My family consists of many different opinions about religion. Grandfather and my father are both Christian, my mother is Agnostic, and of four of my uncles, one is an atheist, one “Fox News” Christian, one kind of “spiritual”, and the other is somewhere between Agnostic and Spiritual. Growing up though, my parents never taught me about religion or took me to church. Actually, the first time I went to church was when I was 14 and it was only because the people there are the only children in school who would hang out with me.
Growing up, I believed in God. Not “Christian” God, or one particular version of God, but I very clearly remember speaking and praying for Him when I was very young. As got a bit older I slowly got more and more curious about God, but I did not know anything about any religion. I only knew that I do not believe that Jesus could be the son of God. It just does not make sense to me at all and I could not accept it. For a while, I really did not put any effort into trying to find a religion that speaks to me. I will only talk to God every now and then, not really asking for anything, just to talk to him.
As I got a little older, about 16/17, I went through some very hard times. My first serious boyfriend was probably the most despicable person I’ve ever actually met in real life, and he was in my life for almost a full year. He swore and drank and got high, is manipulative and rude in more than one way. He was 21 when I turned 16, and when I turned 17 and ended the relationship for the last time, he called constantly and threatened me and said some horrible things. Because of this, my mother sent me to live with my uncle in another state. This is important because he is an atheist, and at that moment I felt a little “if something like this could happen, is there a God?”.
Living with my uncle, it became clear that I was really not into Atheism. Even through things no one should ever have to experience, I had faith in God and in the goodness of mankind. I even forgave my ex-boyfriend who treated me so badly and then helped him apply to college.
First Interaction with Islam…
After that, I began seriously looking and learning about religion. I know Christianity is not the one, and I really do not know too many other religions. A few times I felt like giving up, but then something amazing happened. For the first time in almost two years, I had a friend, who happens to be Muslim. At first, we did not talk about religion very much, but he will mention a few things about Islam every now and then those things would fit into how I already felt about God and life. As I learned more, I really got into that. If I find something that did not make sense, I would ask him and he will explain it clearly. It was absolutely amazing! It was like I finally found something I had lost.
Initially, I hesitated to convert though because I was worried about what my family would think. When I slowly began to bring up the things, it really went downhill. One evening my uncle shook me by the shoulder and said “NO GOD”. Another time my grandmother went into detail about how disappointed she would be if I became a Muslim. Then once when I mentioned about Islam to my mother she really got offended.
By that time I was trying to get into archaeology (I’m a big fan of Zahi Hawass) and talked to my mother about wanting to convert. She said: “If you want to believe in fairy tales, go ahead! But I sure as heck know that there is no serious archaeologist who believes in God, and do not expect me to take you to the mosque “.
This is probably the most painful thing, since before she was open to it. I gave up for a while on it, I felt like it is hopeless, there are so many things in my way to be a Muslim! But two years later, at 20, I got serious about converting again. I started talking to more Muslims online and go to the mosque when I can, and I am a Muslim Alhamdulillah now. All those struggles were definitely worth it.
I feel confident that this is my place! Before that, the future looked like I’m not going anywhere.
Now I look and I see myself as a Muslim and working hard towards perfecting that. Even when things get tough, I’m sure now that I will never give up.