My converting to Islam

It was the day before Ramadan in August 2008 and my boyfriend Hamid and I were discussing the differences between our religions, I being raised as Catholic and he being raised as Muslim. After mine and Hamid’s discussion I discovered that there were many similarities and that the Muslim faith had a lot of respect for women. I had not really followed the Catholic religion since I was age 12 as it confused me and seemed to be very unclear on how Jesus was the son of God and I had great doubts about the religion.
Hamid said that he was going to fast in September as it was a sign to Allah that we are grateful to him for all the food we have, and also that we do not take things for granted.
A few days later Hamid was walking past a stall in Manchester which gave out DVD, books and pamphlets about the Muslim religion. He brought several DVD’s home, one entitled “The Similarities between Christianity and Islam.” I sat watching it, and as the minutes went by I realised the greater benefits of Islam and that Christianity is very vague in comparison. The sheikh on the DVD knew a lot, he was very wise, and any questions asked of him by Christians in the audience, he knew the answer to. I carried on watching a few more about women in Islam and the rights and respect women had. Now I have never been one to pay attention to the media but this came as a shock because all you see portrayed in the media is women being beaten by fundamentalists and treated like slaves. After watching this DVD I decided to learn more about it.
There was a website address on the back of one of the booklets Hamid had brought home for me, so I went to the website and discovered they were giving literature for free. I then ordered my most prize possession, The Glorious Quaran. When it arrived I read through the first Sura (chapter) and I realised I wanted to be part of this religion, but obviously I wanted to know more about it before I made my decision.
By this time I had decided I would cover my head with Hijab (a headscarf) as the DVD showed me that is brought more respect to women and dignity. I was also fasting for the whole month of Ramadan as I agreed that we should show we are grateful to Allah for what we are given.
The following Saturday Hamid and I were shopping in Longsight. The same stall that Hamid had been to had moved there, I approached the stall, intrigued by the amount of pamphlets and booklets that were on display. Hamid, along with the Muslim man on the stall helped me choose a DVD and some booklets that would benefit me in my search for knowledge.

The DVD I remember was about a woman who converted, she was a journalist and she had been captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Being a journalist she had heard only bad things about Muslim people and was under the impression that she would be hurt, beaten or raped, as the media would lead people to believe, but she soon realised the media couldn’t be more wrong!! She was amazed at how they treated her, she got treated with utmost respect and dignity and they would not look her in the eye. The main thing that shocked me was that they gave her the key to her own cell; she was able to open it or lock it as she pleased. She vowed to a Muslim Imam that if she could be released she would research more into Islam and possibly convert. So upon her release she started reading the Quaran and later on converted.
This made me realise that Muslim people were more respectful of others and were not all fundamentalist or violent. In fact, the DVD also stated the violence is forbidden in Islam.
There were a few more things I wanted to know before I officially converted. For example, why did the bible say that Jesus was the son of God and the Quaran didn’t?…Well as I read further into the Quaran I realised that Jesus was in it also but he is not portrayed as the son of God, he is portrayed as a messenger of God, which made more sense to me that what the bible had said. What the Quaran says about a lot of things in the bible makes more sense that in the bible itself. This was of great relief to me as I saw that the beliefs were all the same, it is the same God, only he is called Allah.
I spent the rest of the time learning for the internet, in the Quaran and through Muslim Chat rooms. I also became friends with a Muslim girl in my college class called Amina, she I now my best friend and has helped me a lot in my search for religion and also in becoming a more devoted Muslim.
Now I decided that, because I was wearing my Hijab as a permanent item of clothing that I had to tell my mother. At first she seemed shocked, weary and anxious as she explained her fears about fundamentalism and that people were targeting Muslims in the streets and attacking them. I knew that this was just media propaganda and calmly explained to her that I am still the same person, I am still her daughter, and I just have different beliefs and ethics. She seemed upset but there is no real way to tell your mother you have changed been considering changing your religion without causing upset. I left her the DVD I had seen about the woman who converted, and I went back home.
I then informed my uncles by text message as they are very open-minded individuals and have very rich full lives. My uncle in Derby said that if I am 100% sure and I am going to stick to it then he is happy as long as I am happy. My other uncle, who is an archaeologist had done work on Islamic architecture and was very inquisitive and asked lots of questions about it.

So now all that was left in close family was my grandparents, although my granddad had already been made aware by my mother. Obviously at his age he wasn’t very open-minded to the idea and had serious fears about it and being the type of person who doesn’t adapt easily to change either made it harder for him to accept.
It was just before Christmas that I told my nana, as she was suffering with back pain I did not want to give her the news until she was feeling better and also as I thought she would take it badly. But she was surprisingly interested in it and her intrigue into it made me smile. She asked a lot of questions and seemed to understand a lot more.
Hamid and I still went to see my family over Christmas and exchanged gifts and we enjoyed it a lot. I was under pressure to drink alcohol but I informed my granddad that it was forbidden in Islam to drink and the rest of the day went fine. I always thought since I became an adult that Christmas is far too commercial and although I would miss the family gatherings I knew that I wouldn’t mind not having Christmas again. Plus I knew that Muslim’s have Eid 3 times a year and they celebrate with family and enjoy nice food and exchange gifts.
I knew by now that all meat we eat has to be Halal, which means that it has to be blessed and killed in a humane way. This makes it more sacred and Muslim people believe it to be bad if you eat non-Halal meat. This however, doesn’t cause problems because there are a lot of Halal butchers in Manchester and one had just opened in Asda near to my house.
In January 2009 I made it one of my new year’s resolutions to be more religious and to have a better life. After researching online I discovered that to convert I have to say 7 words in Arabic and if they are said with conviction and believe then I will become Muslim.
Having read the Quran, watched DVD’s, looked online and spoken to a lot of Muslim people I then decided to convert to Islam.
On 18th January 2009 I took my Shahada (the Muslim testimony of faith) “La ilah illa Allah, Muhammad rasoolu Allah” which translates into “I testify that there is no true god (deity) but God (Allah), and that Muhammad is a Messenger (Prophet) of God.”
I know now, that I will never look back.

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