Real & Wonderful Stories
Compiled by: Abdurahim bin Mizhir Almalki
For as long as I can remember, I had not been satisfied with Christianity. I could never assimilate the belief that Jesus is the “son of God.” I used to think it was a fault in me – that I was of “weak faith.” When I was a child, I used to pray to God to help me believe that Jesus was His son. But I didn’t feel God responding to my prayer to strengthen my faith in the Christian church.
I had a Jewish friend in the third grade. I remember being fascinated by her religion. I asked her why she wrote the word God as “G’d,” and she replied that in her religion even the word “God” was considered too holy to spell out. I was amazed at the supreme power of our mutual God!
I remained very interested in Judaism throughout elementary school, into high school and then college, all then while researching and studying it. It was the closest thing I found to what I believed about God. During college I joined the Jewish Students Organization, started taking Hebrew and religious study, and began to make plans for my formal conversion to Judaism. I contacted a rabbi at a conservative synagogue and was quickly and purposefully discouraged by him as to the amount of work and effort it would take on my part. When I persisted, saying that I was willing to work hard for something as important to me as religion, he said, “We really don’t do conversion here.” That was the end of that conversation! I was somewhat discouraged, but decided to try again at another synagogue with another rabbi a few days later. This one told me that I “could convert if I wanted to,” but that I “would never be considered a Jew by other Jews.”
With this “warm” reception I was finally dissuaded and looked into other faiths. I examined Catholicism, Buddhism, and even Native American Spirituality. I was getting nowhere! I finally decided that I would just believe my own beliefs (of a supreme and omnipotent God) and “go my own way.”
I never even considered Islam until I met the man who was to later become my husband. I had always previously dismissed Islam as a violent religion, full of bloodshed, ‘holy wars,” and men who abused and oppressed women. This was entirely due to the Western media’s gross misrepresentation of Islam – the only exposure most Westerners, including myself, ever have to Islam, unfortunately. When I found out (through casual conversation) that the man I had met was a Muslim, I was somewhat taken aback. He was so sweet and warm and caring, and he had a great sense of humor! (A Muslim with a sense of humor? Impossible!) I really6 liked him as a person. I thought maybe I should investigate Islam more on my own, as I had just met a Muslim who defied all of the negative stereotypes that I had in my head.
As the months went by and as I studied more and more in depth about Islam, my conviction began to grow steadily that this was the true religion.
It was so close in many ways to what I already believed! Then one day at a weekly women’s lesson on Islam that I had been attending (even though I wasn’t a Muslim yet), one of the sisters was reading verses of the Qur’an that really affected me. It was about the Jews and their questioning of God’s commands in sacrificing the heifer in Surah al-Baqarah. The verses suddenly affected me so much that, much to my embarrassment, I began to cry in the middle of the lesson. The sister who was reading comforted me by saying that the Qur’an – the word of Allah – often affects people this way. That evening at home, as I was preparing for bed, I went through my usual routine of opening the Qur’an at random and asking Allah to select a passage for me to read. The verse that my eyes fell on as I opened the book read as follows: “As when they hear what has been reveald to the Mesenger, you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of what they have recognized of the truth. They say, ‘Our Lord, we have believed, so register us among the witnesses. And why should we not believe in Allah and what has come to us of the truth? And we aspire that our Lord will admit us [to Paradise] with the righteous people.’ So Allah rewarded them for what they said with gardens [in Paradise] beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally. And that is the reward of doers of good.” (5:83-85)
This was the final message from Allah for me to revert to Islam! I was speechless. He spoke to me through the glorious Qur’an. He showed me the straight path – the truth, I said shahadah shortly after that. Shahadah was a homecoming for me; I felt that my soul had been set free! Also, in direct contrast to the less-than-friendly “welcome” of the Jews when I expressed a desire to convert, the Muslims all said, “Allahu akbar! Al-hamdulillah! Masha’Allah! Subhan Allah! As-salamu ‘alaykum! Ahlan wa Sahlan! Mabruk! No one has ever told me I “would never be considered a Muslim.” To this day, and always, it warms my heart and soul to go to a gathering of my sisters and brothers in Islam and hear the quiet murmuring of “As-salamu ‘alaykum” and see the warm smiles, hugs and handshakes, the welcoming outstretched arms of the ummah! I will never stop thanking Allah for guiding me to the light of Islam!