Almost one month as a Muslima...
If it has only been 26 days, I can't wait to see what the rest of my journey will bring. I guess you need some background...
Last year I met one of the kindest, most modest, most sincere individuals I have ever known, I later found out this person was Muslim.
At that point my knowledge of Islam was really nothing more than most Canadians (which is to say that anything they think they know is likely wrong). Since 9/11 I think it is safe to say that when one mentions the word "Muslim" positive images are not the first things to flood one's mind. What was perplexing to me was how the nature of the individual I had become friends with was so contrary to what I had been told by the media... This is what started my journey.
Initially I had no intention of looking into Islam as a faith for myself... In fact it was quite the opposite. I had the mentality of "you have your faith, I have mine" but it was obvious I was living in ignorance when it came to knowing anything about Islam. I began to read, and read, and read... and the more I read, the more I began to see truth. Not only did it make sense to me that my friend would be the honest, integral, and modest person I knew (as I soon learned that that was Islam... a faith of beauty and mercy. Belief that encompasses all areas of life, and all actions) but I soon saw that many of the questions I had always been struggling with in my own religion were getting answered in Islam.
The more I read, the clearer it became...
After months of searching I attended a conference in which a Brother from England had come to speak to the community in which I live. Alhumdullilah, Allah bestowed His favour upon me, and of all the people attending that conference that wanted to meet and spend time with this speaker, it was I who had the opportunity. The first night I spent four hours picking his brain about any question I had. By the end of the night it was clear I had no question about faith issues... I knew that Allah was the one true God and that Mohammed (PBUH) was His messenger, but I wanted to hear about the history of the Qur'an. How it compared to the Bible... good hard evidence that I could take to my family and friends when I was facing their questions. It is easy to say I believe because that is what faith is all about... believing, but the rational in me wanted to have the facts of it all.
Of course, I could write for pages about all of the small prayers that were answered along the way... the amazing moments I had even at that conference but to keep everything to a decent length... on May 14th I converted. A moment I will never forget.
Since then, I have had some incredible moments... Alhumdullilah Allah has blessed me with a community that is so supportive. The Muslims around me never cease to amaze me, I know I am supported and cared for. If not for many of them I am sure I would still be searching, they are ever in my Dua.
Then there is my family... needless to say, my family lacked the enthusiasim the community here did. They live 3000 km away, and have had very minimal experience with anyone Muslim. Of course, as is the case for most Canadians (and Americans) my family's perspective on Islam was/is very much influenced by the horrific acts of 'some' and the way the media portrays that as 'all'.
Of course I totally respect the questions that they have and inshallah I will be able to answer them with truth. The differences in faith seem minimal compared to trying to dispel the myths they believe about what Islam to be.
The reaction from friends and non-Muslims has been 'interesting' to say the least. I had one person approach me the other day and ask me if the scarf on my head was worn for religious reasons... I told her that yes I was Muslim. Her response..."Why?" (with that hint of disbelief/disgust)
I said "because it's what I believe."
I didn't mean to sound cheeky but, come on, ask a silly question get a silly answer. Of course her next comment was that my husband must be Muslim...
"No, I'm not married and I didn't convert for a guy" I guess it is hard to believe that a white, freckle-faced, blue-eyed girl would convert if she "didn't have to."
I did an interview on CBC radio recently about my conversion "In a Time it is Hard to be Muslim" and afterwards even the correspondent told me that "I don't look Muslim". I wanted to ask him "well what does a Muslim look like?" but managed to bite my tongue. Instead I told him that "I guess people see what they want to see because a fellow brother or sister in Islam would look at me and know I am Muslim and greet me with 'As salam Alaikum' while a Canadian looks and sees a white girl with a scarf on her head." It just helped me to see again why my family would have a hard time picturing me Muslim.
About the CBC interview... What an amazing opportunity, Alhumdullilah. Initially CBC had come to my university to ask Muslim's about how they were dealing with the recent arrests made in Toronto... how it felt as a Muslim? I did a small radio piece that never got put on air, but got called by the station to do a one-on-one interview about why I converted "Especially with everything that is going on connected to Islam" ( of course another moment I bit my tongue and stopped from blurting out, that his comment implies that all Muslims are bad and doesn't acknowledge that it is a select group of people that are doing actions, not all Muslims.)
The interview went well, and actually somewhat influenced my starting of this blog... They have asked me to journal my experiences over the next few months and every month I will get in contact with them to do a small piece on the "highs and lows" of my conversion. Inshallah all of the moments will be 'highs' because every trial we are given is from Allah, and the closer we draw to Him the closer He will come to us.