The Story of a Muslim Convert

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic
While many would like to think America is the home of the free, there are times when that may not hold true. This is so especially when it comes to religion. People look at you differently when you follow a different religion. And in this day and age, that religion is Islam. As a recent convert to Islam, I know first-hand just how dead-set against Islam the US can be. This is my story.

Submitted: February 28, 2010

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Submitted: February 28, 2010

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I felt like screaming but all I could manage was a sob. Tears flooded my eyes and poured down my cheeks. Never before had I felt this low. Never before had I hurt this much. As I angrily wiped the tears from my eyes, bright orange plastic caught my eye. I reached for the familiar box cutters, my constant companion at work. The silver blade was exposed as I pushed the black switch. For a moment I contemplated that blade. Then I pushed it into my wrist, leaving a trail of red beads behind.

My father was raised Catholic, my mother Lutheran. And thus I was raised Christian. I can remember as a young child attending church services every Sunday morning. I never questioned anything. At my age parents were equal to God himself. Church was simply a very boring irritant that I suffered without choice every weekend.

Then in the fifth grade my parents divorced. It was an afternoon in early September. My mother returned home from work and informed my brother and me that we were leaving – for good. We moved in with the man that would later become our step-dad. Neither he nor my mother were at all religious, and so church became nonexistent to me. I lived without religion.

I wish I could say these years were fun and enjoyable. But they were far from that. My mother and step-dad spent every Friday at the bar, and when they weren’t sitting at the bar, they were seated in front of the TV. My brother’s care became my responsibility. It was up to me to watch him, discipline him, feed him. Chores were always my duty; mopping, sweeping, dusting, vacuuming, laundry…I did it all. I had no life beyond the suffocating walls of the house.

Then another event changed my world drastically yet again. My parents were both fired from their jobs. We had no choice but to move 500 miles away to my grandparent’s house in Northern Minnesota, a world greatly different from South Dakota. I had only a weekend to tell my friends I was leaving, never to see them again.

At first it appeared as though life couldn’t be more perfect in my new surroundings. I was free from the never-ending cycle of chores, and my brother was under my care no more. What could be better? But it my joy was short-lived. My grandma was highly religious. She drug my brother and I to church services every morning, and forced me to attend confirmation class every Wednesday evening.

I allowed this for a few years, but I never really believed what I heard, what I was taught. How could somebody as caring and merciful as God let me suffer what I had? If He truly loved me, why was my life miserable? As the months slipped by, these questions and more filled my head, forming an inner turmoil that plagued me night and day.

Then relief came. After being confirmed I was allowed to stop attending church. But my grandmother was not happy with my choice; every Sunday she would appear in my doorway and ask whether I was joining her that morning. Wincing, I would always say no. This of course greatly disappointed my grandmother, who would clearly show her displeasure before walking away. I dreaded these mornings. I felt guilty saying no, but I didn’t want to spend the morning shut up in a drafty church listening to the pastor drone on about something or other.

Needless to say I was happy when my parents finally decided to move. Granted the new house was only a quarter mile from my grandmother’s, but it was far enough. I could sleep-in Sunday mornings and not worry about how my grandmother viewed me. Again, I was living without religion. But then the questions began again. What did I really believe? The questions carried so much stress; I didn’t know where to turn.

But a series of events changed everything. It was a warm summer evening when I watched a medical documentary. One particular surgeon really amazed me with his skill and dedication; so much so that I decided to contact him. After a couple months of exchanging emails, I suddenly realized he was the first Muslim I had ever interacted with. At the same time, my step-dad was always going on about how terrible the ‘ragheads’ were. As if I didn’t have enough questions, another surfaced: what was so bad about Islam that my step-dad – and many other Americans – was always criticizing the religion?

I decided to do what I did best: research. I purchased several books related to Islam and began to read them. With each page I became more and more enthralled. Never before had I been so excited about religion. But there was something different about Islam. After reading The Qur’an and Modern Science by Zakir Naik, I found myself believing in Islam. I mean, how could an illiterate man such as the Prophet (SAW) know so much about the world. It has taken thousands of different scientists hundreds of years to discover for themselves the same miracles of science outlined in the Qur’an. And the Prophet (SAW) did this all in his lifetime. I doubt that would be possible without divine help. And I knew that meant the Qur’an just had to be true; therefore Islam was the true religion. And the more I read and studied, the more I believed. There was no doubt in my mind.

However it wasn’t as easy as just converting. I knew few in my family would be at all supportive of me. But I couldn’t tear myself from learning more about Islam. What was I to do? The only consolation was my mother’s support; she knew I was toying with the idea of converting and wasn’t trying to stop me.

