Top 5 Regrets of Our Youth

Top 5 Regrets of Our Youth

Written by Gracie Lawrence

big foot

Here I am in my early 30s and a few times a week at least I hear heart wrenching stories about our youth. I understand that this newer generation of Muslims live in a more connected world and have difficulties that were unknown to me in my time. However, it seems for the most part they are falling into some of the same traps over and over. Maybe you are the first generation born in the West, maybe you are a convert whose parents have been here for generations, or maybe you just recently moved here from overseas.

I think that one more list on how to not mess up your life can only help, and this list is for you. You might not have problems with all these issues, but if we can spare you just one, we will celebrate.

So here we go, world. What follows is from the experiences and tales of many a young person, now old, all collected and combined to help you, if you will only listen.

The Top 5  Regrets of Our Youth

#5 Falling for Mainstream Media

I'm sorry, but if you are that easy to imitate, excuse me if I question your $300 price tag.
I’m sorry, but if you are that easy to imitate, excuse me if I question your $300 price tag.

It is all about making you into a good little consumer. Yes, maybe that is good for business and the economy, but in all honesty- most of what you see in TV dramas and commercials do not matter –ask any mature adult.  Things that you need do not need advertising.

No one needs to convince me to buy bread. That is something I would do on my own without a reminder, diamonds however need constant advertising because no one really needs that. Use your brain, don’t fall for it and don’t fall for people who do- they will make you miserable.

Young people, we understand that you are in the stage of building an identity and the fact that you are young probably means you really haven’t done much to make you feel like you have one.

Dressing in name brand clothes, just makes you a walking billboard, and looking towards movie or tv created characters to give you some guidance is just as unoriginal. Instead, try focusing your identity building energies into doing some really creative or helpful activities.

Organize or be a part of community volunteer activities, or try mastering something- it could be a new language, website building, sewing or an art…something …anything. Throwing on a pair of expensive sunglasses is just LAZY. W

hen you get older it will not make you interesting. Cool guys and gals looking to marry will be more impressed with a bit of French, that you are a chess master, or created your own comic book line rather than the fact that you own a bunch of expensive shoes. 

Need more guidance than that and emulating is your thing- I have the perfect solution for that! Look at the prophet (peace be upon him) to help build a healthy Muslim identity. There is more to him than what your parents have told you. You might be surprised. Go read something.

#4 Dabbling in Drugs/Alcohol


Just because it isn't sold on the street corner doesn't make it safeAbusing and mixing prescr iption drugs is just as stupid.
Just because it isn’t sold on the street corner doesn’t make it safe. Abusing and mixing prescription drugs is just as stupid.

Not everyone is into this, but it needs to be mentioned because this is actually a problem that exists in our communities. Interestingly enough, it is not just consuming these things, but selling them, because there is a whole lot of money in it.

Guys like money, because it makes them feel strong with all that spending power and they notice the girls watching them. Girls, help out by not being so obsessed by what a brother can buy you, and brothers- please- you know it isn’t right, even if you plan on repenting later (if you get a “later”)…what kind of plan is that??

For those that experiment and consume these substances, I don’t need to tell you it is haram. Just remember you are taking a huge risk of becoming an addict. Some people automatically become addicts, and for others it takes time- which one will you be?

Who knows, just don’t do it. I’ve never met anyone that regretted not dabbling in some drugs or getting drunk. Spend your money on something else; entertain yourself with more worthwhile people (see #5 above). Memories (or lack of) an activity you fell into while under the influence is most likely not going to have a happy ending.

#3 Not Focused on Future Employment

money_tree_new

People say “go to university so you can get a job”, not so true in the West anymore- not everyone wants to or can go to University anyway.

I am just saying:

#1 figure out what kind of employment you are going to be chasing (we all need to pay bills and eat in the real world)

#2 figure out what it is going to take to get there (is it a degree, an apprenticeship, work experience?)

#3 hustle, young blood

20s aren’t the new 30s- you need direction and good plan. If you realize that you don’t really have one- it is okay to ask for help (you’re actually smarter for it). Poor and confused at 30 is no fun. Before you know it, you are going to be partnering up and maybe even having a baby or 5.

