Although raised from infancy in one of the many Christian religious sects, I never found satisfactory answers to many questions of the teachings.
Always curious and filled with tremendous conviction, to find ‘Who’ my Creator was, and what my existence and purpose was on earth, I began seeking various doctrines and philosophies for decades.
Covering the assorted divisions in Christianity, and still unfulfilled, I progressed through many other beliefs, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and on and on, until one day I just decided it was all myths. Having come to that deadening conclusion, atheism crossed my mind.
That, in itself frightened me, and certainly made no sense when one looks at the reality of the universe around them.
If there was no Creator, then there seemed no genuine purpose in living. The modesty and caring, which I was brought up to believe in, seemed a fruitless waste of time, especially in the ever sinful ways the world seemed to be heading.
The world I found as an adult was not a modest one, nor was it faithful or caring. I had been ridiculed for my puritanical lifestyle, even by my first husband, father to my two children.
A party-going lifestyle was just not my style. It bored me and the people who lived that way bored me. Superficial, shallow, and hurtful.
When I Lost Someone Special
My children, writing, research, travel, and various studies filled my life until 1987. Suddenly everything changed.
My father, the closest person in my life, died that year. I had never thought about losing him; it just never crossed my mind. All the devotion, loyalty, and purity of heart in the world hadn’t helped me in keeping him alive. I was unable to do anything to help him, and I watched him grow more ill with each passing day.
When he was gone, I felt so incredibly alone. Sadness filled my heart and every inch of my being. I wanted to die. I couldn’t see the point in remaining alive without my father. He had been the only normal person I could remember in life. For the first time in my life, I knew what it meant to lose someone so special. The sadness was overwhelming – unlike any that I had ever known. No one could feel it through me or for me: it was my sadness.
I began looking back. My life had been difficult and disappointing. The only reason I felt that I had to complete the life cycle was because nearly every religion that I studied considered it a grave, horrendous, and unforgivable sin to end one’s own life. So, that just couldn’t be an option. I had to go on, regardless of how foolish I felt “life” was, if for no other reason than to be there for my children if they should ever need me.
Working through the grief process, I realized that everything I had ever learned made very little sense. In desperation, I prayed through tears of sincerity for “my Creator,” whoever that might be, to guide me to the right path. My studies brought knowledge of Him in my mind, but my heart just could not find Him…
Watching Donahue Talk Show
Then one morning I rose from sleep, turned on the television, trying desperately to fill my mind with nothingness, and trying to distract myself from the constant nagging thoughts about religions and beliefs. On the screen (believe it or not) was Phil Donahue, the popular talk show host. He was interviewing a man who spoke with a foreign accent about Islam.
Next to him was the man’s wife, a white American woman, who had converted to Islam. I was paying much attention to what the woman was saying, because I had known numerous women who converted to their husband’s religion. I had always rejected that type of behavior, for I felt that one’s beliefs should be because of one’s own personal convictions and relationship with the Creator.
However, as she continued to speak, I saw and felt something very different. She was sitting there, in a long, modest type of dress, her head covered with a scarf -it was beautiful. She looked pure and happy, spoke intelligently and without the crazy antics, that usually come from most of the talk-show circuit guests. It didn’t matter that you couldn’t see her shape or what her hair looked like, it was all in her eyes and in her voice.
She was telling about her conversion to Islam. She seemed very much Muslim and believed in Islam. I became very interested in what she was saying. So much of what she talked about was exactly the way I had believed and how I had lived, in spite of all the craziness around me. They called themselves Muslims and said that they follow Islam.
Since the only “Muslims” I had ever heard about in America were connected to a racist group, and hated anyone with a different eye and hair color than theirs, this didn’t make a lot of sense at first. Assuming that they were the same people, there must have been some radical change in the group since the time that I was a youngster.
I became glued to the talk show and learned that the true Islamic faith, which began in Arabia, did not have any kind of prejudices involved. True Islam does not propagate any racism or hatred towards anybody. The more I heard, the more I was interested.
Having had one idea of what Islam was (or wasn’t) that came strictly from the media, which of course projects whatever they want people to believe, I had fallen victim to a kind of brainwashing. I had assumed that if a group uses the name Islam in their title they were the same as all Muslims who practice the Islamic faith. One should never assume anything – I learned that quite quickly. The more I listened, the more I learned.
