Convert Profile: Sister Autumn
Interviewed by Laura El Alam
Why Choose Islam? In the modern world, with a wealth of information at their fingertips, people can easily learn about and experiment with many different faith traditions. Some choose to eschew religion completely. Allowed the freedom to follow anything — or nothing at all — why do so many people embrace Islam as the ideal way of life?
This series will focus on several individuals who chose to be Muslim. Their stories will shed light on the appeal that Islam has to people of all walks of life and explain how this remarkable faith brings a sense of wholeness and serenity to those who embrace it.
Autumn is an educator, a writer, an editor, a specialist in children’s literature, and a homeschooling mother. She holds master’s degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Simmons University, and a B.A. in literature from Yale.
How did you learn about Islam?
I first learned of Islam around age 8 when my mom married a Muslim. I didn’t consider it for myself until after my sister took her shahada (proclamation of faith), a good 10 years later.
What drew you to Islam?
The biggest appeal was the simplicity of monotheism. It was a premise that nobody could really argue with or be confused about. Anyone living anywhere could come up with the theory of One God without any revelation reaching them. It felt universal.
I didn’t consider accepting Islam myself though, until I read something that pointed out that believing in an all-seeing Creator would make me a better person, as I would live by a higher standard at all times. I realized that just being “a good person” wasn’t necessarily the best I could do, and that if I believed in a Creator, then I owed that Being some gratitude for my life and everything provided for me.
Were there any Islamic topics/requirements that you struggled with, and if so, how did you arrive at a solution?
There were practices I saw other Muslims doing that I didn’t feel I wanted to practice, such as wearing hijab, abstaining from music, and not attending Christmas holidays with my non-Muslim family. I felt that religion was just a way to talk to God, not an all-encompassing way of life.
I didn’t accept Islam until I met a lot of Muslims who were very “imperfect” or selective in what parts of their lives were dictated by Islam. Then I could more easily see myself professing monotheism without changing my entire lifestyle.
As I started to spend more time with “stricter” Muslims, though, I realized that every rule has beneficial reasons behind it, and that submitting fully leads to a sense of peace. I believe that God knows us better than we know ourselves and decrees what is good for us. Still, we just do our best at any given time and incorporate what makes us a better person. There is no such thing as perfection in a human being.
What important information about Islam would you like to share with non-Muslims?
In important ways, Islam accepts other religions – both the right of others to practice their religions, and the divine origin of many religions. One of my favorite things about Islam is that we believe there were hundreds of thousands of prophets, sent to every people, and Islam is merely a reminder and purification of the same message that all of them brought. So I see it as universal and inclusive, and that’s how I overcame my worry about judging other religions. The only reason we can’t/don’t follow the scriptures of previous faiths is because they have been changed, and that is historical fact.
Have more questions? Call 877-WhyIslam or visit whyislam.org. You deserve to know!