Knock this stuff out NOW. If motherhood is a career path you choose, having something to fall back on in case disaster strikes doesn’t hurt. It is nice to be in the position to help others and not having to ask for sadaqa (charity) from others.

#2 Being Asinine About Your Parents

She wiped your butt for years. Whose butt have you wiped? Give her a call.
She wiped your butt for years.
Whose butt have you wiped?
Give her a call.

I know, they seem boring and aggravating now. It is strange to think that someone who has lived much, much, much longer than you can actually know more than you. Maybe you look at their life and think “why should I listen to them, look at their own life,”- as if people do not learn from their mistakes and then have valuable guidance to give you.

Maybe they have not even been super nice to you. Young people, as a general life rule -unless you have gone through what someone else has gone through – you really have no right to judge. That means, until you have kids that you have raised from baby to teens you really need to keep your “critical analyze” to yourself.

There is a reason being good to your parents is so important in Islam. You owe EVERYTHING you are and have first to Allah, and then to them. Go ahead and disagree with me now- we’ll talk again in 10+ years (extreme cases exempt from this- seek professional help). Another thing, parents die, and when they do -it is horrible. Even if you are so emotionally harden that their passing means nothing to you, just realize that at the most basic level, that means you have just moves up in the ol’ mortality line.

For those of you that have a heart, you’re going to feel like a selfish bucket of ^$&* every time you think of the time you were too busy to spend time with them or just make them a cup of coffee.

#1 Pre-marital Sex

regret pencile

There was a huge sermon about this at the masjid I go to. Turns out parents are sending young men and women to university or into the world expecting them to suppress their natural biological desires until the best possible marriage possibility comes along. That means for some guys- into their 30s. Good grief, even the religious amongst us are falling into zina, because it goes against nature for goodness sakes.

Parents- you are being unrealistic. If you are lucky and your kid isn’t out there fornicating, there is a possibility your kid might just bring home a wife/husband you don’t like, hook them up (to be clear- help, not force) before this happens if a nice daughter/son-in-law matters to you.

Young, people, maybe you just plan on being friends with that cute guy/girl. Nothing is going to happen, because you are both in the MSA, right? WRONG!!!!!! I have heard so many stories of this happening, both parties being so tempted that they find themselves going down a trail of ridiculous justifications and excuses, until bam zina has been committed. 

Zina has regret stamped all over it, not like a bad dream you can just forget. This should not be happening in our communities. Our country is stable, not chaotic, and relatively wealthy compared to the rest of the world. Just get married people! If he/she is delaying it- you are being played…sorry…truth hurts…find another guy/girl- there are so many. 

As for the guys thinking they are just going to mess around and not marry the girl they are playing: realize that many guys end up marrying girls they never ever, ever, EVER thought they would because of this. Also many a baby and STD have been made/spread by failed contraceptives and with 110 million STDs among men and women in the USA- good luck figuring out who is who.

Being young is not easy. I estimate about half of you will fight me on every topic here (because you know better; and this won’t happen to you-sure, good luck with that).  The other 49% will agree with me, but will not follow the advice here (you are a special snowflakes, which means the average pattern of life doesn’t apply to you *massive eye roll*).

But to the 1% who does … you guys are awesome and will have plenty of room in your closets- instead of the bunch of skeletons your cocky peers will acquire through the next 10 years.

Go forth and prosper!!

Skeleton free!
Skeleton free!

Salam, Gracie

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Where Were You? Where Are You Now?: The Anniversary of 9/11

Written by Theresa Corbin

When people remember 9/11/01 they often ask one another, where were you? So, where were you?

I was on the verge of my 21st birthday, and on my way to the first day at a new job. I heard of the first plane crash on the radio (as it was thought to be an accident at that point) and didn’t think much of it, but that it was a sad loss of life.

where were you on 9/11

By the time I reached the mall (I was to be the new sales girl at New York & Co.) and went to the back of the store for training, the morning news anchors on the small TV used for training videos were telling us of the second plane crash.

