My Convert Story

Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi w baraktu.

On May 27th, 2011, I took my shahada, or my declaration of faith in Islam in front of our crowded masjid. However, I did not become a Muslim on that day. I have been Muslim my entire life, but was unaware of it.  I have always believed in one God and Him alone. This thought is one of the most basic, but most important, pillars of the religion. The reason I never knew I was Muslim was because no one ever told me. I have a Muslim roommate, have met many Muslim people, but no one ever told me what Muslims believe in. All along I had believed in Islam, but had no idea that my faith was the same faith as millions of people around me.

Finally, after years of trying to understand my beliefs, attending different religious services and only believing in parts of what I would hear, a close friend asked me what I believed in. We had been friends for a while and we never talked about religion.  I explained my fundamental beliefs, that I believe in God, but not the trinity, and I believe in heaven and angels, but also noted that it did not fall under any one religion and I “didn’t know what it was called”. My friend told me that I had been wrong all this time and that all of my beliefs are consistent with the friend’s beliefs as a Muslim.

At first I thought my friend was just trying to make Islam “look good,” explaining the most appealing parts of the faith.  The friend would send me ayas (or “verses”) from the Qur’an and I agreed with them, but I thought the friend was only picking and choosing the best lines that would make me more interested.  The first one I received was Surah Ad Duha.  The eleven verses that comprised this surah were the theme of my life.  I went out and bought a Qur’an for myself to find things to point out to my friend that I did not agree with.  I couldn’t find one single thing.  I agreed with every ayah.  I easily understood why the literal translation of “ayah” is “miracle”.  Every verse is a miracle. As a matter of fact, everyword is a miracle.

It was a miracle in my own life that after searching for twenty years, after being confused, after thinking I would never find anyone else with my beliefs, I found Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) through His will.  The best part was, however, that He had always been with me.  I would stay up as late as possible reading Qur’an and crying knowing that I was reading the truth. I reflect on how beautiful it is that Allah (swt) gave all of the other Prophets the power to perform miracles for the people of their time to see, but he gave Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu alayhi wa salaam) a miracle that I get to hold in my hands every day, the Qur’an.

I knew I was Muslim and I knew I was so incredibly blessed that Allah (swt) wanted me, a twenty-year old college student, to come to Him.  How could I be so lucky? And how could I do anything but seek all the knowledge and faith possible when I was chosen by Him to come to Islam?

There is a hadith that says, “if you draw nearer to Allah by a handspan, He will draw nearer to you by a cubit, and if you draw nearer to Him by a cubit, He will draw nearer to you by a fathom.  And if you walk towards Him, He will rush to you.”  Well, I drew nearer to Him by miles and miles and He far surpassed my efforts.  And I sprinted to Him, and He rushed to me at lightspeed.

That is not to say there were not times when I was terrified.  Americans do not think too fondly of Muslims, and after all the negative media portrayals I expected my friends to feel similarly about the subject.  Some do, and I do not mind letting them go as friends.  A friend should accept you for what you are, and also should draw you nearer to Allah.  Spending time with those friends makes it obvious to me that they are not what is best for me.  That is not to say I do not makedu’aa (or prayer) for them.

There are friends who support me and love me no matter what my choice is, and to them I am thankful.  I can only hope that Allah (swt) draws them nearer to Him.  However, what I was surprised to find out of these friends is the complete lack of knowledge about Islam, and oftentimes about their own religions as well. I was ignorant about Islam before converting, but I had not thought that all of my friends would equally as ignorant about Islam and their own religions!

It is my biggest honor in life to be Muslim.  It is my second biggest honor to explain Islam to others.  I am thankful that people feel comfortable enough around me at a grocery store, or in line at Subway, or at my office, or at the park to ask me about my faith, I just hope that I am eloquent and intelligent enough to speak for my faith.

There’s nothing I love talking about more than what we believe in and why we believe in it.  I cannot force others to believe in Islam: “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error” (Qur’an 2.256).  However, I can educate people who do not know what Islam is with regards to our basic beliefs.  I cannot teach faith, that is only in the heart and that is only between you and Allah (swt), but I can help to teach His message.  This teaching, or dawah, is a critical part of Islam.  Islam does not belong to us, it belongs to all of mankind.  Islam, and the Prophet (saws) are a mercy for the entire world.

I have been told to “go back where I came from” in a WalMart parking lot (to which I responded, “I’m from Cleveland!”).  I have been told to “shut up” while eating ice cream with Muslim friends for no reason.  I have had people make sure their children did not walk anywhere near me at restaurants.  I have had people tell me that Jesus loves me (to which I responded, “I love him too!”).  I have had a woman tell me she feels bad for the way I dress when I was wearing abaya and she was wearing a tube top and mini skirt (to which I responded, “honey, I feel even worse for you”).  And, I have had parents tell their children the reason I was wearing hijab is because I have cancer.  And that is perfectly fine.  If these people knew the peace we had in our hearts, they would be fighting us for that.

