My name is Jasmine Crawford.
I converted to Islam a year and half ago.
I chose Islam because I believe it was the right thing to do. I was asking God for signs and to guide me. And actually I was a Catholic and I just wanted to be a better Catholic.
So I was studying the different religions, and I just was interested in learning. And the more that I learned, the more I liked it.
It was a little difficult in the beginning because it was hard to let go of my past, but alhamdulellah I did the right thing.
Before I converted to Islam, I knew basically what most of the other people know about Islam, which is the terrorists and that women are covered.
And unfortunately there are some Muslims that are not practicing so they don’t represent Islam the way that they should. And so when they hang out with non-Muslims, they give the wrong impression of what Islam is about.
So I thought the same thing that most of the people got, that it’s just a way of life and it wasn’t really a religion, it was just what people did.
I have friends who are Muslims, so it opened the door for me to look more into it. Again I knew about Islam, I knew Judaism, Christianity and Islam. So that’s how I knew about it, really because I have friends who were Muslims.
Do What Makes You Happy
The main thing that attracted me to Islam is la illaha illa allah (There is no God but Allah); the fact that you go directly to God, because I always used to go directly to God anyway. And there is not really one particular thing because there was so many major things that happened in my search that made me feel like it was the right thing for me.
The Quran never changing was really important, and the scientific proofs in the Quran, all the little things that are in Islam that just make sense. It makes a lot more sense than any other religion.
In my immediate family I’m the only Muslim. I do have distant family members that have also converted. But as of now I’m the only Muslim in my family. I’m working on my mother!
The relationship with my parents, alhamdulellah, I love my parents. My father was very ill at the time that I was looking into Islam. I had just found out that he had cancer again. And my mother is such a beautiful woman alhamdulellah. She helps me with everything. She helps me get up for Fajr (Dawn prayer), she buys me halal food, and she is a beautiful woman. I’m very close to my mother. My father passed last July but it was a very good relationship.
The only question that my mother asked me was “I thought you were going to think about it?!’ and other than that they are not strict Catholics. So Subhanallah, they said “if it makes you happy, as long as you don’t go out blowing up people!, do it. Do what makes you happy”.
It’s very easy to be an American Muslim in New York. As long as you are confident and secure in yourself. And the Hijab style, people think that this is just my style. They don’t realize that I’m Muslim. Because if you see what people wear outside today they throw on all types of things that some people don’t even realize that I’m Muslim.
But a lot of people ask me questions, and I’ve noticed that people are actually very kind to me. It’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be.
In New York, I think it’s fairly easy to find what you are looking most of time. I’m sure in other states and cities it’s probably a lot more difficult, but we have halal stores on every corner basically. So it’s very easy, and I’ve been eating a lot of fish lately! But I think it’s very convenient to be a Muslim convert in New York City.
M.E.C.C.A. is the Muslim Education and Converts Center of America. It’s a non-profit organization. We offer classes. We have a new Muslims program which shows new Muslims how to pray, and all the basics that you need to be a Muslim.
When you are a convert, it can be very frightening and overwhelming, and then you take the Shahadah, and then that’s it. You go by yourself and you have no one to help you. So you come here. You take classes with other students who are also looking into Islam with qualified teachers who have studied abroad with scholars.
We also offer courses like Arabic, Aqeedah (creed) and Fiqh (Islamic law). And we have support groups for converts, sisters who are going through the same thing, like they are not sure they want to wear Hijab and we help each other out. We just offer a lot of great classes. It’s not only to Muslims but to non-Muslims as well. So we have converts, we have born Muslims, and we have people who are just interested in learning more about Islam.
We do offer the support for non-Muslims but rather for new Muslims when they convert. We have like a sisters’ circle or a brothers’ circle, where we come in and we eat and we talk about our problems or what we are going through. Some people would have similar situations where their families or their friends are no longer talking to them, and it’s very emotional. It’s very difficult and they feel alone, and we all have a connection here. It’s like a very small family and we all have similar situations. So it’s a great place Alhamdulellah.
Our converts are from everywhere. We have myself. I’m black and white. I’m Irish and African American and Indian. And we have Chinese. We have Spanish. We have white people. We have everything here.
So this is New York City, you are going to get everything.