I am not one to speak openly about my religion due to prejudice or my family since I am a private person so please consider yourself rather privileged in this sense and respect this personal post of mine.
When I was born, my parents could not agree on whichever religion they wished to introduce me to and bring me up by since my paternal grandmother originated from Italy but resided in Egypt, which meant my father was automatically Roman Catholic. My maternal grandmother was a Christian and quite a righteous person at that. My parents soon became weary of arguing so they decided to let me grow up and choose myself, which of their religion I wished to follow.
Growing up, I was aware of the different yet similar religions but it was not until I left school that I started to develop a keen inquisition, to find answers regarding who we are and why we are here. I could not understand at the time why people were calling Jesus, the son of God and the wearing / use of a cross. I could not understand why the Jews were so stubborn and seemed to use stratagems. I could not understand why the number of Muslims seemed to be growing so fast. I decided to let my heart decide during the course of seeking further knowledge, for answers.
There was a time during my childhood while I was in Italy visiting family, I knew they were Roman Catholics but this plague on their wall caught my eye since it was in Arabic. Intrigued, I asked my cousin what it said and why they had it. He told me that it said “Allah” and they had brought it back from where they lived in Egypt. Noticing I was still perplexed and not yet satisfied, he went on to explain that Catholics have one God and the Muslims have one God and that “Allah” was the Arabic name for their God. It did not matter what language or religion, there is only one God… That memory and defining emotion has stayed with me ever since then. Based on this experience, my heart seemed to be more inclined towards seeking answers from Islam than the older religions before it.
I wrote to the nearest mosque to me at the time, for any leaflets they could provide me with and to my surprise, I received a book along with a letter from the Imam. I could not believe the level of such kindness and generosity that I immediately wrote back thanking them so.
This book became the very first book I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated. It all started to make a lot of sense, logically and scientifically. It was not just a hippy, peaceful religion for sandal wearing people. This fuelled my desire for more knowledge, and even more answers. Twenty years on, I am still reading books and sometimes, I even correct my husband who is a devout Muslim. They say converts tend to make better Muslims since they seek information in order to quench their thirst for knowledge and to be the better person they could possibly be.
One late evening, there were two young men who were trying to chat up my friend and I, in passing as we made our way to catch the last tube home. I could tell from experience, which country in North Africa they came from. I asked one of the men who was trying to pay me some attention, if he was a Muslim. Whether he lied or spoke the truth would only determine his character. He chose to speak the truth so I asked him in all honesty, why he was consuming alcohol and looking for attention when it was forbidden to him. He took a moment to reflect on his would-be answer but knowingly smiled instead. At that precise moment, he had every respect for me, for reminding him of whom he is, where he came from and to do good. I too relatively had respect for him as I sensed he would potentially cherish that moment, to help him become a better person.
Every being is born a Muslim but family life and peer pressure dictates otherwise so paths tend to deviate. If only people were able to realise the hand of Satan in all the engineering of situations and lures to increase ones desires. All of which is a test, of faith and character.
With Christianity and Judaism, the bible and Torah has been edited accordingly to fit around their ways of life, to make what was not permitted to them, permissible. The bible even more so. Each time certain people try to elevate themselves, they are actually debasing themselves. Not even one word has been changed in the Quran since it was first spoken, memorised and prescribed for the people to follow. When I first started to read the Quran, bits of it made sense and others not, of which I knew I would understand with time and patience. Upon reading the last page of the Quran, I cried a river! I did not want this unique experience and relationship to end. I then took to praying five times a day.
Within a month or so of praying, whenever I prostrated there was a dull pain in my stomach and I would remark on this pain to my husband. The pain continued for another month – especially each time I prostrated. Certainly, my body (and faith?) was trying to tell me something – that I was seriously unwell. My husband came to realise this too when he was told by the hospital over the phone that I had a ruptured appendix of which my body managed to seal off and turned into a mass, causing an abscess also. This meant an invasive surgery to clean up, drain and separate the organs from inside my stomach.
Prior to the operation, I did not think I would survive so I privately said my goodbyes albeit mentally, leaving my life in Allah’s hands by saying “Insha Allah” repeatedly until I was under the effects of the anaesthetics. This verse and my faith, gave me the courage I needed, to face the operation. An operation that saved my life, gave my children back their mother, my husband his wife. The doctor told me that I am extremely lucky to be alive today – I should not be here. At times, I very much struggle with that fact alone and I have to remind myself how I felt before that life changing experience and how much I trusted Allah with my life when I trusted no one else. In particular, it was not yet my time. Yet most importantly, my faith was reconfirmed.
As always, there is a reason for everything, behind every nature’s designs. Only those in a similar situation will come to understand my reasons for writing this and I can only hope that I have helped guide another by sharing how and why I became a convert. My conversion progressively occurred over a number of years as I researched, asked questions and experienced life and psychology from an Islamic perspective.
I would like to thank you for your patience and for sparing a moment of your valuable time to read something so personal.
“People of the Book, do not go to excess in your religion.” (4:171)
“These are the bounds set by Allah, do not overstep them.” (2:229)
“Do not waste by excess, Allah does not like wasteful people.” (6:141)
“Call on your Lord humbly and privately, He does not like those who transgress His bounds.” (7:55)
The Prophet Muhammed said:
“Avoid going to excess in religion. The people before you were destroyed by their exaggeration.”
Ahmad (1/215, 347), Nisa’i (3057, 3059)
He also said:
“Do not be harsh to yourselves, lest Allah be harsh to you. It happened to some people who adopted the harsh way and Allah treated them badly.”
Abu Ya’la (2427, 2472), Tabarani in Kabir (12/156)