By Samantha Dixon
I was brought up as a Christian, although we weren’t particularly practicing. We celebrated Christmas, but in more of a cultural sense, as do many Americans. I think it seems that even atheists celebrate Christmas, but many don’t think about it as a religious festival.
Anyway, aside from that I want to talk about my journey to Islam. I would like to start by saying that I’ve had a lot of different experiences in my life, some really good and some really bad. Those experiences influenced the choices that I made as a teenager. I rebelled in a lot of different ways, I was seriously into self-medicating and I smoked a lot of weed. I feel that it is important to mention that as it has had an effect on my life. I wanted to touch on the bad stuff so you might understand why Islam is so good for me.
My first experience of Islam was when I was 16 and my family and I moved to another house in Detroit. There was a Muslim family who lived across the street and my perception of the religion and its followers was that they’re all Arabs and that they hate us Americans. In my experience growing up, us as kids would often have that impression about Muslims. Therefore, sadly, that was pretty much all of the so-called knowledge that I had. What I thought I knew about Islam and Muslims was very little and completely inaccurate.
So actually meeting, and getting to know, a Muslim family for myself was like an awakening – they were such sweet people! The daughter didn’t wear a headscarf, but the Mom did. The Dad came across as a very committed Muslim, and would perform voluntary acts of worship, such as fasting outside of Ramadan. From them I started to Iearn the difference between what I thought was Islam and the reality of what it really is.
Before going any further, what I wish to make clear is that I did not convert to Islam because I married a Muslim. I embraced Islam because it is what is right for me in my heart and regardless of the status of my relationship with my husband I would still be Muslim. I am aware that some people convert for marriage but with me that was definitely not the case.
So, later on, my husband and I met and at first we would disagree about a lot of things. We would talk about his religion, and I would ask lots of questions. I would ask about the idea of wearing hijab and wanted to know ‘why do women have to cover?’ I didn’t understand. I demanded to know from my husband ‘why would I have to do something that you don’t?’ He explained to me that men have to cover too, but they just have different ways of covering. I didn’t at first understand the value of modesty, but he explained to me that even when you take away all of the other aspects it really comes down to the fact that wearing hijab is for Allah, and that you do it to show your dedication and love for Allah.
When I began to understand this I thought that it was such a beautiful thing and the more I learned about Islam the more I decided that I needed it. Islam is not just a religion it is a way of life. There are Islamic etiquettes for every aspect of your life, such as eating with your right hand and not your left and saying Bismillah (In the name of Allah) before you take a bite. Different elements of Islam positively influence different aspects of our lives and I was learning to see how beautiful someone’s perception of the world can be when they’re looking at it through the eyes of Islam. Looking back, I think that the earlier disagreements between myself and my husband were due to my own stubbornness or maybe because of my immaturity at the time.
I then decided that I wanted become a Muslim and through this time I did go through a point of confusion. I don’t know if maybe it was because I was trying to figure out whether or not I loved Islam or if I loved my husband. I was trying to ensure that I was doing this one hundred percent for myself and not acting like a typical teenage girl who was just trying to make this guy that she likes like her back. It was a tough time for me. Then I had a moment of realization that I needed Islam AND I needed him too. It was like a package deal. I knew that I could be Muslim on my own because I truly felt it in my heart and I believed the teachings of Islam to be correct but my husband has been my link to the faith and he inspires me to try harder to be a better Muslim. I love being Muslim and I love the community and the family that I have joined and I love that my children will grow up in the faith as well.
So that’s my story and I love you all and I appreciate you reading! If there is anything that you’d like to say or add then please put it in the comment section and I will reach out to you guys soon.