| Sumaiya (Kristin), USA
search for a religion began in high school when I was 15 or
16 yrs. old. I had been associating with a bad group
of people whom I thought were my friends, but in time I realized
these people were losers. I saw what direction
their lives were heading in and it wasn't a good one.
I didn't want these people to have any affect on my success
for the future, so I cut myself off from them completely.
It was hard in the beginning because I was alone without friends.
I started to look for something to associate myself with and
something that I could rely on and base my life on....Somehting
that no person could ever use to destroy my future with.
Naturally, I turned to seeking God. Finding out who
God was and what the truth was wasn't easy however.
What was the truth anyway?! This was my primary
question as I began my search for a religion.
In my own family there have been many shifts of religion.
My family has Jews and a few kinds of Christianity in it,
and now, Alhumdulilah Islam. :)
When my Mom and Dad were married they felt the need to decide
what faith to bring there children up in. Since the
Catholic church was really the only option for them (our town
just has 600 people) they both converted to Catholicism and
raised my sister and I as Catholics. Going back through
the stories of conversions in my own family, it seems that
they are all conversions of convenience.
I don't think they were truly seeking God, but just manipulating
religion as the means to achieving an end. Even after all
these changes in the past, religion was never of extreme importance
for my Mom, Dad, sister or I. If anything, ours was
the family you saw at church during Christmas time and Easter.
I always felt that religion was something separate from my
life, 6 days a week or life and one day a week for church,
on the rare occasions when I did go. In other words,
I wasn't conscious of God or how to live according to His
teachings on a day to day basis.
I didn't accept some Catholic practices including:
1) Confessions to a priest: I thought why couldn't I just
confess to God without having to go through a man to get to
2) The "Perfect" Pope- How can a mere man, not even a prophet,
3) The worship of saints- wasn't this a direct violation of
the first commandment? Even after 14 years of forced
Sunday school attendance, the answers I received to these
questions and others were, "You just have to have faith!!"
Should I have faith because someone TOLD me to?!
I thought faith should be based on the truth and answers
that appealed to logic, I was interested to find some.
I didn't want the truth of my parents, or friends,
or anyone else. I wanted God's truth. I wanted
every idea I held to be true to me because I believed it entirely,
heart and soul. I decided if I was to find the answers
to my questions I would have to search with an objective mind
and I began to read...
I decided that Christianity was not the religion for me.
I didn't have anything personal with Christians, but I found
that the religion itself contained many inconsistencies, especially
when I read the Bible. In the Bible, the inconsistencies
I came across and the things that made no sense at all were
that I actually felt embarrassed that I had never questioned
them before or even noticed them!
Since some people in my family are Jewish, I started
to research Judaism. I thought to myself the answer
may be there. So for about a year I did research on
anything concerning Judaism, I mean in DEPTH research!!
Everyday I tried to read and learn something (I still know
about Orthodox Jewish kosher laws!). I went to the library
and checked out every book on Judaism within a two month period,
looked up info. On the internet, went to the synagogue, talked
with other Jewish people in nearby towns and read the Torah
and Talmud. I even had one of my Jewish friends come
visit me from Israel! I thought maybe I had found what
I was looking for. Yet, the day I was supposed to go
the synagogue and meet with the rabbi about possibly making
my conversion official, I backed out. I honestly don't
know what stopped me from leaving the house that day, but
I just stopped as I was about to go out the door and went
back in and sat down. I felt like I was in one of those
dreams where you try to run but everything is in slow motion.
I knew the rabbi was there and waiting for me, but I didn't
even call to say I was coming. The rabbi didn't call
me either. Something was missing...
After learning that Judaism was also not the answer, I thought
(also after much pressure from my parents) to give Christianity
one more try. I had, as i said, a good background in
the technicalities from my years of Sunday schools, but i
was more concerned with finding the truth behind the technicalities.
What was the beauty of it all, where was the security of it
and how I could accept it logically? I knew if
I were to seriously consider Christianity, Catholicism was
out. I went to every other Christian church in my town,
Lutheran, Pentecostal, Latter Day Saints (Mormon) , and non-denominational
churches. I didn't find what I was looking for- answers!!
