have been asked to write my story as to how I came to make
the decision to convert to Islam. So, here is my story. I
knew of Islam back during my college days in the mid-60s.
Most of my roommates were dating Iranian fellows and it was
during the gathering by an Iranian professor and his American
wife that I had many a conversation concerning Islam in general.
raised a Roman Catholic for most of my formative years, I
had been turned off behind the hyprocrisy that I noticed in
terms of calling others “heathen” or “pagan” because of the
physical idol worshipping some religions allow. For me, as
a very young woman, I could not see the difference. I was
not the usual child that most nuns would like to have in their
class. I asked questions that either caught them off-guard
or they were not willing to be bothered to answer. It appeared
to me that this was a challenge to their authority and, afterall,
they had my spiritual welfare at heart and I was to listen
and obey, not question.
a young woman in college, I became involved in being more
open-minded about learning other religions and other things
in life as well, but was not willing to make a change in any
direction concerning what I had been raised in. In fact, as
far as I was concerned, God was out there, but not sure exactly
in what form.
most children of the 60s, where so much turmoil, civil rights
movements, Black Panther movement, the Vietnam Conflict, etc.,
there were too many other important things in my book and
religion, much less God did not figure into it. I think for
awhile I may have been leaning more to the agnostic angle
of faith, but not totally disregarding some kind of spiritual
source whatever you wanted to name it.
usual, those of us who did not decided to go “flower childing,”
and, instead decided to go mainstream establishment, married
a gentleman who was from India and a non-practicing Hindu,
which suited me fine. He was not like others from his family
and/or environment where puja had to be done and other rituals
observed. He was non-plussed, fine, if not, that was okay.
Our children were not raised in any religious environment
as I was. Unfortunately, things happen and the marriage fell
I was a single mother with two children and on my own. I later
met a gentleman, an American, who likewise viewed religion
as a sign of weakness and a crutch for those who depended
on it. Needless to say, when I got caught up in the Evangelical
movement, it was a shock to him (as well as a few other people)
and it sent him into a tizzy.
the youngest two as well as their elder siblings from the
previous marriage were now in the latest phase of Christianity.
Deep down inside I needed something more substantive and faith
was one thing that I needed the most and had the least knowledge
about. Fate had another turn in my life and my second husband
was killed in a car crash thirty minutes from home, leaving
me with a 4 year old son, a 5-1/2 year old daughter, an 11
year old daughter and a 14 year old daughter to raise.
I buried my husband, his family turned their backs on us and
did not want the responsibility of worrying about four children,
two from my previous marriage and the other two they felt
we should not have had considering my husband was 20 years
older than me and he was a fool to be a father. The last two
children were his only children as three marriages before
had not produced any offspring. So, here I am…… alone, my
family disowned me from the beginning of the relationship
into the marriage and then his deserted me due to their own
fears, worries and hangups.
church that I went to and had dragged sometimes four screaming,
kicking children every Sunday, also turned its back on us.
It seems that since I was not 60ish and not able to work to
take care of myself, I was beaten over the brow with that
scripture (text taken out of context) of what responsibility
they had and where; it was not for me and four orphans.
and feeling all alone for real in every way, I went away from
any form of organized religion. You even looked like you were
going to preach to me and I tore into you in such a way that
you backed off. For many years, I was a frustrated, angry
and hurt person and so were my children.
the years, which it has been 16 years of widowhood, I have
had to process in my relationship with God (my non-muslim
title), including coming to terms with many issues and facing
many problems in recovering spiritually, physically and emotionally
from not only the experience of the death of my headship of
the family, but from the rejection by so many sources. I came
to understand much later as I was processing that this was
how God had to reach me and prepare me for what yet lay ahead
in my life.
were times that I had no one to count on, but God, especially
in the middle of the night when one of the children would
be sick and I had no money for medicine, much less a way to
get that child to a doctor. And I saw God do miracles for
me and then I watched everything that happened. Little by
little God was teaching me who he really is and what He is
am here today only due to his mercy and grace, and most of
all his compassion and understanding for what and where I
had been. It was not easy at times, let me reassure you of
that. God gave me the strength to raise my four children to
adulthood, tribulating and trials galore in that arena for
any of you who have teenagers know what I am referring to,
especially as a single mother at that time. But, my children
were my inspiration to get up everyday and fight if need be
to just get them through to take care of themselves.