My new coworkers and I were shocked. We stood around the tiny screen in silence. I can’t remember what happened next except that I sat down. I think the training videos were playing, but my mind was somewhere else.

I felt a certain sense of urgency in the air like a weather forecaster had just announced a Cat 5 hurricane was making landfall in the neighborhood.  The who, what, why, or how was unknown. 

An hour later, after more was known about the crashes, the mall was closed because our country was officially under attack. I never got to finish watching (or even start) those training videos.

Like most people’s, my life was never the same. At this point, I considered myself an unofficial Muslim. I believed in God, and his messengers from Adam to Moses to Jesus to Muhammad (Peace be upon them). I believed in the original revelation of the Torah, the Bible, and the Quran.

I held these beliefs in my heart, but never made my declaration of faith out loud (the shahada). I had been studying religions since my journey began in 1998–read more about it here, and here

Then the backlash came. Since “Muslims” were taking credit for the attacks, the natural reaction for the public was to attack back.  The religion in whose name the atrocities were committed and all those who followed this religion were slandered, drug through the dirt, tried and convicted as backward, corrupt, and guilty in the court of public opinion.

Life changed for Americans. Life changed for Muslims. Life really changed for Muslim Americans. 

I saw the way people treated my Muslim friends. I saw Muslims being cursed in public. I saw Muslim owned businesses close because people no longer went to them or even started rumors about the owners. I saw Muslim women being targeted in public with slander and slurs.

Because of backlash like this, I could not keep quiet while people who I shared a belief with were slandered and suffering. I spoke up. “This is not Islam”; “This is not a part of what Muslims believe”; “Muslims are just trying to make there way in this world, and raise their families, just like you and me”; “Muslims aren’t all terrorists”, “They believe in, we believe in making peace not starting war”.

Ash hadu an La illaha ill Allah wa ash hadu anna Muhammad ar Rasulullah“:  I bear witness that there is no god but God, and that Muhammad is His messenger (Peace and Blessings be Upon Him). Two months after 9/11/01 I said this testament of faith or the shahada out loud, for the world to hear.

I couldn’t pretend to be something other than a Muslim anymore. I couldn’t sit back and watch my fellow Muslims being slandered and not say anything.

After coming out of the closet as a Muslim, it was as if a cloud in my mind had cleared. The world that had been so chaotic, sad, and confusing, came into perfect focus. It was more than metaphorical: it was a physical clearing away of senseless actions that lead to a mass of cluttered and confused paths. Paths that had been lain before me. Paths that I had been pulled toward by the generations that preceded me and pushed toward by those who were waiting to come after.

By the will of Allah (SWT), I removed myself from this deafening destruction that had me chasing my tail and the approval of those who would eternally withhold it. My path became singular. I was made to please my Creator, and that is what I intended to do.

After becoming a Muslim, for the first time in my life I became the “other”. I came to my conversion knowing this would be the case. But the reality of it was both liberating and oppressing. On one hand, I finally knew where I stood.

As a Muslim, I know I was valued as a member of my community and as a believer. As an American, I knew I would be disliked for exercising my freedom of religion. I was still being judged, but at least now I wasn’t being judged for my jean size, I was being judged for standing up for my beliefs.

As a human being, I never knew how lonely it could be to be the “other”. I never knew how hard it could be to be thought of as less than human. I never knew how unnerving it could be to be stared at like a freak.

And I never knew how strong a belief could make me. I never thought I could withstand the curses yelled at me and still smile. I never thought I could love something so intangible as faith. I never thought I could be a better version of myself.

The world has changed since 9/11/01. A lot of it for the worse, but I think there are millions of little silver linings. My life has changed since 9/11/01: a lot of it is far, far better, but nothing in this world is perfect.

So where were you on 9/11/01? And where are you now?

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Not Brainwashed: Converts Speak for Themselves

Written by Theresa Corbin

Never ever again will I judge a person’s freedom and liberties by the length of their skirt -Yvonne Ridley famous British journalist who converted to Islam.

Recently, news stories about the deceased Boston Bombing suspect’s wife, Katherine Russell Tsarnaev, abound. Reports speculate about her life and her choice to become Muslim.

