I was raised in a fairly religious Christian family. We went to church and every week and I was very involved in the church’s youth group. I loved learning the stories of the prophets, but for some reason I never thought of Jesus as the son of God.
Around late middle school my family got very busy and we also experienced some personal/family issues, so we started going to church less regularly. By the time I was in high school we were barely going at all. The teenage years are obviously not a good time to stop going to church, and as the years went on I strayed from God. Even throughout all of this I never stopped believing in God or Jesus, but my behavior was definitely influenced in ways that it probably wouldn’t have if I had stayed active within the church.
When I went to college I had a very religious (Christian) roommate who joined a Christian sorority. Whenever the topic of religion came up with them they would all insist that if I didn’t believe Jesus was the son of God I didn’t believe in him at all, that if I didn’t believe in Jesus I wasn’t Christian, and if I wasn’t Christian I didn’t believe in God. This was very confusing because I knew I believed God and Jesus, but because they, and others, were very persistent about this I started doubting God’s existence.
The more I doubted God the more I strayed from His path, and by the end of college I was living a totally ‘stereotypical’ college life. Even as my behavior strayed I had three specific things that I was adamant about not doing, not because of God but because of my own moral beliefs.
After graduation my best friend moved across the country and many of my other friends moved out of town. In February of 2014 I broke up with my boyfriend of 4 years. Having no one nearby to help me work through these emotions and moderate my behavior I spiraled downward. By June I was living a lifestyle very different than what I had imagined. I was also very good at hiding it from family and friends, allowing my behavior to spiral even more.
June 21st was the day before my 23rd birthday. Within the week before my birthday I had managed to do EACH of the 3 behaviors I had promised myself never to do. As I was talking to my best friend on the phone that day I heard her disappointment. She didn’t say anything, but I could hear it in her voice. She was someone who had never judged me before and this really hit me hard. I decided to truly pray for the first time. I told God that I was really struggling and asked him to give me a sign guide me to Him.
The next day was Sunday, and also the day I met my now husband. We met online and decided to go out that afternoon. Neither of us had any expectations for the date; he just didn’t want me to be alone on my birthday. Within the first hour he told me that he liked me, but that we were even going to consider dating I needed to understand that he was a Muslim and explained what this meant he would and wouldn’t do. I had never met a Muslim and was very surprised by his honesty, but didn’t mind any of it.
That night when the date was over I went online to research basic information about Islam. I had absolutely NO intention converting, I simply wanted to know how his being Muslim would effect me if we ended up dating for any period of time. Within the first half hour I realized how similar Christianity and Islam were, and was very confused about how such seemingly small differences were causing major wars. This made me decide to look into it further. The more I looked into it the more intrigued I was by how similar the two religions were.
Three days later, Wednesday, I asked for an English translation of the Quran. At this point I still had absolutely no interest in converting, I just loved researching things and was really interested in how similar the two religions seemed. By the end of Surah al Baqara I was hooked. Every free chance I got I was either reading the Quran or researching different things about Islam.
The next Monday (day 8) was the first day of Ramadan. I decided to fast the first day. Again, I still had no interest in converting; I just wanted to experience what he would be going through and what fasting was like. I was amazed by how much of a spiritual experience it was and ended up fasting the entire month. At this point I was about 1/3 of the way through the Quran, and hadn’t found anything that I either disagreed with or couldn’t believe. At this point I was beginning to consider converting, but decided I was going to read the rest of the Quran and find something I disagreed with, and if/when this happened I wouldn’t consider converting anymore.
Friday (day 12) I went to Jummah with my husband. It was a wonderful khutbah and I related to it a lot more than many of the sermons I had heard. I enrolled in an online class about Islam. I decided if there was nothing I found problematic that I would convert. Within the next week I completed the entire class and finished reading the Quran.
On July 19, less than a month after being introduced to Islam, I took my shahada. Islam aligned much more with my beliefs than Christianity had and I appreciated the lifestyle rules, making my transition to Islam a fairly easy one. There were definitely difficult times, but my belief I had made the right decision helped me stay strong.