My name is Safia, but I was born Helena Brigitte. I changed my name on the 23rd of October in 2017. I converted to Islam three weeks after my 17th birthday, which was on the 28th of August in 2016. It has not even been two years, but I learned a lot. I’m a wife now, have been since December 24th, 2017, Alhamdulillah. So here is my story.
It all started with the news. Islamic terrorist groups started to pop up in the news after a round of terror attacks all over the world. “It’s Islam’s fault”, they said.
I thought to myself, “Who’s Islam?”. Yes, “who”.
I had literally no knowledge about religion at all, not even Christianity. I have a half brother who’s family is Jewish, my mother’s side who’s Christian/atheist and my father’s side who’s Christian/atheist as well.
My parents didn’t see the point of teaching us religion or letting us grow up somewhat religiously. Although, my mother did read from the Bible to my youngest brother, Deen. It’s funny because I have four brothers and three of us have Arabic first or middle names!
And so I started to hate Islam because of these horrible Muslims killing innocent people here and there for no reason whatsoever. I dragged my best friend at the time into this, and she quickly hated Islam as well.
We Snapchatted each other, with pictures of ourselves, drew on some long black beards and a mono-brow, and wrote stuff like “I’m from Iraq” (like, really).
We even made Instagram accounts where we posed in niqab/ hijab and made fun of the headgear. I called her Yousef because her name was similar to it, and she called me Habiba, which was similar to my name at the time.
We acted as husband and wife, and joked around about how Yousef was going to abuse me if I showed too much skin in public. We screamed “Allahu akbar!” at each other on the streets, for everyone to hear, and it wasn’t even a negative thing but to us it was funny as hell.
I think you get the picture. Both me and her were very disrespectful towards Islam and Muslims, even though we had never even seen or met properly with a Muslim.
But in secret, I started looking up Islam online when I was still harassing the religion. I came across a nasheed called “Allahu” by Labbayk, and totally fell in love with it. Then I listened to another nasheed. And another, and another.
Then I started actually reading about the religion itself. “God is One, Muhammad is the last messenger, pray five times a day towards Mecca, fast…”
It didn’t seem all too exciting at first but little did I know, this was the beginning of my path towards Islam.
Eventually, after reading so much about the religion, I became tired of harassing it. In secret, I was slowly falling in love with Islam, but there was no way I could ever tell anyone that.
After all, I was only 15 years old. I planned a fight (not physical) with my best friend at the time, because she had been a bad influence on me ever since I met her, so I wanted to get rid of her.
My plan worked out perfectly, and she got mad at me – just like I wanted. I then blocked her everywhere. I moved to another town, started at a new school where I didn’t know a single person, and moved out of the house.
Meeting a Muslim
On my first day of high school, I saw my name on the class list and walked to the room where I had to be at and meet with my class and teacher.
I walked in and I immediately saw a Muslimah with hijab on. She was so cute and little, but I was still just a little bit skeptical. We exchanged Facebook and numbers immediately anyway, though.
That’s how I got to know her. I paid attention to what she said, always listening to her and staring at her in admiration. I also visited her, met up with her in my spare time and slept at her house.
Slowly but surely I started to open up, and asked her questions about Islam: Why do you wear the hijab? Why do you pray? Don’t you say Bismillah before eating? Can I see the Quran?…
I thought she would pick up that I was interested, but she didn’t ever ask me if I was, so I thought it was normal for her, and that a lot of her non-Muslim friends had questions about Islam.
A year went by, and our first and only year at the same school together was over. It was summer, which meant I would be taking a trip to my home country, the Netherlands. I was there for two months.
I had been in touch with a Moroccan Muslim living there for a couple of months, and in the summer we decided to meet up. And so we did. We ate out together, went for walks, went to parks, shopping, museums, and once in a while, we would talk about Islam.
After that week, on a Sunday, I called my Muslim friend who I’d got to know the first year. I told her it was totally necessary to meet up today. She took the bus from where she lived and met me at the mall. We walked to a river nearby. It was beautiful.
The weather was great, it was warm, there were people walking outside, mountains as our view. It was just perfect. I had written down a verse from the Quran on my notes on my phone. It read “there is no compulsion in religion”. I was so nervous about what I was going to tell her, that I couldn’t even do it myself, my phone had to do it for me.
So I showed her this verse, and asked her “do you know what I’m trying to tell you?”. She immediately said “no”, and I asked her to think twice. I think it took her two or three minutes before she said: “do you want to become a Muslim?”.
I smiled big time, nodded my head and said “yes”. I then brought my both of my hands up to cover my eyes as I started crying. She started to cry as well. She looked up the conditions on her phone on how to do it, if we needed to be somewhere special, stuff like that.
We both put our finger to the air, and I repeated after her. “Ash hadu an la ilaha ila Allah, wa ash hadu anna Muhammadan abduhu wa rasoolohu”.
We’re still good friends to this day, and we will meet up this Friday, in sha’Allah. One thing I’ll never forget is when we sat on a bench in the middle of the city, and she said:
“I hope we’ll go to Jannah together”.
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