CS: How I converted to Islam

CS: How I converted to Islam

ok first off - i was raised as a catholic. And by that i mean i was baptised, given a catholic sounding name (even my school principal congratulated me on my strong irish catholic name), sent to private catholic schools where we would attend mass all the time, had my rituals done - reconciliation, confession, holy communion, etc. I had a godfather and a godmother, as is the catholic way. I grew up in a typical irish catholic household. But never went to church on our own time. My family themselves were not really religious. we didnt go to church on sundays, hardly ever went for christmas mass, easter mass, etc. but we still celebrated easter and christmas through easter egg hunts in the garden and presents at christmas.
I loved religion studies at school. religion and history were the only subjects i really excelled in because i loved them both. i loved learning about jesus and moses and all of the bible characters. my favourite movie was The Ten Commandments (Charlton Heston version, if you please) and i would watch it time and time again.
But even as a kid, when it came to going to Mass at Church i hated it. We would kneel in the pews for soooo long while the priest rambled on. then we would wait in line to go to the priest for confession weekly and spill our guts out to him about all the bad stuff we had done in the past week that we needed forgiveness for. Even as a child i was uncomfortable with telling some guy in a purple robe all my sins, waiting for him at the end to make the sign of the cross above my head and go "go in peace, God has forgiven you".
How the hell does he know God has forgiven me? Does he have some special dialogue with God that the rest of us dont? Is he God's best friend? Does he know God's phone number, that he calls to ask "Yo, God.. this little girl here is asking for forgiveness - should i give it to her?"
Even as a child i had problems with the notion that these men have some sort of special power over us and are somehow more closer to God than us because they wear long robes, hand out wafers and wine while saying "body of christ, blood of christ" (WTF - idont wanna eat or drink Jesus). I also questioned the different versions of Jesus' life in the gospels. You read those four chapters (gospels of mark, matthew, luke and john) and they dont add up. plus the writers never met Jesus and were not even alive when Jesus died - yet somehow managed to chronicle his life.
Basically i always had some problems with christianity. And try as i might, the whole trinity thing really got me confused.
Anyways much later in my life - i finished high school and went to university. in my second last year (2006) i started talking to a someone on MSN from Egypt. We became good friends and we started to talk about Islam. Eventually my friend sent me many Islamic books and my first ever Quran from Egypt.
i really became interested in islam because i learnt that they believed in the same prophets that i believed in. that little fact really shook my world because i had no knowledge of islam whatsoever and to learn this made me go "whoaaaaa".
i want to know more. i had to know more. i had to know what they believed in aboutjesus and moses and noah and this one and that one... because the knowledge of Islam that i had was this: they worshipped some god they called Allah, worshipped some guy called muhamed and prayed to a black rock. thats it. so to learn that they believed in about 90% of what i believed in really woke me up.
i began reading more. Islam really made me think. When i opened up the first book on Islam that i read (a biography about the life of the prophet) i got about half way down the first page and started crying uncontrollably. i had no idea why i was crying, but i knew that it was coming from a deep place in my heart that i never knew existed. i knew this was something special i had opened up because im not the type to cry over anything. and trust me this wasnt your usual few tears. i was crying like a little baby - grieving almost. i felt like my heart was breaking.
so i kept reading and learning the true Islam - that it wasn't about honour killing, suicide bombers, greedy men having four wives, women being oppressed, women forced to be ugly by hiding everything they had. I learnt the truth about Islam and saw how beautiful it was.

But what got me most of all was the story of Jesus. That he wasnt a god, who was also his own son, who was also his own father, who was also the holy spirit - who died on the cross and yelled out "Oh God, Oh God, why hast thou forsaken me?" - because if he is all these things and is his own father and God then really shouldn't he have said "Why hast I forsaken myself"? and really how can you forsake yourself and then ask yourself for help? Confused yet? I was!

But Islam made me see the truth. Jesus was a might prophet, but above all, A MAN. Not a God. This one point really got to me. Plus it was pointed out to me that nowhere in the bible does Jesus himself say he was God. And when anyone said that, he told them he wasn't God and anything he does is from the power of God and not done by the will of himself. Bang! I was a believer!
I kept reading, my parents got mad, worried etc when they saw what i was reading. I made jokes and walked around the house with a scarf on my head as a joke (mum laughed. dad didn't). They may have seen it as a joke but i was really just getting them used to the idea.

