My name is Raquel. I converted to Islam a week ago.
I was a police officer in the city of Detroit. I worked there from 1996 to 2004, and I was shot in 2002. I was shot working on the job. I came very close to death and I know that I have a new beginning and a new life.
I kind of didn’t know how to follow God. I just didn’t know what religion to believe in until I had met some Muslim friends that really talked to me and explained a lot to me.
It really changed my life and I’m not afraid of death anymore. The only thing we have to fear is Allah and we never know when our next day is, so we better take shahadah now and have that faith because there is only one God, and I know it.
I came really close to death, and if I would have died that day I don’t know if I would have gone to the Hellfire or not. But now I have the confidence and the peace and the happiness that I know where I’m going if anything were to happen to me today.
Before I became Muslim I really didn’t have a strong opinion as far as Muslims. I wasn’t a pro-Muslim or anti-Muslim or anything like that. I have always been that type of person, I was really open-minded. And that’s one thing that was so different about me from my family; that I was really open-minded and I respected people for what they believed in.
I actually would get mad in my job as a police officer because people were attacking Muslims for absolutely no reason in Detroit, especially after 9/11. It was absolutely horrible and it really bothered me. Just because they are Muslims doesn’t mean that they are extremists or they believe in extremist beliefs.
I know that it’s not what my friends that are Muslims believe, and they are not at all terrorists. There are good and bad people in every religion and in every sector of life. You have good cops and you have bad cops, and it’s the same in everything.
And it just really broke my heart to see all this and actually that’s when I really became interested in Islamic beliefs after 9/11 because I was so disturbed by the things that I was seeing as a police officer on the street. And the way that they have been treated was unconscionable.
A New Muslim’s Life in Las Vegas
I’m here at Las Vegas at my masjid (mosque) and I have some clothes to give to the needy. What we do is we just leave them on a table for them and they come and hopefully they can get something that they like. So I’m just going to leave clothes for the neighborhood and they can take what they need, and hopefully there are some nice sweaters in here that they can use because it’s a little cold in Vegas.
I know for some people it might be discouraging to learn a new language. It’s basically a new culture. It’s not just a religion; it’s a new way of living. For me, it has not been discouraging. It’s just that I want to learn it faster and I want to be able to do it on my own.
But it’s difficult because I’m home alone and I have to learn almost everything on Internet, even how to tie my hijab and everything. I had to learn it all on my own. But it has been a wonderful experience and there’s a lot of peace in it and a lot of joy that you experience when you are learning and getting it right. It’s an incredible experience.
I absolutely know that I did the right thing. I have been considering it for two years. I had a lot of the theology and the knowledge but I had never experienced it. I had never gone to a mosque and experienced, it but I have a lot of Muslim friends and even had a Muslim partner in the police force that explained a lot to me.
When I pray, even though I don’t exactly know the prayers by heart, what I do is on the internet I have a couple of sites where after it has it in Arabic, it will have it in English as well. So then I would read the English portion and it’s just so powerful and I feel so protected, and I know that in this world I have nothing to fear but Allah. It’s very comforting. It’ just in my life that I just knew peace and a new joy came over me.
The main thing that I like about Islam is actually being covered up. I do. I actually enjoy it to be completely honest, especially here in Las Vegas because men look at women in a really creepy way and I actually feel much safer.
The other thing that I like is that I’m learning a lot. I’m learning so much and I love to learn. And I’ve always believed that life is a learning experience. And I absolutely love that about it, is that I’m learning something new every day.
Every day I read my Quran. Every day, I read the etiquette of Islam. I learn something new and that people are so helpful. It’s not one race.
People are not judgmental if you come in there as an American, they are very supportive. They know that you don’t know the Arabic, they are very gentle with you and help teach you and guide you. I have got some really strong brothers in Islam that were raised by an Imam that were really helpful in teaching me a lot.
There is a lot of peace and a lot of joy that I have never ever felt before.