I’m half Spanish and have spent many summers in Spain visiting family when I was growing up. In 2003 went to Spain again and decided to check out the south of Spain for the first time with my siblings and cousins. Before I went my uncle who is not Muslim spoke very highly of Muslim rules Spain specifically the city of Cordoba where this Masjid is located. He said it was the largest and most advanced city of its time and also mentioned that under Muslim rule the sciences flourished and Muslims lived in peace alongside Christians and Jews.
I became very interested in learning more about my ancestors and the history of Spain. While travelling I had been impressed by the intricate architecture of Cathedrals and other Spanish buildings but the simplicity and peace I felt inside the Masjid of Cordoba really affected me.
A few years later I was re-reading the autobiography of Malcolm X and his beautiful description of Hajj and I was very impressed with the brotherhood that overcame color lines.
Also several years after 9/11 I was reflecting on the tragedy that the media claimed was done on the name of Islam and it made me realize how little I knew about Islam.
I started with Wikipedia, but very quickly I felt the info online was biased. I decided I needed to go straight to the source and I was really impressed and intrigued to find out that Muslims considered the Qur’an to be the preserved word of Allah. I read it twice over the next 3 years, learned basic aqeedah, memorized surah al fatihah, learned how to pray and read and watched tons of convert videos.
Long story short, Allah pointed me towards Islam in many ways over a period of 3 years or so followed by 3 years of study and reflection. After believing in the truth of Islam for a couple of years I felt like a hypocrite for believing and not acting so I decided enough is enough and I started praying daily and took my private shahada. I didn’t know any Muslims yet so I did it alone and started searching for the nearest Masjid. A month or so later I took Shahada at a large Masjid in front of 100 to 200 people or so.
My whole life, especially teenage and college years, I had felt lost and like a part of me was missing. I really wanted to be religious but I just couldn’t bring myself to be Christian or Jewish or Buddhist. I wanted to be a rasta at one point but when I learned they worshiped a human I knew it was wrong.
When I became Muslim I felt peace, guidance, and purpose in my life. So many questions had been answered and what had been missing had now been filled with Islam. Before Islam I was very critical of religion and considered myself atheist.
My story is kinda all over the place and each time I tell it its a little different because it was such a wide variety of things and not one single event. All I can say is that Allah guided me and rescued me from my self destructive unfulfilling ignorant ways.
One last story. During my studies of Islam, early on, and I only did this once, I prayed intensely to God. I asked Him if He was out there to please guide me and show me a sign or make it clear to me. Within 5-10 minutes or so there was a small earthquake. This wasn’t the event that made me Muslim but it did shock me to say the least.