1. Tell us about the day that you decided that you wanted to become a muslim.
I remember that day very well. I had so much excitement about this new journey, I just knew in my heart that it was meant for me! Some might call me crazy because I had only done my research for a couple of days. I understood that the basic beliefs were exactly what I had already believed my whole life. That Isa (Jesus), peace and blessing be upon him was only a prophet of God. Along with all of the other messengers peace be upon them all. It was as perfect as finding the correct key to unlock the door to my soul. As a matter of fact it couldn't have been more perfect. I was in a rush to start this new chapter of my life.
2.What inspired you to become a Muslim?
Here's the thing, I grew up as a Baptist Christian. My whole family is Christian. And when I was a small girl, I remember I used to pray to God and I would tell Him that I knew things weren't going to be easy for me the first part of my life. God made it that way. Why? I didn't know. All i knew was that God gave me this life, and that I was going to have to struggle so that maybe others wouldn't. Like ... I'm going to live through hardship so that other people could learn from me somehow. I was 7 years old, saying this to Allah. So fast forward about 10 years. I stopped considering myself a Christian, I started identifying myself as only a spiritual person. I knew Allah existed, I just didn't agree with the beliefs of Christianity anymore. Without doing research, I just knew in my heart that Isa (jesus) alayhi salaam wasnt the son of Allah. So fastforward 8 more years. I met the first muslim i've ever known. I had never met a muslim before and if I had, I wouldnt of known. Because back then, like Lots of people, I didn't understand the difference between cultures, and religions. Anyways, this muslim I met... he was just so kind, such good character, so nice and polite and smart! Oh such a beautiful soul I met that day. I thought I met my soulmate. Just by talking with him and getting to know him, he basically was teaching me about Islam without telling me it was Islam.... if that makes sense. Finally, one day I'm with him and we are chatting and having great conversation as usual and out of nowhere he says "Brooklyn I'm surprised that you're not a muslim". I said... Why do you say that? He says "because you believe everything that a Muslim believes". So that was the day I started wondering about Islam as the religion for me.
3.What did you find helpful during this period?
It was my best friend that made it very easy. I didn't have multiple muslims trying to teach me, or convert me. It was only my friend and his beautiful family that would teach me things when we were together. Everything that was being said about Islam was just so perfect. The questions I had weren't because I was confused, but I was just so interested in everything that I couldn't get enough of what I was being taught. I just made so much more sense than Christianity!
4 What was your experience during the initial few weeks and months after converting to Islam?
It was so easy on me! I just took it slow and didn't rush to do anything. I was simply learning at my own pace. I would pray to Allah and ask Him to guide me as I always have because thats what led my to Islam in the first place, DUA! I would consistently always ask for guidance from my Lord and that's pretty much how I've always gone through life, praying for guidance. Nobody was forcing me to wear a hijab, even though I couldn't wait to wear it. Day by day I was learning things and it just felt right.
5 What feelings and emotions did you experience when you took your Shahada?
Oh I was balling like a baby. It was the one thing I had prayed for my whole life.. to be guided! AND I WAS!!! It was like a snake shedding it's skin! Like a baby being born again! I felt ... refreshed, new, happy!!! Oh so purely Happy for the first time in my life, and that is NOT an exaggeration.
6 If you were to compare your life before and after Islam, what reflections would you have to share?
Before was DARKNESS. After, is Light. With all smiles, I tell you... life is uncomparable for before and after. Lost and Found. Depressed and Happiness. I don't see a comparison there.
7. What challenges did you encounter when you were learning how to perform salah?
I actually didn't try learning salah for months. I had prayed a couple of times with this sister that I had known before converting. She is a revert, she was born muslim and had lost her iman and found it again mashAllah. I prayed with her 2 times, and I remember thinking, ``this will be easy to learn". So about 7 months after I converted I couldn't seem to find a helpful video to learn salah with until one day a video popped up in my notifications through youtube and it was a 'learn salah video for kids'. Which was so helpful and easy and I learned to pray within under 3 weeks mashallah.
8. What ideas do you have to teach your children to develop a love for Salah?
Inshallah when I have children I think the best way to get them to learn to love salah is by everyone praying together, and making it something we all look forward to. Children love mimicking what they see around them. They like to mock what their parents do the most. So it's very important to show excitement for prayer and make them form this love for prayer. After all we are communicating with the Lord of the universe. It's important to have tools like My Salah Mat to share the love for praying salah and learning great things about Islam.
.9. What emotions and feelings did you experience when you were praying to Allah?
Whenever I pray to Allah I just get so excited because like I said before, I've prayed for guidance my whole life. So now that I've been given the blessing of Islam, it makes me more eager to thank Allah every chance I get because of how much He has blessed me.
10.What advice do you have for anyone that has recently converted to Islam?
It is CRUCIAL that you take your time. Take baby steps. Don't let born muslims overwhelm you with information. Don't take advice from people on social media. Even though some might mean well and have good intentions, people still have a way of coming off as rude and just unpleasant when trying to give advice. Learn from an imam or scholar or like me, a good muslim family took me in as their own and taught me slowly. This is a whole new life you've begun! So inshallah you get all the information you need through prayer and may Allah guide you to the right people to teach you.
Forever and always