I was raised in a traditional Catholic family in Ecuador. Sunday service and the Holy Mary were important parts in my life. I was an obedient child and teenager. I did not question my religion and followed what my parents and older family members told me.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed life. People in Ecuador like to celebrate, meet and eat. I liked dancing and singing. But I was also keen in becoming successful in life. I finished High School and because I was one of the best to graduate, I applied for several scholarships abroad. So, I was interested in engineering and technical stuff.
When I was selected for a scholarship in Germany, I was extremely excited. I bought a small book to learn German. The only one available in the book store at that time. Three months later I started my new life in a small university town in the West of Germany.
Many Muslim Students
After I arrived in Germany, I attended German language course for one year. There I met many other international students. Many of them were from Morocco, Syria and Egypt.
During my studies as well, I met many Muslim students. During that time, before September eleventh, there was not much media coverage about Islam. I was not much interested in Islam. I respected the Muslim students’ religion and they respected mine. We did not talk much about religion. Except for this one student who later became my husband. Ahmed was different.
During my initial time in Germany, I met Ahmed quite a lot because we were in the same study group. We met twice or thrice a week with two German students to improve our language skills.
Ahmed was always in this professional mood. At least that is what I thought. He did not join us when we would go for a drink after our study sessions. And he never tried to ask me out.
Actually, it was this last point that impressed me most. I mean, it was normal for me to go out for coffee or to the movies. And because I liked his calm and respectful way, I asked him out one day. He politely declined. And I was puzzled.
The Ideal Muslim Family
Later, I asked Ahmed why he declined my invitation to meet with me alone. He explained to me that this was not permissible according to his understanding of Islam. He further explained to me the importance of a healthy family life. And marriage is part of it. That is why in Islam certain rules exist to help people to create a happy family.
Dating before marriage or being girlfriend and boyfriend can be hurtful to the future marriage. Ahmed explained that this will take away God’s blessings. I was stunned. That was a lot to digest. And it took me some weeks to really think through what Ahmed had told me.
In Search For a Happy Family
I had always dreamed of having a happy and blessed family. However, what I have observed in my immediate surrounding was disheartening. Many broken marriages. Cheating on one’s spouse. High number of divorces. Unhappy families and crying children who do not want to choose between mother and father.
Ahmed’s attitude impressed me. And what he told me about the position of Islam regarding marriage and family impressed me even more. I really thought about becoming Muslim, not because I fell in love with Ahmed but because I fell in love with what he told me about marriage and family in Islam.
The next time I saw Ahmed in our German class, I told him that I wanted to know more about Islam. Now it was his turn to be surprised. He smiled and told me that he thought that I would not want to talk to him anymore. The next few weeks, he told me about Islam during our lunch break in the campus cafeteria.
And one day he just asked me whether I was ready to embrace Islam. I had been waiting for this question. And said yes. He told me to meet him at the Islamic center in the afternoon.
Most Muslim students I knew from my German classes were there. And some other people I did not know at the time. Ahmed introduced me to a tall man in a white dress and with a white prayer cap, the imam of the Islamic center. The imam asked me again whether I wanted to become Muslim. And I said yes. Then he read the profession of faith and I spoke after him. Alhamdulillah.
But my shahadah was not the only joyful event of the day. After I spoke my shahadah, some women came to me and gave me a beautiful headscarf and some books. We hugged each other and they helped me to put on the scarf.
Then the imam approached us and said that Ahmed wanted to ask me something. And in front of all the other people, Ahmed asked me to become his wife. I could not believe it. Everybody was quiet. And Ahmed just smiled at me. It seemed like eternity. And then I just said yes.
This was twenty years ago. We are still happily married and have three children. Alhamdulillah. Praise be to Allah.
(From Discovering Islam archive)