and worked as a Human Resources Manager for a large company.
His wife, Paige, worked for a large bookstore chain in the US,
and together with her daughter Kayla are very comfortable to wear hijab when going out from their home in Denver.
The following is a brief summary of their stories finding Islam.
My name is Tim, and I converted to Islam 18 months ago.
It wasn’t until I finished college and left home and starting out by myself that those nagging thoughts came to my mind, that have always been inside me, a deep-rooted belief that there is a God who looks after us and created us all and created the world and universe that we live in. At that time I needed to try and understand and explain the concept of God more closely to myself.Growing up, I went to a school that was actually part of the . In high school, we had at least 2 hours of religious education built in the curriculum each week.
When I first met my wife, we both had very heavy spiritual influences, not necessarily a part of any organized or structured religion. But we had feelings and we understood that there was certainly a lot more to life than just being here and now. I think we both had a belief in the afterlife or spiritual life, but neither of us really explored that too deeply at that time.
|my wife phoned up the mosque and made an appointment to go on a Friday around lunch time|
It was a couple of years later before Paige started having interest in Islam, and then me following that interest really to see what it is, what is she getting into here. This led us to visit a mosque here in Denver, Abu Bakr mosque. This was a very interesting experience because my wife phoned up the mosque and made an appointment to go on a Friday around lunch time. I was very surprised to see that there was a police car there with its lights lit up guiding the traffic because there was a lot of traffic.
We went between the two sets of prayers that occur. We have roughly 500 people that are attending each of the two Jumua (Friday) prayers and khutbah (sermon) that take place each Friday. There was a cultural shock to me there. We had a lot of different nationalities walking around the place in their own costumes and national dresses and things like that. There were very few Americans walking around in jeans and T-shirts, and it was just a bit of a step back for me. It was like I walked out of America and entered into somewhere in the Middle East.
We were very fortunate to meet with a person who at that time was the president of the mosque, a sheikh by the name Muhammad Norzai, and he was the one who gave us a quick tour and explained some things about Islam, and then guided us to a place where we could observe a khutbah taking place. For me, that was certainly getting my first experience about what prayer and worship is for Muslims.
I always believed that there was a person called Jesus and that he was a great prophet and a messenger that came down from God. The problem I had trouble with is that Jesus was a man. He was born of a woman in a miraculous way but he was still a man. He was not a God. And why should we as men be worshiping another man? Surely we should be worshiping God. And the concept that there is just one God and that you should only worship that God alone and not worship idols or other people, and that forgiveness can only come directly from your relationship to God, really what started clinching it for me.
My name is Paige and I converted to Islam 2 years ago.
I was raised by my father who was an atheist and he raised my sister and I as atheists, and I didn’t believe in any God at all. Growing up, I thought that people who were religious were silly. I thought that religion was something that governments used to keep their population in line because if you have something better to look forward to in the after death, you will be more obedient during life.
Sometimes when I was at high school I started going with a friend to her church occasionally as a guest, and I was really moved by the faith that people seemed to have, but I still couldn’t get my head around the inconsistencies of Christianity that there are a lot of leaps of faith that I was just not willing to make.
I’ve always been interested in philosophy, people in general, religion, and religious history, and I happened to be watching a documentary about the three Abrahamic faiths; Christianity, Judaism and Islam. And for the first time I really listened to something about Islam. I found it fascinating that Islam comes from Christianity which of course comes from Judaism. And the messages are essentially the same messages. And I thought that it’s like God tried to give us this message and human beings kept messing it up.
|Christianity has leaps of faith but Islam doesn’t. It’s all very rational religion, everything makes sense.|
After 9/11, I was working in a bookstore here in the United States called Barnes & Nobel and everything we had in the store that had Islam, Quran, Muslim, Middle East in the title just sold up the next day; 9/12. I just thought this was fascinating, and I didn’t know anything about it.
So I started kind of reading. I bought a book called “Islam for Dummies”, really good. There were just some really beautiful things about Islam and I found myself more and more drawn to it especially its rationality. Like I said, Christianity has leaps of faith but Islam doesn’t. It’s all very rational religion, everything makes sense.
In fact the first time I went to the mosque, I thought of having this feeling that I was going inspite of Muslims. It was nothing to do with these crazy people you see on the TV blowing things up, you know, and I was terrified to go into the mosque. But I felt like to find my religion and I had to put up with these people who go to the mosque. That was before I met my first Muslim.
When Tim decided to become a Muslim, I was absolutely tickled because I had been a Muslim at that point for a few months. I wasn’t quite sure like what my plan of action was going to be. As a Muslim woman I can’t be married to a non-Muslim man, but leaving my husband was not really an option. I think like I sort of knew that he wasn’t going to be too far behind me when I said my shahadah. And I was right, within six months he said the sahadah as well.
My name is Kayla Botello. I was born in the United States of America. I was raised here my whole life and I converted to Islam over a year ago. We didn’t grow in a religious household. We didn’t grow up believing in God necessarily, but knowing that there is a greater being. So there wasn’t really any certain religion that we followed. We just made sure that we were well-rounded and knowledgeable.
I believed in God. I’ve always had a kind of positive attitude on life. So for me I was kind of looking around. There was so much beauty in the world, how could there not be a God? But as far as any kind of religion, I didn’t have a religion.
Converting to Islam was like a series of events, you know, it wasn’t one defining moment. I think what really got me about Islam was because I started to attend classes after my mother had converted, so I just started attending classes just for my mom to be respectful and to understand her and a lot of things that caught me was the science in Islam. They talked about the Big Bang and they talked about things like where the salt water meets the fresh water, that was only discovered in the 1970s. Things like that just make you think how did they know that 1400 years ago? And for me I believed in God but I also believed in science.
Daughter’s Husband: Yassir
My name is Yassir. I’m an American-born Muslim and I’m Kayla’s husband. My father came to this country about 1980. He was doing aviation school, lived a single life for a while until he met my American mother with whom he be friended and had very good connection with. When they came to religious talks and they had this intellectual spark immediately. They got married and they gave their five children the opportunity to live the American life and the Syrian life.
We have been going to Islamic schools since we were very young. So we had that kind of education and we have always been very close to our American neighbors, friends like that. There has always been that kind of relationship, never any tension, and we really had a lot of good friends who actually came to our house and learn about the Islamic and Arabic culture.
When Kayla converted to Islam, I believe it was something that was destined to happen whether or not I came into her life. She had many qualities in her that reflected so many good attributes that were already in Islam, and it was something that she just needed to find and apply in her life. There were so many things about modesty and just being a good child to your mother and father and being obedient and just having that consistent respect to your fellow men and fellow women. I mean there were some things that she had but she just needed something to define it on a bigger scale … which was Islam.