January 2007 - i was at a nightclub with my friends, drinking and dancing the night away as i usually did. I stopped half way through and started to have a really bad night. I hated being drunk (strange for the Irish - i know), i hated men coming up to me trying to flirt with me, i hated being in the crowded club with half naked girls everywhere. I hated the whole thing. So i left. I didnt even tell my friends i was going. I just thought to myself "Eff this" and i walked the 40 minutes home. The whole way back and even when i crawled into bed i was thinking "why am i doing this? why am i wasting my time getting drunk in clubs? what good does it do me? i waste all my money on alcohol, spend all my afternoon getting dressed up for what?". That night I didnt sleep.

So i stopped. I didnt touch a drop afterwards. I will be honest - i still went to some nightclubs with my girlfriends about 3 times after that night... but only lasted about an hour each time - because lets face it - nightclubs are very boring when youre sober.

A while after that in April 2007 i went to an islamic centre just to get some more books, but instead ended up sitting down saying my shahada. Not planned, trust me. The guy was like "do you believe in it?".. i said i did.. he said "what is stopping you from saying shahada. because that is what shahada is - just saying you believe". i told him i felt like i didnt know enough yet about islam. he replied "if you believe, then you believe. you can say you believe, become a muslim and keep reading after you say shahada, you can still keep learning until the day you die". And he was right. So i said it on April 25th (Anzac day):

أشهد أن لا إله إلاَّ الله و أشهد أن محمد رسول الله

After that i kept reading, learning more. But i really didnt have anyone around me to help me. All the muslims i knew were people on my MSN list. thats it. Everything i did in Islam i pretty much did by myself - no help or support. It was a very hard time for me. I was all alone and felt very lonely. The only muslims i knew in my city, knew i had become muslim, said "mabrouk" and welcome" and thats about it. they never once offered to help me or talk to me about islam, which i find kinda sad because i felt so lonely in my new religion. Plus i had the usual convert-family troubles at home to go along with it.

My first Ramadan in 2007: i knew a very nice, very devout Muslim man who i like to call Bibz (short for Habibi - not his real name). i knew him for a while. He was sooooohonest which made me ask Allah if i could have him, because i had never met a man so truthful before. Allah obviously said Yes because in Ramadan 2007 we agreed to marry and married in October 2007.

During this time we were driving along in the car and the Quran was playing on the stereo. I just had a big bang feeling in my heart as we were driving to the mosque and once again i started crying uncontrollably. I turned to my husband and said "I want to wear Hijab". He had the biggest smile on his face, like i told him that he had won the lottery.

I put it on and never took it off. After about 3 months after that i started to wear abayain my own time.

Now that is the basic story. Of course much more happened in the 8 months from learning about Islam in 2006 to my actual shahada in 2007.

My family were very against it. You all know how my brother feels about it. My dad caught me praying in my room for the first time. He was knocking at my door and ididnt answer because i was praying. he assumed i wasnt in there so he walked in. He saw me praying then started shouting, swearing, slamming doors, etc. I kept praying, crying, so upset, but i stood my ground and continued praying.

I have been verbally abused by pretty much everyone in my family, except probably my mum. She was very worried but never turned her worry into verbal abuse. Now things are better. Mum isnt worried anymore. She sends me scarves. I suspect she has being reading up a bit on Islam because of little things she has said to me. My dad is much cooler about it but still not 100%. He still says some things sometimes but at least is now more open to talk about things and express his concerns rather than cursing me.

He still gets embarrased about me being in hijab and abaya - my mum on the other hand says she notices more muslim girls now where she lives since i started wearing hijab. I think thats nice. I also sat her down and watched that movie about the Prophet called "The Messenger". At the end of it she said "well if Jesus could be a prophet, i guess Mohamed could have been too". I was like "one point to Angela".

My brother is still a down-right ignorant bastard about it. My sister is similar in her views as him but doesnt get all in your face as he does. We all grew up around racism and so on, so it is hard to change the minds after so long a time.

I lost all of my former friends. i remember the shocked and bad looks of disgust in their faces when i told them i became muslim. They had less and less to do with me, especiallysince i stopped going out at night time and started covering. i am not friends with any of them now, partly because they are uncomfortable around me now and dont like being seen with a Muslim and partly because i dont feel close to them anymore.

But Alhamdulilah things are all good. My life is better. My marriage is like a little heaven on Earth and being Muslim rocks!

So here I am: married and muslim at the age of 22... still going strong one year later at 23. Life sure does change in a year, let me tell you....



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