A Shahada Story
I’m not sure when the desire began to quicken inside of me, but I can tell you when it did was unmistakable that I had caught a hold of something that was so consuming that I could not turn away.
Everything I knew about Islam which wasn’t much was all a lie. This journey for me is a personal one, one that only I can do liken to being born or dying, that is a journey no one else can walk for me, no matter how they love or need me only I can walk this one out.
In 1999, I left a place that I hated to leave a place that had provide me security, love, friends for the first time in my life and an anointing of God I had never seen or experienced before. Surviving a divorce in every sense of the word I was on the good side leaving a horrible existence with a man I never knew and on the other I was leaving a place that had provided such a comfort that quenched every dry place in my life and I wondered if I would ever survive the transition, I felt my very life was being ripped from my hands. I needed to face down my reality and pray the God would soon bring into focus through my current lens at the time looking both through my tears or the fog of the unknown both looked the same, blurry. I walk the only way I knew how, one foot in front of the other, good thing he spent so much time away mentally and physically (the ex), that is the tool God used to show me I was stronger than I thought I was.
Coming from a family where I was pampered being the only child, I thought everyone would love me like my family but soon after saying “I do” I got the rudest awakening of my life, but what can one do when suddenly faced with a life they never subscribed to but rather rebelliously feel into, they either allow it to explode or implode, so while the bombs are going off inside of me destroying my internal organs I live on the life support of God’s hands. So after ten years of crying, fighting and praying he wouldn’t kill me in my sleep I was finally free, but freedom only feels free when you have peace and at that point I had none. The only real security I had was that of a church that only existed in Hawaii, a circle of friends that surrounded me on all sides that promised to keep the vigil, I was now seeing in the rear view mirror of the 747 that carried me away.
Coming back to a family a shell of my former self was devastating to them, but if they only knew what I had lived through they would understand to even hold my bones would be gift enough. I asked God every day to show me my new way, to help me be a good mommy for my boys and find my smile again.
He did all of that but it came in time and not because He with held it from me but because I had to learn all over again that I was worthy of that smile, like a baby learning to walk for the first time. I reached my mile marker of 12 years divorced and a friend said to me that she was celebrating Ramadan. I had heard this word before but not really knowing the meaning and customs I asked more questions. I wanted to learn, so asking what the best time to go was, and he suggested during Ramadan on a Friday.
I got on the internet to find the mosque closes to me and asked my local friends to go with me but no one’s schedule permitted and time was sipping by so I had to get out in the deep once again and go it alone, I purposed in my heart that I would so I went to bed the night before with the mindset that when the sun shined on a new day it would find me walking into the mosque. I woke, dressed, drove and finally walked into the mosque asking for the Imam (Priest), the building was an unassuming building that quietly held majesty behind its doors. The parking lot was empty less for about three or four cars but one marked with a sign “Imam”.
Entering the building the first thing I noticed was the scent, it was like nothing I had every smelled, and it wasn’t like a sort of perfume but on the contrary a breath of new life had entered my nostrils and instantly I felt at ease. I met a man dressed in a long white robe, salt and pepper beard and glasses a very pleasant face and asked for the Imam he said yes come this way. I saw the Imam for the first time and he stood to greet me sitting behind his desk, he also wore a long white robe and beard but he also had on a hat, I reached out for his hand to shake it and he reciprocated with an extension.
He was watching the foreign news on the computer and asked for an excuse to me while he lowered the volume. While he did that I looked all around his office and everywhere. I looked it all looked very normal except for the things written in Arabic that I could not read but it was not unlike any office I had been in before, such as family pictures, books , awards posters reading “SUCCESS” “LOYALTY” etc. But in Arabic I was pleasantly surprised I had no idea what I would encounter but I was willing to just get out there.
I started with saying that I was here to learn about Islam and he looked happy but not overly anxious to get another member on the team but instead a fatherly caution to me as if “yes dear I understand your curiosity but instead of looking to move from your religion to another just come and be our guest” we had a very engaging and warm visit that lasted for about one half hour. He told me there would be a pot luck on the next day and suggested I come to that and meet some people from the community and just enjoy the experience, upon leaving he stated that no matter what religion you are and what you claim in life there should be evidence of such, if you say you are a Christian, Muslim, Hindu etc. there should be evidence that you are who you say you are.
That was my biggest take away. I rose to leave and he handed me a calendar that had listing of all the times so I would be aware when to arrive the next day. I went away feeling so light on my feet I think I even skipped back to my car.
The next day could not come fast enough, but finally did. I wore a long summer skirt and knit top hair down and arrived back at the mosque, sitting in my car I saw many people arrive all of the ladies had their heads covered, I recalled the Imam say I did not need to be covered not even as a Muslim did I need to be covered but to come as I was I was welcome.
I might have sat in my car for about twenty minutes, then finally I saw a lady, her hair uncovered, I jumped from my car and went in behind her, once inside a large open space filled with families placing food on tables and children running all about, I stood near the door in case I needed to make a run for it as the butterflies churned in my stomach, but I got the nerve and walked toward a lady that had a really nice face and said to her I was new and if she could help me. She was very nice and gave me a hug and invited me to sit with her, soon all the room was wondering who this big haired women was and they all gathered around me asking me where I was from and why I was there, I told them about my meeting with the Imam and they were all so happy to help me feel welcome. Sitting among them they spoke Arabic and then leaned to me to explain what they were saying. It was so amazing and over whelming all at the same time, I was so happy to be there.
From that day I went back every single day enjoying the last ten days of Ramadan which is believed to be the most blessed, in between was invited to my new friend’s homes and was taken under their wings, they would say to me may ALLAH guide you to the right path.
The things that we as Americans hear on the news is that of terrorism, hate, division and all around mayhem and what I have seen with my one eyes is Peace, Caring People, Love and Humility I have never seen but only read about in the Bible, the people that followed Christ that lived for him and would die for him.
The kind of love and reverence for God that requires you to stand before Him clean, humble and allowing nothing else to come before Him is what I saw.
Islam is beautiful, the same anointing but greater I had not experience since I left my church in Hawaii, I was finally back Home, and as I continue to walk out this journey learning every day, I know this for sure that God is God and there is no other but Him. I love Allah (God). He is my all, I am nothing without Him.
I thank God for obedient and willing servants. It’s a conviction I have always had, but through the years it was junked up by the trapping of the world, what you wore, drove, lived in, how much money you had, this is how the world measures you and even in the church, it’s the same it has become a money making machine, toting authors and speakers and mega churches of 10,000 plus people and that is all fine and good. But what about the relationship with God the time you give only to Him where you get down on your knees and pray to Him and wait for Him when making a decision and when was the last time you cared for someone other than your family members but a stranger a homeless person and expected nothing in return.
I encourage all that read this to also take a closer look at Islam for yourself and stop allowing the media or popular literature to define your ideals of a people based upon a few , but instead sit down with them and have a conversation one on one and then make up your mind.
The decision to open a book I never thought I would want to read has yielded me such a beautiful experience and I will never be the same having done so.
When I think of equating the task of helping my entire Christian family to understand my decision to become Muslim I will share this story with them, people are typically afraid of what is not like them, that thing or person that speaks a different language or dresses in a different type of garment but underneath we are all the same, we live we will die and we ALL with stand before God and give an account of what we did in this life, so whatever you believe is your choice just pray you are right.
On Saturday September 17, 2011 I took my Shahada, I am now a Muslimah.
[A New Muslim Sister]