My name is Saidah Paola Duque Correa.
I am a Colombian girl born in Bucaramanga city, but I have mostly lived in Valledupar city.
I am a bacteriologist, from Universidad de Santander – UDES- (Colombia).
Before embracing Islam, I was Catholic but non-practicing; and now I’m proud to be Muslim and I give thanks to Allah Almighty for this.
4 years ago, I began to know about Islam, alhamdolillah; but before that I wanted to know about Arabic culture, Arabic music, meet Arab people, etc. I liked Arabic calligraphy (and I still like it). Well, these are some of the things that I was interested in then.
But little by little, in between this looking and without thinking of it, I met with Islam. My first meeting with Islam was through the internet… One day in 2004 ; I left a message at an Islamic site, where I felt interested to know about Islam.
A few days later, I received an e-mail that said: “Are you interested to receive free Islamic books and in Spanish?” signed by Mostafa Mohye Mossad, from Egypt. When I read this e-mail, it was a great surprise to me, but at same time I felt doubt from it, because it wasn’t normal to me that people offer books and for free.
And also because I didn’t know brother Mohye, but this email was the first contact between us. This doubt wasn’t enough to stop the feeling about wanting to know more about Islam; and I did send my address to brother Mohye. And so after 2 months approximately, the books arrived at my home! I was so happy!
And from this moment, I began to share with brother Mohye this wonderful way in showing non-Muslims what Islam is really about, and to help brothers and sisters in Islam about their deen.
And from this time until now I send to brother Mohye the addresses of both Muslims and non-Muslims interested in getting books about Islam, and he sends the books to them to whatever country they are in and in any language.
Dawah Before Shahadah!
In July 2004, we began our dawah work with 4 persons: brother Mohye, sisters Maryam, Claudia and me. And now in 2008, alhamdolillah our dawah network group, is 30 Latinos/Latinas from Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Mexico, etc. alhamdolillah. And each day we meet people very interested to know about Islam.
Many Muslims and non-Muslims felt it strange that Saidah, that wasn’t Muslim yet, share in this activity of dawah. Or that she defends Islam in front of people when they say something wrong about it, or about Muslims; and I explain to them the truth about Islam. But Allah was purifying my heart.
Anyway, thanks to these books I was learning more and each day and my love for Islam was growing, and I was looking to learn more in the internet too, and also ask friends on the net about it. My first introduction to Islam was through the net…
Well, in the beginning when some friend asked me, I would answer: “I’m only learning, but I do not intend to convert,” and that really was my feeling. But, after some time my thoughts about this subject changed, alhamdolillah…
This was when I began to understand that Islam is the truth, that it is the only way, the light, the correct way and the true deen; but with all this in my mind and heart, many times when brother Mohye asked me: “Do you want to say the Shahadah now?”, I would answer him: “Oohh, not yet, I need a little more time.”
In 2007, some of my Muslim friends on the net knew I wasn’t Muslim yet (I mean I hadn’t said the Shahadah in front of any Muslim yet). But before this, I said the Shahadah in my heart, because I was sure about that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His messenger.
They told me: “Your heart is Muslim, you are Muslim, all that you do is because you are Muslim, but you don’t know it yet, the only thing that you need to do is the Shahadah!! And they were saying the truth. Allah was showing me that Islam was filling my life and was beginning to make me feel closer to being Muslim.
At the end of Ramadan 2007, I went to Maicao-Colombia, with Aisha, my sister in Islam. We went because she wanted to say the Shahadah there and I went to be with her, without thinking that when I return to my city, I would return as a ‘Muslim’.
In Maicao city, when I was going to the mosque, and the sisters were praying, I did prostrate and asked Allah to help me in my decision. If this was the way He wanted me to be following, I asked Him: “Please, give me the force I need to embrace Islam definitively”; and it was only a few days, and I told Aisha and brother Mohammad Hamoud that my decision had been taken alhamdolillah, and they were happy for my sake.
We went to the mosque so I could say my Shahadah, and just a few minutes before, I did call my parents to tell them what I was intending to do, because it was a very important decision that would affect my life.
Shahadah at Last
When I told them, my father, Milciades, answered me: “Bueno mi hija, felicitaciones! (what means): “Well daughter, congratulations!” With these words from my father I got happier and felt more blessed.
I noticed my mother, Luisa, was a little confused, but anyway she said: “Ok daughter, you know what you are doing.” May Allah continue blessing them. I love them!
I said my Shahadah on the Internet, in front of 2 persons, brother Mohye and brother Ahmed, from Egypt.
My family and friends took my decision calmly….Well, sometimes they joke a bit about it, but alhamdolillah they accept it in a good way. My nephew, Omar David, 6 years old, likes to write the word Allah in Arabic calligraphy, and he likes Islamic songs too, he sometimes asks me to read him the Quran.
Well, my decision to embrace Islam was a big feeling, so deep from my heart. It wasn’t because someone forced me to, it was just that Allah showed me the way and gave me the light.
All the prophets came to teach us this, the only truth. Allah is one and unique, the Merciful, the Compassionate, the Forgiver, the Creator of all. And all the beautiful names and attributes belong to Him only.
Now we need to show people that Islam isn’t what some TV channels broadcast unjustly. It is true that some Muslims do very bad things, but this is not from Islam, this is from the person himself. And we can’t allow this image to continue in the mind of a lot of people, we must work for a change.
These days, I continue working with Mostafa Mohye, who is the manager of News Projects with new Muslims in Spain and Latin America, with the Conveying Islamic Message Center in Egypt.
The last thing that I want to say is thanks to Allah for showing me the way!
Thanks to Allah because I am Muslim! Thanks to Allah!