The media, to its credit have run some article’s from the Muslim women’s perspective, but by and large they are portraying Katherine, and women like her, as having been forced to convert to Islam.

not-brainwashed

Many news outlets are trying to portray Katherine as some sort of weak woman who fell into the hands of an overpowering force and was brainwashed straight out of Christianity and in the headscarf, Islam, and the arms of a terrorist. Absolutely ignoring the possibility that Katherine may have converted after much soul searching and reflection done of her own free will.

“She was a very sweet woman, but I think kind of brainwashed by him,” reported the Associated Press, quoting Anne Kilzer, a Belmont, Mass., woman who said she knew Katherine and her 3-year-old daughter.

As a wife, I cannot imagine what Katherine is going through. As an American woman who converted to Islam, I am very familiar with the stereotype that is pushed upon women who choose Islam.

When a woman in the West converts to Islam, it is always assumed that she has been coerced. Why else would she leave her life full of every imaginable freedom, right? She must have converted for a man, she must have been brainwashed, or she must have been at gunpoint.

It is insulting. It is a roundabout way of saying that women who convert to Islam are weak minded.

This is not the case by a long shot. Women who convert to Islam are typically outspoken, well educated, free thinkers, and are brave enough to deviate from the path society has set for them.

When I converted to Islam, the sister who was giving me shahada (the statement of faith) asked me why I was converting. She asked me twice if I was doing it for any person or felt forced to do it in anyway. “Because”, she said, “if you say that you believe and someone made you say it, your faith would not be accepted from you. Allah (SWT) knows what is in your heart.”

Brainwash [BRANE wosh] verb- to make someone adopt radically different beliefs by using forcible pressure.

How can someone be brainwashed and sincere? How is it that in Islam your faith will not be accepted from you unless you are sincere? Sincerity cannot be coerced. It is like saying you were forced to fall in love, it just doesn’t work that way.

And where is the follow up to the brainwashing? In order to sustain a state of “brainwashing” you also must isolate the subject from the outside world. You don’t see this with Muslim converts.

They go on to study at universities; work as teachers, scientists, military personnel, journalists and so on; they do charity work; they are politically active and motivated to be productive members of society.

With headlines like the following, journalists are scrambling to find a reason for so many people entering Islam in the West:

CNN WORLD NEWS: Islam is the fastest-growing religion

Why European women are turning to Islam 

Washington-Report: The Nation’s Fastest Growing Religion 

We convert because we find truth and beauty in Islam. We convert because we find freedom from objectified in Islam. We convert because we don’t let the media tell us what to think. We convert because Islam speaks to our nature. We convert for a million reasons.

We are truth seekers. We are logical, thinking human beings. We are a group of women who are strong enough to face giving up all that we know and have in order to become closer to God. We are a group of women who have faced bigotry daily from loved ones and strangers alike.

We are a group of women who despite how we are portrayed in the media, we hold our heads up high because we know who we really are. We will not be explained away as feeble minded or weak. We can speak for ourselves. And we will:

Fatima, a Canadian who converted to Islam says:

[…] I experienced the absolute power of prayer as I watched on TV for the first time in Tahrir square, Muslims pray.

This was my first call to prayer, I felt a blindness in my life had been cured. Shortly after this a good friend of 3 years I had met on Facebook, who lives in Cairo, Egypt showed me via Skype the Masjid outside his window just as Fajr [pre-dawn] call to prayer sounded.

I bowed my head and in my heart felt this to be the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard. This was my second call to prayer, I felt a deafness I had in my life had been cured. I then purchased a Qur’an [the holy book] opened to Al-Fatiha [the first chapter of the Quran] and first few pages of Al-Baqarah [the second chapter], I knew I was about to find out what I always prayed for, the meaning of life, serenity, and peace of mind. I spent a year and half on a very special journey (that continues by the minute) soul searching leading me to begin studying Islam […]

fatima-aw

I received an email inviting me to attend Iftar [the meal that breaks a Muslim’s fast] on 2 Ramadan 1433 H […] This was the opportunity I had been waiting. I had not went to a Mosque since I heard my first call, there was a voice that kept telling me to wait, I would know the perfect time. It was this night I declared, As-Shahadah [the testament of faith].

