I have never been the one to talk about my faith much. I have always kind of kept it to myself. So I thought I would come out of my shell and be a part of the convert conversation.
My childhood was like any other child living in the rural America. I kind of lived out of town in the country. Now when I say town, I am talking population of 2500. Yep, not exactly a city slicker. My Mom was the spiritual one. I do have a faint memory of my father being baptized but he was never much of the spiritual type.
I remember doing the candle thing with my Mom and we talked about Jesus but I didn’t really get it. As I grew older, God took a back seat in my life. I was more interested in comic book heroes, role playing games, and spaceships.
I was homeless with my young son, living in a motel. But rather than focusing on finding jobs, I spent all my days and many of my nights alone with my son in my motel room, watching video after video on YouTube of people who had chosen to embrace Islam, many against violent odds.
I had already read ‘The Idiots Guide to Understanding Islam’ written by a convert to Islam called Yahiya Emerick and found myself surprised that many of my own deepest beliefs were held to be true in Islam, as well.
Finally, after weeks of this, I decided to call the local mosque because I wanted to speak with someone in person who had embraced Islam. Unfortunately, in many of the mosques in America, even today, there is no one on staff to answer the phone, and if there is, they don’t often speak fluent English.
So, when I called and asked if I could speak with someone who was a convert to Islam, the message was mixed up and though they took my number, I was sure no one would call me back, ever.
So imagine my surprise when I received a phone call later that same evening from a woman who said she was a Puerto Rican/Italian convert to Islam and would love to answer any questions I had. We arranged to meet at her home the following day. I made an excuse to use my friend’s car, and my son and I went to her house.
I was raised in a generally non-religious but very typical mid-western home.
My parents drank and partied, usually in moderation. If you asked them what their religion was, they would have responded “Christian”, but quickly followed up with some crap about being “a good person, loving God, but not interested in all that church stuff or the rules or whatever“. Unlike my family, I had a very keen interest in God from a young age, and messed around in all the major world religions by the time I was 23 and embraced Islam.
I became a very practicing Evangelical Christian when I was 15 years old, much to the chagrin of my family. Everyone called me a ‘Bible thumper’, meaning I was always justifying my arguments with Bible verses or advising people to behave in Biblically-sound ways. This made me less-than-popular in high school.
By the time I got around to college, I had found my calling: Missions. I wanted to travel the world for Jesus, showing people his love by helping them in practical things in life. My bible college in Illinois called this field “Bi-vocational Missions”. I was in my element and growing.
That was until the actual first day of class when I learned what the Bible actually teaches, along with the agreed upon tenets of the faith, one of which being that people are born with a sinful nature, inclined toward sin, and doomed for hell fire until and unless they decide to accept Jesus as God and worship Him. They like to toss in a clause about an ‘age of accountability,’ but that is nowhere to be found in the Bible, actually. Read more ›
For most converts, the day they become Muslim is like a new birthday. It’s a date that sits foremost in their minds, rolls off their tongues like the alphabet from a kindergartner’s. They may forget their anniversary, ATM PINs or even their private safe combinations, but the date of their conversion is ever-present.
Not me. I don’t remember the most important date in my spiritual history. I know the month (March), and I’m pretty certain of the year (through deduction and certainty of other things going on around that time that I do remember) — 2005. But I have no idea what day I became a Muslim.
I do, however, know where I was, what I was doing, and who I was with. The answers, respectively: Mobile, Alabama; walking around my neighborhood; a former friend. But, honestly, not much of that matters. At least not to me.
When I’m quizzed on the details of my conversion, the first assumption people usually make is:
Oh, you’re a convert? You became Muslim for your husband, didn’t you?
Actually, no. I did not. My husband and I were still a year and a half away from meeting each other when I converted. Read more ›