I have been a convert to Islam for almost two years. I will be glad if anyone reads this and does not take it for granted. If you find my journey is expressed honestly and sincerely then you have my support in spreading it. In the end, we are stories and nothing else. I have not been able to tell anyone why I converted. No one has asked me; family members, old co-workers or customers I used to deal with have asked each other this, but no one has ever asked me. It makes me sad. So I wish it will at least be read by you guys.
I simply want to write it. And if you find my journey is expressed honestly and sincerely then you have my support in spreading it. In the end, we are stories and nothing else. I have not been able to tell anyone why I converted. No one has asked me; family members, old co-workers or customers I used to deal with have asked each other this, but no one has ever asked me. It makes me sad. So I wish it will at least be read by you guys.
I am 22 years old and am from an average Swedish family. We never had any discussions about religion and I grew up disliking it. I said and thought things I regret today. Even though I openly and honestly did not like any religion, I did not deny the existence of an intelligent being far superior to us. But what I could see and hear from religious people who followed a certain book was something that did not seem to be according to this. I believed and still do believe that what people everywhere define as “God” is not in our capacity to define.
I did not enjoy what other teenagers did. I did not understand the joy in getting drunk, having relationships I knew would never last and so on. I did work in places where people in my own age used to get drunk, and I used to see their behaviors change. How they spoke, their manners, everything. The decency was lost. This made me dislike the job, I felt really sick to my guts there. But it made me ponder and grow more distant from these kinds of actions even more than before. Still, I was young. I was only 18 at the time. What could I possibly know? Everyone seemed to have figured everything out, what about me?
At all times, I did not relate to any religion and I did not relate to the opposite side either (with the opposite side, I mean the ones that do not live by any religion). I was lost in between, and this is a very tough struggle for a teenager since it is the time where you are supposed to find out who you are. I looked around me and as I tried to make sense of what people justified in their actions, I did not find answers as I was told I would. I had more questions. And if I would openly question anything within any social circle of mine, I would end up being told to be quiet (or sent to my room). It simply did not make sense. And no one in my whole life seemed to understand why I was questioning how we chose to live. I felt lonely, I really did. But I stood by what I thought and did not go easy on it. I have always tried to be honest with myself. It is what I really like about me.
As time passed, I held my ground with the firm belief that there must be a reason for all this. What is important to note here, is that I never tried to justify my feelings I had, that “there has to be a reason for all this”, I never read about religions but was arguing actively against them. They seemed to be on the wrong path as much as the ones that acted and lived according to the statement “there is no reason or meaning at all”.
First Interaction With Islam
During that time I was arguing and discussing a lot in real life and online. Online, because it seemed easier to get my expressions out, to hear other views and no one could send me to my room or demand me to be quiet. I started to discuss with a man online (I discussed with a lot of people, rarely did I get interested in what anyone said).
After some time, actually, a very short time, I started to feel that the person I was interacting with had the decency and moral standards I have never heard or seen before. We did not discuss religions at all. I simply started to get to know him after a while. And things went on, shortly afterwards, I was pregnant and we got married. I have to point out here that I do not support having a relationship before marriage, and I did not try to seek any romance online. Whatever I tell you from my convert story is not so that anyone else believes that it is how things should be done. Just because a part of my journey was like this, does not mean yours should start like this. Do not justify it through whatever I am telling you from my life.
I did understand at the beginning of our relationship that he was a Muslim. I did not understand what that meant, but it is one of the religions I used to argue against actively. Whatever he believed in, it did not come in between our relationship. I did not see it in our daily life. I did not see whatever I thought I knew of Islam in his actions, in his behaviors, how he treated me. I saw only good. He was good to me, respected me in a way I have never experienced before. Good for me, I thought, because I did not want to be a part of Islam. I thought it was insane. I did argue with him from time to time, and he never argued with me. I questioned things, I said things and comments that could have been very provocative for any Muslim to hear. And this went on. Until our first daughter was almost half a year old.
Would she be raised as a Muslim?
Do I know enough about Islam to look my daughter in the eyes and tell her that? Have I made a fair judgment? Did I give it a fair chance?
My child will be born soon. Our child. How will we raise her? I could only see dead ends. I did have a Swedish translation of the Quran. It did not make sense to me. I struggled as I read Surat al-Fatihah, whatever that even means.. I read Sura number 96 and then Sura number 2, “Al baqarah” The cow? Why is it called “the cow”? It is the longest sura of the translation I held in my hands, and the Sura is definitely not about a cow.
I tried to give the translated version of the Qur’an a fair chance. I could not. I told my husband I would try to. I deeply wanted to, not for my husband’s sake, not for me. I had to try to be able to look my daughter in the eyes once she reaches the age of questions, and tell her that “I tried, but it’s not for me”.