Immediately upon entering the parking lot of the Masjid and a Sister greeting me at the door I felt a light shine and my spirit jump and was fully awakened realizing I was always a Muslim by heart but did not know until Allah Subana Wa Ta’ala [God] decided it was my time to live and to be given a right to life with dignity through the Muslim way of Life shown to us through the perfected life of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi Wasallam).”

Western women who convert to Islam have chosen a different path that takes commitment, courage of conviction, and strength of character in today’s world. Never assume a women is brainwashed simply because she is choosing her own path. 

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Memories from the Dorm: A Conversion Story

What follows is my old roommate’s response to I Bear Witness: How I Came to Islam Parts 1 and 2.

Written by Gracie Lawrence (the roommate)

You know it has been at least 16 years since we had those talks, and reading about it reminded me how I am still trying to “figure it all out”.

I remember it was a time of a lot of questioning, we were free from both conservative Christians AND Muslims – where we could just THINK and we had the time to do it.

Dorm Room conversations

I don’t recall thinking that it was strange to think those things- but I use to have the bad habit of thinking everyone must be the way I am (got screwed over a lot for it, lol).

I remember during that time your mother had passed away. That impacted me a lot. I think I remember that more than the details of our talks exactly (I was a bit of a chatterbox, I think you once referred to me as a puppy and you were the cat. And a lot of times you just needed some peace and to be left alone- and I didn’t understand that).

I know one thing I struggled with as I became Muslim was wondering if I could make that cultural leap/ sacrifice and I would take a few steps forwards, and then a few steps back- then I just dove in and became extreme- then balanced out, made more mistakes, etc.

Ultimately, I became Muslims to become a better Christian- I think you remember us speaking about that. I think even from a cultural viewpoint we both saw something lacking, even lonely in our modern North American existence and I saw Islam as the natural progression to fill that gap.

Nowadays, I see Christians and Jews as very close to me. Christians and Jews are easy to understand us, as we have the same background- are just like siblings that bicker.

Anyway, one things that is great about Islam, even if people are reluctant to believe in anything divine, is that it makes for a great play-book on earth i.e. you are much less likely to F-up your life than if left to your own whims or faulty logic. You are more likely to win the game if you are given the instructions of how to play. Ya know? I think that for something like this to exist- is, by itself, pretty awesome.

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I Bear Witness: How I came to Islam, Part 2

Written by Theresa Corbin

Part 1 here

Where did I leave off? Oh yes … So there I was, dying from vampire Lestat’s bite only to be reborn as eternal evil. Oh wait, that’s a different story.

Eh hem, so there I was, feeling like I had been lied to my whole life, trying to cling desperately to my culture and simultaneously trying to figure out what the truth really was. I was confused, embittered, and lost.

hotmess

I believed in God, I just didn’t know what was the correct path to Him. I alternated between ignoring the question, flipping the question off, and seeking answers.

Now that I think about it, I had turned my culture into my new religion. To be the best worshiper at the altar of culture, I never wanted to miss a party, but wished I could just yell at all those kids and tell them to turn their racket down. I looked for answers in the holy books of Vogue and InStyle, but really wished I wouldn’t be considered a freak if I read and talked about Anna Karenina.

I was a hot mess, as the saying goes.

My culture was making me miserable. And my roommate was suffering most of its brunt. She spent much of her time studying other religions and talking to people of different faiths, allowing me to tag along from time to time. After much thought and deliberation, she converted to Islam.

I cannot say how she came to this decision. By this point, my mother had passed away, and I was busy with my grief and self-pity.

I had become a capital A-hole, challenging my newly Muslim roommate’s every move. I had all the cultural perceptions of Islam that can be expected. I don’t even know from where I picked them up. I knew nothing of the religion besides it being something that was “backwards” and tried to take women’s rights away from them. And I knew I was not down with that.

Our dorm room discussion became episode after episode of When Corbins (that’s me) Attack.

rejecting islam makes you angryI accosted her when she decided to wear the headscarf. “Why do you wear that?” I asked as snide as I could be.

