Tell us about the day that you decided that you wanted to become a Muslim.
Prior to taking my shahada and officially converting to Islam, I spent almost a year and a half learning and researching the religion. I grew up Catholic, but felt that it never completely aligned with my beliefs. I always had questions about the faith that no one could answer, which led me to look outside of Christianity. For months, I practiced Islam prior to officially converting. During Ramadan of 2019, I tried fasting, one of the pillars of Islam. The experience of fasting confirmed my desire to convert. When fasting, I felt closer in my faith to Allah and finally asked myself what I was waiting for. A couple months later, I took my shahada and became a Muslim.
What inspired you to become a Muslim?
I was inspired by my desire to find a religion and belief system that resonated with me. I always believed in God, but did not find what I was looking for in Catholicism--the religion I grew up with. During college, I met my now-husband, who was the first Muslim I had ever met. I had never learned about Islam or thought to look outside of Christianity until then. The more I learned about Islam, the more I realized that it made complete sense to me. I felt closer to God than I ever had in my life.
What did you find helpful during this period?
Developing relationships with other Muslims and particularly Muslim converts was helpful during my journey to Islam. It helped me to integrate into the Muslim community in the city that I live in. Knowing that you aren’t alone as a convert is important!
What was your experience during the initial few weeks and months after converting to Islam?
My experience during the initial few weeks and months after converting to Islam was mainly positive. I felt a “spiritual high” for awhile, though this didn’t last forever. I experienced highs and lows in my iman, and I also experienced challenges in balancing my new identity as a Muslim. With time, I’ve come to better navigate the challenges that come with converting to a new religion. Having a strong support system is helpful! Alhamdulillah my husband has been a great source of knowledge and support in my journey to Islam and experiences as a new Muslim.
What feelings and emotions did you experience when you took your shahada?
When I took my shahada, I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of peace wash over me. Going into it, I was nervous and wondering if I was making the right decision. I knew that this was a big step, and not one I should take lightly. I knew that after I took my shahada, there was no turning back. But once I said the words out loud, I knew in my heart that I was making the right decision. All of my fears and worries washed away. I felt close to Allah and at peace.
If you were to compare your life before and after Islam, what reflections would you have to share?
I feel as though I have changed a lot since converting to Islam. Prior to converting, I had a lot of fear and worry over my future. I feel more at peace now knowing that Allah has a plan for me and my life, and that ultimately, He is in control. I also feel a greater desire to live for Allah and the akhirah, rather than the dunya. When we remember how fleeting and insignificant our time on this earth is in comparison to the hereafter, our perspective on everything can really change. I also feel as though I am more intentional and purposeful in my actions and behaviors every day. I strive to become a better person and better Muslim with everything that I do.
What challenges did you encounter when you were learning how to perform salah?
One of the major challenges I faced when learning to perform salah was memorizing the prayers. As Muslims we recite the prayers in Arabic, but it’s not always easy when that’s not your native language. To help with this, I printed out a transliteration of the prayers alongside an English translation. I also included pictures of the different body movements. I held this print-out and read from it while praying until I could memorize the prayers.
What ideas do you have to teach your children to develop a love for salah? (Please mention My Salah Mat in your answer to this question)
I don’t have children yet, but inshaAllah in the future my husband and I will. Developing an understanding and love of salah is so important. When you know what you’re saying and doing in salah, it can make your daily prayers feel like less of a chore and more of something to look forward to. Using interactive resources such as My Salah Mat would be helpful in instilling a solid foundation of knowledge and love for salah.
What emotions and feelings did you experience when you were praying to Allah?
One of the first introductions I had to Islam was praying in a masjid in Jordan during a school trip I took while in college. I went to the mosque with other Muslims and decided to pray alongside them. I didn’t know what any of the words or motions meant, but I remember the feeling of being in sujood (prostration) to this day. The overwhelming sense of peace and closeness to Allah that I felt during my first time in sujood is indescribable. The physicality of the Islamic prayer is truly a beautiful experience.
What advice do you have for anyone that has recently converted to Islam?
Take your time and don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Converting to a new religion is a big life transition and change and it will take time to learn everything and practice correctly. I believe that religion is a lifelong journey of learning and growing as an individual and in your relationship with God, so give yourself time and enjoy the process.
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