I was looking for something, but I couldn’t find it for so many years.
So I was confused.
I felt out of place with my friends because for my friends it was always “Ah, it is weekend, we need to party. Let’s open the first bottle of beer, and let’s get dressed.”
While I thought “Why?”
And then all of a sudden, the world had changed.
A Job Offer in Dubai
I used to travel a lot, and then it was that I turned 30 when I said “Oh, I have to settle now.”
So I went back home and I was looking for a job and I couldn’t find a job. Nevertheless, I thought “OK, I’m going on vacation now, and I’m going to Dubai.”
I came here, and after two weeks I had a job offer. Mum and dad were really really scared. My parents, the same as myself, were all very prejudiced about a western woman going to an Arab country.
Of course everybody was like this because we used to hear stories and it was the end of 2001. And, you know, there was 9/11 and all these incidents that happened, and of course everybody was just expecting something bad.
I was raised with Muslims together. It started actually when my elder brother converted to Islam. The reason why he converted to Islam was that he married a Turkish Muslim woman.
So being his sister and wanting to protect him in his decision, of course we went to Islamic centers. Well, I did.
I went with him to Islamic centers and attended some sessions. I was reading some books with him together. But it was never really convincing for me to say “Oh, I will convert to Islam now.” It was just not convincing for me.
And then I’m coming to an Islamic country, and I experienced Muslims in a different way. All of a sudden I thought they are actually very nice. They treat you really with respect. I felt comfortable. In the beginning I mixed more with Europeans than I would have mixed with other nationalities, because I wanted to keep my comfort zone.
But then there was a point when I wanted to step out of my comfort zone because all of a sudden this zone was not comfortable any more.
Six months before I declared my Shahadah (testimony of faith), I started to wear Abayah. I loved the Abayah from the beginning, but I always avoided wearing it because I thought that’s an insult to the locals here, me the white one wearing this Abayah and everybody gets maybe offended or something like that.
Concerning my ex-husband, at that time still my husband, he got bugged because my marriage was anyway a horrible one. So slowly I really distanced myself from him. Back home, we used to discuss getting separated, and I was asking him all the time to move out, and he always said:
“No, you are my wife. I’m going to stay here, and I’ll move out when I decide. I’m the man and I decide.” And then I woke up in the morning and I thought:
“OK, so today I’ll become a Muslim”
So I had my shower, got dressed, and went to work, and I didn’t tell anybody. Nobody knew. And when I was done with my job, I went to a German sister who was already a Muslim for 7 years, and I declared my Shahadah.
When I came home- and I would just say Subhanallah and it was meant for me that day- I came back home and my husband still didn’t know that I converted to Islam, and I didn’t want to tell him at that time because I was asking him every day during the last six months “When are you moving out?” and I thought today I will ask him again “So when are you moving out?” and then, Subhanallah, he said:
“Today, I will move out, I’m packing my clothes already.”
So that was a sign from Allah that I took the right decision.
Islam Made Me Stronger
Islam made me much stronger. And all of a sudden, I started to read more because I think everybody thinks when you are converting you just declare the Shahadah.
You read a little bit Quran and that’s about it and then you are a Muslim and this is not the way it is. I just think all these difficulties which I was facing just made me read more and more and get more knowledge about Islam. It was difficult year. All of a sudden, my friends turned into enemies. My life just went upside down.
At that time, one of my friends got really close to me. Her name is Kate and she really supported me a lot. I think she was the only one who really supported my decision to convert to Islam because most of the people were really shocked and were afraid and had their concerns. I know that Kate was always there and I could call her in the middle of the night if I need her, and I would thank Allah everyday for such a kind friend.
But Kate was not a Muslim at that time. She was confused. I remember that I went with her to a lunch together with my ex-husband, and this still sticks in my mind. I remember we were sitting in the car and it was a Friday and it was Friday prayer and we went through Ras al-Khour area, and we saw all those open cars, and thirty people were standing and holding themselves on that car going to the mosque for Friday prayer. We laughed so much about that because it was like a convoy.
So we laughed very much and we thought it is very dangerous going like this for a prayer.
Why would they risk their own safety and security just for a prayer?
And suddenly all the talk in that car was about religion, and I remember that she said:
“I’m not religious but if I have to choose what religion I would follow, I would choose Islam.”
And then all laughed at her, and we said:
“Why would you choose that? They are hypocrites.”
It was a big topic, and that was actually where Kate and I started since that day looking more and more into the religion…