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I Wore Hijab Before I Was Muslim

Written by Kaighla Um Dayo

I wore hijab before I was Muslim. And I’m not the only one. 

hijab_painting

It turns out this is a thing. So much a thing, actually, that there are many women from many faiths coming forward proclaiming their love for hijab.

Here you can read about just one example of a woman who is not Muslim but chooses, of her own accord, to dress in ways that give the impression she is Muslim.

There is an entire movement of women both religious and non-religious who have begun covering their hair. You can learn more about them here, at Wrapunzel. Read more

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A Journey Like No Other: Mr. Smith’s Path to Islam

A Journey Like No Other: Mr. Smith’s Path to Islam

Written by James Smith

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.Candle_lighting_a_plate_of_oranges_and_smarties_1

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.

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How I Came to Islam: Kaighla’s Story (Part 2)

How I Came to Islam: Kaighla’s Story (Part 2)

Written by Kaighla Um Dayo

Part 1 here

It was early August, 2009.

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.

available on Amazon

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.

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How I Came to Islam: Kaighla’s Story (Part 1)

How I Came to Islam: Kaighla’s Story (Part 1)

Written by Kaighla Um Dayo

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 whphoto-1443140570159-279cf334cf24en 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

How I Came to Islam: Stephanie’s Story

How I Came to Islam: Stephanie’s Story

Written by Stephanie Siam

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.

Pick a Day
Pick a Day

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

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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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