My Story

I've been Muslim for 13 years now, and have never written my story down. I'm not sure it's that interesting to begin with, but since there aren't any other stories here, I figured I'd go ahead and add mine!

I was raised Catholic, and both of my parents came from very religious families. They taught me the best they knew how, and made sure I participated in all the things "good" Catholic children should- CCD, communion, confession, lent, ect.. We were definately not "Christmas Eve" Catholics. Religion was a big deal in our house.

I remained a pretty religious kid, spending many late nights reading the Bible, praying, abstaining from a lot of the "bad" stuff pre/early teens sometimes get into (swearing/smoking/boys). I never questioned anything about my religious upbringing until I was about 16. I was watching a preacher on TV talking about Jesus being the "Son of God" and how our main purpose in this life was to worship him.... wait... *worship* him? It hit me like a ton of bricks. "We're suppose to be praying to a prophet?" I thought to myself. "Whats God for, then? Didn't He create Jesus? So why would I worship a creation?". I didn't get it. All these years I had been parroting what I was being taught, but never once sat and thought about the meaning of what I was repeating and doing. I thought about the 'Hail Mary". I thought about all the saints, candle lighting, eating the "body and blood of Christ", was in total shock, and immediately put off. What was even stranger, is that although I had been doing/saying all the things I was being taught, I had always been praying to God. When I'd say my nightly prayers, it was to God. When I prayed, asking for something, I asked God. It never once entered my mind that what I had been repeating in church was so... polytheistic. It was like I had been a religiously asleep the whole time, and now that I was awake, I couldn't continue on with it anymore. I considered my self agnostic, and began studying other religions.

All the religions I read about had lots of good things to say. I checked out eastern religions, but I knew I couldn't follow something that that wasn't monotheistic. I looked into Judaism, but I was sure Jesus was a prophet, so it was a dead end. Islam had popped up a couple times, but I didn't read to much into it at first, and sort of disregarded it, like so many do nowdays, as a religion of "terrorism". Round and round I went. After much searching, I decided to put the religion issue on the back burner for a while, as I didn't feel I was getting anywhere.

At this time (age 17) I was busy traveling the world. I was a navy brat, and had never lived anywhere longer than 3 years my whole life. We ended up in the middle east, and culture shock sure took its toll. At first.we sort of socially/culturally isolated ourselves by associating only with other ex-pats. Oddly, this had an eye-opening effect for me. I'd hear daily ramblings by fellow Americans about "these people" (the locals of the country we were living in)... how they were backwards, senseless, ridiculous.... and not one of these people had any actual Arab friends. They hated they way they dressed, how they prayed, how they greeted one another, what they ate... everything! Was this the real picture of tolerance in America? It sure wasn't what I had been taught growing up. How can you dislike a whole race of people you don't even know? It was shocking, watching groups of my fellow countrymen/women culturally/religiously/racially bash these people. I decided to start broadening my social horizons.

As I started befriending local Arabs, things around me really started making sense, and life in the country I was living in became a lot less stressful. They were warm, friendly, and courteous to the extreme. I didn't ask them anything about religion, they didn't ask about mine. This went on for another year. I met lots of great folks, learned lots of new things, and truly enjoyed life in the middle east.

It wasn't until I took to my studies (this time, online) again and accidently "clicked" on a wrong link that I got anywhere, religiously speaking . It was a random page, talking about God and His creation of angels. It was really interesting, and it wasn't until the 2nd page or so that I realized it was an Islamic page! (Everything had been translated to english, so I hadn't initially suspected anything.) After reading just a few lines of the Quran, and the explanitory paragraphs that followed, I knew this was the word of God. I'm not sure what gave me this feeling so early on, but it was undeniable.

I spent a few more months studying what was available online at that time. Local information was slim pickins'... I couldn't even find a english quran in print. Eventually, I felt that what I had read was evidence enough of this being a true religion sent by God, and that this is what He had intended for mankind to follow.

I had many conversations throughout my studies with my parents about what I had learned, (particularly my father) and they had no qualms with me learning about other religions. When it came to Islam, though, I was thouroghly warned not to venture too far. (I later learned that some of the local Christians my dad worked with,when hearing of my interest in Islam, told him all kinds of crazy stories and really terrified him. From tales of the possibillity his daughter might be kidnapped by bands of extremists, to beheadings, they did a really good job scaring him. They went so far as to ask him if he'd like them to take me out to some isolated convent/monestary place till I was brainwashed "back". That too, freaked him out and he stopped discussing the subject with them, thankfully). Every time I'd bring the subject up, I was told "you're just checking it out... nothing serious." Or "you're not really going to be muslim... you're just testing things out." Mostly one sided conversations about what I was or wasn't going to do.