And she answered calmly and simply. “So, that I can be recognized as a believing woman. So that I can say who sees what of my body and am not a victim of the male gaze.”

I not only heard what she said, I saw it in action. I didn’t feel more liberate with less clothing. I felt picked apart and judged, and more often than not I felt like prey.

I longed for the respect that I saw my newly Muslim friend and other Muslim women receive from men as they wore their long and loose clothing. The thought of being in control over who would see me was very appealing.

“Yeah, but women are like second class citizens in your faith,” I spat on another occasion, trying to distance myself from my growing affection for Islam.

She explained that during a time when the Western world treated women like property, Islam taught that men and women were equal in the eyes of God. Islam brought more honor to the mother than the father. It made the woman’s consent to marriage mandatory, a practice that would have been laughed at in the Western world at the time.

Islam gave women the right to own property and businesses. And if a woman were to marry, she would not have to share her wealth with her husband. Islam gave women the right to inherit, unheard of in its day. She listed right after right that women in Islam held nearly 1250 years before women’s lib became a thing.

And these were just a fraction of the conversations we shared about Islam as a way of life. I continued to search. At some point, I thought about Judaism. It was the original monotheism. Since I wanted to get back to the original religion, this seemed logical to me.

When I voiced my Jewish aspirations to my roommate, we talked at length about the prophets of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. She explained to me the Islamic belief in all the prophets of Judaism, Christianity, and then the last prophet who came with the same message as all the rest–Muhammad (PBUH).

Prophet after prophet came until the last prophet Muhammad (PBUT) came with the same message to guide mankind back to the truth one last time. “And to this day his sayings can be verified in chains of narration and the Quran has not been changed by man.” She said.

When I heard, I believed. I had asked God when I was a seven year old in Catholic school and learning about prophet Noah (PBUH) if He should send any more prophets that He would guide me to believe in them. I believe that God granted me this mercy, because it was not until this conversation that it all clicked.

I became less angry about my friend’s new religion and began to listen about all the things she was learning as a Muslim. My next question was “What does it mean to be a Muslim?” I met other Muslim women and questioned them about their faith and read for myself.

What I found out was that in belief I was already a Muslim. I believed in the oneness of God. I believed in the prophets up to and including Muhammad. I believed in the angels, and Divine will, the day of judgement, the holy books, and all that jazz.

But—and this is a big but—I was scared to abandon my culture (turns out I didn’t have to abandon the good things from my culture). I was afraid of receiving the same ridicule I had dished out to my friend.

Islam made sense and even spoke to my nature. But I rebelled and the more I refused Islam and chose my culture over it the more miserable I became. I would find myself weeping for no other reason than the increasing emptiness I felt as I continued to reject Islam and replace it with culture. My health began to fail. I lost my scholarship at school. My personal safety was compromised. I even became homeless.

I defied until I couldn’t go on. I finally admitted, like the most homophobic person who finally comes out of the closet, that I was a Muslim. I finally said the words “I bear witness that there is no God worthy of worship but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and messenger” on the first day of Ramadan 2001.

And what I have learned since has taught me that I never had to give up my American culture entirely. I learned that fearing ridicule from people will only make you a joke. And I learned that their is an amazing peace that comes with being obedient to no one but the One God, the One who created you and designed you to do just that.

 

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I Bear Witness: How I Came to Islam, Part 1

I Bear Witness: How I Came to Islam, Part 1

Written by Theresa Corbin

Of all the choices in life, why would a young woman living in one of the most affluent countries in the world chose Islam? Is she crazy?

Well, it is complicated.

me-1

And, yes, I am little crazy.

But Islam was not the cause or a symptom, but the therapy. Besides, we are all crazy. I find that those who don’t own their crazy are indeed the craziest.

No, there was no “miracle” or near death experience that prompted the decision. There was no man promising me love, riches, and life-long happiness if I would just convert. There wasn’t even a parting of the Gulf of Mexico.

