember the night sitting in the hallway of my building trying to whisper so no one would hear me. We talked for hours and he was amazed at how much I knew about Islam at such a young age, and that I was really interested in my actual purpose in life. He asked if I was ready to accept Islam because in my heart I was already a Muslim, I just needed to testify verbally. I said no, politely, I was afraid that I would hurt my mom so I said we will talk again. The next week it was all I was thinking about, why hold back to acknowledge that God almighty was one, and he gave us a way to live and that was Islam, why should I be afraid to believe and follow that?

So the following week I called him and after another two hour conversation, making sure I understood the tenants of Islam, I took my shahada on June 13, 2009. I was crying and shaking and just so happy that I finally found the peace in my heart that so many people never find. I called my friend. Crying and just so happy, I slowly said…. I’m a Muslim now. I can still hear his gasp! “WHAT!!!!!!!!! ARE YOU SERIOUS!?” he said, with a happy voice. I said “I took my shahada and now I am a Muslim.” He congratulated me, and then told his family the good news, they were all very supportive. I just want to say that the M.E.C.C.A. center has helped me so much and has been there for me from the time I took shahada until now.

At M.E.C.C.A I learned how to recite the Fatihah and I had a place to run to after school so I can be around Muslim women and not feel alone. I had a place I called my Islamic home, filled with love and care where I can meet other converts who shared the same experiences as me. I have created bonds with so many people there, whom I carry in my heart every day; I thank Allah for blessing me with the company of so many beautiful people. We all love to hear conversion stories, but what happens behind the scenes? When we are left to face the world and uphold our belief? The M.E.C.C.A center is there to help!