I wanted to try, sincerely. I felt a pain in my heart, would I be able to tell my daughter I tried? Could I be dishonest about this one thing? I am never dishonest.
I couldn’t. I just put the translation of the Qur’an away, it did not make any sense to me anyways. So many questions came up. More than ever before. I had no time for that now.
I will go back a bit in time.. When high school ended for me, it was summer and I was about 5 months pregnant. My husband was not Swedish. He had an application for permanent residence in Sweden and he did not get it. I was about 8 months pregnant and he was forced to travel back to his country. For me, it left me with no choice. I was about to bring a child into this, and I will not stay in Sweden and give birth here without my husband. It is his first child as well as it is mine, so I decided to travel with him. He did not decide for me, as he has no right. My family did not decide for me, they wanted me to stay in Sweden. They thought that I would be kidnapped and never come back to Sweden again. I understood their fears, but parents have to let their children take steps of their own sooner or later.
I am a very stubborn woman, even when I was young. No one could never tell me what to do. In fact, if someone told me to do something, I would do the opposite. I am very tough. I do not get blind, I do not get impressed, I do not fall for stupidity. I see through it. My family thought I was blindly in love since it was my first relationship. They did not know. Yes, I was new to being married. Everything is a first, but I would never allow myself to become lost. I always stood my ground. And I always do.
Yes, I was 19 years old, 8 months pregnant, on an airplane looking out of the window while we were about to land in Amman, Jordan, located in middle-east. I was scared, I was afraid his family was a bunch of lunatics not at all like my husband. But I knew my husband. I have known people before, but not to this level. This kind of decency, respect, and honesty can not be faked. It is beyond what I could understand.
You have to keep in mind that the moment I decided to travel to middle-east (and live there for about one year), what I had seen from Islam was not anything good. I did not relate the good in my husband to be a part of Islam. He never spoke of Islam to me unless I started the discussion. I did not know anything about Islam. What I knew from Islam was what I saw when we got married, which was on the day of my graduation. It was in a mosque and when we entered (my father, brother, and husband), the two men with beards and long dresses welcomed the males in my family by shaking their hands. They did not shake my hand and told me and my father and brother that it is because I am a princess. I did not believe it. It did not give me answers. More questions, just like anywhere else.
We sat down in the mosque, there were three men with a beard in front of us. And I had to repeat something in Arabic that one of them said. It was some kind of ceremony for the marriage. I did not feel anything. I had no idea what I was saying. It was an alien language. But the whole time we sat there, the men that not long ago explained to me that I was a princess were staring at my legs the whole time without blinking once.
Jordan was definitely unlike any other country I had seen. It was all sand. Everything. The concrete buildings even looked built with sand. The change of scenery was incredible. I was used to small cities surrounded by an endless view of forests. Here, you could only see buildings. No nature. So strange…
When I first got to see his family, my new family members, I was stressed and very nervous. I was offered tea and dates. We had been traveling the whole night and it was sunrise. I was exhausted.
We sat downstairs, my husband had not seen his mother, father and the rest of his family members for almost three years, so I understood they had a lot to speak about. It was all in Arabic, so I did not understand a single word. I tried not to look anyone in the eyes, I knew most of their eyes were on me, I am the first Swedish person in their family and I was sitting there, 8 months pregnant, a stranger to them, I was pale in the skin, my hair was different from theirs, and I did not look like their women. I was not covered with a scarf.
About one and a half-hour later we were excused and went upstairs to get some sleep. They had painted and fixed an apartment for us, our bags were already carried upstairs and there was food in the fridge. I relaxed.
They seemed, from what I could see, like fine people.
Our time in Jordan went on, visits from family members, gatherings (many), and I started to get used to the differences. I started to cope with them, I understood what was expected of me when they had visitors. I became a member of their family. I cope most of the time. They had this tradition which is not a rule in Islam, that whenever guests came that were not really close to the family, they would separate the males and the females. I did not agree.. I did not like it. I was not used to this. I did not seek attention from the males, but I had nothing in common with the women. They spoke about food, cleaning, how hopeless their children were, about makeup, clothing.. everything I always took distance from. The males, on the other hand, spoke mainly about politics. Especially if my husband’s father was involved. I could not stay away. They spoke Arabic, but my husband would translate what was being said. They spoke and discussed in a way that was different from what I was used to. I did not agree on everything everyone said, but I wanted to observe and hear what they said. The father of my husband used to call me to join the males often after he understood I was not fond of traditions. He was proud that I was sitting there, he was proud of me who took the courage to sit there. I thought at start that the only reason the women and the men were separated is that they did not want the females around. No.. The females ruled the household. They did not want the males to be joined with them. I got to understand that later. They were not interested in politics. It is such a shame. The first women of Islam, the mothers of so many great people were as educated as scholars, and they knew more than most men actually did, academically.