It wasn't the environment of the people which turned me away,
it was the discrepancies between denominations which disturbed
me. I believed there had to be one right way, so how
could I possibly chose the "right" denomination? In
my estimation it was impossible and unfair for a Compassionate
and Merciful God to leave mankind with such a choice.
I was lost...
At this point I was just as confused and frustrated
as when i began my search. I felt like throwing up my
arms to God and shouting, "What now?" I wasn't a
Jew, I wasn't a Christian, I was just a person who believed
in one God. I thought of giving up organized religion
all together. All I wanted was the truth, I didn't care
what holy book it came from, I just wanted it.
One day I was reading on the internet and decided to
take a break and find a chat room. I noticed a "religion
chat" which of course I was interested in, so I clicked on
it. I saw a room called "Muslim chat". Should
I go in? I was hoping no terrorists would gain access
to my e-mail and send me computer viruses- or worse.
Images of huge men dressed in black with big beards coming
to the door and kidnapping me flashed in my brain. (You can
tell how much I knew about Islam- zero!) But then I
thought, C'mon, this is just an innocent investigation.
I decided to go in and noticed that the people in this room
weren't as scary as i had imagined they would be. In
fact, most of them called each other "brother" or "sister"
even if they had just met! I said hi to everyone and
told them to fill me in on the basics of Islam - which I knew
nothing about. What they had to say was interesting
and coincided with what I already believed. Some people
offered to send me books so I said okay. (By the way,
I never did get any viruses and no men showed up at my door
to take me away, except my husband but I went willingly!)
When I logged off the chat I went directly to the library
and checked out every book on Islam, just as I had done with
Judaism. Now I was interested to read and learn more.
Before I could even get the huge stack of books home, I wanted
to look through a few. This was a turning point for
me.... The first few I looked through explained the
basics in more detail, some were scholarly and some had pictures
of huge beautiful mosques with women in scarves. Luckily
I also checked out a Qur'an...I opened it up at random and
began to read. The language was what hit me first, I
felt an authority talking to me, not a man talking as I had
with other "sacred" texts. The passage I read (and unfortunately
I don't know what it was) talked about what God expects you
to do in this life and how to live it according to His commandments.
It stated that God is The Most Gracious and Merciful and The
Forgiver. Most importantly, unto Him is our return.
Before I knew it, I could hear each of my tear drops as they
hit the pages that I was reading. I was crying right
in the middle of the library, because finally, after all my
searching and wondering I had found what I was looking for-
Islam. I knew the Qur'an was something unique because
I had read a lot of religious literature and NONE of it was
ever this clear or gave me such a feeling. Now I can
see the wisdom of God, Masha'allah for letting me explore
Judaism and Christianity so thoroughly before I found Islam
so I could compare them all and realize that NOTHING compares
to Islam. :)
From that point on I kept researching Islam. I approached
it by looking for inconsistencies as I had done with Judaism
and Christianity, but there wasn't any to be found.
I scoured the Qur'an, searching for any discrepancy, even
to this day I haven't been able to find ONE inconsistency
in it! Another great thing I love about the Qur'an is
it challenges the reader to question it. It says about
itself that if it wasn't from God surely you would find a
lot of inconsistency in it! Not only was Islam free
of inconsistencies, it had an answer for any question I could
think of- an answer that made sense.
After three months, I decided that Islam was the answer and
made my conversion official by saying the Shehadah.
However, I had to say my Shehadah over the
speaker phone with an imam from Pennsylvania because there
were no Muslims of mosques near me (the NEAREST was about
6 hours away). I have never regretted my decision to
convert. Since there were no Muslims living near me
I had to take initiative and do much learning on my own but
I never grew tired of it
because I was learning the truth. Accepting Islam was
like an awakening of my spirit, my mind and even how I viewed
I could compare it to someone who has bad eyesight;
they struggle to keep up on class, can't concentrate and are
constantly challenged by their handicap. If you just give
them a pair of glasses everything becomes clear and in focus.
This is how my experience of Islam is: like receiving a pair
of glasses, that have allowed me, for the first time, to really
Well, that's the whole story.. hope you liked it. Take
care and May Allah bless and guide us all! Your friend, Sumaiya