My parents, both reverts, basically allowed my brothers and I the freedom to choose and explore religion for ourselves from very early on even though they raised us as Muslims.
At the age of ten I had made the bold decision to be Muslim. But I didn’t want to be Muslim just because my parents were Muslim. So I never closed my mind off from exploring other religions or beliefs, even though I had chosen Islam as my way of life and believed it to be the ideal religion for me. I took this approach because apart from not just following my parents – as if to continue some sort of religious tradition, I wanted to be sure that I had made the right choice, and the only way to say that I’ve found ‘truth,’ was to explore other people’s truth and then compare their truth to what I considered to be the truth, before deciding which truth was the right truth for me.
Christianity was the only other mainstream Abrahamic faith/religion I was familiar with. So I decided to start my research there. I was still in High School at this point, so I was no more than fifteen years old. I didn’t know anything about Judaism at that time, but I knew that Christians and Jews were considered by Allah (the Arabic word for God) to be “people of the book” and that the three faiths had several things in common.
On more than one occasion I attended an Assembly of God Church with a good friend of mine – Bible in hand and all, but my khimar never left my head. But after a few attendances, reading and research, I decided that Christianity was definitely not for me – too many questions were unanswered and answers to questions led to more questions. I didn’t feel a deep sense of spirituality when in worship at Church and I didn’t like the idea of singing and dancing in Church, even though I participated in it and it was fun to do. I needed a quieter style of worship and a religious path that answered most, if not all my questions and one that provided deep and practical spirituality. And most importantly, a path that viewed God the way I did.
I even went up to the altar one day with a few other members of the congregation. These individuals were about to “commit their lives to Jesus,” and so was I. We all held hands and repeated a few words on the direction of the Pastor. As I stood in the congregation, and the Pastor was calling out to Church members urging those who were “unsaved” to come forward to accept Jesus, I felt like he was directing his words at me because it was so obvious from my headscarf that I wasn’t a Christian. So without much thought and with the encouragement of my friend, I decided to go up and I did all that was asked of us. But I was just going through the motions – not feeling any connection or emotion towards what was being asked of us. I felt this way not because I went to Church that day or any other day with any negative preconceived ideas about Christianity or because I was being stubborn and closed minded. In fact, I was open and willing to learn and experience something different so I went with no expectations and a very opened mind. When I got home and reflected on all my church experiences, the Christian concept of God and all that I observed, especially my few hours of Church experience that day. I was happy I had that experience in particular because it served to put things into perspective and made my decision about Islam an even easier one. It was like an aha moment for me. I felt confident that I had made the right choice. I asked Allah for forgiveness and I prayed and asked that if Islam was truly the right path for me for Him to continue guiding me on that path and to increase my imaan and love for Him and that if it wasn’t the right path for me, to take me away from it. But alhamdulilah, today I am Muslim and happy and confident that I made the right decision. Islam continues to amase me with its simplicity and practicality. For me, I have found truth! Subhanallah!
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