Growing up across the street from a masjid, I was always aware of Islam. I remember as a child watching all the Muslims in my neighbourhood walk to Jummah prayer on Fridays. But I didn’t actually begin to ask questions about Islam until I was in high school when I started making more Muslim friends.
Me and my best friend in high school had a group of friends who were predominately Muslim, but he was an apostate and had a very poor outlook of Islam. He actually hated Islam and would tell me things that I now know to be untrue about the Quran and the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him. Him and I would always debate over the existence of God, as he was an atheist and I was a Christian. This was my first introduction into exploring Islam, but unfortunately my opinion of it became very soured.
Meanwhile, I was raised in a Catholic family, and at 15 I decided to become an active Jehovah’s Witness. I was passionate about worshiping God and studying the Bible. I was very evangelical and I was the young woman who would knock on your door on Saturday mornings to ask if you really knew what the Bible taught, and was eager to teach you.
Fast forward to when I’m 22. I meet a young man and fall in love. My only concern is that he’s Muslim. Will his family accept me? What do they believe? Maybe I could introduce him to Christianity and make him love Jehovah. The more we talk about the Bible, the Quran and God, the more I begin to become fascinated with the Quran. He would talk about prophets and their stories and I would ask him how he knows so much about the Bible, but he said he learned all of this from the Quran. I began watching lectures and reading the Quran and realized how much the Quran was connected to the Bible. In so many ways there are far too many to list in this brief essay. In reading the Quran, it is a confirmation of what I read in the Torah and the Gospels. The Bible says new scrolls will be revealed, and that there will be another “helper” after Prophet Jesus. John 14:16: “And I will ask the Father and he will give you another helper to be with you forever”. I feel as though I was not changing my religion but completing it. Like I had 2/3 completed and now the Quran filled the final third and it was my knowledge of the Bible and being a student of it that ultimately led me to Islam. It was the clear logical connection of the Bible and the Quran, and it was nothing but proof for me that they were both inspired by God. I never in a million years thought I would have changed my beliefs, I was so set in them, but by Allah’s mercy He gave me an open-mind to seek the truth further and provided logical proof I and everybody could understand.
And so, I told my fiancé that I wanted to be a Muslim and I took my shahada. All the pain of the dunya was worth it for that one day, the best day of my life on October 30th, 2015. I decided I was going to be a Muslim, my whole life was about to change, the way I dressed was going to change – the only problem was that my family had no idea. I was terrified to tell them because when I left Catholicism to became a Jehovah’s Witness I was accused of being a fanatic, my mom told me that I was part of a sick cult, they would at times refuse to let me out of the house in fear I would go to Bible study with a group they were threatened by. Neither of my parents are religious, but yet the backlash was pretty awful. But I called up my mom and she told me she was happy for me. I went to my dad’s house, getting there before he got home so I could take off my hijab, and told him. I told him I was sick to my stomach for days in fear of telling him. He told me he was disappointed in me for thinking that he wouldn’t accept me. I was so amazed. They wanted to make sure I wasn’t becoming Muslim for my now husband, and so I had many long discussions with them and answered all their questions which was a great opportunity. I did face some concern from other family members, but nowadays everybody is a lot more relaxed about it.
I remember one of the the first times I ever went to a masjid, I wasn’t sure what to do. I waited in a chair outside the classroom, waiting for a class for new converts. Everybody approached me and said Salam alykum. As a new Muslim I was so excited and touched. I still remember to this day the first time somebody said Salam alykum in public to me. In the class I met so many new Muslims. Beforehand I was wondering if I would ever meet another convert but here I was with a class full of converts from every background and walk of life. They shared my excitement when I told them I had became Muslim a couple months ago. In this class I learned the foundations of Islam, met my best friend and many other friends, and found a masjid where I felt peace. My best advice to new converts is to seek a community like this, and to also be careful of where you find your information for learning Islam. As our goal is to learn the pure Islam, free of cultural influence. But most of all, reach out to Allah. He guided you to Islam, He loves you, and He wants you to ask Him for help. It may be a roller-coaster, but if you hold firm to your faith, you will always have everything you need.