Sister YazTheSpaz brings us the uplifting story of a revert’s journey from a half-Christian, half-Jewish household in America, to Islam.
Natasha M, a Costa Rican raised in a half-Christian, half-Jewish household.
Growing up, Natasha always felt a sense of spirituality, yet her heart yearned for something deeper. As a child, she remembers having strange dreams, as though the last days of life were slowly nearing – like the Day of Judgment.
For that reason, at the age of 12, she began to read the Bible from beginning to end, in hopes of educating herself more in Christianity and gaining a closer relationship with God. As she was reading the first couple of chapters, she came across a phrase that changed her life forever. It read: ‘You shall never pray to any god but the God all mighty.’
By reading that line, she felt as though she had been sinning for so long by praying to Jesus Christ (pbuh) instead of God. From that moment on, she decided to stop following her mother’s religion of Christianity, and move on to her father’s religion – Judaism. She began attending synagogue where local members asked if she was interested in converting. She accepted, despite her mother’s disapproval.
In fact, Natasha knew nothing about Islam besides the fact that Muslims were not allowed to marry outside the religion
In her early 20s Natasha had the opportunity to visit Israel. She then moved to New York City and began her new life with the teachings of Judaism. Natasha even married a Jewish man, had a child and lived the life of an orthodox Jew – even though she was never truly ‘accepted’ since her mother was not Jewish. There were a few things about her life that she felt uneasy and fearful about, but she just ignored the bad and went on with her life.
By her mid-20s she had divorced and moved to California, where she continued living the Jewish lifestyle. After a year in California she met some Egyptians, became friends with them, and ended up becoming very good friends with one of them.
Her good friend, Omar, once mentioned something about Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). She’d seen him praying all the time and even had another girl friend who spoke about getting her shahada – the phrase said when converting to Islam – but she never really bothered to take any interest in Islam then. In fact, Natasha knew nothing about Islam besides the fact that Muslims were not allowed to marry outside the religion.
As Natasha met and hung out with Omar almost every day, she brought to his attention that they might need to stop seeing each other. Her reasoning was that she had no intention of converting to Islam, but he replied that as long as their children are raised Muslim, it’s permissible for a Muslim man to marry a Jewish woman. The only thing that made her uneasy was giving her children the option of choosing which religion they connected with most.
Then one day her son, Shane – from her previous marriage – asked her if he could pray with Omar; she accepted. Watching them pray together brought about an incredible sense of peace and tranquility in the room and in her heart.
Around that time, Omar went back to Egypt for four months to spend time with his family. While he was away, Natasha began doing as much research as she could on the topic of Islam. She contacted a website called ‘Why Islam’ and they immediately sent her a Qur’an translated in Spanish. This happened to be right before the Ramadan of 2005.
When she began reading the Qur’an, she was surprised to see the way it was written – completely different from the Bible, which is written in the form of a story. She found herself reading the Qur’an everywhere – in the car, during her lunch break, at home at night – and realised that it contained every belief that she had ever had. ‘Had this book been written specifically for me?’, she started questioning herself.
After feeling so much tranquility and peace while reading the Qur’an, she immediately contacted the ‘Why Islam’ website, in hopes of finding someone who could give her a tour of a mosque. A gentleman from the site called her back and asked her a few questions, such as, ‘Do you believe that there is only one God?’; ‘Do you believe in heaven and hell?’; ‘Do you believe in the Day of Judgment?’; ‘Do you believe in angels?’ – and to all, she answered yes!
He then simply said, ‘Well, if you believe in all of them, then you are Muslim – why don’t you just say your shahada right now?’ After asking a few more questions, she then took her shahada and was sent a starter kit, which included a Qur’an, a hijab, and many books and videos.
Natasha kept her conversion to Islam a secret even after Omar returned from Egypt. Then, one day, when she needed extra help and had no one else to turn to except him, she told him. He began teaching her surats for her to memorise, recorded them on CDs for her, and repeated them until she was able to recite them herself.
Their bond grew so much that they found it only right to get married, as that is what Islam teaches as the acceptable way of relations between man and woman. They were married at a mosque in Anaheim, California, where a few friends gathered for their small wedding.
Natasha began attending Islamic school on Sundays and other Islamic events with her husband, getting more involved with the community, which helped strengthen her bond with Islam.
By this point, Natasha was eager to start wearing the hijab. What had kept her from fully wearing it was the agony she’d faced from her former co-workers and employers. Whenever she’d bring her children to Islamic school, she was the only one without hijab and she never felt right not covering up – until one day, she had had enough and decided to start wearing it.
‘I try my best to not judge people nor talk bad about them, and most importantly, I feel very privileged and thankful to have been given the opportunity to know Islam’
She began by searching for hijab tutorials on YouTube. ‘The one that called my attention the most was YazTheSpaz. I literally watched every single one of her videos and began trying the hijab in different ways until I found the one that made me feel comfortable,’ she said.
From my postings on Facebook, she found out about World Hijab Day. She didn’t have the need to go out all day until evening. As she stepped outside with her hijab on, she said out loud, ‘Bismillah Ar Rahman Ar Raheem,’ and left her house. She hasn’t gone a day without wearing it since.
As we conclude our interview, I ask Natasha one last question: ‘How has Islam changed your life?’
I became more careful of the things I say as I don’t want to give a bad name to my religion. I didn’t fight back on any of the harsh comments because I never wanted people to say Islam is about aggression. My relationship with my parents changed a lot, especially with my mother. I am very careful with what I say to her and how I say it. I’ve also learned to see the beauty in life, to never ask WHY when things happen as Allah SWTA is the only one who knows why, and I accept hardships with patience as I know they are test from Allah SWTA. I basically see the beauty in life that I hadn’t been able to see before. I try my best to not judge people nor talk bad about them, and most importantly, I feel very privileged and thankful to have been given the opportunity to know Islam. I also feel that I have a big duty now to teach my children to live an Islamic lifestyle, and to grow up to be good Muslims and good human beings, inshaAllah! I know there is a lot I still need to learn and will continue this journey very proudly, inshaAllah!
Natasha might have lost many friends along the way and might even have gotten bullied by ignorant people, but with Islam so strong in her life now, she is happier than ever with her husband Omar and her four lovely children, Alhamdulillah, who are all being raised as strong believers in Islam. Ameen!