I am a 23-year-old college student, studying physics and training to become a teacher. I am a native of Colorado, US. I converted nearly three years ago now.
In college I met a Muslim for the first time. Only after meeting some Muslims did I slowly come to realize how ignorant I was about Islam and Muslims; a lot of what I had learned growing up was quite erroneous, but for the most part I just never heard anything at all about it.
I became curious about the religion because the good manners of the Muslims I met appealed to me, as well as the sincerity and worship aspect of the Muslim prayer. The idea of a religion which guided us in every aspect of life was something I had been looking for.
I was raised Christian and at the time of meeting the Muslims was quite religious and studying the bible seriously. But the questions the Bible left unanswered for me, the Quran answered.
At first I did not like to read Quran, but the Muslims I knew, I took them as my example of what a Muslim is like and saw that the stereotype I had been raised with just didn’t fit. I wondered how I knew Bible was right and Quran was wrong, especially when so much was similar between them, they seemed to originate from the same source. I could not believe my Bible study teacher when he said something very negative about Quran. Nor could I believe that these Muslims who were in general far more religious and worshipping of God than the Christians would go to hell for sure, as I was taught.
As I continued my study, I was able to read the Bible in a new light and see contradictions and even errors and scientific fallacies that before I had dismissed as due to my failure to understand the Word of God. But these errors and contradictions were absent in Quran. And what Quran said about God and our purpose and all these things I found more logical and easier to understand, and I knew that I believed God would provide us with a religion that we could understand and that was fair.
It was a difficult time but over a period of several months I studied the two religions and Islam won out, I became convinced that it was the true religion that Allah had sent for us and so I reverted. At that time I still was not sure about everything, I still was not sure about hijab in particular, and I did not know anything like how to pray etc. but in time I started to learn.
It was very difficult to conclude that everyone I had ever known, my teachers, my parents, my grandparents, my friends, my preachers, were all wrong. It was hard to decide to go against my family and do something I knew they would hate and would not understand.
I was terrified to make the wrong choice, but Christianity teaches if you do not believe Jesus (peace be upon him) died for your sins then you go to hell, so I was afraid of being misled. I was afraid that my peers and coworkers and bosses would react negatively and even that I might be disowned from my family.
My mother complained about my Islamic dress, that seems to bother them more than anything, and she will send Christian religious literature to me, etc. When I first put on hijab she cried for literally a week and was so hurt, she wrote me a letter saying it was a slap in the face and I was abandoning how they raised me and trying to be an Arab. They convinced themselves that I was doing it only for my Muslim husband (I ended up marrying a Muslim man) and so they didn’t like him and wished for our relationship to end.
I was told by family members that I was going to hell. It was not hard to give up the non-halal food, the alcohol, to start praying, to wear hijab (after some initial difficulty), the only thing that was really hard was hurting my family and being constantly pushed by them.
In this process, I did lose a few who just could not handle the change but most of my friends did not really mind. Nor did I have any problem obtaining multiple jobs of my choice in hijab. I am generally not discriminated against at all on the college campus, although you do have to get used to stares and a more formal relationship with coworkers. I find most respect me a great deal for doing what I believe. It is only my family who has a great difficulty, because it is their daughter. Well, and men never know what to think when I decline to shake their hand.
It is difficult to describe to someone who has never felt it how Islam can change and improve one’s life. But Islam changed me totally.
I have no doubt about our purpose in this world and that I am following the right path, I have a certainty I never knew before, and peace that goes with it. God’s plan makes much more sense to me and I feel I have an idea where I belong. Plus, through Islam, it is rarely an ambiguous question if something is right or wrong, unlike my Christian friends who often doubt if they are doing the right thing.
I finally have a hold on the things that really matter and I am not lost anymore. I didn’t even really know I was lost before, but when I found Islam and looked back it was so clear to me that I had been searching for years. Alhamdulillah, I was guided. Islam also improved my life as a woman in that I find good Muslim men treat women with so much more respect than is found in American society that I am raised in. I feel special to be a woman.
As a woman I earlier found myself faced with incredible responsibility of working full time and raising a family and cooking and cleaning and never fitting in fully to any of those roles. As a Muslim woman I feel freer to look at myself and choose the path which truly suits my nature and have others accept that, and I feel like a woman and it feels good; like coming home.
Reverting to Islam feels like coming home.