I hope to teach people more about our religion, and I hope that more people are open minded enough to learn. Also, I hope that I continue learning forever. I encourage the Muslim population to get to know people from different cultures and religions and explain ours. Also, I encourage the Muslim population to get to know converts.  We have a unique perspective, and oftentimes while you can help teach new converts about ibada, they can help teach you about iman.

With other cultures, there’s no need to fight, but how beautiful is it that we would speak for ourselves instead of letting others speak for us?

May Allah (swt) continue blessing us with the gift of faith, and inshaAllah we will all draw each other nearer to Him. May we all be in the Glory of His Presence and have the honor of being close to Him and His Mercy someday.

“To Him we belong and to Him we shall return.” (Qur’an 2.156)

إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ

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37 thoughts on “My Convert Story

  1. Masyallaaah! I stumbled onto your wonderful and very refreshing blog — from Malaysia, sorry! Could you please share with us at least a few those usually difficult-to-describe moments that you have experienced, that made you feel connected to Allah s.w.t.?

    1. Salaam, so happy you enjoy!

      It’s so hard to explain them in ONE place! LoL… that’s what the blog is mostly about. I’ll tell you one moment that made me TOTALLY fall in love with Islam:

      The day I took my shahada I prayed jumaa with everyone and I was sitting in the back of the masjid before prayer started and watched people do Sunna prayer of entering the masjid – 2 rakat – and I saw a two year old little Indian baby pray next to his grandpa – wearing a sweatervest! GAH! SO CUTE! – and to see how excited he was do pray with his grandfather – how he watched him to make sure he was doing the right poses, etc… absolutely melted my heart. If that little boy was SO EXCITED about Islam, I wanted to be as excited as he was for the rest of my life…

      I’m sure that my blog posts will include anecdotes that are similar – keep reading and you’ll keep finding!

  2. I’m going through the same thing you went through…, I would love to talk to you because sometimes I dont know what to do and you already lived that…… There is any way to get in touch?

  3. Asalaam Alaikum! MashAllah, it’s very inspiring to read convert stories and it’s very strong too – it’s something I can’t experience since I’m born into it and I happen to take some things for granted. I am happy you found what you were looking for 🙂

  4. Is that you in the picture? You are very beautiful inside and outside! Wonderful story! Sometimes I wish I wasn’t born Muslim so that I could experience a life-changing discovery learning about Islam! lol

  5. Assalamu alaikum!

    I am a convert too and am addicted to reading convert stories. I can’t get enough of them… (I also love to read “how I met my spouse stories”, haha!)
    Your story does not disappoint, and I was so happy reading it. I was struck by how you said that you’d really been a Muslim all your life, but didn’t know what Islam was! That’s in line with the hadeeths we know about the fitra, or natural human inclination… I got goosebumps!

    Thanks so much for sharing your story and for making this blog.
    I pray that it is added to your scale of good deeds and you get rewarded for everyone who is inspired by it!

    Wassalam, your sister,

    -Safiyah

  6. Assalamualaikum..
    I am Temmy from Indonesia. Am a Muslim since birth, but still i used to question things and compare. I had a Christian Bible to see if there were errors in it. And there are! a lot of them.
    So I fell in love with Islam more and more.
    Alhamdulillah, Allah has guided you.

    Take Care
    tmelania.blogspot.com

  7. Dear sister in islam i am very happy to read about your story its beautiful and touching i am a born muslim woman and i feel humbled that allah has made me a muslim although i was born a muslim i would have left the faith if i thought it is not the true religion
    being a muslim knowing allah and knowing he is there to guide me and help me makes the world a beautiful place to me
    i have been reading quran for many years but i am always emotional when reading the quran and i know it without doubt that this is the word of god
    i love you for the sake of allah may he bless you and grant you a good life here and the highest paradise in the here after

  8. Alhamdulillah! what a beautiful post. May you get an easy life ahead whilst following our deen. I am a convert too and though I haven’t disclosed this identity to the world, my close friends have accepted this change. It is sad to see such reaction towards muslims all around the world. But you are right when you say we have peace in our hearts! Hope to learn more about you in future and share such experiences.