I wondered: Could I ever be accepted as a Muslim by other Muslims?
Were there other blonde-haired, blue-eyed, female Muslims around?
I knew so little about this new religion, but something was happening to me even then. Something or someone had drawn me to that talk show that particular day, since I generally was not a television watcher.
My heart or my soul, something within me, was being drawn to listen, and it had actually been the visual alone that had made me sit up and take notice. I liked the unusual dress styles and had worn those very styles myself, in spite of what modern fashion dictated. I could feel my depression from my father’s death begin to disappear. In fact, I felt connected again and my attention was clearer than ever.
Everything in life has a prescribed timing; at least I see that now. That day, it was the first time in my life I was to hear of this thing called Islam. I had no understanding of the religion, which for me today I consider a way of life rather than just a belief.
There was talk of something called “the Quran,” about staying modest in this perverted world, about husbands being faithful and loyal to their families, but none of it seemed to be the hype religions use to manipulate their practitioners. It all made perfect sense. It seemed logical and dealt with reality.
These Muslims worshiped the Creator, not a man and I liked that. I wished I’d known about Islam growing up. I had always kept an open mind, never judging acquaintances from the way they lived, but I could never change myself to live the way they did, although it ruined many relationships. But here, in front of my eyes, seeping into my ears, were words that fit the way I thought, lived, and believed. Only now, I had a word that fit my beliefs. That word was “Islam.”
I was told that there was one Muslim, a Math teacher at the town high school, living nearby and had married a Methodist woman. I called the Methodist Church, explained who I was trying to locate, and they gave me the name of the family. I called (even though basically I remain timid around those I do not know), and I asked if he might know what translation of the Quran was best and where I might acquire one. He gave me a name, and I found a bookstore a hundred miles from where I was living, and ordered a copy of the Quran. When I got my copy in the mail, I read it cover to cover in two days. It was poetry to me. It was at that moment that I embraced Islam – and was embraced by Islam.
I Found My Creator
I saw, through the messages and words, the idea I had believed all along. I had not been old fashioned or wrong. Modesty was modesty, plain and simple. Having tried to fit into other people’s ideas of how I should live just never fit me. It was always a disastrous end. Now, finally, I had the answers.
I had found my Creator’s wishes, commands, and the reason for living. It had been with me all along. Where I would go from that point, I was sure would be limitless – not accepted by others perhaps, but limitless for my own life and heart.
I absolutely believed that Allah would, forevermore, direct my steps in whatever way He chooses. I thought back of how I prayed so hard, and for the first time, the Creator had answered through a talk show, one that had lasted only an hour out of past decades in my life. Incredible? Yes!
Eventually I even found a place for books, tapes, and prayer rugs. I ordered everything I could. I received another copy of the Quran. Such beautiful words filled the thick, green and gold hard-cover book, in Arabic with the English translation.
In reading it again, from cover to cover, I began dreaming about mosques, one in particular with a walled and protective courtyard out back. It was a beauty in my dreams that I had never dreamed about before. I felt protected inside myself, knowing finally that all my struggles and desires to find the answer for my existence had finally come to fruition: It was, is, and will always remain, to worship the Creator, Allah, and to submit to His Will in everything.
I continue to read passages from the Quran every night. My closest extended family, whom I consider only my grown children and grandchildren, and who are not yet Muslim, are accepting of my change. Others are not, but then I do not seek the approval of anyone other than Allah Almighty. I dress Islamically and practice the Five Pillars of Islam.
Since those days nearly a decade ago, Allah Almighty has blessed me with a wonderful husband and an adopted son, changes in my life that I would have never expected or planned. But Allah knows best, and for me, I will accept whatever He Wills.
By remaining in submission to Him, I have discovered a new harmony to my life, which certainly was not the case when I thought I was the controller of my affairs, i.e. before becoming a Muslim. My hope is that Allah will continue to lead me to the correct ways, laws, and prayers that will allow me to live in the best and fullest way for Him, and to fully develop the true Islamic lifestyle in everything I do.
What I do know is that I have finally found the Way, not just knowledge of it like the many times before, but now, deep inside, I found what had always been the part of me that seemed to be missing: The Heart of a Muslim.