I made the title this way because my life changed after I uttered, while hanging clothes at my terrace, “Lord, please show me how to worship you. Guide me.” That did it for me. On the dawn of the 12th of April, after a month-long period of soul searching, God has showed me the way. His straight path.
I recited the Shahada (profession of faith) while watching Yusuf Estes, an American Muslim scholar on Youtube reciting the Shahada with an American lady. Tears running down my cheeks. I suddenly felt free. It’s something I cannot describe. Peace came upon me.
I professed my faith by saying “Ashadu anla ilaha ilallah, wa ashadu anna Muhammadan rasululah” I bear witness that there is no other God but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His messenger.”
If you have asked me a year ago, I will tell you firmly “No, I will not betray Jesus.” It has been 10 years since I came to work in the United Arab Emirates. I was already wearing a veil (hijab) before “for protection” against men who purposely teases you. I really didn’t imagine that I will be a Muslim someday.
I was overwhelmed by the ecstatic welcome (saying “Allahu Akhbar” God is the greatest) given to me by my fellow Muslims at the office after they found out that I reverted to Islam. They don’t call it conversion. They said all of us are born Muslims.
One of our managers and his Imam (Muslim leader) friend helped me to get a Certificate of Conversion to Islam at the Shariah (Islamic) court. They also took me to the Zayed House for Islamic Culture. In this institution, the new Muslims are given a series of lectures about the basics of Islam. They also teach Arabic and the Qu’ran (Last Testament). I was handed a bag of books about Islam and some gifts. Learning at the Zayed House was free and it was subsidized by the government. They even provided free transportation and refreshments in class. I have never experienced such a warm welcome in my 42 years of being a Catholic.
I developed a hunger for knowledge. Seeking knowledge is an obligation of every Muslim. I first learned how to pray (salah) since I wanted to be able to pray when I am back home at my country. I prayed 5 times a day- before sunrise (Fajr), mid-day (Dhuhr), mid-afternoon (Asr), after sunset (Maghrib) and during the evening (Isha). You can only pray these obligatory prayers in Arabic. I don’t speak Arabic but God (Allah) made it easy for me. I memorized the prayers but kept in mind the meaning of it which I understand. Translations were available in several languages.
Coming back to the Emirates, I was excited to start my Islamic Course at the Zayed House. I already did some research while I was on vacation. Learning it firsthand from those who really know about Islam like the Islam scholars is the best way. My favorite Muslim scholars that time were Ahmed Deedat and Yusuf Estes. There were also a lot of videos and write-ups available online that are not authentic Islam. Towards the end of August, I will finish the course and level up to learning Arabic.
This new life that I took wasn’t all smooth sailing especially since most of my family and friends are Catholics. I am the first Muslim in our clan so I may say. Most of the people I know who are Catholics, Christians, or Hindus ask me the same question- “Why?”
Why? Here’s the course of my path towards Islam:
- I wanted to read the Bible from beginning to end. Until I came across the story of Lot (Peace be upon him), I was shocked! The Bible was supposed to be a Holy Book and here’s a story talking about incest. I stopped. This was more than 3 years ago.
- It was Holy Week last March 2016, I decided to pray the rosary. After that, out of the blue, I decided to search about the Catholic Church. I was shocked! I watched several documentaries about the roots of Catholicism- sun worship, idolatry, paganism. I felt betrayed. This was all I know. I found myself lost & now without a religion then I cried.
- I asked God to guide me. I asked Him how do I worship you. Then it all began.
- Since then, I only typed in the Youtube search bar “Truth about …” Unintentionally, I found myself watching babies crying then stopping upon hearing the Quran. I watched several debates about Christianity & Islam. I watched about priests and nuns converting to Islam. Hearing their stories and how the Christian leaders failed to defend their arguments opened up my mind. And everything started to make sense to me. The truth was unfolding.
- I came to realize that Islam is a beautiful religion. A religion of peace. A religion that teaches how to submit fully to the will of God (Allah). It was not about terrorism or extremism like how they were always portrayed in the media. Unfortunately, by some agenda, the press only pinpoints “Muslim-related incidents”.
- Then on the early morning of April 12, I professed my faith. I became a Muslim.
There is something that you need to know. Islam does not force anyone to be a Muslim. It has to come from your heart. Full submission requires faith and sincerity. I never found it hard to pray at 4 AM because I wanted to. I never found it hard to memorize the verses of the Quran in Arabic because I wanted to. I never found fasting, for one month during Ramadan, hard because by the will of God (Allah), you can do anything. Allah guides whom He wills.
Are you feeling lost? Incomplete? Unhappy? Dissatisfied with life? Pray to God & seek His guidance. You will be surprised that what can make you feel complete, what can make you feel peace, what can satisfy you and make you happy is only God. “Ihdina alssirata almustaqeem” Guide us to the straight path. (Al Fatihah, verse 6)