  9. wao amazing..and I just love your confidence..May ALLAH give u more strength to face criticism..and may God give u more happiness,inner peace and self satisfaction.I am born Muslim and live in a Muslim country seriously i have no patience I can’t listen any single word against Islam.
    The fact that the whole world is against one religion shows just how powerful that religion is. #Islam

  10. You seem like such a lovely, open person! I’m glad I stumbled across your blog and I am on my way to studying a degree in Religious Philosophy next year. I was hoping to choose a module on Islam because I intend to become a teacher after my degree, and I’ve noticed a lot of teachers have trouble teaching this, despite the fact it has been on the curriculum for such a long time. I am from England and I can only assume it is because we have not been educated about Islam enough – to many Brits there seems to be some sort of secret stigma behind it. However my step-grandfather was a Sunni Muslim and my own father (of Irish heritage) were both Muslim (though my dad decided he was agnostic after 14 years of following the faith). I am so interested in Islam because of this and your blog is so helpful! Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much, Holly. I really appreciate the kind words. I am wishing you all the blessings in the world in teaching your classes and I am happy to hear that you are objectively able to teach religion based on the principles instead of media bias. You have some lucky future students. May God make it easy on you and may your students benefit from your lectures.

  11. I think religion is something you don’t put on display, if it helps with your peace then fine. Why talk about others being lost and saying I hope they find Allah? what makes you think they have the same viewpoint in life? Sorry but I think something troubled happened to you and you like attention (bad from America and good from other foreign muslims that get excited about one person like this) and do the opposite. This is something like a scientist that thinks he knows everything about a culture because he read a book. You haven’t seen all of it yet. Each region has a different version of the Quran and it was changed. The radicals in foreign countries practice it properly and most of the million people are their easy targets. In America, they have to be sneaky and do it like other religions, and some like you fall for it

    1. Hey Kristen,

      Thanks for commenting and reading. I very much agreed for most of my life that religion is something you keep to yourself. The problem was that people around me were keeping it to themselves, too, and then I had no way to learn about Islam. That is part of my goal in life to show other people this is what Islam is, not “this is Islam. You better believe it!” Sorry if I came across that way to you.

      Where I have to disagree with you is that I am craving attention. I know you don’t know me, but I’m simply not that kind of person. Yes, I have had troubles in my life, as we all have, but it’s not about wanting attention. You are incorrect about the regions and the Quran thing, as well. There is one Quran, darling. They all have the exact same letters (in Arabic, not in English or other languages, of course). It was not changed. And I am ONE OF MILLIONS, not one in a million, who have converted to Islam.

      I hope people find God in whatever form His Mercy takes – independent of what they call Him. God, Allah, Jehova, whatever the word is, I hope He turns all of the hearts in the world closer to Him. And that is all I hope for everyone. I hope the same for you.

      Much love,
      Hannah

      1. Assalamualiakum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu. One Quran, one message. If Kristen is referring to the slightly different pronunciations of the Quran, there are 7 (or some say 10). However that is only because the original Arabic is unvoweled and the vowel pronunciation differs on dialects but as Hannah said the letters (all Arabic letters are consonants) are exactly the same. Repeat: EXACTLY the same. Same letters, same words, same message, same Quran. Just 1400+ years later.Assalamualiakum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu.

  12. Salaam to you,

    What a wonderful story to tell all. I wish people could know how our religion as peacful and loving. You just said it. I really do hope people would begin to see our religion is beautiful and peaceful. The extremist in our religion are misguided .are not Muslim. There is
    compulsory to our religion.

    Such a beautiful article. Everything you said in your article is what Islam is all about.

    Thank you, I hope this article guides someone to the straight path. Amen

  13. Beautiful story. I especially liked the part where someone told you that Jesus loved you… And you responded that you loved him too! How a man who ate, pooped, had nothing to his name could be a son to the Absolute, Eternal Source of Peace is beyond me. Especially when he himself claimed that he came “not to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it” the Law of Moses, who spoke only of submission to God. There is no trinity, it’s a pagan idea. There is only God and His creations. He is the constant, incomparable, unlike anything at all. There is no other way for Him to be, because He is the root of all things. A tiny study of history lends itself to the Islamic presentation of Jesus, as just a Jew, a man, who, were he to meet Muhammad in his lifetime, would embrace him with open arms. Muhammad, the prophet like Moses/Abraham.

  14. Assalam Aleikum dear sister! Wallahi when I read your article I feel that I’m reading about myself. I also came to Islam at the age of 20 and I also has been feeling for most of my life that Islam was always the religion I followed but I never knew it SubhanAllah!

  15. Salaam, very inspiring sister, *semoga Allah bantu anda dalam segala perbuatan dan ibadah ( May Allah helps you in every deeds and acts), can I share this post sister..

  16. As salamu aleykum Sister, your story is so inspiring that I a born Muslim feel so humbled by it. Your. feelings of being a Muslim all along are the true feelings of someone who believes in the Unity and supremacy of Allah. Quran is the true word of Allah/ God/ Jehovah, which is and will always remain unchanged; Allah Himself has guaranteed it. May Allah shower you with His blessings- Aameen!
    Khurshid Haider

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