During the summer of 2008, took everything to the next level. I met several Muslims via a language learning website. I spent many hours chatting with them, asking whatever questions I had, writing about my doubts. And as Ramadan neared, I began to seriously think about converting. I knew two weeks before the sighting if the hilal that I wouldn’t make it through the month. I couldn’t stand the thought of not fasting. So I made up my mind and converted.

To some, my conversion may not be official. I did not say the Shahadah in front of any witnesses. It was said in the privacy of my own bedroom the night Ramadan started. There were no nearby mosques; the closest was probably a five hour drive away. I had no choice but to say it to myself, between Allah and I only. I would have preferred to do it officially, but I had converted, and I was happy.

I noticed a difference in my personality almost right away. Before I had been filled with anger, rage, and uncertainty. But something was different. I was happier on the whole, and I saw the good things in life. I couldn’t put words to the feeling, but I had never experienced such a wonderful mix of emotions. Those emotions are impossible to explain. To this day, I have experienced lower lows than before converting, but I don’t find myself nearly as depressed.

But it wasn’t going to be as easy as just saying a few words. I lived in a small community constructed mostly by devout Christians. I was worried about their reactions when the truth came out; but foremost in my mind was my step-dad. If he discovered my new-found faith, there would be hell to pay. So I could confide in my mother only.

For a couple months everything appeared perfect. I was happy and I felt like I had found my place in the world. Nothing could bring me down from this high. But it was too good to last for long. Several people at school had heard of my conversion, either from me or from those I told. And in my community it takes very little time for gossip to reach the ears of all. It was only a matter of time before word reached my step-dad.

The worst few days of my life came in December of 2008. At school I discovered my Internet privileges had been not-so-kindly revoked by my mother. The same afternoon I returned home to find the Internet disconnected. I questioned my mom about it. And that’s when everything changed. She informed me I was not allowed on the Internet because I was talking to Muslims. She forbade me from studying or practicing Islam. If I continued she wouldn’t give me the information needed for financial aid.

Our conversation ended in arguing and crying. My mother left my room, slamming the door behind her. I sat at my desk, sobbing. And then I cut myself.

Now looking back, I would have handled the situation differently. And I’m disappointed in myself for what I did; self-mutilation is not the road to take in any situation. But I was terribly stressed. I felt like there was no way for me to escape my pain and suffering.

After consulting several Muslim friends, I decided there was only one thing I could do: pretend I wasn’t Muslim. No, it was the last thing I wanted to do, but I had little choice. If I was defiant, nothing good would come from it. And so I went to my mother, promising her I would do as she asked.

The next few months were like walking a tightrope. My books on Islam were hidden in a dark corner of my closet. I never spoke of Islam at school, afraid word would get back to my step-dad. While I abhorred the thought of eating pork, in an effort to show I wasn’t Muslim anymore, I had no choice but to ingest the filthy meat. My mother believed me, or so she acted. But my step-dad never did. He still suspected me.

But after graduation freedom was just around the corner. My step-dad kicked me out of the house, which meant staying with my grandmother for a couple weeks. Unfortunately one of those days just happened to be a Sunday. I had hoped I would sleep in, but no such luck. I rose before my grandmother left that morning. The whole morning I was on edge, waiting for her to ask the inevitable. It came while we were sitting in the living room. She inquired if I wanted to join her at church; I answered with a simple no. Then came a shocker; my grandmother asked me why I hated Christians?

Why did I hate Christians? I had never said anything against Christianity or Christians. I have no problem with Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, or any other religions. So where did my grandmother get this notion? This is one example of what Muslims face in America. I don’t know any Muslim who hates Christians. But I think many American Christians don’t know this. I never understand how Christians can preach love and understanding for everyone on this Earth, but then not apply that to Muslims. Regrettably Muslim extremists have simply created a stereotype for all Muslims, a stereotype that like most cannot include all.

But after that Sunday, everything did get better. I left my family, leaving behind the suffering and isolation I had been through. It was a great feeling to believe what I wanted to believe, follow the faith I wanted to follow.

People are always telling me my decision to convert was a brave decision. They’re always commenting on how tough it must have been. And when I tell them my story, they shake their heads in amazement. But I don’t think I made a brave decision; in the end I knew I had to convert whether it would be easy or not. Is this not America where everyone is entitled to believe what they will? I will agree that my conversion was not an easy one and I suffered many hardships along the way, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am a Muslim and I am proud to be a Muslim.


© Copyright 2018 azaadi2009. All rights reserved.

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