An American Sister’s Struggle to Find & Keep Islam
I am born and raised in Jersey City.
My parents are from Columbia and from Italy.
From being with my friends, spending time more with them, once I began on my own journey, really, because I really didn’t ask anyone exactly of other religion, it was just something teenagers at that age we really didn’t discuss about religion.
So I myself started searching on the Internet about Islam, that’s when I came into the site Why Islam, which was one of my web sites that I found, and they sent me a lot of information, books, the Quran, a prayer rug, hijab.
Once I got this information I started reading on my own. I also had ordered brochures about Islam. And once I continued to read more and more every day, it would just interest me and bring me more and more to continue to read and learn about it.
I continued to go on the web site here and there, and what I did see was a way to go into a mosque. They have you set up with someone in order to go and visit a mosque, so I did that, and they had e-mailed me and connected me with another sister, actually she had converted four months earlier, prior to my decision to converting, so I think that’s what made me feel more comfortable and push me to really convert was after I met this sister.
One day, through the Internet we connected, we called each other and we met and set up a date to go to the mosque. And after we did go to the mosque, she did take me before to an Islamic store, bought hijab, showed me how to wear hijab, and she made me feel very comfortable because she was African American, had converted four months prior, pretty much was going through the same process and questions that I felt that would push me away from Islam, and why I should convert. So every question I had she answered, and she was going through the same experience as I would after I converted.
That day that I did go with her to the mosque, she asked me if I wanted to take my Shahadah in the mosque. I had said La Ilaha Illa Allah Muhammadan Rasoul Allah, already at home, but she told me if you’d like you can say it with people around in the mosque. And she said one thing that made me and felt that it made me comfortable and I knew that this was for me, she asked me a question. And the question was if you died tomorrow would you like to die as a Muslim, and as a believer?
And that’s what made me think and brought me to say my Shahadah in the mosque that day, and the welcoming of everyone, all the ladies being so welcoming, comforting, crying, congratulating me, it felt like I was with a family that I was searching for and Al-Hamdulel-Allah after that day it was my journey into Islam, and learning more and getting closer to Allah.
I believe it was the process, it’s a daily process. At first I started reading, you know, I was very very into Islam, reading books, learning, going to classes, just trying to find more friends, Muslim women that I can be around and teach me, and I guess very little that my attire of how I would dress, how I would act with others, to me it was a way of life so everything I did I took it step-by-step, especially with my parents because they are not Muslim.
I started wearing hijab about maybe four months after, little by little. So I started praying and my mom would see me, my dad would see me, just the way I would act around them, my dedication and my effort to show them that this was not something that I was just going to drift away from or something that I was trying to do to fit in with my friends, it was a struggle and a challenge until now after so many years I can say Al-Hamdulel-Allah, it’s changed so much, but it’s still sometimes a struggle at times with them.
I’m very happy and very in to it.
You know I wanted to do everything at the same time, which at that moment you feel so good and you want to give da’wah, and to tell everybody about Islam, you know let everyone know about this religion and how beautiful it is.
But slowly I realized around people, Muslim and non-Muslim, they would act differently towards me I guess. I don’t know if it was too much for them at the same time, and knowing me already for so many years, so little by little I just learned to slow down, take things step-by-step, and do the most important things which were prayer, read Quran, learn Arabic.
I did go and learn Arabic in school, Arabic 1, Arabic 2. I went to the Quran classes in the mosque, your iman (faith) is high then low, then up and down, and I just had to learn how to work on that and how to gradually keep myself stable as much as possible in my iman, because it’s a struggle, in this world I believe ever day.
I can say in the beginning it was a struggle at first. In Jersey City, most of my friends and most of the peers that I did have that were Muslim that I went to classes with. Most of them are from Arab descent, so I pretty much felt a little bit out of place at times, although they would never make me feel out of place, they would always make me feel like part of the family.
But it just felt because I was the only one that was American-born or Hispanic-Italian background, just trying to fit in, and with my family telling me you are not Spanish anymore, you took your race out of you, not understanding, so it kind of put me in the middle, like am I trying to fit in? Is this just not for me? Is this just for Arabs?
But Al-Hamdulel-Allah, now compared to then, I’ve met so many people that are Muslims, that are Pakistani, Indian, Spanish, white, African-American that makes me feel comfortable and I know that I’ve made the right choice.
So, at first it was a struggle, but Allah has made it easier and easier throughout the years for me I believe…