Edited By Dewi Saraswati
It is reported that every year in the United States over 12000 people convert to Islam. Recently, I have witnessed conversion of my friend and co-worker Britney. She had been asking me questions about Islam for quite some time. So I was delighted when she told me, that she chose to join our Muslim brothers and sisters in the right path. Britney is now a Muslim, Alhamdulillah. She talked about her experience and about her life, and the changes that happen in her new life now as a Muslim.
Amuslima met Britney, and this is her story in her own word.
Both of my parents were raised as Christians she said. At the age of 17, my father was given a book about Islam. Reading the book triggered a deep interest and he began researching more about this marvellous way of Allah. Years later, when my mother was expecting me, they moved to Atlanta, and that was when my father converted to Islam.
Unfortunately, few years later my parents separated; I stayed with my mother and although I visited my father on holidays and summers, my exposure to Islam was limited. Things started to change around my 13th birthday; during which my father gave me the book that was given to him when he was 17. We would sit, read and talk for hours about Islam, or watch documentaries about Islam. I was fascinated, but as a teenager I did not take it seriously- I just did what my father wanted to please him.
Q: So how and when you made your decision about converting to Islam?
A: The older I get, the more understanding I have about Islam that led to my decision. I used to go to church with my mother and grandmother, I noticed that people go to church and then didn’t go at all. But when bad things happen to them they go back to church. However I saw that there were not a change in them in their demeanour, I mean they listened to the sermon and yet it failed to move them. They didn’t change for the better, and as I see it they still do whatever they like. I mean if they are facing some prohibited things or rules in religion, they choose what it is easy for them and do what they like, and they leave what they don’t like. I mean they succumb to their desires. For example, alcohol and pork are actually haram or prohibited in the Bible, but most Christians including those who go to church faithfully every Sunday do not follow the restrictions that was stated in the Bible. When I read about Islam I found out what are prohibited stay prohibited, and I started to be more interested about Islam, and I researched and read about it, talked with my father and my Muslim friends who told me about the miracles of the Holy book – the Qur’an. It is amazing… but before I made my conversion, I went back to church for one last time to see if I have any feelings and also to see where I supposed to be.
Q: And…what happened?
A: I left early! And that was when I knew, I had to convert to Islam. So I went to a mosque.
Q: What was your first impression when you went to the mosque?
A: It was wonderful, everyone welcomed me and the people were really nice.
At the entrance, I was surprised to see that everybody took their shoes off, and leave them outside the door. I followed their example. The people inside were sitting on the carpet, listening to a sermon from the imam, silently, except when someone came through the door and whispered the Islamic greeting: ”salaam alaikum”. I felt peace inside, and also I felt that I was welcomed there. I found the atmosphere was great, when the muazzin called for prayer, in few seconds everybody stood up in straight line no space between each other, I did the same. When the Imam started reciting some verses of the Quran with beautiful voice, I felt that I really stood before the God (Allah). It was great and wonderful feelings. Then after the prayer it was time for me to recite al shahadatain witnessed by everyone who happened to be present on that day. I was touched when I saw another new Muslim sister converted to Islam. She was crying with happiness when she recited al shahadatain after me. For the first time in my life I belonged.
Q: What about wearing hijab?
A: I learned when I pray, I must be totally clean and pure and covered from my head to my toes except for my hands and face. Only after this I would be ready to pray before God. So when I covered my head I felt myself protected. People look at me as I am, not judging me from my outer look.
Q: How did your parents react when you told them about your decision?
A: My father was very happy, he gave me more information and books about Islam we became closer than before. My mother wasn’t mad; she was fine with my decision.
Q: How does Islam change your life?
A: Islam has given me guidance on what to follow and what not. And it is also set my moral compass. I have better relationship with God, and have more positive outlook in my life. I started to change slowly. Nobody can change him/herself overnight. A lot of my friends disappearing, they do not want the new me. But now I know how to choose my friends, good friends. Now my Muslim friend teaching me a lot of things about Islam, practicing the prayers [shalat], dua’a, Qu’ran recitation. I also I go to this site, amuslima to read some interesting blogs.
Now I am pregnant and I read this Surat (chapter) Maryam or Mary that I learned from amuslima website. It is good for expecting mothers to read this Surat for the baby. Insha’allah, I will give my son the name Khaled because I love this name.
Q: How is your feeling now?
A: Alhamdulillah, I am glad that I became a Muslim before I give birth to my son. Inshallah I will raise him as a Muslim like his father and I, also his grandfather.
Britney closed her story saying:” I wasn’t afraid of what people would say or think, I felt very good about my decision and the changes I’ve made.”