My reason for accepting Islam is a long story but I will try to keep it short. (I will also site from an article I wrote for Yahoo News where I talked about my reason why I converted to Islam.)
While I was growing up as the granddaughter of a Pentecostal preacher from Kentucky who started a church in northern Wisconsin, the teachings of the Church were drilled into my brain.
But from a young age, I had a lot of questions that most Christians or the Bible could not answer. I asked my Bible teacher at 7 years old:
“Why do we celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25?” (I recently learned that there is scientific evidence Jesus was not born on Christmas). I also asked questions like:
“Why was the Trinity introduced after Jesus died?”
I later left the Pentecostal religion at 10 to be a Lutheran. Aside from my discrepancies with Christianity, I went to church every Sunday, read the Bible (still do), taught vacation Bible school, and sang at church. I even went to leadership camp every summer during high school, where we would focus on the Old and New Testaments.
When I was 16, I had some inclination to start praying directly to God. I was around family, who would say in prayer, “Dear Jesus, thank you …,” but I would say under my breath, “Dear God.”
I felt upset that people were not praying directly to God.
Fast-forward to when I started college in 2011 and I had many Muslim friends. One of them told me that “our religions have the same prophets.” Then I started researching the similarities between the Abrahamic religions.
I never told anyone about the research I was doing. To be honest, I wanted to prove that Islam was grotesque and that the media was right about Muslims. My hope was that I would try to get them to convert to Christianity.
In the fall of 2013, after studying the religion for more than a year, I took an Introduction to Religion class, and my teacher, an ordained minister, taught us that the Bible had missing books. It upset me because I had put all my faith in the Bible, but it wasn’t even 100 percent there.
I learned that the Quran had never been changed.
So my trying to learn about the truth of Islam to convert my Muslim friends ended up having the opposite effect. The more I studied Islam, the more my questions about science, God, and Jesus were answered.
Reading the Quran
During the holy month of Ramadan, I asked my convert friend, who invited me to Iftar, if I could borrow her Quran. That night, I got home and started to read. My heart became full of light as I read the first sentence: “In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful”. I hid that feeling from everyone because I was scared of how my friends and family would react.
There was not just one thing that made me want to convert to Islam but many things. But the push I needed was when I first read the Quran.
Reading the Quran in English was not enough because to really understand the meaning and its context, it is ideal to read and understand it in Arabic. I decided to take Arabic in college so I could read the untranslated Quran. I can now read it in Arabic, though I cannot understand it well in Arabic.
Shahadah in Secret
I converted to Islam in January of 2014. I felt like I was doing the right thing by saying it, though it didn’t feel all that different because I did it by myself, in the privacy of my own home. It was my own little secret between God and I.
There were only a few people knew about it. I confided in some of my Muslim friends and my best friend Lindsey (she is Christian). She was the only one who really supported me. It was hard having to keep this secret from the world, which I kept because I was scared of how my family and friends would react.
With keeping this secret, I always felt I was living a lie and not being who I truly wanted to be. It was not until my last year in college that I started to let more people know that I had converted.
The more that people would say bad things about Islam, the more I would feel required to speak up about it. That is also when I chose to wear a hijab.
If you would have told me when I was 16 that I would one day convert to Islam, I would never have believed you.
Before college, I thought all of the stereotypical things about Muslims were true. I thought none of them were nice. And I thought Muslims were hateful people and all terrorists.
I was an ignorant bigot who believed everything the media said, since I’d never met a Muslim or went searching for what I believe the religion of Islam’s core values really are:
Peace, love, and generosity.