My conversion came about through years of thinking, arguing, denying, defying, and searching. I would be foolish to think that my life experiences and my disposition did not lend themselves to my eventual decision. But for this post, I will leave them out. You are welcome.

It all began by trying to solve the Jesus problem:

Many, many decades ago, I was born to a virgin … just joking, I was born to a highly educated, agnostic, Vietnam vet with a drinking problem and a deeply religious, sarcastic, but patient, Catholic woman.

dearest, sarcastic mom with her groovy hairstyle
my dearest, sarcastic mom with her groovy hairstyle

Oh, the tales I could about being raised in a house with a violent drunk and a tenacious martyr. It was as though heaven and hell waged war nightly in my home which made me very tired. I am still tired. Seriously, I need a nap.

The parents fought over many things. One topic of contention was what type of education their six children would receive. They came to a compromise. For grammar school, we (the childrens) would be afforded a Catholic education so that we may learn the mass and all the sacraments, etc. (mom’s choice). Then, for high school, we (the aforementioned childrens) would learn the ways of the world in public school (dad’s choice).

In Catholic school, I identified with those people who doubted Noah. This scared the crap out of my seven year-old-self. I made a deeply sincere request to The Creator at this point. I asked God that if He should send any more prophets that He would guide me to believe in them. This will be important later on.

In public school, I encountered people from many walks of life. No Muslims that I knew of, however. All this exposure made me question what made my way of life, culture, and religion so correct and proper?

As I was travelling down this line of questioning, I eventually came to the Jesus question.

I distinctly remember when I first wondered about Jesus’ (Peace be upon him) true nature. I was about 15 years old and I was kneeling in a pew after mass. And all of the sudden the thought popped in my mind. What if Jesus is not God? What if it is a lie? What if my life is based on a lie?- doubt, something I would learn to embrace.

The answer came in the form of manipulation i.e. if you don’t believe, you will go to hell for eternity, etc. Just believe: don’t worry your purdy, little head with thinking too much. Hilarious!

This was like telling a wood pecker not to peck at wood or a beaver not to build a damn dam. I am neurotic. All I do is think. No matter how useless the thought, I think/worry, and worry/think, and think/worry some more for good measure. 

College came, and with it more space to question. Having been manipulated into silencing my intellect, it was difficult for me to give up my indoctrination. However, my college roommate and I discussed many existential topics and religion made the roster often.

She being Baptist and I Catholic, it all began with the innocent comparison of the two sects of Christianity. Then, it dangerously evolved into a debate of such things like why had the Bible been changed so many times? Why are there so many versions? Etc.

We’d opened Pandora’s box and all the repressed questions came pouring out: Did innovators in Christianity base their belief in Jesus on the original Bible or a Greek translated, 18th edition? And if it was many editions and translations later, what was editorialized and/or lost in translation? What had been added or taken out? You know, the typical 18 year-old-girl, sleep-over topics of discussion interspersed with pillow fights.

My dear roommate, who also never let me nap–brought to my attention that something like four hundred years after Jesus lived, Christian leaders decided that Jesus Christ was both human and divine.

the roommate agreement

We naturally wondered how could people come to the decision about Jesus four hundred years after his death. From Prophet to God in an evolving religion.

This eventually evolved into the great debate 1999: was Christianity mixed with Greco-Roman beliefs because of the time and place of its advent? Was Jesus (Peace be upon him) being sacrificed for ‘all of our sins’ just an extension of the belief in pagan sacrifice?

Another suspiciously Greco-Roman belief that was on the debate roster for that year: Jesus and God as son and father: Zeus and Hercules, anyone?

My roommate was more advanced in her thinking than I. She would often ask me, as I feared giving up my belief in Jesus despite the facts, “Is the search for knowledge so dangerous? Can it hurt to really search for the truth? Can it hurt to use our own intellect to find out what is fact and what is fiction?”

And my rebellious nature replied, “No, I would rather err on the side of thinking too much.” Why do I have the ability to think, if I shouldn’t use it on such a fundamental aspect of life? All signs led me to believe that Jesus was not God, there was no trinity, and yes, my life had been based on a lie.

This was the beginning of my journey. 

To be continued here 

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