my eldest daughter was married, we again experienced a sudden
death with the loss of my son-in-law who just was made a father
three months before his death. This was hard on us, but not
as hard as the first death we experienced. Based on what had
happened earlier to us, my daughter knew she would make it,
because I and God were there for her and my newborn grandson.
went on, children grow up (including my grandson) and the
tree starts branching out………. Now, I am facing being single
again. Well, before I ventured in this part of my life, I
recognized I needed to change first spiritually. I would spend
my lunch time and sometimes breaks searching the internet
just to see what ever occurred in my mind to search. I just
happened one day to enter “Islam” into the net and found a
web site that I could download the entire Quran from. I did
and then I found myself searching and reading, and getting
hungrier for more. For once, it seemed to me that the answers
I had been searching for had been in this one book all these
years. All the questions I had and no one could give me any
answers to satisfy that quest were now being answered. It
was like a light went off and I was hooked.
I mentioned earlier, I needed to re-evaluate my life since
my children had their own families to worry about. I knew
enough that change happens spiritually before the physical
manifestation occurs. I agonized for weeks about converting;
remember I was raised a Roman Catholic and any one who has
been raised in that environment, you are viewed as a true
traitor to everything sacred to turn back on your faith ….
Apostasy they call it.
in order to gain some peace in myself, I decided that I had
nothing to lose and possibly everything to gain by going forth
with the truth as I knew inside my heart had been shown to
me in the Quran. I contacted a gentleman who runs our Middle
Eastern studies at the university I worked for and he put
me in touch with the ladies. I contacted them, told them what
I wanted and they set forth immediately to facilitate that
request, not questioning me about the decision whatsoever.
took my Shahada in August 1998 at my masjid, went home later
after the Ladies' Quran study and could not sleep, not because
I was disturbed, but because I felt so free in a way I had
not experienced in a long, long time. I had a peace, a calmness
that I had not found in anything else that I had searched
for in all the other religions I was reviewing.
am glad that I made that decision. For some people, it won’t
be for them, but I did and it is for me. I have never looked
back since that day nor doubted that what I had done was not
thoroughly thought out. My spirit knew a truth and it ran
for it. Yes, there are those who knew me prior to conversion
who think it is a strange thing for me to have done as this
was not my character in their eyes. I challenged and questioned
everything, but this time, I agonized over truth, not arguing
with it or challenging it…. Just trying to come to terms with
a decision that meant a life or death meaning to me at this
stage of my life.
can now look back, way back and see how ALLAH (SWT) has taken
this rebellious, angry, hurt, and broken child and led me
down the twisted path in so many ways for me to be able to
recognize Him in all the truth that is ALLAH (SWT).
my life changed? You bet! I still have to deal with certain
issues as we all do, and life certainly has its ups and downs.
I openly wear my hijab and jilbab in a university town (southern
at that) and stand out as I walked to and fro in the community
of non-believers. I am not ashamed of doing this and have
no regrets nor will I make excuses for this. I am a muslimah
and proud that ALLAH (SWT) gave me the grace and wisdom to
see Him while I could and make a choice while there was still
have much to look forward to in my life and believe that one
day I will have a muslim husband who can be the other part
of my deen; until that time, I learn everything I can to became
more aware of my faith, pray and thank ALLAH every day for
all my blessings. I would not trade a single day leading up
to and since my conversion in all the world for all its wealth.
it took to get me to this point was well worth it and I have
no regrets. How can I regret it? This was what made me ready
for the truth, as painful and hard as it was. My prayers are
now that as time goes by and my life is positively reflecting
the outcome of my decision, whether it is trials or happy
days, that my children will also come to know the peace, serenity
and joy of choosing a faith that worked for me. No matter
what happens, no matter where I am, nothing will separate
me from the hands of ALLAH (SWT) nor do I or will I ever regret
becoming a muslimah. Whatever I may suffer here, ALLAH (SWT)
has made it better for me on the other end of the scale.
reads this, please make a decision today. Tomorrow is not
guaranteed and neither is the future. ALLAH (SWT) is the only
way. What is yours?