My most recent birthday was a little different this year as it marks an unforgettable milestone in my life- I’ve now been Muslim for exactly HALF of my life!
By the grace and mercy of Allah, I have now spent the first half my life as a Christian and the second half, so far, as a Muslim. It seems like it was only yesterday that I stood at the local mosque and declared: “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad (peace be upon him) is his slave and Messenger.” And submitted myself to the Will of Allah.
I’ve learned so much along the way and am thankful to our Creator for how far I’ve come.
Islam Just Makes Sense
When I reflect upon the first half of my life, as a Christian, a mix of feelings rises up in my chest ranging from confusion to frustration. I never felt peace prior to becoming a Muslim. I always had questions to ask, but could never find anyone who could answer them. Yet, looking at the second half of my life as a Muslim, it’s been a whole other story.
From the first time I opened an English translation of the Noble Quran and read, there was a sense of simplicity and understanding that appealed to my senses. I think that is one of the greatest misconceptions there is about Islam; that it is difficult to understand.
Truth be told, even after being a Muslim for so long, the straightforwardness of the Quran and the ease in understanding it is what still penetrates my heart even today.
As the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
If Allah intends goodness for someone, he gives him understanding of the religion. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
A Surprising Journey
I must admit that not long after taking my shahadah, or declaration of faith, I became very discouraged. On one hand, I was so happy to be a Muslim and grateful that Allah chose this religion for me.
On the other hand, I felt overwhelmed with trying to learn everything about my new faith – from performing ablution to praying properly and the like. I had zero support and relied heavily on myself in those first years as a Muslim.
However, I soon learned that if I was willing to step out of my comfort zone and ask for help – it was almost always easy to find. In the past two plus decades as a Muslim, this journey still surprises me because I still don’t know everything there is to know about Islam. I will always be a lifelong student of this glorious faith.
Yet, I take great satisfaction in knowing that, when I get stuck along the way, one of my brethren in faith will be there to lend a helping hand to help me stay the course on the Path that is Straight.
Allah Replaces What’s Lost
One of the biggest lessons I learned, as a new Muslim, was that there is a great potential for broken friendships and family abandonment when leaving the faith of your parents.
When I remember the first half of my life as a Christian, I remember the holidays most of all. Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter were the most beloved occasions in my family. With the arrival of each one, the whole family would gather at my Grandmother’s home to spend quality time together and enjoy years-long family traditions.
In stark contrast, during the second half of my life as a Muslim, I have been excluded from family gatherings across the board and the family rumor mill has run quietly in the background for years to make sure that I remain unwelcomed by my own kin. It’s been a bitter reality to swallow, but I’ve always turned to Allah to ask Him to replace my birth family with one that would accept me as a Muslim.
As the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
There is no calamity that befalls one of the Muslims and he responds ‘Inna Lillahi wa inna ilahi raaji’oun, Allahumma ujurni fi museebati w’ukhluf li khayran minha,’ (Truly to Allah we belong & truly to Him we shall return, O Allah reward me in this calamity & compensate me with something better than it), but Allah will compensate him with something better than it. (Muslim 918)
Through Allah’s infinite grace and mercy, I have built a family of my own from the Ummah, or community of Muslims. I have been blessed to meet sisters from all over the globe online and have a close-knit group of sisters that I can rely upon in my local community. Most importantly, my children have Muslim kids their age to latch onto and learn from.
The Next Chapter
Looking back, I’ve almost forgotten what it felt to be anything other than a Muslim. All those years seem like a blur and went by in the blink of an eye. However, my years spent as a Muslim are the ones that have proven to be the most memorable and meaningful. Each day, month and year that I’ve spent worshiping the One and Only Allah has been time truly well-spent.
As a mother to five children, who were blessed enough to be gifted with Islam at their birth, I look forward to the next chapter of my life- engaging in worship and good deeds while teaching my children how to walk the Straight Path and follow the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).