I carried on nonetheless, collecting more modest clothing, cutting out all pork products (which was never big in our house, and was mostly used as a "spice"), started learning the required arabic prayers and related details. I had a date set in my mind that week to go ahead and say the shahada (convert), when dad surprised me with a trip to the Vatican. "Pack your bags, we're leaving in an hour!" Quick. We went, and looking up at the Sistine chapel, I remember being astounded... that I had been blindly following what was total blasphemy to me now. I felt really uncomfortable being there (I ended up buying a bunch of scarves at one of the gift shops there for later, though) , and the trip made me more determined that ever to convert as soon as possible. I asked to leave early, and flew home just a few days after arriving.

As soon as I got home, I had the house to myself and said the shahada. A few days later, a friend offered to take me to a mosque that would provide papers attesting to my conversion, which I would need later to take to Hajj. A week later my dad came, and I told him I converted, but either he didn't take me seriously or wasn't listening. Either way, he didn't really have much to say about it until I went outside with a scarf on my head. He told me in no uncertain terms to "Take that thing off your head!". When I told him, again, that I had converted, it really hit him hard. Perhaps he thought it was just another passing phase... a crazy teenage thing (I had my share of those... must have been hard for him!), and it remained a source of strain on our relationship for a couple of years.

To his credit, though, he let me be, and as time passed, things got easier. I remember the turning point was on a roadtrip during a vacation back to the states; we had to stop overnight in Las Vegas, and walking up the Las Vegas ***** (looking for a non-casino related place to eat), someone handed him a booklet. We both thought it was harmless, till he opened it and found it was an uncensored advertisement for a ***** club. He threw it on the ground immediately, to which I said "well- at least you never have to worry about me showing up in one of those." He never gave me a hard time about my scarf again after that.

I found a group of women who, like myself, had recently become muslim, and learned a lot from them.I once thought that Islam was a religion for Arabs, but so many folks that came were from practically every country on earth- from Lativa to Japan. It was so humbling and inspiring standing shoulder to shoulder with people from every continent on earth, in one row, pray to God in the same way, asking for what I suspect are mostly the same things... sucess in this life and in the life after.

I met and married my husband later that year. I was 19 at the time, and although I was sure of what I was doing, I'm surprised my dad didn't yank out all his hair, Homer Simpson style. :)

Both my conversion and my marriage ended up being the best life choices I ever made. I have five children now, and am so thankful my life has turned out the way it has so far. Alhamduelellah!
quietgirll quietgirll
31-35, F
5 Responses May 19, 2012

You're story is beautiful! Thank you for sharing it! It reminds me a lot of how I came to Islam too :-) God bless!

I understand the knowledge em<x>bedded in the book that had not been discovered is a pretty good case for it, but the bible has some too. Now I don't follow either but I do admit something special about all the books. I just can't come to the conclusion that it's straight up God's word. But does it really matter? You are happy and are generally a good person, right? That's what is most important.

It's important to be a good person, absolutely. But what defines a "good" person? Every culture has it's own definition. And how does that shape society? How do we deal with people who aren't as "good"? I think there's lot more to it than just personal conduct, and quran addresses all of these things.

Man has written many great things throughout history. How could you tell God wrote your book? I asked my family when I was in Yemen visiting them. They told me to read the Qur'an. I read some of it and am still not convinced. A lot of them were insulted when I'd debate them over it. It was kind of funny when my 3-5 year old cousins would walk up to me, point, and say in English "You burn!" right after I'd take a sip of water with my left hand.

lf you have time, watch the link I posted. That pretty much covers everything.

I don't think anyone is "born" into any religion; you're raised a certain way, yes, but there comes a time in everyones life when they have to start thinking about things for themselves. All of the prophets asked questions- even the angels. It's in our curious nature. the case of your little cousins... you have to realise there is a difference between religion and culture. No one can tell who is and isn't going to hell- thats Gods job.

One of the things I found pretty astounding early on reading quran, was the scientific evidence embedded in it. No one at the time new things about the mountains having roots, the sky having certain layers, or the oceans having underwater "waves". When you get into the signs before "the hour" (day of judgement) it gets even more detailed. There aren't any other "books" that give specific details like this.

Machidiel, its not to scare you although i dont know the exact source of what i would say but it is true, you know the Prophet SAW , prayed so much , do all the possible things for his uncle to convert. If you see well, i said his uncle, someone of his own familly didnt convert, all this to say that Allah Taalah choose however he wants and do what he wants without giving any report to anyone, Allah taalah dont need us , it us who need him. Well Islam if you look at it in a way to contradict it you will always contradict it, all i can tell you there are many many things that the Quran has predicted a very long time ago and its now that scientist are discovering. You can do some research on splitting of the moon. Mixture of sweet and salty water, and i will tell you Quran is the only book that will never be modified. In a surah itself it tell you try to reproduce a book like this and see if you can .... probably the best explination of why I converted that I've seen. Very articulate man, mashAllah.

I don't know why they ***** out the word s-t-r-i-p, once as in street. Oh well... you get the idea :)