I gave birth in Jordan about one month after we arrived. The baby was doing well and she was healthy. We slowly got used to being parents. We changed our perceptions of a lot. We grew up in a way you cannot comprehend until the day you get your first child. It is truly something. You completely turn from thinking about yourself and your well-being, to think and care for another human in that way more than you would ever care for yourself. A person grows from caring for others, who can you care more for than your own child?
I started to get confused as time passed..
His father and my husband seemed to think and reason in a way that is very unique and honest. So sincere.
I thought I must have missed something. It made me question what actually Islam was about. I got confused, because how can a man like his father who can reason and discuss in such a balanced way between logic and morals, and also act upon it be a part of a religion such as Islam? I argued a lot with my husband about Islam when my child was just a baby still. I started bringing it to the surface. All those questions it brought me, I wanted the answers. Not for anyone, not even for my baby anymore. I just wanted to see if there were answers.
Discussion after discussion, I was still arguing against Islam with my husband, who told me over and over again that he does not know everything about Islam, but that he would try his best. Whenever I came across a hadith that completely disagrees with the good morals and values they have shown me, out of context, of course, I brought it to a discussion. I did not want to provoke anyone, but I did it in order to get the answers from them. Because I did not want anyone to know if I am turning towards Islam or if I am getting more distant.
We argued about Islam, almost daily by then. And I realized after a while that whatever within Islam I was confused about, whether it was an ayat, a hadith, a rule, I always had a logical answer at the end that supports the statements that I found in Islam.
Every. Single. Time.
I was sitting in our bed just reading something one day about Islam, it was a hadith. I do not remember what the hadith stated in translation, but it was one of those that, when you first read it out of context and just randomly like that, you react and think “What is this even? This is insane”. And it just twists your brain. Your brain literally jumps in order to try to make sense of it. And I had been through that many times by now.
But I realized by then that whatever it is I just read, I do not understand when it was said, to whom and why. I just read these couple lines, and I have no right to react upon it without knowing what was said before it and what was said after it. I trusted that whatever it may be, there is an answer.
I started to get so many answers now. I was not used to it. And I wanted to know it all. I did not read the Swedish translation often, it made me confused even more. There is so much I do not know, and I was just getting introduced to Islam. Step by step.
I did read surat number 16, and somewhere in there, it is mentioned that once Islam starts to get a hold of you, once you start to surrender to it, you should declare your faith/i.e convert.
I realized that even though I was just introduced to Islam, I had to convert. I knew it was the truth. It was not like any other religion. It did not try to define God. Whatever we can think of, God is more. And by knowing this, I found comfort. It did not come easy, I did not try to fit myself and my perception and opinions into Islam, because they were actually not even the same sometimes. I tried to understand Islam, and once I got a taste of it, I converted. I realized that I will never have an end to my journey. The Islam I found is definitely not the same as the one I have now. I have an understanding I did not know existed. I understand the level of knowledge there is, and that there is more. And that knowledge is not equal to a clean heart. That a person with less knowledge can have a pure heart, while a person of knowledge could have a corrupted heart.
I still do not read the translation. It still confuses me. I have been a convert for almost two years, I live in Sweden with my husband and we have two daughters, and within a couple of months, we will have a third baby girl, In sha’ Allah.
I do not read the translation as I wrote earlier. Instead, I am currently studying the Arabic of the Qur’an. I want to reach the original source. I do not want to go around it, I do not want to do it dishonestly. I am a very stubborn woman, and I will try to understand the Qur’an to the limit that God gave me, and to the capacity I have been given.
I am 22 years old now. Not much older, but much has changed. The journey a person takes towards Islam is incredible to experience, and everyone has their own experience. I do not try to mystify the journey I took, because Islam does not need that. I am not writing this to prove to anyone that Islam is the right path. If you want to find out, you should find out. For you. No one has to know about it.
Islam came to me and I did not ask for it, I did not want it.
If anyone ever will ask me in my real life why I converted, I will tell them the truth; I was not looking for a religion. I was not trying to convert. I found what Islam was and it made sense. Not at the start, it brought me more questions than anything else, and it still does. I am still trying to figure it out, and I will have to do that for the rest of my life In sha’ Allah. It is a constant source of knowledge.
Thank you for the possibility to write this. I hope it makes sense to you in the way I wrote it in and that it is fairly easy to understand.