As a revert /convert Muslimah myself, I understand that every person’s experience and story behind their Shahadah is incredibly personal, deep, and often private.
Although to others, the decision to become a Muslim may appear to be taken on a whim; but often when we delve deeper into the stories behind convert Muslims, we can see that truly their coming to Islam has been years in the making, planned and perfected by our Creator, Allah.
Some of you may know me personally, therefore you may know about my own discovery of Islam. Others may have read my personal story, which I have wrote for you many moons ago.
However, I have been honored with the privilege of writing the story of a dear friend of mine, who has opened her heart and offered to share her experience with you. To protect her privacy, I will refer to her as Arya.
A Journey to Islam
Arya reflects on her childhood when determining where her journey to Islam began. Ultimately, there cannot be one cause or trigger that led to her becoming who she is today. Surely, she accepts that despite feeling alone she was never lost and that throughout life Allah kept her close.
Arya was raised in a faithless household, yet ironically was often sent to schools of faith or schools that had a vast majority of Muslim pupils.
Similarly to myself, Arya always believed in a ‘higher power’; she was curious when it came to religion, often associating religion with a sense of belonging and community feel as her baby sitter used to take her to Bible studies at the local church.
As Arya grew older, she holds fond memories of a school trip to a Mosque. Arya was struck and intrigued by the amount of rules within Islam that helped keep people organized and focused. Even sharing deep conversations that were well beyond her years with other Muslim children about Jesus.
I would appear that one of the many sparks that ignited Arya’s search for Islam was in her childhood; and ultimately it was an ember that never faded from the fire in her search for the truth.
Marriage and Shahadah
When Arya was a teen, her mother married a man from Yemen. Despite marriage, her mother didn’t accept Islam and her husband at that time wasn’t particularly practicing.
However, through this new relationship and marriage her mother embarked on, Arya became family with the Yemeni community; and she was married herself to a Yemeni brother when she was 16.
Arya admits that at the time of marriage, her husband wasn’t practicing his deen. The imam who married them explained that she must take Shahadah and wear a hijab in order for the marriage to take place.
Ultimately, Arya was let down as the commitment she had just made was not explained to her; her understanding wasn’t there. After the wedding and her conversion to Islam, Arya carried on with life as normal;she didn’t give a second thought to Islam and what had just taken place.
The First Year of Marriage
Ultimately around their first anniversary, Arya’s husband began practicing Islam and turning back to Allah. He began to pray his Salah and tried explaining more about Islam to her.
Arya listened and respected his choice; but she firmly expressed that despite Islam being interesting, she had no intention of being a Muslim despite believing in God.
Surely, Allah never forgot her and always remained by her side; she was never truly lost.
Painting, Decorating and Jesus
During the first years of her marriage, Arya worked as a painter decorator with a very openly Christian manager. Trying to find her place and sense of belonging, Arya associated Christianity with social norm, that it was the expectation of white English girls, to become good Christians.
Craving knowledge and searching for the truth, Arya spent days asking her manager many questions about Christianity; almost waiting for the heavens to open and for the truth to hit her right on the head, but the reality was that never happened.
Looking back on this moment of her life, the Quran was the answer she needed all along:
We will show them Our Signs in the Universe, and in their own selves; until it becomes manifest to them that this (the Quran) is the truth. (Fussilat 41:53)
Despite the endless questioning, the manager never really had any answer for Arya; so she sat and pondered on what it meant to be a Christian. It was then when she realized that she didn’t believe Jesus, a man, could be God. Ultimately realizing she wasn’t and could not be a Christian.
So her search for the truth continued.
Arya was still very much against the idea of becoming a Muslim mostly because she didn’t want to wear a hijab. Every now and then, the thought of Islam would creep into the back of her mind. She decided to bring up the topic of religion with her sister who became angry and very defensive, warning her not to accept Islam or she would lose her as a sister.
After the reaction she received from her sister, Arya approached the topic of religion with her grandmother; she firmly stated that religion had no place in her life, and that Arya need not be stupid and worry about such things as religion.
This time in Arya’s life was a great test for her, she felt more alone and lost than she had ever felt. With nowhere and no one to turn to, Arya looked up to the sky and made a silent prayer; she asked God to show her that He exists and that He could see her struggle and to give her guidance.
A t that point she relinquished all her anxiety and left it in the hands of God; and had faith that if God was real then she would be sent a sign.
A number of days had passed since Arya’s silent prayer when she woke early in the morning to find her husband praying Fajr. She said to him that she didn’t understand how he could wake so early; and that she was far too lazy, part of the reason she would never ever accept Islam.
It was her husband’s response that truly changed the course of her life. He simply said that praying made him feel good and he wished ever so much that she could understand what it felt like.
Just like that Arya said she would be happy to learn about Islam in order to understand and respect her husband’s belief. Although deep down within her soul she knew this was something she had craved and needed her whole life.
Shortly after, her husband introduced Arya to a fellow revert sister who was happy to teach her. Despite initially being reluctant to follow through on her promise to learn about Islam, Arya finally felt she had found her place.
Everything began to piece together like a puzzle; and upon her first Salah, Arya felt a sense of peace and belonging, and she could not get enough of it. Only a week later she was praying all the five prayers; eagerly anticipating each next prayer.
The weeks following that all blurred together as Arya immersed herself into Islam, adopting the hijab and abaya; then retaking her Shahadah with full understanding and commitment to the statement she was proclaiming.
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